The love in this birth movie is so powerful you might find yourself drenched with tears. Grab yourself a tissue, get cozy and watch as my friend births her third baby in her living room surrounded by her amazing family.
If you want to see another home birth video click here.
Both of Moshe’s parents wrote their birth story and have offered to share it with you. Here is the written account from both of their perspectives. Enjoy!
Papa’s Birth Story of Moshe Audio Alan McCourty
Born 6:05am, November 24, 2015
The 23rd was a Monday. I had the day off. I had already been off for a few days. It was nice to be at home to help make sure everything was just the way we wanted it to be. There was a lot of planning and preparation leading up to the highly anticipated birth. Mama had been beyond physically ready to have the baby come join us, and get it the heck out of her body! It had been a very challenging pregnancy. There was of course, a lot of feelings sitting with Mama about what a tremendous effort it was going to be to bring you into the world, but mostly we were just all so excited to meet the newest member of our family. I was beyond curious. Enthralled even, at the ideas floating around in my head. What would you look like? What would you sound like? What would your first facial expression be? Were you a boy or a girl?? I have never been so excited for a surprise.
That morning I got up early with Ari before school. Made him breakfast, and made his lunch. He left to walk himself, as he usually did now. I let your Mama sleep in as long as I could. She needed the rest. But had to wake her up at 10am as we had an appointment with our midwives at 11. We had a quick coffee and snuggle. I couldn’t keep my hands off of your Mama’s belly by this point. Every chance I had they were all over it. It made me so happy to think about all the magic happening inside. Mama got dressed and we waddled our way to the van. We drove to the midwives and were pleased to get a spot directly in front. Mama’s mobility had reached its best. Walking any distance was work. Our appointment that day was with Kayley. The appointment was lighthearted. Mama sharing about how she was feeling. Kayley telling us that the midwives all had bets on which day they thought you were going to come. We all agreed it was going to be sometime this week, but no one guessed tonight. I felt like it was probably happening today or tonight but just had to remain open to the idea of it taking a bit longer too. Your Mama and I had actually both anticipated you being a bit earlier. So we had been on the edge of our seats for weeks! All was well with Mama. You had dropped very low into the right position inside Mama. You were ready too. Mama’s bold pressure and your heartbeat were solid. Caili wished us the best and gave me some info on when the appropriate time to contact them would be if things started happening. And off we went to enjoy our day.
We walked up the street a bit to The Laughing Bean Café. Mama and I shared a yummy cinnamon bun and had some coffee. We were supposed to do a bit of walking today to help things along. So we decided to head to the mall to look for a nice bra for your Mama to labour in. We hit up Oakridge as there were a few different places there. We started at The Bay. Despite the huge bra section, there was not much happening there. So we ventured back out into the mall to check a couple other places. We stopped in the Lego store and picked up a Christmas present for Eden too. We found something we liked at The Gap, but they didn’t have the size we needed. So we decided to sit down and share a Poutine before we went downtown to another store to get the right size. All the way, your Mama walking, walking, walking. Success at Pacific Center! Let’s get an Orange Julius and then get home. Pretty new sports bra, perfect for the occasion.
We get home and it is time for Mama to sit and rest for a while. Papa drives over to pick Ari up from school. Mama is definitely noticing a little more action, or at least a different sensation, to the regular waves she has been having consistently for weeks. Everything is pretty calm around the house.
Close to supper time, I think around 6:30pm, Mama is starting to have consistent waves, and at an intensity that make her feel like she should reach out to our friend Morag. She is our friend, photographer, and is also a Doula. So she is generally, a very helpful person. She asks Mama lots of questions and is quite confident that we should start preparing ourselves for the big event. First order of business is to go get your sister. She was at her Dad’s place. We had already let them know that there was no option but for her to be a part of your arrival. So when we called they said they would have her ready in minutes. I made sure Mama was feeling good, comfortable. We made a little list of just a couple more items and snacky bits we wanted to have around to keep everyone energized through the night. I grabbed some groceries, some wine, and your big sister as quick as I could and zipped home. Eden seemed a bit nervous, but excited. Now that we were all home together, it was just time to wait and let things happen. We wanted everyone to be rested so Ari and Eden got ready for bed as usual. The couch from the living room had been moved into Ari’s room to make space for the birth pool. Ari, Eden and I snuggled up on the couch in Ari’s room and read a couple stories. All the while Mama was working her way through some consistent and powerful waves on the couch in the living room. After the stories, Ari hopped up into his bed. I made a little blanket bed for Eden on the couch. And we wished them both good night. Promising to wake them up well before you arrived so that they could be a part of everything.
Morag showed up shortly thereafter. Between 8:30-9pm. I think Mama had gone upstairs for a few minutes to lay down. I helped Morag lay out a tarp in the living room and set up the pool. She went upstairs to see Mama for a while and I blew the pool up with our electric pump. I played with the placement of the pool and tarp to make sure it was just right. We got out the hose and put one hot water tank’s worth of water into the tub. It was going to take a few to get it to where we needed it to be.
Things were definitely starting to pick up for Mama. She was moving about the house, getting some water, trying to use the bathroom. Morag was wandering about testing things on her camera. We decided the best thing would be to try to get some rest. Morag had decided she was going to stay the night. She felt things were too close for her to be any further away. So we gave her a blanket and a pillow. She rested on the couch, and Mama and I went upstairs to lay down. I had a glass of wine to try to slow my brain down a bit. No way I was going to sleep any time soon. Mama had a gravol for the same purpose. We knew the best thing for us would be rest. But honestly, who could possibly sleep when something so life changing was about to happen? Not that it was in the cards for us anyways. Mama’s waves were coming pretty evenly around 4-5 min apart. And they definitely had power to them. Starting to become much different than any of the previous ones I had witnessed her have. Things were definitely happening now. We laid there in the dark, trying to take a few moments of rest at a time. Mama had a podcast on in the background. It honestly didn’t feel like that long but I think we tried for at least an hour or so. Gradually though, everything began to get more intense. Mama was starting to make some very interesting noises when the waves would come. And they would come. Each one just a few seconds longer, and a little bit stronger than the last.
