This birth story is for those who are scared of child birth. It’s a relief in the stormy wind of child-bearing hurricanes. Not that I am anything special of a woman—or that any method or way we chose was better—but this story is a testament to how women for centuries have been able to bring wee little humans earth side.
Rowen was our first pregnancy and our first baby. By 37 weeks I was in the “safe zone,” and my midwife was allowed to deliver my baby without any hospital or doctors required; and boy, oh boy, was I so done with being pregnant.
Let me back up for a moment and explain that my husband, Jeremy, and I didn’t always plan on a home birth. We knew we didn’t want a hospital birth, but we were leaning more towards a birth center. At 30 weeks we up and moved across the state, and I was desperate to find a new midwife that I loved and trusted. Thankfully, we found Beth. She however, only does home births—so we opted for that. It also helped that the biggest hospital in town was just a block away from our apartment, which calmed my worries (and everyone else’s, who thought having a home birth with your first baby was brave or, let’s be honest, completely insane).
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I had my 39-week appointment with my midwife on Monday, March 2 (our due date was March 6). All of my mom’s babies were overdue, and the thought of having to wait an extra week or two was not sitting well with me. I wanted to hear that I was progressing, that I was more than half a centimeter dilated and more than 75 percent effaced. I knew I would feel disappointed if there was no change. I kept praying for progress, like just a 2, or something—just asking the Lord if she could come, sooner rather than later.
At the appointment, Beth and I were shocked. As she was checking me she said, “Well you are already at a 3, and once I’m done checking you, you will be a solid 4 centimeters!” I was already dilated 4 centimeters! I had been having painless contractions for weeks (Braxton hicks)—I guess they were actually doing something! Beth said that she wouldn’t be surprised if I went into labor that night and that she was definitely coming this week!
I drove home from that appointment laughing and crying the whole way … I was going to get to meet my daughter soon! That feeling was overwhelming, and I could hardly contain myself. I was so ready to get this labor thing started and bring my babe into the world.
The next few days were torture … I knew she was coming soon, but WHEN? I had another appointment with Beth on Wednesday because I wanted to know if I had progressed any further, and I was having some kind of contractions—just not consistent enough to really be in labor. Thankfully, I had progressed to a 5, but no active labor in sight.
Most of my friends thought I was so lucky to be progressing this far without being in painful labor, but I wanted the pain. I wanted to feel my body getting ready to get baby out. (Call me crazy, but no pain, no gain right?!) And I felt so done with being pregnant and figured it was time for my little lady to make her debut. So I walked and walked, climbed stairs, bounced on the yoga ball, did squats, drank raspberry tea and ate some pineapple—anything that could help get things started!
On Thursday, we decided to get the ball rolling with some natural inducers. Beth came over around 1 p.m. After checking me, and still being at a 5, she gave me an oral inducer. Something about being a cervical ripener, which she said should just kickstart me into labor because my cervix was already so ripe and I was halfway dilated. Around 3 p.m. I was officially in active labor, having contractions every three or four minutes that were about a minute long. They weren’t painful yet, but they were getting there. They more so just took my breath away, and I had to concentrate. Jeremy and Ellen (my doula) took turns massaging me through them, and that was a such a help.
Everyone (my husband, doula and midwife) was just kind of hanging out at this point. We got the tub ready, inflating it and filling it with water. My husband had to run to the store to get a hose, and we boiled so many pots of water because our water tank in the apartment was so small. Jeremy also started making some curry for everyone, which I didn’t care for. Eventually, I had to pull him out of the kitchen to help me cope with the increasing pain.
At 6:20 p.m. Beth checked me again, and I was at a 7. I was allowed to get into the tub, and thankfully so—the contractions were really painful! The tub saved my butt! It took off so much pressure and made the contractions more bearable (if that’s even possible). I never screamed, yelled, said mean things (though I thought them, but didn’t have the energy to voice them) or vomited. I breathed, in through my nose out through my mouth. Jeremy was faithful to remind me of this when I started breathing too heavily and couldn’t slow my breathing down. I admit it did annoy me as much as it helped, but I did try and listen.
