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The Sun Is Shining Through: A Peaceful Home Birth

The Sun Is Shining Through: A Peaceful Home Birth

I’ve been floating on that post-birth cloud that only the miracle of new life brings. Soon enough, or perhaps it is happening already, I will slowly float back to the ground as Holden and I navigate the fourth trimester together.

The joy, pain, awe, intensity, shock, and gratitude of Holden’s birth are still so near to me. Andrew and I have been like cloud gazers pointing to the sky and marveling at the shapes and patterns displayed as we recall his birth.

The clouds are slowly drifting to make room for new stories and memories to be formed.

April 22 2017

6:30 AM
It was an ordinary Saturday that began as most do. We woke with more ease and less rush. I had already surpassed 37 weeks and 5 days which was when our first son was born so I adjusted my mindset for this pregnancy to not anxiously anticipate labor any moment until closer to 42 weeks so that I would patiently wait for this baby’s own timing.

9:23 AM
My MIL texts me: “Are you feeling anything? Contractions?”

I respond: “No contractions…he feels lower though. I could see going into labor tonight or being pregnant for weeks still haha…I have no idea anymore.”

I was 38 weeks and five days. Andrew and I took Eli, our two-year-old, to the aquarium in the morning and then out to lunch. We told Eli that we would get him ice cream on the way home, but he soon fell asleep in the car.

1:00 PM
Andrew and I stole spoonfuls of Eli’s ice cream until it was almost gone. We all laid down once we got home in the living room. Eli woke up, found his toy doctor kit, and put the stethoscope to my belly to “check baby.”

6:00 PM
I walked around our backyard as I had done many times this pregnancy. The last few weeks of this pregnancy were remarkably different than my first pregnancy with Eli. Even when I was extremely active with walking, squatting, and cleaning, I would not even get one Braxton Hicks contraction this time. I was expecting prodromal labor like I had with Eli for two weeks.

I began to feel pressure. A burst of excitement filled my heart and mind. After not feeling any signs of labor, I was overjoyed to feel my baby move lower in preparation for birth. Because of my previous experience with prodromal labor, I thought that labor would be far off.

6:30 PM
A contraction. I felt a real contraction. I told myself that I would not tell Andrew about any contractions until it became completely obvious I was having them without even exchanging words, but I was too excited. We stood in the kitchen as I leaned over the counter, and he looked at the clock to note the time-just in case we would want to remember this moment.

7:30 PM
We put Eli to bed. I rocked him in my arms as I dreamed of tonight being the night, but quickly stopped allowing myself to dream too much. I still had a lot of pressure and could feel that Holden was low, but there was no time-able pattern to the contractions that seemed to be fading away. I could still move freely and focus on everyday thoughts and tasks so I talked myself out of thinking labor could be near.

9:30 PM
Suddenly, intense contractions bringing me to my hands and knees hit me. I welcomed these 15-30 second contractions, but their short length and inconsistent nature made me think active labor was still far in the future.

I tried lying down in bed for the night to see if I could sleep. Instead of drifting off into sleep, being alone in the darkness of our room with these contractions scared me. I didn’t want to be alone anymore.

I knew in that moment that tonight actually could be the night. I got Andrew, and we decided to watch a show together. Soon enough, I told him to turn off the TV because I could not stand the noise anymore. Contractions seemed a bit more intense, but still under 30 seconds long.

9:52 PM
I texted my midwife Laura: “I’ve been having contractions for a few hours but they haven’t been consistent…and now I can’t remember when exactly I should call you?…I think they’re starting to pick up but I’m also not sure if it’s prodromal labor.”

10:17 PM
I called Laura. I debated after I texted her whether or not I should even call thinking it could just be prodromal labor. On a deep, intuitive level, I must have known that it was time. I told her what I had been experiencing including my doubts about it possibly just being prodromal labor. She told me that she could leave now to come over or I could wait to call her if I wanted more time alone with Andrew to see how things progressed. I was leaning toward waiting to call her back.

