The Birth of Kai- A redemptive HBAC! {Tampa Bay Home Birth}

This birth story comes to us from our dear friend Susan. Susan is an ICAN leader and radical unschooling mother of 2. We are excited to share her story with you as it shows how having the right support, appropriate preparation, and belief in yourself can help you achieve the birth you and your baby deserve. 

"Kai was a planned but surprise pregnancy just like our first son. We had been trying for over a year and had basically given up on having more children. We decide to be happy with our 3 person family. I also decided that if I was going to be a mommy to one, I could also handle a new career and went back to school to become an architect. I had finally figured out what I want to be when I grow up and that was to work on sustainable community development  About 6 weeks into the semester, I found out I was pregnant with our second baby. I was so excited that all of our new plans were now going to have to be re-planned once again.

This pregnancy was going to be a successful vaginal birth - my first son was a planned natural birth that ended in a transfer to a hospital and ultimately a c-section. I had more drugs in myself and him than I ever had wanted and had worked on physical detox when he turned 18 months. Now that I was pregnant, I realized, I also needed to work on emotional detox from my c-section as well. 

I read several wonderful books, one of the ones that made a deep impact on me was The Thinking Woman's Guide to a Better Birth. I thought I had read everything I needed to when pregnant with my first son, but this opened my eyes to so many things, the biggest being that there is no such thing as natural interventions. An intervention is an intervention and has no place in a healthy pregnancy or labor. I also wrote my son's birth story - I had told his story many times, but never wrote it. It took me weeks to write it, then go back and read it and add details that I had left out the first time, then add emotions I left out of the second rewrite, etc. This was incredibly healing. I also surrounded myself with positive birth stories, attended ICAN meetings and listened to other women talk about how they had successful VBACs and vaginal births. I mention all this prep because I strongly feel that had I not done all of this, Kai's birth would have gone differently. I did not want to see myself as anything other than a healthy birthing woman, and I had to heal from these emotional obstacles in order to do that. I remember having a craniosacral treatment that gave me a big "Ah Ha!" moment which was that this birth and this baby is unique and really has nothing to do with my first baby. I am just a normal, healthy pregnant woman preparing to birth the way I want to.

My pregnancy was very uneventful - I had normal symptoms, things like morning sickness in my first trimester, being tired from pregnancy and playing with my toddler. I felt wonderful, I had a glow throughout my pregnancy and was excited that I was going to experience natural labor and birth this time! I had a strong birth team who supported me. I also did not debate with those who did not support me. I just avoided talking about this pregnancy with those who were not supportive or those women who insist on telling their horrible birth stories. My husband and I also made the difficult decision that he would not attend this birth. He was raised with images that birth is incredibly dangerous and it makes him nervous. My c-section was also traumatic for him to experience and he did not have an outlet to heal from his feelings about our first son's birth. The decision was mutual and was the right one for our family.

My EDD was June 13, but throughout my pregnancy, I kept saying how auspicious I thought a solstice baby would be. If the baby was a girl, we would have to name her Summer - this was the only name my husband and I could agree on ahead of time. We decided not to find out the baby's gender ahead of time, so we needed a boy name in the waiting as well. About a week before I went into labor, we had decided we both liked Niko or Jude for a boy.

June 13th came and went, and no signs of labor. I refused vaginal exams from my midwife - there is really no need for them and they tell nothing about labor or progress. (You'll notice the difference in this story and other birth stories is that no where do I mention how dilated I was) My midwife assured me that post dates was fine with her and not to worry about anything. (My midwife with my first son was quite the opposite and very nervous about post dates.) This was a relief that there was no pressure from her for me to start things like castor oil - remember, there is no such thing as a natural intervention!

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Father's Day was June 20th this year, and we had returned from celebrating at my parents' house. I had made plans for every day of the upcoming week so that I would have something to focus on other than the fact that I was now going into my 41st week of pregnancy. I also decided to go to bed at 9:30pm that night - something I had not been able to do this entire pregnancy due to either acid reflux, or just the baby's activity keeping me awake. My oldest also decided to sleep in the next morning - I got over 10 hours of sleep that night! Something I don't think has happened since I was 5 months pregnant with my first son. My oldest and I stayed in bed reading books and talking before getting up at 9am for breakfast. Around 9:30am, I realized I may have lost my mucus plug. Although this was my second pregnancy, I never went through going into labor on my own, and never lost my mucus plug. I had only heard about this being a pre-labor sign. I was not even sure if that was what just happened, so I went to google images to see if I could see a mucus plug. Lucky for me, women take pictures of their mucus plugs and mine looked just like theirs! Around 10am I decided that I was going to call my husband and my midwife to say, maybe baby today! I was having no surges and no other signs of labor.

By noon, I was having surges about every 15 minutes and lasting only 20 seconds. I had started washing sheets and making the bed and getting all my birth supplies together. My son could tell I was excited about something and shared in my excitement by singing songs to me. By 2:30pm, my surges were 6 - 10 minutes apart and lasting 30 - 45 seconds. It was getting difficult to occupy and care for a toddler who was obviously going to miss his nap today. I called my husband and asked him to come home.

