The Birth Story of Maverick Judah.
On June 9th, I had my 39 week appointment with my midwives. I was measuring well and baby sounded great - but, he was not yet engaged in my pelvis. If you are unfamiliar with what it means for a baby to be “engaged,” it simply means that the baby has dropped into the pelvis to prepare for birth. And as of June 9th, Maverick was still hanging out above my pelvis. My midwife told me to do one forward leaning inversion every day that following week to encourage him to engage. It was also during my 39th week that DeeMo and I hung up my birth affirmations and wall of twinkly lights and completely deep-cleaned and rearranged our bedroom in order to accommodate the birth pool.
I implemented the midwife’s advice the following week and then went in for my usual bi-weekly chiropractic adjustment with Dr. Jina Foltz at Revitalize Chiropractic on June 15th. At this appointment, Dr. Jina showed me 3 things I could do at home to encourage Maverick to engage: deep squats, high knee walks, and extended puppy pose. I went home and did just that and then went on with the rest of my day.
I slept quite badly that night, waking up every 1.5-2 hours, tossing and turning quite frequently. When I went to the bathroom the following morning on June 16th, I realized I was beginning to lose my uterine seal. When this happened with my first son, it was about 24-48 hours until I went into labor - so I assumed it may be similar this time around.
That morning, I was also feeling quite crampy, and just different overall. I felt as though Maverick had definitely shifted more into my pelvis while I had slept, hence the start of the cervical change and cramps. I went about my morning as usual - I dropped Zion off at his VBS Camp, did some work at a coffee shop, and attended my 40 week checkup at Lifesong at 12:00 noon.
It was at this appointment that Kristin, my midwife, confirmed that he had indeed shifted into a more optimal position for birth, and that he could come any day now. I was measuring 41 weeks - which did not come as a surprise to me because at this point I felt as big as I could possibly be. Kristin joked before I left the office that there was a mom who’s baby had to come before mine did, as she was 42 weeks that day, and I was 39+5. I reassured her that my baby could wait a little longer until this other one came. (So I thought!)
I continued to go on about my day after my appointment. I was in close communication throughout the day with Ari Upham, my birth photographer, and mentioned to her around 1:30pm that I was anticipating that baby would be coming within about 12-24 hours. I ran an errand on my way home while continuing to experience infrequent and not-timeable cramping in my lower abdomen. I remember thinking to myself when I was standing in a long Customer Service line to make a return - “Why in the world am I here right now?! I need to get home.”
I came home, and around 3:30pm I noticed some more of my uterine seal in the toilet. Father’s Day was coming up in a few days, so I wrote some cards while bouncing on my birth ball in the living room while Zion napped. I continued having irregular tightenings in my lower abdomen.
It was during this time that I told my husband, DeeMo, that I thought it would be wise to start preparing our room for the birth in the event things progressed quickly, which is what I was anticipating. (As a doula, I’ve witnessed and heard many stories of mommas not getting their water birth that they hoped for because of quick labors and not being prepared ahead of time - so I was trying to avoid that!) He placed the tarp down, moved the birth pool from the living room into our bedroom, placed the twinkly lights around the edge of the pool, and inserted the liner.
DeeMo had mentioned a few days prior that he wanted to go out to dinner one final time as a family of 3 on this particular evening - so once Zion woke up from his nap, we headed out to eat around 6:15pm. Little did we know that this would *literally* be the last outing we would take together, just the 3 of us. I was starting to have to breathe through the tightenings at this point and knew that early labor had definitely begun. As a doula, I always tell my clients that distraction is key during early labor - especially during the daytime hours. So that’s what I did. ☺️
At dinner, we had the kindest server. His name was Lu, and when we had finished paying the bill-he came over and sent us on our way with a piece of paper that had Numbers 6:24-26 written on it. If you are not familiar with these particular verses, they read:
“The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine on you, and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.”
How cool that this kind stranger felt strongly to send our family off that night with the priestly blessing that God intended for the Israelites? Reflecting back on those moments, I truly believe that the Lord was fully involved in even the smallest of details during this birth story.
At 7:10pm, I began timing my tightenings because I felt that they were becoming a bit stronger and more consistent. They were just under 1 minute long every 3-4 minutes. Around 7:30pm, we made our way back home downtown. I kissed and hugged Zion goodnight and told him he may have a sibling when he woke up in the morning! I then went into our bedroom while DeeMo put him to bed.
Around 8:30pm, Once DeeMo finished putting Zion to sleep, he came back into our room to support me. He kept referring to himself as my “moula,” aka my “man-doula.” 😝 I asked him to run through the birth checklist once more to ensure we had done everything we were supposed to. I put on my Christian Hypnobirthing tracks and went back and forth between bouncing on my birth ball and leaning over onto our dresser to cope with the waves.
Active labor began around 9:30. I know this because there was an obvious shift in the length, frequency, and intensity of the waves I was experiencing around then. I was starting to need DeeMo to be by my side through every wave at this point and I could no longer just breathe through them. I needed to use vocalization as well as rhythmic movement through each one.
