To see this family’s homecoming story, visit here.
Let’s see. How do I possibly explain the details of this experience and the feeling of creating a life in a way that isn’t cheesy and antiquated? I’m not sure that it’s possible but I’ll try. First off let me just say that a natural birth, preferably a water birth, has always been a desire of mine. It’s literally on my bucket list. With Lily I researched and studied natural births and prepared myself mentally and physically. Unfortunately I was unable to achieve a natural birth with Lily, and so I was even more motivated to deliver my son without intervention. When people ask me, “Why in the world would you want to deliver without medication?” I struggle for an answer that is concise, appropriate, and meaningful. Here is my best answer in all its complexity.
I was reading the Bible one day, focusing on starting in the beginning and understanding every detail of God’s creation. As I read about each new creation I noticed a pattern; they kept getting better and better. Then God makes Adam, literally breathing life into his soul, molding him from the dirt, and intricately and delicately designing every part of his anatomy to work in perfect unison. Could anything be better? As I read, I discovered, YES. After God made Adam he still wasn’t satisfied. So then he made Eve, woman.
When I read this and really thought about it, it dawned on me. Eve was the crown of creation. After making woman God was finally satisfied. This says something, doesn’t it? This means woman is the crowning jewel of God’s work, and thus we should hold ourselves to standards indicative of a level of admiration, and respect for Gods work. I then read more about women in the Bible, specifically the proverbial woman. This woman is a hard worker, she is faithful, and she is persistent, among many others. I decided to dissect this even further and really become the “proverbial woman” through this pregnancy, labor, and delivery.
When I read about Eve deceiving Adam in the Garden of Eden and studied their punishments for disobeying God I found one thing to be quite interesting. The punishment for Eve is translated into saying that for women, they will have pain in childbearing. For men, they will toil the Earth with hard work all of their days. Interestingly, the Hebrew word for Eve’s punishment has been incorrectly translated to “pain” when actually, it’s the same word as Adam’s punishment- hard work. When I learned this I was encouraged. God didn’t command that our births would be painful, but he DID say they would be hard work. And this, I felt, was exactly in line with me molding myself after the proverbial woman- a woman of hard work. While I knew it would be hard work, I also wanted to be aware of what my body was designed to do, and know that I was capable of growing and delivering this life exactly as nature had intended. I knew that the pain could not be stronger than me, because it was from me.
Additionally, I reflected on my personality. I tend to dream big and conquer little, often changing my plans mid way, or giving up when I am simply tired of putting in the effort. I knew that If I ever wanted to achieve my goals in life, I would have to put an end to this. So I forced myself to be reliant on God and 100% faithful to his will. I knew that this would be a test of both my physical strength and my spiritual strength. Again, I was becoming the proverbial woman- being faithful.
So, with my intentions in place, my heart in the right direction, and my mind focused on the goals at hand I began this amazing journey. My pregnancy was fast and easy, and I honestly can’t complain about much. Then my last month came around…….
Michael had left on a training trip to Mississippi on the weekend, after I had had a week full of Braxton Hicks contractions. I was due in 2 weeks. I had not experienced Braxton Hicks with Lily and so I was sure that they were leading me to labor early. On the following weekend, I started a slow leak of amniotic fluid. This, coupled with the contractions, made me believe my labor was imminent. Michael flew home from Mississippi that night, as well as my mother in law, Tracy from Utah.
I was slightly nervous, and feeling under pressure for labor to begin, as I felt that I had inconvenienced them by making them fly out last second. That night, nothing happened. The next day went by with few contractions, and then at night things picked up. We went to the Birth Center at about 4 in the morning thinking it was time. We came home a few hours later as contractions had fizzled out. But, I was a stretchy 3 cm!
For the next 3 weeks I continued to have contractions on a regular basis. Three minutes apart lasting for up to 5 hours. Nothing I could do would kick them into gear, though, and make them more intense. The clock kept ticking. At this point I was becoming very discouraged, and very anti social. I wanted to be left alone, and just prepare myself mentally. I knew I had to get focused. I felt that my attitude was hindering my body from letting go, and progressing. At 8 days past his due date I had another midwife appointment. The midwife said, I had gone back to 1 cm, but my cervix was very soft, and as soon as I had some strong enough contractions, it would melt away like butter. This was encouraging.
