Kelly’s Birth Story: An At-Home Water Birth

Thank you so much to Mama Kelly for sharing her beautiful birth story with us! Happy Birthday sweet Ella!

My labor began at 2:47am on Sunday November 4th. I had had been contracting throughout the 2 previous nights of November 2nd and 3rd. Upon waking I would tell myself to go back to sleep because if this was “it” I would need all the sleep I could get. I made another (the millionth) trip to the bathroom and discovered I lost my mucous plug.  After not bleeding for 10 months this was like an alarm going off in my head. I wasn’t sure, so I did what everyone would do; I googled pictures. After confimation of the passed mucous plug I began tracking my contactions. They were about 5 minutes apart for 45 minutes.

I called my mom at 3:30am alerting her to my labor. She lives in Seattle and we were hoping she and my sister who would try to make it for the birth. There was no possible way I was going back to sleep, I was so excited! The midwives and doula recommended doing something enjoyable during the beginning of labor but all I wanted to do was clean. I was planning a home birth and wanted everything to be spotless and ready for labor team. I postponed telling my husband because I knew he was going to need all the sleep he could get. Unfortunately  the vaccuming and feroicus cleaning woke him, I told him to go back to bed and he went to my step-daughters room where I was not planning on laboring in.

I continued contracting but not as regularlly as before about 3-10 minutes apart. I called my doula Karrie at 6:00am. I didnt feel like I needed anyone’s help yet but figured I should get the ball rolling.   Around 9am my husband told me we were having a major water issue. The toliets were backing up into the bath tubs. I started freaking out. I shouldn’t have but this was a serious issue that needed to be addressed. I knew this could cause major problems. Nick left to buy something to clear the toliets and after an hour or so I was beginning to feel deserted and worried. I called the Karrie the doula again asking for advice. She said worst case senario we would transfer to the birthing center.

My father-in-law was in route from picking up my mom, sister and 1 yr old nephew from LAX. When they all arrived he fixed the plumbing issue and all was back in working order. Karrie the doula arrived and recommended that I eat to keep my energy up. I ate and drank and shortly and after I needed to concentrate on my labor. I retreated to my (working) toliet and contracted and contracted for hours. I kinda felt like a freak show as my husband, mom, sister and step-daughter watched. Things were getting intense but manageable.

Karrie called the midwife on call and Brooke joined the party. She checked my progress and annouced I was 8 cm dialated.  I was elated! I was going to meet my baby today! Brooke suggested I get into the birthing tub we had set-up in my living room. It felt glorious as I eased myself into the warm water. I felt so thankful to be out of the bathroom, laboring on the toliet. I continued contacting but after entering into the tub my contactions started to become irregular and varied in intensity. The midwife and birth assistant suggested I walk and move around to get things going.Image

Unfortunatley, labor wasn’t progressing. Brooke checked me again and I dont know what exactly happened but she said “Im sorry but I was wrong, you’re only a 5”. What? I didn’t understand. How could this be? I was devestated, lost and confused,  I cried really hard. Brook suggested a medicated sleep induced with a shot of benadryl and morphine. I felt like I had had been blindsided. This was NOT a part of my birth plan. This was never even discussed as a possibility anytime during my prenantal care.

She explained that I needed to rest and this medicated sleep would improve my chances of staying home and not transferring to a hospital due to exhaustion. I asked Nick what he thought we should do. I knew I wasn’t in my right mind to make a decision like this. He agreed and we went for it. I ate a bowl of cereal, washed my face and removed my contacts to prepare myself for sleep. She gave me the first shot which was the most painful shot I have ever experienced in my life. I screamed as the morphine burned into my thigh and the next one, benadryl on the other thigh that was not nearly as bad. That sucked! I layed down to sleep and then puked up the cereal. My husband layed next to me sleeping.Everyone left us to try to rest.

