MY HOMEBIRTH STORY
THE BIRTH TEAM
Before I share the story I have to say that I couldn’t have done it without Elisha, my patient, and strong supporter and husband, Bethany, our sister and doula (and BIRTH PHOTOGRAPHER) who showed me how to cope with the pain and was such a calming presence, and Star and Esther at Sacred Space Midwifery who cared for me so well leading up to, during, and after labor. (Esther actually reached out to ask me to photograph her wedding and engagement after our experience together. You can see her engagement session here).
On Monday, March 21st I woke up around 4am to contractions. I was able to fall back asleep until about 6am when Elisha left for work and I began timing them. They were coming about every 7 minutes. I texted Bethany to let her know. I had asked God to give me a clear sign that labor was coming and a few hours later I had bloody show, normally a good indicator of labor. I called to tell Elisha but he was already on his way home (Hannah – my sister-in-law- had told him about my contractions).
Everyone had told me if you think you’re in labor to nap or go for a walk. So a friend came over and we went on a walk and I came home and tried to nap. The contractions tapered off until about 6 pm. I called Bethany and we agreed to watch them for an hour and check in around 7. By 7 they were coming every 5 minutes and getting stronger. Bethany headed our way and Elisha and I sat on the porch listening to worship as the sun went down.
THE DOULA ARRIVES
Bethany arrived around 8:30 and I was ready to get things moving along, so Elisha started Robozo and some other stretches with me while Bethany gave my pressure points a massage with Clary Sage. I fell asleep. I didn’t know I could be so relaxed or even fall asleep. I remember thinking “This is God giving me a natural epidural.”
Bethany encouraged me to try and rest so E and I laid on the couch and we all set out to get some sleep. I laid on the couch and a few contractions later it felt like his foot was kicking out of me and pop, my water broke!
We headed to the toilet and I began to labor there. A little while later we headed upstairs and I labored in the upstairs bathroom. It began to get more intense and that’s when Bethy reminded me to breathe in for four, out for seven. She ran her fingers up my arms, 1,2,3,4, and then down my arms, 1,2,3,4,5,6,7 counting me through every contraction. At some point she and Elisha switched and he comforted and counted me through each contraction. I did not want to feel alone in the pain, so it was huge for me having them there, breathing me through each one.
CALL THE MIDWIVES
(If these images don’t load, you can see the photos on Facebook HERE)
A little before midnight the contractions are 3-4 minutes apart lasting a minute or longer, it’s time to call the midwives. Elisha begins to fill the birthing tub and Star arrives around 12:30. She takes my blood pressure and checks on baby and then I get in the tub. Tears of relief fall as I step in. It feels so warm and consumes my body. Sweet relief. Bethy pours water over me through the contractions.
I have to pee. We go upstairs and I pee and labor on the toilet. Esther notices I’m talking about having back pain and wonders if the baby is malpositioned. She suggests we do the Miles Circuit. (If you don’t know what it is Google it). I hate every minute of the hour and a half that it takes. Lying on my stomach and side during the first hour made it really hard to stay relaxed and calm during the contractions. Bethy encouraged me and Elisha rested next to me. When it was finally over I remember thinking, “I’m an hour and a half closer to being done!”
Around 3 or 4 am when the circuit finally ends I go back to the toilet or “dilation station” as some call it, lol. The contractions intensity and I even remember feeling baby move around inside me. Bethy reminds me to “breathe baby down” and fill my belly like a balloon on the inhale. I do it but every time I do it it feels like the contraction gets more intense. My exhales become gruntier. When I lose calm and my exhales become high pitched Bethy reminds me to use low tones, they’ll help me stay calm and use my breath better.
I WANT TO GIVE UP
“I don’t know how much longer I can do this,” is what I begin to say breathing baby down in the upstairs bathroom. Esther comes up and offers to check to see how far we’re dilated and how close baby is. I want to know but I really don’t want to be discouraged. We decided to do the check and Esther can feel his head. More tears of relief fall. Progress. Thank the Lord.
We move downstairs back to the tub. Every time I changed positions or locations around the house I had to consciously fight to keep my calm. I had to choose to inhale slowly. Fight for a gentle but deep exhale. Choose to fill my belly and breathe him down. We labor in the tub for a while until Star asks how long its been since I’ve peed… it’s been too long and so I get out of the tub to try and pee.
WHY IS PEEING SO HARD?
For an hour or so I try and pee. Good Lord it’s never been harder to pee. We try everything, facing forward on the toilet, facing backward, running water, the threat of a catheter, I still can’t pee. And to make things worst it feels like every time I try to push a pee out, the contraction intensifies. It felt like a sick joke lol.
Finally, I say that I’ll take the catheter and I stand up to go back to the living room. The pressure is SO intense that I unconsciously reach down only to find I can feel my baby’s head. This is one of my favorite parts of the story… I shout, “Oh my gosh my baby’s head is coming outta my butthole” to which Star responds something like, “That’s not your butthole sweetie. You can go pee or you can push this baby out!” To which I respond a little jaded, “I didn’t know that was an option!”
We get in the birthing tub and I labor on my side as I float in the water. Elisha holding my hand and counting with me still, Bethy recording for us. It’s still relatively quiet. In between contractions I rest or make comments and during contractions, I breathe and exhale gruntingly if needed, but otherwise, though it felt like inner chaos and war, it was relatively beautiful. The worship played in the background and the sun started to rise.
The midwives encouraged me to listen to my body and to birth gently. I could feel his head pushing out during contractions but in between them, he would squish back in. It was striking to me that it didn’t hurt to have his head partially out if I wasn’t in a contraction. And I only felt the urge to breathe him down and push him out during a contraction, otherwise I knew I was supposed to wait. I felt that we were close but asked if I should push in a different position. Elisha encouraged me to push on my hands and knees in the tub. I remembered “knees in, feet out” and after changing positions I pushed two more times and out he came.
HIS EYES WERE CURIOUS
Esther unwrapped the cord around his neck and passed him in between my legs as Star encouraged me, “Reach down and catch your baby!” His eyes were curious and all I could say was, “You exist. I can’t believe you’re here.”
I love reading this story over and over again <3 so special!