Bryce's Birth Story
In April of 2006, Chris and I felt that we were ready to have a baby. I stopped taking the birth control pill, but within a week I started to feel terribly. I was experiencing, at least to me, what felt like “electrical charges” going across my pelvic area and other discomforts. Fortunately, my annual exam with my general practitioner, Dr. Leah Tessler, was about a month away. Though, I also felt like I needed some natropathic remedy recommendations, and while my friend Shannon suggested a few, I also connected with Kara Engelbrecht, who would later become our doula, through a former co-worker, Wendy Gross. Kara provided some great suggestions and also recommended acupuncture. I had my annual check-up with Dr. Tessler, and she first suggested seeing how my first few menstrual cycles went. My first few cycles were “normal,” similar to those that I had while on the pill, but it was later through a blood test that I learned that I had not ovulated the first two months. Dr. Tessler asked that I continue to monitor my cycles, and then after 3 cycles that were 40 and 50 days long, and several “false alarm” pregnancy tests, Dr. Tessler recommended acupuncture for 6 months before taking more drastic measures for fertility. I’m glad that I was proactive about my menstrual cycles early on because it would have taken me forever to get pregnant with such long cycles. With a referral from Mother Jones’ HR manager, I began seeing Dr. Chady Wonson, my acupuncturist. Dr. Wonson had me monitor my basal body temperature for the first month, then after two months of intense, once-a-week acupuncture treatments, my cycles became regulated back to 28-30 days. In also using the Clear Blue Easy Digital Ovulation Monitor and other ovulation sticks to pinpoint my ovulation days, I became pregnant over Thanksgiving weekend. “Little Pea,” as he was first called, was conceived at my Cousin Kathy’s house on a sunny afternoon. On the morning of December 9, Chris’s birthday, I woke up earlier around 8am, did not wake Chris, went to the bathroom, took the pregnancy test, went to the living room to prepare Chris’s birthday present (a button down dress shirt I purchased and a birthday card) while the test readied itself, I went back to the bathroom, saw the positive result on the stick, walked into our bedroom, and woke Chris up with the news that I was pregnant.
Earlier the next week, I called CPMC to find out if they have midwives that practice out of the hospital. I spoke with a nurse in CPMC’s admitting desk and she mentioned that there were two practices and referred me to San Francisco Women’s Healthcare which includes Jeanne-Marie Crowe and Mary Newberry. I knew I wanted the midwifery model of care for my pregnancy, labor and birth, and in hearing/reading that CPMC was supposedly the best hospital in the Bay Area to have a baby, I focused my energies in planning to give birth at CPMC. It is also only 20 blocks away, so it seemed the logical choice. Also, in speaking with Dr. Tessler, the options she laid out were UCSF, where the doctor I would see for my pregnancy probably would not deliver our baby, and CPMC where I would be a part of a practice with rotating physicians where I would meet them all and have one of them at my birth. This also sounded like a better option at the time, so again, CPMC it was. On December 30 at week 7, we saw Dr. Stephanie Chun and had our first ultrasound where “Little Pea” was just one centimeter. August 16 was set as my due date.
Because we were originally planning a hospital birth, I wanted to hire a doula. While I did some research on the web and found the San Francisco Doula Group, I obtained the doula referral sheet from the practice, which was at about week 13, I saw that Kara Engelbrecht’s name was listed at the top, and took it as a sign. We interviewed 3 doulas, including Kara, but Chris and I both felt that we connected best with Kara. Prior to our trip to Japan, at about week 17/18, we let Kara know that we would like to hire her. Upon our return, at 20 weeks, we had our ultrasound at CPMC and learned that “Little Pea” was a boy. To me, his facial profile already looked like Chris’s. Interestingly, with the 20 week ultrasound, “Little Pea’s” arrival was charting 2 days ahead of my due date. At this time, questions started coming up in my mind about a hospital birth. Before going to the hospital, we decided to labor at home until I was 6-7cm dilated, and Kara was committed to doing this with us, which is one of the reasons we hired her, but I started to think about how I would feel at this point in my labor walking down the 3 flights of stairs in our apartment building, getting into our car, probably straddling the baby’s car seat base in the back seat, and driving 20 blocks to CPMC. It’s interesting how this thought later played a role in my labor, but in a much different way.
As a result of several occurrences, Chris and I began looking at homebirth. This included an hour and a half telephone call with Kara talking about my concerns with getting to the hospital, two bad interactions with staff members at CPMC’s Newborn Connections, reading “A Thinking Woman’s Guide to Better Birth,” and our last appointment with Mary Newberry where she spent an hour and a half talking with us about my concerns and mentioned that I was a candidate for homebirth due to my extremely low risk pregnancy. Kara was then instrumental in introducing us to all the information about homebirth and to the Bay Area Homebirth Collective. I also started reading Ina May Gaskin’s Guide to Natural Childbirth. And, around this time, “Little Pea” became “BK” short for Baby Korbuly. Of course, “BK” ended up sticking as they would become our baby’s initials.
So it was at around 26/27 weeks, that I began interviewing homebirth midwives, and I interviewed four. It was very difficult to find midwives that were available for my due date because August is a month they often all take off, but fortunately, Nancy Myrick and Ami Burnham agreed to take me as a client where Nancy would provide my prenatal care and Ami would provide my pre-birth, labor and postpartum care. Reading the Rites of Passage website, especially the birth stories, and just from my telephone conversations with Nancy and Ami, I leaned toward hiring them. Our meeting with them was the “icing on the cake,” and at around week 29/30, I transferred my care to Nancy and Ami.
