On January 23rd, my due date, I had a doctor’s appointment at 2pm. He conducted a non-stress test, did an internal exam, and sent me away with an appointment on Friday. I thought the internal exam hurt more than usual, and I was convinced that he stripped my membranes. On the way home, I was a hormonal mess. I kept thinking, “How dare he do that without telling me! How dare he mess with our daughter’s arrival.” Upon getting home I skyped with my friend Kim to calm myself down. This was around 4:30pm.
At 5pm I started making dinner, and by 5:30pm I was definitely feeling mild contractions. They felt like very mild period cramps, but they came pretty frequently- about every 5-7 minutes which I thought was unusual. I called my midwife to inform her of this just in case she needed to make arrangements for coming that night. Scott came home soon after, we ate dinner, and then walked to the store to see if the contractions picked up and to buy some groceries in case we would be in for a long night. On our walk the contractions became much stronger, but not painful, and were every five minutes lasting for about 60 seconds. We were getting excited!
We went home to lay down in case we were in for a long night. I couldn’t sleep, so thought I’d watch the Business of Being Born to get myself geared up. When Scott got up I told him that we should go on a long walk to get things going. I didn’t want to be in labor all night. We took the bus pretty far from our house with the plan to walk home. About a quarter of the way through our walk my midwife called to check on me. When I told her I was walking she said, “No, no, no! You need to be storing your energy!” So, we decided to take the rest of the walk by bus. During our phone conversation my midwife said she would give me someone else’s number in case she couldn’t come. I immediately realized she might have another birth that night, and was determined that I couldn’t give birth without her. On the way home my contractions slowed to almost a stop. It’s amazing how psychological birth is.
I was a little depressed getting home cause the action had stopped, and I realized the baby wouldn’t be coming that night. I made Scott and I peanut butter banana smoothies and decided to watch the rest of the movie. This was about 9:30pm. By 10:00pm, I was suddenly having regular and actually painful contractions. At first I could watch the movie while I had them, but eventually I had to pause it, get up, and move around. I was leaning on our bed, the bean bag chair, and moving all over the house. One interesting thing is that after every contraction I had to go to the bathroom! That tipped me off that this was the real thing because my body was making space!
I could handle the contractions on my own for awhile, but after some time I needed Scott’s help through each one. The problem was, what I needed each time changed. Sometimes a massage helped, other times it didn’t. He was great at doing whatever I told him helped! One amazing thing about the contractions is that after they were over, they were over. There were four minutes of bliss and rest before the next one. Between contractions I emailed Scott a to-do list of what to do the next day, emailed some friends to pray, and relaxed. Scott got the birth pool ready, lit candles, put on music by Over the Rhine, and made some snacks for the midwife. To get through each contraction I would say, “relax and open up” over and over and I think it really helped! Scott and I also prayed, he quoted scripture, and he would breath rhythmically to help me to relax. (Funny thing is the breathing helped until one point when I was pushing it was annoying so I said, “That breathing is not helping!” Because, during pushing breathing is different and not as rhythmic.)
We weren’t sure when to have the midwife come. I didn’t want her to be here for 18 hours and thinking I was a baby! But, at 1:30am we called her to have her come. The contractions were very painful, coming very often, sometimes one on top of another. The great thing was if I moved around it helped so much. Anytime I tried to lay down the contractions would come on stronger. I couldn’t imagine having been in a hospital bed! She arrived by 2am after riding her bike across the city with her 40 lbs of gear!
The midwife checked me and the baby to make sure everything was fine, then changed her clothes into what I imagine is her ‘let’s do this’ outfit. She made a pot of water with clary sage oil, covered everything with plastic sheets, and got everything ready. Then, with each contraction she would put the warm compress with oil on my uterus while Scott massaged my back. Sometimes we were in really random places in the house with the three of us all crunched- Scott, me and my 6 foot 3 midwife. I suppose we did this for a few hours, but time flew and I have no recollection of it!
At one point, probably around 3:45 (I guess), we were in my room and I was leaning over the bed head board. I was bearing through the contraction as usual, but then felt a mild urge to push. I was so confused. I was convinced I hadn’t gone through transition because I hadn’t lost control, hadn’t reached a point where I didn’t think I could do it, and also was convinced I still was going to labor for 12 more hours. When I told her I was pushing and she checked me for the first time. She told me that the pushing was opening up the cervix the rest of the way. A contraction would come and I would squat and push. I never thought I’d be a squatter, but nature takes over.
I moved into the living room to lean over our lovely birth pool- this is the only use it got! I would lean over it between contractions, then stand and squat when I was pushing. Pushing was a huge relief to me. I went from having terrible pain that I had to bear, to having pain with a purpose. It was almost like it didn’t hurt anymore once I pushed. Not sure how long I was in this position, but the midwife recommended that Scott sit on the couch, I sit on his lap with my back to him between contractions. During contractions I stood and he supported me and held me up with his arms. In this position I pushed out my pelvis, and I felt her move down a ton! I guess my midwife knew a pretty good trick that would work for my body. After this it felt like she came fast. My water broke and sprayed everywhere! Between one contraction I stood up and felt her right there! It was exciting to be so close! I think the next contraction I pushed out her head. Then, with the next came her whole body! She was out! I couldn’t believe it! It went so fast! We did it! (I had my baby on the living room floor! Seems kind of barbaric and not as romantic as a birth pool or my bed.)
The midwife and Scott immediately helped me to lay on the couch and to hold Ellie. The sad thing is she cried for several minutes while I was holding her, and we didn’t know why. Turns out as we were wrapping her quickly to keep her warm and cuddled, her arm got a little twisted. So sad! But, once we discovered this she was fine. She had so much hair and big cheeks! She was beautiful. She didn’t have to be, but she was- is! I was so tired, so it was lovely to just get to lay there with her and rest.
After not five minutes my uterus contracted again. Good grief! Can a girl get a break? I told my midwife, and she instructed me that the placenta was coming and I’d feel better once I pushed it out. I pushed and it came. What a relief!
The midwife stayed for four hours. She helped Scott clean up, gave me a shower, gave the baby a bath, checked Ellie and gave me some final instructions. Both her and Scott were absolutely amazing and supportive through the whole thing. I absolutely couldn’t have done it without them!
Scott jokes that some of my oxytocin got misplaced from Ellie to the midwife. After such a bonding experience I miss her so much! Last time she came to the house I cried telling her she made our dream of a homebirth come true.
It’s amazing how faithfully the Lord answered our prayers. Everything went so well, Ellie is healthy, I’m doing great, and the birth was so beautiful and amazing! I couldn’t have imagined a better experience. I’m so glad we had her at home. It was absolutely wonderful to be in a place that I feel comfortable and at peace. We are still praising God for His help and grace in all of this.