The Birth Story of Fox

FoxSleep FoxFeet

So about a week before I went into labor Jeremy showed me a photo of a sheep giving birth. This sheep was casually laying on its side with a baby sheep head just hanging out of its vag. I thought “That’s how I’m going to rock it.” So, for the first few pushes I was in a fetal position on my side, holding the image of that sheep in mind and trying not to puke. But it turns out humans are not sheep and to be productive at pushing the baby down and out I needed to open my legs – which I was very resistant to doing. Truth be told … I was scared. Warrior Mamas aren’t supposed to be scared. Warrior Mamas are squatting in a corner and birthing babies without fear. But here I am flat on my back, with Jeremy holding one leg by the knee and foot, saying “You guys… I don’t think I can do this.” But I did. This is our story.

A HOME BIRTH
Towards the beginning of my third trimester I found that my favorite midwife was planning to resign from the hospital I was receiving care at on January 1 to do home births. With the support of Jeremy and the encouragement of my doula and my family, I decided a home birth would be ideal. It’s not for everyone, but it was what I wanted and this serendipitous turn of events put it within reach.

THE BEGINNING
On Sunday, January 19th, 2014 at 2AM, a week after my due date, my water broke while I was sleeping. It wasn’t a dramatic gush like you see in the movies and it wasn’t paired with anything stronger than Braxton Hicks “practice” contractions. In fact, it was a bit confusing and left me wondering if I had just peed the bed. I decided to sleep through the rest of the night. Though, I felt like a kid on Christmas Eve just waiting for morning to arrive. I woke up around 7:30AM Sunday morning, still not in labor, and called my midwife, Dawn, to let her know my status. Because I had tested GBS+ (Group B Strep) she came to my house around 10:30AM to give me a shot of antibiotics to keep the baby safe. After your water breaks you really only have about 24 hours for labor to start, otherwise you risk infection. So, I was a little concerned that labor didn’t seem to be progressing. My mind was filled with all the variables and scenarios that could go down from there. Dawn recommended getting as much rest as possible and we would reassess at 2PM.

KICKSTARTING LABOR
I didn’t rest, of course. Instead Jeremy and I started doing what we could to get labor going (heh, heh). Then we went for a two mile walk around the park – I tried walking with one foot on the curb and one on the ground, alternating sides. Then we decided to go get some Indian buffet. At 2PM I texted my midwife to let her know that nothing had changed and she said to hang tight and keep her updated. Around 3:30PM the baby’s movement had slowed and my mind was racing with anxiety over not going into active labor. So I called Dawn and my doula, Brandy, to come over to check in on the baby. Everything checked out fine – but I was still on edge.

Labor Acupressure
Top Left: 10:30AM / getting an antibiotic shot in the booty. Top Right: 12:30PM / 2-mile walk around the park
Bottom: 4:30PM / Acupressure from my doula Brandy

I said “I just don’t want to transfer to the hospital” out loud, but Dawn and Brandy, together and matter-of-factly, said “Oh, that’s not happening! You’re going to go into labor. We’ve got ways.” It was reassuring to hear after a day of worrying about “failure to progress” and from there we started discussing more aggressive induction techniques. Brandy offered to do some acupressure. She busted out some Clary Sage essential oil and did a number on my feet – it was intense. And I have to admit, I didn’t truly believe it would work. Brandy and Dawn went to grab dinner and left me with a bottle of herbal extracts  to take in an hour if nothing had changed. But within 5 minutes, around 4:30PM, the contractions got for real. I was so excited.

INTERMISSION
In the meantime, my brother sent me this video for encouragement.

LABOR FOR REALS
My contractions quickly went from just a tightening of my abdomen and mild cramps to more serious, period-like cramps – the kind that take your breath away and make you double over. I wouldn’t call it painful but it was intense. I welcomed them with all their might and invited them to stay for a while. After having about 15 contractions in the span of an hour I had Jeremy text Dawn and Brandy to come back over. They finished dinner and got to my house around 6PM. They brought in lots of supplies (for emergencies) and started getting things ready. Jeremy filled the birthing tub and got the bed prepped (we kept our sheets on the bed, put a plastic drop cloth on top of those, then put another throw-away fitted sheet on top of that). Meanwhile, I walked around the house and had contractions in various places. Things started getting more and more intense – at 7:30PM my contractions were 1-2 minutes apart. My doula invited me to get into the birthing tub we had set up next to the bed in our bedroom. I labored in there for about an hour listening to my Casa Jaguar playlist on repeat – the lights were dim and through my entire labor and delivery voices never rose above a whisper. Jeremy sat at the edge of the tub and offered me support when I needed it.