There was an immediate difference in working with Nancy and Ami. Our visits were an hour to an hour and a half long, and they provided articles on Group B Strep, Vitamin K, etc. to help with education and decisions. Things hummed along quite nicely and healthfully with my pregnancy. I focused on taking the right vitamins and supplements and drinking lots of water. I found that 4 liters a day helped prevent night leg cramps. I was also taking prenatal yoga 3 times per week with Jane Austin, Kari Marble and Katie Louderback, walking on the treadmill once per week at the Richmond YMCA, and swimming at the Berkeley Y with my mom once per week. For classes, Chris and I took Kristin Nemzer’s hypnobirthing class, Jane Austin and Britt Fohrman’s partners workshop for yoga/massage in pregnancy, Jane Austin’s homebirth prep class, Tracy Dillen’s breastfeeding class, and UCSF’s infant care class. On the day I hit 34 weeks, I had a bit of a scare. Leaving work to go to Katie Louderback’s yoga class on 7/5, BK turned completely posterior, my belly softened and I began leaking a lot of vaginal fluid. I hadn’t had anything like this happen during my pregnancy, and I thought my water bag broke. Nancy came over to check me and confirmed that it was just vaginal fluid. At 34-5, Nancy had a group prenatal visit at one of her client’s homes. At this visit, BK’s head was at “5 o’clock” on the left side of my body and Nancy said at this visit that BK was on his way down. Though, over the last 6-7 weeks of my pregnancy, BK was moving around a lot, and then at my 36-5 visit, Nancy seemed confident that BK was breech. She asked me to make an appointment immediately with Suzanne Seger at UCSF, who I had seen once before to establish my back-up at UCSF. The next day I saw Suzanne in her Daly City office and she confirmed with an ultrasound that BK was indeed breech. His head was at about 1 o’clock with his body along the top of my uterus and his legs along the right side.
Given that we had planned a homebirth, I was devastated that BK was breech. I cried several times, but thankfully, Nancy, Kara and Suzanne were all very encouraging. When I saw Suzanne, she suggested just going ahead with scheduling a version for 7/27, that Friday, because I would be 37-1 and that would be the first, best time to perform a version. Suzanne would also be on UCSF’s L&D floor that day. Consulting with Nancy, she agreed that this was the best decision and said to me, “all of my babies always turn.” Over the next 4 days, Chris and I did many natural methods to try to turn BK – inversions, ice, talking to him “down there,” visualizations, lots of acupuncture with Dr. Wonson, moxabustion, etc. The moxabustion had our apartment smelling like a smoker lived here. That Friday, UCSF had to put us off, but I pressed them to reschedule, and they did so for that Monday 7/30. Kara was amazing at this time, coming to every visit to UCSF for the versions. We also had lots of consultative phone calls and evening visits with Nancy to talk about and check BK’s position. I was so thankful that Nancy was so available. In the meantime, Chris and I left for our “babymoon” in Cambria/Hearst Castle that weekend. I took a lot of pulsatilla, Chris and I also did moxabustion several times outside the hotel room, and I did somersaults in the hotel pool. On Monday, with Dr. Gates and 3rd year resident, Dr. Benfield, and I think partially because BK’s butt had fallen further into my pelvis from walking the stairs at Kezar stadium too much, my first version was unsuccessful. I remember crying in bed the next morning and Chris lying behind me to comfort me. Chris and I pressed on the rest of that week with more of the natural turning methods. We also had one session with Kara on Tuesday night 7/31 including moxabustion and diaphragmatic release. But on Friday 8/3 with an 8am acupuncture treatment, at 10am, Dr. Zlatnik and Dr. Fricke successfully turned BK head down. He was in a frank breech position with his head at 12 o’clock. Thankfully, his butt moved out of my pelvis, his head was higher in my uterus, and I still had a lot of fluid. We were so excited that BK was now head down! Chris and I then went to Ocean Beach to stick my feet deep in the sand and to do squats, both recommended by Kara. Ami was also now on duty, so she provided the good news to Nancy. It now seemed that everyone was helping me to check BK’s position and ensure that he was staying head down. Ami came over that Saturday 8/4 for a prenatal visit. Kara checked my belly during the 8/5 birth group. And, during a visit on 8/7 with Chanti, who was supposed to be the 2nd assist midwife, she also confirmed that BK was still head down. During these last 2 weeks of my pregnancy, due to focusing on BK’s breech position, feeling low on energy, and heeding Ami’s advice to take naps in the middle of the afternoon, I worked at home.
In the days prior to going into labor, it seemed that I was instinctively doing little last minute things to prepare for BK’s arrival. Our UCSF infant care class was that Saturday afternoon, we went to Mother Jones to pick-up the space heater, and just on Monday 8/13, I developed 4 of the photos from our honeymoon to put on the wall above the birth tub, and filled the gas tank in the car. I also squeezed in two yoga classes at locations I wasn’t normally going to – on Sunday with Kari at Bay Club and on Monday night with Katie (who just happen to be substituting for Britt Fohrman) at Yoga Loft. Chris also just prepped the birth tub Monday evening 8/13 with the chemicals and gave the Jacuzzi jets a test run. This was a funny time because we were calling Kara to consult with her about the birth tub, because we borrowed her’s, and she asked us to first say on the phone whether or not we were in labor. It was then on 8/14 at 2:40am that my water broke. I woke up with a much stronger urge to pee then normal. I got to the toilet, thought that all I did was pee, flushed the toilet, but then when I stood up to pull up my underwear, I was still leaking. I called for Chris, saying that I think my water broke, and asked him to confirm what I suspected. The fluid was clear, and there was some bloody show, but because I had already flushed the toilet, I didn’t see my mucous plug or more significant bloody show. I called Ami while sitting on the toilet to let her know. She asked me to go back to bed, rest as much as possible, and to call her in the early morning. Because it was two days before my due date, it was later that Ami told me that she was not expecting that it would be me on the phone. She was scheduled to 2nd assist with another midwife and thought that was the call.
