Noah was born on February 25, 2012
My husband and I started trying to conceive shortly after getting married. We tried for several years, to no avail. Being very health conscious and into natural healing modalities, we decided to address this challenge by improving our diets and lifestyles, and I started doing regular acupuncture and taking herbs. Slowly but surely I started seeing changes in my cycles, and I felt like I was headed in the right direction. In 2010, we got pregnant twice but both pregnancies ended in miscarriages. It was very difficult emotionally, but deep down I knew that I was getting closer to our goal, my body was almost ready.
The second miscarriage in November 2010 was especially difficult, as I went all the way to 13weeks before finding out it was a blighted ovum; there was no baby, just a big empty sac and a placenta. Thankfully I miscarried on my own without needing any kind of intervention. I was rocked to my core afterwards.
For the first time, we decided to avoid conceiving for several months afterwards; I didn’t feel that I could deal with anything pregnancy related. In the spring of 2011, we bought 30 acres of land and started on the path of building our dream in the countryside. In May, as we were beginning to move to our new home, we decided to start trying again. That month, Noah was conceived, and my “due date” turned out to be my birthday, February 19th. What a blessing!
Before this baby was ever conceived we knew that we would want to have our baby at home, in the most simple and natural setting possible. I also felt that I would like to have a water birth, as I love swimming and being in water; a water birth just seemed like a no brainer to me.
I already knew many of the local midwives, and decided to work with a wonderful CNM named Jen. She was the midwife for one of my good friend’s birth almost 3 years ago, and I had been lucky enough to be there to witness a wonderful home birth. So I already knew what Jen was like and knew I would trust her and feel comfortable with her. As an added bonus, one of my closest friends, Justine, had been apprenticing with Jen for a few months already, so I would be blessed to have them both there at the birth! From the start I felt very confident in my own abilities to give birth naturally and trusted my support team completely.
I had a fairly uneventful pregnancy, felt good the whole time, no major complaints. I spent a lot of time in the wilderness of our land, enjoyed the quiet peacefulness of the countryside and just felt as if everything was finally falling into place in our lives. Winter arrived and surprised us by being incredibly mild. I had been a little concerned about giving birth in a snowstorm, worried that the midwives might have a hard time making it in bad weather, as we live almost 1 hour outside of the city. But the weather remained warm, and snow rarely stayed on the ground for more than a day or two.
Around 37 weeks I started losing little pieces of mucus plug every day. Just after 38 weeks, I started experiencing daily prodromal labor. I would get 3-4 hours of Braxton-Hicks type contractions, mildly uncomfortable, but usually not enough to make me stop whatever I was doing. It would come and go, not regularly, and then slowly vanish. I didn’t mind too much, and Jen reminded me that everyone labored differently and that it sounded like my body was doing some of the work in advance. That sounded good to me! Almost every day I would get a few hours of these mild contractions, and around 40 weeks I started getting a little annoyed with them. Each day I would get hopeful that it would lead to something (especially on my birthday, I would have loved to share a birthday with my baby) but then it would fizzle out.
February 22nd, I woke up feeling “off”. I just didn’t feel like myself. My husband went to work, I was alone all day and felt so irritable for no reason! Everything annoyed me, I couldn’t stand the dog and cats, I felt grumpy and annoyed with the world. That night when my husband came home I had a meltdown, it felt like I had been holding so much in. I cried uncontrollably, feelings started flooding up from within and I realized I had never completely put my last miscarriage behind me. I cried for a while, I just let it all flow out, and talked to my husband about what I was feeling. I felt so much lighter afterward, like a huge weight had been lifted from my shoulders.
Later that evening, I suddenly felt as though baby had really shifted and had gotten lower. I noticed a big space at the top of my uterus, just below my ribs. Yes, baby had definitely dropped! I checked my cervix and could tell it was more effaced and dilated than the previous time I had checked. I was very excited, I knew real labor wouldn’t be very far off.
On the morning of February 24th, I called my mom in Canada to give her an update and let her know I was still waiting to give birth. We had a great conversation and she told me she would send me some labor vibes. I was having more prodromal labor while we talked, but didn’t think much of it.
