It was the middle of the night and I kept waking up every hour or so with a strong contraction. Eventually when I woke up that Tuesday morning, I started timing the contractions and they were about 7 minutes apart. So I woke my husband, Topher, and asked him if he would go for a walk with me and the dog to see if anything changed and maybe it was just false labor. We went for a walk and the contractions continued at about 7 minutes apart. We decided to go out to get breakfast at a favorite local shop called Liberty Market. After a nice quiet breakfast we went back home to make sure we had everything ready for the homebirth.
The previous night we had decided to blow up the birth tub and check it out just because we were excited! The day before and throughout this day I had been feeling pretty funky. Things just felt a little different in my body and I had thought maybe it was the hormones changing or something shifting. My mother in law came over to help us clean some more and then we decided to go to BJ’s for lunch. After that we stopped by Krispy Kreme doughnuts- of course I never ended up eating mine! On our way back home we saw my best friend Krystal driving, which was really bizarre because I had been thinking about her and hoping to see her but thought she was busy with nursing school. It just so happened she was done early that day! We ended up flagging her down on the road and telling her to meet us at Blockbuster to rent some movies! (We knew if this was the real deal we were still in for a long day or two) eventually we decided to call the midwife, Jude, and let her know what was going on just to give her a heads up. She wanted us to come see her at her office so she could check things out. So after a day full of cleaning and movies, Toph, Krystal and I headed out to Jude’s office. She checked me out and asked about the contractions but seemed a little less than convinced that I was actually in the early stages of labor- seeing as how my due date was still over a week away! She thought maybe I was getting sick, after taking my temperature and talking a bit we decided it might be good for her to do a quick vaginal exam. My cervix was tilted back a little bit and she didn’t want to get too invasive so she wasn’t able to see if I was dialated yet, but could tell that I was probably pretty effaced. She did say the baby was down real low, in prime positioning. In order not to get our hopes up, she advised we just go back home and try to get a lot of sleep, that this baby may or may not be coming in the next day or two. We left her office and decided to go to Mangos, a yummy Mexican place nearby. I tried to eat but all I could manage was a bite of beans on a chip and some sips of horchata.
Back at home, we finished a movie and Krystal ended up having to go. At this point, contractions were getting a little closer together at about 5-6 min apart. Toph and I were confident that this was the real deal and we would be bringing our sweet baby into this world within the next day or so. As I tried to relax and eat a little (hard boiled egg and apple) , Toph began to fill up the birthing tub and we decided to start setting the calm ambiance of our birth space. We had soft lighting, candles lit, our essential oil diffuser going, and then topped it off with some nice relaxing meditation music. We checked back in with Jude, updating her on the length of each contraction and the amount of time in between. She said to give her a call again when they were 60-90 seconds long in duration. Then Toph offered to do some hypnotherapy for me with a deep relaxation technique and a rainbow chakra clearing script. This script had a visualization of encompassing the qualities of each color of the rainbow. I felt myself become completely absorbed into each color until at the very end with the pure white light, I envisioned God himself handing me my little angel baby. (That wasn’t part of the script). This brought me so much comfort and peace and became a beautiful, cherished experience. I was amazed at how this helped me breathe and stay relaxed through the contractions. It was as if my body felt the sensation but didn’t have the need to react to it. It’s true what they say about contractions being like the waves of the ocean. I learned then, as I would even more deeply throughout the rest of the labor, that when you just allow your body to ride the wave of the contraction and surrender to it, your body is more able to do the work it needs to do. I never once questioned what my body wanted me to do. In fact, in this “labor land” I was so far into my right brain that no thought or judgement would come to mind. No need for analyzing, just being, listening, and doing. I would just find myself swaying or circling my hips, slowly rocking back and forth, and occasionally letting out some deep moans.
Finally around 2 am I decided it was time to get into the birthing tub. It felt so nice already and with the first real big contraction there I felt a popping like sensation which came with a sweet relief and I knew that my water had just broken. I told Toph what I thought had happened and we looked in the water and noticed some little floaties. This was one of my favorite parts of labor; I was so intrigued by the feeling of that popping and so amused at how it felt. Now we knew that things would probably start picking up pretty quickly and we should definitely give Jude and her assistant Megan a call and let them know it was party time! Toph called them and they said they would hurry on over. By the time they got to our place the contractions were really starting to pick up in pace and intensity. I hardly paid any attention to all the hustle and bustle that was going on. I just kept to my breathing deeply and remaining as calm and relaxed as possible. I spent probably about an hour in the tub switching up positioning from leaning over the side to lounging my back against it, always relying on Toph and his strong words of encouragement getting me through.
We decided it was time for me to get out of the tub and onto the bed in a squatting position and try that out for a bit. That didn’t last for long and I soon ended up on the floor on all fours circling my hips through each contraction. Back into the tub I went shortly after, continuing with deep breathing and hanging on tightly to my husbands legs and he presses down firmly deep into my sacrum. This went on for some time until I had an extremely intense contraction that caused me to empty the little bit of nothing left in my stomach. With that came some relief from the nausea at least. It seemed I was starting to reach that point near transition where sometimes switching things up again is good to do just to keep things moving along. Jude and Megan suggested that Toph and I go upstairs to the bathroom for me to try out sitting on the toilet for a while. So cute of them, they brought a little lamp of mine and a candle into the bathroom to keep the ambiance. My way up the stairs was not so pleasant when I had a contraction half way up. Not fun! But once I got to the toilet and it was just me and Toph it was actually kind of nice. He decided to take me into another hypno-deep relaxed state again, this time winging it with his own improv script. Which was absolutely beautiful. I felt my love for him grow immensely and had such appreciation for a partner that could remain so calm and collected and helped me to do the same. During this little hypno session I really felt some STRONG waves happening. It seemed to be one of the most intense parts of labor so far. For me, sitting on the toilet wasn’t the best for managing the discomfort and I didnt have a desire to go poo, but I know that it was necessary for me to experience yet another way to let go, surrender, and allow. Each time I would have a contraction I felt my body trying so hard to remain calm and still but the surges caused me to shake (what felt like almost violently to me but I later realized that was just my perception). Toph continued to speak softly and gently in such a comforting voice while tickling my arm.
