Lucas’s Birth

There’s no “pretty” way to write about a birth. Or at least, I’m not capable of it. Here’s a real, slightly stream of consciousness account of the birth of Lucas Aron. Our second home birth, our second child…the next chapter of our great adventure. 

After yet another long, uncomfortable, sleepless night, I awoke to Ali climbing over me and creating a nest for herself on what space was left on the couch. It wasn’t until I felt a tap on my shoulder that I was fully awake.

“Hey, it’s Father’s Day.”

I gasped and apologized, realizing I had completely forgotten that it was Father’s Day. I had no gift, no card. No meal prepared. Nada.

My poor man. He was so forgiving. He just wanted to spend some time doing things he liked around the house. I said sure…I will try my best to keep up with Ali.

A half hour later, we were all sitting on the couch, eating breakfast. We had broken down our dining table to make space for the birthing pool. After Aliana’s early arrival, we made sure to be ready at 36 weeks. The pool was inflated and in place. Our towels were washed  and clean. We had our birth box in the baby’s room, all items accounted for. We were all set to meet the baby. But he took his time!

Shortly after breakfast, I thought I felt a contraction. At this point, I had been having contractions for about two weeks. I must have forgotten what Braxton Hicks felt like, because I had been having them for a while and never knew it. For at least a week and a half, I had been having contractions ten minutes apart for two hours. Much like my first labor, I was able to sit quietly to manage them. We would text Michelle, our midwife, just to keep her informed. But the tapered off, each and every time.

At this point, I couldn’t believe that I’d made it to 39 weeks. I had finally accepted that I would go full term. But this contraction felt different. I quickly felt the need to scoot forward to the edge of the couch, then the urge to stand was too great. I walked it off, making sure to take deep breaths while imagining the contraction’s apex and release.


That felt different. That one didn’t feel quite right.

“Just letting you know, I think I had a real contraction there.”

The look on his face was hilarious. His shoulders fell, and he glanced at the pile of papers he had begun to shred.

“I guess I’ll start to put this away.”

Could this be it? Could it finally be happening, or am I going to keep being pregnant?

We quickly found the answer to this question. Not five minutes later, another contraction. Same intensity. Same need to keep moving.

It’s 8:45 am.

It’s time to call the midwife.

We’re on the phone and I have another contraction. She trusts me to tell her if I need her to come right away. I told her I thought I would be ok for a little while longer. She said she’d prep her things and wait for our call.

I called my mother, waking her. I also woke my sister in California, to just let her know the baby was likely to make an appearance that day. Mom didn’t believe me that I had just started labor. She must of thought I was calling her late in the game like last time. I remember telling her quite sternly, “Mom, I just had three contractions in the last fifteen minutes. You need to get up and go!”

I don’t know if the fact that I didn’t take another birthing class helped or hurt me this time. I mean, I remembered what I learned, and I had been reviewing my Bradley workbook over the last few weeks. I used what I remembered, but my labor was advancing too quickly for me to integrate the contractions. I spent some time leaning against the couch. I spent some time leaning on the exercise ball. But they were coming on quickly, and stronger each time. At one point, I just sat on the toilet in hopes that the gravity would help the situation, I had forgotten that it works way too well, though. Andrew had called Michelle to check in, He knocked on the door, I opened it a crack, and heard him ask if I wanted to speak to Michelle. My only response was to slam the door in his face! I couldn’t count my breaths let alone hold a conversation. Michelle took that as her cue to make her way to our house.

Funny (to me) detail. I got tired, so I opened the door again, and leaned against it while still sitting. Andrew leaned in to check on me, and placed his toes on mine. I moved my foot, but he just put his back on top of mine. I think this was his way of sympathizing with me, and letting me know he was there for me (up until this point, I had been laboring on my own while he topped off the air in the pool, and straightened up the bedroom and kitchen). As a woman in labor, however, this was the least helpful thing he could have done. I yanked my foot out from under him again while gritting my teeth, “get the eff off of me!”

