A Wild Experience: Birth in the Car, Dirt Road, Birth Tent, or Born in the Wild? Hurry Only 13 Minutes Left!
Maleah’s Birth Story
A Wild Experience: Birth in the Car, Dirt Road, Birth Tent, or Born in the Wild?
Hurry Only 15 minutes left!
Bump, Bounce, Jiggle. I thought, “Can’t you drive this car any smoother on this dirt road?” Okay, it will be okay, I am just going to jiggle my baby out. Yes, I’ll just think “jiggle my baby out”. As I repeated this silly affirmation, I calmly but quickly hurried out of the car and started approaching the Birth Tent. I wondered, “I hope the water is warm enough in our birth tub”. The events from the days before had not given me any reliable indication on how this night would end.
Earlier in the year, I contemplated, “Oh, that’s interesting; the local Birth Center sent me an email that talks about outdoor birth options. I wonder what that would be like, to give birth in the great outdoors? I guess it’s not that much different than the home birth videos I have seen of women giving birth in their backyard in a well heated Jacuzzi tub.” A home birth seemed like a natural transition after having had two low-risk, smooth, quick, and painless births and because this pregnancy was going so well.
My first birth was in a large hospital, with an excellent Nurse and Nurse Midwife. I chose to go with a Midwife and not an Obstetrician. I felt some Doctors instilled fear about the birth process and treated it as a “medical illness” that needed to be managed and fixed. The midwives tended to view birth as a normal process and as an event in a woman’s life that did not need to be feared but instead could empower her. This midwife came from a large practice of 15 midwives. Having this many midwives was stressful and a bit like playing the lottery and hoping to “win” a good midwife and attending nurse. Luckily, I did get the one I was hoping for. Lance and I took two childbirth classes and learned about childbirth hypnosis for the first time. I felt that the monitoring seemed a little excessive which hindered my repositioning for birth at times and toward the end. This was not a private event; there were about 8 people in that little room and most I didn’t know. After birth, I felt tired and it was difficult to get some sleep with the many nurses continually in-and-out of the room.
For my second birth, I wanted my husband, grandma and daughter to be in the room—I did not want any strangers magically appearing as I birthed. Also, I wanted to get to know my midwife providers a little better so I went with a group of three Certified Professional Midwives in a modern birth center. My trust and respect for these women became stronger during every prenatal appointment because they spent a considerable amount of one-on-one time, about an hour or more each visit! This evoked feelings that they truly cared about me and that my questions mattered. During this second birth my Birth Waves were so comfortable and unsuspecting that I felt I had plenty of time before the birth. However, things moved so quickly that I thought I would have my baby in the car and might not make it to the birth center. Fortunately, Lance drove fast and I got there in time, and 8 minutes later had a successful water birth.
The plan for this third birth was to have my baby in the birth tub, at home, and with a midwife that could come to me. This would allow me to eat my own food, wear my own clothes and sleep when I needed to. Home is somewhere I felt safe, unrushed, and calm. I carefully selected my midwives from a practice of only two care providers. To qualify the midwife, I typed up well over 100 questions to ask in an interview. These questions ranged from licensure, years of experience, how many assistants attending, right down to what types of medications they would use for a hemorrhage and what would they bring and how would they take care of a resuscitation or a transfer to a hospital if needed. I was pleased to know this midwife had 25 years of experience, was an RN, CPM and was working on her CNM doctorate. Also, she did blood tests, brought monitors for the baby’s heart rate, oxygen saturation, and IV supplies/meds if needed. She had training in neonatal/newborn resuscitation and would bring all of the bag/mask/O2/warmer pads to the birth location—just in case. After a 2.5 hour interview, and after meeting many other midwives, she and her colleague were the correct care providers for me and my baby.