After she explained when I should call her back, Andrew said, “Yeah, I think we are already at that point.” She said that she was going to leave right away then.

10:20 PM
I sought the peaceful and familiar darkness of our bedroom. Andrew unlocked the front door to welcome Laura in once she arrived before coming to my side. It was as if unlocking the door unlocked anything holding me back from fulling going into active labor.

Contractions were suddenly much longer and more intense. I could barely talk. I felt as if everything was in fast-forward. Previously, I had imagined hours of laboring around the house, but I now knew I would not be leaving the room or maybe even the bed without our baby being born first.

11:00 PM
Laura quietly arrived and found us. I was relieved to know she was here, but could not focus on anything but the intense contractions. I did not want to make eye contact with anybody. I was in my own birthing zone. She came to my side acknowledging that labor must have gotten more intense since I had called her. She found Holden’s heart rate in between a contraction.

I felt my body gently pushing. “I think I’m pushing!” I said in slight disbelief. I knew that my body was pushing, but I couldn’t believe it.

11:30 PM
I moved to a smaller bed in our room that we had set up specifically for labor. I felt the welcomed release of my water breaking with the next contraction. I felt my baby move down. I felt like the pain was too intense. I felt like this couldn’t really be happening so quickly.

“I can’t do this. I’m not doing this anymore,” I said multiple times. Even in the moment, I almost laughed at myself for saying that because my body was involuntarily pushing even more strongly. I was doing this. Any words of fear were met with gentle and quiet encouragement.

11:45 PM
I did not want to leave the bed because I could not imagine walking over to the tub at the time, but with more encouragement, I got into the water. Peace and relief instantly filled my body and soul. I felt Holden moving downward with each contraction.

11:52 PM
I felt his head and with the next contractions, he was born into the water. I pulled him onto my chest in complete awe.

I looked at his face and thought, “It’s you. It’s always been you.”

There we were: in the water surrounded by Andrew and our midwives.

There we were: held in a space of love, safety, and respect.

There we were: in the same room where I had dreamed about this moment for so long.

There we were: in our first moments apart yet still connected.

We moved out of the tub and onto the bed where I soon birthed the placenta with Holden on my chest.

Holden weighed 8lbs 14oz and was 21 inches long. Just a few hours after active labor started, Andrew and I found ourselves lying in bed with our newborn baby drifting off to sleep in the bassinet next to me. There were details of the birth for which we had prayed specifically, and in God’s amazing goodness, came into being in ways we cannot fully express our gratitude.

6:10 AM
Eli woke up after sleeping through his baby brother’s birth. Andrew brought him to our room to meet Holden for the first time. Eli was amazed by every movement Holden made and even ran downstairs and back up to bring him a toy.

Just as clouds do not suddenly disappear, it’s hard to find the right ending to Holden’s birth story.

We are out of those hazy, magical hours immediately after birth. My milk has come in, the adrenaline of birth has worn off, and the clouds are slowly drifting.

The sun is shining through, and I’ve never felt more tired and alive all at once.

“There is power that comes to women when they give birth.  They don’t ask for it, it simply invades them. Accumulates like clouds on the horizon and passes through, carrying the child with it.” -Sheryl Feldman

Birth experience and photographs submitted by Carolyn F. 

Hospital VBAC After a Month of Prodromal Labor

Hospital VBAC After a Month of Prodromal Labor

I had been having prodromal labor for about month straight so when I noticed contractions starting on Sunday evening, I didn’t really think much of it. I went about my evening like normal, put my toddler to bed, watched a little TV, and around 9pm I decided to head to bed. I’m not one to ever have trouble falling asleep but I laid there for about an hour and just could not fall asleep. I noticed my contractions getting a little stronger, but nothing alarming. I mentioned to my husband, Steve, that my contractions were getting stronger and that I thought this might be it. He decided to get in bed and try to sleep in case this was the real deal. I texted my doula, Amber, to keep her updated on how I was feeling. 

