First I cannot even start to explain how much love is in my heart right now. Everyone says you don't realize how it is possible to have more love but they are right. I am sitting in bed with my belly bound, a heating pad on my contracting uterus and my laptop writing this. My toddler is wedged next to me, passed out cold. My new baby is bundled up tightly (she loves being tight or on you) and is laying on top of him (they have me pushed to the side of the bed) meanwhile my husband is passed out on the toddler’s bed and the dog is at my feet. It is 10am and we are 27 hours into being a family of 4 (5 if you ask Odin his thoughts on the matter).
Kaedryn May Hudak was welcomed into this world at home on Friday May 5th at 7:27 am at home in Austell, Georgia. She is 10 pounds 5 ounces, 22 inches long. This is her free-birth story.
I knew from the time I was pregnant with her that we had this. That we could do this together. As my due date approached I had feelings of readiness, including “go into the woods and birth my baby alone”. I knew that I would be meeting her soon. The week of I started having regular ‘Braxton Hicks’ contractions- my body knew what was coming and my body and hers were preparing. May 1 I could feel her getting closer and knew that it would be any day. My ‘due date’ was May 3 and for a while I thought she would come any time that first week of May. Due date came and went, including the new tradition of doing a skyview ferris wheel on my due date. Wednesday night contractions had me up a few more times than usual and Thursday during the day I had some decent early labor going on. Early labor can last days or weeks so I wasn’t reading too much into it but knew it was coming soon. My birth support team was coming in Thursday night and we needed to run a few errands- contractions were enough to make me stop and breathe through them but not enough to keep me home. Walking actually made them feel much better, it was when I stopped they came. My body was preparing!
Thursday night my birth support team (doula and chiro/acupuncture/birth sage) came to the house after a long and monsoon-y drive down. I got adjusted around 9:30pm and baby slid nicely into a centered, head down, ready to launch position. I put Phen down for bed, our last night just me and him, and I went to bed around 11pm. I felt good, still having little contractions but was able to get to sleep. I woke up around midnight and had a little contraction that worsened after going to the bathroom (empty bladder) and a little bit of mucous plug release.
I was able to go back to sleep for an hour and a half or so until contractions had me waking up every 20 minutes or so to breathe through them. I walked the hallway and took a warm shower- Stephen checked on me but I told him to go back to bed. From 2am-3:30 am I was having irregular contractions every 15-20 minutes- I wasn't timing them but just glancing at the clock. I had moved the birthing ball into the bathroom. I didn't want to wake up the boys and with Phen in early labor I had thrown up- I didn't want a mess to clean up on carpet!
Around 3 or 3:30 I woke up my doula. Shortest call time ever as she was just 3 doors down the hallway! We hung out in the bathroom and she was able to give some great counter pressure with the rebozo and her hands. We had Stephen go get the tablet so that in between contractions we could watch Grey’s but they hadn’t released it yet!
Around 4am contractions were more regular and more like 10 minutes apart- it was time to get the party started. My doula went and woke my acu/chiro and the clary sage (essential oil). The needles and the adjustment really got baby into a good position and things ramped up. It was also about this time Stephen got up- we also gave a heads up to my birth photographer (my friend and a local doula/Sacred Living Georgia leader) that business was getting serious as she was about an hour away.
I had to pee so we moved from the birthing ball to sitting backwards on the toilet. I also had my Sacred Pregnancy playlist playing. The toilet was actually really comfortable for laboring! I didn't remember that position with Phen’s labor (apparently I hadn’t liked it and the toilet was a weird fit) but this bathroom and labor it was golden until my legs fell asleep. It was then we had to do some walking and stairs. Each time I would move I would get more contractions- counter pressure with hands and the rebozo was the best feeling to help. With Phen I had all back labor- he was in a bad position. With her she was in a good position so the contractions wrapped around my whole torso. It was also at this time that Phen woke up- he was worried that mama wasn't in bed with him and then came to check on me in the bathroom. My little protector.
Thankfully we had thought ahead a little bit and ‘baby’ got him a present. He had been loving Stephen’s tablet so we got him his own smaller Samsung tablet. He LOVED it and was able to watch Clifford and Blippi, while checking on me and ‘helping’ during my labor. I'm really proud of how he did but I knew that he would do well.
I continued to labor and contractions got more ‘fun’ as the morning hours approached. The stairs are the devil! I sprinted those darn stairs because once I was done with them I got to sit and rest. Stairs and moving make contractions happen! And contractions make babies come! While doing the stairs and hallway walking I was never more thankful for my strong husband. He without complaint supported the weight of my birthing body- allowing me to push him into support positions and holding steady, comforting me in the process. During birth I cannot imagine another partner there to support me. Stephen is strong, silent, supportive and present during birth- which is exactly what I need from him. He also was amazing at switching between caring for me and for Phen.