I just stayed right beside Mama. I really didn’t know exactly what the best thing for me to be doing was. Except to just let her squeeze my hand or arm or whatever she needed to. Mama had had some serious inflammation and muscle strain in her pelvic area during the end of her pregnancy. She was actually quite limited in the positions she was advised to take during labour. So there were only a couple positions that really worked for her. The primary one was being on her hands and knees. She asked me to get behind her and to press down very firmly on her tailbone and surrounding area. So whenever a wave came, my job was to plant my hands down on her lower back, tailbone, or just to either side of it, and just push down as hard as I could. And this is where we stayed for quite a while.
It’s hard to describe the sounds that your Mama was making when the waves would come. But they were really beautiful to me. It was impossible for me to imagine what everything happening inside her body must feel like. But I could see, and feel, where her spirit, her focus was in those intense moments. She started small, with a moan. Almost like breathing out with her voice. The moan began to grow with the wave. It flourished into a very harmonious, very meditative Oooohm like sound. Something you do would do during yoga or meditation. A very open and honest meeting of the vibration of the waves. Mama was doing her best to stay open in those moments. Just letting the waves pass through her and do their job. The waves had definitely began coming quicker and stronger. Morag came upstairs to keep us company and take a few photos. Not that either of us noticed. Mama was in a very focused place and I was doing my best to focus with her in every moment. For me, obviously, a much more pleasurable experience. Here I am witnessing this kind of magic for the first time. I was vibrating with excitement. So happy and invested in all of it. Whenever Mama would make it through a wave I would be so excited and proud of her. I wondered what she would think of me sitting behind her, as she traversed intense pain and pressure, with a huge smile on my face. Between each one I did my best to send in the good vibes. To check in. To build her up and let her know things were going well and she was doing great.
We had been at it for a couple hours upstairs. Although it seemed like considerably less. Morag had called the midwives and they had arrived. It was now just shortly after midnight. Yarra and Eleanor showed up pretty close to the same time. They came upstairs with some gear and just sat down on the floor beside the bed. They took turns swapping out the bowl that Mama needed to be sick in. She was quite nauseous through the entire labour. They checked Mama’s blood pressure and your heartbeat. Things were good.
By now Mama had been working in the same position for quite a while. It was starting to get sore being on her hands and knees. The waves were beginning to come very close together. Maybe only 1-2 min apart. The decision was made to try to get up and head downstairs. Maybe a little stretch and some movement would help things along. The pool was prepped. The ladies had boiled big pots of water and had them on the stove. They had begun to set out all of their medical gear in proximity to the pool. All over the trunk and the floor. I remember that bugging me a bit. I didn’t anticipate it. I remember not liking the feeling of any possibility emergency gear would have to be used. And I also just wanted to the room to be pretty for Mama. However, Mama was already beginning to operate from a headspace where esthetics were the furthest thing from her mind. We had a few things that we had planned to do to create a peaceful birth space. Some happened, some didn’t. I managed to light some candles, the diffuser was going with a special oil blend. We had wanted to have a fire in the woodstove. Which I wanted to, but never had time for. Mama’s waves were becoming pretty relentless. And my place behind her, putting pressure on her, had become part of the absolutely necessary.
We were prepared for all sorts of things to happen. Had blankets and plastic sheets on the couch. I had built a little sling apparatus with a sheet on it for her to rest in, or hang from. We had snacks for everyone that barely made it out of the fridge. Bliss balls in the freezer that made the rounds. Trying to keep Mama hydrated, with little sips of apple juice mixed with sparkling water. It was time to put on my “ I love my wife” tshirt I had made.
She was in the pool now. And this is where she would stay until you were born. Over and over again, meeting the waves head on. Those meditative Ohm like sounds had evolved. Into bigger, louder, longer harmonious journeys. The sound and vibration of every one gave me goosebumps. There were only a couple waves I missed while trying to get some more hot water for the pool. Everyone had very much just sat back and left the experience to us. Somewhere around 3 am Ari popped sleepily out of his bedroom. He said he woke up to take a pee. But I can’t imagine the tremendous sounds Mama was making didn’t play a part. He came over and sat right beside the pool with me. I gave him a big hug and let him know everything was going just as it should. Mama was working very hard and was having really big feelings, but it was all ok. He was his usual calm self. Taking it all in. Wanting to be helpful. Every wave I would sit up and bear down on Mama’s back. He would reach over and splash a little water or just rub her back gently. He was doing a wonderful job of being supportive and just sitting back and watching things happen. After about a half an hour he started to get tired again and asked if it was ok if he went back to bed for a while. But of course Ari. He gave Mama a rub and a kiss and went back to bed. Again, I promised to wake him up when things started getting really interesting.
Mama was starting to get tired too. She had been taking on wave after wave for hours. Neither of us really had any idea how much time had passed at this point. It was just one wave at a time. If I wasn’t right beside her when a wave started Mama would say “BABY” and I would come running. There was barely any time between. I think I only missed 1 or 2, and came in halfway for a few. Almost no time to keep refreshing the hot water by pot or hose, to show people where the food was. Morag asked me if I wanted a coffee at one point. You bet I did. The ladies were making tea, and sandwiches. Having little whispery conversations in the kitchen and living room. It’s all a bit blurry. Only a moment to have a sip of a drink, or a bite of something before jumping into place. On my knees, on a pillow beside the pool. Trying to rotate around the outside to be in the right spot as Mama wriggled and spun to meet the waves. The midwives would pop in every 45 min or so to check vitals.