My husband got home around 3:30pm and apparently I wanted him to share in my nesting. I asked him to do the dishes of all things. 20 minutes later, I asked him to scratch that, just blow up the birthing tub and take our son to the mall to play. I also asked him to call my birthing team because I was no longer able to talk through the surges - they were 45 seconds long and 4 minutes apart.

At 4:50pm, my doula arrived. Evelyn got out her handy rebozo and started working on my belly while I was in a chest and knees position. Who knew having your belly and hips shaken could feel so good! I could feel the baby moving into position, sort of swimming himself into a better more comfortable spot for the both of us. About 30 minutes later, my friend Charlie arrived. Having friends who are birth junkies is very handy for a pregnant woman. Charlie is an amazing doula and birth assistant, and will hopefully be a midwife by the time we have our third baby. Around this time, the tub was all set up and about 10 minutes later my husband and son left (around 5:30pm).

My labor was progressing beautifully, I was still chatty between surges, and just breathing through each surge and enjoying feeling the baby move further and further down. I was doing my own vaginal checks so I could check my progression if I wanted to. Around 6:30pm, I decided I wanted to get in the tub.

I was still enjoying labor until about 30 minutes later. Suddenly things felt different. The baby was no longer moving down and felt stuck to me. I kept telling my team that the baby is stuck, and they suggested different positions in the tub. At one point I felt like I was just rolling in the tub and nothing was working. I felt a pain that I had not expected to feel - this was not from surges, it was the feeling of the baby being stuck. At 7:30pm, Charlie called my midwife to see if she could come now. This is the first time I mention calling my midwife, but my birth team had been in touch with her throughout the evening. At some point, the water just felt annoying so I moved to the bathroom and labored on the toilet, hoping again that a new position would make the baby feel less stuck.

My midwife arrived around 7:30pm. I knew there were a couple of points of conflict between my midwife and me, and we were heading into one. I had told her I took hypnobirthing classes and was determined to breathe my baby out in a gentle way. When my midwife arrived, she came in the bathroom and saw me groaning on the toilet. I told her the baby is stuck, and she told me "The baby is not stuck, babies do not just fall out of your vagina." She mumbled something about letting her know when I was going to be serious about pushing this baby out and left the bathroom to go sit on the couch. Charlie and Evelyn stayed in the bathroom with me trying to figure out how to get me and the baby to keep things moving. My surges were almost without a break at this point, but the baby was not moving down any further. Charlie was awesome and rather than suggesting any more different positions, gently told me that some babies cannot be labored down with breathing, and if he really is stuck, I may need to just bear down and give a good push to get him moving again. When my midwife heard this, she decided to come back. I pushed in the bathroom for a while and got the baby moving again. Every movement of the baby was so much more painful than I had ever imagined. I started thinking these hypnobirthing bitches are just crazy! I also started thinking, I am pushing on the toilet and I do not want my baby to be born on the toilet. By 10pm, I moved to our bed. I tried getting on my hands and knees and there was such pain that I actually started crying. The only position that felt good or at least like I was going to be able to keep going was slanted on my back. I don't remember how many pushes or how long, but at 10:35, my baby boy's head emerged with his right hand up by his face. I felt vindicated that his hand was up there - it came together in my head that his elbow must have been what was stuck on my pelvis, and his elbow was also likely what was scraping my vagina on the way out causing that pain. After one more push, his body was out and I pulled him to my chest. I no longer think hypnobirthing is crazy - pain is there for a reason, and the reason for my pain was internal vaginal tearing from his elbow and nuchal arm. I actually didn't think anything of the ring of fire sensation because it was so minor compared to what his descent had felt like.

I was planning to cut the cord myself and after the placenta was born. Unfortunately, I was bleeding pretty heavily and the herbs I took were not stopping the bleeding. I cut the cord at 10:47pm, immediately got a shot of pitocin, and one minute later the placenta was born. 

By 11:00pm, my baby boy was nursing and continued for the next hour and a half. I didn't care about anything else in the world, and it seemed like the world had stopped for a while. While I was watching him nurse, I thought, this baby is neither a Niko nor a Jude. He needs a new name! My husband was called and told he could come home to meet the baby. I remember when my son and husband came to the bedside, my son said something to me, and immediately, the baby looked over at him.

Born at home on the solstice - Kai Delano Williams
7 lbs 14.5oz
20.5 inches
14" head
13.5" abdomen
He did not have a name for the first 4 days of his life because we wanted a name that both fit him and had the strength and energy of the day he was born. We had decided on either Kai or Julian. Thursday morning, we still had not made a decision, and we decided to let our oldest be the tie breaker. He liked Kai (my choice as well). My husband still wanted a shot at Julian, so we decided to write both names on separate pieces of paper and whichever name we drew from a basket would be his name. Our oldest son drew out the paper, and it was Kai - 2 for 2 dad, his name is Kai. Kai means Ocean or Sea water in Hawaiian, it also means keeper of the Earth in Chinese. We knew whether a boy or girl, this baby would have the middle name Delano which is a family name. If our babies get my husband's family last name, then we decided they get a middle name from my family. Delano means the elder tree of the forest.

I had my successful VBAC, and had a healthy mama and baby. We bedded in for two weeks, and I also used my placenta for the benefits."


You can find Susan on her personal blog at where she blogs delicious vegan and gluten-free recipes and other fun tid-bits! You can also see her monthly at ICAN of Clearwater meetings!