One of my favorite quotes that changed me, that I came to really truly understand before my labor and birth this time around, is from Sheila Kitzinger: “Birth isn’t something we SUFFER; but something we ACTIVELY DO and EXALT IN!” These words changed the way I saw labor and birthing, and transformed my whole perspective. I loved laboring and my entire birth experience. Thinking back on it, all I can remember is working hard, feeling lots of peace and joy, and then complete surrender, satisfaction and thankfulness! The whole experience was intensely powerful and amazing.
The night before our birth, my team of midwives came to see me because I was having contractions all day, on and off. Nothing too serious, but very exciting! My husband and I were ready, and our three boys were ready. (We didn't know the gender. It would be a sweet surprise!) I was almost 3 cm dilated and 90 percent effaced, so I was “ready,” but our little one inside wasn’t just yet … So, we went to sleep and Debbie, our midwife, was confident she’d be back early the next morning. A morning birth sounded wonderful and our prayer had been to have the baby on the perfect day and at the perfect time. Around 2 a.m., I woke with contractions once again. They would wake me, I’d breathe through them and fall back to sleep, but inside I knew this was different. I would have this baby this morning.
At 6 a.m., I woke up my husband, Steve. We were quiet and still. He showered and added all the finishing touches on everything we needed for our home birth: finishing music playlists, and running the hose to the living room. He made espresso for himself and lit candles in our living room. I ate yogurt and sipped on vitamin water. All was calm. Caleb, our 9-year-old, got up and he got dressed and was prepared to help and document everything with his iPod touch!
Our midwives, Debbie, Vanessa and Gelena, arrived by 7:45 a.m. We had made a play list of worship songs that were playing in the background loud enough for me to hear, but still quiet enough that I had to concentrate on listening. It distracted me from the pain. Things progressed quickly and I got into the birth tub at 9 a.m. My boys loved being a part of the birth. Caleb rubbed my back and helped get things I needed so Steve didn’t have to leave my side, and Jacob hung out quietly and stayed nearby so as to not miss a thing, waiting for the baby to come.
I had been in the birthing tub for exactly one and a half hours, and as much as the baby was progressing down, my midwife felt I needed a little gravity to speed things up a bit. A walk to the bathroom was suggested, so Steve and I made our way. While in the bathroom, the pressure I felt on my bottom was intense. One of my sweet midwives countered the pressure with her hand. Thank God for her. She relieved the pressure and I could concentrate on allowing our baby to move down. I lifted my arm up and down with each breath in and out as a visual and physical reminder for me to breathe, and to let go. Joshy, our 3-year-old, came in the bathroom to see how I was doing. Our little sweetie offered me Doritos. And the smell of them was not a good smell in the middle of labor! I was quickly encouraged to come back to the tub. At first, I didn't think I could make that walk back. But my midwife Vanessa was adamant that our baby was coming, and coming soon, and that if I wanted a water birth, I should move. I decided to take the trip back to the living room. Those little exchanges with my midwives every once in a while were so welcoming to me. It made me feel normal, like we were all just hanging out, and they made me feel protected.
During that walk from the bathroom to the living room, I'd lean on Steve, stopping to hang onto him for dear life during contractions–he was dearer to me than air during those few short hours! Once I made it back to the living room, Debbie and Vanessa encouraged me to get back into the tub because the baby would come soon. In my mind, I didn't quite believe them, although hearing the words brought me much encouragement! Once back in the tub, pushing came quickly. My body pushed down hard, without any warning at all. I looked to Debbie for assurance that I was OK to allow this new transition to occur. I was 10 cm. Steve was immediately there behind me, grounding me, as the power of pushing unleashed itself through my body. It all happened so fast.
Once I pushed our baby's head out, it was immediate relief. I laid my head back, thanking God that this day had finally come. That I was about to meet my sweet baby. That it was perfect in every way. I was so excited. I closed my eyes and listened to the sound of everyone's breathing in the room. Time stood still. It was surreal. I could hear everything–the encouragements from my husband to push, the calm voice of my midwife saying to go at my own pace, my boys' excited voices saying they could see the head, my sister, my mom … but it was quiet and still at the same time. My last moment of baby and mommy as one, and then in one more strong push, as my body felt this last surge, an overwhelming joy–our life changed forever in that one final burst of effort.
As the baby was born, our youngest son, Joshy, called out: “It’s a boy!” before I could even looked to see! My boys smiled at me and I could see their joy! It was just so amazing to have our boys experience this birth and to see how wonderfully normal and extraordinary God made birth to be. We feel so thankful and so blessed. Our little Matthew was born at home, in water, with lots of love at 11:04 a.m., Friday, June 24, 2011. He was 6 lbs 14 oz, and 20 inches long.
We are so thankful to have birthed at home for the second time, and very thankful to Jesus. He answered our prayer for a baby and blessed us with another sweet little boy! He also blessed us with a wonderful birth! I am thankful to our extraordinary team of midwives: Debbie, Vanessa and Gelena! Could not have done it without them! There are no words to fully describe the joy I feel when I think of how they helped me and so many mommies to birth this way. As a mommy who has been C-sectioned, I am forever thankful to experience birth this way. I loved it! And a huge thank you to my best friend, husband, and wonderful daddy, Steve. He was amazing, there for me the entire labor, breathing alongside me and holding me up … we were the best team!