I laid in bed with the TV on and tried to ignore the contractions for a while. They were about every 7-9 minutes apart by now and I had to deep breathe to get through them. I tossed and turned in bed until about 1:00am when I decided to hop in the shower in the hopes to relax. I woke up my husband before I got in to tell him I thought this was for real this time. The shower was anything but relaxing. My contractions just got stronger and stronger the longer I was in there. When I got out, I told Steve he needed to call my mother-in-law to come watch our daughter. She lives in Lincoln, so I knew it would be at least an hour before she would get to our house. 

The waves of contractions were getting much more intense now and I found myself leaning over whatever was in reach and moaning when a wave would come over me. Around 1:30am, I told Amber that I needed her to come over. At this point, my husband had gone into hyper-focus mode and decided deep cleaning our entire house was necessary, (he doesn’t cope with labor very well) so I really needed Amber’s support. Before she arrived, the nausea kicked in and I started to throw up. I didn’t have nausea with my first labor, and I can say it was one of the most unpleasant parts of the whole experience. When Amber arrived, my contractions were about 3-5 minutes apart and I was still getting sick. I continued to labor at home for a couple more hours. 

Around 5am, I decided I wanted to head to the hospital. We arrived around 5:30am and I was checked into my room. I had great communication with my midwives during my prenatal care so I knew what types of standard things would be coming my way when I got to the hospital, ie an IV lock and continuous fetal monitoring. They also wanted a urine sample, which was fine with me, but I had no idea how intense my contractions would get from sitting on the toilet! No wonder people always rave about how great it is to labor on the toilet! After that little experience, the nurses got my IV going and put baby on the monitor. The on-call OB came in and introduced herself. She asked to check me and I was pleasantly surprised to hear I was already 9.5cm. 

At this point, my labor stalled a bit. My contractions got a little further apart, probably due to my nerves. Around 7:30am, the nurses came in my room to do their change of shift. I remember asking for an epidural while they were talking. I hadn’t specifically planned for a natural labor but I knew being able to move would give me the best chances for a VBAC, so in the back of my mind, I was always reminding myself of that. The nurses told me to wait until the contraction was over and if I still wanted it, we would discuss it again. After the wave passed, I caught my breath and decided against the epidural. 

Soon after the nurses ended their report, the in-house midwife for the day, Kate, came in. She checked me and again I was very pleasantly surprised. I was 9.5cm! I was almost fully dilated without an epidural! That excitement was quickly diminished when Kate told me that baby was still at a -3 station. The problem with baby being so high while I was almost fully dilated is the risk of cord prolapse if my water breaks. Kate and I had a lengthy discussion about my options in this situation. It was a difficult decision to make but after giving it a lot of thought, I decided to get an epidural and let Kate break my water. This allowed the membrane rupture to be a little more controlled, and also allowed Kate to feel if the cord needed to be moved to prevent a prolapse. After three tries to place the epidural, it was finally finished. That was by far the worst part of my labor experience. 

When I was nice and numb, Kate broke my water and did end up needing to move the cord around baby’s head to prevent a prolapse. Baby dropped to a -2 station after the membrane rupture, which was not as much of a drop as we were hoping for. There was also meconium in my waters. Again, Kate discussed my options with me and I decided to continue laboring. Both baby and I were doing just fine, so I wanted to give my body more time. 

For the next several hours, I alternated laying on my left side, to my right side, to sitting up every 20 minutes. Kate continued to monitor baby and I but baby still was not dropping. I was getting more and more emotional as it seemed a cesarean was in my future but I wasn’t ready to give up yet. My nurse and Amber helped me sit up again but this time it was getting uncomfortable. I asked Amber to grab the birth ball and put it in front of me so I could lean over it. I remember hearing baby’s heart rate drop a little on the monitor. I asked the nurse about it and she said that it can happen during a contraction but as long as the heart rate goes back up after the contraction, it’s fine. We were having trouble-keeping baby on the monitor and I thought it was just due to how I was sitting. This happened a couple more times and then Kate came in. This is when things got a little crazy.