I was so proud of your Mama. She was so powerful. I was doing my best to let her know that between waves. A few times she was able to lean back into my arms so I could hold her for a second. Kiss her face and let her know how great she was doing. And I so wanted to be able to do more. She was getting so tired, and the waves were really starting to ramp up in intensity. The sounds of harmonious focus were starting to give way to more guttural low growls at the peaks of the waves. Yarra came over and mentioned that she noticed that the sounds had started to change. Which meant things were beginning to change. We were making progress. She asked Mama if she would like her to check her out, give an internal exam to see where we were at. Mama was focused and confident and just offered to do it herself. What a woman. I loved it. She stuck a couple fingers inside and could feel the sac. There had been tremendous pressure building in her hips and everyone was saying that her waters were just barely holding on. There was the tiniest bit of show after one wave and I remember thinking that it was really on now. Not that it hadn’t been. Mama had been working so hard. But this meant the end was in sight. We agreed it was time to wake up the kids. So I went in and gently shook them both and let them know that we were getting closer. Mama started to have another wave so I jumped back in. A sleepy little Eeby emerged from the bedroom and came and sat right next to me and wrapped her arms around my leg. I let her know that everything was going well. And that no matter what it sounded like Mama was ok. Safe, and just working really hard to get the baby out.
She and ari set up shop behind the pool. Beside me all tucked into a corner. We were still a ways off. Eden entertained herself by laying in my lap and looking through the side of the pool to see what she could see. She got a little ladel from her toy kitchen and was pouring water on Mama when she could. Something she had probably learned from watching birth videos with Mama. Ari kept getting up for snacks. And was also just being so lovely and supportive. Rubbing mama gently whenever he could. They both stayed close. Mama did her best to say hello and connect with them when she could. But she was so drained. At one of the rare breaks that she had more than a couple minutes, she fell asleep so very briefly. I remember watching her hand just float in the water. It was a little visual moment. Looking at her with so much admiration. To me she was powering through so well. She was an absolute pro. I was so amazed and impressed with how she was able to meet these waves and let them flow through her. Although it had definitely become more apparent how much harder that was every time. Mama was growing from little growls into into full growls and yells. Aaaaaargggghhhhhrrrrrrs. So, so, intense. She was also starting to say that the pain in her hips was beginning to be unbearable. Not that there was anything any of us could done about it. Yarra began to suggest some alternate positioning. We had been doing pretty much the same thing all night. So Mama would lean back against me, or the pool, have one leg up and one leg out. Which allowed her to put more pressure and power into the pushing. The energy in the room was beginning to build with excitement. Shannon had a few more waves in this spot and on one of them, at last, SPLOOSH, I saw a plume of fluid flow into the water. Her water had broken. PHEW!
Everyone was getting very excited now, but trying to keep things calm and focused. Mama reached up inside to see how far away your head was. She could feel the fuzzy warm surface of your head only a cm or two in. Now things really got going. The waves were massive. Mama was powering through with big loud yells, each one taking on more and more. She had pushed pretty hard for long enough that Yarra wanted to do a check to make sure that there was no cervix in the way. Holding you back. With a quick inspection she determined everything was clear. Mama leaned into it and gave a few more big pushes. Then all of a sudden she started saying “Oh my god, the head is coming. The head is coming out! The head is coming out!” She reached her hand underneath and was doing her absolute best to make sure that your head came out at as controlled as possible to prevent tearing. The midwives were making sure that I was in the right spot , as it was predetermined that I was going to catch you. Your head was out! I reached my hand underneath Mama to get ready for you. The second my hand touched your head I lost it. My eyes filled with tears and all I could say over and over was OH! OH! OH! OH!
It only took one more push and you WOOOSHED right out into the water. I pulled you up. Your umbilical cord was looped loosely around your neck. So Yarra reached in and swooped it off and helped me pass you right up onto Mama’s chest. You were a really cool colour. It looked like you had darker skin. And so clean! No vernix at all. Just a super shiny little thing. As soon as you were placed on your Mama’s chest an immense wave of relief and excitement washed over us all. We didn’t look at all to see your sex. We had made that Eden’s job. I called Eden over to me and asked her what she saw. I was watching her face and she seemed shy but said, “I see a penis.” And we cheered! Yay! A baby boy! A beautiful, healthy baby boy!
We all grooved around the pool for a few minutes then wanted to get Mama and Baby to the couch and warmed up. It was actually pretty cold in the house. Mama had been so hot and had the fan on her the whole time. We got you both over there. Mama was just shaking like crazy from all the adrenaline. We got all the dry blankets and towels we had to wrap you both up. We were all gathered around trying to sneak peeks and cuddles. I needed to touch you, and kiss you, and see your little face so bad! The room was still buzzing. The midwives were carefully tending to Mama. They were focused on the passing of the placenta. It took a couple more waves on the couch before it came out. It was placed into a bowl. We wanted to let your little body absorb every last little bit of nutrients and healthy blood from this amazing organ that had fed you the whole time you were growing inside Mama.