10:30 am

The next thing I remember, is Michelle coming through the door quietly. Aliana is so excited to see her, she wants to take her upstairs to see her room. Michelle is able to hold her off long enough to check on me and see how things were going. We wait until a contraction subsides and I ask her to check my progress. As soon as she was done I have another contraction, but this one felt wet. I thought my water had broken and I was momentarily excited, but it was only my mucus plug. Slightly disappointing, but Michelle announced that I was 4 cm dilated, but that contraction likely pushed me past 6. This was happening so fast!

Faith, who I really should just start introducing as my sister, came over. She was incredibly helpful with Ali, and resumed her duty as birth videographer. It was around this time that I felt like I needed to get into the pool. Andrew filled it up, and I quickly got in. I tried to integrate the contractions, but they were so strong, so close together, I felt like I barely got a break in between them.

We prepared Aliana as best as we could. We read books, we watched natural birth videos of cats, dogs, horses, and some human births. We talked about how some mommies need to make noises to help their bodies get their baby out. I let her know that I had to make a lot of noises to get her out, and that I might make a lot of noises to get our new baby out. Ali was very excited to watch her baby brother’s birth, but she got really nervous  with how much I was vocalizing. She mostly stayed out of the way, preferring to be in the living room watching a movie. She did come into the kitchen to check on me once in a while, and I remember catching a glance of her peeking in flapping her hands. She’s anxious, I thought to myself, but I couldn’t spare much more thought to make sure she was okay.

Because I actually got to test for group B strep this time, I found out I was positive, and I opted for antibiotics again. I know this is one detail that conflicts with many others that I know who have chosen to have unmedicated births at home, but with my medical history, I err on the side of caution. I have been very lucky to have a midwife who helps me become informed of the choices I have and supports the decisions I make. It’s one of the reasons why I love her so much. Michelle is not only an amazing birth provider, but she’s also a teacher, counselor, friend, and certainly family.

Like my first labor, I wasn’t able to finish the whole dose of antibiotic. I couldn’t quite feel a pressure they way you would think when it’s time to push. I just felt my contractions getting longer and longer, so I began to pull in on my belly as I did with Aliana. I thought I could feel crowning, but then there was a pop! and the feeling was gone. My water broke! I don’t know if my bag was actually hanging out or not, but I swear it felt like his head had come out. Though that was disappointing, I knew that he was only so much more closer to coming.

Ali was pushed into this world two hours after my water breaking. Lucas….it had to have been under an hour.

The contractions were coming on one after the other. I kept moving, swinging around in the pool, at one point practically hanging out of it with my butt in the air. I seriously could not keep control of myself. I was trying so hard to work with my body, but my body had one mission. I kept trying to control it, but it was telling me to let go, let it do what it needed to do. I wasn’t blocking it, by any means. I wanted to work with it so bad, to be a part of my body as it went through this amazing transformation. But I couldn’t. I was afraid. I didn’t want to be in pain. The thought that kept me going was the little girl in the other room. I did this for you, I can do this for your brother. Don’t fight it, meet it head on.

I want to say that I finally reached my breaking point, but I don’t think that’s quite right. Deep down inside, I knew I couldn’t be ‘broken,’ but I was also so tired of trying to be in sync with my body. I needed a break, so so badly.

Another contraction, another push. I could feel him coming, the burning sensation that comes with crowning. Jesus, it hurt. It burned. Got to get it out to catch a break. Once his head is out, I can breathe, I can take a moment to regain my strength just get it out getitout getitout getitoutgetitoutgetitout.

I let all my air out and cry, “It won’t stop!” This contraction will not end! It keeps mounting, growing bigger and bigger. Keep pushing keep pushing keep pushing. A deep breath, hold and bear down. I open my eyes and see a flicker of something round in the water below me. I push and reach down to touch his head and suddenly my son is in cradled in my arm. I sit back against the side of the pool and pull him up and out against my chest. “I’ve got him!”

12:30 pm

His eyes slowly open and close as if he’s waking from a long, peaceful nap. He was totally chill! Like he hadn’t just journeyed out into the world. We begin to call Ali over and she rushes in. I had to do a double take when I caught sight of her. My baby girl suddenly did not look so little anymore. At that moment, I was so overjoyed with the two greatest gifts I’ve ever received. I’ll never forget the moment, when all pain was gone and only joy left in it’s wake.