Chris and I went back to bed, though, very excited for what was about to come. Fortunately, my contractions started within the hour. I put on a menstrual pad to absorb the amniotic fluid and bloody show that was dripping, and that I had come to call “stuff.” Chris and I were both restless in bed, so Chris went out to the sofa to sleep. My contractions were then 15-20 minutes a part. I labored on our bed by myself for the first 3.5 hours, monitoring my contractions with my bedside clock and trying to sleep as much as possible between them. Around 6am, I went out to the sofa to wake up Chris and let him know that my contractions were progressing, now 10-15 minutes a part. We called Ami around 6:30am to let her know and she decided to come by around 9am before her class at Day One to check me. I then also called Kara at 7am to let her know that I was in early labor. I said that we would call her back when we were ready for her to come. I also called and texted my Cousin Kathy to let her know that I was in labor. I hadn’t spoken with her, just left a voice mail message. Chris then called her a few hours later to confirm that she was on her way. Her flight would land around 5:30pm, and because Patty wasn’t available, my Mom would pick her up from the airport. I then began laboring on the floor of our bedroom with the Comfort U pillow, going back and forth between side lying and hands and knees. It felt better to use the hard surface of the floor for leverage. Ami arrived and checked all of my vital signs. She also reviewed the contraction monitoring chart Chris was keeping in his copy of The Birth Partner. The word “OK” was my sign to Chris to start timing my contractions. In the time that Ami was first here, I had 3 contractions, around 10 minutes a part. Ami then said that she thought that things might go faster than we suspected, so she wanted us to call her at Day One and interrupt her if necessary. She also mentioned that because I went into labor on one of the two days that Chanti wasn’t available that Amrit would be coming over. I mentioned that Amrit was one of the midwives I called when looking for a midwife because she was my co-worker Madeleine Buckingham’s homebirth midwife. Ami also asked if we had called Kara, I said yes, and Ami asked us to have her come over now. Chris was also frantic getting the apartment ready and needed the extra pair of hands.
Kara then arrived around 10:30am. I was still in the bedroom, back on the bed. Kara and I were in the bedroom for a while, she asked if I had anything to eat, and of course I hadn’t. She brought me peanut butter crackers and blueberries. It was fun to chat with Kara at this time. My contractions then seemed to get a bit more intense, so Kara suggested that we get in the shower. I then said that we hadn’t figured out what I should sit on. She said, “How about the birth ball.” I laughed because I hadn’t thought of that and it seemed so obvious. Of course Kara would have this all figured out! The shower was awesome. It felt like we were in there for an hour and a half or so. I sat on the birth ball with the water coming at my back and Kara sat on the floor outside the shower just next to me. I had asked Kara to grab the affirmations I had written on construction paper cards at her house at the birth group the weekend before. Kara then began reading them to me and taped them to the glass wall of the shower. At some point, I had asked Kara to just let me know when I could get into the birth tub. And, this whole time, I was using the balloon breathing from hypnobirthing to manage my contractions. Somewhere around this time, I also remember asking Kara to remove the lasagna and quiche for the birth team from the freezer so that they could defrost. I think Kara saw that my contractions were getting closer together, maybe 4-5 minutes a part, and said to Chris that they should call Ami. I didn’t know this at the time, I just knew that Kara left the bathroom. Chris spoke with Ami first, and then Kara, I guess Kara gave Ami an update and suggested that she come over right away. Kara also confirmed with Ami that I could get into the birth tub and we did so right afterward. The birth tub felt awesome and Kara began bringing over my affirmations, taping them to the wall above the photos. I began staring at our honeymoon photos and mainly stayed in the birth tub on my hands and knees.
Ami arrived around 1/1:30. I didn’t realize that she left her class at Day One early. She set up her stuff in the apartment and then checked me. I think I got out of the birth tub and Ami checked me on the sofa. I was 6-7 centimeters dilated. I had moved along quite quickly. I got back in the birth tub and Ami called Amrit. Chris, Kara and I worked together in the birth tub. My contractions were getting closer and all I could remember was the shaking from the hormones/going through transition. I was also drinking Recharge like crazy and my code word for it became, “some.” Kara picked up on this quickly and was always there with something for me to drink. It was right around this time that I also felt on the verge of throwing up, and they brought the bucket from the kitchen for me to throw up in just outside the birth tub just in case I did. Chris was also doing a great job of massaging my sacrum and lightly dripping the warm water on my back. I was mostly laboring in the birth tub on my hands and knees. Amrit arrived, I reminded her of our connection with Madeleine Buckingham and she remembered speaking with me over the phone. Amrit also borrowed Chris’s Bryce Canyon National Park t-shirt from his closet, and Chris remarked that Bryce was one of the names on our list. Ami and Amrit then decided to check me again. I floated to the top of the birth tub on my back. I was 8-9 centimeters dilated. Given how quickly things were moving along, everyone thought that I’d birth BK by 7-8pm. Ami and Amrit then decided to move me to the bedroom and then to the living room to start getting a better sense of where things were.
This was when the first round of pushing started. I mainly remember being on my hands and knees on the sofa with Chris just next to my right shoulder. It must have been around 4pm. The pushing on the sofa felt great, but I still had a small lip, so Ami didn’t want me to push too much. I remember also asking if I could switch to the J breath, and Kara let Ami and Amrit know what I was talking about. Ami and Amrit then discovered that BK wasn’t in the right position and asked me to get back into the birth tub. Amrit then held up a small pencil drawing showing “hands of the clock” at 7 o’clock. She held it up in front of me and said that this is where BK was and that I needed to move him to 6 o’clock. I thought of this image in my mind for a while and then realized that the half squat/one leg up position from Jane Austin’s yoga class might be the best position for moving BK. I took this position and began swinging my hips in one direction to my right. I focused on visualization, but also felt BK’s head and legs/feet moving inside of me. I then remember hearing Amrit say, “now this is a woman who knows how to move her body.” I think I was in the birth tub for no more than an hour.
