Adra started having mild cramping early in the morning about a week and a half past her due date in late July. Cramps continued irregularly throughout the day, increasing in intensity and frequency as the day passed. She called me at about 10 pm or so to say that contractions were regular and intense and she wanted me to come. I packed up my car and drove the 5 blocks or so to her apartment (how nice to be so close – I was wishing for a trailer on my bike so I could transport my heavy bags without getting in the car!)
I found Adra kneeling on her couch leaning over some pillows, breathing quietly and calmly. Her partner, Marcelo, was outside filling the birth tub which they had set up in the back yard on some pallets. Throughout the night, Adra walked, kneeled, sat on the birth ball, showered, and relaxed in the tub. It was sometimes hard to discern what stage of labor she was in as she was so calm and quiet. She barely spoke or made a sound the whole time. The only clue that a contraction was happening was a slight change in the pattern of her breathing. My assistant, Megan, arrived during the night and we sat quietly with Adra, holding the space for her to labor in this very calm, meditative state.
Early in the morning, Adra started shaking and moaning with contractions. She went to use the toilet and called me to come because she had felt a gush of fluid. The fluid was lightly stained with meconium, the baby’s first bowel movement which can sometimes happen in utero. I decided to check her cervix and found that she was fully dilated with the baby’s head very low and ready to be born! We moved back to the bedroom and Adra squatted by her bed and began pushing. A short hour later, a baby boy was born and I placed him on Adra’s chest. Nico needed some help to begin breathing so I gently placed him on the floor in between Adra’s legs and began giving him some breaths. We also needed to give him some oxygen and gentle stimulation to breathe. A short time later, it was apparent that Nico was still a dusky color and was not breathing well on his own without oxygen. I decided to call an ambulance to transport Nico to the hospital, and the paramedics arrived shortly and took Nico along with Marcelo in one ambulance and Adra and I followed in a second ambulance. We were received by the nurses and neonatologist in the NICU at Cayuga Medical Center. After an x-ray and some blood tests, he was diagnosed with meconium aspiration syndrome or MAS.
Nico spent the next few days in the NICU as his body worked the remnants of meconium out of his lungs. Adra and Marcelo were able to stay with him and I visited Adra in the hospital for her postpartum visits. Nico was discharged about 3 days later in good health. Adra and Marcelo were very happy to arrive back home and recover after the stress of being in the hospital for a few days. Nico was doing well – breastfeeding without problems and bonding with his parents.
Although it was not exactly the experience we had all been hoping for, it all turned out well in the end. I am very grateful to the excellent staff at Cayuga Medical Center for their expert care in the NICU. It is truly wonderful when families and I can access competent, compassionate medical care when we need it. That is one of the critical components of safe homebirth, and we were able to experience a seamless, timely transfer of this baby that needed some special attention.
Welcome to the world Nico! Congratulations Adra and Marcelo!
For more photos of Adra and her family, check out the Photo Gallery of BirthRoot Families.