Amanda Rogowski shares the story of her second daughter’s birth – a beautiful and empowering unassisted birth at home.
I decided to have an unassisted birth before I even had children. I have always believed in women’s abilities and intuition. I remember trying to tell my husband, Krzys, with our first pregnancy, and he thought I was insane. I couldn’t even convince him to do a home birth at that time, but I did manage to get him on board with a birth center.
After a long and chaotic laboring experience I ended up at the hospital for an epidural after 18 hours of labor, and was blessed by my sweet baby girl Anzley after 25 hours. After having Anzley, I kept planting the seed of a free birth with Krzys. Then we got pregnant with our second child, and he was still not comfortable with it. I continued to explain that I didn’t need outsiders and showed Krzys all the research and information I could find while preparing myself as well. I got the absolute minimum care by my midwife; after two prenatal visits and my 20 week anatomy scan, Krzys and I finally agreed on the birth of our baby.
I felt so relieved to have my husband’s support and I was free to follow my intuition for the rest of my pregnancy. I made sure to take care of myself and baby very well; nutrition and exercise were top priorities. I had chiropractic care throughout my pregnancy. I spent all of my spare time researching birth; but not out of need. It started as preparation, but pregnancy and birth became more of a hobby. I loved learning more and more, right up until I went into labor.
I awoke around 2:30 am to a contraction and needing to go to the bathroom. I wasn’t able to get anything out, so I went back to bed. I couldn’t sleep. I was feeling contractions every 3 to 10 minutes, varying in times and strength. I decided to get up, get some water, and decided to sit on my birth ball. Lying in bed only made the surges more painful.
I knew at this point that labor had started and I needed to stay hydrated and relaxed. It was different this time around. With Anzley the emotions took over when I started labor; just being so excited and then so scared of what was to come. With this baby I was in bliss; I knew that I had some work to do before it would truly be time and I wanted to let my body do all the work. I set my birth ball in front of the couch and after contractions I would lean over and nap for a few minutes before the next one came.
With each surge I felt it slowly build up, reach its peak, and then slowly let go. It was like I was exercising – flowing with each one, and then returning to complete relaxation after. It was an amazing feeling to be able to do that, and to be so happy and relaxed in this tranquil state of mind. I remember praying for the baby’s safe arrival, for strength to allow my body to work as it should, and just to stay relaxed…I knew that was my key.
After a bit of laboring I decided to light my labor candle from my Blessingway and let my prayer team know; that was at 3:30. I took a picture of the lit candle and texted it to the girls. I then sent a quick text to my doula letting her know that labor had started but I was handling things well. It was so nice sitting in the quiet of night with just the room lit by candle. It was beautiful.
I used the restroom again and somewhere around 4 I decided it was time to wake up Krzys. When I did, I told him, “I’m in labor.” His response was, “No you’re not, come lay down.” I immediately went, “Excuse me,” and then had to bend over to deal with a contraction. I guess that was proof enough because he then got out of bed.
I went back to my ball and Krzys asked what I needed. I asked for a little back rub, and then breakfast. I knew I might get to a point where food would be unappetizing and I wanted to get some nutrition in for the long journey I was facing. I requested French toast. I told Krzys my contractions were about 10 minutes apart; after that statement he told me they were much closer because he had just timed four minutes. I think I was being a bit naïve and also not wanting to concentrate on timing them at all, so I think I was guessing on purpose so as not to pay attention…but I did notice they were getting much closer and I was beginning to feel chills as well. After another trip to the bathroom I was freezing, so Krzys covered me with a blanket. Then a contraction would come and I would be hot and sweaty so I’d pull it off. Then it would pass and I would be cold again. This went on for probably 20 minutes.
I started to lose my concentration, focusing on being hot and cold, and on the discomfort of the blanket touching my skin. It was all starting to bother me, which pulled me from my focus. I told Krzys I needed a change and thought I needed the pool now. He immediately began working on getting it set up and filled, checking on me every few minutes for a quick rub, hand on my shoulder, reassuring statement of my strength. After another visit to the restroom he called my doula and had me touch base with her. I heard him telling her that it seemed to be going so much quicker. My doula asked how I was handling things, and I felt I was doing great. All within the norm. In my mind I was prepared for around 12 hours of this, since labor with my first was so long. I prayed a few times for the strength to make it until lunch time.