This is when things start to get very hazy and would be great to have some help filling in the parts:
2nd round of pushing, approximately 6-11pm
moved to living room, good amount of pushing on birth chair, then to bedroom
Kathy arrived, incident with my Mom sneaking her way into the apartment to go to the bathroom. I heard her, and also Chris directing her not to go through the dining room, but to go down the hall, back out the door. She apparently watched from the living room door for a minute and then left. Kara also told me that she met my cousin and my Mom at the door and tried to gently remind my Mom of her agreement with me.
Lots of shaking, getting a bit tired
Ami tells me I was complete at 7:30pm
Overhead Kara saying, “this lasagna is to die for.”
Kathy sat behind me on the bed, holding my legs during pushing. Overhead Kara saying, “it’s great to have fresh energy right now.”
Chris passes out slightly around this time when Kathy massaged his shoulder, ended up on floor. Kara helped out.
Apparently, Ami, Amrit and Kara have consults in the living room about my status. Ami is confident we can continue at home.
Resting period, 11pm-2:30am
Chris and I lied on bed together, more shaking, nursery light on, extreme urge to poop, Amrit telling me that that sensation is BK’s head coming around the coccyx bone
Amrit sat on floor of our bedroom checking me and BK every 15-20 minutes. Heart rates still strong, BK’s between 120-140.
Telling Amrit about my urge to poop, getting up to go to the bathroom several times, but Amrit said to me, “We’re going to be gearing up for another round of pushing and this is when BK will be coming out. So, you’re going to need all the energy you can muster for this next round. So, if you do not have the energy for another full round of pushing, you do not push, you breathe through the contraction.”
I actually fell asleep between contractions, which had stalled to 15-20 minutes a part
3rd round of pushing, 2:30am-6am
Amrit woke me up because she sees that BK had wiggled his head to +1. She also woke up Ami and Kara who were resting in the living room. She says to me, okay Eileen, we need to wake up your body and start the next round of pushing. I was in the shower for maybe 5 minutes, we went back to the bed. I resumed the same position with my back along the headboard. Chris was at my right shoulder. Kara at my right leg doing heart rate checks. Ami was in the center, looking solid as a rock. Amrit was at my left leg, first getting the linens ready for the baby. Ami said to me, okay Eileen, we need to do some pushing without the contractions. Can do you do this? And I remember saying, yes. I remember the intense shaking that built up to my contractions and trying to take advantage of them as much as possible, but still pushing without contractions in between. I remember hearing Kara call Kathy, and I remember Kathy arriving and everyone being excited that she brought fresh chux pads. Around this time, Chris started playing Bob Marley from Rhapsody. And then, to try to get my contractions going, Kara and Kathy did nipple stimulation and Kara gave me herbs. I then recall Kathy asking Ami about Pitocin. I recall Ami saying that they are licensed to administer it to deliver the placenta, but not for assisting with contractions during labor, which I knew. I remember everyone then getting excited that BK’s head was moving between +1 and +2. Amrit was also an incredible cheerleader at this time, saying things like, “those are the pushes we want to see,” and “that’s the kind of energy that gets the baby out.” Ami also asked me at one point to reach down and touch BK’s head. This was an incredible feeling as I definitely felt the hardness of his skull and the squishiness of my perineum and the fluids. I then remember that Ami asked me to empty my bladder. I hadn’t peed in a long time and Ami knew that releasing my bladder would probably help with BK coming out. She also knew that I had an incredibly large bladder because of peeing that happened while pushing earlier. I got up several times to try to go to the bathroom myself, but no such luck. I then let Ami empty my bladder with a catheter. I also remember having my temperature taken because my heart rate had accelerated slightly. Ami then decided to give me an IV, she said although I had hydrated really well myself during my entire labor that it was now necessary. Amrit gave me the IV, and my heart rate then came down. I remember that they hung the IV with a hanger from the curtain rod. My contractions were still 15-20 minutes a part, and then BK’s heart rate dropped just slightly to 118. This was the last sign that caused Ami to then say to me that things were getting outside of her comfort zone, that she’d give me 3-4 pushes, but that it was then looking like we would be making a change. Of course, I knew what this meant. I also remember Amrit saying that they had essentially used all the tools available to them as midwives. Ami then gave me more like 6 pushes, and I remember trying with all my might to push as hard as I could to have BK come out further, but the contractions were also still so far apart. Then, around 6am, Ami then said, okay Eileen, as you know, we’re going to UC. We’re looking at Pitocin, vacuum, and forceps.
I believe that Ami then left, racing over to UC to brief the staff before we got there. I remember Chris first trying to get a bag ready with my stuff, and someone saying to just bring the important stuff and he could come back for the small stuff. He then raced to go get the car and bring it in front of our apartment building. Amrit, Kara and Kathy readied me to go to the hospital. I remember Kathy saying to me, “Eileen, BK has come so far that he is going to come out of your vagina.” I then also remember standing in front of my closet with Amrit trying to figure out which shoes to put on. The ones I wanted, my Chacos, Chris had already packed. I ended up wearing my white flip flops. With BK’s head at +2, Kara and Kathy then helped me down our 3 flights of stairs and into the car. I remember the IV being problematic because blood was coming into the line, and I was constantly trying to keep my arm straight. Chris drove through Golden Gate Park. I remember it being foggy, feeling somewhat in a daze, concerned about BK. Kara held my hand. Kara talked Chris through driving into the Emergency entrance. I remember wanting to try to walk, but couldn’t. They got a wheelchair and I barely remember the wheelchair ride, the ride up to the 15th floor, and getting down the hallway to LD2. We arrived there around 6:30am.
