This is the kind of story that I want every woman to read when she is pregnant. It shows that birth is amazing and magical. It shows that even though they all have variations- that doesn't mean they are weird or dangerous. Birth is unique every time, but it need not be feared.
Despite the fact that my first 2 children decided to come post-due date, I was still really hoping that my 3rd would come earlier. I think pregnancy is such an amazing journey, and one to be cherished and appreciated… but once I hit those last few weeks, a switch is “flipped” in my head where I start to become a crazy/anxious/depressed woman. With this pregnancy, we found out at 20 weeks that we were expecting our 3rd little girl and were ecstatic. As my due date approached, the house had been organized and labeled to oblivion, and I. Was. Ready. After witnessing my friend home birth 2 years prior, and then doing a lot of research and soul-searching, I found myself craving the same serene, love-rich environment. Bob and I took the Bradley Method class series from a local instructor, and I also did the Hypnobabies home study course. I was determined to enjoy the process to the fullest extent.
As my due date approached and passed, I became focused on making relaxation my #1 commitment. I saw my chiropractor and acupuncturist often. I listened to my Hypnobabies tracks multiple times a day. I bounced on the birth ball, drank raspberry leaf tea, had sex, ate curry, took baths, ate spicy Mexican food, drank a glass of wine, and tried to listen to my body. On Sunday, March 4th 2012, we awoke with the intent of going to church, getting a bite to eat in town, and then running several errands.
I started having pressure waves (contractions) in church, and almost felt annoyed at their presence. I had been having them on and off for a week or more and they never seemed to amount to anything other than continued exhaustion. I mentioned to my friend Ashley in church that I had a few during the service and her excited reaction made me feel loved, but I wasn’t hopeful. The waves weren’t enough to distract me too much, and I could barely tell when they were really starting and stopping. After the service we asked our girls where they wanted to eat lunch, and they requested Red Robin (“they give out BALLOONS, Mom!”).
By the time we took our seats at the restaurant and ordered our food, I was noticing the pressure waves more and more. I was surprised that even though I felt relaxed, that they were now staying consistent. I ordered a turkey burger and broke out my cell phone to start keeping track of the waves. As time passed, things started to get more serious and I felt like I needed to get my (normally very comfortable and elastic) skirt off. I inhaled the middle portion of my burger and told Bob it was time to get the check. By the time we got to the car I was ripping off my skirt out of discomfort.
We got home around 1:30pm, and I sent our midwives a text to let them know that things were picking up. I was still unsure if they would continue, so I didn’t request them to start driving yet (they live just over an hour away). Bob went into high gear- straightening the house like a tidying madman. He filled up the birth tub with super hot water, assuming it would be a while before I needed it. I sat on my birth ball and tried to welcome the waves, concentrating on the word OPEN.
By 3pm I knew we were in business and I figured we might have a baby by morning. The pressure waves were demanding my focus now, so I had Bob call the midwives to tell them to head over. I texted a few friends and let them know to come over. Quickly I lost the ability to concentrate on anything else during the waves and then suddenly I yearned for the tub.
I remember thinking that I wanted to wait as long as possible before getting in, afraid it would slow down my labor… but when the time came, there was no stopping me. By 4pm our house was an excited bustle of loving support- we had our family of 4 (almost 5!), our dog Koda, our 3 midwives, 4 friends (Ashley, Maya, Beth, and Kristin), and my mother and stepfather. My pressure waves were demanding so much of my attention that my early labor period (where I thought I would be chatting between waves and baking with company) was nonexistent.
Brielle and Finley, who are 6 and 4 years old, kept busy with the loved ones around, checking in on mommy every so often. They had prepared for the birth by watching many birth videos, reading homebirth-centered books, and had lots of long chats. I was so relieved to see that they didn’t seem scared in the slightest- they went straight to work as I labored; excitedly pouring water on my back or patting my arm as the waves overcame me.
At this point in my head I was making all kinds of sad noises, but those around me said I labored silently. One thing I made quite clear, however- I needed Bob to give counter-pressure to my back labor during EVERY pressure wave. If he rubbed or pressed incorrectly or started 1 second too late, the back pain was unbearable. He has since told me that the amount of pressure I was requesting made him worry that he would rub my skin off, bruise me badly, or both. But it was what I desperately needed and without his patience and stamina, I don’t know how I would have made it through. His concentration on me became my ability to concentrate in labor. If he focused on the girls, or answering someone’s question while I was in a pressure wave it hurt so much worse…. and I let him know it!
