When I Become a Good Mom

I’ve noticed a disturbing trend in my life.

I have found myself parenting my four children in less than ideal ways.  I’m not the mom that I think I should be, nor the mother that I think my children need.

But instead of changing, I keep telling myself about the day when I will finally ‘become a good mom’.

I keep looking at my kids and thinking, “It will all be okay when I become a good mom.

When I don’t yell so much.

When I don’t cuss.

When I never spank.

When I am patient and kind and calm.

When I enjoy doing crafts and activities with my kids.”

I keep looking forward to this day, as some magical point in the future when I wont struggle so much, and being this great mom comes easily to me.  I keep looking at it like it’s just around the corner, and I just have to survive until we get to that day.

But shit.  There is no magical day that I become a good mom.  I am me, and this is the mom that I am.  My struggles and challenges are not going away.  Things are not getting easier.  No more diapers or less messes or fewer needs are not going to magically make me more patient, calm and kind.  My struggles will not go away until I address them, wholly and completely.  It has to happen today.  And every day.

If I don’t want to yell, I have to stop yelling NOW.

If I don’t want to spank, I have to stop spanking NOW.

If I want to be kind, I have to start being kind NOW.

No one can change this but me.  It is not on anyone but me.

The Homebirth of Rory Kai

—The pictures in this post are graphic. There are breasts and vaginas and moments of birth. If this offends you, you can choose not to read the story, or to not look at the images. Please do not complain about them, as you have been warned.—

{Incredible images credit goes to Kate Anderson Photography}


Rory is sleeping soundly across my belly, and he is nearly nine days old. Life has already changed to the point where I can’t imagine my existence without him. How he came to be here is another story.

I’m going to place a trigger warning here. My birth was, by many comparisons, not traumatic or violent. However, it also wasn’t peaceful and perfect. I would like mothers who have had a traumatic birth, or women who are pregnant and would not benefit from reading or hearing a difficult birth story to be able to choose to stop reading now. It will do you no good.

That being said: Onward!

My fourth pregnancy had been progressing like all the others that came before it. Tired and uncomfortable, but not at all unwilling to allow the full gestation period to elapse, I had been dealing with excessive contractions for weeks. Since this had been my experience in all of my prior pregnancies, I wasn’t terribly worried about it nor was my birth team. On Wednesday, June 24th, only two days past my due date, the contractions seemed to change. “Longer, stronger and closer together,” just like they always said in the baby books. I had a bit of bloody show and started losing mucus plug. I texted my midwife, tentatively excited that tonight might be the night, and started cleaning. When, a few hours later, they had calmed down, I went to bed – disappointed but determined to be patient.

I had a very poor nights sleep. Brock ended up taking Thursday off to help me out with the kids, let me get some rest, and to be around if things suddenly “got serious”. That was the big worry – that I would suddenly shift gears from prodromal labor to real, and everything would happen too quickly.

No action on Thursday. Lots of walking and resting. Not much sleep.

Friday, I contracted all day. We sent kids to their grandparents, and walked. Ate at a restaurant. Walked some more. Very powerful contractions 6-8mins apart all day. Texted with my midwife several times and she decided to come and check on me. Sprits rising. A baby is coming! Brock and I readied the house. Set out the birth pool. Prepared snacks and drinks. Started playing my birth music. My midwives showed up together around 7pm, and it was lovely and peaceful. We enjoyed chatting and laughing for several hours, while I contracted irregularly and yet had to focus and breathe through each. I asked to be checked and my cervix was a mere 2cm. My heart sank, but I was assured again that false alarms are more common with multiparous women – the contractions are just too powerful and consistent. It’s hard to truly tell when they switch to ‘the real thing’. I felt much better hearing that they would rather be called for several false alarms than miss the birth.

Brock and I went to sleep disappointed again, and still pleasantly aware that it would be soon. We would be having a baby soon.

Saturday. June 27th. Contracted all day. 6-8 minutes apart. POWERFUL contractions. Stayed in touch with my midwife all day. All day. Called her off around 9pm when everything seemed to fizzle out. Again. I was beginning to feel defeated. And exhausted. Like I had been in labor for days and it was all a big joke.

Sunday started out with a 10am tearful text to my midwife:

“Contracted all night. Hardly slept. Strong contractions that woke me up over and over. Got up from 2-4 and no changes. Drank some magnesium to try to get sleep, and was still woken. Have been contracting since I got up and they are SO uncomfortable. I’m in tears.”

She suggested that perhaps the baby was trying to change positions, and recommended I try to knee chest for 20 minutes. By 10:30, the whole birth team was on their way again.

We sat around again.

We chatted again.