Ami talked Dr. Hopkins into first starting Pitocin, explaining that I hadn’t had the power to help with pushing for hours. Dr. Hopkins then gave me the same briefing Ami did before we left the house, “Pitocin, vacuum, forceps,” though she added, “possible Cesarean.” Maybe it was the fact that she mentioned the Cesarean, or that Kara then gave me a honey stick which I then had somewhat of an adverse reaction to (I think because I had an empty stomach and hadn’t eaten since the previous morning), but then I had the strongest contraction I had had in hours. I said to Kara afterward that honey became my natural Pitocin. By this time, I was trashed, just completely spent of all energy. The UCSF staff was also trying to get the Pitocin going, but because homebirth midwives use a different gauge of IV hose, a different diameter then what they use in the hospital, they couldn’t use the line I already had in my arm, so they were fussing trying to get the Pitocin started, but never did. So, with this first strong contraction, I had to turn to my left side to manage it. Dr. Hopkins and the residents then said, “Eileen, just push with it.” And, I did. BK’s head then came to +3 and crowning. Dr. Hopkins then said, “Eileen, we are having a baby now. You are going to push this baby out. “ I then had another strong contraction a minute or two later, feeling this strong jolt of a sharp pain on the top right corner of my sacrum, and then had two more pushes and with them, BK came out. I didn’t really feel him come out, nor did I feel a ring of fire, or that my labor was painful at any time. To me, labor was just really uncomfortable and a lot of pressure. The residents then placed BK on my belly. I remember first seeing his wet, wavy hair, but then realizing he was blue and gasping for air. Ami then said, “Talk to him, guys.” I remember saying something like, “Hello BK, it’s your mama, I’m right here.” I touched his head and foot. Though, while Ami had tried to talk the residents and Dr. Hopkins into not cutting the cord, and letting it pulse out, which we wanted, they cut the cord and then BK was taken from me. He was only on my belly for about 30 seconds. Ami told us that while BK’s heart rate was 120 when he came out, that it appears that after they cut the cord that his heart rate dropped to 50. BK was born just 45 minutes after our arrival at UCSF, vaginally and unmedicated.
I then remember seeing a swarm of residents in blue in the room on my left around the pediatric table. I think Kara had already gone over there and I said to Chris, “go over there.” Ami was still at my right knee and looking at me with a very confident, “it’s going to be okay look,” and also winking at me. I was very thankful for this. The residents then worked on removing my placenta. I then remember seeing Chris and Kara hugging and a very concerned look on Kara’s face. Chris then stood next to BK on the table and I remember seeing an older doctor in dress clothes just next to the table, this was Dr. Piecuch. He was the only pediatric doctor that stood out to me, but it turned out, that just next to Dr. Piecuch was Dr. Tim Sanders who went to F&M and graduated the year before me. Ami and Kara told me later that he was instrumental in BK’s resuscitation. BK’s APGAR scores were 1, 2, and then 7. His cord blood gases were excellent and then at 10 minutes, his own blood gases were excellent. BK then went to the ICN with Chris. It wasn’t until 9:30am that I really saw BK for the first time, and then held him for the first time around 11am. Kathy came by again at 9:30am. She missed the birth because she had to see Aidan. The next day, Dr. Hopkins came by in the morning. I thanked her and said that I really fed off her energy in the very end. Dr. Hopkins also mentioned that she would have liked to have seen us come in earlier and that she thought that I was left fully dilated for too long. It was after conversations with Amrit, and then Ami, that I knew that this was the gift from Ami that enabled me to have the natural, unmedicated childbirth that I wanted, although in the hospital. Talking with Suzanne Seger on Friday, who had already checked the L&D floor and knew that BK and I were there, in so many words, she also supported Ami’s decision. I have thought about Ami’s gift several times since BK’s birth and it brings me to tears every time. I’m so, so thankful to Ami.
Thursday morning, the lactation consultant helped me have skin-to-skin contact with BK, and we did so for about an hour. This felt really good because I wasn’t able to do this right after he was born. I then spoke with Amrit that afternoon. She had called UCSF, leaving a message that she wanted to talk with us. We had a great recap of the labor and she then asked if we named BK, Bryce. Chris then returned from running errands and cleaning up our house, when I got choked up and suggested that we name BK, Bryce. Chris also thought that it was perfect, and so BK became Bryce Arpad Korbuly. When Bryce’s liver and kidney tests came back at 5:30pm on Thursday and they were negative, the doctors let me breastfeed him for the first time. I had been pumping religiously, and BK received all of my colostrum. Ami then came by the hospital on Thursday evening. We both cried when we met in the hallway. We then had a great recap of the labor and talked about the midwifery model versus the OB model. All of Bryce’s tests then came back negative, then after a day and a half under the blue lights to bring down Bryce’s bilirubin count for jaundice, we were discharged on Sunday morning and went home.
Ian's Birth Story
Ian Laszlo Korbuly was born at home on Thursday, January 27, 2011 at 7:20am. He was 8lbs. 5oz. This is the story of his time inside mama’s belly and birth. As we did for Bryce, we hired Nancy Myrick and Ami Burnham for a homebirth. Kara Engelbrecht, our doula for Bryce’s birth, happened to be apprenticing with Nancy and Ami, so we ended up with the whole amazing team in one package! Unfortunately, we learned in October, that Ami would be unable to be physically present for my birth as she would be in Hawaii in January and February. During one of my last prenatal visits with Ami in December, she mentioned that she had been put on speakerphone for a birth that was in Chicago. We agreed and wanted to have her on speakerphone during my labor and birth. Michelle Welborn would fill in for Ami during January and February.
