The Birth of Finnigan

The birth of my son was an amazing experience that completely and forever changed my thoughts on child birth. As you know, we decided to have a home birth and it was quite simply awesome. I would do it over again right this very second just to experience it all again. The whole birth was mine, it wasn’t dictated by a Dr. or nurse. There was no one there checking my vitals every half hour, no one stabbing me for bloodwork, no one in my face telling me to push. It was wholly up to me.

I had wonderful support persons. My mom, my husband, my doula, Antonette, her apprentice, Flora, my midwife, Judi and her assistant Angie. I felt in control for the entire experience. I had help when I needed it, I was left alone when I wanted to be alone. I had great advice on different laboring positions, ways to get labor in gear, and ways to help aleviate the pain.

When all was said and done, I wasn’t nearly as tired as I was with my hospital birth. I was put to bed in my own bed with my little Finnigan in my arms, my family around me. My husband slept next to me, he didn’t have to “go home” as he would have at the hospital. I was able to take a shower in my shower. I ate the foods I wanted and drank what I wanted. We had a champagne toast, all nine of us, in our bedroom once Finnigan was bathed, weighed, measured, and snuggled in my arms.

My Birth Story…

He is here, and he is beautiful, and everything I could have ever hoped for. Finnigan Douglas Durf was born on Sunday May 18th at 12:16 am. He weighed 7lbs 15 oz. An ounce shy of 8 pounds. He was 19 and 3/4″ long. I was in labor for 21 hours, from the time I started pusing to the time he was born it was one hour. He looks just like his Daddy, except for that classic Besemer nose and chubby cheeks. I am so in love with this baby and filled with such awe and wonderment. I have a baby boy, a son.

My labor started early Saturday morning. Late Friday, the evening before I ate a banana split rather foolishly, and woke up at 3:00 am on the nose Saturday morning with a horrible gut ache and gas. I was in agony. After a dose of Maalox and half an hour in the bathroom I realized that this must be something more significant than just a belly ache. I went into our bedroom and woke Travis up. I told him either we were having a baby tonight or he could sleep in after this had passed, but I needed him to sit with me while I soaked in the tub. At 3:40 am I climbed into a nice warm tub, and after sitting and settling down my water broke.

My contractions grew steadily at that point and continued strongly for two hours. Travis and I went back to sleep for a while as we both knew that we would need the rest in the hours to come. Everyone had been telling me previously to sleep between contractions. I did sleep a little between contractions and finally at 5:00 am I called my midwife Judi and told her my waterbroke and that I was having hard contractions. She said, “OK, call me when things get serious.” I also called my mom, when she picked up the phone I said, “Guess what we’re doing today.” We discussed arrangements for her to meet Elizabeth and her Dad so she could bring Elizabeth back to PA with her. We slept for another hour and a half and at 6:30 I called Elizabeth’s Dad and let them know what was going on. They said they would meet my mom at 8:30.

At this point I noticed that my contractions had slowed down to almost nothing and I began to get discouraged. I didn’t want this to be a false alarm after I had just called everyone. I tried to sleep some more but just couldn’t get comfortable. So after tossing and turning for another hour I decided to get up. We had called everyone on our list that wanted to be notified when I had gone into labor. Travis went on a nesting binge and was busy picking up things around the house and vacuuming while I sat on the couch eating breakfast. At one point that morning I decided to try walking on the treadmill and go up and down the stairs several times to get my labor going again. Nothing really helped, my contractions were still weak and intermitent. My doula called to check on my progress and to let me know that her apprentice was driving up to her house and they would leave from their together.

Mid morning I decided to bake some cookies for us. I was restless and wanted something to do. Antonette called again and I told her to just come on over and we would see if we could get things moving along again. In the meantime I made oatmeal scotchies. Antonett was joking with Flora, the apprentice and telling her before she called me that I was probably baking. My mom called while on the road and said that she would be stopping at Walmart to pick up a few things for lunch. I gave her a list of things we needed.

I spent my time in between popping cookies in and out of the oven, on the birthing ball. My contractions were steady, every ten minutes apart, but still not strong or even really uncomfortable in my opinion. Mom and Elizabeth arrived, I think around 1:00. She bought sugar cookies at Walmart, some with pink icing and some with blue so we were “prepared”. We unpacked groceries and I got a chicken sandwich. I had been eating protein throughout the day for strength and honey for energy and drinking lots of water.

