I was born at home. My brother was also born at home. I grew up thinking that babies were born at home. But as I got older I realized that this was not the case. I also could not figure out why anyone in their right mind would ever give birth at home if you could just go to a hospital and get drugs. My thinking on this changed in my early 20s when I became very interested in pregnancy and birth. I read Ina Mae Gaskins Guide to Childbirth and my views were totally changed. I took a birth doula class and will forever have confidence that ANY healthy woman can have a natural birth.
On Thursday, March 3rd 2011, I was at the birthing center for a routine check. I was 40 week and 3 days pregnant and OVER it! I asked the Midwife Student Katrina to check me and see if I was dilated at all and if she could sweep my bag of waters. Every thing with the baby was fine and when she checked me she said I was about 1cm and 40% effaced. I went home some what disappointed that I was still pregnant. I’m an impatient person… I went to bed early that night as usual. Around 3 am I woke up to a tightening feeling in my abdomen and brushed it off. Just some Braxton – Hicks I was sure. But it kept happening and I got out my iPhone with a little contraction timing app downloaded (lame I know!) They were regular but not really strong. I got up excited and literately started ripping up some old towels for Peri compresses. I just could not sleep! I laid back down at about 5:30 and told my husband. He mumbled something and went back to sleep. At 7 am I called Nora, the midwife on call, and told her I thought I was in labor. She said to get some rest and that it would be a long while before anything major happens. I ate some breakfast and packed my bag certain that baby would be here in a few hours. Boy was I wrong! I made my husband take a walk with me to get things started. Nothing happened. No strong contractions, no water breaking, no nothing. We went home and he tried to convince me to rest but I just couldn’t.
Around 3 pm, Nora called to check on me. I told her it looked like nothing was going on and the contractions were coming and going but never regular or intense. Some time went by and I did start to have some strong contractions but never regularly spaced. Nora called again at 6 pm, and asked me to come to the birth center so she could check me out and see what was going on. My husband and I got there at about 6:45. She checked me and said I was definitely in labor and dilated 2 1/2 cm. She had us take a walk down on the water front behind the birth center. This is when I started having contraction that made me stop walking. After an hour or so we went back. My labor would intensify and then slow over and over again. I kept waiting for it to get regular and crazy and it just didn’t. I changed in to a robe and walked around the center and labored for a long while just rocking and holding my husbands hand. We ate and rested and at 2 am we agreed to break my bag of waters. My husband is in EMS and had to attend a few hospital births to get his degree. He thought after my water was broken she would be here in about 30 to 45 min. WRONG again, ha ha! Things really got crazy after that. My body decided it was going to evacuate every thing in my system out my rear end! This was the worst part. Every contraction I was pooping so much, I was crying at this point because my bottom hurt and I wanted it to stop! That went on for about an hour. Both Nora and Katrina said this is totally normal and my body was just getting ready for the baby to exit. My labor did a bit of a stall and some time around 6 am or 7 am, I cant really remember, Katrina asked if I would take a Black Cohosh tincture and lay on the bed. She wanted me to lay on my left side for 5 contractions and then on my right for 5 to see if this would really open me up. This was hell. The most intense, powerful feeling that has ever coursed through my body. I was slamming my hand on the bed, screaming the F word! It was indescribably painful.
After those 10 very strong crazy body morphing contractions I was at 9 1/2 cm… I felt the uncontrollable urge to push.I could not believe the difference in the feeling of having a contraction and pushing vs. not pushing. It was a rush, it felt good, but hard and still painful. My mother, step dad and-in laws were in the waiting room, they had arrived sometime around 2 am. At this point I asked for my mom to come in the room. She held one of my hands and my husband the other with both midwifes at my feet. I pushed this way in the bed for an hour before and her head would not come past my pubic bone. I was so exhausted and my body was hurting every where. In the back of my mind I was thinking WHY!? Why was this so hard and why did we decide to do this at all?! I asked if I could squat on the floor but Nora was afraid I would fall due to my extreme exhaustion. They busted out the birthing stool, the most awesome contraption ever created. I sat on the stool, my husband sat on a birthing ball behind me and supported me. My mom had a big cup of water and a hand fan to the left of me, Katrina sat right in front of me and Nora sat back and watched. I was given a spoon full of raw honey and a cup of Emergen-C to jump my energy up and for the next 2 hours things went in a cycle. Contraction would start, I would push with all my might, when I couldn’t push any more I some how tapped into a reserve of hidden energy and pushed harder. When the feeling to push left me my whole body would break out into a sweat and I would start shaking uncontrollably from the rush, my mom would hold the water to my lips and fan me and I would almost pass out back onto my husbands lap.
During this whole time I had my eyes closed and I had entered into some what of an internal trance. I asked my self what I was most afraid of. I imagined my self on a roller coaster, at the very top and letting go, just dropping out of the air. My team cheered me on the whole time and Katrina handed me a mirror to see her head. I reached down and was surprised at how squishy her head felt! Finally the dreaded ring of fire came. I sat straight up and shrieked that I could NOT do this. I was not having her today, she would have to stay in forever! It was blinding pain! When my contraction came I gave it my all! Her head was out!!! I all of the sudden felt renewed and very energetic. I smiled at every one and was so thrilled that the pain had almost gone away! “One more push and she will be out” Katrina told me. The next contraction came and I pushed with all my might, I felt her body slide out of mine slowly at first and than all of the sudden she was being lifted into my arms! I kept saying WE DID IT! over and over and just staring at her little face. Harper Lee Kannenberg was born March 5th, 2011 at 10:05am. She looked very surprised to be our of her warm little world. They threw a heated towel over her and put a hat on her head. She was all goopy and they suctioned her a bit with a bulb syringe and she started crying. I was helped on to the bed and snuggled my new daughter close.
I had to hand her off to get a couple stitches which were not as bad as I thought. My husband held her close for a bit until I asked for her back. I did not want to let her go at all. My parents brought me breakfast and left. My in-laws came in to see her and went home as well. I don’t know if it was because I was so tired or had just exerted myself so hard but I could not see anything a foot past my face. Everything was blurry and bright. I was pretty high from the whole thing. I took a nice hot shower while Katrina helped Chris weigh and measure her. 8lbs even and 21inches long! After we were all checked out and cleaned up we packed up the car and headed home! I was laying in bed with my husband and baby girl 4 hours after having her. I could not have wished for anything better!