It was strange that before Krzys woke up I was fine with being by myself. But once I had him there, when he had to leave my side I felt uneasy. I started to lose my grip on any sort of relaxation when a surge came, and knew I needed to refocus. Krzys said the pool wasn’t full but I didn’t care. I used the restroom again and when I returned I went straight into the room and got right in. The water was hot and only to my lower back when I got in…it felt amazing! I immediately felt relaxed again. With each surge my lower back was hurting more and more and there was a moment when I wondered if this was back labor. I told Krzys when I got in the pool to tell the doula to come now; this was at 5:20.
I enjoyed laboring in the pool when the water was steamy, so the second it started to cool I was requesting boiling water from Krzys to add to it. He was so wonderful. He held my hands through the contractions, and as I closed my eyes he read the many affirmations I had all over the room to me. It was so encouraging to hear him have so much faith in me and my body’s ability. I prayed a lot during my contractions. I knew God gave me the ability to do this; I told him I trusted him; I knew I was safe, I knew he was with me. I don’t know if I’ve ever been as close to God as I was in those hours.
The doula arrived shortly after I got in the pool; I remember seeing her sneakers still on her feet when she came into the room, and thinking how I can’t stand when people wear shoes in the house – but I couldn’t pull from my task at hand to say something.
She immediately got me refocused. She breathed with me through the contractions to remind me to blow it out, and it worked. Looking into her eyes gave me something to focus on and reminded me not to focus on the contraction itself. I had to use the restroom again. Boy did I hate going to the bathroom at this point. It wasn’t even like I was going all that much. It was the fact that when I was in there, sitting on the toilet, and the contraction came I felt so much worse. I couldn’t breathe the same, I couldn’t relax, my muscles felt tighter, it was awful. I told Krzys to hand me my daughter’s potty insert, the little cup that sits in the seat that she actually pees in to. I just stood up, held that between my legs and went. It was so much easier than that awful bathroom.
I don’t remember if Anzley woke up while I was in the tub or out but she was awake around her usual time – 6:30 or 7:00 am. She came into the room, stared at me and asked what I was doing.
Krzys told her that I was having the baby and she said, “Oh, okay, can I have some yogurt?”
I couldn’t laugh, but in my mind I just couldn’t get over how cute she was.
When I returned the last time from the bathroom I didn’t get back into the tub. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to or didn’t like it; I just didn’t get back in. For some reason I walked right past it and leaned over onto the bed instead. Throughout labor I was fully aware of my body and was listening to it and to my intuition. Something told me not to go back in, so I didn’t. I tried hands and knees on the bed since my back was hurting so much, but it didn’t seem to help at all.
I ended up splaying out and then just leaning/rolling on to my side when the surge passed. That’s where I spent the rest of my time. I can’t explain why it felt good, but it did. My doula was behind me cradling me from behind, reminding me to breathe with each contraction. This is when I went completely into myself. The surges were so strong at this point. Crying out did no good, and to stay relaxed I stayed quiet. I closed my eyes and just breathed. I remember praying some more.
With each contraction I took a big breath and slowly blew it out through my mouth, all while opening my hands as far as I could relaxing them and waving them down my side and away from my tummy. I traced the outline of my naked body (I was only wearing my sports bra at this point) over and over again, while imagining the force of the surge working through me and slowly letting loose once it hit the end of my vagina. I let them each blow through me and away from me, breathing and relaxing every part of my body I could. I didn’t tense up my tummy, legs, forehead, or any other part of my body. It was hard work but I had to stay relaxed.
During those last few contractions I had to go to the bathroom again, but I did not want to be on that toilet. So I kept telling myself, “After this next contraction I’ll go really fast.” Then the next one would come and go, and I’d say, “After the next one.” I finally couldn’t wait anymore. I opened my eyes to see my doula looking down on me from above, and Krzys sitting next to me. I told them I had to use the restroom and sat up. I had one contraction on the way to the bathroom in the hallway; Krzys held me up while I hunched over and drooped in his arms. Then after I had sat on the toilet, the doula came in and Krzys said he was going to check on Anzley.
