It’s surreal to think this day even happened; it feels like a dream that happened in my heart. How do I even begin to write the majesty of the day our son came earth side, the day I became a mother?
It was the end of a long and emotional week. On Tuesday, December 2, 2014, our due date passed with no sign of baby’s arrival. My mind and my spirit remained calm, at peace, but my hormones took my emotions on a raging roller coaster of a ride! Finally on Friday night, after many tears and a long two-hour wait in the service lounge at the Honda dealership, I made my way over to Meaghan and Josh’s home—dear friends of ours—for dinner.
During dinner I started feeling strong surges of pain, very similar to menstrual cramps but far more intense. Our friends have two small boys and easily recognized the surges I was experiencing as contractions. At 8 p.m., after an hour of consistent spasms, I called my doula, Charissa of Alongside Family Support Services. Charissa agreed that I appeared to be in early labor, and we decided to head home to rest and prepare for the possibility of a long night ahead. However, the contractions were getting stronger, and I couldn’t drive. Thankfully we only live a few blocks away and Josh drove me back in my car while Chris followed behind in his Jeep.
Upon arriving at home, Chris busied himself with cleaning the house while I attempted sleep. The surges kept coming, and it wasn’t long before Chris was on the phone with our midwife, and I decided to retreat in the comfort and warmth of the shower. We called our friend, Meaghan to join us while we waited for our doula to arrive. I bounced away on a medicine ball in the shower and got up to stand through the contractions as Meaghan sat on the bathroom counter, telling me stories and timing each spasm while we waited. “She’s my kind of crazy” by Emerson Drive kept playing in my head with each surge. I remember smiling to myself at one point during this time and thinking about all the people who told me I was crazy for wanting a home birth for my first baby. Now was the time; this was the beginning of the work to bring my baby into my arms.
My doula, Charissa, joined us at 10:45 p.m. to find me still in the shower and Meaghan still sitting on the counter. About 30 minutes later our midwife, Winifred from Grove Midwifery Care arrived. I got out of the shower to meet Winifred on the bed where she did my first exam and determined that I was already 4-5 centimeters dilated. I was officially in active labor. Since I had tested positive for GBS, group B streptococcus, earlier that day, it was time to leave for the hospital for IV antibiotics. After all our specific planning for a home birth I was really unhappy that we ended up needing to go to the hospital but we didn’t want to run the risk of the baby getting sick from the GBS bacteria.
We left for the hospital at 11:55 p.m. and arrived at the Langley Memorial Maternity floor at 12:15 a.m. They checked my vitals, listened to baby’s heartbeat and then began the IV with antibiotics. By 1:10 a.m. I was 6 centimeters dilated as we left a very confused nurse behind in the maternity unit (she was speechless when we told her that we planned to birth at home) and walked past wide eyes in the emergency waiting room.
I guess no one expects to see a woman in active labour leaving the hospital.
On our way back we had to detour to avoid a roadblock that we had noticed on the way to the hospital. The last thing that I wanted was to be stuck in a police roadblock! Darn December babies.
While we were at the hospital, Meaghan had stayed at our place to set up the birthing pool. We were home at 1:25 a.m. and my birth team wanted me to stay upright, so gravity could help me to bring the baby down. I was back laboring in the shower again and Charissa, my doula, was really great about making sure that I stayed hydrated with cold coconut water to drink. By 1:50 a.m. I finally made my way into the large birthing tub and as I lowered myself into warm water I could feel the tension in my body relaxing as I squatted in the pool and allowed the water to cradle my weight. It was here that I really felt the contractions getting stronger and closer together. I could not longer speak or hold a conversation with anyone because it took all my focus to breathe through each contraction. At this point I was living for the rest period between each contraction and holding the hands of Chris, Meaghan or Charissa—whoever was closer. “Jesus Loves Me,” a Sunday school song of my childhood ran through my mind during each contraction, and I remember thinking how much I loved this baby and how precious he was to me. By 2:15 a.m. I felt my first primal, uncontrollable urge to push, and I knew that my baby boy wasn’t far off.