DeeMo must have noticed the shift as well, because he initiated making the first calls to our birth team at this time-the first to Kristin, our midwife, and the second to our birth photographer, Ari. I remember giggling when I heard him say, “Hey there, this is DeeMo the ‘moula,’ Ann Morris is in labor!” Kristin asked him to put the phone on speaker so that she could talk to me. She asked me how long my contractions were, as well as how frequently they were coming. I was not exactly sure, but I told her they were close together and quite strong. She also asked if I was ready for her to come, to which I replied “No, not yet. I think we still have some time.”
After hanging up the phone with our team, DeeMo turned the hot water heater all the way up and connected the hose to the shower spout so that everything was ready for when it was time to fill up the birth pool - per the instructions from our midwife. At 9:40pm, I began timing the waves again. They were lasting between 1-2 minutes long and were coming every 2-3 minutes at this point and I was beginning to use all of my coping strategies because things were getting so intense. I remember exasperatingly telling DeeMo, “I feel like this contraction is never-ending!” And so, only 15 minutes after the first initial phone call to our birth team, a second call was made to inform them at 9:55pm that it was go-time.
I continued to moan and move through the waves with DeeMo while standing and leaning while we awaited their arrival. Ari, my good friend and birth photographer arrived first at 10:25pm, and the minute she stepped into our room I got very emotional. Ari just so happens to be the very first person I told when I discovered we were expecting - and experiencing her familiar, loving energy in our birth space was a very full-circle moment for me. In-between waves, we immediately hugged and she began encouraging me and telling me what an amazing job I was doing. Ari’s presence reinvigorated me and gave me a renewed sense of strength to carry on with my labor.
Kristin arrived shortly after Ari, at 10:50pm. She immediately got to work getting all of her supplies together, organizing the items from the birth kit, and checking my vitals and listening to Maverick’s heartbeat with the Doppler. In the midst of doing so, she asked me if I would like to have a cervical examination to see how dilated I was - but I declined.
Hannah, the Student Midwife, arrived at 11:10pm. I was likely nearing transition at this point because I recall saying aloud, “I need to be in water! Whether it's the shower or the tub, I need it to cope at this point.” So my team quickly got to work filling the tub. Our bedroom started to become quite warm, as the steam from the hot water quickly filled the small room.
Up until this point, DeeMo had been offering me water every few contractions to ensure I was staying hydrated - because labor is HARD WORK! However, I felt like I needed something to cool me down a bit, so I asked him to grab me a “Labor Aid” popsicle from the freezer (thanks for the idea, Nicky! 😘) It was SO refreshing and also served as a bit of a distraction while I waited for the birth pool to be ready.
When the tub was finally full, I slowly got in with DeeMo’s help. Upon entering the warm birth pool, I immediately felt my whole body relax. I remember exclaiming aloud, “Oh my gosh, this feels SO much better!” And then, at 11:23pm, within only 5 minutes of entering the tub, I felt my bag of waters break! It was the craziest feeling, I had not experienced this sensation with my first-born as my care provider had unknowingly broke my bulging bag of waters when I began pushing. I had heard it described like “popping a champagne bottle open” - and can now personally attest to the fact that that is an extremely accurate depiction of what it feels like!
I initially got on all fours upon entering the tub, but once a wave came I realized it was not the most comfortable position for me to be in. Upon noticing that I was not comfortable on my hands and knees, Kristin recommended that DeeMo get into the tub with me so he could support me from behind. He quickly put on some board shorts and hopped in the tub with me. I immediately positioned myself with my back against him and, in doing so, felt so much more steady and supported.
Almost immediately after my membranes released, my body began to bear our baby down. At the peak of each wave, I gently began to push as I listened to my body and the guidance of my midwife. The pushing stage was SO intense for me, as I was so determined to take things slow this time in order to minimize perineal tearing.
Worshiping to my favorite worship songs, listening to the Christian Hypnobirthing tracks, and leaning on the strength of DeeMo and my birth team is what ultimately fueled me through the final minutes of labor. At 12:25am, at the very peak of a wave, 45 minutes after I began bearing down, Maverick’s head was born - I only knew because I heard Hannah say, “the head is born!” To which I exclaimed “the head is out?! THANK GOD!” And 2 minutes later, at 12:27am on June 17th, 2022, the rest of his body was born into the hands of my student midwife, Hannah. If you have ever had a baby before, then you can understand the amount of relief I immediately felt upon expelling his body from mine.
She slowly lifted him up out of the water to give him to me, and in doing so, I immediately saw his man parts and exclaimed, “OH MY GOSH IT’S ANOTHER BOY!” I truly was SO shocked that it was a boy, as this second pregnancy was very different from my first in a number of ways, so I truly thought he must be a girl. I immediately began weeping in thankfulness and relief that our baby was finally here, our boy was finally here.
Almost immediately after Maverick was born, Hannah gave me an herbal mixture containing hem halt and placenta ease, two formulas that support hemorrhage control and stimulate the birth of the placenta during the third stage of labor. Shortly after, I remember Kristin asking me, “Do you want to birth the placenta in the water or out?” I did not have much of a preference