So a few days later I got the urge to get a pedicure. I needed to relax and my feet were so swollen. So, I went and got pampered and it seemed to do the trick. Within a few hours I was having rhythmic contractions with regularity, but without intensity. I was lying in bed focusing on the contractions, thinking I could somehow will them into becoming stronger when I felt a loud BANG. I was startled at first, and honestly thought the baby had kicked my rib so hard that it broke. Instead I realized my water bag had broken. FINALLY!!
I still had only slight contractions at this point so I took a shower, and Michael and Tracy cleaned up the house and got Lily ready. We arrived at the Birth Center at 11:45 as I had to receive IV antibiotics. When we got there Jana, my midwife, said I could go back home, and be back in 4 hours for the second midwife, because my labor wasn’t really hard yet, and laboring at home is always more comfortable. About 1 hour after getting home things started picking up. Michael was trying to get some sleep, so I tried to get in the bath tub to ease the intensity. Things were becoming painful and I finally had to really breathe thru contractions. I said a few times to Michael that I thought I was going to be sick. Another 20 minutes or so and I knew we needed to leave, even though we didn’t NEED to be back for 2 more hours. In the car I was extremely uncomfortable. I sat in the back seat on my knees leaning of the seat back. I was really working through contractions now.
When we arrived at the Center and I began to walk in contractions almost immediately intensified. Just walking a few steps was really bringing them on. Jana checked me and I was 5 cm, and was admitted. I received my second dose of antibiotics, and while I was getting them I was holding Lily, who was very cranky from being woken up at 3:00 in the morning. The entire time I held her my contractions stopped, almost like my body knew that I needed to give her attentions, so It gave me a break.
As soon as I got up to go upstairs to my room, however, contractions came back with a vengeance. I stopped for pressure waves 3 times on the way up to the room, and when I got up there, I collapsed onto the bed. At this point I could not get comfortable, and I began to be vocal with my contractions, groaning and breathing through them heavily. If I had been at the hospital, I would have asked for an epidural. I asked Jana immediately if I could get into the tub, but since she had seen my contractions fizzle earlier, she thought that I wasn’t far enough along, and I would stall my labor. She hadn’t realized that I had been having severe contractions all the way up the stairs. So, I lied on the bed. This is when I got sick.
After emptying my stomach contractions came on stronger than ever. I tried lying on my side and called to Mike to come and rub my back. My hips and stomach were being smashed with pressure at this point, and I need his strong hands for counter pressure. Up until this point, he had been dealing with Lily so I had really been laboring on my own. He lay down behind me and applied pressure. The room was dark and there was music on. I think that having him near me allowed me to really enter unto a vulnerable state and I finally really relaxed. I think I even stopped making noise at this point and totally spaced out, concentrating on the music and focusing on the contractions. Michael was talking me through each wave, making sure I was relaxed, and telling me what a great job I was doing. I realize now I was crazy to think I could have ever done it without him being there.
After about 15 minutes of this, contractions came like a thunderclap with an intensity that told me I needed to get in the tub now! I sent my mother in law to get Jana, who I think was still skeptical of me getting in the water. After 2 contractions in the water I knew I was getting close. At this point I couldn’t tell where one contraction ended and another began, although I’m told I was completely lucid in between contractions and carrying on conversation. My friend, and birth photographer, Tatum showed up at this time and turned the lights on, which I desperately loathed at the time, but knew they needed to be on or I couldn’t have pictures, which I wanted more…..
I asked Mike to have Jana check me again, as I was feeling totally overwhelmed with the intensity and the pain. When she checked me her words were, “Wow! you’re super dilator” and I think everyone was surprised to know I was 9 cm. It had been 1 hour 20 minutes since we arrived. Jana went back in her office to do something, and all of a sudden there was THE NOISE. Anyone who has had a natural birth or watched one probably knows what I am talking about. It’s that roar/groan/gag/squeal that your body just makes uncontrollably when you are about to push. Well, I made the noise and in came Jana and my mother in law- they both knew what that meant.
At this point I was on my hands and knees. I desperately wanted something to lean up against so I could get some better leverage, but the pushing contractions were so strong I couldn’t move. This is where things get pretty fuzzy. The burning and pain was so incredibly intense that I seriously questioned my sanity in deciding to deliver this way. I muttered the only sentence I had said in the last hour and a half, “my gosh this hurts.” When I felt myself losing control, I remembered my intentions to myself, and gave a few strong pushed. After about 8 minutes total I was holding my son in my arms.
*Maternity and Birth Photography by Tatum Kathleen Photography.