Ian’s time inside my belly was much more trying for me than my pregnancy with Bryce. He got much bigger, much faster. By 20 weeks or so, there was so much pressure on my pubic bone that I started wearing a brace around my belly that Dr. Wonson got for me. I also went to the chiropractor every other week. And, toward the end, I couldn’t turn my torso abruptly; otherwise my groin ligaments would get extremely strained and painful. There was even one day when I could barely walk the two blocks from my office to the bus stop to get home. At my 20-week ultrasound, they couldn’t confirm the distance between my cervix and edge of my placenta, and previa was suspected, so I had to have another ultrasound at 28 or 29 weeks. Fortunately at the 29 week ultrasound, we confirmed that there was no previa, but macrosomia – a fancy word for “big baby” – was then suspected. I was asked to have another ultrasound. Knowing that ultrasounds are not the greatest things for babies, I elected to not have one, and Suzanne and Nancy were supportive of this. Ian was also so low in my belly that there would be evenings where his head would uncomfortably rotate against the inside/top of my cervix. I would get into the child’s pose yoga position to help with moving him off my cervix.
In the weeks leading up to Ian’s birth, at around 35.5 weeks pregnant, I got really sick – throwing up, etc. We thought it might be preterm labor as I was feeling very hormonal earlier in the week, but it turned out that I had just eaten too much dairy and had a bug in my lungs. Dr. Wonson came to my rescue that Thursday morning with a supportive acupuncture session. The next day, Friday afternoon, was my 36 week visit with Nancy, Michelle and Kara and I invited Dr. Wonson so that everyone could meet each other. It was a great meeting, and it was so nice to connect everyone. Though, an hour after everyone left, I went to the bathroom and noticed that I lost my mucus plug! I thought that I had only lost part of it, but after describing it to Michelle over the phone, it turned out that I lost the whole thing. I started to feel better very quickly, but Michelle advised that I start to take it easy and begin working at home. I had also received a gift certificate for my birthday in December from my mama friends for a prenatal massage with Kari Marble. I didn’t get around to scheduling the massage until the beginning of January, and in the back of my mind I thought, just in case, maybe I should wait to schedule it so that it’s after 37 weeks.
Now, onto the day it all started, Wednesday, January 26. I dropped Kasey, Erik and Kaia at the airport that morning. It was planned that Kasey would come to our house when I went into labor to look after Bryce, but this ended up not being the case. I then worked from home most of the day. We had made plans to have dinner that evening with the Prophetes so that we could drop off Kasey’s car. That afternoon, I cut up all the ingredients for a flank steak stir fry in advance, which I had been meaning to cook for a couple days. Around 3pm, I went to get Bryce from preschool, and then dropped him off at home with Aurora. My massage with Kari was scheduled for 4pm. I made it to her house just before 4. It was a great massage. In particular, toward the end of the massage, Kari did some amazing cranial massage and then held my head in her hands. I could feel the energy that she was pouring into my body and to the baby. I had never felt anything like it before, and Kari would later say that I am the first person to ever acknowledge the exchange. I know that it was the massage with Kari that put me into labor. I left Kari’s at about 5:45 – running late to get to Kathy’s – picked up Bryce, then went over to the Prophetes. I cooked dinner and felt fine the entire time we were there. Interestingly, before leaving Kathy’s, something came over me to remind her to keep her phone on. She was in the bathtub with Sebastien and Cedric, and she thanked me for reminding her. Since it was a band night, Chris dropped Bryce and I off at home, and I put Bryce to bed. I then went to lie down on our bed with a couple of blood oranges and my iPhone, and began reading Facebook. It couldn’t have been more than 10 minutes that I was laying there, and I noticed that Ian was incredibly active. All of a sudden I felt what seemed to be Ian’s hand breaking through my bag and then right away felt my water coming down my vagina. Not wanting any of it to hit our wool bedding, I stood up, dropped my underwear and pajama pants, and all the fluid hit the floor. It was about a cup and a half of amniotic fluid. I was also wearing the new pajamas Chris had gotten me for Christmas. I immediately called Chris, but no answer, so then texted him – “Water broke. Come home.” Since I had not yet heard from him, I also called Patrick; he answered and said that Chris was on his way. Chris had just arrived to the studio and was able to only do some practice rolls. I then called Kara and Kathy to let them know. Kathy knew it was me. Kara asked me about how much fluid, and if my contractions at started (not yet), and asked me to call back when they did. She then called me back a few minutes later and asked if I had gotten my GBS test results. I hadn’t, and kept forgetting to call UCSF that week. I said I’d call them. I then thought for a minute – how was I going to get the results after hours? – and then decided to call L&D. A nurse answered and I explained to her that I was a patient of Suzanne Seger, was planning a homebirth, my water had just broken, and needed my test results. She put me on hold, came back on the line, and very nicely said “You’re negative. Good luck.”
I then took this opportunity to clear off all the stuff from the dining table – since Chris was going to dissemble it for the birth tub, and put a few things away that I knew no one else would get to. I also taped the Nikki McClure images and the page from the Hypnobirthing book with the illustration of the uterine muscle fibers on the wall above the dining table, guessing where the top edge of the birth tub would be. On the opposite wall, I taped up the instructions that I had written up for everyone – food/protein at least every two hours, remind me to pee, put Ami on speakerphone, and my mom was not allowed in the house. Bryce was also in his room coughing, so I went in, with a pad between my legs, to give him some Herbatussin. Within 30—45 minutes, Bryce stopped coughing and fell asleep. I then set up myself on the floor of our room on the rug with one of the large chux pads under me with my water and protein bar. I kept only one of the white frosted lights on above the book shelf in our room on. I text Kara again and I let her know that I was going to try to rest. I then also remembered that we needed a birth tub hose and I text Chris about it. He had gotten as far as GG Park, saw my text, pulled over, I suggested Home Depot in Daly City, he checked to ensure they were still open (they were until 11pm – thank God!!!), we talked on the phone and he was on his way. The floor was getting too hard, so I moved up to the bed. A few minutes later, around 10:45, my contractions started and I began using the Contraction Timer on my iPhone. Soon after, Chris arrived home with the birth tub hose. I called Kara to let her know my contractions started and then agreed that I would call her when I got to 5-1-1. Chris started getting things ready – inflated the birth ball, setting up and filling the birth tub, etc. By 1:15am, I was at about 5-1-1, and called Kara. I also told her by the time she got here that I felt it would be time to get in the shower. Kara and Michelle arrived at the same time and texted to let me know they were downstairs. Kara came right to me first, checked the contraction timer on my iPhone, checked my vitals, and Michelle got to work setting everything up. I saw Michelle hand Kara my affirmations. Kara got me some Greek yogurt with honey. We agreed that we would let Chris sleep as much as possible in Bryce’s room on the mattress we had pulled out from our sofa bed, and then would call Nancy and Kathy when I was heading into transition. As soon as Kara was finished checking my vitals, and I finished eating the yogurt, I got into the shower.
