Baby Dominic was born at 6:04am on July 18, 1994. The night before was a Sunday, I decided not to attend 7 pm mass as usual, but to have my husband take me to visit our primary midwife, Saraswathi instead.
We visited Saraswathi in Palo Alto at 8 PM. Sara’s orders were to find iron supplements, go home, take a warm bath, eat a full meal, drink a glass of wine and go to bed. Later Saras called us at home and discovered we had not done all of those things yet. We had stopped at Country Sun natural foods store and found they didn’t have the brand of chelated iron supplements Saras had recommended.
There was difficulty finding a suitable substitute, but we finally found it. Then we decided to stop for take out food to bring home to save time.
I waited patiently in the car while my husband got the food and then finally we drove home. My patience was tried again while my husband scrubbed out the bath tub in preparation for my bath. Finally after the meal and the bath and the iron and the wine we got into the bed. But my labor had begun, this being between 10 and 11 PM.
I assumed a position of all fours on my knees on the bed. I began breathing, vocalization and visualization exercises. My husband made his best argument for granting him allowance to sleep but I rejected it. He voiced stubborn expressions of doubts and skepticism. I switched into “override husband” mode, told him to hush up and follow my instructions. The first thing was for him to apply pressure to my lower back. I leaked and we turned on the light to see what color the fluid was. We saw nothing and perhaps we should have realized that being clear it was my watery fluid – not urine. I began moaning and new contractions. At 1:30 am my contractions were lasting about thirty seconds. By 1:45 am they were lasting fifty-five seconds. By 1:50 am they were lasting about ninety seconds.
I was doing a lot of concentrating and listening to the messages from my body. Between 2 and 3 am I decided we should call Saraswathi and ask her to please come and attend. Saras promised to come over fully equipped and to bring her seven month old daughter Sophia.
She informs us that her friend Joanne, a nurse-midwife from Los Gatos, would also be coming to attend.
I remained at my favored all fours position on the bed and instructed my husband to continue hand pressure on my lower back. I visit the toilet, nothing comes out but I vomit up all my supper. We made a second call to Saraswathi because during the first Saras instructed my husband to follow my wishes and to call back if I seemed to be growing delirious with the intensifying level of pain. Saras recommended a heating pad to my lower back but we only had a hot water bottle handy. Saras said to use this as a compress and to call her right back if my situation intensified.
I took at least three separate showers to lessen the pain as Yelena, one of the midwife partners of Saras, had advised in our childbirth preparation class. My husband was trying to fight off waves of sleep and sleep deprivation pangs. I found some pain relief by sitting on the toilet. I complained numerous times of feeling as if I had to go but nothing would come out. My husband gave his speech that maybe I should have drank prune juice blah blah blah. I told him to hush up and come back to holding the hot compress on my lower back while I was on all fours up on the bed. Then at one decisive moment I asked him to call Saras again and ask her to please come right over. Saras responded and soon arrived with baby Sophia and Joanne around 4 am.
As my labor continued, Saras and Joanne started getting things set up. Baby Sophia was placed in the second bedroom with the door closed. I was accomplishing advanced vocalizations and visualization backed up with serious continuous prayer. Saras urged me to mind my breathing to keep better focus and concentration.
Joanne and Saras had various items positioned around the bedroom. We had most of the recommended things on hand, but half of them were in the second bedroom. We were insufficiently prepared to the extent that we had assumed that the delivery was still a week or two off. I was still working in the office that Friday. Later we discovered there was hardly any gas in the tank of our Subaru. There were numerous failures of supporting equipment. The oxygen tank the midwives brought had accidentally leaked, which Joanne noticed and fixed. The flashlights we readied did not operate dependably and at one point my husband had to hold up a table lamp to illuminate me for the midwives. The midwives couldn’t find the desired size needle to sew stitches for me. These minor screw-ups were barely noticeable to me, for I was concentrating fully on my laboring. Using all my knowledge and will power I ignored the side events and focused on the main event. I was imagining that my body is opening up. I was seeing beautiful faces of babies with angel-like smiles, mothers holding their babies and nursing them, my baby trying to squeeze out of my birth canal. I was focusing on my breathing for I was aware that my baby was breathing through my breathing.
Saras announced that we would have our baby born within 24 hours and this really woke my husband up! He used all his ability to compress my lower back as I instructed him. My moaning became louder and louder. I was amazed days later when the neighbors claimed they didn’t hear anything unusual. I focused on my vocalizations to help my vagina open as fast as I could. I used all the octaves, high, low and in-between. At one point baby Sophia woke up and Saras brought her into the room with us. I appreciated baby Sophia’s presence and gained spirit by watching her smile at us from the corner.
Finally my pushing became more and more perfect. While keeping pressure on my lower back, my husband could lean back and see the first image of a tip of a hairy head trying to press out of my vagina. At first just a little sliver of hairy head was visible as the midwives called his attention to it. He could see a little portion of hairy baby head emerge far outside only to disappear back inside my body.
My steady progress was unabated and undeniable. I was incredibly determined to succeed and successfully fought back second thoughts. I know that fear would halt the progress of my labor. I summoned all my will power and my faith that all mothers were designed to labor and birth using the wisdom of their bodies. The stage was there all set for me but I also wondered if it really was possible for my body to withstand the pain and accomplish the birth. I can hear the nurse midwives guiding and coaching me with their suggestions and praises.
The midwives decided to maneuver me off the bed and try for a better position. They had my husband sit in an upright hard-backed chair and I assumed my most comfortable standing squatting position while leaning my back toward my husband. He held me up as I dug my elbows and forearms into his lap. With four pushes, Saras handed the baby to my arms. And as I feel the baby’s bottom I shouted ‘His a boy.’ I shouted ‘ I love you baby’ many times, reassuring my baby that he is welcomed with joy and warmth and that mommy is nearby. My midwife told me to push my placenta out and I did and then she told me to tell my body to stop the bleeding which I did.
My husband was so awestruck that I had to repeat Saras instructions to him that he should cut the cord and so he did. The midwives had wasted no time in presenting our baby in the right position for him to snip the beautiful blue cord with sharp scissors.
I was hugging the baby, looking at his dark eyes and we were communicating to each other without words. I remember I shed a cupful of tears, for it reminded me of the labor for all the mothers in the world and most especially my mother whom I love. My husband felt the joy in my cries and I noticed tears were also flowing from his eyes. He climbed onto the bed on his belly and reached for the baby and me.
My husband and I agreed later that the successful homebirth of our precious baby Dominic was the greatest thing that had ever happened to either of us. The morning baby Dominic was born his father and I basked in the joy and wonder of his arrival. We were filled with respect and gratitude for Saras and Joanne. By 10:00 am, shortly thereafter the midwives and Sophia all left and only my husband, baby Dominc and I were left. There we lay on our bed in peace and joy, despite our exhaustion. Seemingly for hours we simply stared in loving admiration at our newborn baby.
Connie Dello Buono
Fast forward, Dominic is now 20 yrs old, part time computer technician (on call online) while going to De Anza College.