I always knew if I were to have a baby, it would be at home. I wasn’t a main stream doctor or hospital type of person. I could not envision the so called ‘safe’ or ‘just in case you need it for an emergency’ hospital birth. Hospitals in my opinion were places where you lose personal control. You lose choice because “they know better”. If a birthing mother does not follow the average labor curve then she is doing it wrong. For me, that represented fear. Fear brings doubt and doubt brings loss of self-power.
I was 36 years old and well aware of the risk of miscarriage so I chose to wait a few months before sharing the good news. I did start taking my Prenatal vitamins, DHA and Greens, plus Cramp Bark to prevent any contractions. At 12 weeks I went to see the two sweetest, warmest and caring women. They spent 2 hours with me on my first visit/interview. I knew then that no further looking was needed. They would be my midwives. I never went to see an OBGYN.
My first trimester was filled with morning sickness, uncontrolled hunger and exhaustion. The start of my second trimester, almost to the day, the morning sickness stopped and I started to feel normal again, except now my clothes were no longer fitting. I knew I wasn’t getting fat, I was pregnant, so the clothes were supposed to get small and I was supposed to get really round!
I looked forward to every prenatal appointment with my midwives. They always listened to me and made me feel like I was Number One. They never rushed me and encouraged me to stay and meet the next arriving appointment. This gave the experience a feeling of community. I was not just a number in a waiting room.
My husband supported me in my decision to decline an ultrasound. Following my research on the procedure, I decided the possible side effects were not worth it. We did not want to know the baby’s sex nor did I want to hear what issues they thought could be developing. I just took good care of myself and believed in my baby’s strength.
I had my home visit with my midwives at week 37 and this was also the day of my first internal exam. I laid on my couch and after my cervix was checked my midwife’s face smiled with delight as she announced “you are 3 centimeters and feeling ripe!”. I was shocked.
I needed to get my supplies ready for the birth because this baby could arrive at any time. Going into my 38th week I remembered Ina May Gaskin saying “the way the baby gets in, is the same way the baby gets out”. I continued enjoying the closeness of my husband, falling asleep feeling round, beautiful and loved.
I awoke on the morning of the birth day with a rush (contraction) and water dripping down my legs. I ran to the bathroom to “wipe” up and realized this meant that my water had just released. Here is my timeline:
4:30 am. Woke my husband with the good news and I asked “what should I do?” “Call your mom”, he said half awake and rolled over to go back to sleep. When I spoke to my mom she said “call your midwives”.
5:00 am. I called and woke up my midwife and she said to time a few of the rushes, so I went back to bed and watched the clock.
5:03 am. A rush went through me, breath I told myself and I watched the clock.
5:05 am. The rush passed and I lay back to gather myself.
5:08 am. Another rush started… breath… that one lasted until almost 5:10 am
This went on for another couple of rushes and I realized that perhaps this was happening fast and frequent. I was no longer comfortable in bed so we went downstairs. As I lay on the couch the rushes were strong and steady, and all I could do was moan.
5:30 am. I felt another burst and more water poured out of me. I got up quickly to not wet the couch and decided to go get in the shower. The water felt good but I could not get comfortable. I was on my knees moaning very loud and deep, and I heard my husband on the phone. He was telling the midwives that it was time to come, while holding the phone near me so that they could hear me moaning. Since the shower did not help, I returned to the couch, and the urge to push surprised me. When I told my husband I wanted to push he said “not yet, we are all alone!”
My mom arrived. I heard and felt her but was unable to open my eyes to look at her. I was too focused on riding through the rushes. This was taking all I had. I wanted and did start to push. I was starting to drift away into what the midwives call labor land. Mom would try to talk to me, but I didn’t want to talk. I could hear my husband and my mom talking in the distance as I rocked back and forth on the couch moaning through the rushes. I listened to mom answering questions from the midwives as they were still 5-10 minutes away.
6:30 am. My midwives came through the door, followed closely by my good friends Kristina, Angela and Dane. All are wonderful supportive friends who had come to help and to witness our miracle birth. I was not aware of people, time or even where I was in the labor. I am inside yet outside of myself, completely focused on riding through the next rush. I heard the midwife say “the baby is coming now, and there is not time to set up the tub”. With all I had in me I stated that “I WANT THE TUB!”
Everyone started scrambling to bring in the tub and getting it filled. They told my husband that the water needed to get to a certain level before I could get in and that if he got in with me the water would rise faster. So he put on his swimming suit and climbed into the water, I followed and the water was wonderful. I felt the pressure release immediately. The water enveloped me easing the intensity for the moment. My husband’s sweet words and soft back rubs settled me into the water. The rushes came continuously. I focused on the words “open” and “big”, repeating to myself to “get big and wide open”. I was moving around in the tub. My midwife said that I would find the position that feels right for me. I wanted to hold the edge of the tub with one leg bent and the other under my body. It felt good to push in this position. I put my hands into the water to feel inside my vagina and felt my baby’s head. It would come and go with every other push and I could feel the head more and more.
My spirit called on mothers of the past and the present to come and be with me. I focused on opening and getting big. My midwife said to take all the verbal energy I was using to moan and to channel it down through me to the baby. I sat back in my husband’s arms while he held me and stroked my head. Gripping the sides of the tub with all the power in me, the love and strength of family and friends, and all mothers past and present, I pushed.
My midwife was holding a mirror so I could see the baby’s head. This gave me courage and the confidence to push again. I kept repeating “open, open, open”. It took a few more pushes for the head to completely appear. “Wow!” Not too much longer. I rested and my baby rested. The urge rushed over me and I began to push again The baby came all the way out so fast, almost with a whoosh. I grabbed the baby and pulled the little one up on to my belly . . . A GIRL! A beautiful baby girl with a very short umbilical cord, less than 2 feet. I was exhausted and pretty much out of it for quite awhile. The short umbilical cord kept her from being put to my breast. My mother cut the cord and baby was wrapped in warmed blankets.
I sat in the tub settling back into my body. A 3 hour labor is quick, and very intense. When small rushes started to happen again I knew the placenta was coming. I gave a good push and there was what is call “the twin”. It was far easier to deliver but lost a bit of blood. I accepted a drug to help slow the bleeding. Midwives are able to handle this type of complication, giving needed herbs, homeopathy and drugs when needed as well as monitoring my vitals while I cuddled my little girl. I drank a healing tea and my midwives stayed by our sides until they were sure that I was stable and safe.
Giving birth is amazing and the personal power I felt was incredible. I had been told and I had read and felt that being in control of my birth experience was important. I surrounded myself with people who believed in me. My midwives were my guides and my safety net, my coaches, my teachers and now my friends. I feel all women must believe in their ability to give birth. Take back what has been high-jacked from us through fear, lack of education and lack of home birth stories being shared between women. I ask you to share your birth stories so that young girls and women can make their own choices and retain their power.
*This powerful and wonderful mother left this phase of her existence due to Cancer on July 20, 2016. She leaves her daughter who she brought into this world in such an amazing way. She is missed by all who knew her* P.C. Better known as “O”.