It was back in September that I met with Alyssa, Steve, and their young daughter Rowan in their home in Hawthorne to discuss all the details of what would be my first home birth. We discussed at length what her hopes were and how she planned on going about every step of baby Nate's arrival. Having never been a part of a home birth, this was all new territory for me. Although I have worked with some amazing homeopathic doctors, hospital rules were still all I knew, so this was not only exciting but a true learning experience for me.
Alyssa chose her birth team carefully. Valeriana Pasqua-Masback CNM of homebirthmidwifery.com
who brought along her trusted assistant, Venus Paloma, as well as her doula, Christine Fitzgerald of www.happybirthingdaydoula.com. Alyssa also enlisted the help of her younger sister Vanessa to keep Rowan busy and
happy for the days leading up to and including her labor and birth,
All of us, in our own ways, stayed in close contact to Alyssa throughout her birth journey. I can imagine keeping us all in the loop was a job in itself! Between Braxton Hicks contractions, loss of her mucus plug, her water breaking, back pains, and lots of starts and stops, we were all filled with suspense. I personally got dressed to leave a few times, and once, I made my way towards Hawthorne, only for her contractions to stop once I was in my car. Alyssa's labor and birth proved to be much different than any I had been a part of in the past, I swore multiple times that I knew what was going to happen only to be proven wrong by little Nate.
It wasn't until the evening of February 24th at 8:35pm that I received a text from Alyssa saying she was just going to try and sleep, and that it seemed the remedies she had been using since the day before had not done what everyone had hoped they would in the time frame they usually took. She told me of the plan for the next day, and as I was typing my response, within ten minutes of receiving her first text it was GO TIME. "Something is happening!" Alyssa's body took its time gradually preparing her for this moment. She was already dilated, and baby Nate was nice and low for quite a few days, so it seemed most of the work was already done. I had (half) joked that I was so worried that she would only have to push twice before meeting her little man , and that I was one foot out of the door that entire week! Even while assuming her labor and birth would be quick ones, no amount of mental prep and planning could prepare me for how it actually happened.
Just under an hour from when she felt a shift in her body, he was in her arms,
I have seen some quick births. We're talking 2-3 hours once in active labor, but nothing like this.
Alyssa went from laying in bed trying to sleep, to experiencing fast and furious contractions, within minutes. I immediately changed my clothes, warmed up my car, and headed towards Hawthorne. For once, I didn't miss the turn I seem to ALWAYS miss when heading on route 20 towards Hawthorne, and thankfully there was no traffic on that Sunday evening. I did however turn onto her street, and struggle to see house numbers in the dark. When I met with the Viscitos for our consultation it was during the day, and even THEN I still had to pull a K-turn in order to backtrack and find where my GPS said I should be. Once I found my way, I parked at the end of the driveway, gathered my things and made my way to the back door where Steve was waiting to let me in. I could hear Alyssa in the front of the house, and based off of the sounds she was making, her contractions were back to back. I dropped my things, unpacked my smaller camera that I planned to use for video clips, and set that up as quickly as possible. All the while Alyssa was ready to push. Time seemed to slow while simultaneously speed up. By the time I quickly set up the video camera, she had already begun pushing, and for the first time in my career, a baby was born before I could truly adjust my cameras settings. A nighttime shoot even in a hospital brings its challenges, but a shoot in a beautiful home only lit by candle light, while relaxing and gorgeous as it felt, was more than my camera could handle. After a few seconds of failed shots, I called an audible and picked up the video camera. Although it wasn't my normal routine, I wasn't going to miss Nate's birth, and I'm happy it made its way onto my camera, by any means necessary.
Nate entered this world at 9:32pm, caught by his Mama's hands with assistance from Val, and surrounded by his loves ones. After a few moments in the tub, Alyssa was helped out of the water and walked over to her living room a few steps away where she could lay down with her newest babe. While in her living room, Alyssa was doted upon by her loving family and team, most of which couldn't believe how quickly this last stretch of her journey had progressed. While comfy and cozy on Alyssa's chest, Nate, guided by his own intuition and a tiny bit of help from Val, began nursing almost effortlessly. When the time arrived, all while still in the comfort of their own living room, Rowan helped Steve cut the umbilical cord. Rowan played with Aunt Vanessa all the while coming back and forth to check on Nate and her Mama, wishing she could play with her new baby brother. She'd offer her Mama food from her play kitchen as well as snacks from their real one.
Before heading upstairs to get Rowan ready for bed, and take their first herbal bath, the family bonded in their living room, without any of the team hovering over head. We sat together in the dining room getting better acquainted while Val and Venus compared notes and filled out their charts.
Once upstairs, Alyssa was able to nurse both of her babies in bed for the first time together, all while her tub filled, and her wonderful doula, Christine, prepared her herbal bath. It didn't take long before Alyssa and both of her little ones were enjoying a shared, soothing soak. Back in their bedroom, both of the family dogs were brought upstairs to meet their newest addition. Rowan was warm, toasty, and back in her pajamas, ready for one last nursing session before bed. With some privacy she finally fell asleep. The team reassembled in the bedroom to allow Val to take all of Nate's measurements and give her final advice for the night and coming days. Collectively we made our way downstairs to allow the family to finally rest and settle in for their first night as a family of four. By 1;50 am I was on my way home from what was truly the most fast paced, yet calm birth I have ever documented.
It was my pleasure to play the teeniest role during such an amazing time in the Vicsito's lives. A day I will surely never forget.
Happy Birthday, Nate and welcome home