Powerful contractions that brought me to tears every time. But no progress. Nothing to speak of. Midwives suggested that I try to take a nap, and that they would go to lunch so I could get some rest. I tried. For several hours. No nap, no rest. Just contractions and frustration. More crying.

birth3Brock and I had lunch. While midwives were gone, I decided to try a ‘Spinning Babies’ engagement trick – Walcher’s technique. I laid on the edge of the bed and let my legs hang off the side, in a version of a back bend. The idea is to open the pelvic inlet as wide as possible to help the baby’s head engage in the birth canal, and hopefully get things moving. Boy, did it get things moving. Contractions immediately jumped to 3 minutes apart. Deep, intense contractions that required motion and moaning. I texted with midwife between contractions but didn’t want her to come back too soon – at this point I was deathly afraid of fizzling out again – but Brock took my phone and told her to “please come right now,” at 4pm.

birth2Midwives came back. Contractions were so close and so powerful…. and then we realized that the birth pool was leaking. We scrambled to drain it, patch it and refill it. The adrenaline, the urgency – it all but stopped my contractions completely. I felt like I had stalled out again. I broke down and sobbed. I was so defeated. My head was filled with shoulds and shouldnts and I couldn’t get away from them.

It shouldn’t be taking this long. I should be better at this. I shouldn’t be this uncomfortable. It shouldn’t be this hard with my fourth. I should have had the baby by now.

birth6It was destructive talk that I had to knock myself out of. I had to forget the should, and focus on the reality – I had to change my inner speak: THIS is my birth. This is how it IS. And since it can’t be any other way than it IS, I need to accept it and move on. It’s okay for me to have a long, difficult birth. It is okay.

At 7pm, my birth team went out for dinner, again with the recommendation of rest, food, walk… and possibly some sex? We tried all of the recommendations, took a shower, and then laid in Walcher’s again. I honestly didn’t believe that the contractions could get more powerful, but they did.

Here’s where the timeline starts to get fuzzy for me. It slows down and speeds up at the same time. At 8:30pm, my birth team returned. I labored. And labored. I moved in the pool and squatted by the stairs. I sat in knee-chest, and swayed in a squat. I danced, rocked, shimmied… I think there might have been some twerking. It was hard work. The contractions were strong and frequent and very intense. But in the moments between, there was chatter and laughter. It was comfortable and beautiful.


I remember at one point asking what time it was, and being told it was 10:30pm. I remember at another point asking for my cervix to be checked, and I was still only at 8cm. I remember feeling the defeat in my head, and deciding I had no choice but to push on.

birth8“Horsey lips. Horsey lips. No pushing. Breathe. Relax. Stay with it. Let the baby move down. This is the work. Your body is doing things. You ARE making progress.”


I heard it, but I didn’t hear it. It wasn’t reaching my brain. I just kept taking it one contraction at a time. For minutes. For hours. Forever.

Brock was beside me, behind me, with me for every single contraction. He would hold my hands and kiss my forehead. He told me over and over again how strong I was. He pushed back against me when I needed resistance. He stroked my cheek when I needed a rest. I remember asking him at one point if he needed to eat, or drink, or pee! He hadn’t left my side since noon.


In my mind, only minutes have passed. I cannot fathom the actual reality. I stop asking what time it is. I ask to be checked again. There is cervix there. My midwife asks if she can hold the cervix back through one contraction. I say yes, but my mind screams no. I’ve done this before. I know this pain. It is about to get really, really real.

I have a moment of peace. A moment of pure clarity, where everything comes into focus.

I can do this. I am powerful. I have the strength. I CAN push this baby out.

I hear a quote in my head, “She thought she could, and so she did.”


The contraction starts to mount and the clarity slips away. I begin to cry out in pain, and try to move away from the feeling. “Please stop, I don’t want to do this, I don’t want to do this anymore. Please stop! I can’t do this! I want to stop! Let me stop!”

birth11The pain of holding my cervix back is so visceral – I feel it in my entire body, just like before.  Just like with Ryder, and with Ruby. At the end of the contraction, the urge to push is there. The real one. The pushing that makes a baby come out. I give in to it once, and my water breaks with a giant rush – it scares the shit out of me and I scream.

Rest. It feels like hours pass, and I’m mumbling to myself, “I don’t want to do this anymore. I hate this. I can’t do it. This sucks. Every single part of this sucks…” But in my head, the clarity has returned: I can do this. I have done this before. My baby is almost here. I can do this. A few more pushes.