The midwives continued to clean Mama up and to evaluate how her body had held up. There was a small bit of tearing, but not big enough to warrant stitches. Which Mama was very thankful for. As long as she did a good job resting and laying down during recovery, she would be just fine. ( Which she did. )
After your umbilical cord had completely gone white, meaning you had taken in all the good bits, we talked about cutting the cord. We had originally planned on doing a cord burning. Which would be a much more ceremonial, slow separation. We had the candles and the foil covered cardboard. But frankly, we were all a bit spent. It would have taken quite a while and none of us really had the energy, or patience at that point. We just wanted to hold you! So the midwives clamped your cord and Papa cut it in one stroke. We had offered the opportunity to Ari, but he was a bit squeamish at the thought of what might come out of it. I was happy to do it.
You were wriggling around on your Mama, all wrapped up with her, and she began to try to get you to nurse. It was so adorable how you fumbled around but almost seemed to know what the end result was supposed to be. You latched very quickly. The midwives had taken the placenta and checked to make sure it was all there. They showed us all what the sac would have looked like inside Mama. All stretched out. You could see the hole that you had slipped right out of. It was a pretty incredible thing to see. And a week later, your Mama and I still talk everyday about how incredible her body is for creating such an amazing little creature from scratch. Which will be all the more incredible by the time you are grown, and are able to read this. Wow. The midwives did a bit more caretaking. Checking your vitals, reflexes etc. Ari got to help weigh you. A sturdy 7 lbs 14 oz. We were all a bit surprised you weighed that much. You looked so tiny! You decided that it would be a good time to clear your bowels and took a tremendous black tar poop over most of the blankets and Mama. Haha. So we decided it may be a good time for your first diaper.
The rest of the morning is a tired, lovely haze. The midwives packed up. Said some really wonderful things about what a beautiful, loving birth it was for them to attend. Morag stuck around and cleaned up the pool. She edited a few photos, and gave them to us. We wanted to send out little message of you to the outside world. Letting people know that you had finally blessed our lives. We all cuddled and snacked on the couch. We were so excited to have you in our arms. You were the manifestation of a dream that your Mama and I had shared since the very moment we found each other. We did have your name picked out, well before Mama was even pregnant with you. But we had to let it sit, to let you try it on before we decided for sure. But a couple days later we agreed. It was you. Moshe Audio Alan McCourty.
It was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. The journey to your arrival. I am so, so proud and inspired by your Mama and the magic that she creates. The power and determination it took to bring you into this world was something to witness. Something that forever has altered how I look at your Mama. There is a respect and admiration for her that I could not have anticipated. How deeply it flows. How incredible of a woman she is.
I have told you this several times in utero, and since you were born, but you made a very wonderful choice to be with us. However your little soul found its way. You have landed in the arms of an amazing family. A love filled, healthy, happy home. The perfect place for you to flourish into the very special baby, boy, young man, man, you will become. I couldn’t be happier to be the one who gets to be the best of friends with you through your journey. I can only imagine how much joy and thankfulness you will have given to us by the time you read this. I’m sure, as it is now, that my heart will barely even be able to handle how much love I have for you.
All my love,
The Coming of Moshe Audio Alan McCourty told by Shannon
On Monday, November 23rd, Innis was home to stay after wrapping a 10 day long job on Friday (one we never thought he’d finish!). The last week of that job was tough. I was in so much pain and we’d kinda assumed I’d go a little early with babe, so Innis was super jumpy at work, just anticipating a call and wanting so much to be with me. I spent that last week finishing up organizing, cleaning and doing laundry (with much of Innis’ help in the evenings), taking baths and eating labour cookies, which, while delicious, were just giving me wicked heartburn. With Eden at her dad’s and Ari at school, this was our first, full day alone together.
We had an appointment with our midwife, Kayley, at 11am. I slept in until after 10 that day (glorious), and was woken with my usual treat when Innis is not working- a coffee in bed. We monied on out for our appointment at 11 and arrived just on time with a parking spot right in front of Pomegranate’s door. We met with Kayley, who we really liked and had a nice appointment. It was the first time we heard, ‘oh yah, baby’s head is nice and low, locked right in’. She asked if we wanted a sweep and we declined. She said their team (Yarra and Dawn), were mostly predicting a birth the next weekend (at 41 weeks). We said we were hoping for Wednesday so Eden (our 6 yo daughter) would be back home and we wouldn’t have to go grab her from her dad’s and so we could have a few days with her until she went back again.
After our appointment, we walked up to Laughing Bean and shared a cinnamon bun and had americanos. We snuggled and chatted and reflected on how different things were about to be, not knowing just how soon! I’d wanted to find another bra that I could labour in, something a bit cuter, so we decided to head to Oakridge Mall and see what The Bay had. Even though that department was huge, I didn’t find anything I liked, so we headed up to The Gap. I remember a pretty strong bh contraction happening right before we got into the store. I had to stop and wait it out. It felt different though than the ones I’d been having forever, which had been very intense, but were still just pressure and discomfort, as opposed to pain. This one had more of an achey, period kinda pain, alongside the pressure and tightening.
We found a pretty, yoga type bra, but they didn’t have my size, so they called and put one on hold at PC downtown. We decided to stop at the food court and have some poutine. It was pretty disappointing poutine, but we were just having such a nice time wandering and laughing together, Innis happily walking at my snail’s pace and holding me up when walking and the pressure felt hard. After we were done, we headed back to the van. I had another one of those contractions on the way. It was around 2, so we had time to get downtown, go to PC and still be on time to grab Ari from his after school comic book club at 4:30.
We parked at PC and went inside. I had another one of those contractions. I remember, it was right in front of a mobile phone company kiosk and the lady manning the station was watching me. They weren’t intense enough that I was making any kind of scene. But I did have to stop and breathe with focus. We went into The Gap and I tried on the bra to be sure the size was fine. It was, and I took what was to be my very last belly picture in the change room, remembering that I hadn’t done my ’40 week picture’ yet.