Lucas remained quiet but he was by no means struggling. Though pictures taken in those moments show him to be blue, he was actually quite pink in person. He was just, relaxed! He passed his apgars with flying colors.

Getting the placenta was super easy this time around. I merely looked down into the pool and noticed a bit of a red cloud forming around me. Michelle reached down while I gave a light push and out it came, intact. We took a similar journey from the kitchen to our bedroom, where Lucas and I were cleaned up. It’s 12:45 when my parents walk through the door, barely missing it!

Unlike last time, I tore a little and needed two stitches. This boy practically shot out of me, my body didn’t have time to stretch and adapt around him. He was measured and weighed, Andrew held him while mom got me a snack. I’ll never forget the next couple of minutes, where I sat on the edge of my bed next to my midwife in silence, just the two of us, sharing a pupusa. Both of our jobs had been completed; now, the feast. It was one of the most emotionally and physically satisfying meals I’ve ever had.

We started the day on the couch, planning the day ahead. We ended the day on the couch, holding the greatest Father’s Day gift anyone could receive, and one I can never ever top.

Lucas, I was so scared to be your mom. I didn’t think myself capable of being a “boy mom.” Today, as I stare at your sleeping face, I cannot picture my family looking any different than it does now. You’ve taught me so much — patience, excitement, strength. Thank you for choosing us to be your family. We love you so, so very much.


Patience, and then all at once.

That’s how Lucas’s story begins.

It seems like Aliana wasn’t even two when people began to ask us when we were going to have another child. This is such an invasive question, and one that broke my heart a little bit each time. But that’s a different blog post. Maybe another day.

We waited three years before truly discussing adding a second child to our family. For me, it felt like long enough. We got to enjoy Aliana exclusively, got to experience all of her milestones and accomplishments together. But I knew that I wanted to give her a sibling, particularly close in age. She was always asking, too. And from my personal experience of having a large age gap between my sister and myself I wanted her to grow up and have a relationship with her sibling. So last summer, we decided to give it a go.

It took a little longer to conceive than it did for Aliana. Any woman trying will tell you of the disappointment month after month, but thankfully, the day before my birthday, I learned that I was pregnant.

This is where it gets a little interesting.

For the last two-three weeks, my grandfather had been in the hospital with what turned out to be terminal cancer. Unfortunately, he passed away the very same evening I tested positive. It was weird, and maybe a little morbid, but the reminder that life continues even when others are lost was soothing to me.

I wanted to plan a crazy reveal for my family, but felt that it would be best to share this balm with my mom. So, when she and dad called me the next morning to wish me a happy birthday, I gave them a present instead. She thought it was a trick, and asked Andrew if I was joking. She started to cry and I could hear dad laughing in the background. It was honestly the best birthday ever for all of us, and something that I think strengthened my relationship with mom.

It sounds weird, but the superstitious Guatemalan in me thinks it’s all connected.

To recap the pregnancy: it was incredibly different than my first. I had little to no morning sickness and did not lose weight my first trimester. I was so happy and praised God that I did not have to suffer through that agony again. I suspected that we were having a boy based on how much easier it was this time around. It quickly became clear that I was going to have a much bigger baby this time. My hips began to hurt not long into my second trimester, and continued through to the end. I started to see a chiropractor to help with my pelvis and ligament pain, and it helped tremendously.

We were also preparing for another homebirth with our fabulous midwife, Michelle. Honestly, I know that choosing a midwife is such a personal choice and you really have to find one that just vibes with you in every single way, but I cannot begin to describe to you how amazing this woman is. I am not exaggerating, I literally have tears in my eyes just thinking about the wonderful gift she is and the blessings that she has brought to my life. She is a great nurse and midwife, but most importantly friend. She will forever be a part of our lives.