The doula crouched in front of me on the toilet and asked if I felt the pressure to push, or if I really needed to go to the bathroom. I got a little annoyed with this question and responded rather snarky, “I have to go to the bathroom. I’ve had a baby before; I know the difference.” I had to pee and pushed too, then saw my waters break right into the toilet. I looked up at the doula and told her my water just broke. I guess I kind of yelled it because Krzys ran back to the bathroom.
I had an awful contraction that made me grab at everything in the bathroom. I was holding the toilet paper holder and sink, moaning and partially whimpering before it passed. When it was over, I felt as though my vagina was swollen so I put my hand on it to check, it was definitely swollen and felt rounded. The doula said, “Amanda that’s the baby’s head.” I was shocked and giddy.
She asked where I wanted to have the baby, and I told her the birth pool, definitely in the water. She said we needed to get there right away, and put her arm out to help me up (I was still sitting on the toilet, mind you). Only, when I went to stand it felt very, very wrong. I told her I couldn’t move; that I wasn’t going anywhere. She asked me to bend down and get on my hand and knees on the floor. I said, “No, I can’t move.”
The next surge came; only it was different. It felt like electricity passing through me. The surge took over my body from head to toe and I felt myself shake as I yelled. The baby’s head was out. I was shocked because I didn’t do any pushing and there was her head! I cradled her head in one hand while holding the sink with the other. I leaned back, tilting my rump up as far as I could to keep my hand holding the baby’s head and shielding it from the rim of the seat.
I looked to my right and saw Krzys and Anzley standing in the doorway, and another electric surge started. I shook and screamed, and the baby came flying out of me in seconds.
I can’t even explain how I picked her up – I just did. It was all so natural. I had her cradled in my arms on my chest as I looked over at Krzys, who was holding Anzley. Their faces showed exactly how I felt. Shock and amazement.
I held the baby close and slowly walked back to my room and sat right in the tub. I just laid in it and relaxed. Krzys asked what the baby was, and I said it was a girl.
He said, “But you didn’t check.” I told him I just knew. I leaned her forward and sure enough, the goods of a girl. I was feeling the contractions working on my placenta. The tub slowly filled with the after birth.
Anzley was amazed at the little baby I was holding. She stroked her little head and gave her kisses. We then realized we totally forgot to record it or even take a picture! I’m disappointed at that, but it all just went so fast. I was in shock at just how quickly it all went. Estimating from the time I woke up initially it was five or five and a half hours of labor and my baby girl was born. I never pushed. No one was there telling me what to do, touching me, invading my privacy. My doula was the perfect amount of support; never once pulling me from my focus. She arrived exactly when I needed her support.
I delivered the placenta with the baby in my arms after a few trying pushes over about 50 minutes. Even that was amazing. I got to hold it and inspect this wonderful organ that my body created to keep my baby girl alive and growing.
After I delivered the placenta I had to use the restroom. I handed the baby and placenta (still attached) to Daddy, and went to the bathroom. I showered, and then came back to my bed to snuggle with my family. After some time relaxing together, about 3 hours, we saw the umbilical cord was completely empty and starting to flatten a little bit. So we decided the placenta and baby were ready to be separated.
Mom, Dad and sister each got a candle, and we burned her cord for separation. It was nice; but did take a long time. Krzys took the placenta and made me a raw placenta smoothie which was actually pretty delicious.
That night, I called a midwife friend to come and check on the baby and me. I was pretty shocked that even without pushing, and the baby practically flying out of me in two contractions, I didn’t even tear in the slightest.
Krzys kept telling me how awed he was by me, how amazed and glad he was that I got to have the birth I wanted. That went on for a couple of days; he was so supportive. I was pretty amazed myself. I had planned to not push; I wanted to let my body do as much of the work as possible before I got involved. I told Krzys several times that I didn’t want to push until I felt the absolute need to. And what do you know, that plan not only worked but surpassed my expectations. The whole birth did! The whole pregnancy did!! I am so amazed at how awesome life is. We are amazing creatures with amazing abilities. And now I have a beautiful family of four thanks to that amazement.
Kenzley Rogowski was born May 13, 2014 at 7:37 am, weighing 7 lbs, 11 oz and was 19-1/2 inches long.