Demi Elizabeth Christopher’s Birth Story
July 7, 2015
I was thrilled when I found out my husband, Lloyd, and I were expecting our first baby in November of 2015. We had only been trying for a couple months, so we were surprised how fast it was all happening but so, so happy. Lloyd and I were strongly considering a home birth from the moment we knew our baby was coming. I had watched in amazement as my sister-in-law gave birth to her precious daughter about 6 years before in her home. I remember feeling like I had witnessed something miraculous. I loved the idea that she was in her own home with all the comforts she was used to…feeling free to do what she must to get her baby out. It seemed to me that your home was the best place to have your baby, and Lloyd felt the same way. We knew that in a hospital we would be expected to follow certain protocol and we wanted to do things our way and be able to make our own decisions every step of the way. We are also total homebodies and we loved the idea of bringing our baby into this world in our home that we love. I felt very confident that it was also a very safe, if not the safest way, to give birth.
About halfway through the pregnancy we decided to name our baby girl Demi Elizabeth. We just loved the sound of it and Elizabeth is my middle name and also my grandmother’s. I had a fairly easy and enjoyable pregnancy aside from the normal discomforts. I ate well, walked A LOT, practiced prenatal yoga, read lots of birth stories, and got plenty of sleep. I tried to stay as stress-free as possible while still teaching third grade through June. I think my healthy lifestyle went a long way in helping me enjoy my pregnancy and preparing my mind and body for birth.
Throughout my pregnancy, Kathy was very reassuring and shared her wealth of experience with me when I had questions. I never felt rushed during our visits. I could tell Kathy loves what she does and cherishes the moments with her moms to be. I knew my sweet little girl and I were well taken care of. We received all the necessary prenatal care without any of the “unnecessary”. As we approached the arrival of our baby girl, Kathy’s assistants came by for a home visit to get comfortable with our home and make sure everything ran smoothly the day of her birth.
The night before Demi was born, Lloyd and I had to drive to Plymouth Meeting to pick up his new truck. Lloyd kept joking around that Demi had to wait until Daddy got his truck and, sure enough, she listened! The drive and waiting around really took a lot out of me and my pelvis was getting more and more sore by the minute. I tossed and turned all that night. Around 5:30AM on July 7, 2015, I got up to pee. I was practically waddling to the bathroom. When I sat down, I noticed there was a little gush of liquid from up inside me. When I stood up, some more drips trickled out. I kinda knew it was my water breaking, but I was a little in denial since her due date was over a week away. I waddled downstairs with a towel between my legs and told my husband, “I think my water’s breaking.” He was just as surprised as I was.
Over the next couple of hours, I called Kathy and my mom and Lloyd went into work. I remember Kathy asking me, “How does Demi feel about her house leaking?” That made me smile. I curled up on the couch feeling slightly crampy and tried to sleep knowing I had a big day ahead. Kathy gave me the number of a local acupuncturist and told me I could schedule an appointment if my contractions weren’t kicking by 10AM. Around 9ish, I was getting stir crazy with anticipation and tried doing some light chores around the house. My contractions were getting stronger and stronger, and I remember looking at the clock on the stove and thinking, “They can’t be coming every 5-10 minutes already, can they?”
Soon after, my sisters came by with some yummy chicken salad for lunch. I was able to eat and enjoy their visit with little moans here and there. We were so excited to see what the day would bring! When they left, things began to escalate quickly. I called my mom, who said she would be over asap, and Kathy wasn’t far behind.
By noon, I was pacing around our bedroom, bending over the bed, begging for back massages while Kathy and my mom quickly set up the birthing pool. We didn’t have all the parts hooked up (although we did give it a test run), and I remember Kathy saying, “You two are the most laid back first time parents I’ve ever met!” Well, she was a week early!
