The Story of Olive
I woke up at 7am and I was like, “THESE are rushes.” But they weren’t really bad, they felt like menstrual cramps. They were 10-15 min apart. I also lost my mucus plug. We took the dogs out to the Marina and walked around the perimeter, around 3 in the afternoon. We saw a Western Burrowing Owl that comes to roost here during the rainy season. Then, my rushes were 5-10 minutes apart and I had to stop and moan. They were getting pretty painful. I couldn’t walk through them. We went home and I felt uncomfortable sitting – I was so glad we didn’t decide to go any further away because I couldn’t imagine having rushes in the car. I realized I couldn’t even sit through my rushes anymore. At that point, I laid down in the bed in the guest room to get through the rushes. I put in earplugs and I would get up on hands and knees to get through the rushes.
A friend came by and brought me peppermint ice cream. I didn’t feel like I could really engage because I was in labor, but my rushes stopped for about 20 minutes. I called Julia to see what she thought. I started crying because I was SO ready for this to happen, and everything had just stopped. Julia said she could come over if I wanted her to – around 7pm, and I said I would love for her to come. We sat on the floor in the den and just talked. She said my body was working toward labor. She checked my cervix to check the baseline for my labor and said, “you’re 4cm and 100%!” My rushes were strong and effective! Julia encouraged me to get in the zone and call her back whenever the rushes started up again and I needed her. She brought all of her midwife gear and left it here. I went back into the guest room, put in my earplugs, and went through rushes. G timed them for me by listening to my moans coming through the vent. Periodically, I would come out into the den and ask if they were closer together. He said they were 3-5 minutes apart. I said, “Oh, good, let’s call Julia!” That happened a few times before we actually called Julia.
At 1am, G texted Julia. She said, “I’m leaving now. See you soon.” When she got here, she started setting up all of her stuff. She told me to keep doing what I was doing. Around 2am, she checked me and I was 7cm. Everything was going great. At that point, Julia got the birth kit out and I kept doing what I was doing. She started the antibiotics in between rushes. At 6am, I was 10cm but with a little cervical lip on the right side. To get rid of that I could have either had Julia hold it to the side while I pushed the baby’s head down, or I could lay on my side for several rushes. I could not imagine pushing into that pain, so I chose the other option. I laid on my side and it was REALLY painful – my hand was shaking as I squeezed G’s hand with each rush. I labored for about 30 more minutes. Julia checked me again and I was complete, so she called Kara to come over.
The baby’s head was still high so I had to push the baby’s head down. She suggested I sit on the toilet, since that’s the place where I’m used to pushing. That hurt too much – it felt like I had a bowling ball in my butt. It didn’t felt like I had to push, it felt like I had to poop. Julia reminded me that that’s what pushing feels like, and I have to push into that sensation. I was really having a hard time with this because I didn’t have a strong urge to push.
During the next two hours, Julia gave me a lot of suggestions: push in the shower, get on the birth ball, squat. I took a shower for 10 minutes but the hot water ran out, so that was the end of that. We started nipple stimulation while I was sitting on the toilet. G was on my left nipple and Kara was on my right – colostrum was everywhere, but we needed the rushes to be closer together. Julia asked me if I was scared to push and I said yes. She said, “It is scary but that’s what’s going to get your baby out. You have to push down into it.” Both Kara and Julia told me it was time to push!
I would breathe and moan through most of the rushes and push a little. Then, it was time for the 2nd dose of antibiotics so I stood at the foot of the bed to let them go in. Every time I went to pee, I would have a rush. I tried to sit down on the toilet through the rush, but it was too much so I had to stand up. I felt like I was going to split my whole body apart if I sat on the toilet….it felt like I was going to have the biggest poop of my life. Gradually, I pushed more and more and ended up feeling most comfortable on the bed, semi-reclined, with my knees up…a reclined squat. I needed people to help hold my legs back. Kara started giving me an herb cocktail of cottonwood and black cohosh chased with coconut water. Kara and Julia said I was a champ taking shots of those nasty tasting herbs. I didn’t even blink an eye. (I thought about saying, “This is nothing! I’m used to taking shots of bourbon,” and actually I thought I did say that. After the birth, G told me I never said that. It was such an internal thing. I did very little talking.) The herbs helped make the rushes happen closer together. The weird part about my labor is that the rushes were always strong, but never close together.