Around 8:00PM I got out of the tub to go to the bathroom and on my way back contracted so hard that I just crawled onto the bed. I labored on my hands and knees on the bed for about an hour and at this point things were getting progressively more intense. I started shaking and shivering. I’m pretty sure this was the “transition” phase of labor because things started getting really intense. My body was contracting but at the same time felt like it was being pried open. I decided to get back into the tub – hoping to birth my little Aquarius in water. However, I found myself feeling ungrounded in the water – I lacked the gravity and resistance I needed to productively labor the baby down. So, I made my way back into the bed. Brandy invited me to bear down a little with one of my contractions and that’s when a big gush of amniotic fluid followed. It took me by surprise and I looked to Brandy for reassurance that that was normal (it is). A few contractions later Brandy told Jeremy that she was going to go tell Dawn to scrub up – I knew this meant it was probably push time.

PUSHING THE BABY OUT
During the course of my entire pregnancy and labor I never had one cervical check – meaning I never knew how dilated or effaced I was. This was partly to minimize the possibility of exacerbating the GBS, but I also felt comfortable with just doing whatever my body told me. Around 9PM my body was ready to push … but mentally I wasn’t there yet. Brandy encouraged me to bear down a little with my next contraction (which were now just a minute or less apart) – so I did, and from there my body took over. I pushed for an hour and a half at my own pace. Nobody was counting to ten or yelling at me to push. Sometimes the contractions would come one right after another … and sometimes, just when I needed it most, my body would grant me a few minutes to rest between pushes. Brandy would occasionally ask me “where’s your baby?” and I could feel him still kicking in my ribs, which made me feel like he wasn’t making his way down. She was also checking the baby’s heart rate with my contractions and he held steady with a good beat the entire time.

So here I was flat on my back. I kept thinking about moving to my hands and knees or at least a more upright reclined position but I felt paralyzed. So I just stayed put and kept pushing. And as crass as it may be, I can only compare pushing to involuntary dry heaving … but out of your uterus instead of stomach. Yes, it was painful and yes, I was afraid. I tried to visualize the ocean. I tried to transform into a sheep or gorilla or whatever kind of animal that has no problem pushing a baby out. When that didn’t work I tried to irrationally find a way out of my body. Like a weird trip or strange dream I tried to mentally coordinate a way to have someone else push for me. At one point I considered the logistics of transferring to the hospital and not asking for an epidural but instead asking for a medically-induced coma – but I didn’t even have it in me to sit up much less sit in the car and deal with hospital admissions. I had to accept the reality of the situation and embrace that it was me, my body, and my baby – and there was no turning back.

Brandy gave me some super helpful tips – like to curl into and around the contraction and bring my chin to my chest – these instructions almost helped me reframe pushing as an exercise or sport. Meanwhile, Dawn gently directed my attention to exactly where I needed to focus my effort with her fingers which was super helpful. Jeremy was still pulling my leg back by the knee with each contraction and would look down to watch the very top of the baby’s head poke out just a little further with each push. Dawn and Brandy encouraged me to feel the baby’s head – so I reached down and felt nothing but a hot mess. I remember at one point saying “I just want to be done.” And Brandy said “Then you need to push this baby out.”

When I finally accepted that I was going to have to put in the work and give it my all the baby crowned. With that, there was no relief between contractions and I could feel intense stretching in places I didn’t expect. At that point I had accepted that I would be in labor on my bed for the rest of my life. So I was beyond surprised when with the next push the baby came out. And just like that there was no pain. First, I was relieved. Relieved that I was done and that the baby was okay. Then there was pride. I’ve never been more proud of myself – and I was now a very proud momma to my little baby Fox. Then there was love. Just an incredible amount of love.