I remember taking my water bottle with me to the bathroom, taking off my tank top off and hanging it behind the door in the bathroom, getting the water temperature just right, and then getting into the shower and sitting on the birth ball. Kara came in shortly thereafter and taped up the index cards I had prepared with my affirmations. She also lit one of our yellow/orange beeswax candles. It was either on the bathroom sink or top of the toilet while we were in the shower. It gave off a nice glow. It was fun talking with Kara in between contractions, using the sleep breathing and balloon breathing from Hypnobirthing in between and with the contractions, and reading my affirmations after each contraction. Kara brought me continuous mugs of chicken broth with minced ginger and water. She also told me that Michelle and Chris had gotten everything ready and that everything was all set for when I was ready to get out of the shower. About half way through, the contractions were getting more intense where I could no longer sit on the yoga ball and needed to either hang from the shower doors or be on hands in knees. I had also tried hugging the yoga ball, but my breasts were too hard. Michelle would occasionally come in to check on me and was impressed with our infinite supply of hot water. The bathroom had gotten so steamy the condensation was building up on the ceiling and dripping down. In the middle, I also remember taking a break to get out of the shower to poop and pee on the toilet. I was really proud of myself for doing this. Kara was intermittently monitoring Ian with the Doppler. He was doing great. I had also turned down the temperature of the water so that it would not potentially interfere with slowing down my contractions. I could tell that I was heading into the next phase as the contractions were getting more intense, and I let Kara know. She asked if I wanted her to check me. I said I wanted to do 3 more contractions in the shower, and then we would go. It was about 4:45am/5:00am. The 3 contractions went by, Kara got Michelle and we went to the bed for them to check me. Kara confirmed that I was 8 cm. Michelle called Nancy, saying, “Eileen is 8 cm, would you like to come over.” I heard Michelle say that Nancy said back, “Of course I would, I’ve been waiting for this.” Kara then called Kathy, but Cedric had just nursed and then threw up on her, so she asked if I wouldn’t mind if she sent Didier. I missed Kathy coming, but Didier would be just fine.
By this time, I had also gotten into the birth tub, which felt amazing. The contractions were getting more intense, and I started to feel more pressure on my sacrum and hips. Kara very smartly gave me some bites of a protein bar soon after getting in the birth tub. I could only eat a third to a half of it. Kara could tell I was getting emotional and asked if I wanted Chris. We were hugging each other over the birth tub and she was putting pressure on my sacrum. It was really beautiful. I said, not yet, let’s have Didier arrive and then we’ll wake up Chris at the same time. This way, there wouldn’t be too much disruption for Bryce. Chris had also had a bad day, and wasn’t feeling well, so I wanted to give him as much time as possible to sleep. I remember Nancy arriving shortly after and saying hello. With each contraction, I was letting it come, letting a low moan come out, and then right after it ended, doing a balloon breath and sometimes a lion’s breath. I was really focused on keeping my jaw loose and I knew that would help with keeping my vagina and sphincter loose. I was also focusing on the Nikki McClure images and the uterine images. I was working to connect with exactly what I was feeling in my uterus with each contraction and determining which uterine muscle fiber was moving with each contraction. I also found a way to relax my urethra in between contractions and allowed my pee to come out in the birth tub. Again, I was really proud of this as I held my pee during labor with Bryce and had to be catherized. I would announce it to Kara, Michelle and Nancy. I then got to a point of feeling different body parts move outward in a more intense stretching motion. With each contraction it was a different body part, and I would announce it – “major pubic bone that time, or coccyx that time, or hips that time.” I felt so connected with my body. Later, Michelle would tell me how impressed they were that I was so lucid during that time, was talking so well, and describing everything to them. Didier then arrived, and I heard Bryce wake up thinking that we were waking him up early to go to the airport to get on an airplane, which is what we usually had to do! I heard Chris explain that we weren’t, that baby brother was working on coming out, that Didier was here to stay with him, and Chris put him back to sleep. Chris came out, and I think was excited to see that I was already in the birth tub and asked if he should get his bathing suit. I said yes, and he then joined me, putting pressure on my sacrum and hips. Things then got to a point where I felt like I was getting into the pushing phase, and I knew I didn’t want to be in the tub during that time, so I asked to get out. Nancy and Michelle helped me out and wrapped me with towels. I remember asking for the birth stool, but Nancy forgot it in her car, so she went to get it. Kara checked me and said that I was almost 10 cm, I just had a little bit of lip left. She also said that there was some bag with fluid left between Ian’s head and my vagina that would need to be pushed out of the way. I remember squatting at the side of our bed with Chris supporting me. Nancy came back with the birth stool, and they set it up, but then I asked to go to the toilet. Nancy asked me if I wanted to the birth stool, and I said no, I wanted the toilet. We got to the bathroom and everyone was in, except Nancy. I then had a contraction, need to push with it, and then the rest of my bag and water broke and mostly emptied into the toilet. Some of it squirted out onto Kara’s face! I could feel Ian’s head descending. Nancy said, “I can see this baby’s head, and I’m supposed to be watching this baby, and I can’t get to this baby, so can we get out of the bathroom.” We then walked back to the bedroom and I thanked everyone for letting me go to the toilet. It was as if I needed to go to the toilet to push the bag out of the way and let the water come out over the toilet.
