Kailee Riches

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Nashville Birth Videography | Juniper

The Birth of Juniper Rose (from mama Dawnalea):

On July 28 at 3:30 in the morning I realized that I had been waking up more often than normal. I got up to use the bathroom and went back to bed. I was used to the frequent night waking at the end of pregnancy but for some reason I was waking up more this early morning. I thought "something is waking me up." I crawled back into bed and tried to get comfortable. I soon realized that I was having contractions. Contractions were not "new" to me. I had been having prodromal labor for a month. I was now 41.2 weeks along and eager for the birth of Juniper. I had fear that If labor didn't start soon I would miss my home birth chance and started working hard to clear that fear and try to stay focused.

I decided because they were more difficult to ignore to start timing the surges since they felt frequent. The contractions were 5 mins apart and lasting 45 seconds. I timed a few more and decided to wake my husband up. I told him that these felt a little different and almost "gas like" but I wanted to get into the bath. Around 4 am he started the bath and had candles set up for me. I have to be honest, I thought this was another false alarm. The day prior we had went into our post date biophysical profile ultrasound and things looked good but fluid was getting low (see end of our first birth exp with this). The day prior to that my midwife checked me for the first time this pregnancy and my cervix was closed, not dilated, thick and baby needed to get lower, even though she was engaged. I was pessimistic. I'm about to prove to you that dilation checks and effacement are not a good indicator of when labor will start.

I text my sister at 4:15 and gave her an update. She was used to this over the last month. I described the contractions as "intense and stabbing pain." I remember them starting in my back, wrapping to belly with stabbing then ending in my back. They continued to come every 5 mins and lasted 45 seconds. My sister told me to update our midwife and doula but I wanted to wait a little longer and see if this was really it.

4:35am I ask my husband, who went back to bed to notify the midwife and give her the details. It seemed like it took me forever to get out of the bath. Once I did exit I realized it was very challenging to talk through the contractions. I spent about 20 mins in the bathroom swaying through contractions but was still very comfortable in between them. I wanted to braid my hair and try to put myself together a little. My husband started to notify our team (doula Kimberly Payne Lmt, photographer, Kailee and midwife, Jennifer). My sister decided to head over around 5 am. My husband cleaned our home (the night before we left it quite a mess. I figured the baby wouldn't come anyways lol). I knew I probably needed to eat but that chance never came. I started my birth play list. At 5:35 my sister arrived and our sweet daughter who is 4 woke up. She yelled over our balcony down to my sister "LaLa I get to meet my baby sister today!" She was so excited. I reminded her of mamas "labor noises" and that mommy was okay. This is very normal and how we bring babies into the world. The contractions started to intensify and I asked one of our friends if she could take our sweet daughter that morning to play. The best relief I got was squatting while hanging onto our kitchen island. The contractions were just starting to be right at 1 minute.