The “medicated sleep” was more like a being in a trance. I continued to contract regularly every 5 minuntes or less. The contractions were less intense but I certainly wasn’t sleeping. I was in a fog, time was irrelevant, only the next contraction was certain. I was trying to sleep inbetween contarctions in bed  and about 90% of the contatractions were spent on the toliet. So I was going back and forth about a million times.

Around 3 am November 5th Brooke returned to administer another round of antibiotics due to group B strep. She found me sleeping on the toliet. She said it I couldnt sleep on the toliet I needed to rest and lay flat while she administed the antibiotics. The midwives expected the “medicated sleep” to last 4-6 hours. I was in my labor nightmare for 15 long hours. I remember hearing the mailman pull up to our mail box, thinking “what day is it?”The mail usually arrives around 1pm. I had been in labor for 34 hours. I was feeling defeated at best. Exhustion and pain were gnawing at me. I was disappointed in myself, like my body had betrayed me. I began to think I was going to transfer to the hospital. I needed relief, I knew I couldn’t continue on for much longer. I had signed up for a 24 hour max labor and I wasnt getting extra credit for this. I felt like throwing in the towel.

 My mom, husband, sister and nephew were at my house. Shortly after Karrie the doula returned  I announced I was getting back into the tub or I was going to the hospital. Andie the next midwife on shift arrived while I was in the tub. It was now about 5pm. I was hoping she would say either I would be having the baby soon or we should transfer. I said, “I want to talk about going to the hospital”. She calmly explained we would need to drive to for at least 45 minutes in rush hour traffic. I asked if I could pre-order a epidural. “No”, she explained it doesn’t work that way. Best case scenario it would take at least 2 hours to get an epidural and worst case I wouldn’t get it at all if I progressed too quickly or if the anesthesiologist didn’t have time. These options sounded less than ideal. I could not imagine laboring in the car, it sounded worse than anything else I would be experiencing at home.

My family was trying their best to encourage me to stay at home. So we agreed that she would check me and baby. She anticipated and found a posterior presentation. Which means my baby was backwards, her spine Imagefacing mine. She recommended an accupuncturist to assist her while turning the baby. She called one who lived in the area and who could be over in 10 minutes. While waiting for the accupunturist, Karrie used the robozo scarf around my belly and shook my belly while I was on all fours. Next Nick tried and surprisingly this gave some relief. The accupuncturist Tiffany arrived, by the next contraction she was placing the needles on the backside of my ankles and Andie internally flipped my baby all while I was contacting. Holy crap! That,was intense! I got back into the tub and Tiffany placed more needles on the top of my forearms to increase my energy. I began to move inward again. I was going to have my baby today no matter what (technically I had her the next day).

I really wanted to be in the tub but it was continually stalling my labor. The birth team were encouraging me to walk, sway and squat with Nick’s help. I would walk into the nursery room trying to surround myself with her energy. Looking and concentrating at what I had already prepared for her. It helped me stay focused on why I was struggling. The pain was not in vain, it was for my daughter. I asked to return back to the pool more times than they allowed. At one point Andie suggested I eat a little to keep my energy up. I bargained I would eat 1/2 a banana within 30 minutes if I could get back into the tub for 20 minutes. “This is a good deal”, I offered “you should take it.” I really did keep my sense of humor, I needed to. I needed to find the humor of the situation.

 I made the rounds; the tub, toliet, shower and walking my halls. Over and over. Andie checked me again and announced I was a 9. I loathed these checks, they were the worst pain I have ever experienced in my life. I remember about 7 of them. I would lay on the chaise part of our sectional on my left side gripping the edge with my right hand. I couldn’t control myself as I screamed “PLEASE GOD HELP ME!!” I tried not to scream, keeping my moans low. But in that pain I couldn’t.  Except for those 7 contractions I felt I could manage the pain. But during those the pain engulfed my body and mind. I reminded myself if I went the hospital they would require me to be laying on my back. Just the idea made me feel like I’d lose my mind. So I continued on.

