Birth Story

I was weeks past my "guess date" on a Friday and had been trying to keep myself busy and my mind off of all the sporadic contractions I’d been having all week. It seemed like every time they’d get closer together and I’d start timing them, they’d taper off again. So when I was at Target with my mom and starting having those same sporadic contractions I didn’t say anything and focused my attention on the shoe section. I noticed that they were getting closer together and it was uncomfortable to stand during a few. I took note of the time. It was 3:00 on the dot. They stayed about the same through our whole trip - about 7 minutes apart and almost a minute long. I tried not to get my hopes up. I got back home and laid down to see if they would stop, but they didn’t. They were about 6 minutes apart at this point and had been consistent for over an hour, so I decided to call the husband and suggested an early departure from work.

On the way home he picked up some movies from redbox and a pizza and we had a little date night in. We continued timing contractions through the movie and they were still 6 minutes apart and lasting a minute long - not really picking up, but not tapering off either. After the movie, we decided to take Mocha for a walk to see if we could get them to pick up a little bit. After we got back I gave Jason my phone and asked him to time without letting me know about the spacing because I wanted to be able to listen to my body and not feel the pressure of being “on the clock." Within an hour J suggested that we take Mocha to my parents for the night, so we packed up her things and got in the car. It seemed like as soon as we got home the contractions started getting more intense. It was about 10:30 when I finally asked J how close they were. I was guessing about the same, but he said they had been about 5 minutes apart and over a minute long now for almost an hour. At this point, we decided to call our midwife for the first time that night. She stayed on the phone with me through a contraction and said that it sounded like the real thing, but the fact that I was still able to talk through contractions meant that I probably was just in the beginning stages of labor - not yet in “active labor.” She said to let her know whenever I was ready for her to come over. 

I got off the phone, made some chocolate chip cookies, and got on my birthing ball. I felt like the contractions were totally manageable at this point. It felt good to move my hips though them… In fact, the worst pain I could imagine would be having to be still. Then labor started progressing really quickly. In fact, everything seemed to be changing so fast I asked Jason to call our midwife because I wasn’t sure how far I had progressed or how much further I had to go.

Once the midwife had arrived, she checked me, confirmed that I was in active labor, progressing quickly, and gave the okay the get in the bath. I had heard other women talk about how amazing warm water was during labor and how much it helped, and it did, but only in the way a paper fan helps in the dead of summer in Memphis when it’s 103 degrees in the shade. When I realized that the water wasn’t the miracle I was hoping for, I put on my Hypnobabies cd. That lasted through one contraction and I was over it. This was the point when it hit me that there was absolutely no escaping what I had to go through - not physically or mentally. I had to experience every part of labor and there was no one that could do it for me.

I've heard people reference being in “birth time” when in labor - where you have no real concept of actual time and hours seem to go missing. That was totally true for me once I was in active labor. I stayed in the bath because it seemed to be the easiest place to rest between contractions. All the lights were off and candles lit and was so peaceful. Once I finally began embracing the contractions rather than being overwhelmed by them, was even able to drift off a little in between. At this point, exhaustion had started setting in and I remember just wishing that I could hit a pause button on the contractions so I could take a nap then carry on. Every time I would finally doze off, I'd would be interrupted by another contraction. Then things changed...

Even between contractions I started feeling extremely uncomfortable. My midwife decided it would be best to check me again and found that the reason I was experiencing so much additional pain was due to an anterior lip that had developed during my labor. (This happens when part of the cervix is sort of “pinched” by the baby’s head and it causes part of the cervix to swell and can prolong labor tremendously. Apparently it’s extremely rare, but if it occurs in a hospital there is usually no option to continue with a vaginal birth and the baby will be delivered by cesarian. I didn’t know all this at the time and my midwife shared just enough information that I knew what I needed to do, without ever feeling like something was “wrong”… looking back I’m totally overwhelmed with gratitude for my incredible midwives and their wisdom in helping me though.) I was almost completely dilated and was feeling like I needed to push, but couldn’t until this was gone… and the only way to make it go away: Lie on my back, breath through contractions, and not push. Which also seemed like the worst torture imaginable at the time, but it’s what I had to do - so I laid on my back in the water, and tried my hardest to relax and not push. Jason was absolutely amazing (through all of the birth, but during this time especially) and I don’t know how I could have made it through this part without him. He was my anchor and the only thing keeping me from becoming completely consumed by the pain. This went on for several hours until finally my midwife checked me, said it was gone, and gave me the go-ahead to push. Hallelujah!

It sounds crazy, (because I had anticipated that the pushing would be the most painful part of labor) but it was such a relief to finally be able to push. I felt as if I had been “overriding" what my body was telling me to do for hours on end and finally I could listen to it again and let it guide me. I could also move into whatever position I wanted which was so freeing. No one told me what to do or what position to be in… they just waited with encouragement when I needed it and let me listen to my body.

Only a few pushes, and he was born... just as the sun was rising in the window over our bath.

As he came into the world everything was calm and I held him close and it was one of the most beautiful and surreal moments I’ve ever experienced. No one whisked him away or rushed in and out. It was just our little family of three, getting to know each other and sharing sweet kisses.

We ate breakfast in bed and snuggled and slept the morning away… and it was even more perfect than I had hoped.

. . . . .

When it comes to birth I know there are a lot of options and opinions, but I can say with absolute confidence that we made the best decision possible for us when we decided to have a natural home birth. The main reasons we chose home birth was because we wanted what would be best and most safe for both me and our baby, but looking back I’ve found a thousand additional reasons that I would choose home birth again.  I can’t even express the satisfaction in knowing that I was the one who actually delivered my baby into the world and just how empowering the whole experience was. In so many ways I think that birth is intended to be far more than just a means to an end, and though labor was infinitely more intense than I ever anticipated, I would do it again in a heartbeat. I love knowing that I fully experienced (physically and emotionally) every part of birth without drugs or interventions and found strength, determination, and perseverance to a degree I never knew I was capable… all by God’s overwhelming grace.

1 comment:

GingerLand said...

I'm so glad you shared this, Whitney! What a beautiful story. I loved hearing the details of how sweet Eli made his way into your family. You're my hero!