Time passes, and the contraction mounts. Clarity slips away, and something else takes over. I’ve never felt this feeling before, and this is what makes this birth so different than my others; I feel like I’m surrounded, covered, buried in terror. I’m so afraid. Afraid of the pain and afraid to push. I start yelling in deep fear, “Please stop, please make it stop! I can’t, I can’t!  Let me stop!  Please let me stop!” Over and over. But the pushes can’t be stopped, and my baby is RIGHT THERE. Pain, ring of fire, crowning. I rip my hands away from Brock and put them on my perinum, around the head. I feel like I NEED to feel it, to protect it, to hold it, but I don’t know why. I try to pull my legs together. I try to move away from the pain. I’m still yelling, still crying, still begging to stop. Please, let me stop. My legs are held apart – the baby is coming out.


Time passes, and another contraction mounts. I feel my bottom relax and the head is delivered. I hear exclamations of excitement, that I’m doing it and my baby has hair, and it’s beautiful – but I don’t hear it. And I don’t see it. My eyes are closed so tightly, and I am surrounded by terror. I just want to stop.  Please, let me stop. Pressure. Contraction. Push. SURGE as the baby is fully delivered. It’s out. The baby is out.


My eyes are still closed and I am sobbing. I hear voices tell me, “Mandy, look at your baby!”  I feel my hands on the baby as it is placed onto my chest, and I can’t let go of the terror. I don’t want to open my eyes.

birth13But I do.

I open my eyes and the terror is gone. There is a beautiful, tiny, amazing human being in my hands and I am instantly so full of love and wonder and amazement and just so much love. The darkness is cut away by blazing light, and I am so in love. birth14Sobbing now, with tears of joy, I look around the room, and everyone is crying. Not just the tears of joy that a birth brings, but tears of those standing in the fire with someone they love, tears from watching unspeakable pain and feeling utterly helpless. I smile, I laugh, because for me the pain is gone, but it is still there in the room. I see it echoing in their eyes.birth15

I pull a tiny bottom closer to my chest and feel testicles! “It’s a boy!” I nearly shout. Lost in the depth of his eyes, I tell him, “You are so beautiful. And you are such a dick!”

It just kind of popped out. But everyone laughs, and I hear, “It’s nice to have you back, Mandy.”

At that moment, I break down crying again. Not just joy and wonder, but the full impact of what just happened hits me.  I remember all of it.  I remember the terror.

“That. Was. REALLY. Hard.”


And it was. It was really hard.

Our beautiful boy takes a few minutes to transition. As soon as he’s breathing well and the cord stops pulsing, it is cut so I can deliver the placenta, which comes out quickly and easily. I move from the pool to the couch and snuggle with my sweet, tiny new human, and wait for his first latch. My birth team bustles to get things together, helps to clean, prepares and inspects my placenta. And I am in a dreamy, gauzy, filmy haze of joy and exhaustion.


Newborn exam. Healthy baby. 7lbs 15oz, 20 inches and beautiful.


Everyone packs up. Everything is done. We are blanketed and pillowed and snuggled in for the night. I hug my beloved birth women goodbye and wave them out the door. The moment they are gone, my eyes lock into the eyes of my husband. His fill with tears, and he begs, “Please… Please don’t make me ever watch you go through that again.”

We cry together for a while.  We stare at our baby boy together for a while.  And then we sleep.

Rory Kai is here.



The Birth of Rory Kai from TempestBeauty on Vimeo.
{All photo credit – Kate Anderson Photography}


I just wrote another blog, hit submit and lost it.

I think I should probably stop doing that.

Anyways.  The content of this blog was about the purpose of writing about nothing, in order to be in the habit of writing when I need to write about SOMETHING.  As of today, there is no ‘something’ to write about.

Okay, well, yes.  There is lots.  But I don’t feel up to it.

My house is a mess.  My kids are fed and clothed and watching Sesame Street.  We are going to run some errands and then I’m going to get caught up on laundry.  This hardly justifies a whole blog post.  Sorry.

Technical Difficulties

Yesterday, I wrote a whole post about the positives and negatives of Social Media, especially regarding pregnancy.  It was a post I was really happy with.  Written, edited, published and over it in less than 15 minutes.  Only, when I hit publish, the entire thing deleted.

I had JUST written it, so I could have re-written it from memory, but… I didn’t want to.  I really want the habit to be here, because I enjoy writing so much.  I want it to be regular or semi-regular.  But I don’t want to have to write and then re-write a post in one day.

Also, the “R” key on my keyboard only works about 30% of the time, and that is hyper-annoying as well.

Ryder has been asleep for 1 hour and 24 minutes.  I really should go wake him up.

It’s just… it’s just so nice when he’s sleeping.

(See you at midnight!)