While I was getting a break in the tub I started to feel the urge to push. It felt like I needed to contract my abdomen not like I needed to go to the bathroom. I announced, “I’m pushing!” I continued for a short while then Andie suggested we head to the bedroom. She set up the yoga ball with a towel over it and I would brace myself on it while pushing on all fours.

I started really pushing with all my might. I was so exhausted at this point, I didn’t know if I could continue on but I just kept going, there didn’t seem like there was another option. I begged Andie to pull her out, “Please just a little.” She responded with, “There’s nothing to hold onto.” I retorted, “Her ears!”.

After almost 2 hours of pushing they had me squat on the floor at the foot of my bed. The birth team had suggested the squating position earlier but it seemed scary, when I went bent down I felt like my hips were going to break. But this time as I got into position I knew she was close. After a few pushing  contractions Andie placed a mirror under me and I could see lots of dark curly hair. Hallelujah!  She asked me if I wanted to have her in the tub because if so we needed to move now. My husband pulled me up and I waddled to the living room where the birth tub was. Walking with a crowning baby was the weirdest feeling ever!

I eased into the warm water. My mom, sister, nephew and the rest of the birth team circled around me in the tub.  They asked if I wanted Nick in the tub with me but I needed the space and responded with a very firm, “No.”  I felt VERY motivated to push this baby out! During the next few contractions I could feel her head coming out more and more. Andie said I would need to slow down and pant during the next one. Then the ring of fire! Oh, oh the burning! Her head was out and one more then her body followed.   We had planned for Nick to catch the baby but he was at my head, as she came out he moved to get her. Andie and Nick together placed her on my belly. She was out! She was here! She was beautiful!


Ella Rose Beltier was born at 1:23 am on November 6th. After nearly 47 hours of labor she was finally here! I was in awe as I held her tiny body on mine. They suggested I pour the tub water over her to keep her warm. My husband said, “Hi baby” and she picked up her head and looked directly at him. It was so cool. I said to Nick, “Look what we made! I did most of the work.” Ha ha! I was soaking her in. Looking at the parts I could see, falling in love with every square inch of her.  Image

Nick helped me out of the water onto our sectional with Ella still on my abdomen. I could feel the cord was not very long and could’t pull her up to my chest. Andie tugged on the cord and said it wasnt ready to come out. I didn’t care, I was so mezmorized by the little being I had just spent so long trying to get out. Kerrie spoon feed me yogurt with walnuts and honey and I drank coconut water. I had no interest in food only my baby. But in hindsight I’ m grateful she pushed the foods and liquid because I hadn’t really eaten in 2 days would need the calories and nourishment.

My mother and father in law came in to visit for a couple minutes. They covered me up as Ella and I were still both attatched to the cord. Shortly after they left Ella latched on for the first time. I was so excited!  Andie tugged on the cord again and then helped me birth the placenta. She showed me the anatomy of it. It was gross but strangley sentimental. It had been my baby’s home for almost 10 months. My husband went to make a placenta smoothie but Kerrie would finish. We moved into the bedroom and loved and cuddled with Ella.

After what the midwives call the “Golden Hour”, the very important bonding time, they weighed and measureded her. She was 7 lbs 3oz and 20.5 inches long. While she was being measured we were guessing her size, I guessed 7.5 lbs and she turned and looked up and behind her following my voice. She knew I was her mom.

They diapered her and placed her on my husband’s chest so I could get cleaned up.  One of the birth assistants helped me shower. I was really shakey and grateful for her as I couldn’t have managed it alone. I got dressed and layed in our bed with Nick and Ella. I was tired but elated. I knew I needed to sleep, so about 4:30am we laid down to sleep. The midwives cleaned up and left. My mom and sister had also gone to bed. I continued to nurse her while she laid my chest and my baby girl, husband and I all fell asleep together.



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