Eleven months ago, I had a baby. My fourth baby, actually, but my first in so many ways. My first enjoyable pregnancy; my first amazing birth; and the first time I learned fully what my body is capable of. If childbirth doesn’t open wide your ability to see how amazingly our bodies were created, I don’t know what will.
Thursday, February 2nd 2011, started with me focusing on enjoying the end of my pregnancy. I was one day short of my due date, but had set my mind to not worrying about when the baby would arrive. My midwife had been over for my 40 week appointment the day before, and everything was progressing wonderfully. I had been having a lot of Braxton Hicks, and a little bit of false labor, but nothing to worry about. So we had settled in to wait.
On a side note, because my due date was Thursday, my husband had taken Thursday through Monday off, because he was sure I would go into labor “on time”. I was so annoyed with him about this, as I was sure I was going to go over my due date this time, babies come when they are good and ready, etc. I thought it was a wast of time to take time off work and then potentially have to take more time off when the baby was actually born, which I was sure I knew (ha) would be next week or even the week after.
That day the kids were overly crazy, tired of being cooped up in the house. By afternoon, I’d been feeling a little strange, and that, combined with the kids’ behavior, forced me to call my husband and beg him to come home a little early. He instantly asked if the baby was coming today, to which I made sure to tell him that no, the baby was not coming today, I just needed help with the kids.
By the time he arrived home around 4 in the afternoon, I was sitting on the couch with mildly painful contractions (that I was sure were about to subside). I figured if I could just have a little peace and quiet for a little while, I’d start feeling better. And then, I lost my mucus plug (so sorry for those that don’t want any graphic details!). I texted my midwife, just to let her know, and she quickly told me she was going to get her things together and head on over. I said she probably didn’t need to, that the contractions didn’t really hurt, and I was just resting. She was emphatic, she was headed over soon.
I went ahead and ate dinner that night (the best fish tacos ever!) and just wandered around the house in complete denial. My husband brought the birth tub in, started preparing things, all the while I assured everyone there was no way I was having this baby yet. My contractions just weren’t painful enough.
When my midwife, Susan, arrived around 6 p.m., she decided to check me to see if I was progressing at all. To my complete surprise (but no one else’s), I was already dilated to 7-8 cm. Ok, I decided, so I’m really in labor. It will still be hours before the baby is born, if these contractions are any indication. I walked around, chatted with my mom, the kids, my husband and Susan. All the while, Susan (and her assistant Janet that had just arrived), set everything up, and my husband frantically made the bed, organized things, started filling the birth tub and gave updates to everyone upstairs. My mom was beside herself with excitement, to the point that she could hardly contain herself in order to keep the kids calm! Carl had my iPod playing the labor playlist we had created, turned the overhead lights off, and left on only little twinkly Christmas lights for a soft, relaxing birth atmosphere.
Around 7 or 7:30, my contractions finally became more intense. I was still able to talk around them, with a small pause to breathe. I alternated between sitting and kneeling on our bed, breathing through contractions and reading some Scriptures I had written on notecards to help me focus. By about 8:30 I was having contractions back to back, with only a short pause in between. I decided I wanted to get into the birth tub, and I couldn’t get in quick enough! I could hardly walk due to the contractions, and I was so worried I wasn’t going to make it from our bedroom to the birth tub, which was set up in our living room. Thank goodness for a small house, because it was only a few steps really, otherwise I wouldn’t have made it. I stripped down to only my Bella Band and climbed into the tub (with LOTS of assistance from my husband). I immediately discovered how wonderful water feels when you are in labor. It was the best feeling to be submerged in the birth tub. My contractions eased, I had the edge of the tub to hold onto for support, and I was able to completely relax.
I was in the tub for about 10 minutes or so before I had the urge to push, but then began pushing with each contraction. I remember Carl reading my Scripture verses to focus on at that point, for which I am so grateful. I couldn’t read them myself, and hearing the encouraging words over and over helped me keep my focus on the Lord, who was truly my strength throughout this process. I also had a lot of prayer, from Carl as well as both of my midwives, which was such a blessing and so encouraging. I couldn’t have asked for better support. After 10 minutes or so of pushing, my water finally broke and with one big push, the baby’s head was out. I relaxed for a moment, and at 9:16 p.m., I pushed once more and Adele’s little body slipped right out, into our waiting hands. I had felt no burning sensations, no “ring of fire” whatsoever. It was so amazing how much easier the process was when in water and on my knees, versus lying on my back working against my body as I had in my previous births.
I quickly flipped over onto my backside to sit down in the tub and snuggle Adele on my chest. We wrapped her in towels to keep her warm, and I held her close, trying to get a good look at her beautiful, squishy, face. I had had such fear of birth defects (due to an early ultrasound that gave us a scare) or a labor mishap, and I couldn’t stop examining her for something that seemed off. I also couldn’t stop marveling over how perfect she was (is), and how I had worried for nothing. God had blessed us with a fourth child, a third girl (which we didn’t discover until about 30 minutes after she had been born!), and had given me so much more than just a daughter: He gave me a life changing experience. As corny as it sounds, it is SO true. All of my children’s births were special beyond words, but this entire experience was life altering. I would never have dreamed, after my first two pregnancies/labors/deliveries, that it could all be so wonderful. But it was. And I will never forget it. I am now a lifelong advocate of home birth. There are few things so natural and beautiful in this life, and I wish every woman who delivers a child could experience exactly what we did on that cold, February night.
And now, we’re a family of six. I wouldn’t have it any other way.