Around 1pm, I stood up from sitting on the couch and felt a gush in my underwear, so I ran to the bathroom. I thought it was just more mucus, but soon realized more and more kept coming out – my water had broken!! I was very excited and called out to my husband from across the house; he was very excited too! I tried getting back up from the toilet to go about my day but more kept coming out. So I sat on the toilet for what seemed like forever, while fluid dripped out slowly. When I finally got up, I went into the living room and sat on the birthing ball, relaxing with some mild contractions.
Suddenly the wind picked up outside and a hail storm came down out of nowhere! It really surprised me! I sat on my birthing ball, watching the hail come down on the land. It was beautiful, the wind was very strong. This sudden change in weather prompted me to look at the weather forecast because as of the day before, the predictions were of mild weather all weekend. But apparently, something had changed because now the weather forecast called for a snowstorm overnight!! Where did that come from? Somehow, deep down, I wasn’t surprised.. this baby would be born in a snowstorm after all!
Around 4pm I started getting a little more uncomfortable as the contractions got more regular. I had my husband fill up the birthing pool that was already set up in the living room, and then he called the midwives to let them know I was officially in labor. I got in the pool at 5:30pm, and the midwives arrived just after 6pm.
I really enjoyed laboring in the pool, it was very relaxing, and most of my labor was totally bearable, mildly uncomfortable, that’s all. I have always had very painful menstrual cramps and comparatively labor didn’t feel so bad, especially since I got a break every 2 or 3 minutes. I had expected to want to be left alone and to feel somewhat self-conscious during labor, but it turned out I really enjoyed having the midwives there, chatting between contractions. My husband and them took such good care of me, and they made sure the pool was nice and warm for me the whole time. I even told them at one point that I should give birth more often because I was really enjoying having 3 people taking care of me and just being 100% present for me.
I spent most of my time in the pool either laying back, or laying on my side. I could tell baby was still right anterior occiput, as he had been for the last several months, and even though I knew that was fine, I also knew that left anterior was a more ideal position for the baby to come down into the birth canal. So with that in mind I laid on my left side and asked the baby to please flip to the other side. A few contractions later, one of the midwives checked the heartbeat and we had to look all the way on the left side of the belly to find it; I felt my belly with both hands and realized the baby had indeed shifted! I was very excited about that.
Around 10pm, shortly after baby shifted to the left, contractions changed a little bit, and got stronger, in what I assume was me hitting transition. I could tell the baby had dropped a bit lower too and that I would be feeling pushy soon and I said so out loud. I was still relaxing and breathing deeply with each contraction when I suddenly felt an incredible wave of pleasure spread throughout my entire body; it very distinctly came up my spine and into my head. It felt so good, what was going on… wait a minute, I was having a powerful full body orgasm! It was such a profound feeling that I started quietly crying. I relaxed through the orgasm, partially in disbelief that it was happening, and as it spread to my extremities I started getting a tingly feeling, especially in my hands, and they started going numb. It was a very odd feeling, like powerful natural anesthesia flooding me. I told my husband and midwives that I was having the most amazing orgasm (I surprised myself in that moment even being comfortable sharing that) and I asked them to please massage my hands; the numbness kept getting stronger and my fingers were starting to curl into my hands and I couldn’t move them anymore, I had no control over it. Getting my hands massaged felt really good though and eventually helped the numbness disappear as the waves of the orgasm also faded away.
I continued to breathe and relax through each contraction and soon realized I was starting to bear down and be more vocal with each wave. I thought, awesome this baby will be out in no time now! But as the contractions came and went, I tried different positions and I started encouraging the pushing feeling. But I could tell it wasn’t working. I would feel down with each wave and could just tell that the baby’s head was not moving. I kept trying and trying for what seemed like an eternity. I was getting frustrated, and was starting to get really tired, I was falling asleep between contractions for a while.
In our birth plan, I had asked that the midwifes not do internal exams unless it was necessary. At this point, I had been involuntarily pushing for several hours, so Jen offered to check me to see if baby was indeed ready to join us. I agreed, as I really wanted to know what was going on down there. Jen announced that I was fully dilated and completely effaced. But she commented that she noticed my pubic bone was quite prominent and that it might be more effective for me to try pushing upright/squatting. I could not imagine standing up at that point, I felt like I had little to no energy left, I just wanted to lay in the pool and push the baby out that way. I tried sitting and getting on my knees in the pool but that felt no different.
