Ian Laszlo Korbuly was born at home on Thursday, January 27, 2011 at 7:20am. He was 8lbs. 5oz. This is the story of his time inside mama’s belly and birth. As we did for Bryce, we hired Nancy Myrick and Ami Burnham for a homebirth. Kara Engelbrecht, our doula for Bryce’s birth, happened to be apprenticing with Nancy and Ami, so we ended up with the whole amazing team in one package! Unfortunately, we learned in October, that Ami would be unable to be physically present for my birth as she would be in Hawaii in January and February. During one of my last prenatal visits with Ami in December, she mentioned that she had been put on speakerphone for a birth that was in Chicago. We agreed and wanted to have her on speakerphone during my labor and birth. Michelle Welborn would fill in for Ami during January and February.
Ian’s time inside my belly was much more trying for me than my pregnancy with Bryce. He got much bigger, much faster. By 20 weeks or so, there was so much pressure on my pubic bone that I started wearing a brace around my belly that Dr. Wonson got for me. I also went to the chiropractor every other week. And, toward the end, I couldn’t turn my torso abruptly; otherwise my groin ligaments would get extremely strained and painful. There was even one day when I could barely walk the two blocks from my office to the bus stop to get home. At my 20-week ultrasound, they couldn’t confirm the distance between my cervix and edge of my placenta, and previa was suspected, so I had to have another ultrasound at 28 or 29 weeks. Fortunately at the 29 week ultrasound, we confirmed that there was no previa, but macrosomia – a fancy word for “big baby” – was then suspected. I was asked to have another ultrasound. Knowing that ultrasounds are not the greatest things for babies, I elected to not have one, and Suzanne and Nancy were supportive of this. Ian was also so low in my belly that there would be evenings where his head would uncomfortably rotate against the inside/top of my cervix. I would get into the child’s pose yoga position to help with moving him off my cervix.
In the weeks leading up to Ian’s birth, at around 35.5 weeks pregnant, I got really sick – throwing up, etc. We thought it might be preterm labor as I was feeling very hormonal earlier in the week, but it turned out that I had just eaten too much dairy and had a bug in my lungs. Dr. Wonson came to my rescue that Thursday morning with a supportive acupuncture session. The next day, Friday afternoon, was my 36 week visit with Nancy, Michelle and Kara and I invited Dr. Wonson so that everyone could meet each other. It was a great meeting, and it was so nice to connect everyone. Though, an hour after everyone left, I went to the bathroom and noticed that I lost my mucus plug! I thought that I had only lost part of it, but after describing it to Michelle over the phone, it turned out that I lost the whole thing. I started to feel better very quickly, but Michelle advised that I start to take it easy and begin working at home. I had also received a gift certificate for my birthday in December from my mama friends for a prenatal massage with Kari Marble. I didn’t get around to scheduling the massage until the beginning of January, and in the back of my mind I thought, just in case, maybe I should wait to schedule it so that it’s after 37 weeks.
Now, onto the day it all started, Wednesday, January 26. I dropped Kasey, Erik and Kaia at the airport that morning. It was planned that Kasey would come to our house when I went into labor to look after Bryce, but this ended up not being the case. I then worked from home most of the day. We had made plans to have dinner that evening with the Prophetes so that we could drop off Kasey’s car. That afternoon, I cut up all the ingredients for a flank steak stir fry in advance, which I had been meaning to cook for a couple days. Around 3pm, I went to get Bryce from preschool, and then dropped him off at home with Aurora. My massage with Kari was scheduled for 4pm. I made it to her house just before 4. It was a great massage. In particular, toward the end of the massage, Kari did some amazing cranial massage and then held my head in her hands. I could feel the energy that she was pouring into my body and to the baby. I had never felt anything like it before, and Kari would later say that I am the first person to ever acknowledge the exchange. I know that it was the massage with Kari that put me into labor. I left Kari’s at about 5:45 – running late to get to Kathy’s – picked up Bryce, then went over to the Prophetes. I cooked dinner and felt fine the entire time we were there. Interestingly, before leaving Kathy’s, something came over me to remind her to keep her phone on. She was in the bathtub with Sebastien and Cedric, and she thanked me for reminding her. Since it was a band night, Chris dropped Bryce and I off at home, and I put Bryce to bed. I then went to lie down on our bed with a couple of blood oranges and my iPhone, and began reading Facebook. It couldn’t have been more than 10 minutes that I was laying there, and I noticed that Ian was incredibly active. All of a sudden I felt what seemed to be Ian’s hand breaking through my bag and then right away felt my water coming down my vagina. Not wanting any of it to hit our wool bedding, I stood up, dropped my underwear and pajama pants, and all the fluid hit the floor. It was about a cup and a half of amniotic fluid. I was also wearing the new pajamas Chris had gotten me for Christmas. I immediately called Chris, but no answer, so then texted him – “Water broke. Come home.” Since I had not yet heard from him, I also called Patrick; he answered and said that Chris was on his way. Chris had just arrived to the studio and was able to only do some practice rolls. I then called Kara and Kathy to let them know. Kathy knew it was me. Kara asked me about how much fluid, and if my contractions at started (not yet), and asked me to call back when they did. She then called me back a few minutes later and asked if I had gotten my GBS test results. I hadn’t, and kept forgetting to call UCSF that week. I said I’d call them. I then thought for a minute – how was I going to get the results after hours? – and then decided to call L&D. A nurse answered and I explained to her that I was a patient of Suzanne Seger, was planning a homebirth, my water had just broken, and needed my test results. She put me on hold, came back on the line, and very nicely said “You’re negative. Good luck.”