My friend and photographer (also a doula) arrived around 6am and was able to capture the most of active labor and the exciting part- birth!
FINALLY they agreed to start filling the tub- a process that was slower than anticipated….but as with the rest of my labor I negotiated to get into the water. One thing from Phen’s birth is I really wanted a water birth- to help with (the probability of) birthing a large baby, potential tearing and overall comfort. As the tub was filling my least favorite part of labor (throwing up) happened ‘tub-side’. Who knew that a cold compress would be one of my favorite labor support tools? (my amazing birth team knew….) After throwing up I knew it wouldn't be much longer- I probably dilated 3cm just in those moments (each time throwing up is usually a cm). I was going to get up, walk the hall, walking at this point was more like taking a few steps between contractions; and THEN I got to get in the tub. Deal.
I started walking the hall- having a monster contraction in the doorway. I made it about halfway down the hall where I had another monster contraction- and I felt her head press and pop my water. It was a very distinct pop feeling and I even said “and there goes my water” during the contraction. I turned to come back to the room/tub. I had a contraction that sent me diving to the ball and squatting down. I let out a roar with my contraction and between breaths asked for pressure on my perineum. Everyone knew what this meant- baby was moments away. Even though I was in a squatting position I wasn’t in a good squat and it wasn't want my body or baby needed at this time. In comes my strong husband again- he became my reclined support in the middle of the hallway at the top of the stairs, and very briefly did I think about the fact that I would fall down the stairs while giving birth.
At this time I was not in control of what was happening- my body was in control, guided by my baby. As she started to crown I heard “there’s a cord!” and while an older school of thought was to clamp and cut the cord, it is not evidence based practice to not clamp or cut as it cuts off baby’s oxygen supply, but to get baby out so the cord is not compressed. (This is why doing research on your options in birth is so important and knowing the risk/benefit options of your decisions). I knew she was ok on a deep level of my being and said no- I’ll get her out. In 4 seconds she was out and on my belly. As I was pushing with all of my mama bear might I could feel Stephen’s joy and smile behind me as he watched his daughter come earthside. Phen was behind him, watching as well, and he let out a cry with me as I brought his sister into the world. Once my cry ended so did his and he looked down at her in awe.
The birth team said as soon as she was out- she looks just like you! I looked down at my little girl and I saw myself, and I saw all that she will become. She will be a strong and fierce woman, determined and sweet, her own unique addition to this world and our tribe of womanhood.
The moments after are a blur of warm towels, pure joy, checking to make sure she was ok, un-doing the nuchal cord, and falling in love. A little bit of a rest and my placenta came on its own with a contraction- of course right at the moment where the birth team had taken a quick moment to get more underpads in anticipation of the placenta coming (thankfully we have a carpet cleaner). I had a little bit of placenta that needed some extra encouragement via a push from me- it wasn't all coming out and we had to call my midwife on call, Sarah, to see what the proper course of action was. She joyfully answered the FaceTime call and coached us through what to do. Thank you technology! Once the placenta was out it was time to move to the bedroom and lay comfortably in post birth bliss. The logistics of moving are always interesting- a lot of moving, messy pieces and a mama who is a little unaware…but we made it to the bed.
Stephen and Phen had gone downstairs to take care of Odin- dog waits for no baby to be born for his breakfast! With the help of my birth team we burned the cord. It was a ceremonial process for me- a final ending to our connection in utero. I was glad to have my birth team be a part of it as well to help seal the event of her birth.
Once the cord was burned and she was free of the organ that sustained her for 40 weeks and 2 days it was taken downstairs. Alia (friend/photographer/doula) also does placenta work so she was able to prepare my placenta for me- I did raw for smoothies, and she took some to dehydrate for memento and to make some tincture. Kaedryn and I laid in bed- she took to nursing and we relaxed together- having done about 3 and half hours of active labor and about 2 hours of serious early labor we were finally in our moment together in our 4th trimester journey.
The birth of my rainbow baby was exactly what I wanted (minus NOT making it to the tub yet again, just wasn't meant to be). Each birth story is different and her birth was different from Phen’s in many ways, emotionally and physically. I was surrounded by people who supported me; a birth team who supported my body and its ability to birth my baby, who honored the sacredness of the birth journey and process and who possessed the knowledge to allow me to do so. I had the resources I needed when I needed them and I would not change a thing (except starting filling the tub sooner!) on how my baby girl entered this world. I am so in love with Kaedryn but also I am so in love again with my husband and son- I am ready for my next chapter of motherhood as a mother of two and a mother to a daughter.