Kate had me lay back down and checked me. Baby was now at a +3! Things get a little fuzzy for me here because it all happened so fast. It seemed like I blinked and my whole room was filled with people. The one thing I distinctly remember is Kate looking up after checking me, and telling me that I was going to have to find my strength and get my baby out. That I was going to have to push with everything I had because my baby needed to get out now. Baby had dropped so fast that her head was transverse in my pelvis. With the very next contraction I was pushing. I continued pushing with every contraction and Kate was able to turn baby’s head into the correct position. I could hear everyone in the room cheering me on. That was one of the most meaningful parts of my whole experience. At 2:22pm after only 22 minutes of pushing, Kate successfully maneuvered her shoulder dystocia and I delivered my beautiful baby girl. She was placed on my belly briefly but was not responding as quickly as the doctors and nurses like to see. Daddy cut the cord and the NICU nurses whisked her away. I’m told she was only gone for about 15 minutes but it felt like hours to me. 

I did it! I am so thankful for Kate, Amber, Steve, and all the nurses and doctors who helped me achieve my VBAC. I am thankful that I had the courage to stay patient and thankful that I was given space and time to make my own decisions. This birth story is so different from my first, and I am so grateful to have been able to have such an incredible experience.

Birth experience and photograph submitted by Samantha Wall. 

The End of Pregnancy…Keepin’ It Real

The End of Pregnancy…Keepin’ It Real

Earlier in the week I wrote The End Of Pregnancy…Positive Thoughts. These affirmations have been helping me tremendously as I find peace in the last weeks of a long pregnancy. However, I did mention, that while I’ve been doing good at surrendering to this journey, I am human.

So, here is Mrs. BWF keeping it real in between thinking up positive thoughts.

“If I have to lay on my back one more second to put these babies to sleep, I’m gonna punch the wall!” (My 3 year old and 19 month old. Luckily Mr. BWF puts them to bed most of the time for me).

Then, when I lay on my sides, my hips hurt. I can’t win!

“Pregnancy makes everything harder.”

“Everything makes pregnancy harder.”

“Damnit. I am craving ‘xyz’ and I am going to go crazy until I get it.”

I am just not as patient of a mom when I’m pregnant. I feel bad that my children don’t get to have their sweet, laid back mommy for almost a year (and with 5 pregnancies in 7 years…it’s a lot).

“I can’t wait to get this freakin’ kid out of me.”

It took me 5 pregnancies to admit it, but I adore my babies, love empowering birth, but hate pregnancy.

If I don’t get a bath every night…well, you don’t want to be around me. It’s like clockwork now. Somewhere between 6-7 pm I crave it!

“Owwwwww, this hurts. My whole body just hurts. Please just let me give birth already!”

Although I’ve found peace in going through prodromal labor and waiting until baby is ready, knowing I have another few weeks of this is hard!

“This house better be clean when I go into labor. I think I’ll ask Mr. BWF to mop when I hit active labor.” haha

“I need a nanny to take care of my kids so I can do what I want for once!”

I can barely get into our minivan at this point. Tonight I yelled, “Son of a bitch!!!!!” It wasn’t easy.

I have to roll over onto all fours and let everything shift and settle before I can get out of bed. Mr. BWF finds this funny. I don’t.

So there ya go. That is me keeping it real. Do you still love me?

One Mama, Two Births {Growing From One Birth at a Time}

One Mama, Two Births {Growing From One Birth at a Time}

I waited excitedly for 9 months to share my birth story because I knew that it would prove to people how great home birth really is and that is exactly what it did. When I was pregnant, what I hated the VERY most was reading stories of women who went natural and how “painful” it was because I didn’t want to think about the pain. Pain is only the body’s way of warning you that something is different, usually bad, but in the case of birth, it is only a warning that your life is about to become a lot sweeter so make sure you’re ready and not in the middle of the store when it’s time to push!