I then took this opportunity to clear off all the stuff from the dining table – since Chris was going to dissemble it for the birth tub, and put a few things away that I knew no one else would get to. I also taped the Nikki McClure images and the page from the Hypnobirthing book with the illustration of the uterine muscle fibers on the wall above the dining table, guessing where the top edge of the birth tub would be. On the opposite wall, I taped up the instructions that I had written up for everyone – food/protein at least every two hours, remind me to pee, put Ami on speakerphone, and my mom was not allowed in the house. Bryce was also in his room coughing, so I went in, with a pad between my legs, to give him some Herbatussin. Within 30—45 minutes, Bryce stopped coughing and fell asleep. I then set up myself on the floor of our room on the rug with one of the large chux pads under me with my water and protein bar. I kept only one of the white frosted lights on above the book shelf in our room on. I text Kara again and I let her know that I was going to try to rest. I then also remembered that we needed a birth tub hose and I text Chris about it. He had gotten as far as GG Park, saw my text, pulled over, I suggested Home Depot in Daly City, he checked to ensure they were still open (they were until 11pm – thank God!!!), we talked on the phone and he was on his way. The floor was getting too hard, so I moved up to the bed. A few minutes later, around 10:45, my contractions started and I began using the Contraction Timer on my iPhone. Soon after, Chris arrived home with the birth tub hose. I called Kara to let her know my contractions started and then agreed that I would call her when I got to 5-1-1. Chris started getting things ready – inflated the birth ball, setting up and filling the birth tub, etc. By 1:15am, I was at about 5-1-1, and called Kara. I also told her by the time she got here that I felt it would be time to get in the shower. Kara and Michelle arrived at the same time and texted to let me know they were downstairs. Kara came right to me first, checked the contraction timer on my iPhone, checked my vitals, and Michelle got to work setting everything up. I saw Michelle hand Kara my affirmations. Kara got me some Greek yogurt with honey. We agreed that we would let Chris sleep as much as possible in Bryce’s room on the mattress we had pulled out from our sofa bed, and then would call Nancy and Kathy when I was heading into transition. As soon as Kara was finished checking my vitals, and I finished eating the yogurt, I got into the shower.
I remember taking my water bottle with me to the bathroom, taking off my tank top off and hanging it behind the door in the bathroom, getting the water temperature just right, and then getting into the shower and sitting on the birth ball. Kara came in shortly thereafter and taped up the index cards I had prepared with my affirmations. She also lit one of our yellow/orange beeswax candles. It was either on the bathroom sink or top of the toilet while we were in the shower. It gave off a nice glow. It was fun talking with Kara in between contractions, using the sleep breathing and balloon breathing from Hypnobirthing in between and with the contractions, and reading my affirmations after each contraction. Kara brought me continuous mugs of chicken broth with minced ginger and water. She also told me that Michelle and Chris had gotten everything ready and that everything was all set for when I was ready to get out of the shower. About half way through, the contractions were getting more intense where I could no longer sit on the yoga ball and needed to either hang from the shower doors or be on hands in knees. I had also tried hugging the yoga ball, but my breasts were too hard. Michelle would occasionally come in to check on me and was impressed with our infinite supply of hot water. The bathroom had gotten so steamy the condensation was building up on the ceiling and dripping down. In the middle, I also remember taking a break to get out of the shower to poop and pee on the toilet. I was really proud of myself for doing this. Kara was intermittently monitoring Ian with the Doppler. He was doing great. I had also turned down the temperature of the water so that it would not potentially interfere with slowing down my contractions. I could tell that I was heading into the next phase as the contractions were getting more intense, and I let Kara know. She asked if I wanted her to check me. I said I wanted to do 3 more contractions in the shower, and then we would go. It was about 4:45am/5:00am. The 3 contractions went by, Kara got Michelle and we went to the bed for them to check me. Kara confirmed that I was 8 cm. Michelle called Nancy, saying, “Eileen is 8 cm, would you like to come over.” I heard Michelle say that Nancy said back, “Of course I would, I’ve been waiting for this.” Kara then called Kathy, but Cedric had just nursed and then threw up on her, so she asked if I wouldn’t mind if she sent Didier. I missed Kathy coming, but Didier would be just fine.