Ronan is 5 years old, Ruby is 3 years old, Ryder is 23 months old and I am 7 weeks pregnant.

Champ Grump

Holy moly, I woke up on the wrong side of the bed today.

Perhaps it has something to do with Ryder staying up until 1:30am.  Perhaps it has something to do with Ronan waking and crying about leg pains as soon as I got into bed.  Perhaps it has something to do with no coffee.

All I know is, damn.  I’m grumpy.

Today, Ronan and Ruby have “Home school gym class.”  It will be Ruby’s first time participating, if they let her.  She will be very much the youngest, but she follows directions really well and is excited to participate.  I think she’ll really enjoy it, and it would be just awesome if I could kick this shitty mood before then.

I would love to take a nap.  But I am determined to not let Ryder nap – possibly ever again.

Anyhow.  For now.  I’m probably going to watch an episode of Gilmore Girls, feed the kids some food and relax until the last possible second before we have to leave.  Because that’s how I roll.


What’s New

I just renewed my web-hosting.

I paid for another year of my blog, and the ability to blog.

I wasn’t ready to let it go yet.  So perhaps I should embrace it, and write.

What’s new?  I haven’t written in so long, it almost feels silly to write an update.  What has happened?  What is new?  Where are we?

Three beautiful children.  Ronan is 5, Ruby is 3 and Ryder is about to turn 2.  One on the way (as we just recently found out.)


I am lazy-homeschooling Ronan and just started working on things with Ruby.  Ryder is a gorgeous, toothless treasure, as he has the poor luck of being afflicted with early childhood caries.

Brock is working very successfully at his job.  I left my position as an ultrasound tech in April, and have been working relief… but mostly staying home with the kids.  We still struggle to keep the house clean.  We cook every meal from scratch.  We eat gluten-, dairy- and soy-free.  We spend lots of days at the playground.  Occupational therapy and homeschool gym-class and playdates.  We watch movies and we play with legos and we love.  We love a lot.

Here we are.  Moving forward.  A place to write the words that need to be written, because that’s what I usually need.

Why Did I Release My Adult Tongue Tie?

I got my tongue tie released today.  Immediately upon stating that, I was bombarded with questions.  I felt like blogging would be the best method of answering them all.  If you have any questions remaining at the end of this blog, feel free to ask them in the comments.

Why did I get my tongue tie released at 30 years old?

My reasons for getting my tongue tie corrected are manyfold.  First, because there are many symptoms associated with tongue tie that I experience.  Frequent headaches, digestive issues, shoulder and neck tension, jaw pain.  All of these things are or have been a problem for me in the past.  There is no proof clipping an adult tongue tie will help with these issues, but I figured it was worth a shot.

Second, because I have gotten two of my children revised (each twice!) in the past, and I want to know what I put them through.

Third, because of needing to have each of my children revised twice, I wanted to experience the process of healing a revision without allowing it to heal restricted again.

And fourth, because I’m a dork and I wanted to know what it would be like to have normal movement with my tongue!

What was it like?

Shew.  It wasn’t terrible.  They checked my mouth and took a few “before” pictures, then put some analgesic cream on the lingual frenum (the tight bit under my tongue).  A few minutes later, I felt numb and he injected numbing medicine into the area under my tongue.  We chatted for another minute or two until I felt like I was sufficiently numbed, and he started.  I closed my eyes, and I knew he was using a tool to lift my tongue although I couldn’t feel it at all.  I wasn’t even sure when he started cutting, except that I immediately could smell hot, burning flesh… but I still couldn’t feel anything.  No pressure, no pulling, no burning.  I didn’t feel a thing.

He clipped for 40 seconds?  Maybe just a little bit more.  When he was done, he asked me to lift my tongue up and back like he had before, and my tongue TOUCHED the roof of my mouth.  It was honestly the ODDEST sensation.  That part of the roof of my mouth had never been touched by the tip of my tongue before.  I laughed a little maniacally.

He took a few after pictures, and we talked a little bit about the aftercare, and then I came home.

What do I think?

This one is hard to be objective.  It didn’t hurt for a good while after.  Then the numbing medicine wore off, and it began to ache.  Then I did my first set of stretches, and holy mackerel.  It hurt.  It hurt bad.  I began sucking on ice, and trying not to move my tongue as much as possible.  I finally broke down and took some Ibuprofen.  Currently, it hurts but not excruciating.  There was no bleeding.  No stitches.  I can swallow with LESS effort than before I had it released.  Talking is a little painful, but my speech hasn’t been affected at all.  I can stick my tongue out nearly twice as far as I could before.  I can lick my back molars.  There may be more that I don’t know I can do yet, as I’m being a little hesitant about playing with it!