A NEW BEGINNING
So I did it. I didn’t go into pregnancy, labor, and delivery without fear. But I came out of it transformed into the Warrior Momma I intend to be. I told our baby how perfect he was (at least a dozen times) as he squirmed all naked, wet and warm on my belly. He cried just enough to tell us his own version of the story of his birth. After a few hours of clean up and blissed out bonding, Brandy and Dawn left our little nest – but not before I asked “Okay. Literally, what do I do next?” Because I really didn’t know. It turns out instinct is pretty powerful and what felt right was to watch my naked baby sleep on my man’s chest in our own bed all. night. long.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

THE DREAM TEAM
Jeremy: Everyone asks Jeremy if he was ever afraid or doubtful during the home birth. He wasn’t – not even for a second. In fact, he confessed to me that he felt silly giving me words of encouragement while I was in labor. It felt like lip service to him – because he knew I had it in me to do what needed to be done, and I knew that he knew. He never once doubted my strength. But the truth is I couldn’t have done it without his calm confidence. Thank you, Jeremy. We’ve had quite a few adventures – from our scandalous get-together to Mt. Everest. But I think this may be our greatest adventure yet.

Brandy Harris / Willow Birth Services: The best decision I made early on in my pregnancy was hiring Brandy to be my doula. We met over coffee and I shared with her my fears and when I apologetically shared my birthing preferences she called bullshit and encouraged me to own my desire for an unmedicated & intervention-free delivery. She gave both Jeremy and me the confidence to have a voice in our pregnancy, labor, and delivery experience. You might expect a birth doula to be a crunchy hippie but Brandy tells it like it is and never takes herself (or anyone else) too seriously – but then when you need it the most she’ll compassionately put a cold wash cloth to your head and tell you you aren’t pooping the bed when you totally are. Brandy, thank you. It’s amazing to think of all the courses my labor & delivery could have taken. You guided me down what could have been a scary path with a light so bright there were no shadows to be afraid of. 

Dawn Karlin / Moments of Bliss: Dawn was one my midwives at OU Physicians. I heard she had a reputation of being the closest you can get to a home birth experience in the hospital so I had my fingers crossed that I would go into labor during her shift. But then when she quit her day job to follow her dream of opening a birthing center and doing home births I decided to take the leap with her. I’ve never put so much trust in another person as I put in Dawn – and she delivered (heh). She quietly stayed back while I labored but then came in like the efficient pro she is when it came to push time. I remember at one point desperately looking at her between contractions and the calm but serious focus on her face told me that it wasn’t going to be easy but that I could do it. And I did. Thank you, Dawn. You made me feel so safe in what was the most vulnerable and powerful experience of my life. I will be forever grateful for you. 

And finally, thank you to all of my friends, family, blog readers, and Instagram followers who supported and rooted for me along the way. I truly believe all your thoughts, prayers, and good vibes gave me the strength to have the birth experience I desired.

  1. Heather

    Thank you for sharing! I love reading about births… maybe that’s weird. It’s just such an empowering thing when you go through it. I was afraid during both of my labors… the first because there were complications and and the second because it happened so fast and I was determined to do it without drugs this time. I know I definitely yelled at one point “I can’t do it.” Thank goodness for amazing husbands and midwives – it sounds like you had the perfect team!

  2. AwesomeMargie

    Great post. So happy that you got the birth you wanted. I hope this gets more women and dads to feel empowered to get the birth they want.

    Fox is adorable.

  3. Olivia

    BAHHHHHH!!! AMAZING POST. You did it!

  4. Dina Avila

    Such a beautiful story, Kathleen! Congratulations on your gorgeous baby boy!

  5. ~abi~

    i love this post!! i am so happy for you and your little fam!! you go, warrior mama!

  6. Thank you so much for sharing this. I’ve never read about a home birth and this sounds amazing. You are such a strong, warrior of a woman and I’m so proud of you for sticking to your guns and wanting to have the home birth and so happy you were able to.

  7. when you were instagramming during the process, i told my husband, “i really hope she gets her home birth,” and i rejoiced when i saw you did. i loved mine and just always wish that the mamas who want one, get to have one. saying i’m proud of you kind of sounds silly since, like jeremy, i never doubted you’d birth like a warrior mama! congrats & lots of love. xo

  8. Urban Wife

    What an incredible birth story! Thank you for sharing such a private moment with us. Fox is precious.

  9. Alisa

    LOVE reading birth stories, and love a good ole unmedicated (I hate the word “natural”) delivery. Your story took me back 5 years to my youngest son’s birth, which brings tears to my eyes at the mere thought. What a wonderful experience. You described it perfectly.