Afterwards, I wanted an Orange Julius pretty bad (had been craving one since Oakridge), so we got one of those and headed back to the van. Around 3:30, I sent Morag (our birth photographer and friend) this text:
I got in the bath when I got home and it felt sooo good. The bath had been my only true, happy place in the last couple weeks. All the pain from the spd, my sore back, the crazy pressure.. It all went away in the bath. While I was in there though, I did have a few more of these different feeling contractions. Morag texted to check in an hour and a half later.
After Morag said to call her, I did. She said ‘I think you need to get Eden home’. I still felt like this couldn’t be it, and didn’t want to go get Eden if this was just a false alarm, but Morag basically convinced me that things were happening and laughed at me kinda being in denial about being in labour. She said she was coming over with the pool just so it was set up, and then could either go hang out at her friend Jessica’s, in the neighbourhood, or just snuggle up on our couch. I remember still thinking, ‘ugh, what if we get Eden, Morag comes, sets up the pool, goes to sleep on our couch and then we all wake up the next morning and there’s no baby’.
But after talking to her and having a couple more waves, I thought ‘I think this may be it; these are too intense.’ This is when I put the tens machine on. It felt immediately incredible and I’d wished I’d started it earlier. We decided to text Lukas and let him know Innis would be on his way shortly.
Innis did a quick run to Donald’s to grab me some more juice and some extra snacks for Morag and the midwives, then went and grabbed Eden. He said Lukas gave him a huge hug and was super excited for us.
The time while Innis was away grabbing Eden was when it really sunk in for me that this was happening. And I wasn’t freaking out in the way I thought I would. I thought I’d have some panic time, where I realized ‘oh shit, I can’t stop this now’. But I’d spent so much time intentioning positivity and beauty into this labour, I think it paid off during that time. I felt really calm. I remembered that I’d wanted to give my hair a curl to give it a little lift. So Ari and I came upstairs and I did that, stopping a time or two to boost my tens during a wave. I felt beautiful and strong and ready.
Eden and Innis arrived around 7:45/8 and I heard Innis say ‘guess who I’ve got?’ while coming up the stairs. I was so happy to see Eden and we all snuggled on the bed for a bit. I felt like ‘ok, now, we’re good to go’. The kids wanted to stay up so bad, but after going downstairs, they had a little bowl of cereal each and then we said they needed to get their jammies on and brush and pee. We told them we probably had a night ahead of us and they needed their sleep in case we needed to wake them up in a few hours. Eden wanted to sleep on the couch we’d pushed into Ari’s room to make way for the birth pool. So Innis snuggled up on the couch with them and read them a story and tucked them in.
In the meantime, I also had a mama from potd coming to pick up a playpen she was borrowing. I’d forgotten to ask Innis to go fetch it from the attic before he started story time with the kids, to leave it out on the porch for her. Then while brushing my teeth, I saw her from the bathroom window standing outside on her phone (I hadn’t left a number, had mentioned I was kinda in labour, and she was obviously wondering what the heck she should do) so I opened up the door, in my bra and jammie pants, rebozo wrapped around my waist, tens machine strapped on, toothbrush in my mouth and apologized. She was so sweet and excited for me. She kept her voice super low and even bent down and pet Bunji for a minute through one of my waves. She left wishing me the very best.
In my call with Morag, she’d said she was going to come over after she got her boys to bed, asking me to text if they got any closer. I had a few back to backs around 8:30 and let her know. At 8:48, she said she was on her way.
Morag arrived around 9:30. The kids were asleep, and we decided it’d be best to get the pool set up and then all retire to bed, in hopes that I could get a bit of sleep before things really got rolling. By 10:30, we said goodnight to Morag. She was all cozied up on the couch with a blanket, pillow and netflix. I decided I’d take some gravol, hoping that’d relax me into enough of a sleep that I’d have a bit of rest on my side. Innis also poured me a glass of white wine, which I think I only ended up having a sip or two from.
We laid down in bed and thought maybe we’d try and watch a show (Better Call Saul), but decided against it, thinking we really had to take advantage of possible sleep time. So we dimmed the lights and I turned on a podcast quietly.
And just like that, things started to pick up. I was trying so hard to sleep, but the pain was getting so intense with each wave. And they were about 4/5 minutes apart at this time. I also kept having to pee, it felt, like every 10 minutes. I was feeling pretty weary as the gravol had kicked in and I’d almost dozed off in between a few of the waves, only to wake to a wave or to have to pee again. After about a half hour or 45 minutes of trying to sleep, I got on to my knees with my bum up in the air. I started moaning pretty good, and Morag came upstairs. I remember her giving my feet a little rub and some pressure which felt nice. She was taking some pictures while I was waving away on the bed with my bum in the air. I remember her asking around 11:30/12 if I thought it was time to call Yarra, our midwife on call. I said probably and while Morag was talking to her on the phone, she asked me ‘do you mind if she brings a student?’ I remember thinking ‘ugh, really..?’ I kinda didn’t want extra people here and was feeling pretty unexcited about it, then said ‘oh wait, is it Eleanor?’ Eleanor had been at many of our prenatal appointments and I really liked her. Morag asked and told me ‘yes!’, so I said that was totally fine.
After that phone call, I don’t remember how much time passed, just that the next thing I knew, Yarra was kneeling by my bed and Eleanor was sitting up in our attic room with us. I remember thinking ‘when did they get here?’ I later found out it was around 12:30/45.