I have two beautiful children (at least I think so :D). My son was born June 8th, 2008 weighing 8 lbs 1 oz. I was a nursing assistant in the postpartum unit of the hospital my son was born in. I saw my doctor all of the time at work and had a great relationship with him. I knew all of the nurses and felt really comfortable at the hospital. I wanted a natural birth, but only knew of the hospital childbirth class.

I didn’t have support from the nurses, I didn’t have a doula, and I knew very little. I tried to relax and my way of relaxing was to lay in the hospital bed….now we all know how wrong that is! I should have been up and moving around, but I had no idea and no one suggested it. I just thought I was supposed to relax. Well, needless to say my contractions were pretty painful and I ended up with an epidural. It was an absolutely beautiful personal experience because I felt at home there, but it wasn’t the natural birth I desired. I didn’t feel violated and I wasn’t talked into anything that I didn’t really want. The only thing was that I originally wanted to go natural and I didn’t.

After that, I was determined to go natural with my next baby. I also wanted to be a doula and although not necessary, I felt it would help me feel more confident in doing so if I went natural. So I started looking into birthing center birth. After taking my doula class I realized that I could do it at home just fine and I’d be more comfortable doing so. So that I did. And here is my story:

At 5:00 am on October 18th, 2010 I had my first contraction that woke me up. I’d been having contractions since September 30th that I knew were prelabor contractions (which were annoying at times, but I knew they were just warming me up for an easier active labor), but these contractions were definitely different. They were more powerful. So I texted my midwife just to give her a heads up that I was having real contractions, but they were still 12 minutes apart and it would be a while. (She was actually a student midwife who was my primary care midwife and my good friend from 8th grade. She did everything and the licensed midwife just supervised.) I was able to get through them very comfortably in bed and *tried* to get sleep, but was too excited!

At about 7:00, I got up and started to straighten up my house to the way I wanted it for the birth (which was a great way to distract me and keep me up and moving). At about 8:00, my mom came over and my contractions started to get a little stronger. It was nice to have my mom and my husband both there to rub my back and squeeze my hips through the contractions. We visited on the couch, I nibbled on some snacks, and tried to drink a lot of juice to stay hydrated.

At about 10:00 ,I let Whitney, the student midwife, know that they were getting pretty strong and that maybe she should come over. Since she was also a doula, I thought it would be good to have another person there for support. My contractions were still anywhere from 7-15 minutes apart. They were unpredictable, the only thing they did was get stronger. I was in no hurry for her to come over, so she got to my house at about 11:00. I asked her to check my dilation and I was at a 3-4.

We visited in my living room and I’d stop every few minutes to moan in a low tone through a contraction. I found that moaning in a relaxed low tone controlled my breathing to keep me from hyperventilating, since I would otherwise breath too quickly. It also distracted me from the pressure. Then we’d go back to visiting. My photographer/good friend showed up at around noon and it was nice to just have another person there to talk to and support me. The contractions continued to get stronger and stronger, but never closer together.

At 1:00 pm I decided to get checked again and I was dilated to a 5 and my cervix was much softer. I wasn’t expecting much more than that. The contractions were getting a little more difficult so I decided to try to find a relaxing position on my knees, because the hardest part of the contraction was moving from sitting to a hands and knees position that made my contractions easier to get through. As soon as I moved to my knees after being checked my contractions were closer together, with a very little break in between. My sister showed up (she took her time since we thought it was going to be a while), and I had one more very strong contraction. I was waiting for it to end to say that I thought it was time to fill up the birth pool, when suddenly I had the urge to push!