    Congratulations, warrior mama! You did it.

    • Good point on “natural” and I agree with you. I actually updated the post to say unmedicated instead. XO

  10. Nicole

    I LOVE this story – and was totally sniffling at the end! So raw, so vulnerable, so beautifully told. And Fox really is just perfect in every way. You’re filled with the Warrior Momma glow, m’lovely. You rock it like no one else. Much love to you, Jeremy, and bebe Fox. xoxo

  11. Vanessa

    Congratulations Kathleen and Jeremy! And welcome baby Fox!

    I really thought it was interesting the way you described the physical (pain) feeling of giving birth. A friend of mine told me that all the pain of childbirth vanished as soon as her son was born and she saw him for the first time. I feel like your story corroborated that. That really makes me feel more at ease with the idea of birth.

    Also, I feel nosy to ask, but earlier on during your pregnancy you had talked about saving your placenta.. is that something you have done?

  12. Ravyn

    I was so excited to read your birth story. I love that every home birth is totally different, but the afterglow is often the same: just pure joy & you’re left feeling like a warrior! So happy you had the birth you imagined. Best wishes to you & your family.

  13. Glenda

    Congrats! Truly enjoyed reading your birth story…detail per detail it was so accurate. Reminded me of my 2, except I was in the hospital. No drugs. Best wishes to you, J, and your Mr. Fox :)

  14. Megan

    wow. truly amazing story. thank you so much for sharing. tears running down my face…

  15. Hailey

    I couldn’t wait to read this blog post when you finally posted it. No one gets this real on the internet, and I expected no less from the gal who blogs about deodorant, periods, and sex. I could say so much, but I’ll leave you with just two simple things. I am so happy for you and so happy you are happy! I’m also thankful that you shared. Much love to you, Jeremy, and Fox at such a magical time.

  16. Jen

    Congrats! And your brother is hysterical.

  17. Karla Neese

    Oh how I love your tale of birthing into motherhood! I love that line “irrationally find a way out of my body”. What a perfect description of labor!

    So proud of you Warrior Momma! You did awesome.

  18. Tammy

    Warrior Mama!

    What a phenomenal story, I felt like I was there alongside the tub and bed with you! It read like a Hollywood script with me wondering ‘what’s going to happen next?!?’ which is bizarre given we know the beautiful ending.

    And to the Fantastic Mr. Fox – welcome back you beautiful soul you! :)

    xoxo

    • I totally agree, Tammy! With so many birth stories being shared online (and for us having no kids), I typically skip them… but this really was like a movie script. What’s next?! (J/K)

  19. Thank you for sharing this! I am having a son (first baby) in about two months and am planning to be in a hospital for it but considering enlisting a doula to help coach me and my husband through the process with as few medical interventions as possible. This is possibly the first birth story I’ve read that hasn’t given me a physical reaction (tightness or anxiousness), which either means I’m much more comfortable with the whole idea of birthing a child now or you make it sound like it’s something I can actually do (it’s probably some mix of the two). Congratulations to your beautiful family and welcome little Fox!

    • You can absolutely do it! And it will be amazing. I promise.

      Definitely hire a doula. Interview a few and see who feels best. You won’t regret it. We had initially planned for a hospital birth and I knew our doula would help us not be bullied or pushed in directions we didn’t want to go.

  20. Leigh

    I LOVE this story and your fabulous way of telling it. So many aspects of it resonate with me and remind me of my own first experience giving birth. I remember that moment so clearly when I stopped holding back in fear and denial and decided to push the baby out even if it killed me. That is such a transformational moment — it has served me not only during that labor but through all the subsequent years of motherhood (and the birth of two more babies!). Congratulations and love to you.

  21. Rachel wardell

    Crying here! All I can say is you are bloody brilliant! X

  22. Congratulations to the three of you from the other side of the ocean!
    You were so brave. And enjoy every enjoyable minute of the years to come!

  23. Brooke

    What a beautiful story! I love all the details & your brothers video. Fox will treasure this always. My daughter loves to hear about the day she was born & reads her baby book at least once a month. Congrats to you & your family!

