Kendall was about 20 weeks pregnant with her fourth child when she started seeing me for prenatal care. She had been seeing another midwife in her hometown up until this point, but was interested in having a homebirth and wanted to explore other options. Her three children had been born naturally and without complications in the hospital, and she realized she wanted a more family-centered, home-oriented approach to labor and birth this time around.
Kendall’s pregnancy progressed without concerns, and we entered the final days of her pregnancy eagerly awaiting the birth. I saw Kendall for a prenatal visit the day after her due date (and as we would find out, the day before the baby was born!) and she felt well without signs of impending labor. Late that night, she started having some mild, irregular contractions and was thankfully able to sleep for a few hours on and off during the night. Early the next morning, she was awoken with regular contractions every 2-3 minutes. She texted me at about 5:30 am to ask me to come and I quickly dressed, grabbed my equipment bags, and ran out the door. Kendall lives about an hour’s drive from Ithaca, and this was her fourth child, so I wanted to get to her as quickly as possible! On the way, I called my assistant to meet me at Kendall’s house (this area is too far for my regular assistant Megan to travel, so I work with another midwife, Sue Derby).
I arrived at Kendall’s house at 7:00 am and found her lying on her side in bed breathing and focusing through contractions. She said she felt an urge to push with the contractions, but had been trying to hold that off until I arrived. I quickly assessed her and the baby, and assured her that all was well and she could begin pushing. I scurried around in between contractions to prepare the room for birth as Sue arrived soon after my arrival. Shortly before the head began to crown, Kendall switched positions and turned over onto hands and knees on her bed, gripping the headboard for support. During a strong contraction with Kendall pushing, the water broke and about five minutes later Kendall’s son was born into my waiting hands. This was shortly before 8:00 am, not even an hour after I had arrived! The baby was breathing and pinking up well, so I handed him through Kendall’s legs and up into her arms. She relaxed back into the bed with a huge smile on her face as her partner, Kevin, leaned in to hug her and their newest child.
Pretty soon the room filled up with hugs, laughter, and chattering as the three older children scrambled into the room to greet their little brother and Kendall’s parents, who had been waiting in the other room, came in to offer their love and congratulations. I felt such an outpouring of love and togetherness as this lovely family crowded into the small bedroom to celebrate Finnegan’s birth – I just stood against the wall and grinned and once again, fell in love with homebirth.
A short time later, we set everything up to burn the umbilical cord, rather than clamp and cut it. Kendall had researched this during the pregnancy, and found that burning, rather than cutting, the umbilical cord has several advantages. These include reduced rate of infections, faster healing time, and it brings warmth and energy to the baby. I had never done this before, so it was really amazing to participate in this simple and beautiful way to sever the connection between mother and baby. Here is a short video and a picture of what it looks like:
Soon after the cord was burned, Kendall and Finnegan were settled in bed eating and nursing, respectively. Sue and I cleaned and tidied up the room and were on our way back home within a few hours of the birth. I had a warm glow the rest of the day after attending this sweet and quick birth.
Welcome to the world Finnegan! Congratulations Kendall, Kevin, and big sister and brothers Reilly, Taylor, and Oliver!
For more photos of Kendall and her family, check out the Photo Gallery of BirthRoot Families.