It was around this same time that the long hours of labor were starting to get to Chris’s tummy, and he decided that he should BBQ bear sausage to keep the hunger away. Normally I love bear sausage, but when all my focus was intent on getting through the rise and fall of each contraction, the smell of BBQ became an unwelcome distraction. Unknown to me, Meaghan and Chris started switching off between each contraction so that Chris could take a bite of food, run to brush his teeth and then return to my side before the next contraction began.
At 2:25 a.m. I was growing very warm in the birth pool, and my baby’s heart rate became inconsistent as my temperature continued to rise. Although my eyes were closed, focused on the work of labor, I could hear the concern in the voices of my birth team. Winifred got on the phone to call the second midwife to join us, as the urges to push became stronger and stronger.
My birth team set up a spot for me on the bed and helped me out of the tub. Windows were opened as someone stood on either side of the bed and fanned me down with magazines. It wasn’t long before the cool air reached my body and my temperature lowered, bringing the baby’s heart rate back down to a normal pace.
I labored on the toilet, squatted beside the bed and labored on my hands and knees on the bed, using every bit of gravity to aid me in my work. By 3:10 a.m., Linda—our second midwife—arrived and at 3:15 a.m. My water broke as another assessment was performed. I was 9 centimeters and just about ready to meet my baby.
By 3:52 a.m. I was fully dilated, plus one. Winifred and Charissa gently coached me on when to push and when to breathe as we began the beautiful labor dance that slowly brought my baby in, out and through my pelvis bit by bit. It took every ounce of self-control that I had to breathe through the contractions, allowing my uterus to push the baby out and do the work for me. Winifred expertly guided me through each surge, helping to control the burn as he began crowning and easing my perineum to minimize the chances tearing. We went back and forth through this dance for more than an hour, and I remember mentally apologizing to my neighbors for each primal scream as I found my release and strength to keep going.
With each burning contraction I knew I was getting closer to meeting our baby. I kept reminding myself that the pain was only temporary and the burn was good; it was part of the work that needed to be done to bring this baby into the world. This was the moment that I had been waiting for, preparing for, for months. For one hour I pushed with everything I could give until at last his head and left hand were finally released. In the next rest, Winifred carefully untangled the cord from around his neck and Linda checked his heartbeat. As the next surge began to build, his body shifted sideways while his shoulders emerged and the rest of his long slippery body rolled out.
“There it is!” I exclaimed as his body left mine, and I crossed over the threshold into motherhood. Winifred lifted him up into the air and rested him upon my chest.
“Oh sweetheart. Oh sweetheart,” was all I could say as I gazed down upon my little boy. This tiny, wet human, with eyes squinting against his first exposure to light, began to use his voice for the first time.
“Oh my God, my baby,” I gasped as the midwives dried him off and warmed him with receiving blankets. Chris leaned in close, brushing my hair back as we each couldn’t take our eyes off our little boy. “Hi Baby,” I breathed as he responded back with clear, strong lungs. He was absolutely perfect in every way.
“Good job,” I told him as we both lay there, skin on skin, in awe of the journey we had just accomplished. His cries stopped, and his breathing settled while Chris and I just looked at each other with amazement and pride. We had done it; at 5:11 a.m., our son, Chayton Texas, was born. A whopping 8 pounds, 2 ounces and 19 inches long, he was more than we had expected—and still is, in every way.
I’ve never felt so strong, vulnerable, powerful, focused, intense, primal, instinctual or so feminine as when I was bringing my baby boy into the world. When he was born, I was reborn. It was as if I had earned my membership into an elite sisterhood of women who knew what it was like to bring life into the world. I felt as though I had accessed some ancient female wisdom that had been passed down through the generations, bringing me into a deeper understanding of my calling on this earth.
Our boy, Chayton Texas, has changed life as we know it. We will never again be the same, and what a wonderful thing that is!
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