New Years Eve 2012, we found out we were expecting our third child. I kicked myself for not drinking my pink champagne before we took the test, but we were pretty excited nonetheless. We had planned to try for another baby the following Spring, but this one had other plans.
I knew before we were pregnant that I didn’t want to have another baby in the hospital. With my first boy (Asher), I was induced on my “due date” for no real reason – I was just naive and trusted anything my OB offered to me. They started the Pitocin drip at 7am and he was born four excruciating hours later, after an unnecessary episiotomy and being pumped full of Nubain. Everything was a little fuzzy, but things turned out mostly fine. Little one was 6lbs 14oz but had inhaled some fluid, didn’t keep his temperature well, was a bit jaundiced.
With our second boy (Ira), my waters had a small leak around 9pm at 37 weeks (so small we had to go in to the hospital and have them test if it was really amniotic fluid). After confirming that it was the real deal, they admitted us and encouraged me to walk for a bit if I wanted but mostly I should sleep. Around 1am my contractions started, and Ira was born 3 hours later without any medical interventions. I was astounded at the difference between my labors – something didn’t seem right that this labor was so “breezy”, felt so much more bearable. I didn’t feel like I was out of control from this wall of pain; I just felt the waves peak and descend and let me rest, and back again. Baby was 7lbs 10oz and a bit jaundiced, but healthy otherwise. I watched The Business of Being Born about a year later and learned what Pitocin does to the body in labor, and my brain was on fire. It made so much sense, how did I not see it?? I was angry with my doctor for just throwing that induction at me, a first time (19-year-old) mother, without the slightest hesitation.
I knew my body was capable of birthing this baby on its own, that we were capable. I’d been in contact with Shell at Midwives Rising! in Phoenix beforehand as well, wanting to meet their group and look into learning Midwifery myself. I asked if they knew any other midwives that may be closer to Mesa, but I knew in my heart we would choose them. She had me book my interview with Jamie, and we just fell in love with her as soon as we met. She was perfect for our family, and we both knew right away she was the one we would choose.
The pregnancy was fairly normal and healthy, apart from my food aversions, migraines and nausea (which I had very little of with our first two boys, so I was certain this baby was a girl). An ultrasound in April revealed that this was actually our third little boy, and he had simply decided to distinguish himself from his brothers early on. I gained altogether 21 lbs (the least of my three pregnancies), and apart from stress in our daily life, I felt good the last few months.
Toward the end of the pregnancy, we made sure to take a home birth class with the midwives, keeping in mind that I am prone to quick labors and that since we were about 30-40 minutes from Phoenix, anything could happen. The plan was already established that Trevor wanted to catch this baby under the supervision of our midwives and everyone was pretty excited about that. They were wonderful with us, making sure we knew how to take care of ourselves. We love that their focus was on helping us to gain independence with the process while also being there to recognize any warning signs as they might occur, to offer advice, to just be there with positive energy for our family. We got everything together at the apartment and finally felt ready to do this.
August 21, our little man fooled me into thinking he might be born that night. I had some strong contractions about 10 minutes apart for several hours, but they died off after I went to bed for the night and I spent each night after that hoping he would wake me with the real thing. This night is very crucial to the birth story because if my mind hadn’t already been in “practice labor” mode, things would have gone a little differently from there.
My best friend Angie flew into town on August 25, and we were hoping he would be born while she was here that week so that she could photograph the birth and meet the baby. She stayed with us for two nights, and then on Friday went to Phoenix to do some other awesome stuff with some friends. Not a problem, I thought, since our midwives were also in Phoenix. I would contact them to come over at the same time and everyone would be there for the shindig.
