I found out I was pregnant for the first time while living on Nantucket Island. My boyfriend (a 5th generation Nantucket native) and I had plans to move off island after the summer and even after hearing the news, we decided to try and stick to that plan. After only a month or so of off-island traveling, we quickly realized there was nowhere else in the world we'd rather have our baby. So we moved back to the island when I was entering my third trimester. I knew I wanted a natural birth from the very beginning and soon after discovering I was pregnant, I began the endless amounts of birth research. I watched countless documentaries and read tons of books about birth and how it had changed over the past century. I read a lot about birth practices in other countries and how our country's birth system compared to theirs. Spiritual Midwifery by Ina May Gaskin really confirmed the fact that I wanted a natural birth (I thought that a homebirth would be perfect), so after arriving back to the island we began to research our options on Nantucket. We both really wanted a homebirth after reading all of the testimonials on Sybille's website but because of financial reasons, I began to doubt myself and my desire for that beautiful birth I had envisioned. My health insurance wouldn't cover a homebirth, and our traveling had somewhat depleted our funds. The decision between calling Sybille and "settling" on a (hopefully natural) hospital birth weighed in my mind. The indecisiveness began to really upset me and I remember feeling completely out of control of my own birthing process. I had been meeting with a doctor at the Nantucket Cottage Hospital for my prenatal visits who was nice and very supportive of my desire for a natural birth, but I decided to meet with Sybille and see how our first meeting went.
I remember reading that if the baby was discovered to be breech before the 36th week, it would be easier to assist the baby in turning head down. Having done a ton of research, I had many little concerns about things that would prevent me from having a natural birth in the back of my mind. I wanted to know more about my baby and my body. I brought up all my concerns (including this one) with my doctor and he took the time to sit back down and answer all of my questions, but I still wasn't settled by the answers. During my first meeting with Sybille, we talked for more than an hour at her house. She provided me with in-depth answers that really made me comfortable. When I brought up my breech concern, she offered to show me how the baby was positioned in the womb. She showed me where the baby's back was, where it's bottom was, and where it's head was (babe's head was down)! I felt like Sybille had already formed a connection with my baby, which meant so much to me. She also made me feel more in tune with my body and baby in that single first meeting than I had felt throughout my entire pregnancy. I left Sybille's house that day feeling so much more confident and in control, I knew that a homebirth was exactly what I wanted.
Zak and I talked over the week about where the funds would come from and how we would manage it, but as soon as we officially decided to go with the homebirth (which we even flipped a coin for, once that coin's in the air you know what you really want) I began to feel so positive. My meetings with Sybille were so different than my pre-natal appointments with the doctor, she lent me videos and books and got to know me and my baby. We talked about everything, including the pregnancy, everyday stresses, and what was happening in my life. She showed me videos of births and talked to me about her experiences. She trusted in my body which made me feel like I could do the same. I gained so much confidence as a woman in that last month and a half of my pregnancy. I feel as if Sybille became a friend through those prenatal appointments and I knew we had made the right decision.
My entire pregnancy seemed to follow every textbook standard, and I knew it. The first day of my missed period, I knew something was different and went to get a pregnancy test. It was positive. At my first sonogram, I told the nurse that I knew for certain that I was exactly 12 weeks. As soon as she measured my little fetus, she agreed and said I was exactly 12 weeks according to his (although I didn't know it was a "he" at that point) measurements. I knew throughout my pregnancy that it was a boy, but knew I'd be happy either way. My original due date was the 28th but during my second sonogram I was told it was the 26th. Zak and I joked that I was most likely going to go into labor on my due date, but since that was rare for first time moms we didn't really expect it.
On April 26th, I remember feeling something was different with my body. I told Zak as he left for work that morning that the babe was coming that day. Later on, I went to visit Nantucket's doula Sunny. We had hoped she'd be able to attend our birth with Sybille and her assistant Annie since she had also become a friend through childbirth classes and pre-natal appointments. We had snacks and talked about birth, babies, art, and life. When I left, I told her that I was going into labor that night. It came out as a joke but 6 hours later, I was in labor.
I called Sybille at about 9:30 that night, when the contractions started along with a few other signs that this was the real thing (bloody show!). Sybille told me that I should try and sleep through the night and that I should call if the contractions became too much or too close together. I tried for the entire night to sleep, but couldn't. I probably slept for about an hour. Zak was really awesome, he managed to sleep between my contractions and if one was particularly unbearable he'd sit up to rub my back. At about 4:30 in the morning we called Sybille for the okay to sit in the bathtub. At 8 in the morning, we called her again and she decided it was time! She was at our house soon after and began to set up the birthing tub.
Sybille was definitely in her zone while I was in labor. After about an hour, she asked if I wanted to see how far along I was. I desperately wanted to know and promised not to be disappointed if I wasn't as dilated as I thought I was. I was 4 cm! Immediately afterwards, my water broke and things really started to progress. Sunny and Annie headed over to the house and I jumped (waddled through contractions, really) into the birthing tub. I was definitely in the zone and don't really remember Sunny and Annie's arrival. Everyone was awesome at making me comfortable. I remember having a lot of back pain, but everyone was there to help me through each contraction applying pressure where and when needed. Sybille continued to remind me to stay confident- especially when I would complain about the pain! In the moment, everything seemed like it was lasting forever. I remember some of the contractions towards the end and thinking they would never end.
I remember feeling myself sink into the transition phase trance. Up until this point, the front pain of the contractions had been barely noticeable since my back seemed to hurt more than anything else. Now, the pain was pretty evenly matched. I felt the head move further down into my pelvis. My body knew when it was time to push and I followed its lead. I pushed for a short time in the tub before everyone decided it would be easier to push while on my bed. I waddled between contractions back to the bed (I remember feeling like I had to rush- I wanted to be in my bed before another contraction came). Even though initially I looked at Sybille like she was crazy when she asked me to move from tub to bed, I was really thankful she did. I remember feeling like I wasn't pushing hard enough or that we weren't progressing fast enough but once I was on my bed I was able to move differently and push more effectively. I was tired at that point from my lack of sleep the night before and was receiving oxygen, but I wanted that baby out and pushed with all the strength I could muster during contractions.
With only a few more pushes (I don't quite remember how long it was, but I'm pretty sure it happened fairly quickly), at 12:43 pm, Odin Rainer Bahamut MacKay was born. Everyone sort of gasped at how big he was (it explained a lot about his passage through my pelvis), my little man was born at 10 pounds! Sybille caught him and placed him on my stomach. I was so overjoyed and overwhelmed I didn't even know if he was a boy or girl for the first 10 minutes of his life! Zak cut the cord and was equally thrilled. He had been by my side the entire time and the birth brought us so much closer. Sybille's presence made me so much more confident and when I thought I couldn't do it, she was there to remind me I could and that I would!.