Leah Rose Eyler – Born 4/11/17
By mother Mel Eyler
My pregnancy with Leah was completely different to my first pregnancy with Naomi two years ago, which is part of the reason I thought she would be a boy. My first pregnancy was smooth sailing, apart from some heartburn and a couple of yeast infections, but the birth was not what I was expecting. I learned as much as I could, I took the Bradley Birth Method 12-week class with my husband and was all ready for a natural, un-medicated birth, but that did not happen. At 41+1 I was induced with Cytotec due to low fluids, baby was posterior, progress was slow and the contractions unbelievably painful. 15 hours of misery and a third degree tear. Naomi was perfect though – 6lb 10oz and 18 inches long.
After a year I wanted another baby. I was already 35 so the clock inside me was ticking louder every day. It had taken me a year to get pregnant with Naomi so I was expecting problems again, but it happened the very next month! This time I did not want to repeat the first experience, so I started looking into the possibility of a home birth. I talked to my local home birth midwife, Valerie Monterrey who agreed that I would be a good candidate to do a home birth. We only lived around the corner from each other and the Waynesboro hospital is only about a mile away so I was confident it would all go well.
We opted not to find out the gender of the baby. My pregnancy went well, apart from very bad afternoon sickness, I was fine until about 2pm, and then I felt terrible. It didn’t go away until about 16 weeks. I was due March 26th 2017 and couldn’t wait for the day I would meet my second bundle of joy. I nested, cleaned, made and put up birth affirmations and filled the freezer with food. On my due date I passed some bloody mucus and I thought “Yes! This is it” I started having a few little contractions and period-like cramps but nothing happened. This went on for two more weeks, some contractions were quite painful, but no pattern. I was super uncomfortable and getting very disheartened. A few well-meaning comments and messages were making me fearful for my baby’s safety, but Valerie was confident that we were both fine. At 42 weeks we did a non-stress test and an ultrasound and everything looked great. She checked my cervix and we were shocked to find out I was already 4cm dilated! The baby was posterior (again) and its head was resting against the left side of my cervix, which was probably why I was progressing so slowly. She gave me some herbal labor enhancer to take and would come to my house and check me later. I went home to bounce on my birth ball and in between lay on my right side to help the baby rotate. It worked, when she checked me that night I was almost 6cm and the baby was the right way around.
At 11pm she broke my water and for a while nothing really happened. We all tried to sleep but as soon as I laid in bed the contractions started coming and getting stronger. I told my husband Nathen, and we got back up to tell Valerie and my doula, Renee. At first Valerie didn’t think it could happen so fast, but it was. I was shaking and not able to talk through the contractions. It was happening. Valerie started to get her stuff ready. Nathen and Renee ran the bath for me and I got in (I didn’t use a birth pool as we have a pretty large corner tub that worked out fine). In the water I kept looking up at the birth affirmations I had on the wall. My two favorites – “The power and intensity of your rushes cannot be stronger than you, because it is you” and “You can’t control the waves, but you can learn how to surf” written on a picture of a large wave I printed off. Nathen and Renee were on either side of me holding my hands and talking me through the contractions. They were very intense and I had trouble keeping up with them as they seemed to be coming on top of each other now. Renee kept telling me to breathe in through my nose and out through my mouth. That helped, as well as visualizing the wave washing over me. I knew a contraction was coming as I started shaking uncontrollably, if I could get a deep breath in before it hit I was ok, but a couple of times one took me by surprise and it was overwhelming. When I wanted to push nobody argued with me, I got on my knees in the tub with my head in Nathen’s lap and my arms around his waist. The pushing contractions completely took over my body and I didn’t know if I could do it, but I knew that there was only one way out of the pain, and that was through it. I wasn’t comfortable in the bath so we got out to go to the bed. That was the longest 20ft of my life!!! I got up on the bed just as I was hit by a massive push. I lay on my back and the light was on. It was so bright it was like a complete sensory overload. I yelled “turn off the light!” somebody did. I got on my hands and knees, holding the headboard with my left hand and hugging a pile of pillows with my right arm. Nathen was rubbing my back and telling me I was doing great. A few more pushes and the baby was out. I have never been so relieved (apart from at the same moment with Naomi). Nathen said “it’s a girl” and I was shocked. Valerie passed her to me between my legs and I sat down with her on my chest. I couldn’t believe how long she was – I understood why I had been so miserable the last couple of weeks. She was born at 4:26 am. They covered us with towels as I took a few deep breaths and we looked at our baby. Once the cord stopped pulsating Nathen cut it. A couple of minutes later I felt a cramp and out came the placenta. At about this time Valerie’s back up midwife came, just in time to take the placenta to encapsulate and help clean up.
Once she was out I remembered that I had a dream the night before that the baby was a girl, and her name was Leah. I had ignored it just thinking that it was a crazy pregnancy dream. But then I realized that had to be her name. We had decided on Aaron Joseph for a boy or Stephanie Rose for a girl, so she became Leah Rose. Nathen didn’t argue with me as he said after what I just did I deserved to choose.
I was able to nurse Leah after a little while. I guided her towards my nipple and she latched on. I was so happy as I had a lot of problems feeding Naomi in the beginning. After the first hour Valerie stitched me up (I had torn again where I did before, but not as bad) I went to the bathroom and they changed the sheets. Valerie checked on her and she had a perfect Apgar score, she weighed 8lbs 1oz and was 21 inches long. I was impressed as she was quite a bit bigger than Naomi was, and I’m only 5ft tall.
At 7:30am every one left. We snuggled up together in bed and slept for a few hours. We just hung out that day and admired our new baby. We skyped with my parents in England and showed them their new granddaughter. Nathen’s parents brought Naomi back in the evening and visited for a little while. Naomi loved her little sister. We had prepared and involved her as much as we could. The first weeks were hard but we are settling in to our new normal. I thought I wanted a boy, but now I’m glad that I have my two beautiful girls. I will be forever grateful to my birth team, it was an amazing experience and I am so glad that I trusted my instincts to have a home birth. I only wish I had done it with Naomi too.