Around 8am, I was pushing and a little trickle came out. I felt like I peed. Kara said, “I think that was your water breaking.” We kept talking about my water breaking and I felt another rush coming on. I was pushing so hard and my bag of water burst all over Julia. She said, “I got the birth bath!” There was light meconium in the birth fluid, but we weren’t worried. Before and after each rush, Kara checked the baby’s heartbeat, which stayed around 138 the whole time. Baby Olive, you were so strong and constant…a true picture of you now that we know you.
After my water broke, the rushes got WAY more intense. For the first time, I felt the undeniable urge to push and bear down. Julia, Kara, Sasha (my doula) and G would tell me, “That’s it! We see it! We see the dark hair!” I pushed and pushed and pushed. I wasn’t thinking about anything other than the rush comes, I push, then I get to meet my baby. I had no clue what time it was and I didn’t really care. Although I saw that it was bright outside at one point and thought, “wow, I must have been in this room for a long time.” I never got exhausted and I never thought “I can’t do this.”
I kept pushing for the next hour, I ate a banana and some of the peppermint ice cream from the day before. Kara kept giving me herbs and documenting while Julia coached me through each rush. They used a mirror to show me that the head was moving. I remember thinking, “that is not the head. That is the tip of the iceberg,” because I have seen plenty of births to know what caput looks like. But I was okay with that. I wasn’t discouraged.
They kept saying I would meet my baby soon, but I knew it would still be a while. The baby’s head would come out a little bit, then sink back in. This helped to stretch my tissues. Once the head started to come out further, Julia would drizzle a hefty amount of olive oil on the baby’s head and rubbed it on my perineum. I kept pushing until finally, the baby’s head stayed out. Julia said, “On the next push, you’ll meet your baby!” I pushed like hell until I had nothing left to push, but the baby didn’t come out yet. This happened a few times, but I was okay with that. I knew the baby was coming, and since her heat rate was fine, I wasn’t worried at all. In between pushes G and Kara were still doing nipple stimulation and I was still taking shots of herbs. When a rush would come, I would basically hit their hands off of me and say “it’s time it’s time”. Then push. Then say “it’s done”.
On my 2nd to last rush, Julia said to back off a little. I stopped pushing altogether and turns out I backed off too much. Julia said, “Next time, instead of backing off, keep the pressure down there but don’t actively push.” On my final rush, she said, “Okay, ease up. Now grunt your baby out!” When the baby crowned, I felt like all of my skin down there was burning. That, ladies and gentlemen, is what we call “The Ring of Fire.”
The baby’s head came out and she tried to cry a little. Then I had to keep pushing and keep pushing a keep pushing. This was one big ole baby. Julia got the shoulders out and then Kara reached down to help Julia guide the rest of the baby’s body out. She came out anterior (the right way) but then she didn’t turn to fit her shoulders through. She came straight through my pelvis, but it worked for us. Her hands were down by her side so that’s why I had to keep actively pushing her out. Usually the hands are up by the chest. The baby’s face was bluish-gray and we heard a squawking noise. They said, “Reach down and grab your baby.” So I reached down and grabbed the baby. I was so surprised! I put my hand over my eyes and cried. I couldn’t believe how big and purple the baby was. After about 30 seconds, Kara reached under the baby blanket to see the baby’s sex but she didn’t say anything. Finally, I reached under the blanket to peek and said, “It’s a girl!” I reached up and kissed G, and we just looked at her for a while. We did it. I felt an overwhelming sense of accomplishment and awe for the whole process.