I did feel nauseous at times, but my doula brought me facecloths with peppermint oil on them. I would breath that in through the contractions. Wet facecloths on my neck or forehead felt really nice, too. My hip flexors hurt so much—not sure if that was because of contractions, the way I was positioned or just the sad state of them. In the tub I would hang my arms over the edge and keep my lower half as limp as possible, letting my body do the work. And it really did. I progressed just like Beth expected, 1 centimeter an hour. I would be in a frog, squat-like position during a contraction, and then I would turn over and relax my hip flexors during the break.
I hit transition after 8 centimeters—I got really shaky and my energy was depleted. I sipped water and my homemade electrolyte drink in between contractions. The pain was getting pretty unbearable. I started going into a more frog-like position with my arms out and my legs and belly just floating in the water behind me. I definitely told Jeremy at one point that I didn’t want to do this anymore … but I also knew there was no escaping it, and it would end.
In between the contractions Beth and Jeremy had to really get me to control my breathing and calm my whole body back down because I was starting to hyperventilate and my fingers were going tingly. A few times it felt like I was about to pass out or fall asleep. Beth says I did fall asleep, but I’m not so sure. I had no energy to even utter a word. Just breathe.
At 9 1/2 centimeters we decided to break my water and speed up the process. She had to do it during a contraction. That sucked! Ow! After that the contractions got to their peak, and I did whimper through a few of them. I remember this one in particular, it hurt so bad—I just looked at the lamp in the corner and thought to myself, This isn’t so bad, you can’t beat me. Somehow I still mustered enough motivation to get through it. It was God really. Then during this one contraction, as I was breathing and Jeremy was squeezing, my whole body contracted; it was such a weird thing. Even Jeremy felt it. He was like, Woah. I looked at Beth and said, “Umm, my body is pushing.”
At that point I don’t think I was quite at a 10 yet, but because my body was starting to push on its own we went into pushing mode. (Thank you Beth! I can’t imagine having to hold in that kind of pressure.) I tried pushing in the tub, but it didn’t really work. I didn’t know how to push, and with the water buoyancy nothing was happening. Pushing was SO much better than contractions, though. I finally could do something with the pain, not just bear it. Then Beth suggested we stand in the tub, so I stood there hanging on to Jeremy with all my weight. I gave him a serious workout, but that didn’t work either. So we headed to the bedroom.
I remember thinking as I was walking, Wow this feels weird … there is literally a head in my crotch. Once we got to the bedroom I did some squatting beside the bed, but that didn’t work either. Standing and trying to push at the same time is HARD. I couldn’t bear my own weight and try to push. So we finally got on the bed, and that’s where I learned how to push. While holding on to the frame of the bed I could get so much more power, and before I knew it I felt that ring of fire and heard Beth saying, “Stop! Stop pushing! You have to wait for the next contraction!” I had enough time in between to think, Come on contraction. Come on; lets go! It came, and after two big pushes she came right out!
What a relief. So amazing in every way. Her cord was short, so she only made it to my tummy, not all the way to my chest, before the cord was cut. I barely even remember the placenta coming out. Rowen screamed her head off, roaring like a lion from her first breath.
She was decently clean with lots of dark hair and even a darkish complexion. In shock and surprise, I remember thinking, This is my baby? I looked over at Jeremy and I could see the tears in his eyes. I saw him fall in love.
Everything about my labor and delivery was smooth. God paved the way. I had only one little tear that didn’t need stitches and a perfectly healthy baby. I went to the bathroom shortly after, and by the time I came back, the bed was clean and all the “birth things” were out of sight. Rowen was wrapped up in blankets and a hat, and I could just sit and hold her. I even actually got up to take pictures—I had so much energy! I went from being completely depleted to exuberant in minutes. She came an hour and half before her due date, weighing 7 pounds, 8 ounces and measuring 19.5 inches long. She also had a small head, which I was thankful for.
What an experience! Gosh I love my little Rowen. She made us a family. Oh, how we love her so!
And now that we are expecting again, I can’t imagine any other way of going through labor and delivery. I’m so thankful for a positive experience and my supportive husband and midwife team. And to God, who gave me the strength to do what He intended me to do from the very beginning. Welcome sweet baby Row!
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