Zoe Nicoya’s Birth Story

Zoe Nicoya’s birth story (born February 10th, 2012 at 11:43 PM):

Zoe’s birth at home in the pure comfort of our living room (in a large pool) was the most amazing experience I have ever gone through.  My boyfriend Jason was by my side throughout the entire time, guiding and supporting me through it.  Labor actually wasn’t as bad as I had anticipated.  It did hurt, but was actually quite beautiful at the same time (and much, much shorter than I had expected being that it was my first and heard that first time labors tend to be much longer and more intense). 

I was almost 2 weeks overdue and was feeling worried that I would have to be induced.  I remember trying every recommended thing possible in order to naturally induce my labor, including eating spicy foods, walking up and down the stairs, walking around the neighborhood, up and down steep hills, on the treadmill, squats, making love, acupuncture (the only acupuncturist located in our area had recently passed away, so I attempted to even do pressure points on myself), you name it.  I even did jumping jacks and began tap dancing and ballet outside our apartment in a desperate attempt.  I really wanted to have a natural, home birth and was concerned that if our baby didn’t come soon, then he or she would have to be born in a hospital, induced with drugs.  

On Thursday, Feb. 9th, we had to go down to the Immigration office in order to apply for an extension on our visas.  They had said that I would most likely be able to get an extension in order to be in close proximity to the doctor, however Jason may have to leave the country.  So now on top of everything else, I was worried that if the baby didn’t come soon, then Jason may end up missing the birth of our baby.  Luckily while in the restroom however, I lost my mucus plug.  Our midwife Rebecca came over later that same day and after doing a vaginal exam, I was delighted to hear that I was already 1 centimeter dilated. Woo hoo!!

Prenatal visit with midwives

I’d been having crampy feelings on and off for a few weeks now, but always at night.  They would usually come around 7 PM, last throughout the night, but I would wake up feeling fine.  Then on February 10th, this crampy feeling (similar to period cramps) were present when I awoke.  I remember thinking “wow, this is finally it – our baby may be here with us sometime today!”  Jason called my midwives and doula to let them know and at that point, the contractions were still pretty far apart and only lasting about 20-30 seconds or so.  They said to call back when the contractions were closer together (about 5 minutes) and lasting a longer period of time.  I remember this stage not hurting much at all.  I was even Skyping with my sister and doing laundry, walking around the neighborhood with Jason and cleaning throughout the first few hours. Jason kept telling me to sit down and try to relax, but when I sat / lied down, the feeling was intense, so by moving, I felt in control of the energy.  I remembered Rebecca (our midwife) recommending that I eat a meal that would supply lots of energy during pre-labor (in her words, “food that you would eat before going on the biggest marathon of your life”) since I would not be feeling hungry once the contractions grew more intense.  I was not feeling very hungry, but Jason fixed me a granola bar, applesauce, grapes and a cup of red raspberry leaf tea with honey.  I remember going up on my tippy toes and grabbing onto the table/counter during the super intense contractions, which helped relieve the rush of energy.   For some odd reason, this seemed to help with the pain.  Taking a nice, warm shower helped relieve the cramping a bit.  I had made rice socks to use as heating pads a few days prior and remember using them quite a bit during pre-labor.

Jason setting up the birth pool

I had passed my bloody show at 8:30 PM when Natalie (our doula) and Vicky (our other midwife) arrived.  They had brought a birthing pilates ball and placed it on top of our futon.  Up until now, I’ve been standing, so once I leaned on this, my body instantly felt more relaxed.  Natalie used her essential oils and massaged me, which I remember to feel so amazing!  Rebecca arrived about 15 minutes later and this was when the contractions seemed to grow more intense.  We had music playing with candles lit (and the basketball game on for part of it :)).  Everyone assisted me into the restroom and I remember walking extremely slowly, feeling as if the baby was right in between my legs and could fall out of me.  Rebecca said that she believed I should get into the pool, as she felt the baby was on his or her way.  The warm water in the pool felt incredible and definitely helped to ease the contractions a whole lot too! 