I’ll try to update at the end of this blog as it heals.  But here are some before and after pictures!


Pre on Left – Post on Right


Actual incision size.

8 hours post-op:  My tongue feels swollen.  The area under my tongue feels swollen.  When I stretch it as hard as I can, it tears a little.  It is exquisitely tender.  I can chew, swallow and talk.  My breath is terrible.  The pain/aching is less.  All in all, still ambivalent about how I feel about this procedure.


Are You Done?

Such a harmless question. I’ve asked it myself so very many times. “Do you want any more children? Or are you done?”

I don’t know how to answer such a question when asked of me. Do we WANT more? Well. It depends on the day. Do we FEEL done? Um. That depends on how well my children are currently behaving.

The plain truth is that I love being pregnant. I love birthing. I love breastfeeding and newborns and baby breath. I love it all. I cannot imagine saying to myself, “I never want to do this again.”

That being said – three is lots. Three is plenty. Our time and energy is already spread out among our young. We already feel strapped and stressed. I know we could HANDLE another child. I know another child would be loved and welcomed.

But do I know IF we will have any more?

Honestly? No. I don’t.


I Know This Mom.

I know this mom who circumsized her son.  She didn’t do any research, she didn’t know anything about the procedure, her husband was circumsized, so she just did it.

I know this mom who absolutely refused to have her newborn circumcised.  She had heard so many awful things about the procedure, and knew that she didn’t want her brand-new baby to experience any pain, so she and her husband decided that it wouldn’t be done, ever.

I know this mom that lets her kids snack on junk-food.  Treats like fruit gummies and goldfish that are really nothing more than processed trash.  Juice and ice-cream and cookies?  Sure, why not.

I know this mom that only feeds her kids whole foods, like fruit and veggies.  Her kids eat hard boiled eggs as snacks.  They don’t ever get junk, and they never ask for it.

I know this mom that absolutely SWEARS she will never let her babies sleep in bed with her.  She believes with all her heart that kids belong in their own beds, and once you let them in bed with you, you’ll never get them out again.

I know this mom that has a family bed.  All of her children sleep with her and her husband every single night.  They have no plans to end their sleeping arrangement any time soon.

I know this mom that says she’s only going to breastfeed until her baby is 6 months old, because that will probably be good enough.

I know this mom that is going to allow her baby to self-wean, because she doesn’t want to encourage the ending of their nursing relationship, be it 3, 4 or 5 years down the road.

I know this mom that allowed her doctor to induce her at 39 weeks pregnant with NO medical indication, because she was tired of being pregnant, and trusted her doctor to do the very best thing for her.  She didn’t bother to do any research or learn otherwise, she just decided to “go with the flow” because it sounded good.

I know this mom that birthed her child at home, in her bathroom, because she swears that the medical system is designed to fail moms and she didn’t want the risk of an unwanted intervention.

I know this mom that puts sunscreen on her kids every single time that they go outside, and keeps slathering it on every few hours, without thought of chemicals or parabens or any of that creepy stuff found in name brand products.

I know this mom that doesn’t EVER use sunscreen on her kids.  They wear hats and shirts, and limit outdoor time to mornings and evenings.

I know this mom that yells at her kids ALL THE TIME.  She gets irritated at the smallest things, and I swear her kids dont even react unless she is yelling.

I know this mom that spanks.  When she gets frustrated, she raises her hand, and doesn’t have the self control to stop her arm from striking.  She says she feels guilty afterwards, but she continues to hit.

I know this mom that doesn’t ever hit her kids.  She doesn’t even yell.  She says that she whispers, and counts to ten when she’s frustrated, uses time outs, and has to remind herself that her children aren’t trying to frustrate her.  She says she surprises herself with her self-control sometimes.  She seems to have endless patience.

I know this mom that vaccinates her children.  On schedule.  Multiple vaccines, all given at the same time, with no thought towards the risk or consequences.

I know this mom that doesn’t vaccinate her children.  At all.  They haven’t had any of the recommended shots, and aren’t planning on getting any in the future.

I know this mom that listens to and does everything her pediatrician tells her.  She doesn’t always agree with her doc, but she does what she’s told anyways.

I know this mom that sticks to her guns, and follows her guts.  ESPECIALLY when she disagrees with something a professional has told her.  She will get a second opinion faster than you can blink an eye, and has no problem researching all of her options before deciding what to do.  Even if her peditrician disagrees.

Ladies.  I know this mom.  You know this mom.