While pregnant I received an email about outdoor birth, which made me think, “Who wouldn’t want to give birth in a beautiful location…. as long as there was a skilled care provider and the safety of all the medical monitoring equipment the midwives bring?” I had already had two easy and low-risk births and this pregnancy was going great. After having healthy results on my ultrasound and prenatal visits, the midwife indicated I had every reason to believe that things would go well for this birth. Considering her professional opinion, and my past history, Lance and I felt an outdoor-home-birth would be a safe option. I was already planning a homebirth and having an outdoor birth seemed almost the same but even more wonderful. I contemplated the many births I had attended as a RN and then as a Doula. I had viewed the confines and limitations of a hospital room and medical equipment many times and the birthing women wishing and even visualizing they could be anywhere else. They’d usually focus on somewhere beautiful like a beach or being in the mountains. Therefore, instead of simply imagining, I knew for this birth I could make my peaceful place be the actual location!
Furthermore, ever since I was a child, I enjoyed hiking, exploring and gardening in the great outdoors. Call it my Pioneer or Native American heritage, but I felt even more than being at my house, that I was at home out in nature. I truly wanted my newest baby to have the special moment of coming into the world, under the beautiful sky, outside in nature, on the gorgeous mountainside, overlooking the lake—comfortably, smoothly, and peacefully.
Experience & Preparation
We decided to look up more information about the outdoor birth option. Online we found a representative of a new upcoming Reality TV/Docu-series that wanted to follow couples choosing this option of a natural childbirth in the great outdoors/wilderness/wild. During a Skype interview with the representative of the TV show, she explained that the series was called “Born in the Wild”. She asked us about our background, experience, education, medical training, books read, and childbirth classes attended. I was pleased to respond that we had a lot of education and experience which included:
● Having two older daughters through smooth natural births
● Helping other birthing women as a Certified Doula
● Teaching Childbirth Education classes with my husband
● Working as a Registered Nurse
● Certifying in NRP/newborn resuscitation
● Taking a Midwife Assisting Course
● Reading 30+ childbirth books; including Emergency Childbirth
● Attending 4 childbirth courses (Lamaze, Bradley, HypnoBirthing, Hypnobabies)
● Obtaining college degrees: Linda =BSN (Bachelor of Science in Nursing) , Lance=MBA (Master of Business Administration)
The representative wanted to know more about our comfortable childbirths and Childbirth Hypnosis training. After many months of waiting, and more interviews, the TV network A&E/Lifetime chose us as one of their six couples for this particular series. That news was filled with excitement, a little anxiety, wonder and anticipation.
The process of preparing for a birth outside was not without challenges. How does one prepare for an outdoor birth? What exact location would be best for this? What would we do for electricity, running or heating water? Where do we eat, sleep and go to the bathroom? What specific things would the midwife need for the birth? After we make a list of equipment needed, where do we buy all of this? What do I put on a Birth Preference Plan in this scenario? How far away is the hospital and how do we get there from here? Is there wildlife that we should consider? All of these questions took careful planning—which took months.
After scouting out several birth locations (Little Dell Reservoir, Great Salt Lake, Middle Canyon, Lake Point), we decided that the proximity to our house and the hospital were the main priorities. We never planned on going so far out into the wilderness that we wouldn’t have access to medical attention. The birth location was only 10 minutes away from my house. And the hospital was a short 12 minutes from the birth location. The actual birth location was closer in distance to the hospital than our house was. We also had to receive permission to film and give birth on the land and this helped us make our final location decision. All three locations were beautiful, but the Lake Point mountainside overlooking the Great Salt Lake was literally a breath of fresh air.
After ordering most of our camping/birthing supplies online, we wanted to set everything up on the mountain and sleep over to see if the location and weather conditions would work for having a baby there. The Birth Tent was to be my personal oasis. I brought the comforts of home andhospital there: comfy bed, rocking chair, birth ball, toilet, portable water heater, birth tub, generator, birth supplies, monitoring equipment and relaxing music. With our philosophy of preparedness in all things, this unique birth location gave us a great opportunity to know what we would need if a natural disaster like an earthquake or flood occurred in our beloved state of Utah.