I had absolutely NO control over the urge. I cannot comprehend how women even hold it in! My body just started pushing and I didn’t know what to think at first because I was JUST at a 5! Finally I just gave into the urge, peed my pants (lol) and my water broke. I stood at the edge of my bed, yelled for someone to take my pants off and pushed with all my heart. I was worried about what I was going to feel and I almost felt a little panicked, but it wasn’t as bad as I imagined! It just felt very warm and I don’t remember a whole lot of pain associated with it. A little stretching, but not super painful. I actually think pushing was the best part because I wasn’t just letting my body do it’s thing, I was actually doing something myself! When her head came out it felt SO good! But I knew it wasn’t over. Then the rest of her just slid right out and that felt SO cool! As soon as it was over I just had a sigh of relief and was SO happy! I turned around, picked her up and thought “man that was NOT as bad as I thought it was going to be! That was SOOOO EASY!!!”

Well, I was checked at 1:00 at a 5 and she was born at 1:16!!! I pushed for three minutes! The licensed midwife didn’t even make it in time because all of us thought it would be a while! Whitney did an amazing job and stayed completely calm and focused! She weighed 8 lbs 9 oz.

After working in the hospital as a nursing assistant for 4 years (I couldn’t bear it anymore after taking my doula class and learning all that I learned), it felt so invigorating to not have someone checking on me to make sure I was taking care of her correctly! I was completely trusted to be her mommy! And I could bathe her myself in a very calm, peaceful, skin to skin environment. It was absolutely perfect and beautiful and I feel no guilt attached to her birth whatsoever. I wish I could have given my son the same experience. Although it was a wonderful experience for me, I don’t think it was as wonderful for him. I will give birth to any future children the same way I did my little girl. It was so peaceful and I never felt like I couldn’t do it.

Pregnancy, birth, familyI also wouldn’t have felt as confident if I didn’t have 100% support from everyone around me. My family never even questioned me or gave me any criticism and I am overwhelmed with gratitude for that! I know so many people don’t receive that kind of support and it is very important to have people around you who have just as much faith in your body as you do. Granted, I’m sure they thought it was a little strange at first since they’re used to the hospital scene, but they never tried to tell me it was a stupid decision. And they all saw the benefits first hand and thought it was great.

I’m SO grateful for everyone involved! Birth can definitely bring family and friends closer together. But even if you don’t have a great support system, it doesn’t mean that finding one is impossible. That’s what doula’s are for! 😀 And that is precisely why I am one myself! Every mother and baby deserve a peaceful birth!

-Krista Eger

A Fast, Unplanned Unassisted Birth!

A Fast, Unplanned Unassisted Birth!

I experienced three different days of prodromal labor throughout the month. On Sunday, September 26, 2010, I was awoken by a trickle feeling at about 5:30 am (I had been having a dream about water, too, ha!). I had thought that since I was already five cm dilated, that it might start with my water breaking. I got up and went into the bathroom to see if I was dreaming, and saw I wasn’t. I knew it was my water breaking, as it didn’t smell like anything else, but wasn’t sure why there wasn’t very much (now I realize it was probably the outer bag that broke first). I went to tell Ben (who has been sleeping on the couch due to me taking up the whole bed) that I thought maybe my water had broken, but I wasn’t sure since it wasn’t trickling out at all. I asked him to come lie down with me and I went back into the bedroom, but couldn’t get comfortable. I asked him if he thought we should call the midwife since she was about three-and-a-half hours away, but we decided we’d wait a bit.

Contractions started maybe around 6:00 am or a bit after, and we called the midwife around 6:15 am. They were about five minutes apart. They started out as a cramping feeling and didn’t ever feel like tightening to me at all, just cramps really low. I walked around and had Ben apply back pressure. I started getting antsy and really wanted to get into the bathtub, but wasn’t really supposed to until the midwife got there (so it wouldn’t speed up). I walked around more and tried different positions, but couldn’t stay in one position at all (this should have been a sign to me). My legs started shaking and I told Ben I was freezing and asked him to turn the heat on. Every position I tried I couldn’t get my legs to stop shaking and really wanted to get in the tub. I think at this point I got on facebook and wrote “Whoa mama…” I decided I was going to just get into the tub up to my calves and walk around thinking it would warm my legs up. It’s hilarious to me now to think I was wading around my tub… not really sure why I thought that would help!

