Reese Catherine Markey
Born at home on April 4, 2017
10lbs 6oz of love!
I finally left work over 41 weeks pregnant and my mom, your Ama, came to Albany to help us prepare for you and help me stay grounded. On Sunday, April 2nd, we thought I was going into labor and quickly started preparing the house. Nate and Ama blew up the birth pool, gathered all the supplies, and encouraged me to rest. With much hesitation, I agreed to have your brother Oliver, almost 2.5 years old, spend the night at Mimi’s apartment. I had only been away from him for two nights prior to this and did not want to disrupt his routine,or be away from my baby. In my heart, I also knew that I was not going into labor that night, but I went along with the energy in the house. I was too tired and defeated (from being so far past date–11 days) to fight it.
The next morning, April 3rd, I woke up heartbroken and cried in bed before Oliver came home, crawled in next to me, and nursed back to sleep. That made the world feel whole again as we waited for you.
We set out that day for the chiropractor (hoping to get things moving!), then to the midwife (HeartSpace Midwifery) as I needed another round of non-stress tests and a bio-physical ultrasound. Heidi, one of our two midwives, stripped my membranes and quickly after that I started having more contractions, but I stayed very closed lipped as I did not want to excite anyone and potentially have another false alarm. I had the creeping fear that I would not be able to sit through the ultrasound with the contractions, but I made it through, still keeping quiet about your starting the birth process.
We made it home in the afternoon, contractions felt more regular but not enough to stop me from what I was doing around the house. It wasn’t until Nate was putting Oliver to bed around 8pm that I decided I would go rest. He came into our bedroom around 9:30pm, having fallen asleep with Oliver, and I was then starting to moan through contractions. I knew from Oliver’s birth that keeping my mouth and jaw loose and open and moaning deeply helped me tremendously, and it was helping again as you were starting your journey. I felt much more aware of everything that was going on around me, and I was questioning whether this was really active labor. I desperately did not want another false alarm, but when Nate came into the room and saw me, he knew. I told him he could wake my mom and said he may want to let the midwives know that I could be starting. He, of course, did this right away, even though I tried to make it sound nonchalant. I remained on the bed on my side for a while, moved to the toilet (one of my favorite places to labor), and sat on a pilates ball and leaned onto our bed. The moaning and focusing on staying relaxed continued to help me through each contraction. I still wasn’t convinced that I was in labor, and when I heard my midwives, Heidi and Maureen, coming into the room, I thought, “Oh no, are they here for nothing? Am I exaggerating how intense these contractions are?” It was such a different mental space than my experience with your brother. With Oliver, I had “tunnel vision” with all my senses. I was entirely within myself and heard and saw nothing around me. Now I was much more tuned into what was happening in the room and second guessing myself—not my ability to handle the contractions, but whether I was really in labor. (Everyone laughed when I told them this after the birth, because clearly I was in labor!)
Everyone encouraged me to take sips of Recharge and offered me honey sticks, though I don’t think I took any of the latter. I was thirsty, though, and the Recharge felt so good.
The contractions got stronger. I moved into the birthing pool. I was so acutely aware of you moving down and turning in my uterus. It felt like you were doing somersaults. It was incredibly intense. The warm water helped me relax between contractions. The pressure was so immense when the contractions came, much more so than what I remember from Oliver’s birth. I repeated “open” and “release, relax, and oooooopen” in my mind. I knew I needed to keep my body relaxed and focused on my jaw. There was so much pressure in my hips that ran down into my thighs. I soon started to feel the urge to push and wanted to get out of the water. The contractions were starting to run together, and I knew I was in transition. It took me a few contractions to get out of the tub. Leaning over the edge of the tub made the contractions come on like a thousand pounds and I almost panicked that I could not do it. That was definitely a transition. I knew I was close. I sat on the toilet briefly, and I remember feeling you move and watching Nate, my mom, and the midwives faces. “Wow,” they said, “We saw that!” They would see my stomach pulling and turning as you moved. You were on a mission! I asked Heidi to check me because I was afraid I would waste energy pushing if I wasn’t fully dilated. She hadn’t checked me during the entire labor since it was clear that I was progressing. She told me I was wide open and that she could easily feel the baby’s head. “Push when you are ready,” she said. I leaned on Nate for a contraction while my mom squeezed my hips, which helped with the pressure. Then they helped me move to my knees next to the bed (we had talked about being in this position during our birth planning conversations). My mother held my hands from across the bed; it was helpful to be able to brace myself with her hands. It took me a few contractions to find my push and a break felt good as I made deep exhalations through the pressure. When I found the push, it was amazing, I felt so strong and just wanted to keep pushing! I felt you coming out, and I kept pushing even past the contraction. My mom and midwives encouraged me to slow down so I wouldn’t tear. On the next contraction, you were out. The relief was incredible. Your dad, who caught you, lowered you onto the floor so I could see you. You were covered in vernix and immediately cried. I soaked you up with my eyes and heart. This perfect baby that I just birthed at the foot of my bed. I think part of me still could not believe that you were finally here after waiting so long. I picked you up and held you close to my chest, breathing in your sweet smell. Everyone helped us up onto our bed, and you started nursing right away. I nearly forgot to ask if you were a boy or a girl, and finally held you up to see. Nate and I were both so surprised and so filled with love as we realized we had a daughter.
I felt so exhausted. It took some time for me to muster the energy to push out the placenta. The midwives and my mom were amazed at your size (10lbs 6oz) and the placenta’s size – larger than a dinner plate! Everyone quietly busied themselves wrapping us with blankets, bringing me water and food, and showering us with love. I learned then that you were still in the amniotic sack when your head emerged. Heidi, our midwife, wiggled her finger behind your ear to break it, and you proceeded to smack your lips and appear to suck. They were amazed at this! I remember thinking I could hear you inside of me the last few weeks, and when Heidi saw this she proclaimed that I probably could! Heidi helped you turn a bit on the way out as you were so big. My mom confessed later that she suspected you would be quite large, but did not want to intimidate me. I am grateful I did not know! My body knew what to do and when to do it. Our bodies are designed for birth.
The three of us, you, Nate, and me were tucked in bed to sleep by around 4am, and around 5am Oliver came into the room. We moved you to the middle of the bed so his first view of you would not be nursing (I knew sharing Milkie would be hard for him). We explained that I had pushed out our baby last night (we had been talking a lot about what would happen and showing him birth videos) and that Baby Sister was here! He was very quiet and climbed into bed to nurse. You started to fuss not long after, and I asked him if you could nurse with him. He looked at me and nodded, confused. Then you both nursed and fell asleep. My heart was so full.
We love you to the moon & back, sweet Reese, our powerful daughter born at home into loving hands.