After setting up what we thought would be a strong double sized, white, easy pop-up canopy, the wind started to pick up. We had been to this location many times before and the wind didn’t seem to be strong. Our much loved canopy started to bend. I called, “Lance, please hold that side of the canopy, and I will hold this one down…We need to stake these poles down more securely”. The wind kept blowing and we had to take the canopy down before it flew away like a giant white kite. So much for that grand idea! We set up our smaller tent to sleep in and found that there was a black widow on our pillow and promptly killed it. Noises from the outside rustled and this made for an unrestful night to say the least. Surely, at this point in our preparation both Lance and I knew that having an outdoor-home-birth was not for everyone.
In addition to preparing for an outdoor birth Lance and I had to mentally prepare ourselves. As many nights as we could, he read childbirth hypnosis scripts to me. On the other nights I listened to relaxation/hypnosis tracks on MP3/CD. In the Birth Tent we conducted a “birth rehearsal” of sorts and tried various labor positions with our hypnosis script and relaxation music.
Am I In My Birthing Time (Labor)?
Two days earlier started like any other day, I woke up got ready for the day, put a little more makeup on than usual, and helped my children get their clothes on. I thankfully sent my children with my older sister, Andrea, to be watched for the day. I was going to be on camera talking about my preparations for this outdoor-home-birth. How unusual this was to have people following me around going to different places while making preparations for this birth. While driving up to the birth location like we did many times before, I thought about how close my “Guess Date” was, being that it was supposed to be September 2nd, but I felt it would be more like the 4th based on my ovulation adjusted Estimated Due Date. All the while, I thought and visualized how fun that would be to have a baby on September 1st—Labor Day!
The day before birth, I started waking up for church and trying to get everyone ready. I had more Practice Birth Waves (Braxton Hicks) on and off and did not feel up for emotionally being able to handle the girls at church that day and sent Lance with them instead, so I could rest. I called my sister and she asked me if I was trying to fight going into labor because of wanting to film all that we had planned for that week. I confirmed that I was, but the Practice Waves didn’t really seem to get any stronger and I was denying that this was anything other. The camera crew decided that they should film these little birth waves just in case. After church, Lance and Andrea decided to set up two tents that she found from her home and my mother’s house that day. They were able to reload all of the birthing supplies and birth pool into the two new tents established. I had Practice Birth Waves but they were not strong therefore I decided to go home, take a shower, and they went away by the time I went to bed. I felt that it would be a few days from then before I had my baby.
That night, after I went to bed, I woke up about 1:15 AM, the Birth Waves were coming consistently and stronger than the day before. I still was not sure if these would last, so I decided to give them a little bit longer before I thought too much about them. Soon they were coming about every two minutes or so and we called the midwife. She said that she just finished another birth and was headed our way but it might take a while. Lance called my sister and the photographer to come soon. They both got to my house and I needed Lance to go to the birth site and heat the birth pool water. Luckily, Lance wasn’t working this Monday because of the holiday.
Andrea looked at me and felt that I was going to have this baby soon. I felt the urgency as well, but did not want to leave right then because the birth tub water was not heated. I knew how comfortable my previous birth was in the heated water and wanted this same wonderful feeling. Also, it was the middle of the night and I didn’t want to go out in the dark and cold if I didn’t need to right then—I wanted to wait till Lance got back. Andrea called Lance and told him that I had progressed quickly and seemed far along in labor. He decided to hurry home. When he got there and I was in transition and the birth could be soon. I told Lance, “If we are going to birth in the wild, then we need to leave right now…we just need to get up there.” Andrea asked me if I was sure. I felt we could make it with an okay amount of time because I did not have strong enough downward pushing feelings—yet. However, the Birth Waves were coming so fast, and in an effort to conserve energy, I ended up crawling on the floor towards the garage. I didn’t realize at the time how hilarious that looked. Funny, how the cameras faded into the background while I was focusing on getting to the previously planned birth location.
