Oona’s Birth: Bianca Blackman Duffy gave birth to Oona Blackman Duffy on January 23rd, at 5:35am at home in Malibu, CA.
I was due Wednesday Jan. 21st, so, that day I went to Ventura to have a check-up with my midwife, Karni. She hugged me and said “Happy due date!” She said my baby’s heart rate was great, and that my cervix had effaced, but was not dilated at all. She felt around my tummy to see what position the baby was in, and exclaimed, “Wow, that’s a big head!” which wasn’t exactly what I wanted to hear. I had been following the Gentile Birth Method’s Ayurvedic diet and exercise program throughout my pregnancy to ensure good health and an average size baby. Karni thought the baby was facing my thigh instead of backwards, and encouraged me to spend as much time on all fours as possible.
After my check-up, I went for a wonderful massage with Jaci, whom I had been seeing throughout my pregnancy. She did some special acupressure to try to induce labor. That part was rather uncomfortable. That night, I spent an hour on all fours, and adapted my yoga so I wouldn’t be leaning back at all.
The next day, my husband, Bryce, and I worked at home in the office, and went for a sunset walk on Broad Beach. That night. We watched “Mama Mia”, on all fours for me. It was just before midnight, when we decided to go to bed. I had Abba’s “Super Trooper” stuck in my head, which ended up serving as my anthem. As I got comfy in our bed, I felt a cramp at 12:01 a.m. It was moderately intense but it only lasted about a minute. A few minutes later, I got another one, which lasted a bit longer. By the third cramp, I began to think, “This might be it!”. I tried getting up, but I couldn’t do it during the rush.
When that contraction was over, I hurried to get my rush chart, stopwatch, the phone, Karni’s number, and a labor chart. I timed my next contraction, and it was a minute and 40 seconds, and the contractions were less than two minutes apart. I looked at the labor chart with Bryce, and we were astonished to discover that I was already in active labor!
I called Karni, and she listened to one contraction over the phone. She agreed that I was progressing rather rapidly, so she decided to come over right away. I tried to help Bryce make up the birth bed, and finish fixing up the room, but I had to crawl around in pain. He helped me up onto the bed, and went to set up the birthing tub, put on our special music playlist, and light candles about the house, all while timing and charting my contractions.
Karni arrived about an hour later, and checked my cervix in the birth room at 1:35 a.m. I was 4 cm dilated, and 100% effaced. Bryce had just finished setting the birthing tub set up in the dining room under the Droog chandelier, so I climbed in there. Floating in the warm water took some of the pain away, and it really helped when Bryce squeezed my left ankle during contractions. During my pregnancy, we had gone to a hypno-birthing workshop with Dr. Leclaire in Temescal Park, and I listed to the hypnosis recording almost every day. (Prior to that, I listened to one I had recorded myself with the script from GBM.) When the background music from the Leclaire recording came on during labor, it helped me relax and focus on my breathing instead of the rushes.
Our nurse, Diane, arrived, and took over checking the fetal heart rate. At 1:41 I threw up into a bucket in the birth room. It was quick, and I felt better after. Karni said I was just making room for my baby’s passage. At 2:16, I had my bloody show, which wasn’t much of a show. We never noticed my water breaking, so we assume it happened in the tub.
At 2:36, I was 8 cm dilated and already back in the tub. The fetal heart rate was steady, as it was during the entire delivery. At 2:57, I was 9 ½ cm dilated, and Karni told me I could push whenever I felt the urge to.
An hour later, I was still having a hard time getting the baby down. Karni encouraged me to try the birthing stool to let gravity work in our favor. Bryce wrapped me up in a terry robe, and helped me onto the birthing stool. He sat behind me on the yoga ball, so I could lean against him. I pushed like that for 12 minutes or so, and then moved onto the bed propped up with pillows against the wall in a 45-degree angle. I remember looking at the clock, and thinking my child might be born at the same time as me, 4:24 a.m., but we still had a while to go.
At 4:30, it started raining outside, which sounded wonderful. As I pushed in that position, the head would become visible at the end of each contraction, and then it would go back up during the intervals. We later found out that my daughter didn’t turn, so she was coming down facing my thigh (transverse) instead of my back. After 5 or 6 rushes, I got into a full squat position on the bed, with my arms around Diane and Bryce. We did another handful of contractions like that, and her head finally stayed down.
I was too exhausted to continue in a squat, so I asked to go back in the tub for a water delivery. Karni thought that I would regress in progress, so I was propped up onto the pillows again, this time with Bryce and Diane holding my legs back. I was crowning for at least 14 contractions, where we thought my baby would be born. At 5:35 a.m. on January 23rd, she emerged, all in one final push. She arrived in a transverse position, hence the 2 hour pushing stage. Karni caught her, and quickly handed her to me. I hugged her onto my belly, and she began to cry loudly. The midwives covered her with a warmed towel.
A few minutes later, Bryce asked, “Is it a boy or a girl?” Karni said she didn’t know, so I peaked under the towel. All I could see was her cord, but I answered, “I think it’s a boy!” Bryce took a better look, and we found out she was indeed a beautiful and healthy girl. Her Apgar score was 9.5!
Even though I pushed for a long time, the entire process was under 6 hours.
I delivered the placenta at 5:46 a.m. and Bryce cut the cord at 5:52 a.m. I had a small tear, so Bryce held Oona while I got a few stitches. Just before 7:00 a.m. I nursed her. She latched on easily, but her tiny top lip kept tucking under inside her mouth. She nursed for a good long time, and then Bryce held her while I had a quick shower. The midwives helped me dress, and then gave Oona her check up on our bed. She weighed 7 pounds 13 ounces and measured 20 ½ inches.
Bryce brought me some breakfast, and made his, and the midwives’ coffees. After Oona nursed again, she fell asleep on a sheepskin in our bed, with me beside her. Bryce had to work from home that day, so he didn’t join us in the bed until nighttime. That night, I woke up, and Oona had wiggled over, and snuggled into my chest. That is where she still sleeps today.
So 40 weeks of sacrifice paid off! I followed the diet with about one cheat a week, took the Dhanwantaram pills, Baladi Choornam drink, and a red raspberry leaf and nettle infusion daily. I also did the program’s daily yoga, as well as 20-50 minutes of biking, walking, or hiking 4-5 days a week, meditation, massage, and acupuncture. I gained 28 pounds in 40 weeks and 2 days, and delivered a healthy 7 lb 13 oz baby girl at home in 5 1/2 hours! So thank you!