So happy to announce that Daisy Burke White was born on 5/3/16 at 4:56 pm! 6 lb 14 oz, 20.5 inches long. And yes, a girl! I was convinced since the minute Dani told me she was pregnant that this baby was a boy, so I was (and still am a little bit) so surprised! No one else seemed surprised, as all the kids in Dani’s family are girls.
However, waiting for Daisy to be born was full of surprises!
On 5/1/16, Dani’s due date, her water broke at 10:30 pm. She ran upstairs and showed me an amnicator (which is a long q-tip with pH paper on the tip that turns alkaline, or dark blueberry blue, when it comes in contact with amniotic fluid). Well, it was the most obvious blueberry positive I have ever seen! Reminded me of the same energy someone has when running up with a pregnancy test, excited to be at the beginning of a whole new journey! Dani has not come up the stairs to my room at all in the few weeks I had been here, so I knew something was up before I even saw her. Especially because Dani is not alarmist or attached to every little shifting sign AT ALL. She had been having so much warm-up for weeks, which most people would likely have been reactionary about as “false* alarms” but Dani was able to just keep going back to bed, knowing that if it was really labor, it would keep her awake.
(*Side note-I don’t believe anything about warm-up labor is false- it is real and beneficial for many reasons, it just isn’t the work and labor that brings the baby.)
It took some time to settle in for the night after that news, now having the certainty the baby was coming soon, and feeling excited and curious and surprised! Surprised because although water breaking is a normal way for labor to begin, it’s not that common (maybe 10% of the time). And then it’s just about waiting and patience and monitoring well-being of mom and baby and hygiene and trust in nature and the process. This is a place where midwifery care greatly varies from the medical model. Most doctors and hospitals are not comfortable waiting for labor to begin with broken water, giving women 18-24 hours for labor to begin naturally or they want to start an induction. The concern is an increased risk of infection for mom and/ or baby, heightened in the medical model if a woman is GBS positive or unknown. This is a whole different blog post and I think the topic for my next one, because this is about Dani’s birth, not GBS. So back to the point. 🙂
There is sufficient research that waiting up to 72 hours after water has broken with low-risk women and monitoring of mom and baby and no vaginal exams (which we as midwives take to heart and doctors do not; vaginal exams after waters break is the number one risk of increased chance of infection, not hours post-rupture) shows no increased risk of infection. So Dani waited. The first 24 hours were easy; 90% of women go into labor within 24 hours of water breaking so even though I think we all woke up a little surprised on 5/2/16 that the baby wasn’t born yet, we all went to bed that night feeling almost certain the baby would come. I mean, we all got into bed at like 8 pm, really sure we would need some sleep in the early part of the night! Most babies are born at night, so that’s another place we were surprised! Woke up on 5/3/16 and Dani was still pregnant, so we (Dani, her husband George, and I) got together with her Idaho midwife team and talked about a plan.
So at the meeting pow-wow Dani’s water had been broken for about 36 hours. She had been taking her temperature and extra vitamin C and echinacea over the last day. She had done some herbs on 5/2/16 and gone on two walks. I had been taking vitals and listening to the baby and all was normal and healthy. Dani knew the available options for natural ways to get labor going and also had to think about her comfort level with how long to wait. As a midwife and a mother this was a real struggle in her mind. Unfortunately even with a well mom and baby, hospital reception gets worse the longer her water is broken, so if labor didn’t begin on its’ own, thinking about the timing of when to go in for an induction was on her mind. Weighing that possible eventuality with trying to stay present and trust her body and her baby was hard. So today, 5/3/16, was a day to be more proactive.
After another vitals check and a longer listen to the baby, a plan for the day was made. Dani decided to start a different herb, cotton root bark, about every 15 minutes throughout the morning. We went home and had lunch in the sunshine (prettiest day in Idaho since I have been here)! She had a chiropractic appointment for 2 pm, so for the hour before we went to the appointment I did some energy work on her (craniosacral therapy) while she did a side-lying release (awesome Spinning Babies position) and I bathed her in essential oils for effective contractions (geranium, lavender, and clary sage).
The chiropractor was amazing! It was the first time Dani had seen him, and he was hesitant to do a treatment to induce labor, which is great, in the sense that he respects nature and understands the value of waiting and the wisdom of the body. But when he heard her water was broken, he was willing to work on her to encourage the baby out! He used acupuncture and a very mild electrical current on the needles to try and stimulate labor to begin. First he worked on some points on her ankles, knees, and hands, and then used the electrical stimulation on her abdomen in a Chinese Medicine technique called (I think) chasing the dragon. I could see it was working! I had a great vantage point and I could her uterus contracting about every 5 minutes almost immediately, but I didn’t want to get too excited. After about 45 minutes he rolled her onto her stomach on a drop table and did a few points on her low back and sacrum. She was now breathing through contractions every 2-3 minutes, neither of us sure if it would keep going when she was off the table. We had thought about stopping at the grocery store for a few things, but I could tell this was different and thought we should just go home, even if it slowed down or stopped. Dani even let me drive, so I knew she was working hard! 😉
We got home about 3:30 pm. George, Dani’s mom Patti, Dani’s sister Claire, her boyfriend Will, and Ophelia were all hanging around. Pretty quickly Patti, Claire, Will, and Ophelia left to take Will to Patti’s house (the girls were coming back for the birth, when Dani was sure she was active). She continued to labor and things were getting more intense quickly. I set up for the birth and checked vitals and changed my clothes. After a few strong contractions George called Patti to come back with Ophelia and Claire. I was texting with her other midwives and told them to come over around 4:30, thinking that they could always hang out outside or in the the living room if it was too soon for them to arrive, but things were going fast and I wanted them to not miss the birth! Turned out to all be perfect timing. Dani continued to have contractions every 2-3 minutes, each one more intense than the last. She mainly labored on the bed in hands and knees or forward leaning with George supporting her and rubbing her back. She pushed for 6 minutes, and guided her own baby out beautifully on their bed at 4:56 pm.
Needless to say, I love Daisy, and Dani- well, I love her more than ever and I am so in awe of her!
Ophelia got to announce that Daisy is a girl and has not stopped holding her hand basically since she was born! So beautiful to watch her become the big sister. She was wonderful at the birth. Her main feedback is that she wished it was longer! She also helped me check out the placenta and learned how to take off her gloves inside out so as not to make a mess. Very important life skill- we will see what she does with it!
I hope Dani got all she wanted from this birth experience, beyond the obvious of a healthy baby born at home. There is so much intangible about birth that shapes women for the rest of their life journey, and shapes the midwives who attend them. For me, a piece of the intangible will now always be wrapped up in the majestic Teton Valley, the snow-capped mountains, the endless green pastures, and a little farmhouse where a baby named Daisy lives with her family.