Wednesday the 25th of February was a typical day.
One spent playing with, reading to and basically trying to keep up with our busy little 16 month old son, Cian. I was both mentally and physically done being pregnant at this point. By the time Cory (Husband) got home I was ready to pass out. So Cory let me nap. I slept for over 2 hours. I was in hibernation mode, which was amazing considering the last few weeks of pregnancy I could barely sleep half an hour without having to get up to pee. But I slept. I slept like a rock. And boy, am I glad I did.
I awoke from my nap having some pretty painful contractions, which had been the norm for a few days. So I got up, craving pancakes and ready to watch our Wednesday night tradition of LOST. I started on my pancakes. I had to stop here and there because of the pain. The contractions started to get pretty consistent… but they had been the same a few nights before, so I tried to ignore them thinking it was another false alarm. It got to the point that ignoring them wasn’t an option.
Cory hopped on the handy ContractionMaster.com and started timing. In the midst of the timing, our midwife called to check in. Great timing! A horrible snow storm was blowing in and she worried we would be stranded, she suggested we get up to Spearfish asap (we decided to have our home birth in my parents house in Spearfish, SD. I really didn’t want to deliver in our little apartment, and felt extremely comfortable birthing in the house I grew up in).
The drive up to Spearfish was the scariest trip of my life.
We were traveling 10 mph on the interstate. Visibility was zilch and people were pulling off, or spinning off the roads left and right. What normally takes us around 40 minutes, took us a good couple of hours. I started to think of things we had in the car just in case we got stranded and I had to deliver on the side of the road. Seriously. It was a scary situation. Needless to say, we made it. Baby still in the womb. Praise God.
My parents, sisters, Midwife and her birth assistant were all waiting with the birth tub filled. I was worried that it was false labor yet again and that it was yet another waste of a trip for everyone. Our midwife checked me and to my surprise I was already 5cm. It was real this time! She asked if I wanted to get into the birthing tub and I was eager to jump on in.
These moment are ones that I will never forget. Cory dimmed the lights, put on our labor/birth playlist and we just focussed on being in the moment. My husband got in the tub with me. Everyone left us alone and we were able to pray together and enjoy a few quiet moments with just the two of us and our baby. It was amazing. I thought to myself, THIS is exactly what I wanted for my birth experience. This is what I had longed for, even before I knew I had other options in birth. I was completely aware and comfortable just being in the moment. My birth experience, the one I chose was happening and I couldn’t have been happier. I only wish it wasn’t so late that Cian could have joined us… but he was upstairs fast asleep.
After awhile, our midwife came in and said that it would probably be best to get out of the tub and rest. She knew I would need as much energy as I could get in the hours to come. So my husband and I crawled into bed to try and get some sleep. My love was out in 10 seconds. There was no sleep in my cards. I was extremely thankful for the rest I had earlier in the day. I laid there listening to Cory sleep soundly as I breathed my way through contractions. I woke him up an hour later to have him get our midwife. Things were starting to happen. I could feel the changes in my body.
I was about 8 cm and in pain.
Our midwife knew the baby was posterior which can make for an interesting, usually harder birth. I tried different positioning and moved my body to see if our little baby would turn. I was starting to wonder if I could do this. It helped to concentrate on just one contraction at a time and to remember my faith and that I was made to do this. I knew I could. One contraction at a time. One contraction closer to meeting my baby. I HAD to do this. I had to or I would feel this pain forever. I needed to work with my baby and with my body. I couldn’t fight it. I had to go with it. So I did. I made it to 10 cm and was ready to push. Baby still hadn’t turned, but I was determined to work through it no matter what.
At this point I was laboring either on the floor or in the bathroom. I told my midwife that if I was going to do this, I needed to get back into the water. So I did, and it was incredible! I was able to move my body and work through the contractions MUCH easier. I used my voice and found comfort in letting out low, loud tones. Rhythm, in the way I moved and vocalized was an extreme comfort.
Cory was in the tub with me.
For both of us, it was such a different experience than our first child. I loved having his support in the tub. I needed him there with me. I was in my zone. Focused. I knew I had amazing support with the women around me and in my husband holding onto me.
By this time, my body was telling me it wasn’t long. I had been pushing randomly for a half an hour or so. I had to breathe through a few contractions because of our babies heart rate. Our midwife let me know that we needed to work hard. She said it was time to get our little lady out. There was a sense of urgency in her voice. She knew I was tired, and she knew the baby was tired. We all said a quick prayer and I pushed.
I was on my hands and knees in the water as I leaned my head on Corys chest and bared down. One long push, catching my breath and then another. It all happened so fast after that. I remember the feeling of my body taking over as if it was pushing on its own. I remember knowing her head was out, and then in an instant I felt relief. She was here. I turned around and leaned back onto Cory’s chest and we looked at our little girl as our midwife laid her on my chest.
The rush of emotion was like no other feeling I’ve felt before. I just kept saying over and over again how much I loved her. It was incredible. Our little Teagan. Here, with me. She was checked over while still in my arms. No whisking the baby off. She stayed with her momma and daddy. We both really cherished those moments with her. It was incredible.
“The whole experience was exactly what I had hoped for.”
I was up within the hour taking a shower, and felt AMAZING. No tearing, no pitocin, no waiting on the epidural to wear off, no vacuum headed baby, no blood pressure cuff going off every 10 minutes and making my hand fall asleep, no thoughts of a cesarean. Just my new little family, together… at Nana and Papa’s house.
There is nothing in the world like natural childbirth. There is NOTHING like a home birth. I am SO thankful that I had such a fantastic support system talking me through the worst of it telling me that I COULD do this. I think back to the experience often and feel nothing but Joy.
Since our home birth I’ve become a birth doula in hopes of sharing my experience with other families. To attend home births and see the strength we as women share in childbirth is absolutely the best career I could ask for. We’re excited to experience our 2nd home birth for our 3rd child in June of 2010.
Shannon Church is an active birth doula in South Dakota. Visit her personal website, Vintage Doula.
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