As I grew larger and larger, I began to prepare for another early birth. I had been experiencing Braxton-Hicks but they didn’t feel how I remembered, so I didn’t recognize them. Then, I started to feel real contractions, particularly at night: ten minutes apart, but mild, for two to two and a half hours every few nights. I would text Michelle each and every time, “it might be baby time!” Boy, was I wrong.

I said hello to weeks 37 and 38 for the first time, and these practice labors continued. I downloaded a contraction counting app but they always tapered off after two hours. Coworkers were losing out on the baby pool left and right. It became customary to greet me with “I hoped I wouldn’t see you today” instead of “good morning.” I started to sleep on the couch for additional back support. And it was there that Andrew woke me on Father’s Day a little after seven to let me know what he had planned for the day.

I felt awful because I had completely forgotten it was that day. I hadn’t even bought him a card! He understood though, and didn’t feel any less appreciated for it. So we planned for him to spend his day doing his favorite things, starting with shredding old files and cleaning and sorting out our filing cabinet. If you know him well, you know the satisfaction he gets from this, the weirdo.

But Lucas had other plans.







Part 2: Home birth to NICU

At the Kahrs family reunion. A rare photo of the three of us together.

(11 weeks post partum)

Sorry for taking so long with part two. I believe you are aware that my life got busier since the first part way back in June, haha.

Anyway, to continue. Aliana was born early but safely, and most importantly healthy that Sunday. Two days later, she finally began to open her eyes more, and start to look around. That morning we made an appointment to see the pediatrician for her to get a complete check up and to get into the system. We thought we were doing what any parents should do when they first have a baby. Now I don’t want to speculate too much about what happened next but, we can’t help but think that this trip to the doctor is what sent her over the edge we didnt even know she may have been tettering on.

This is probably the most painful part to our story to recall. So much happened in so little time. It feels like things happened in slow motion; time was really unnoticeable… it made me realize exactly how much could happen in only 24 hours. Stay tuned for part three…

Tangent: Andrew, I really hope that I do not emasculate you with this post. I’m only trying to record these events elsewhere than my mind. Please forgive me for telling folks you cried.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

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Birth Story Part 1.5: Post Partum

One Month Old. Photo by Samantha Whitman Photography

Before I continue the part two of Ali’s story, I was reminded today
that there will be a huge chunk missing if I don’t speak of the moments
immediately after birth and its’ affect on my body and the emotions I experienced. This entry was really hard to write, because describing your emotions is never easy. I didn’t really edit this post, but rather just let the words flow straight out of my mind. I hope you understand what I am trying to convey. I apologize for the HUGE tangent as well.

This next part is kind of Andrew’s favorite. One of the first things he
tells people about the home birth experience is what I did a few minutes
after Aliana joined us. But to find out what that is you’ll have to keep
reading below.

Continue reading

hands and feet

32 weeks and 6 days (7 weeks left)

i can feel hands and feet now, or rather, i can feel the overall shape of hands and feet.

i’m having some trouble distinguishing which is which, because her back is on my spine when i feel her appendages best. so, since i can’t quite tell which end is her head and which is her butt (which is very easy to distinguish), it’s hard to say which is a foot unless she were kicking like she’s swimming. usually, it’s just a big poke that slides around or in and out. it feels like a big flat roundness. today i was able to feel that one of these round pancakes was slightly long, so it may have been a foot, but i’m not 100% positive.

it’s so awesome! it makes me more anxious to see her. it’ll be happening soon! at this point, she can be born somewhat safely. It would have to be a hospital birth, because she would be considered premature. at worst, she would need to spend a month in the nicu, but most neonatologists would probably not be phased by it at all, the survival rate is so high. once we get to 36 weeks she can safely be brought into this world, at home or in hospital.

there is some preparation left before we’re ready for our daughter to make her appearance. first, our baby shower is on may 7. we’ll be traveling down to long island where most of our families live to celebrate with the perez’s and the kahrs’.  we also (and probably most importantly) have to get our birthing kit, which will provide some extra tools for Michelle (our midwife). this includes things like tape for the umbilical cord, (there’s no other way to say this) piddle pads, and other little items in this vein. it’s getting very exciting around here!

Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth

24 weeks (6 months)

I have a book that I would love to share with all of you. I neeeeeed to recommend it to the women following our blog, whether you plan to have children in the future, are currently pregnant (let me tell you the Kahrs family is very fertile right now), or have had children. Every woman needs to know what’s written in these pages. Seriously educate yourself and make your own decision on the care you want but you need to know what’s out there and why those treatments are available and any possible repercussions.

But first – we need to work on the lighting in the nursery. Here’s my favorite picture this week:

i hate the lights in the room. it’s too orange-y yellow for me, and andrew insists on turning on this floor lamp that I hate and already told him is going bye bye but he doesn’t listen. but i loveeee this room. I don’t know if any other parents have experienced this but her room is my favorite room in the apartment. I just walk in there sometimes, especially when i get home from work and it instantly wraps me in this feeling of love. funny part is that andrew loves hanging out in there and is trying to keep his computer in the room. i tease him because his favorite room in happens to be mostly pink 😉

Anyway. I heard something interesting yesterday. A coworker of mine was commenting on how big I got over the weekend (i took monday off) and was telling me about how big she was with her last child. Don’t ask how we got to this part, but she said “…and then the doctor was pulling my placenta out…” and inside i’m thinking what? the doctor pulled your placenta out? isn’t it supposed to come out naturally a few minutes later (like in every vaginal birth i’ve read about? oh wait… I’ve mostly been reading about natural childbirth)

I’m laying in bed later that night doing my reading (Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth by Ina May Gaskin, Certified Professional Midwife from The Farm) and sure enough, the great Ina May brings this up! apparently it’s something that doctors do in hospitals today, and can actually cause harm to the mother (including hemorrhaging). When they pull on the umbilical cord to tug it out they can actually cause the umbilical cord to detach, and the placenta will stay inside, which in turn can make them take more invasive measures to get it out. The placenta and remaining cord are supposed to come out naturally 15-20 minutes after the baby does. Your uterus keeps contracting until it expels the placenta. There is no need to intervene when it comes to the afterbirth. If I didn’t realize it before, it suddenly stuck that there really is nothing that some doctors won’t do and how far the misconception that a woman’s body doesn’t know what it’s made for has really come in the medical world.

(for example, in 1985 some US publication actually recommended that all women be forced to have cesarean for every birth. seriously! no more vaginal births, whether we liked/wanted it or not!)

This is just one of the books I’ve been reading, you can find it here. I began this book shortly after I found out we were pregnant and not having a miscarriage. It’s really short, but I’ve put it down numerous times to read other books (Spiritual Midwifery which I haven’t finished yet, Labor of Love, some book my obstetrician gave me, and What to Expect When You’re Expecting which I hated so much i didn’t even finish. I’ll explain why in another post) and honestly has been by far one of the most informative texts ever.

The book is split in two parts: part one are birth stories (both home and hospital births) and part two is about childbirth, current and past methods, what kind of care is out there to choose from, what intervention/induction methods exist, common induction medications and their effects including harmful side effects just to name a bit.

I’m only about 40 pages away from finishing it (shameless promotion here: I love love love my nook from barnes and noble) but it is by far one of the best books I’ve ever read. I can’t recommend it enough. I thought the movies we watched were mind boggling, but this really took the cake. She has so many citations from medical texts, journals, and books it’s all validated that the information presented is out there, it’s just not easily accessible to people like you and me.

I can’t wait to see what Ina May has to say in her first book, Spiritual Midwifery, as I’m still only halfway through the birth stories in part one.

I have certainly been educated to a point where I feel comfortable knowing what to ask for (for example double layer suturing in case that I do need to have a cesarean) if I were to get transfered to a hospital. I feel empowered. I am more confident than ever that my body can do this, but just in case it needs help, we’ll do this right together.

“Mommy and Baby are okay,” says Midwife

Around 2:00PM is when the heavy snowfall began. By the time we were ready to leave work at 4 o’clock the roads were awful, especially the secondaries. While shutting down my computer at the office I got a call from Lilly. She’s never called me so soon after leaving work so I knew it couldn’t be good. Sure enough it wasn’t. She told me she was okay, but that she was in a car accident. I quickly ran out to my car, cleaned the snow off and immediately got stuck in bumper-to-bumper on the Northway…awesome.