By this time, I had also gotten into the birth tub, which felt amazing. The contractions were getting more intense, and I started to feel more pressure on my sacrum and hips. Kara very smartly gave me some bites of a protein bar soon after getting in the birth tub. I could only eat a third to a half of it. Kara could tell I was getting emotional and asked if I wanted Chris. We were hugging each other over the birth tub and she was putting pressure on my sacrum. It was really beautiful. I said, not yet, let’s have Didier arrive and then we’ll wake up Chris at the same time. This way, there wouldn’t be too much disruption for Bryce. Chris had also had a bad day, and wasn’t feeling well, so I wanted to give him as much time as possible to sleep. I remember Nancy arriving shortly after and saying hello. With each contraction, I was letting it come, letting a low moan come out, and then right after it ended, doing a balloon breath and sometimes a lion’s breath. I was really focused on keeping my jaw loose and I knew that would help with keeping my vagina and sphincter loose. I was also focusing on the Nikki McClure images and the uterine images. I was working to connect with exactly what I was feeling in my uterus with each contraction and determining which uterine muscle fiber was moving with each contraction. I also found a way to relax my urethra in between contractions and allowed my pee to come out in the birth tub. Again, I was really proud of this as I held my pee during labor with Bryce and had to be catherized. I would announce it to Kara, Michelle and Nancy. I then got to a point of feeling different body parts move outward in a more intense stretching motion. With each contraction it was a different body part, and I would announce it – “major pubic bone that time, or coccyx that time, or hips that time.” I felt so connected with my body. Later, Michelle would tell me how impressed they were that I was so lucid during that time, was talking so well, and describing everything to them. Didier then arrived, and I heard Bryce wake up thinking that we were waking him up early to go to the airport to get on an airplane, which is what we usually had to do! I heard Chris explain that we weren’t, that baby brother was working on coming out, that Didier was here to stay with him, and Chris put him back to sleep. Chris came out, and I think was excited to see that I was already in the birth tub and asked if he should get his bathing suit. I said yes, and he then joined me, putting pressure on my sacrum and hips. Things then got to a point where I felt like I was getting into the pushing phase, and I knew I didn’t want to be in the tub during that time, so I asked to get out. Nancy and Michelle helped me out and wrapped me with towels. I remember asking for the birth stool, but Nancy forgot it in her car, so she went to get it. Kara checked me and said that I was almost 10 cm, I just had a little bit of lip left. She also said that there was some bag with fluid left between Ian’s head and my vagina that would need to be pushed out of the way. I remember squatting at the side of our bed with Chris supporting me. Nancy came back with the birth stool, and they set it up, but then I asked to go to the toilet. Nancy asked me if I wanted to the birth stool, and I said no, I wanted the toilet. We got to the bathroom and everyone was in, except Nancy. I then had a contraction, need to push with it, and then the rest of my bag and water broke and mostly emptied into the toilet. Some of it squirted out onto Kara’s face! I could feel Ian’s head descending. Nancy said, “I can see this baby’s head, and I’m supposed to be watching this baby, and I can’t get to this baby, so can we get out of the bathroom.” We then walked back to the bedroom and I thanked everyone for letting me go to the toilet. It was as if I needed to go to the toilet to push the bag out of the way and let the water come out over the toilet.