This is really when I kind of left reality, or rather, when I lost all sense of time. I started getting really pukey and remember Innis, Morag and Eleanor switching out my puke bowls. I couldn’t get as much out as I wanted because the abdominal force of heaving was making the waves feel unbearable. I tried getting in a puke between waves, but just like my last two labours, I had very little to no break in between waves. It was like the pain in between was comparable to the worst period pain you’ve ever had in your life. And then the pain during, was 7th circle of hell business. So even between, I was so scared to puke, though I needed to so bad. I managed to get little bits out here and there.
I started trying to figure out a way to make friends with these waves. I knew I wasn’t going to be able to stop the pain at this point (I’d dreamed and wished for a relatively pain free, 3rd time around kinda breezy labour. Universe: haha). But I thought that I needed to find a way to not let these get on top of me, or they’d drown me and I’d just lose it. So I started to play in my head with visualizing the sounds I was making. I was doing some very deep ohm-ing. I remember Innis telling me that the sound was so beautiful, that it was like singing. I loved hearing him say that. In my head it wasn’t beautiful. It was just loud. And powerful. Bigger than me, and something I had no control over. But it was so necessary in order for me to keep control. I started seeing the sound as a deep, dark tunnel, which I had to go down, down, down into. I’d go and go until I reached the peak of my wave, where I’d try and envision my sound wrapping around my whole uterus and swirling around it, kinda madly. The second that wave started to come down.. uggh. Such a relief. I mean, there was zero relief-relief in this labour, not at any point, once things had picked up. But that moment that the waves started coming down from its apex… I knew I was going to get the relief of a 8/10 pain, rather than a 84/10 pain.
Innis had started to do this amazing counter pressure on my lower back. I wasn’t experiencing any back labour, but I needed something really hard to push back into, something to focus on, and it became that I could not go one single wave without it. His poor wrists and arms. He gave it everything, every single time; I could feel it.
When we were still upstairs, I remember asking ‘how will we know when it’s time to go in the pool; I don’t want to go too early’. Everyone said ‘you can go now- it’s fine!’ And I felt such relief. I knew the water would feel so good. I knew I couldn’t have one of these waves on the stairs so I asked if it was all set up (yes), then waited for one more wave, and as soon as it was done, I went downstairs (our attic stairs scared Yarra, and both she and Morag told me afterwards that Yarra said ‘she can NOT have that baby upstairs! How would we get down these in a hurry??). I got straight into the pool. It was set up right in front of our wood stove, which all along I had dreamed of it crackling and popping alongside us, the smell of the woodsmoke making me dreamy and happy. But a fire never happened. I think I would’ve been too hot. Innis asked me at one point if I wanted Ari to make one (he couldn’t leave me for more than a minute or so as the waves were unrelenting). I remember saying ‘no, it’s ok’.
My time in the pool was kind of lost to me. I remembered everything that happened. I could hear what people were saying. I’d respond to questions and things when I could. But I was so inward at that point. I was going down that deep, dark tunnel every two minutes and focusing so hard on making it to the other side. Because this time was so intense and I was so far away, I’ll just recall things, though they’re not necessarily in order..
-The water was never hot enough. I kept wanting more and between Innis, Morag and Eleanor, they kept adding boiling pots and running hot water through the hose when the hot water would come back. Yarra mentioned a few times that it would help having the fan off, but that fan was so essential to me. I loved the feeling of being super warm in the water with a cool breeze on my face. It helped with the pukeyness too, which hadn’t stopped.
-I remember that almost every time I looked toward the couch, Yarra was sitting there charting and offering kind smiles.
-I remember Eleanor sitting most of the time right beside the pool and affirming me. She had a really calming presence. At one point she got up and made everyone sandwiches.
-I remember seeing Morag’s smiling face and feeling safe and comfortable knowing she was there. She was so reassuring.
-I remember being so so tired in between waves, feeling like.. ‘if I could just get some sleep…’
-One time, between a couple waves, I did fall asleep. I’d rolled over onto my back, tucked my head into Innis’ arm and drifted. I remembered wanting it to last so bad. And graciously, it did, for what felt like 4 or 5 minutes, which felt so blessed, because these waves were coming every 2 minutes or so.
-I remember being only vaguely aware of Morag taking pictures/video. I’d thought, while pregnant, that I’d be mindful of it. Work just makes it so that I’m always aware of where the camera is and what my face and body are doing. But the camera was no interference whatsoever. I was too inside myself.
-At one point, Yarra mentioned that if I reached up, I would probably feel the bag of waters bulging. She asked me to check and see how far up they felt (I didn’t want any checks done on me during labour). I felt and they were no more than from the tip of my finger to the first knuckle. That surprised me. I thought that was really close! And that was the first time I thought ‘there may be an end in sight, I might be close’.
-I remember Eleanor asking if I’d like some of my frozen grapes from the freezer. It sounded like the only thing I could really wrap my head around eating. She brought me a little bowl and fed me one. I instantly felt nauseous. She let me spit the chewed up peel into her hand. Other than that half bite, I didn’t eat a single thing in labour.
-Everyone continuously offered me sips of whatever I was drinking. It was mostly sparkly water, apple juice or a mix of them together. I didn’t want anything to drink but knew how important it was to stay hydrated.
-Yarra and Eleanor asked a few times when last I’d peed. I knew how important it was to keep my bladder empty, but I really didn’t feel like I had to go much. I had one little pee as soon as I’d gotten into the pool, around 1:30, and only had a couple more little ones in the pool. But it felt similar to the puking sensation: it intensified the waves so I didn’t really like trying.
-They also suggested a couple times for me to get up and walk to the bathroom and sit down for a pee as that motion almost always gets your water to break at that point in labour. But there was NO way I was getting out of that pool.