Almost right after I got into the tub, my water broke, either around 7:20 am or 7:50 am (not sure). It was such a neat thing since I had my water broken with Caden, so I didn’t know what it was I felt until the water burst out. It kind of felt like a really small bone had snapped in half, almost like when you break a wishbone. I initially thought the baby had kicked me in a weird spot or something. Then the whole bag burst. Ben came in to see how I was doing and I told him what had happened. I then started to say things like “I can’t do this” (I’ve done it before), “I want to go to the hospital” (ha! yeah… no I don’t), and the like. What is really funny to me is that in the back of my mind I was thinking completely logically, telling myself, “Maybe we should call someone and tell them I’m showing classic transition signs, especially for a natural labor.” Lol. Saying illogical things (for me anyway), but thinking logically about birth is hilarious to me. Good thing my husband knew I didn’t mean any of those things! So, now I know why I decided to wade in my tub….so my water didn’t break all over the couch!

I took my clothes off (another sign I was really close), and noticed the water was greenish-brownish, so meconium was present. At this point, I got out because I knew if I stayed in I’d end up sitting down in the water. I went out to the couch and leaned over and had Ben apply back pressure and walked around a bit more. I had been toning (saying “ohhhh”) through contractions, but at this time, switched to a “mooing” tone (my labors seem to have a “barnyard” theme…Caden’s was “horse lips”). I thought in the back of my mind that I never told my husband I might use that and knew he was going to think that was hilarious. He later told me that he was shaking with laughter, trying not to make any noise, lol. After leaning over the couch again, I stood up and immediately felt a wave of nausea sweep over me, and I dry heaved. I then felt everything open and the baby drop way down. I ran into the bathroom, stood in front of the mirror, and yelled the “F” word probably a little too loud. Nothing had been painful, just extreme pressure and I just really wanted to lie down in the water. These contractions were totally different from anything I had felt with Caden or up to this point. I had a bit of bloody show on the floor (again, glad I was in the bathroom and not the carpet).

Up to this point, I really did not think I was this close to having a baby. The midwife and her apprentices were not there yet, as well as my doulas or my mom. The contractions had gotten to maybe two minutes apart, but they had also always started that way the other three days, and I just didn’t think I was that close at all. I didn’t have anything  ready….birth pool not filled, no supplies out of the closet (not that I would have been doing this anyway), no pads on the floor, etc.

After looking in the mirror for just a few seconds, I jumped in the tub, turned on the water, and got into a right side-lying position (so I was looking out into the bathroom),. My upper leg up on the side of the tub along with my head on the side of the tub as well. I don’t even remember THINKING about getting into the tub and didn’t debate it at all as I had before. I think it was all intuition and it was just what I needed to do. Right away, I had another contraction where I could feel her move down, and I realized I was having pushing contractions, and my body was pushing her out. I didn’t contribute to the pushing AT ALL because I was trying to delay it so the midwife could get there, but mostly I just knew that the best way for baby to come out with minimal repairs needed for me was to let it happen on its own.

I wasn’t in a position to reach down and see where she was, so I just withdrew into myself and let my intuition come through. I didn’t experience these contractions with Caden and think I just pushed when I was at 10, but never had the urge to push. These had a force behind them that I didn’t have with Caden. And they were amazing, let me tell you! I was thinking, “These are soooo cool” the whole time, lol. I was actually excited for the next one. I started to notice a pattern where at the beginning of the contraction I would moan through it (or moo, I guess), until the height of it, and then I would start to breathe slow… almost pant. I think it was my body’s way of letting everything naturally stretch when it needed to most. At this point her her head was crowning. Ben called Nicci and told her he could see her head. He was trying to apply back pressure, which I really needed, and hold and comfort Caden at the same time. I think Caden was a little worried because I was being really loud, but I would talk to him in between contractions and tell him I was fine. I would tell him Mommy was just being really loud right now, and he would smile and be really cute.