We got back to the bed and I remember collapsing onto it on my left side. I was exhausted. In my mind, I resigned to trying to push Ian out in the same way that I had pushed out Bryce, but it would not be so. Chris was lying down on the bed behind me and holding up my right leg when I needed to. Kara and Michelle were holding up my leg, too. Around this time, I remember Michelle offering me “goo” and I asked for the vanilla one instead of the raspberry one. I then began shaking leading up to each contraction. I had forgotten about the shaking and that this is what transition was like for me, but Kara remembered. I remembered Kara and I exchanged some very sweet, emotional words, crying together, and holding hands, but I can’t remember what we said to each other. That was the critical, turning point moment when I realized that I was able to completely let go of the past, and what had happened in Bryce’s birth. I had Kara with me -- the one woman with me who had continuously been there for me for both pregnancies, who was there to support me, who I trusted immensely, and who was there this time to help catch our baby. I then got to a point of overcoming my exhaustion, surrendering to the fact that there was so much pressure on my hips that I couldn’t stay laying down, that Chris and I had practiced, and I had been visualizing, pushing out Ian in a squatting position with Chris supporting me. So, I got up, latched onto the large door jam next to our bed with the pull out doors, and began swaying my hips. I remember Michelle saying, “that’s right, Eileen, juicy hips,” just like Jane Austin would, and Chris putting gentle, squeezing pressure on my hips. I remember also trying the birth stool, but then got to a point where I realized the pain was too much, that I went back to the door jam. Around this time, Michelle offered me more vanilla goo and strawberries. Amazingly, I found a way to reach into the door jam in a way that enabled me to have “rock climbers grip” (as Chris would later call it), and got into the squatting position, with Chris behind me and the ottoman behind him to support him/for him to sit down. The pressure was getting so intense, and I could feel my rectum collapsing, the ring of fire, and then the pain of Ian’s head coming through. At two different times, Kara encouraged me to reach down and touch Ian’s head. This time, I was so excited to do so and be open to what that felt like. The first time, he wasn’t out so much yet, and I reached in a bit. The second time, the top of his head was crowning and I could feel all his hair. I had heard Kara say that he had a lot of hair. By this point, I was about half way through the pushing phase, spent and in pain. I took a break in between the contractions, leaned back against Chris/the ottoman, and remembered Ami wasn’t on the phone. I needed her vibes. I said her name, and Michelle called her. I heard her on the line, Kara described the scene, and then I remember the last series of painful contractions and pushing happening. At this point I could no longer keep to the low moan and just let whatever high pitched squeal that needed to come out to come out. Ian’s head had gotten to the point of being completely out and I was only about 4-6” from the floor. Nancy then said, “Eileen, you have got to stand up right now in order for this baby to come out.” But, I just couldn’t. I was completely exhausted, and my legs had just given out. Chris then hoisted up my complete body weight, and out came Ian. It was surreal. I was in disbelief. I had kept my eyes closed most of this entire time, but then opened them, and reached down to pick Ian up, and I felt Kara put him in my arms. I lifted him to my chest and remembered seeing his white face covered in cheesy vernix. It was incredible. I did it. It happened as I had visualized. Incredible! All I kept saying was, “oh, my gosh; oh, my gosh; oh, my gosh;” and “thank you, thank you, thank you. I did it.” I then remember Ami saying congratulations and hanging up. I then asked for Bryce to be woken up. Chris went to him.
I was still squatting and the placenta bowl was uncomfortably underneath me. We then moved to the bed to deliver the placenta. Kara also told me that she thought that I had a tear, this time on the left side. Michelle began cord traction and massage. I was shaking and not wanting to deal with delivering the placenta, but knew it would pass. I was just in awe of being able to immediately hold my new baby right next to me in my own bed! Kara then took over with the placenta, and Nancy gave me two tinctures of angelica. The placenta then delivered within a minute or two. A great relief. In this time, Chris and Didier woke up Bryce and he came out to see the placenta deliver. It was just like out of the scene in “Hello Baby.” I was thankful for this. Bryce got to lie down with us for about 30 minutes before getting ready for preschool. Chris took him. About 45 minutes after Ian was born, he searched for the breast and latched right on. Again, another cherished moment I did not get to have with Bryce. Kara and Nancy then stitched my tear. It wasn’t as bad as my tear from Bryce, only 1st and 2nd degree, but it’s a line along my left perineum that goes up to my labia. Nancy left soon after. Kara stayed to help me with cutting the cord. Michelle later agreed that she thought that enough time had passed to where Ian was now giving blood back to the placenta. Kara clamped his cord on either side and then I cut it. So special. So redeeming. Kara and Michelle then sat on the bed showing me our placenta. Since Ami did last time, and Michelle was so fond of placentas, I asked her to show it to me this time. She pointed out how the left side seem to be in a Celtic knot, how there were uneven edges (unusual), and how so much of Ian’s bag was still attached. It had been his home for 9 months. Kara did some cleaning up while Michelle showed me his placenta, and then left soon after. She had to join Nancy at another birth. Michelle stayed, made us poached eggs for breakfast, walked me through all the postpartum stuff, and washed some dishes. At some point, I remember switching Ian to the other breast, and Michelle giving me the rest of the protein bar and “goo.” Very special to have had that time with her. Michelle did Ian’s newborn exam and weighed him – 8lbs. 5oz and 19.5 inches long!