Phoenix Oden Capra-Bateman
7lbs. 6.5oz., 20.5 in.
For me this story begins a couple of years ago, after having my second miscarriage in two years. Once through the grief I came to the very melancholy decision that I was okay with having only one child, my daughter, Iris was born in 1999- also a Morning Star baby. Then in August ’04 I got pregnant again. All through my pregnancy I was ready for disaster. Thankfully there were no problems and after the fifth month I was able to relax. I was living in Alma, WI at the time and working with a really nice nurse-midwife down there. I felt uneasy about the idea of having a baby in the hospital, but I had heard good things about the birthing center at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital and the possibility of a water birth was very appealing. I had some ultrasounds done early in my pregnancy (much to my dislike) to check baby size and placenta placement. During the last ultrasound they saw my baby was breech, this was between six and seven months gestation. I asked the midwife how she handled breech births and was told that she would not be able to do the delivery unless the baby turned.
Even though my midwife felt competent and experienced enough to handle a breech birth, because she was employed by the hospital she would have to hand me over to one of the doctors. In this case, as in many hospitals, the older docs who had experience in breech births were retired and the younger docs who had no breech experience would automatically do a c-section. A c-section!! I was furious! I set to work trying every method I could think of to turn my baby naturally, but all I got was a stomachache. I decided it was time to call Morning Star and talk to Paula. We decided to make an appointment and see if we could do an external version. By this time I was about three weeks from my due date. We went to the birth center and Paula had me lay down, while we talked she was able to feel my belly. Everything felt very comfortable and casual to me. I knew that I had made the right decision and that this was where I would have my baby. While monitoring the baby’s heart beat, Paula was able to slowly, calmly turn my baby by gently pushing on my belly. My baby stayed head down and ten days later I went into labor. We had a thrift sale that weekend and with all the trips up and down stairs and carrying things I was having some pretty heavy Braxton-Hicks contractions.
I woke up very early that Monday morning having light contractions coming every 10 to 15 min. It was such a beautiful day, sunny and breezy and smelling of lilacs. After getting Iris to the school bus, Steve and I decided to relax and see how things went. We ate, took a walk, played a couple games of gin rummy and simply enjoyed each other’s company. By the time Iris got home from school it seemed like it would be a good idea to get ourselves closer to Menomonie. My contractions were getting a little heavier, but not yet seeming like we needed to rush. As soon as we were in the car my body kicked into the next gear. The drive to my parent’s house (near Menomonie) took about 45 minutes and it was totally surreal. By the time we got there my contractions were much more intense and closer together. After a little rest we called Morning Star and said we were on our way. They said there was another woman there having her baby, but they would have the other room ready for us. As chance would have it the room we got to be in is the one with my sculpture I made when I was pregnant with Iris! That room definitely has some good mojo. It was amazing being in labor in my room while hearing the woman in the room next door pushing her baby out, hearing all the sounds I knew would accompany my life in a few hours. Paula checked my cervix soon after we got there and found it was only a few centimeters dilated. She gave me the choice to go back to my parent’s house for a while or do something in town, but I felt like I needed to stay.
My mom and Iris showed up and we walked around in the gardens. After a few heavy contractions I decided I wanted to be comfortable and went back inside. Everything was surreal, I was like a wild animal, groaning and panting and letting my body do what it instinctively knew what to do. In the sitting area adjoining my room Steve and Iris were watching “The Incredibles “ movie. I remember thinking how great it would be to be Elastagirl, just open myself up and drop the baby out! I really wanted to soak in a tub of warm water and finally the bathtub was ready. The other mom had used the birthing tub, so I used the big old claw-foot in the bathroom. I had gotten through transition and my body was pushing, but my water had not broken yet. I say my body was pushing because there was no conscious “I should push now” it was all my animal senses working as any mammal works when birthing their young. I needed to pee before getting in the tub, plus it felt good to sit on the pot backwards and rest my head on the water tank during the bliss between contractions. I had a really good big push while I was sitting there and all of a sudden with a loud pop my water broke! As soon as that happened my baby’s head must have come right down on a nerve because my left leg felt paralyzed yet burning with electricity at the same time.
I got up and with my mom and Kierce helping me, whipped of my clothes and got in the tub. By moving onto my side I was able to get the baby’s head off my nerve. Everything seemed to go so fast. I was pushing and pushing and growling and roaring like a lion. I was so glad for that sturdy iron tub because I could really grab on to it and pull with my arms as I pushed. It also helped me to get to a semi- squatting position, which felt really good. Suddenly it seemed Paula was saying, “there’s your baby’s head, it’s crowning”, then “ok Brianna, just guide your baby’s head out”. After some BIG pushes, and feeling sure I was going to break in half, my baby’s head was out… underwater. There must have been almost a minute that passed before I got another contraction to help me push the rest of the baby’s head out. I felt amazing. Paula pulled my baby out of the water and into my arms. It was 12:30 a.m. May 10th.
I was so happy and amazed and grateful. After another minute Iris, who had been there to watch the whole thing, said, “Is it a girl baby or a boy baby?” We hadn’t even checked yet, we were so happy to just have a perfect, strong, healthy baby. I lifted a tiny leg and said,” It’s a boy!!” We were all so excited, we had really wanted a boy and here he was, beautiful and perfect with a thick coat of vernix on his back. I got out of the tub and went back to the bed to deliver the placenta. Paula clamped the cord and Steve cut it. Exhausted, my mom and Iris went home and after the necessary physical exams we were able to snuggle up and get some sleep. We still couldn’t figure out what to name our little guy, so we decided to wait until sunrise and make our decision with the new day. Morning came and my mom brought Iris to us. We asked Iris if we should name the baby Phoenix or Odin (two names we had picked). She said his name should be Phoenix Odin, and that’s who he is. We were so grateful to be able to be at the birth center for this birth, I can’t think of anywhere else I could have been so comfortable and empowered. This was such a healing experience for me on so many levels, and I think for Steve, my mom and Paula, who had to go through the grief of miscarriages with me. Birthing in this way is a treasure that every childbearing woman should get to experience if they can. One of my favorite quotes in “Spiritual Midwifery” in one of the birth stories is “every birth is different and it blows your mind every time.”