Once I entered the pool, time seemed to fly by.  Rebecca checked me and said I was already 7 centimeters dilated.  She heard the baby’s heart beat and said it sounded perfect.  Throughout the majority of this stage, I felt in control of the energy.  I found that kneeling on my knees, leaning over the pool was a good position for me.  Jason kneeled on the floor in front of me and held my hands.  He kept letting me know how great I was doing and how proud he was of me, which gave me just what I needed to go on.    

In labor

I sipped coconut water through a straw that Jason held while Natalie cooled my forehead with cool washcloths.  There were several moments when I felt extremely hot and then just moments later, freezing.  By this time, I was also feeling Natalie’s oils helped so much here – just by applying a few to my forehead seemed to bring me back.  

Zoe Nicoya was born at 11:43 PM, was 7 lbs, healthy and happy!  

Baby Zoe latches on right away

It was funny – the placenta fell out of me as I was stepping out from the pool – what a mess! And here I was worried passing the placenta would hurt.  It literally fell right out of me.  Poor Jason was like, «Move the rug!», since we’re renting a furnished apartment.  I passed the remainder of it out in the birth stool, which also fell right out.  I didn’t even have to push.  

I did a lot of preparation for Zoe’s birth (pre-natal yoga, guided visualizations, meditations, birth prep classes with our doula, spoke with a lot of mothers about their own birth experiences, read lots of books (particularly Ina May’s books – the birth stories encouraged me and provided me with great tips and an idea of what to expect.  The visualizations of thinking of each contraction (rush as she calls them) as a wave really helped me.  The suggestion to breathe like a horse, as silly as it may sound, was immensely helpful (especially when pushing out Zoe’s head).  I remember Ina May explaining how a relaxed and open mouth means a relaxed and open vagina.  Vicky also sent me an image of a flower opening up, which I remember visualizing throughout labor. And the final words Natalie had said to me right before my final push was “your body was made to do this”, which is just what I needed to hear.  I believe the combination of all of these techniques really helped me, as well as being incredibly fortunate to have had such an amazing team by my side, supporting and encouraging me.  I felt like I was always in great hands, surrounded by family.  Rebecca, Natalie and Vicky are all incredible at what they do – I could not have asked for a more loving, nurturing, competent and caring team.  I feel eternally grateful to each one of these amazing ladies.

Right after Zoe was born was a little scary.  I had lost a lot of blood because she was born with her hand by her face and I tore. I had to have a shot of pitocin in order to stop the bleeding, which caused some cramping.  I fortunately didn’t need any stitches though.  I was also shaking and my teeth were chattering.  They heated me up a bowl of warm soup and Rebecca covered me with lots of blankets and tucked my feet underneath and massaged them, which helped a whole lot and felt so cozy.  I remember having a little bit of asthma too, but I think the fact that all of this had happened after the birth made it so much better since I had the baby in my arms the entire time, in awe of how she was finally here with us (and that she was a she).  For some reason, Jason and I (and both of our families and the majority of our friends) had a feeling that the baby was a boy, so we were definitely surprised.  We even had a boy name picked out, but were between so many girl names that we didn’t feel the need to even decide on one since we were so sure it was a boy.  Boy were we wrong  :))

We’re all doing great. Zoe is a very healthy, calm and quiet baby (for now) and is nursing very well.  I was a little bit worried about nursing before the baby was born as I’ve heard so many unsuccessful stories, but Zoe latched right on within minutes of being born and we haven’t had any problems so far. Our doula Natalie is also a lactation consultant and gave me a few books on preparing for it, which I believe helped (proper positioning, etc.) and I picked up a breastfeeding pillow, which I feel helps a lot too.  Oh and Lanolin cream and Mother’s Milk tea.  The leaking milk isn’t fun though!

June, Jason and baby Zoe Nicoya