We got back to the bed and I remember collapsing onto it on my left side. I was exhausted. In my mind, I resigned to trying to push Ian out in the same way that I had pushed out Bryce, but it would not be so. Chris was lying down on the bed behind me and holding up my right leg when I needed to. Kara and Michelle were holding up my leg, too. Around this time, I remember Michelle offering me “goo” and I asked for the vanilla one instead of the raspberry one. I then began shaking leading up to each contraction. I had forgotten about the shaking and that this is what transition was like for me, but Kara remembered. I remembered Kara and I exchanged some very sweet, emotional words, crying together, and holding hands, but I can’t remember what we said to each other. That was the critical, turning point moment when I realized that I was able to completely let go of the past, and what had happened in Bryce’s birth. I had Kara with me -- the one woman with me who had continuously been there for me for both pregnancies, who was there to support me, who I trusted immensely, and who was there this time to help catch our baby. I then got to a point of overcoming my exhaustion, surrendering to the fact that there was so much pressure on my hips that I couldn’t stay laying down, that Chris and I had practiced, and I had been visualizing, pushing out Ian in a squatting position with Chris supporting me. So, I got up, latched onto the large door jam next to our bed with the pull out doors, and began swaying my hips. I remember Michelle saying, “that’s right, Eileen, juicy hips,” just like Jane Austin would, and Chris putting gentle, squeezing pressure on my hips. I remember also trying the birth stool, but then got to a point where I realized the pain was too much, that I went back to the door jam. Around this time, Michelle offered me more vanilla goo and strawberries. Amazingly, I found a way to reach into the door jam in a way that enabled me to have “rock climbers grip” (as Chris would later call it), and got into the squatting position, with Chris behind me and the ottoman behind him to support him/for him to sit down. The pressure was getting so intense, and I could feel my rectum collapsing, the ring of fire, and then the pain of Ian’s head coming through. At two different times, Kara encouraged me to reach down and touch Ian’s head. This time, I was so excited to do so and be open to what that felt like. The first time, he wasn’t out so much yet, and I reached in a bit. The second time, the top of his head was crowning and I could feel all his hair. I had heard Kara say that he had a lot of hair. By this point, I was about half way through the pushing phase, spent and in pain. I took a break in between the contractions, leaned back against Chris/the ottoman, and remembered Ami wasn’t on the phone. I needed her vibes. I said her name, and Michelle called her. I heard her on the line, Kara described the scene, and then I remember the last series of painful contractions and pushing happening. At this point I could no longer keep to the low moan and just let whatever high pitched squeal that needed to come out to come out. Ian’s head had gotten to the point of being completely out and I was only about 4-6” from the floor. Nancy then said, “Eileen, you have got to stand up right now in order for this baby to come out.” But, I just couldn’t. I was completely exhausted, and my legs had just given out. Chris then hoisted up my complete body weight, and out came Ian. It was surreal. I was in disbelief. I had kept my eyes closed most of this entire time, but then opened them, and reached down to pick Ian up, and I felt Kara put him in my arms. I lifted him to my chest and remembered seeing his white face covered in cheesy vernix. It was incredible. I did it. It happened as I had visualized. Incredible! All I kept saying was, “oh, my gosh; oh, my gosh; oh, my gosh;” and “thank you, thank you, thank you. I did it.” I then remember Ami saying congratulations and hanging up. I then asked for Bryce to be woken up. Chris went to him.
I was still squatting and the placenta bowl was uncomfortably underneath me. We then moved to the bed to deliver the placenta. Kara also told me that she thought that I had a tear, this time on the left side. Michelle began cord traction and massage. I was shaking and not wanting to deal with delivering the placenta, but knew it would pass. I was just in awe of being able to immediately hold my new baby right next to me in my own bed! Kara then took over with the placenta, and Nancy gave me two tinctures of angelica. The placenta then delivered within a minute or two. A great relief. In this time, Chris and Didier woke up Bryce and he came out to see the placenta deliver. It was just like out of the scene in “Hello Baby.” I was thankful for this. Bryce got to lie down with us for about 30 minutes before getting ready for preschool. Chris took him. About 45 minutes after Ian was born, he searched for the breast and latched right on. Again, another cherished moment I did not get to have with Bryce. Kara and Nancy then stitched my tear. It wasn’t as bad as my tear from Bryce, only 1st and 2nd degree, but it’s a line along my left perineum that goes up to my labia. Nancy left soon after. Kara stayed to help me with cutting the cord. Michelle later agreed that she thought that enough time had passed to where Ian was now giving blood back to the placenta. Kara clamped his cord on either side and then I cut it. So special. So redeeming. Kara and Michelle then sat on the bed showing me our placenta. Since Ami did last time, and Michelle was so fond of placentas, I asked her to show it to me this time. She pointed out how the left side seem to be in a Celtic knot, how there were uneven edges (unusual), and how so much of Ian’s bag was still attached. It had been his home for 9 months. Kara did some cleaning up while Michelle showed me his placenta, and then left soon after. She had to join Nancy at another birth. Michelle stayed, made us poached eggs for breakfast, walked me through all the postpartum stuff, and washed some dishes. At some point, I remember switching Ian to the other breast, and Michelle giving me the rest of the protein bar and “goo.” Very special to have had that time with her. Michelle did Ian’s newborn exam and weighed him – 8lbs. 5oz and 19.5 inches long!