At some point during labor one of the midwives whom I had grown very close to came over to check on me and told me, “Britt, its time to go inside”. From that point on, I got to work. Each pressure wave demanded all of my attention and overall, I really wasn’t “present” at all. I now resided completely in laborland, unable to hear anyone around me unless I purposefully focused (for example, during the times the midwives came to check baby’s heartbeat). Our girls bustled about, chatting with friends or eating dinner downstairs, and the midwives were nearby in the bedroom knitting and listening with stunning wisdom.
As long as Bobby was focused on me, I felt in control and focused on letting the waves work their magic. Back labor is no joke, people. I tried to work on my hands and knees as much as possible to move baby into a better position. One of the midwives suggested early on that I roll my hips between the pressure waves and that I squat during them. All of my being was focused on the task of trying not to fight each pressure wave, but to rather let it dilate me more and more.
At times the waves seem short and intense, and after some time, they got longer and sometimes they wouldn’t “let go”. I opened up my hips, lunging on one leg during a pressure wave, and put pressure on the inside of my groin for focus. During the next wave, I placed two fingers inside my vagina to see if baby’s station was progressing (I still had never requested a cervical check by the midwives), and I could feel that baby’s head was really far down. I felt my cervix as the pressure wave continued- a particularly difficult one. This moment I will ever forget. As the pain increased and my body became tense, I felt my cervix hold steady. I was so tired, yet so centered on meeting my baby girl. So I concentrated on relaxing myself (thinking “OPEN”, “RELAX”, “BREATHE”) through the pain, and as I did this, I felt my cervix thin and melt further underneath my fingertips. It was the craziest feeling- I was relaxing myself into dilating! My bag of waters felt smooth like rubber, unbroken.
After a few more pressure waves, I felt some rectal pressure and wondered if I would need to push soon. As the next one started, I realized it wasn’t her head that I needed to push out… it was poop. I motioned towards the bathroom door (only 2 feet away from the tub), climbed out quickly with some assistance, and closed myself into the tiny room. Outside of the bathroom I heard the room erupt in excited chatter, as everyone who had been trying so desperately to respect our quiet space broke concentration with anxious (and loud!) anticipation. I filled the toilet with poop during my next pressure wave; so very happy that I wasn’t in the tub.
I made a mental note that I needed to RACE back to my husband’s massaging hands and the warmth of the water because HOLY COW it was so much more painful without them. I quickly wiped, flushed, and flew back to the tub, surprising everyone in the room. My next wave began, and one of the midwives asked me if I had a bowel movement in the bathroom. I nodded yes and got into position again. I felt Bobby touch my butt and I scolded him saying, “stop touching my butt!”. I later found out that I hadn’t quite emptied my colon… and what I thought was hubby’s hands was actually a fishnet taking care of a rogue turd, ha!
On all fours now, despite being relatively silent previously, I started making a deep, guttural sound deep in my chest. I said, “I’m pushing”. This caught everyone by surprise and they all sprung into action, grabbing cameras and yelling for my daughters to come into the room. During that wave, I felt my bag of waters burst into my hand, and her head bulged out right behind it. There was actually no “pushing” on my part- my body was in charge! Her head seemed to pop out suddenly, and my mind was racing.
The next wave came and I squeezed her body out of me, right into my husbands waiting hands. In one smooth movement, I turned over and she was passed under my leg, and then placed on my fast beating heart at 6:51pm.
I held her there in complete shock of the speed at which she was just born. Then I looked and saw her face- pink, alert, and perfect. Intensely beautiful.
Welcome to our world, Emory.
Brielle and Finley somehow were immediately in the pool, and the look on their faces cannot be explained in words. Daddy’s first words were, “She is beautiful, honey!” We all held her, kissed her, and stared at her for quite a while. After about 15 minutes or so, I birthed her placenta. The girls were particularly interested in knowing all about it- the midwife took her time to show them every detail and explained things in depth. Brielle gladly took on the task of cutting the cord. One interesting side note- baby girl had a perfect “true” knot in her cord.
We hung out in the tub and Emory nursed vigorously. She continued to nurse frequently the rest of the evening too. Afterwards, I passed her out of the tub and into the arms of some very eager friends, family, and midwives who continued the lovefest. I showered, got dressed, and got into my very comfortable bed where we nursed and cuddled some more. She weighed in at 8lbs, 4oz and was 19.5inches in length. I felt amazing. My husband looked blissfully content. My older girls were fascinated. And my baby was alert, chubby, and calm. I feel immense gratitude to have experienced Emory’s birth in the comfort of my home with such wise, experienced midwives at hand.