During these contractions, I couldn’t keep my hands still, and I started slapping the side of the tub. I remember hitting my husband’s back a few times, too (sorry, honey!). I am a really restless laborer and just need to move something. With Caden, I rocked back and forth on my knees in the tub. I am also a really loud laborer, moaning through everything.

At this point I’m a little fuzzy on everything, mostly because I couldn’t see what was happening. My two doulas arrived almost at the same time, maybe about eight minutes before she was born. I asked one of my doulas, Nicci, if everything looked normal down there. I had no idea the baby was in a full crown!!! Nicci told me I was doing a great job, and I was almost done, to which I smiled (I knew I was close, but I had no idea how close. Not sure my husband would have been able to tell me). Nicci tried to talk me into bringing my leg up further on the tub, to which I told her ha, no way, I couldn’t do it (and I did try…not sure why I couldn’t). So she brought it up for me, which I hated, but needed to be done to get her head out. She asked me if I thought I could get on hands and knees because the water wasn’t completely submerging the baby. I said no, I didn’t think I could. After a few more contractions, we decided (they decided?) to try to move me. Once we got me moved, and I think her head came out either right before I moved to hands and knees or right after.

Lauren was holding Caden and taking pictures and video for me. Nicci said I needed to push to get the shoulders out, and I said I couldn’t. My sides were so weak from the pushing contractions, so  it was really hard to push! But I did, because I needed to. That part was slightly uncomfortable, when the shoulders came out. I don’t remember feeling her head come out completely, but do remember feeling the shoulders come out one at a time. Baby came out above the water, along with a lot of meconium. Nicci said something about “him” being out (I think…), and then said, “wait, it’s a girl!” I was shocked! Ben and I were both so sure it was a boy! She told Ben we needed to get my leg flipped over the cord, so I could hold baby.

Baby pinked up right away and I rubbed her and talked to her and couldn’t believe how alert both her and I were. In the video I have, I am wide-eyed and don’t seem to have just had a baby. I asked what time she was born, and they said 8:19 am. I couldn’t believe it was just under three hours from when I noticed my water had broken. The cord was super short, and it was difficult to hold her up very high, so I was more holding her on my side. I moved from the tub because the water was getting kind of cold, to the bed, where I got covered in blankets and held baby and put her near my breast to see if she would latch on.

One of the midwife’s apprentices got there about 10 minutes after she was born, and the midwife got there a bit later. Baby was doing great and we were just waiting for the placenta to come, which did a little over an hour later. The midwife said the cord was only 16 inches, and speculated that may be why I had the three days of labor spurts, because maybe baby couldn’t handle it all at once (can anyone tell me why the short cord might cause that? I don’t know).

We had our herbal bath and her measurements were taken. She was 19 inches, and eight pounds, one ounce. I was anxious to know if I needed any repairs because I had torn in three spots with Caden. We went back into the bedroom and the midwife checked everything, and I just had skid tears (I think is what she called it…) that she said they wouldn’t even be able to stitch up, they were so small. So no repairs! I was ecstatic that I had an eight-pounder and didn’t need repairs. 🙂 I think it really had to do with my position and just letting things happen instead of pushing myself.

This labor and birth was just simply amazing and I can’t stop thinking about it. I wouldn’t have wanted it to happen any other way and already want to do it again, ha! But we’ll wait. 🙂 I felt awesome after and couldn’t believe how it just seemed like that morning I got up and thought I’d have a baby that day… like I got up and just decided to brush my teeth or eat breakfast. It just FIT and seemed completely normal to do. To experience the normal physiological process of having a baby and know what was going on is awesome. Even though Caden’s was also a natural birth, it was different this time. So glad we made the decision we did!

-Amanda Rae

Home birth

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