All of these moms are me.  Each one of these moms is the mother that I was at some point on my mothering journey.  I have grown, and learned, and changed.  I have done things I swore I would NEVER do, and not done things I thought were essential to parenting.  I have been gently guided and instructed by trusted and loved friends.  I have seen and heard and challenged myself.  And what’s the point of all this?

The point is, even if you disagree with what another mother chooses, even if you don’t support what she’s doing, even if you think she is flat out wrong.. you should love and support her anyways.  Gently guide.  Give encouragment.  Model better behavior.  Because she is just at a different place in her mothering journey.  Because this journey is HARD.  Because we ALL need love and support.

And there is enough to give that we should never run out.  Ever.

Ryder Kane – The Birth

On Wednesday, November 21st, I was 40 weeks and 5 days pregnant.  I was tired of being pregnant, and tired of trying to be patient, and ready to have a baby.  I had been looking forward to giving birth, and SO EXCITED for so long, only to continue being pregnant.  I was READY.

Brock, my mom and I were all sitting on the couch watching TV.  My contractions were strong when I had them, but they were so sporadic it quickly became frustrating.  I decided, for the first time, to take matters into my own hands… so I started some nipple stimulation to see if it would help things ‘pick up’.  It really, really did.  Contractions came hard and fast and long.  At one point, they were only 4 minutes apart!  I stopped nipple stimulation, and the contractions kept coming.  Around 10pm, I told Brock that I felt like things were getting real – really real.  He said that he was tired and went upstairs to get in bed for a while… and I got miffed.  Angrily, I sat down on the couch and brooded and grumped myself out of labor.  By 11pm, my contractions had essentially stopped.

Mom and I spent a good half hour picking up the house and making things presentable just in case things got started again, and when they didn’t, we said goodnight. I was still upset with Brock when I got in bed, so I told him.  He apologized, we kissed and made up, and went to sleep.  I was awakened a few minutes later with a good, hard contraction.  “Good“, I thought, and I ignored it and went back to sleep.  Contraction.  Sleep.  Contraction.  Sleep.

I continued this way until nearly 2am when I finally decided to start timing them.  They were 7 minutes apart.  I got up, ran the tub full of water, lit a bunch of candles and decided that I would call my midwife the moment they got closer than 6 minutes apart.  I got in the tub, jittery and excited, allowed myself to relax and… nothing.

Just freaking nothing.  I didn’t have another single contraction for the 30 minutes I sat in the tub.  I sent Brock back to bed, told him to sleep, and I tried to doze again.  Contraction.  Sleep.  Contraction.  Sleep.  Contraction.  Anger.  Frustration.  Sleep.  Was this real, or not?

I got out of bed, quietly, and noticed my mom was awake.  It was around 4am, and I asked if she wanted to go downstairs with me.  I needed something to eat, and perhaps some mindless TV while I tried to bounce on the ball, squat, and do anything I could think of to make my uterus make up its mind.  I called my midwife to tell her what was going on (contracting 6-10 minutes apart since around midnight) and she said she would head over.  Mom and I sat and watched America’s Funniest Home Videos and snacked while we waited.  I was nervous about a false alarm, so I drank a little bit of red wine.  But the contractions kept coming, and they were getting stronger.

Stephanie, my midwife, showed up about an hour later, and my contractions – you guessed it! – STOPPED.  Completely.  For nearly an hour we sat and chatted while I didn’t have a single one.  I started getting more and more nervous, and felt more and more like a false-alarm jerk until around 6am, when they started picking up again.  I told her I had been contracting ALL night, and checking myself and my cervix hadn’t changed a bit.  To me, I still felt about 1cm dilated, maybe 50% effaced.  She asked me if I’d like her to check me and I jumped at the chance.  Maybe I just really suck at this checking myself.

“Well, you have a very posterior cervix.  Girl!  How do you even reach this??!  Let me see if I can help it out,” she told me.  I laughed and muttered something about long fingers.  She hooked her fingers into my cervix and gently coaxed it more forward/anterior.  It wasn’t comfortable, but it wasn’t painful or terrible either.  After a minute or so of mucking around she said, “You have a very happy cervix!  It feels about 5cm dilated, and 75% effaced!”  She then went on to explain how the baby’s head can’t apply the right kind of pressure to a posterior cervix, and moving it forward allowed it to open to where it should have been with all my contractions.

Woooooooo!  My heart soared!  Not a false alarm!  Things are moving!!  We are having a baby today!!!  Immediately after, I FINALLY had a bloody show and lost my mucus plug.  The contractions kept coming with increasing intensity (although not any more frequently) and we started making phone calls.  Laura C, to come over and help with the kids when they woke up.  Jane, to come and bring the kids to her house.  Julie, to be the awesome  midwife assistant.  And Lora D, to be my birth photographer.  It felt like just minutes passed, and people started showing up in my house.  Suddenly I was in a living room full of energetic, beautiful, birthy women that were all there just to support me.