At 2:50, Ari wandered out of his room to pee and saw things were very much in full swing. He stayed up for an hour with us, rubbing my back and my head and giving me kisses. He was so sweet and quiet and helpful. I heard him ask behind me at some point (he was huddled on the floor between the pool and the windows with Innis) ‘papa, is it ok if I go lay back down in my bed for a bit?’ I remember hearing Innis say ‘oh buddy, of course, you don’t have to ask’.
After Ari went back to bed, I remember feeling like things were definitely happening, like I must be getting closer. During one good wave, Innis had called Yarra over and I’d heard her say ‘oh that’s just some show, that’s great, we’re definitely getting closer’, after Innis must’ve seen some stuff coming out and into the pool. After that wave, I looked around the pool and saw a few, little bits floating. That made me so happy inside. I knew it meant I was close. After that, I was looking around the pool often to see if there was more. I had my head down, nearly in the water, eyes mostly closed, during most of my time in the pool. Focusing on these little bits that were in front of me really helped. I was also feeling inside me between each wave to see if the bag of waters was moving further down. It was slightly and felt so cool to touch, knowing my baby was that close and knowing that as soon as those burst, I’d be, likely, minutes away from birthing this baby.
This was the time that Yarra really started suggesting I try and either stand up, or get one foot up under me for a squat, something to assist in putting some pressure on my bag of water so it’d burst. Even though Innis had made me this wonderful contraption affixed to an arch in our living room that I could hang sheets or a rebozo from (that would’ve been perfect for this time specifically), I could not wrap my head around standing up at all. There was no way.
My waves were really starting to take on a different feel and sound now. At the end of each one, I started grunting pretty hard. I remember Yarra coming over and saying ‘So these are really taking on a new kind of sound, this is really good’. She also asked if I could feel any cervix in the way, and I said I wasn’t sure if it was just the sqishedness of his head, or cervix, so I just asked her to check quickly. She did and said ‘no cervix, you’re fully dilated and ready to go!’
This was when Innis went and woke up the kids. Eden snuggled up next to Innis, wrapping her arms around his leg and stayed very quiet. I remember asking her a couple times ‘You okay Eeby?’ and she just nodded. She seemed a little pensive. I’d prepared her pretty thoroughly for what to expect, the sounds she’d hear me making etc, but it had to still be pretty intense feeling for her, seeing mama in that state. But she was cozied up between her papa and Ari, and they weren’t worried, so she seemed ok. I remember hearing her say ‘I can see mama’s toes!’ She was close to the floor, looking into the pool. It felt good having both of the kids there. They were so gentle with me. Eden had grabbed a scoopy utensil from her play kitchen and was scooping up water and pouring it on my back. Ari kept giving me little pats and rubs and kisses. I knew things were getting close if everyone thought they should get up. This made me hopeful.
The waves were so fucking powerful at this point that I couldn’t really believe this was happening in my body. I started to get the most extreme pain in the front of my pelvis. It felt like someone was actually cracking me open, breaking my bones. I think this was the only time where I got anywhere near tears, saying ‘it just so hurts so bad in my hips, in the front here, like I’m breaking’. I was rubbing the tops of my legs hard, trying to disperse the pain.
I remember too at this point, when I really started grunting my way through the end of the waves, that I knew I was right there, that this baby was going to come out very soon, and that unless I just completely surrendered to the insane power of this pain, and just let it come all the way down, let it be as STRONG as it it could possibly be, that it’d just take longer. I wanted this baby out so bad at this point. The pain was becoming a beast, so big that I didn’t know how to do it anymore. I knew I just had to let it be really strong and let it take over me and that if I did that, I could be done. I remember hearing Morag say a few times ‘just let it be strong, let it be big’ and that was so helpful because it was exactly what I was wrestling with. I knew that I just had to meet the madness, let the animal completely take over, let it have me, as terrifying as that felt.
So I reluctantly got one of my legs up under me and only a few waves later, while going through one on my back, my water broke and it was such a crazy feeling! It was a huge pop, but muted because it was under the water in the pool. Someone, I think Yarra, said ‘there you go!’ And I felt so relieved. I knew I was so close. After that, I stayed with one leg squatted up beneath me, leaning back against the side of the pool. I felt inside me and could feel baby’s head! Could feel hair! It was only a couple more waves and I could feel the head moving down and knew it was happening any minute now. Innis was in front of me by this time, because I was no longer on my hands and knees and didn’t need him on my back anymore. Then, just like that, I felt his head coming right to opening of my vagina and said ‘his head is coming!’
Words will not do justice to what that felt like. There was a head between my legs. The force was crazy. The urge to just push it out, yell it out was so great. I was terrified of tearing though and knew I had to just breathe here. As baby’s head started crowning, I had my hand fully encompassing it. I wanted to gauge exactly where it was so I could control the pushing. The burning was pretty incredible. After breathing and holding back for what felt like half a minute or so, I said ‘I just have to push it out!’ I think it was Yarra who said ‘it’s ok, go ahead’. Innis was right in front of me now and I don’t think he expected it to happen so quick. He was just going ‘oh my god, oh god, oh god’. I loved hearing his anticipation too. It mirrored what I was feeling. It was such a huge feeling physically, but also emotionally.. We were here! This moment.. I couldn’t believe we were about to see this baby outside me, that I was almost done, that I was going to be able to say ‘I did it!’
Then the head was out and Innis and I were both going ‘the head’s out!’ and Innis reached down and cradled his head, getting ready to catch our baby. It felt like less than 30 seconds before I couldn’t resist the urge to just push the rest of this babe out. I said ‘I’m pushing it out, I can’t stop!’ And swooooosh, baby just spilled out, into Innis’ hands. Yarra got in there pretty quickly too to do a quick cord unravel, and then baby was passed right up to my chest. I kept saying ‘oh my god, it’s out, it’s out, I’m done, it’s out, I can’t believe I did that’.