As soon as we got the birthing pool ready, I was in there. My sisters and mom took turns pouring water down my back and I hunched over the side and moaned with each intense contraction. Things were moving so fast. I was afraid my husband wouldn’t make it in time since he had to run to Abington hospital to pick up Demi’s vitamin K shot. He made it though, just as my contractions began to feel unbearable. The hot water wasn’t hot enough, and I remember frustratingly asking everyone to make the water hotter. The birthing pool wasn’t quite as soothing as I thought it would be. My contractions were so powerful and the pressure made me feel like standing so I could push against the earth. So, I got out of the pool and stood.
I remember the contractions feeling like something was squeezing my pelvis with all its might. Just this all consuming, earth shaking, intense pressure that took over my whole body. I could feel Demi moving down with each one. All I could do was squeeze back. Everything wanted to clench. I had to make a serious mental and physical effort to keep my cervix from clenching up like the rest of me. I remember thinking that I had to make the most of every contraction so they would be over soon and Demi would be here. I knew gravity would help, so I stood almost the whole time. At one point, I was so weak and tired, I laid down on the bed to try it on my side. After one contraction, I knew the position wasn’t doing me any good, so I was back up. Labor is very mental…it’s all about enduring the pain and staying present and in tune with your body so you know what it wants you to do to get that baby out. I wanted everything to be very quiet and asked everyone to whisper. It helped me concentrate.
My mom and Lloyd stood on either side of me while I clenched their arms and hands with all my might. I could feel Demi starting to crown. I remember taking down my hair and instinctually dropping to my knees. I don’t really remember what everyone was doing at that point. Just as I began to feel desperate, I heard Kathy whisper in my ear, “Your doing great. Your body is doing exactly what it needs to”. She has such perfect timing. I reached back and felt her head. It was hard to distinguish it from my bulging bottom, but I knew it by its wrinkly texture and hair. I asked Kathy, “What should I do?” She told me to push as hard as I could the next time a contraction came. So I did and she came right out. My mom had watched the whole thing laying upside down on our bed right under me. She narrated every step of the way, “I can see her eyes, her nose, her mouth!” It was so neat to hear that as I pushed. I could picture her little face coming out bit by bit.
As soon as Demi came out, Kathy put her up in my arms. I kept telling her, “You did such a good job!” She had 100% of my attention and I can’t remember what else was happening around me at that time. All I could see was her sweet face. I got up in the bed and studied her, made sure she was breathing, and put her to my breast. After many tries, she was latched on and so happy. She was pretty quiet when she first came out but let out some sweet little cries later. Getting the after birth out was a bit painful, but having her in my arms helped keep me focused on her. We didn’t cut the cord for quite a while. Kathy laid it on my chest and told us what amazing purpose each strand fulfilled in utero. It was so neat to see it pulsing with life still…our little but oh so powerful connection in the womb. Then, Kathy took us all on a “placenta tour”. What an amazing organ! Kathy numbed me and Alison, her lovely assistant, sowed up a tiny tear. I didn’t feel any pain and it healed quickly. We all couldn’t believe how fast things went. I was only in labor about 4 hours.
Demi was so content in my arms as eager visitors began to arrive and come upstairs. They washed their hands in our bathroom, put meals in our fridge, cozied up next to me, Demi, and Lloyd in our bed. Everything felt so relaxed, so right. Kathy and her helpers floated around the room tidying up. When I was ready, we weighed Demi and Kathy checked her vitals. We talked about what the night would hold and some do’s and don’t’s for the days ahead. The vibe was very sacred and calm as we said goodbye to our visitors and then a bit later Kathy and our immediate family. And then we were three…
In the days and weeks ahead, Kathy called and visited to check on Demi and me. I asked her lots of questions and filled her in on all the new things Demi and I were experiencing. She always said, “Tell me everything!” and I did. She was very reassuring of my motherly instinct and made me feel even more confident and capable as the days went on. Demi is 6 months old now and there are times I still call or text Kathy for her wisdom and encouragement. I am so grateful to her and her team for helping us bring Demi into this world in such a beautiful way. I would highly recommend Midwifery Traditions to any expecting parents. Demi’s birth was a miracle perfectly orchestrated by the hands of God…and Kathy’s.