We got into the car and I informed the camera person to simply,” jump in the car and let’s go.” I was in the front seat and wanted to kneel while leaning over the back of the seat. I asked Lance to, “stop the car…I need to switch seats because I can’t get the headrest off.” The camera person moved to the front seat while I went to the back seat and took the head rest off. At this point I was hot, the Birth Waves were coming fast and strong, and we needed to get up there right away. Fortunately, we already planned on a quick birth, like our previous ones were, and chose a close birth location.
I wanted to relocate from my house because we didn’t have any birth supplies there and the Midwife and her monitoring equipment was all at the birth location. We left our house around 2: 50 AM. Lance was well composed during the car ride. He gave me childbirth hypnosis cues, rubbed my back, and conversed with the midwife—all while driving the car. The road became a dirt road and was quite uncomfortable to go bouncing up and down. I found myself saying, “we will make it, I am just going to jiggle this baby out.” Right then, in the car, I started to feel a way stronger downward reflex or pushing feeling. I knew that it would only be minutes before I would give birth; I told Lance to hurry. “if the water is not heated enough when we get there I will give birth on the blowup bed.” It was now 3:00 AM and we made it up there in a quick 10 minutes. The midwife had called Lance and said that she took a wrong turn and would be there soon. With all of our preparation I knew we would be okay if we had a baby in the car, at the Lake Point site, with or without the midwife but I still wanted her there. I thought, “I hope she makes it!”
As the car stopped, I calmly but quickly got out. I asked if the water was warm in the birth pool and he said “No”. I went straight into the Birth Tent and climbed onto the blowup bed in the hands-and-knees position. I was wearing my own birth skirt and shirt. The plan was to have my skirt cover everything so the cameras would only see the baby coming out—haha, so much for that plan. The Midwife made it to the birth location, just in time at about 3:05 AM. I was making low, exertion noises by this time and was pretty much kneel/squatting. The Midwife placed an absorbent pad underneath me and monitored the baby’s heart rate with a Doppler. She said, “the baby’s head is way down there…and the heart rate is good.” Pop, I felt my Water release and a ton of downward pressure, “is that the baby’s head…that better be the baby’s head.” She accidently lifted up my skirt for a better view. I felt a major relief of pressure as her head came out. There was one push for the water to release, one push for the head, and one for the body. Lance wanted to receive the baby. However, with the rush of the event, the midwife received the baby and handed her to me. She was born at 3:13 AM in the morning!
The baby started to cry, and I felt like crying. What a feeling of Joy! What a feeling of empowerment and love. I brought my baby to my chest. We discovered that this baby was a girl! The tent and lights had a blue hue to them. The midwife checked the baby’s oxygen saturation with an oximeter—which was at a perfect level. How amazing was this moment after birth! I placed her under my shirt, skin-to-skin for bonding and warmth. It was a little colder that night and I was grateful that I didn’t end up having a water birth, so that we were both not too cold. Holding her under my shirt, I nursed her and loved her. The Midwife, Lance, Andrea, and my daughter Mariah were all able to make it to the birth—how wonderful! The afterbirth went well and after Lance, Mariah and I all cut the cord together. Even though we had a slight change of plans my baby, Lance and I felt comfortable, peaceful, and calm—Incredible!
That Night/Morning After Birth
After the birth the camera crew went back to their hotel. The Midwife stayed with us and we were able to go home with minimal clean up. The Midwife conducted the newborn exam and the baby looked great. Lance weighed her and she was 7lbs 4oz, and 20.5 in long. We sang happy birthday to her and snuggled on our warm bed. Later, her hearing test and screening test all came back wonderful. What a perfect baby. We could not resist naming her Maleah due to the meaning of her name: “wished for child, calm, peaceful, and is derived from my favorite flower the plumeria”. While going to bed that night we were so grateful everything went well! We thought about her being “Born in the Wild” and felt it was ironic because it was truly a “wild” and exciting day!
Hello! My name is Linda. I am a Doula CD(DONA), Hypno-Doula, Childbirth Educator, Midwife Assistant and a Registered Nurse (RN) by profession.