Right away, everyone remembered to ask Eden to come around and tell us whether we had a little boy or a girl. I was holding babe close to my chest but opened up the legs so she could see. Innis said ‘Eden, what do we have, what do you see?’ And she said ‘It’s a penis’. And then we all freaked out, so happy to know we had a little boy. The looks on the kids’ faces were perfect. They looked in awe. And Innis was so so elated, full of tears and disbelief and the most beautiful face-broke-open kind of smile. He kissed me a hundred times and kept saying how brave and amazing and beautiful I was, how proud he was of me. I just couldn’t believe I’d done it. I felt so fucking brave, like I’d just conquered the biggest thing, walked the fucking wild and made it out.
Also, this was the first time I’d asked all night ‘what time is it??’ It was still dark outside and I’d lost all sense of time. When someone said it was just after 6, I was shocked. I had no idea we’d gone all night! I thought maybe 2 or 3 hours? I was very surprised to know it was morning. I’m so glad I never asked. Knowing the time, knowing my dilation.. Neither would’ve been helpful and actually would’ve been potentially really discouraging. Had I known it was 5:40 right before my water broke, I would’ve been so discouraged that I’d been going so hardcore with waves every couple minutes for 6 hours without my water even breaking yet.. I would’ve felt hopeless. And I’d have had no way of knowing that in only 5 minutes, my water would break, and in 25 minutes, I’d have a baby on my chest. So happy I just went with it and didn’t ask for the time, for vaginal checks etc.. I just knew that my body would do exactly what it needed to do in the time it and baby needed. I really did trust that.
After a few minutes in the pool, Eleanor helped me up as Yarra suggested we move to the couch and get warm. The second I stood up, the most violent shivers came over me and I kept saying ‘I’m freezing, I’m so cold’. It was obviously just the crazy adrenaline. I shook so hard for a minute until I was covered under a pile of blankets with a heating pad and our little beba squished up against my chest. Being on that couch, with our baby and being DONE was such an incredible feeling. I was absolutely high. And as it lightened outside, I saw it was the first morning this fall that the mountains (an incredible view from our huge picture windows in our living room) had a full dusting of snow. It was so beautiful and is one of my favourite things every year. I love that first snow and always kind of feel like it’s for me. I definitely felt that this morning!
I lay there with my baby on top of me, Innis right behind me, giving me endless loves, Eden going bananas over this cute baby (!!!) and feeling positively on top of the world. My placenta came out with a couple good pushes maybe 15 minutes after laying down. It stayed in a bowl next to me so baby and placenta could stay attached for a good, long while until all the blood had stopped flowing. After 45 minutes or more, Innis cut the cord. Eden and Innis got to have a good look at my placenta as Eleanor gave them a little tour. They found it quite fascinating (placentas are crazy! So cool). After finishing up and taking it to the kitchen, Morag made me a placenta smoothie in my vitamix! It was awesome. I had a few more over the next couple days.
Yarra checked me for tears and while she said I did have one little on my perineum, she said if I were really careful about my healing, did little/no stairs, sitz baths every day, stayed laying down for a good week or more.. that I could avoid a stitch, as she knew how badly I did not want any. I promised I’d be good about it!
The contractions afterwards were super intense, way stronger than I remember them ever being after my last two births. I took Advil and Tylenol and had a heating pad on, but they were still pretty killer. Eleanor suggested I try going for a pee which may help. She helped me to the bathroom, filled my peri bottle for me and then helped me into the shower. It felt so good to be in there. I cranked the hot way up, and just stood in it for a few minutes. I gently cleaned myself and then had Eleanor come and help me back out. She got me into my mesh undies and got my pad on, then helped me back to the couch. She was so kind and helpful. Her helping clean and dress me felt like such a ‘village’ moment; I felt so cared for. Once I was all padded up and cozy in my robe, it was just bliss out time. Laying there, nursing this perfect little baby, with my ecstatic daughter, super calm and loving son, and my most favourite man in the whole wide world, was just so surreal. I loved every minute of it. I had some banana bread, a bliss ball.. Innis made coffee for all of us. Yarra and Eleanor left a couple of hours after and Morag stayed and hung out with us, editing some pictures for another hour or more. She also showed us video of the actual birth (sound off! Didn’t think I could handle that yet!). It was bananas. I still couldn’t believe I’d just done that.
Within another hour or so, Morag left, after we made sure she knew how much we so appreciated her being there. It was so cool for me to see Morag in those shoes. I’ve known her as a friend for years now, have watched her work grow and grow, watch her master her mad photography skills, and have had countless conversations about doula-ing, as I’d spent many years in those shoes before she’d ever started. But to have her support ME in that way and benefit from her skill, her knowledge, her experience.. It was pretty special. I felt so good about her being there. It was very right. Her vibe was perfect. And I can’t imagine it without her now.
After basking in baby glow a bit longer and making sure I had everything I needed, Innis curled up on the other couch, after taking it back out of Ari’s room, and had a nap for an hour or so. He’d worked so frickin hard, and we hadn’t slept for 24 hours. I wasn’t even tired. I had too much adrenaline to sleep. I just relaxed. Was just loving this morning. I sent out several texts and just nursed and watched Eden play and draw.
The birth of our little Moshe was so incredibly special. It was hard as f*%#, but just could not have been more perfect. I felt so surrounded, so safe. So empowered, like a total warrior. Everyone made me feel powerful and beautiful. And doing this with Innis was everything I think both of us could’ve hoped for. His love carried me through it all.
We are so happy and so thankful.
A huge thank you to my clients for sharing their birth stories with the world. It means so much to so many.