Just Breathe the Baby Out

By Charlotte DeVries

This post was originally published on July 13, 2007.

I was headed to Minnesota a couple of weeks ago to, among other things, be part of a young womans wedding, a family friend weve watched grow up. After a weeks camping honeymoon, the couple was headed to Wisconsin to work for the summer on a vegan farm. The folks who run the farm are preparing for a home birth and are hoping the bride (their newest summer intern) will be willing to be present for it.I was supposed to be heading to Wisconsin as well, to attend a different birth. Alas, I ended up staying in Minnesota for my entire summer holiday because the baby came a couple of weeks early. Instead of being part of the quiet hum of a home birth, I got the news via cell phone that baby Claire surprised the whole bunch of them. It was amazing, cooed the mother on my phone message, and were all having a lovely time.A couple of years ago Id been with Angela when her first daughter was born in a little Minnesota hospital. It was a water birth, the room was dark and quiet, with only the midwifes flashlight breaking into the holiness of the moment. My friend was a dance minor in college, and she brought all of those lovely moves  rocking, turning, swaying  into the water to create a gentle tide to welcome her baby into the world. Talk about amazing&So when she wrote to invite me to her Wisconsin home for this summers birth, I was delighted. But instead of witnessing another amazing birth dance, this time I listened to Angelas birth story across the miles  almost as good as being there. The Friday before Fathers Day shed gone for a bike ride with her family and had an inkling that something was coming about. That evening and all day Saturday she was in what she called soft labor, enough so that her husband unpacked and set up the birth tub. Before she went to bed that night she called her midwife, who told her to call back when contractions were five minutes apart for an hour. By 1 am pains were six minutes apart for an hour, then all of the sudden three minutes apart for a few minutes, then back to back! The next door neighbor and midwife were called; the sleepy household came to life with activity, including starting to fill the tub.Angela couldnt wait: I need to get into that water! she announced, even though it was just a few inches deep at the time. In a few minutes she said, I need to go to the bathroom! and she was helped onto the toilet, where she realized she was crowning. She made it back to the tub with the wonderful advice of the midwife: Just breathe the baby out. Seven minutes later, Claire was born. It was 3:30 AM, there was no tearing, no swelling, just a beautiful Fathers Day gift of a little girl. A few hours later, Angela sat on the breakfast bench, amazed at how comfortable she felt.Back at that first birth Id asked husband Rick if hed consider a home birth the next time. I dont know& he said hesitantly. In the days since then, Angela has done a remarkable job of helping her partner grow in confidence and trust, and this time he turned to her after Claires birth and beamed, You are my hero!But perhaps even more profound was Ricks older daughters experience as she stood by and watched the unfolding of what shed thought was going to be a medical event. (Its no wonder  shed recently done EMT training, and her mother is a physician.) This birth was a transforming moment for her, Angela said, recalling the quiet confidence of the midwives and her husband as a sweet little sister slipped into the world in the most normal and natural of settings.Its what I wish for my young friend, that bride  this opportunity to witness the spirit, the breathing out of a baby. When strong young women are witness to the power of a birth like Claires, theres no telling how lives will be transformed.By the way, the babys middle name is Seiche (pronounced saysh)  a lake term for an inland tide. How fitting for a lovely little water baby.


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