Here’s what happened: Headed down a slippery snow-covered hill Lilly’s car started to slide. She pumped her brakes and pounded her horn, but it wasn’t enough to clear the intersection she was headed towards. Her car had crashed into the rear passenger door of a 4-door sedan spinning it around. The woman she collided with was more concerned about Lilly’s well being than her own. Everyone was called to the scene, police, fire, EMS. Lilly was checked out and everyone including herself determined she was okay. Both vehicles were still drivable and the driver of the other vehicle didn’t even want to get looked at by the paramedics.

Luckily the impact wasn’t severe enough to deploy the airbags, but Lilly and Baby did receive a solid jolt. I wish I could have gotten there quicker but the roads were all backed-up. I’m just thankful no one was hurt, especially Lilly and Baby.

Daddytime AND The Bradley Method

Lee (Lilly) is taking her second cat-nap of the day, the actual cats are also napping, the dishes are done, the laundry is running, and daddy-to-be (me) is relaxing. As I was in the middle of my usual Sunday-evening-weekend-wind-down-time when I came across a pamphlet on my desk titled, “The Bradley Method.” I figured Lilly intentionally left it there for me to find as she was discussing the topic earlier. After doing some initial research it seems to be a pretty good gig to teach Lilly and I how to best prepare for the natural birth we plan on having in a kiddy-pool right here on our kitchen floor, with the help of course of our incredibly experienced, very legally certified, very awesome midwife.

Not that anyone is really reading this blog but if you have stumbled upon it and have personally experienced The Bradley Method I’d love to hear what you thought about it. I found a book I may be picking up called “Natural Childbirth The Bradley Way.” Nearly all of the 203 reviews on are positive. Unless I hear otherwise I think we may go for it as Lilly is fast approaching her 5th month of pregnancy. From what I found the 12-week course can cost between $200-$400 depending on the instructor and what they offer throughout the program. Does that sound about right?

Sloww Start to the New Year

Lils and I are starting out our New Year not doing much of anything, actually Lilly is on her second cat-nap of the day. We’ve shared a little food, watched a couple of few movies, and I tore the tree down and threw it out by the dumpster. We’re basically just milking the last couple days of the Holiday Season before heading back to work on Monday.

Recently, Lilly’s appetite has been slowly growing after a grueling first trimester filled with debilitating morning (all-day) sickness. She’s searching for food and snacks but is having trouble figuring out what she’s in the mood for. I’m useless in helping except by keeping the kitchen clean so she can prepare whatever pops into her head.

Now as for me, do I do some push-ups or go make some fresh French fries? Fries sound good, I have to satisfy my sympathy pains, you know?

16 weeks! Officially Planning a Homebirth!

Lilly is now showing! AND, I can feel the uterus! It’s the size of a mini basketball that fits right into my hand. For so long now Lilly has been waiting for the day she would show, then all of a sudden within a weeks time, she “popped.”

I can see Lilly has been maintaining this blog more than myself, but here am I to discuss the controversial decision we have made… to use a midwife instead of a regular Obstetrician. After much research, thought, and discussion between ourselves, we feel this is the best approach for us. Also, this is now officially official because we have received the pre-authorizing required by our health insurance provider. This means our provider will cover nearly all of the expenses charged by our midwife. Also to add, our Midwife is extremely experienced (nearly 30 years), has delivered over 1000 babies, is a Certified Nurse Midwife, and is therefore legally allowed by New York State Law to practice midwifery. We have met with her twice thus far and have been very pleased with her knowledge and personal service. She schedules hour long appointments instead of the 5 seconds you get with a normal Obstetrician. Lilly has been incredibly happy with the decision which is all that matters.

In case you were wondering we do have a back-up plan. In the event we need to transfer to the hospital during the pregnancy now or during labor, our insurance will cover the medical expenses there as well. We’re doing our best to cover all the bases, but obviously we’re new at this.