Shortly after Mom and Elizabeth arrived, Antonette and Flora showed up too. I was laying down, so I got up and came out of the bedroom. I was introduced to Flora. She was so sweet and quiet. She and Antonette got me on the birthing ball and decied to do hip presses to help relieve some of my back pain. At this point I wasn’t all that uncomfortable, but was willing to try anything to get things going strong. I even knit for a while on the birthing ball trying to distract myself. Travis rubbed my back for me. Around two or three my MIL called to check on us and see if she could stop by. Travis said yes and I was really upset with him. I didn’t want to be distracted and now was not the time to have my chatty MIL stop by. The entire time she was there I didn’t have a single contraction. I was torn between trying to keep myself calm so I wouldn’t inhibit things, and wishing she would leave and wanting to strangle my husband for being son insensitive to my needs at the time. Her opening comment when she walked in the door was, “What are you doing fooling around, haven’t you had that baby yet?” Great. Anyway, she finally left and after a while my contractions started again. We went for a walk up to the greenhouse and back to try and get my contractions going faster. We passed my Aunt’s house and my cousin was out grilling. She yelled, “Are you trying to push that baby out?” I said, “Yes ma’am!” and kept on walking.When we got home I decided to go lay down with Travis for a while and rest. I remember feeling as though everything we were doing was distracting and frustrating me so I just wanted to lay down someplace quiet and be alone with my husband.

We lay in bed together, me on my left side with my pocket pc so I could time the contractions. Travis lay behind me ready at my cue to rub my back through contractions. When I was laying down my contractions began to grow stronger and closer together and more uncomfortable. They were deep in my back. I would breathe my way through them and I had to concentrate. Travis pressed on my lower back for counterpressure. I decided to get up and try the ball again since my contractions were getting stronger. Mom suggested a glass of wine to help me relax, so we all had a small glass of wine. We girls were visiting and giggling so Travis hung out downstairs passing some time. My contractions began to slow down again, but I noticed as long as I wasn’t the center of attention they were steady. So the girls actively ignored me for a while.

I had decided I had better luck laying on my side in bed so I decided to lay down with Travis again. And again my contractions began to pick up and strengthen. I think I needed the quiet and peace to really focus on what was going on. Mom and Antonette would check on me periodically. Mom put a casserole in the oven that I had made and frozen ahead of time. I had a bit of casserole while laying down and then Antonette suggested that a nice hot shower would make the contractions steadier and quicker. I got in and began massaging my nipples as Travis had earlier to kick start things into high gear. Very shortly after I had a very heavy contraction that lasted the whole time I was in the shower. I knew things were moving now and when I got out of the shower I yelled to Travis, “Call the midwife, we are ready!”

I put my lighter housecoat on and came out into the living room where I immediately began leaning and rocking on the birthing ball. My contractions were hard and strong and steady. I had so much pressure on my lower back. Travis, Antonett, and Flora each took turns putting counter pressure on my back. Judy showed up a short time later. She didn’t say mcuh, she just began bringing her equipment in and setting things up. She moved with purpose and in a way so as not to disturb me. When she was set up she had me lay down to check my dilation. Four centimeters. I had worked all day for only four centemeters. I was a little discouraged. OK, I was a lot discouraged, Judy said, “Let’s get you in the tub.”

I lay in the tub as it filled with hot water. Judi squirted an antibacterial gel in the water to prevent infection. I was on my left side and the contractions came in steady waves. Travis, Antonette, and Flora were still taking shifts on my back. After a while Judi checked me again and I was six centimeters. During one of my contractions Judi felt my abdomen and told me I wasn’t contracting at all. I told her it was all in my back. She said my uterus wasn’t contracting at all though, and that’s what I needed to push the baby out. This didn’t bother me or seem to sink in at the time, my body just kept telling me that this baby was working on coming out.

She left the bathroom to go record a few things in her journal. As I lay there I began to feel the urge to push with each contraction. When Judi came back I said, “I want to push, I really feel like I need to push.” She said, “Go ahead, let’s see what happens.” See if that ever happens in a hospital, a woman being told she can push at 6 centimeters. On the next contraction I pushed with it and it felt amazing! It helped with the back pressure and I felt like there was actually some real work going on. I made it through four more contractions in the tub before I was so antsy I couldn’t stay in the tub anymore.

I got out and came into the living room where Judi and her assistant, Angie, had set up the birthing stool for me. I sat on the birthing stool and a hush came over me and everyone. It was an almost tangible pause, it was weird. I noticed Elizabeth had fallen asleep on the couch and was just starting to wake up. I was beginning to be a little nervous that I had stalled again. Then all of a sudden I felt a wave of nauseau begin to build inside me. Someone gave me a bucket and I vomitted quite violently about three times. I saw Elizabeth on the couch and she looked very frightened, so I told her I was ok. Flora went and sat with her and put her arm around her and reassured her. She told her this was a good sign and that it was normal and everything was going good. My contractions came steady and fast at that point and I pushed with each of them. I was grunting hard, like a caveman Elizabeth told me later. I was making low gutteral noises and moans. I felt the most amazing power moving down through me with each contraction.

With each passing contraction I became louder and more vocal. I would say, “Whoa that was a good one.” and at one point I said, “Holy Shit!…sorry, excuse me.” Judi checked my dilation periodically and I was dilating fast now. Travis and Antonette were on either side of me rubbing my back and wiping the sweat off my neck and brow with a cold washcloth. They were amazing. The sweat was literally pouring off of every inch of my body.