Then, I ate my placenta. She was 21.5 inches long and weighed 9lbs. 7oz. She latched right away. Our lives are changed for the better.
Check out my reviews on Yelp!
“We so appreciate the freshness and excitement you brought to O’s birth. I smile remembering your skillful hands drying her off and your smile as you listened to her small heart with your pink stethoscope.” J&S in Berkeley
“We want to sincerely thank you for the most amazing birth experience. We didn’t anticipate exactly how much support and care you would provide – it was phenomenal. From all the prenatal support and advice to the birth itself to the postpartum care. Thank you for the extra visit to check on his jaundice and for the incredible pictures you took after the birth. Thank you for guiding us through this most special journey and helping us to birth our precious little one.” L & A with baby S in Berkeley
“Julia, thank you for your sweet calm wisdom. You are a gifted midwife! Thank you for helping us experience a perfect birth” Audrey in Oakland
“Thank you so much for your excellent care during the pregnancy and birth. Your counsel was always even-keeled and wise. We especially appreciated all the extra attention and care you gave L postpartum – having the frequent visits really put our minds at ease.” Rebecca in Oakland
“After meeting with several midwives, my husband and I chose to hire Julia for a planned(and successful) home birth for our first baby. We found Julia very early in my pregnancy, and had the privilege of working with her for about 10 full months. She was extremely confident, qualified, helpful, knowledgeable, friendly, reliable, and organized. I could not have been happier with our decision to have her play such an important roll throughout this crazy experience.
At our many prenatal appointments, Julia was always very caring and a great listener to all of my concerns and generic pregnancy observations/complaints. I never felt rushed at an appointment. She was always great about reminding me to stay on top of the sometimes daunting pregnancy and labor “to-do” list.
For the labor and birth, Julia and her fantastic assistant (we had Kirstin) were absolutely perfect. Julia arrived promptly and (of course) very prepared. For my 10 or so hour labor, she stayed by my side, taking diligent notes and monitoring both me and the baby closely. Even though I didn’t always listen immediately, Julia and Kirstin always had great suggestions for how to keep up the progress when one place or position started to get stale, or when I started to loose energy. I was so thankful to have them there to help me (and my husband and mother) get safely through the process without ending up in a hospital.
After the birth, Julia came over many extra times to monitor both me and our baby’, since his weight gain was a concern. It was obvious that she really cared about our well-being and was willing to put in extra time and energy to make sure everything was OK. After seeing her nearly a dozen times postpartum, I got a little sad at our final 6 week appointment, although I know we’ll be seeing her again since she is great about keeping in touch through her newsletter, as well as hosting all sorts of family events (walks, potlucks, gatherings, etc.) alongside the home birth collective.
To sum it up, I would highly recommend Julia to anybody planning a home birth in the Bay Area. If we ever have another baby, I’d hire her again in a heartbeat!” Anna in Oakland
“Julia has a deep understanding of the art of being a midwife. When we first met her, we knew she was the right one for us. When she walked through the door at 8am on a Thursday morning, we immediately felt safe and heard. She exhibits no ego and thus provides an incredible support to our needs and intentions. She is very knowledgeable, approachable and easy to reach at all hours via phone or email (though we tried to let her sleep as often as possible). Her compassion combined with the utmost professionalism made our prenatal meetings the highlight of our weeks heading into full term. Once we went into labor, she was calm and warm. Her presence was steady but did not affect my own laboring. I had a swollen cervix during labor that made labor complicated and unprogressive so Julia used her whole bag of tricks to help. When those options were exhausted and we went with the option to transfer to the hospital, Julia held the space for us. She decorated our labor room with items we had brought from home. She brought dinner for my fatigued partner and cheered him up in our dark hours. She was an incredible advocate and go-between with the Kaiser Oakland staff. Whenever we were asked questions, I would immediately refer to Julia to gather all the information needed before consenting to anything. After our son was born, she stayed with us until we were stable and set to be moved up to the recovery floor. She was an essential part of our birth team. The postpartum care was incredible at helping us through the first 6 weeks. This is the part that I would say was much more important than anticipated. She doted on my son, was extremely gentle with me during Baby Blues and very supportive of our first decisions as parents. If you are seeking a midwife or doula, Julia comes with our highest recommendation. The Bay Area is fortunate to have this gem.”
