“My hope is that in sharing Jeremiah’s story, it will give someone hope or possibly inspire them to try whatever it is they want again. I hope that by sharing our struggle and joy, someone is inspired or given a little strength to try again.” – Ashley (previous Rainbow Baby story here: Letting Go of the Fear: A Natural Birth After 4 Losses)
Jeremiah’s story began with loss. Five babies lost to miscarriages, some in the early days, two boys lost in the second trimester. For me, the love for my children begins the moment I learn I’m carrying them. I dream of them. I dream for them. I dream of their tiny hands, the chubby cheeks I will someday kiss. I dream of who they’ll be, their futures, watching them grow. My husband and I had two children, they are the light of our life. Our children are our world, our everything, our reason for being. Our miscarriages ripped a gaping hole in our life that felt like it would never heal. In 2008 we lost a son unexpectedly. His traumatic death/birth left a hole in me that is so deep I don’t think anything will ever fill it. It is a deep, dark chasm. It left me angry, bitter, with PTSD, unable to function for months. Looking at our children was a constant reminder of what we’d lost. Their matching dimples, their monkey toes and the faces I kissed so often. Would they have had the same features? What would they be like? There were many days where the pain of loss felt overwhelming, days where I wanted to curl up and die just to make the pain stop. I just wanted to stop seeing my baby’s face in my mind and wishing for him. It’s an odd thing, missing someone you never really had the chance to know. It feels so unfair, how could I miss a child I didn’t know? Especially when I had two children already? Losing a baby leaves you with an indescribable pain, a fury over the life that was never lived, a wanting, but most of all just the constant ache of knowing what’s missing and feeling that you’d give your own life for the life of the missing child. You’d give anything for a year, a week, even a day with the child that should have been. It is hell.
We spent 2 years in that place, trying for the baby that we felt was missing in our family. Every time our older children asked for another sibling, every time we passed a baby, every month we were let down, the pain felt new. Every month I wanted to give up, I felt broken and defeated. I felt like my body was broken, I hated that it seemed like it couldn’t do what it was supposed to. Every month my husband would hold me, wipe away the tears and gently tell me it would work out, we’d be okay, we could try again.
Finally, we got pregnant with our first Rainbow Baby, Jacob. He was worth every tear, he healed my broken heart, he brought so much joy into our lives. I finally stopped mourning and started living again. He improved life for us all, especially his older two siblings. His birth was beautiful, healing, amazing. Our family felt perfect. Then, 7 months after Jacob’s birth we found out we were expecting again!
After Jacob’s birth I felt so empowered, I knew exactly what I wanted from his birth. I wanted a “life guard”, a good midwife to help if i needed it, but that would otherwise let me do my thing. I met with some midwives (I live in an area where we are blessed to have many amazing midwives), and I chose a midwife that I felt good with. She respected my plans & feelings, she was encouraging, she was perfect for us for this birth.
I expected to go past my due date as I had before, but around 37 weeks I knew I was in early labor. Early labor for me takes weeks, so it wasn’t anything to get too excited about. My body seems to prepare beforehand, I sit at 4+ cm & contract for weeks, then just randomly go into labor. Because my midwife thought I would have a quick labor and because of the almost constant contractions, I began checking my own cervix. I watched for significant change so I would know to call my midwife. I was planning a home birth, but I didn’t feel comfortable with an unassisted birth. In my 38th week, September 8th, I knew I was close. I felt like I was so close but I couldn’t focus enough to maintain my labor pattern and have my baby. The night of September 8 I put my kids to bed early, took a hot bath, relaxed and tried to be as present with my baby as possible. I knew it was so close and I wanted to soak up as much time being pregnant as possible while I could. I went to bed ready.
That night was a blur. I remember waking up a few times with my concerned dog’s wet nose pressed against me. Annoying me. I would wake to his wet nose and hear the sound of my moans and crying, but I kept trying to sleep. I knew I had a big job ahead and I wanted to do it well rested! In my sleep I wasn’t able to focus and handle it, but finally after he jumped on top of me and refused to leave, I figured I would get up. I used the bathroom, had more bloody show followed by a hellacious contraction on the toilet and figured I should check my cervix. I’m glad I did! I was ready to have my baby soon!