The pain began to build and with each contraction I was starting to feel more and more tired. I kept thinking this was just the beginning of the pushing and I would have another couple of hours of work. I said, “OK baby, here’s the deal:  either you come out right now or I’m going to take a break and go take a nap.” Judi said it doesn’t work that way and I could take a nap when it was all over. During an especially strong and painful contraction Judi was checking my progress and I said, “Judi, please stop, that hurts.” to which she replied, “That’s not me honey, it’s the baby.” I couldn’t believe the baby was in the birth canal already. He was though, and with each push I felt that bulging pressure moving down and getting closer to coming out. I began to feel that familiar burning and stinging and I couldn’t believe we were this far already. I asked Judi how much longer I had and she said, “Soon honey, real soon.” For some reason I still was thinking maybe another 45 minutes. I cried out, “It hurts, Get out! GET OUT! GET OUT!” Judi said I was crowning and the burn deepened. I started panting a bit to slow myself down, I didn’t want to tear.

Elizabeth and my mom came out of Elizabeth’s room and moved to where they could watch. Elizabeth had gone and hid in her closet when I was screaming. Mom went in and reassured her and calmed her down and brough her back out. With my next push the baby crowned and I had some relief. Judi waited until the baby’s head turned and then said, “One more push and you’re done.” I said, “I don’t know if I can do this.” I was remembering how much harder it was to push out Elizabeth’s shoulders than her head. I made my mind up, steeled myself and pushed. His shoulders were much easier and I was surprised. I felt him slide out of me and I reached down and caught him. The pain and exhaustion were immediately gone. I was euphoric.

There was an immediate palpable stillness in the air as I held him upside down while we waited as he drained. I wanted to lift the baby and see him but Judi said, “Wait, let him drain.” I remember my first thought was how hot and slick he was. The second was the smell of him. It was a wonderful, intoxicating, warm scent. I am sure that is what heaven smells like. After what felt like an eternity I turned him over to see if Finn was a boy or girl. I hadn’t heard Judi call him a him. The moment I saw that little penis I exclaimed, “Oh, my Finn!” I lifted him to my belly and felt a familiar tug. Another short umbilical cord. I didn’t care because I at least had him in my arms across my lap this time. I held him on my lap as we waited for the cord to stop pulsing. He cried just to let us know he was finally here and Judi wrapped a towel around him.

Travis and I were stroking his face and his head. Mom and Elizabeth were crying and laughing. Elizabeth stood by hesitantly. I said to her, “It’s ok honey, come here, you can touch him.” She immediately stood next to Travis and touched Finn’s head. Teh smile on her face was priceless. We sat and held him for a while, it was bliss. After a while Judi clamped his cord and Daddy cut it. I was glad he did. Judi noted that there were three blood vessels in it. I don’t know the significance, but I want to remember everything. With the cord cut I finally lifted Finn up to see if he was ready to nurse. He wasn’t interested just yet so I passed him to Travis saying, “Would you like to hold your son?” Travis held him for a while and then passed him to Elizabeth.

I delivered the placenta easily and with normal bleeding. Angie inspected it and showed it to Flora and Elizabeth. After Finn had been passed to Elizabeth, Angie and Judi helped me up off the birthing stool and slowly walked me back to the bedroom and helped me into bed. Once settled, Finn was placed in my arms. We tried nursing again and he took to it like a fish to water. He had a good latch on and is a strong sucker. When the living room was cleaned up and Finn had nursed for a bit, Angie washed him and weighed and measured him next to me on the bed. When he was given back to me, everyone gathered around the bed and we toasted the birth of our son with the last bottle of raspberry champagne from our wedding. It was an amazing night, a peaceful slow rain fell outside.

Later Judy told my mom, “That wasn’t a birth, that was an eviction!” She said out of the thousands of babies she has delivered I was the third woman she had seen bring a child into this world without contractions. At one point while I was in the tub she told my mom, “She isn’t having contractions, she’s going to push that baby out by sheer will.”

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6 Responses to The Birth of Finnigan

  1. The Monkey (Elizabeth) says:

    It was an amazing experience. After my beatiful brother was born my Nana (Mom) gave me a beautiful necklace for a ” Big Sis` Gift”. The birth of my brother was a memorable experience I will never forget. ( And I got the bragging rights to say ” I got to see my brother being born IN MY LIVING ROOM” to all my friends) He is a cute little baby boy who has brought great joy to my life already.

    The Monkey 🙂

  2. Cynthia says:

    Wow! Congratulations again. It’s quite a story. I’m glad to hear you had such a good experience with your home birth.

  3. Brigitte says:

    Aw Tracy, I’m soooo happy for you and your family, and thank you so much for sharing. I feel like I was right there!

    And the Monkey surely must have been one of the coolest kids in school with that experience!

  4. 2trees says:

    Made me cry. 🙂
    Happy 1 month birthday, baby Finn!

  5. KeanaLee says:

    I cried! What a great story, it makes me want to have the next one at home but I tell ya right now I am way too chicken! Happy Birthday Finn! Beautiful words Monkey, someday your brother will appriciate them. Take good care of him.

  6. Wow. Just… wow.

    Thank you for sharing that.

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