I had a few contractions at work that day (Friday the 30th), nothing extreme but enough to make me irritable (it may have also been the broken A/C and terrible place I was working at?) and I went home and tried to relax, saw my husband Trevor off to work at 3:00pm, made cookies with Angie and our friend Torii, and they left around 5ish for Phoenix. I started timing contractions around the time they left, not thinking this was the real thing, but knowing it was a real possibility. They did feel strong, but my brain wasn’t in labor mode. Nothing had changed. No click. And they stayed 10 minutes apart the entire night, sometimes even taking a 20-60 minute break in between. I even slept from 8:30-10pm without waking for any contractions. Really, I feel as if I didn’t have labor at all, if that makes any sense.
10pm and I got hungry, but we didn’t have anything I deemed to be worth eating. I called Trev on his way home from work and asked him to pick me up some chicken soup. We hung out and ate, watched a little bit of TV, and I had a few contractions I couldn’t talk through, still 10 minutes apart. 11:32, I called Jamie and told her about that, we decided she should come out and I remember saying “I’m not sure how fast things are gonna progress, so may as well come out now.” This was the first point throughout the night that I thought he would really be coming. We turned off the show, turned on our birth playlist on Spotify, and Trev got the birth kit set up while I decided to get in the bathtub to relax through a few contractions. I also texted Angie at this point, and when she didn’t respond I decided I would call her once I got in the tub. I remember asking Trev to give me a towel so I could dry my hands and call her – and then a contraction hit.
It HURT. A lot. I felt a pop and I thought my waters had opened. I felt him immediately move down the birth canal, he was in my pelvis, ‘HOLY $%* I’m pushing’ went through my brain. Vocally I was whining aloud, “owwowwwowwwowww” and I think I scared Trev a little bit. He asked if this was normal and all I could say was “Call Jamie back, my body is pushing”. I heard him asking her what to do if the baby was born in the water and I knew I didn’t want a water birth – too slippery, too much work going into keeping them above water after they take their first breath. I told myself to get out of the tub as soon as this excruciating contraction was over – ‘Pull the drain and GET OUT’ I said to myself. I asked Trev to put towels down on the tarps he laid out and moved to our bedside. I rested over the side of the bed with my knees on the floor and Trev kept Jamie on speakerphone. I could tell he was nervous but he kept his cool and did everything right. He watched me, rubbed my back, asked Jamie the right questions to prepare himself. She was 20 minutes, 15 minutes, 10 minutes away. With each contraction my body pushed; I knew I couldn’t stop it, so I began to push with them as well. It eased the pain to work with them – I knew what to do. At one point Jamie said, “tell her to breathe like a horse, it will help bring him lower” and Trev told us later he though she said “whore” and got confused for a second – he always knows how to lighten the situation. I think she could hear me moaning while I was pushing and I was a little high-pitched because I was caught off guard and not in that “birth zone” I was expecting, like with my other labors.
Up to this point one of my hands was down there feeling what was happening and I felt his head all of a sudden. I told Trev he was crowning and I knew he would be there to catch the baby so I used both hands to brace myself on the bed. He reminded me to get up on my knees since I was pushing with my butt on the floor up to this point- and then Felix was born. His head came out, and with the same contraction, so did his body. Trevor says he turned his way out just how they told us he would – he was a little pro. He cried soon after and Jamie checked her phone as soon as she heard it – born at 12:07 am. I was hoping he would be here before midnight, since the other two boys’ birthdays are July and May 30. Not so with Felix – he likes to distinguish himself from his brothers.
This experience was incredible, and has only strengthened my belief in the birth process and the beautiful thing it can be when it is guided in the right direction when needed and left to be what nature intended otherwise. I feel now, more than ever, that this is what I will do with my life eventually. I couldn’t ask for a better partner in life and the process of creating it (I love you, Trev) and I couldn’t ask for a better group of women to help guide me through my own natural birth experience. Thank you Jamie, Danielle, and Shell, and thank you to all the other wonderful women who work with Midwives Rising! to create such a special team. We are blessed. Life is beautiful.
Felix Arlo, born at 12:07 am 8/31/13, 8lbs 12oz, at 38 wks 6 days