Megan in Oakland
“Julia attended both our births when she was a part of Tres Lunas Midwifery. We hired her as part of a team for home births, but had to transfer to the hospital both times due to complications. Julia was unflappable and reassuring during the transport. She is attentive, focused, and pleasant. Her gentleness really stood out.
When I had some troubles with post-partum healing, Julia was available by phone, able to come for extra in-home visits to check on me, and a wonderful steady head and compassionate heart during a tough time. The level of care I received from her was superior.” Sarah in Berkeley
“My wife and I have had the great pleasure of Julia’s assistance at two successful homebirths. For the first birth she was an apprentice to Cindy Haag and for the second she was our primary midwife now being assisted by Cindy. Julia is a calm, strong, and reassuring voice throughout the birth process. She has wonderful listening skills and is ready to listen to a mother’s concerns and assist the mother in making her own, well-supported decision. If she doesn’t have an answer, she will find it quickly. It is clear that the birth is never about Julia, but is rightly focused on the parents and the child to be. We recommend her without reservation! I have been particularly grateful for Julia’s easy access throughout, but especially well after the birth when lingering questions arose. Despite our ‘contract’ having run its course, Julia will always be a member of our extended family.” Paul in Oakland
“After interviewing several homebirth midwives, we chose Julia because she had the right mix (for us) of clinical knowledge, confidence, and warmth that we were looking for. In the months that followed, we always looked forward to Julia’s visit. She not only gave us extraordinary care, but she also encouraged us to educate ourselves with her wealth of resources/books/videos. She allowed us to feel as though we were all a team working towards a happy, healthy birth. During the birth itself, Julia came through for us exactly as we knew she would. She calmly held the space for my partner and I to have the home birth that we had hoped for. When times got tough, and the labor extended into its third day, Julia stayed with us when I believe most midwives might have left to rest. This gesture gave us the confidence and security that we needed to see our birth through to the end, at home. Throughout our pregnancy and post-partum period, we always felt actively listened to, well supported and confident in our choice to have Julia help us bring our daughter into the world. To this day, we remain in touch with Julia and feel that special bond that comes with time, trust, and love.” Kelly in Berkeley
“Our baby was born at Sage Femme Birth Center. We love and appreciated the time, effort and dedication given to us during our entire pre-natal period. Our appointments were very personal and focused. We really had time to get to know and bond with Judi and Julia. This is very important to us. Our daughter’s birth was an amazing experience, we were very happy and felt safe that our Sage Femme team was there with us at that time.” Gizelle in San Francisco
As a doula “I recommend Julia MacMillan without reservation. She was an amazing support to my whole family and I couldn’t imagine my birth without her. She was not inexpensive but her services were worth every penny.” Rachel in Oakland
As a doula “You helped us to make the birthing experience everything we hoped it would be! From the moment you arrived at the hospital you became a natural part of our birthing team. Your knowledge and experience helped us to make informed decisions and we appreciated your encouragement in our choices. You were also a big help in making me feel more physically comfortable and your excellent photographs of the birth were an exciting bonus!” Sarah in Oakland
As a doula “We would have been lost without your help and support!” Johanna in San Francisco
“Thank you so much for all your care, help and hard work before, during and after M’s birth. We really appreciate the privilege of having worked with you.” Kara in Albany
“I am filled with gratitude for the help, patience and confidence you gave me during K’s birth. During the hardest parts you were there guiding me through it tirelessly. I’ll remember those moments forever and every time I think of them I want to hug and thank you.” R in Oakland