A relaxed in the pool for a few more contractions, as I prepared myself mentally for the hard work ahead, and I eventually got out of the pool, and went to the bathroom. I felt like I needed to have a bowel movement and that if I did I would be able to push more effectively. But sitting on the toilet was extremely uncomfortable and I soon gave up on that. I came back into the living room and the midwives suggested I try pushing laying on my side. So I laid down on the couch, and Jen held up my right leg to help open up my pelvis. That was unbearably painful and as soon as that first contraction was over I told her, “No way”. She reminded me again that squatting would probably work, that I could stand up and then squat down when the wave started.
I gathered all my strength and I eventually stood up. My husband sat down on a chair facing me and as soon as that contraction started rolling in, I squatted down in front of him, leaning into him as he held me. I started to roar like a lioness, I couldn’t help it and it felt so good to just be as loud as I needed to be! And with that first contraction I decided baby was coming out no matter what. I pushed very hard, with every once of strength I had left. The contraction was very intense, and I felt a strong burning sensation; I thought, “Ah this must be the ‘ring of fire’ I had heard about”. Suddenly Justine said, “Kathryn the head is out!” I couldn’t believe it, I reached down and there was a baby head! When I felt his little head, I just couldn’t wait for the next contraction, I kept pushing with all my might, screaming at the top of my lungs, and the rest of his body came out a few seconds later. It was 3:22am.
Justine gently guided him the few inches to the floor with the bare minimum of touching. I was still squatting and couldn’t see him, so I asked if everything was okay, and Justine said, “Take your time, everything is fine, he or she is breathing and is doing just fine”. I was very touched that she did not announce the sex of the baby, as we had asked that either my husband or myself be the ones to announce the sex. I took a few deep breaths, and with some assistance I leaned back and sat down, on the floor with the baby between my legs. There was blood everywhere and the baby was covered in blood, yet he was laying there calmly, silently. I looked at my beautiful baby and saw a penis; “you’re a boy!”, I exclaimed! I couldn’t believe it was a little boy! I had really become convinced that I was carrying a girl, even though my husband had been telling me for weeks that it was a boy. I picked him up onto my chest in complete awe…I was the first person to hold him… and my husband came and sat next to me, crying his eyes out. Our little boy was absolutely perfect.
I went back into the pool with Noah and gently washed off the blood from both of us. He stayed calm the whole time, I think he enjoyed being in the water, as did I. It was calming and I was in a bubble of bliss. His cord remained attached the whole time we were in the pool together. But after about 45 minutes, the placenta had not come out on its own. By that point the cord had stopped pulsing, and my attempts at pushing out the placenta, even while providing some guidance for the cord were unsuccessful. So Ian cut the cord and took Noah for some skin-to-skin daddy time.
I tried pushing and pushing, and nothing was budging. Jen suggested that I come out of the pool and squat to push it out. Not again!! Really? I had to go through that again? I reluctantly got out of the pool and Justine felt my abdomen to make sure the placenta was detached and ready to come out. Justine could feel the placenta was waiting right inside; I just had to push it out. I squatted and she guided the cord toward my back to help me feel the right place to push. Ouch! That was more uncomfortable than I would have imagined! Out came the placenta, and it was huge! No wonder it wasn’t easy to push out. Justine examined it and placed it in the fridge, as I had planned to dehydrate it and encapsulate it.
I did end up tearing from the birth and it was bad enough that I needed a few stitches. I was very frustrated about that and I couldn’t help but wonder if I could have breathed the baby down more gently, gone slower and avoided tearing.. but I will never know. Pushing him out in one powerful push was what felt right at the time, and I can’t turn back time.
After getting stitched up in the bedroom, Ian Noah and I snuggled into the bed and I nursed Noah for the first time. He latched on right away like a champ, what an incredible feeling! It felt so right, so natural, having him snuggled against my chest. I was over the moon with love and happiness, and already, the last 12h of laboring and my exhaustion seemed to melt away and none of it mattered anymore; my baby was finally in my arms. We eventually weighed and measured Noah and found out he was a healthy 8lbs 9oz and 21inches! Wow, what a healthy baby boy! I was one proud mama; proud of myself for having just gone through such a powerful and intense experience, and so proud of my beautiful son.
I didn’t sleep that night, I just held Noah next to me in bed, nursed him and looked at him. I was speechless. I was finally a mother.