Community Birth Story: Pippa

Community Birth Story: Pippa

As told by Bergen:

By my best estimation the baby was “due” around December 25th or 26th, but I thought that, maybe, the stress of the holidays would bring her closer to the 24th. I also was convinced that she was a boy, so that just goes to show how much I know.


I’m not a big fan of the concept of a due date being a single day and I am more than happy to let a baby cook until done. While it was nice to spend our first Christmas in the new house as a family of three, by the 28th I was so uncomfortable with that big, big belly and worn out from weeks of prodromal labor every evening that my attitude was in serious decline. That evening, around the time that my contractions would usually start, I took one dose of blue cohosh. Half an hour later, a dose of black.

I don’t know if that was just some really potent stuff or, more likely, that by that action my brain told my body that I was ready to accept labor. This being our second baby, I had plenty of worries about how we might adjust to being a family of four. Either way, as Belle and I lay down for stories before bed at around 8:30 my water broke in a small trickle, gushing more over the next hour as the baby moved around. I didn’t have my water break with Belle and I was so thankful that this novel experience took place at home rather than, say, at the grocery store. Evan and Belle were both so excited! Evan went into hyper-clean mode, breaking out the vacuum, washing clothes and even cleaning out the car! We knew there was no way that Cora was going back to bed after this, so we put on a movie for her.

After my water broke we did a round of heads up phone calls; The midwife, Liz, my mom, Evan’s mom and texted my good friends Erika (who was planning to come for the birth) and Roshontia. I even told a small group of friends on Facebook, who kept me company digitally. Though my water broke we knew that didn’t necessarily mean that labor was imminent. I went to lay down and get some rest, but was too excited to even really sit still. Sure enough, an hour after my water broke the contractions started. Another round of phone calls and Facebook messages and texts. Ah, technology.

When the contractions started to get uncomfortable I slipped into my beautiful, deep soaking tub. The one extravagant thing that I asked for in our new house was a tub deep enough to labor in. I knew it would help me stay relaxed. Evan helped me keep track of the contractions. When we were both too distracted to do the math we found a free iPhone app contraction timer. This worked great until things started to get intense and we found out that the free version only held info for 10 contractions!  We quickly download the full version which at $0.99 seemed a bargain! About this time my mom and little sister Anam showed up. A quick hello and Anam went to be with Belle. Once the contractions were about 3 minutes apart we gave Liz the go ahead to come over. Erika arrived shortly there after and then Shanna, Liz’s apprentice. Party in my bathroom!

Evan stayed by my side supporting me over the side of the tub through every contraction. I could never do this without him. At about 2 AM Belle had enough. Overwhelmed by the hour, the excitement and the company she went across the street to Grandma Amy’s house for the rest of the night. Shortly thereafter I felt I was done in the tub and between contractions every minute or so apart made my way to our bedroom and my birth sling. Time had long since gone wibbly-wobbly so I don’t know how long I hung in the sling, but soon it was too intense and I wanted to be as close to the floor as possible on my hands and knees. It was helpful to have so many people surrounding me and supporting me emotionally and physically. Everyone already know each other (Liz has been a friend of my mom for years) and their banter kept me entertained between contractions. Mostly though I wanted to be quiet and focused during each contraction, and found myself doing a lot of sushing. I didn’t want to make noise or move much. Pretty soon both the baby and I were ready to be done. Pushing was so much more productive than with my first birth and the baby moved down quickly. With Belle I was so tired and inside my own head that I don’t remember much pain during pushing. Or much of anything during pushing. Rest assured that I felt this baby just fine!

When the baby crowned I thought we were done. I kept pushing but nothing much seemed to be happening. I heard someone mutter “oh, shit”. When I asked “did someone say shit” there was a long pause and then a fairly unbelievable “uh, no.” Then Shanna asked me to get up on one knee. Then Shanna PUT me up on one knee. Oh shit, indeed. It was obvious there was some kind of hold up. My mind went straight to a shoulder dystocia since one position to help the baby unstick is on one knee, a runners’s lunge, which opens the hips. Liz made some adjustments to the baby, but I didn’t know what and then the baby was out. I collapsed across Evan’s lap, plum exhausted. I caught my breath for a second and then realized that there was no crying. I heard Liz, Shanna and my mom asking the baby to please breathe now. Then passed a couple of years, or maybe seconds. Neither Evan nor I could bring ourselves to look. I couldn’t bear to ask how the baby was since the silence was beginning to speak for itself but I needed someone to talk to me so I asked about the baby’s gender. No one knew. Liz gave the baby a few breaths. Erika held my hand. Then a cry. And a baby girl.

Turns out that the cord was wrapped around her neck. Usually it’s the work of a moment to slip the cord over the baby’s head but apparently this cord was fairly short and crossed over itself so it didn’t have enough slack for slipping. The harder pulled the tighter it got. It was tight enough, I think, that the baby wasn’t progressing any more. By raising one knee my hips opened enough for Liz to untangle the cord a bit.

After the cord was done pulsing they clamped and cut and gave her a more extensive check out. Her throat seemed to be pretty irritated and she made small grunting noises for the first 8 hours or so. But she nursed easily, wasn’t having trouble breathing and her heart and lungs sounded just fine. It wasn’t an emergency that had required the medical intervention of a hospital because our midwives were there with their skilled hands to make sure the situation didn’t become one.

In all the fuss no one had looked at the clock. After consulting several iPhone pictures 3:20 AM was agreed upon as the most likely time of birth. She weighed 9lbs 8 oz and measured 21 1/4 inches long; the same size as her big sister but exactly one pound heavier. I blame Christmas.

The placenta came without a problem and was wrapped up to be sent out for encapsulation.

I had a few shallow tears, but we agreed that no stitches were necessary. I had some pretty bad tears the first time around and would almost have rather given birth again than have needles jabbed in some very tender places for an hour. I remember the topical pain killer having very little effect. After pains suck, though. A lot. Even more with babe numba two.

It had been 7 and 1/2 hours from water breaking to placenta; a far cry from my first almost 40 hour labor. Evan joked that if the length of my labors decreased by the same ratio then the next kid would come in an hour and a half! This was a much more empowering birth for me. I felt like I was participating rather than just along for the wild ride. Since I’d done this birth thing before I felt I had some idea what I was doing. I’ve also been learning more and more about birth since becoming a postpartum doula. Being surrounded by loved ones (both physically and digitally) helped my attitude tremendously. We didn’t know anyone with children when Belle was born, let alone know so many fabulous families who respect birth and genuinely love family building.

Seeing that all was well, everyone decamped and headed home to grab a few hours of sleep before starting their days. Erika and Anam stayed for a few days to help out. Roshontia brought us dinner.


Belle is simply head over heals for Pippa and proud to be a big sister. I melts my heart to hear her talking to her little “Pip” when she thinks no one is watching, giving her small kisses and telling her how much she loves her. I was terrified of having a second baby. It has been a wonder to me that Pippa seemed just what we needed; not a hassle, but a blessing. She makes us all better just by being alive.



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