  24. Alien Mind Girl

    Hooray!!!!!!!! :-D **applause** **toots party horn**

    (Apologies, but I felt I should say something, and that really is all that comes to me…)

  25. Yayyy! Thank you so much for sharing your birth story, they are so valuable to write down, and it is a true gift to let others read and learn from it! Enjoy these precious first days getting to know each other!

  26. Pingback: Good Stuff Sunday: Inspired | Hello Heart

  27. Julie

    Congratulations warrior mama, he is beautiful!

  28. Jadyn

    What a beautiful birth story, thank you for sharing. It takes me back to my son’s birth (also at home) almost 14 months ago. I’ve never written down the story, but this makes me want to do it even though the details have become more fuzzy over time. Congratulations with your super adorable little Fox!

  29. Stephanie

    Congratulations! I have been checking in to read this story! I especially love your thank yous at the end.

  30. kristi

    lovely birth story.
    congrats to you and your dream team for making magic (again!)
    just one little note: Fox is part of your dream team too, really. the participation of the baby in making his or her entrance to the world should never be underestimated. which is why it’s so important to talk to babies pre-birth about how much team work will be needed.
    i’m continually amazed at how often we forget about how hard the baby needs to work (or be worked out as it were) to emerge.

    • Fox’s work and participation did not go without notice or appreciation. This whole story is his too. I’m not sure how much you’ve been following along but at 39 weeks I wrote this:

      “In these last couple of weeks I’ve learned to really trust my baby in this process. The last 9 months have been all about me, me, me. But this birth… it’s not really about me. It’s about my baby. So I imagine him in my belly trying to gather his courage too. He’s waiting for the moment when he’s feeling like a warrior who is ready to take on his birth day. We’re in it, and waiting it out, together – and that gives me a lot of comfort and courage.”

      – See more at: http://andkathleen.com/category/and-bebe/#sthash.5xBZqHcT.dpuf

      And I think I make it pretty clear in this post how proud I was of him.

  31. kristi

    quite possibly my comment came out a bit wrong.
    there was no criticism intended.
    i should have said that my second birth was a bit easier because i really connected with my baby and her effort to get herself out.
    during my first birthing experience i sort of forgot how much the baby’s participation mattered.
    wishing you all the love in the world.
    enjoy these precious moments and the days (and years) they become.

    • No worries, Kristi. I was probably especially sensitive after a long night up with a baby who was a little too curious (between the hours of 3AM & 6AM) about this new world he’s living in. But thank you for the clarification and for sharing your experience.

  32. Deb Charlap

    So exciting to read the deets ~ and so inspiring, as usual, to see how quickly you can transition from ‘living it’ to ‘writing it’. We’re lucky to have ya, lady. Thanks for all you do to further creation in all its forms.

  33. Melanie

    He’s so cute! Congrats doll, please enjoy him like I know you will be.

    Pushing for over an hour? Jeebs, I’m just glad I pushed for a total of 13 minutes because I couldn’t have taken that.

  34. Oh I am so proud of you Warrior Mama. What a beautiful story. You had the birth experience that I hoped for but didn’t quite get. I lived vicariously through you in this post though. So much love to you, J, and the Fabulous Fox. xoxoxoxox

  35. Rachel

    Congrats! He’s just beautiful! Thank you for sharing your birth story with us!

    xo
    Rachel

  36. Jessica

    Kathleen. You are so fucking awesome. This is such a delayed reply, but I knew I needed uninterrupted time to read this! It was a lip-biting read, with a few hangnails in the middle, but what a journey you and the team had! I love that it was such a team effort, and yet it was in your space and (as much as it could be) on your terms! Well done to everyone. No easy feat <3

  37. YOU DID IT!!

    Congratulations on kicking the birth process’ ASS! Fox is adorable, and I’m so glad to hear everything went well, and that everyone’s healthy and happy.

    Oh, and I guess congrats to your brother on birthing a kitten? That kitty looked a little freaked out about the whole thing. ;-)

  38. Megan

    Kathleen! I’m embarrassed that I’m just now getting to read this, but wow! You are amazing! I know you are already dealing with a whole nother set of motherhood issues, but I’m so glad that getting Fox here was exactly what you wanted. We’ll… a home birth anyways! ;) Thanks for always being so open and honest about your process and even daycare. It’s good and encouraging to hear your words even if it’s just you working through the fear sometimes. ;) Looking forward to catching up soon.

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