It was 7:30am, and both of my kids were still sleeping, which is kind of unheard of.  I went upstairs to my bathroom while the midwives got all of their equipment brought in and set up.  I didn’t want Ronan or Ruby to see me when they woke, since they would be leaving – we felt better telling them mama wasn’t home.  There was lots of happy sitting and chatting in the bathroom while I contracted every 10-15 minutes or so.  From here on out, my timeline gets hazy, because I didn’t have a clock and gave my cell phone to Laura (@kittybiscuit) so she could live-tweet.  But once the kids were picked up, it was time for things to get serious, and since I felt like I didn’t need to worry about Ronan or Ruby – I could finally get serious.

Stephanie made me “run the stairs” to see if that would get things moving a little faster.  Down each step one at a time, up two at a time, as quickly as I could.  Someone at the top to cheer me on, and someone at the bottom.  I was high on adrenaline, and excited to be moving towards my goal: a brand new baby.  I did the steps 6 times and then needed a rest.  Snacked.  Drank water.  Peed.  Contracted.  Contracted.  Contracted.

A while later, Stephanie sent Brock and I out for a walk.  Power walking, stopping through contractions, during which my mom cooked everyone breakfast.  This was the first time that my contractions really picked up, and started coming more frequently than every 15 minutes.  We came back in the house and chatted with everyone while they finished eating.  It was so lovely.  Bright, friendly, full of laughter.  All of my support people seemed so happy to be there.  It was right around then that my contractions became hard and long enough to moan through.  I stood for 5 or 6 of them, and then wanted to move into the living room.  I started needing counter pressure, long contractions with lots of moaning.  Stephanie and Julie nodded at each other knowingly.  I wanted to get moving upstairs towards the bathroom, where I had planned, visualized, and dreamed about having this baby.

I remember motion.  My labor was so full of motion.  It felt good to rock, and sway, and move.  I danced my way through every single contraction.

It was around this point, Stephanie suggested that I lay down in bed and try to sleep between contractions.  I hadn’t actually slept at all yet, and some quiet time in a dark room seemed like it would do me good.  So we pulled all the curtains, turned out the lights, and Brock and I cuddled into bed for a nap.  It was wonderful.  Quiet, and comfortable, and… contraction.  They were still far apart enough that I could actually rest between them.  I dozed.  I snoozed just a little.  I finally fell asleep…  and then I was woken up by the biggest, strongest contraction yet.  It felt pushy.  I wanted to get in the tub.  Immediately.

I got out of bed and stripped, started the tub, and everyone else moved upstairs to join me.  Being in the water felt amazing.  My contractions, still plenty far apart, were incredibly powerful.  I wanted to push at the peak of them.  Everyone got very quiet when a contraction started coming on.  Between contractions, we had chatter, jokes and lots of smiles.  My mom was worried.  Stephanie was calm.  Laura C was excited!  Julie was bright and encouraging.  Lora D was comforting.  And Brock was strong.

Eventually, after changing positions several times, I wanted Brock in the tub behind me.  I wanted to lean on him, push against him, hold his hands.  He sat in that position and bore my weight for the rest of the delivery.  I asked for music, and then wanted it turned off.  I rolled on to hands and knees, and then back.  Stephanie told me to check myself and see if I could feel the baby’s head, and I could!  It was right there, less than my first knuckle deep!  With every SLOW coming contraction, I would push… but they weren’t the right kind of pushes.  They weren’t the pushes that made a baby come out.

I started getting incredibly frustrated.  And angry.  I wanted the contractions, because they meant a baby, but I didn’t want the contractions because they hurt.  I hummed.  I hummed oh-so-tunelessly between contractions, and started shaking my head “no” as I felt a contraction come on.  I felt myself start to cry.  I wanted to give up.  I was done.  “I’m so tired.  I’m so exhausted.  I can’t do this.  I don’t want to do this.”

Support and encouragement rose up around me.

“You CAN do this, Mandy.”

“You ARE doing this.”

“You’re almost there, and when the hard part is over you get to hold your baby.”

“You are so strong, Mandy.  You are tired, but your body is strong.”

I shook my head.  I didn’t want to hear the words.  I didn’t want to believe them.  But they were right.  And they said all the right things.  I pushed forward.

I was tired of laying and Brock’s legs were asleep from me leaning, so we moved into a squatting position for a few contractions.  It felt good to change position, but I wanted to be laying on my side.  That was where I felt the best.  It felt like the right place to deliver a baby.  I moved back on to my side in the tub, and then checked myself again.  The head was gone.  Changing positions had made the baby move all the way back up.  I cried and cried.  I was so disappointed.