I hadn’t timed my contractions so I felt kind of silly calling my midwife but I KNEW it was time. She asked what I was up to, I told her I was going to have a baby, and she said I sounded early on but that she’d be over to check things out. We said goodbye, I hung up and panicked. My house wasn’t company ready! I had laundry to do, my birthing pool wasn’t set up, I had nothing to feed everyone. This was about a month before I anticipated! I ran up the stairs, woke my husband up and hurried to prepare my house. Then I figured if my midwife was coming maybe I should call the photographer and my friend/doula too, just in case.
Around 7:30 people started showing up. I was embarrassed, like maybe I had overreacted and it wasn’t really time.. until after my midwife’s cervical check, when she told me I was definitely in labor. I started baking banana bread for everyone for breakfast, making phone calls, and getting my kids dressed as they woke up.
Its funny hearing people talk about my labor and birth because everyone said I was quiet, calm and collected. I don’t remember it like that at all. I felt like I was losing it. I made my husband chase me all over the house to apply counter pressure to my back during contractions and tried to get things done in between.
I was starting to think I was crazy. I hid in my bathroom holding my husband hostage, getting so mad at him because I wanted him to press harder on my back and he kept telling me if he pressed harder he’d press right through my back. I contemplated how much effort it would take to punch him. For the record, he was pressing hard, hard enough to leave my back bruised! I wondered what the heck I was thinking planning a home birth. I was an hour in, I thought I had at least a few hours left and if it was this intense in the early part of active labor, it was going to be awful. I wanted to tell my husband to take me to the hospital because I wanted every single drug they had. But I couldn’t get it out. I wondered if I could get there in time? This was easily most painful labor. More painful than both my 9lb & almost 10lb posterior baby labors.
My midwife knocked gently and whispered that I could get in the pool any time I wanted to, my contractions seemed closer and she thought it would be soon. This annoyed me immensely. I said “I don’t want to” before having to stop for another contraction. I was thinking, “I don’t want to get in now because I want to be done and I don’t want it to slow down my labor and take longer.” She smiled kindly, said “whenever you’re ready” and turned to walk out. What felt like immediately after the previous contraction, I had another. Accompanied with a pressure feeling in my lower back, and I feel like I roared, “I want in the pool now!” And walked past her as fast as I could to the pool set up in my dining room.
I got in, sat up on my knees in the warm water and it felt like Heaven. The name of the birth pool was “Oasis” and I remember thinking it was aptly named and thanking God for birth pools. My midwife looked hurried to set things up for the birth, which annoyed me again. I had hours to go, why were they hurrying? She suggested gently that maybe I should take off my bathing suit bottoms, which just made me mad. Ha! I was thinking I didn’t want to be sitting there for hours with my bottom hanging out laboring and letting everyone see my junk. I took them off and planted myself back on my knees close to the edge of the pool where no one could see anything in front, with my husband standing behind me pressing on my back.
I had another contraction, first one in the pool, accompanied by more pressure that was even lower. It no longer hurt, it was just so much pressure. I had another contraction and reached down. I felt the rest of my already leaking amniotic sac bulging, pressed gently on it and it popped under my fingers. I felt my baby’s head start to slide out and said, “okay, baby is coming”. Someone laughed because I hadn’t been pushing or making much noise, and I was close to the edge of the pool so no one could see. Someone laughed and said, “yeah right! She thinks she’s having the baby already?”.
At that moment I felt his body slide out of me, into my waiting hands.
I lifted him from the water onto my chest, someone said “Holy s***! What just happened?!”, ad we all laughed. I said, “Hi Beautiful! Happy birthday! We did it!” I was amazed by him, by me, by his birth. I really did it, I caught my own baby! I looked at his beautiful little face, my midwife unwrapped his cord from his neck. I kissed his hands, his face, we are all completely head over heels in love with him.
Photos by Muir Photography