My sister told my husband to start preparing the birth pool and I'm so glad she did. He was working so hard to prepare the house. I was working hard to mentally and physically prepare for birth. I had been laboring during my birthing time alone mostly at this point. I did get teary and told my sister "these are so intense. I don't know how they can get longer." I knew that I wanted to stay in control and told myself "you can do this. You are in control." My midwife had told us that she expected them to get longer in duration to bring baby down and out. The contractions seemed to intensify as my sister arrived. Around 6 am I tried a variety of positions, along with heating pad and the only one that helped was squatting while swaying my hips and holding onto kitchen counter. From 5 mins to every 3 mins now. I realized at this point I was starting to be very vocal. My body was taking over. I text my midwife a quick update of how they felt and posted an affirmation pic on Facebook. A few more came and I remember saying "I'm going to throw up." I knew then I was a lot further than everyone thought. My sister let our midwife know that it was time to come and fast. My sister continued to check in with our doula and photographer to coordinate their arrival. Both on their way. We started to fill the bathroom tub because I needed some relief and my sister walked me in there between contractions. This was about 6:30 am. My husband started filling the birth tub. The contractions were now about every 2 mins and still lasting 1 min long. I had bloody show for the first time and we used the Doppler to check on baby. I remember it was very challenging to listen because she was so engaged and low. She went from 120s to 146 during contraction. Very positive acceleration and my sister notified the midwife and our doula arrived. I got into the bath and labored through a few contractions. 7 am and My husband was next to me holding my hand and our doula rubbing my back. I was on my knees in the tub and after another contraction my doula used ice packs on my back for the pain. I held my husbands hand so hard. It was very helpful. My body was working so hard to get baby out and fast. The contractions were something I've never felt with such intensity. I felt Juniper drop into the birth canal and knew I needed to get out of the narrow bathtub and into the birthing pool. I continued to feel nauseated and told them "the baby is coming. I can feel her." My amazing sister was taking charge to coordinate our teams arrival (our building makes everyone be scanned in to enter with key cards). Our great friend showed up and took our sweet daughter to play. I was very vocal at this point and she needed more than what we could give. I remember her coming to say bye to me. Back to the birth, it's a strange feeling when the baby is forcefully moving down and out of you. I then distinctly remember 3 more extremely strong contractions (truly back to back and no real breaks) and I reached down and couldn't feel her head but knew it was there. I looked down and saw a pop in the bathwater. I yelled "my water just broke." My doula took charge and got me out of the bath. I didn't think I'd make it to the birth pool. Thankfully, it was just a few steps away in our bedroom. At that moment our photographer had just walked in! I was so glad she arrived. We stopped right outside the birth pool with my sister alongside and I squatted through a contraction. The baby was crowning. I stepped into the pool and got back on my knees and leaned into side of pool. I knew that gravity was my friend and the only way I was birthing my baby at this point. Another contraction came and I held on to the side. This contraction was the one that brought our girl earthside. I had burning, force, intensity and stabbing. I knew it was the ring of fire. I tried to pant and slow my breathing to slow her but there was no way. I felt like I was being ripped apart and then INSTANT RELIEF. I told everyone "her head it out." It felt like it took me a minute to even know what happened. My husband and sister told me to sit back and with 1 more contraction my husband reached down and felt something by her face and it was her hand. She was born with a nuchal hand/compound presentation where both hand and head come out. No wonder why it was so intense. (He didn't tell me this until a while after the birth). Our baby grabbed onto my husbands hand and my body pushed out her shoulders and body. On 7/28/17 at 7:25 am, My husband brought Juniper Rose to my chest. I didn't push once. My body just took over the entire time. I looked down at her and she started to cry. I was so overtaken with emotion. This was THE moment I had waited for. The moment of redemption. I felt so much peace. We had just had an unassisted home birth. A few minutes later our midwife came rushing through the door. The cord had already stopped pulsating and I was assisted out of the pool to birth the placenta. We nursed and cuddled that first hour. It's true when you hear of birth endorphins. I stayed up for 24 hours trying process our day. This birth was far from textbook. I never once felt scared or had fear.

To take you back shortly to my first daughters birth. I was induced at 41 weeks due to low amniotic fluid. This was our first baby and we trusted the doc. The doc broke my water upon induction (which didn't work) and started me on pitocin. It took 18 hours for me to go from 1/2 cm to 3cm. At that point I was threatened with a c section. I walked the halls for another 4 hours and struggled through back labor. I wanted to be as natural as possible. At 24 hours in, I opted for an epidural "to rest" as the nurses thought it would help which only made things worse. My babies heart rate kept dropping and sometimes into the 60s. I was started on an amino infusion and more fluids. On and off oxygen. I was so scared. Around 28 hours in we started to practice push as I was 10cm. At 29 hours in the doc came in and I started pushing on my back again while being coached. The doc got impatient and performed an episiotomy without my consent even though we had talked over and over about not wanting it. I can still remember asking him "did you just cut me?" I remember feeling alone in that moment, scared and violated. It took me months and months to heal physically and 4 years to heal emotionally. Birth trauma and obestric violence is real. I had no idea how that 1 event would change my life. I prayed for a second birth like this. I prayed so hard to feel healing, advocated for and safe. The lord blessed us with just that and more. He knew we needed to do this together with our baby. My husband found healing that I do not know he even knew he needed. I can't believe we birthed our second baby together and in the comfort of our home.