Again, I couldn’t help but be amazed by this strong solid man who had been able to do so much more than I could have ever expected of him. After about 45 min- 1 hr we headed back down the stairs where we decided to check how far I was dialated and to my relief I was at a 8-9 which was really good news- we were getting closer! I found my way to the tub once again. Toph managed to continue to juggle so many things (bailing out water in the tub and boiling more, keeping the dog out of the way until his dad came to get him, helping out with whatever Jude and Megan needed, all while still being completely present to me and coaching me through each contraction every couple minutes or so!) what a rock star! The labor got even more intense still and I came back to my affirmations. Reminding myself “I am open”, “I am welcoming my baby” and visualizing my cervix blossoming open like rose petals. I found myself basically in a child’s pose with my torso lifted, or on all fours. I continued switching it up for a while in the tub, trying to push but nothing was really progressing from there. Jude would make a suggestion of something else to try… The funny thing is that in my head I would hear my left brain say no or have some doubts but then I would answer the opposite with my right brain! If only we could always live in that place of intuitive knowing! The greatest thing was that Jude would ask if I wanted to change something or she would suggest something different in order to expedite the process but she left it up to me to choose. I was in control and in charge.
Next option was the birthing stool. And of course I said yes! This is where the magic happens. We had a mirror set up under the stool with our GoPro (camera) to get all the footage. It took some time to get used to how to work with the position of my body and my different pushing breath . And it wasn’t for quite a while that I really felt the urge to push. I needed a little boost so they gave me a spoonful of raw honey and some apple juice. It really doesn’t seem like much but boy did it help! Now, the idea of holding my breath in and focusing it down my body with each push was a tough concept to grasp but once I did I really felt the progress. Jude helped me find the places to focus this breath by showing me with her fingers placed in a spot where I could push against them with counter pressure . Finally I was starting to get the hang of it and with each cluster of pushes we were getting closer! Another long hard solid breath using every bit of force and energy in me to push all that I have down. Once each contraction was done and the urge to push had left it was almost like an involuntary cry of relief or sob would happen because it was just so INTENSE and so much WORK. More work than I ever could have fathomed. It just kept getting more and more intense. A contraction would come and I would push with every lit bit left of what I had in me and just when I thought I had reached my limit, I knew I could push a little bit more. I remember thinkng during this time, “I dont think I could ever do this again” (of course now I’d do it all over again tomorrow!). We were getting really close now and Jude asked if I wanted to go back in the tub – knowing that that had been my original plan. I said no at first but she must have known that it was actually what I really wanted because last chance I had, with the baby’s head basically crowning,she asked again and I said yes! Somehow I managed to stand up and get back into the water! (This time Toph came in too.)
I began squatting and pushing and pushing and pushing! With each end of the push I would find myself feeling frustrated that I hadn’t done enough. Megan reminded me to let it go and just relax while I could. And now we are gettin to the crazy part! Crowning! “Ring of fire” as they say, really is a good way to describe it. Another very mentally,physically, and emotionally CHALLENGING moment. Topher helped me push by pressing into my perineuim to give me something to push against.
Again finding myself frustrated and a little bit scared of what was next to come, because I knew that I was reaching the peak ; it was going to get a little worse before it got better. But in all actuality, the moment I was anticipating had come and gone before I knew it and there really wasnt much of a “peak” at all. There was our little sweet Nora’s head making its appearance! We giggled at the sight of her dark hair flowing in the water, it was amazing to be able to reach down and feel my daughters head full of hair! She gradually began to turn as I continued to push and she had her eyes open wide staring up at daddy looking a little surprised as if to say, “where am I? What’s going on?” Yet still maintaining a completely peaceful look like we had just woken her from a cozy nap. Jude asked Topher to try to reach his fingers down to feel if the cord was around her neck, he couldn’t quite get to it so she felt around and found the cord and simply pulled it up over her head. With a couple more strong pushes, out came her shoulders along with the rest of her body. Topher pulled her up out of the water and set this magical little angel on my chest. I can’t say that I had that huge sense of relief “like popping the biggest pimple” as some women say… But at that moment it was as if time just stopped and nothing else mattered in the world. Sept 26, at 8:23 a,. I had my beautiful, healthy baby girl in my arms and I was able to bring her into the world exactly as I had hoped and dreamed for many months.
She weighed 7 lbs 8 oz and was 21 inches long. After a few minutes of basking in these pure moments of bliss, we decided to get out of the water and onto the bed so I could work on birthing the placenta. It took a little while to feel the urge to push so in the meantime I held my precious newborn at my breast and watched in amazement as she latched on to breastfeed like a natural pro.
With a little push and help from Jude, my placenta had worked its way out. There we sat, mesmerized by this precious life that we had created together. If there was such a thing as perfection, this was it.