Stephanie said she wanted to give me a spot to push into.  She told me she was going to put her fingers where she wanted me to push, and that it might help me push more effectively.  When she put her fingers in to check, she said that I was an “anterior cervical lip.” (remember?!  With Ruby?!)  That means that a small portion of the front of my cervix had gotten stuck between the baby’s head and my pubic bone, and had swollen up.  I couldn’t push past it.  She said she was going to push it out of the way… and then she did.

It was literally the most painful, visceral reaction I’d ever had.  Immediately, my whole body contracted up, and I yelled out.  It hurt, but it was also just incredibly uncomfortable.  It made me feel like I wanted to puke.  But I knew it was doing something, because it REALLY made me want to push.  She said she had to keep it moved out of the way until the next contraction.  I was crying, “You’re hurting me.  You’re hurting me,” over and over.  I told her, “I REALLY want to cuss!” and then I said, “I feel like a toddler.”  Transition Mandy didn’t fail to make everyone chuckle.

The next contraction mounted, and I checked out.

“No, I don’t want to do this.  I can’t.  I can’t do this.  I’m too tired.  It hurts too much.  I want to stop.”

Julie moved up and held my hand.  She was a comforting voice in my ear, and I needed her there.

Stephanie got down to business.

Now, there is something special about midwives.  Let me tell you, they are a very unique, amazing kind of woman.  They have the beauty and grace and peace to be a rock during labor… but they also have the ability to tell you when it’s time to get the job done.  And they mean it.

“Mandy,” Stephanie told me firmly, “YOU have to decide to do this.  YOU have to get this baby out.  Now we can sit and wait and it can take a few more hours, or you can PUSH and have your baby and be done.”

Tough love.  But it worked.

I pushed, and my water broke.  I had moved the baby down far enough to start to see hair. It was waving around in the water, swaying with the motion.  It was entrancing.

I pushed, and the head began to crown.  Everyone told me to look down!  Look, you can see your baby!  “I don’t want to!” I shouted.  I just wanted to get the baby out.  The head moved back and I thought to myself, “Oh no you don’t!

I pushed, and the baby crowned.  I screamed.  It hurt, but it didn’t hurt that bad… it just felt really good to scream.  It felt like it needed to be screamed.  Another contraction.

Another push.  The head was delivered.  Perfect, covered in long, dark hair.  Two perfect ears.  Nothing else.  The baby was exactly face down.  I was crying.  Brock was crying.  I don’t know if anyone wasn’t crying.

Push.  One really, big, hard, long push.  The shoulders came out all at once, broadly, and body followed so quickly after.  It’s still just a hazy blur, it was so fast.  Stephanie helped me pull the baby up on to my chest, and quickly unwound a single nuchal cord.  I reached my arm down and cupped the little bottom and felt testicles!  “It’s a boy!” I shouted.  I felt Brock’s arms wrap around me as we both gazed down at this perfect little being, our brand new baby boy.  There was vernix everywhere, and his sweet little head was slippery with it.  I couldn’t stop touching him.  He opened his mouth in a single cry and I proclaimed, with tears in my eyes, “Oh baby boy, you are SO tongue tied.”

We sat in the tub together, gazing at each other until his cord stopped pulsing.  I delivered the placenta easily, and let my mom cut the cord.  Brock took the baby, already named Ryder Kane, and got to hold his sweet son as I got up out of the tub, toweled off and moved to the bed.  A few moments later, Ryder was handed to me for his first latch.  And despite his tongue tie, he nursed well immediately.  His newborn evaluation announced him to be 7 pounds and 4 ounces, 21 inches long.  And perfect.

I can’t even begin to imagine a better birth, a more beautiful day.  I am still surprised it took so long (10 hours from when Stephanie came until birth!) but I wouldn’t have changed a thing about it.  I was happy, and surrounded by love.  I had the worlds most perfect birth partner – Brock did EVERYTHING right.  I have never been more proud of him.  My mother was there, and even though it was very difficult for her, she stayed for me.  My beautiful friend Laura got to share in the joy, and shared the joy with all of you.  Stephanie and Julie made me feel safe, and calm, and so powerful.  And Lora took the most amazing pictures of the most incredible day that I will never, ever forget.  She captured each moment.  Perfectly.

In closing, I’d love to share my birth photography video with you.  Thank you for reading, and being a part of this beautiful miracle, even in just one small way.  Enjoy.


Mandy Birth from Lora Denton on Vimeo.