**Before I go any further in documenting one of the greatest and hardest things I have ever done, let me preface by saying that this is MY story. My choices are near and dear to my heart but I know that they aren’t the only choices. The way we chose to birth is not the only way, nor is it the best way, but it was our way. I have had three extremely different births, from an unnecessary induction that turned into a failed induction and led to cesarean, to a very fast hospital natural VBAC, and then to this incredible story. I have done it all, and what I know is that the only important this is that you as a woman are educated, informed and then given the power to exercise your right over your body and your birth. After that, whatever leads to a healthy baby is the ONLY way to birth!**
Okay, off my soap box. Let me give you a run down of some of the things we heard when we decided to have our third and final baby at home.
“You know you aren’t superwoman right?”
“Hospital not good enough for you?”
“You go girl!”
“Aren’t you scared?”
“Well let me know how that goes.”
We heard it all. We defended it all. It came down to one thing, I believed in my body’s ability to give birth without fear, without unnecessary medical intervention. With Hadley I had seen first hand what my body could do, and I wasn’t prepared to miss out on one of life’s most wonderful designs. Our decision was made together, prayerfully and with much research to back up our choices. We found a great, no scratch that, we found the best midwife there is, and hired a doula that we know and adore to make up our birth team. We saw one of Atlanta’s finest doctors to keep things in check, andfor he most part had wonderful support from the get-go.
So let’s jump forward through 34 weeks of prenatal care. I came home from a normal day at work and sat down at my desk to edit. I soon noticed that waves were coming and they were about 3 minutes apart. I went upstairs called my sister, and called my midwife I spent the rest of the evening laying on my left side and was able to sleep. The next morning I went in to be checked out and sure enough was 2 1/2 cm. I was shocked! We made the decision to stop working as well as start Procardia, a known medicine to calm uterine contractions. I continued that course of treatment until 37 weeks. Soon after stopping the Procardia I was in a car accident. This too caused some cervical change and I became convinced I would have this baby right at 37-38 weeks.
LM had other plans. We met the 37 mark and I went back for my last week of teaching my kiddos at school and thought every day would be the day. Still, no baby and I knew cooking longer was better and so we waited. It became very clear that we might not only have a 40 week baby, but possibly a 42 week baby. Through all of this, from 34 weeks to the night before she was born we would have contractions on a daily basis, sometimes painful and 3 minutes apart but never progressing into something I knew was “labor”.
Monday rolled around and I decided to throw caution to the wind, make plans everyday and keep myself busy. I knew I would be discouraged as my due date approached so I wanted to make sure I kept my mind and body busy. Monday night I started to feel a lot more pressure than I had been used to, but being a little jaded I simply took a little tincture my midwife gave me called Centered Mama, took a bath and decided to sleep. All night long I dreamed I was in labor but woke up once more with nothing to report. It was now Tuesday the 7th, the day before my due date and the kids and I had big plans. We were to spend the day in Kennesaw with my best friend eating lunch and crafting for her wedding.
I talked to my doula that morning and told her I was feeling pressure and had seen some bloody show that morning but no contractions and I was going to go about my day.
At 10:45 I left my house and at about 11:00/11:15 I was sitting at a red light in Kennesaw and had my first contraction that hurt. I was on the phone with my sister and told her about it and reiterated to her too that I would go about my day until I had a reason not to. My best friend was running a little late to lunch and so the kids and I went into Babies R Us. I was starting to feel a little frantic about the contractions coming four minutes apart and actually hurting a little. In the past they had been annoying, but these were stop the buggy, lean on the handle kind of contractions. I wasn’t walking through them anymore. We headed to check out and I loaded the kids in the car. As I was returning the buggy I had a contraction that made me double over the buggy. A man and his wife parked next to me asked me if I was okay.
“I think so, yeah. I might be I early labor but I am good!” I joked. The man laughed and the woman said, “Yeah, my husband just looked at you and said he had seen that look before. We wanted to make sure you were okay, good luck!”
I later told Chappy how pregnant I must look to get comments from random strangers about the status of my labor! Little did I know! We met up for lunch after that and as we went through the line and sat down Chappy began to look concerned andstarted timing contractions for me. With her help we made it through lunch and we decided that it would be best to head to my house, get in one car and continue our errands together instead of in separate cars.
The ride home my contractions spaced out and I was almost positive it would be another false alarm but I alerted Brock to get off early in case, and notified the midwife as well as my doula.
We got home about and Chappy and I started final “nesting” just in case. I really and truly didn’t know I was in labor at this point. I was sure things would taper off, as that had been the pattern for so many weeks. We did inform the midwife about 2:30 of our progress and based on what I told her she decided to come on out. Shortly thereafter Chappy and I noticed the contractions were about 2 minutes apart. Brock got home shortly thereafter and we made the call to call backup for the kids. By this time all the birth attendants and guests had been notified and we were waiting on the midwife.
Let’s fast forward because thing get a little hazy. At this point I was actively contracting, needing Brock to hold me and apply pressure to my lower back to get through them. I had been checked and all was set up and I was managing the pain as best as I could. At one point everyone was asked to leave so Brock and I could be alone as contractions were becoming a little less effective with all the commotion. When things picked up again and we determined that baby was face down and in an optimal position I decided to get in the tub.
The tub is pretty amazing. You are buoyant and it’s incredible for pain. It was so nice to be able to completely let go in between contractions, resting on the side. With Valerie constantly applying cool washcloths it was manageable. At this stage I was in “the zone” during contractions but in between was still joking and having conversations.
At some point during some practice pushing it became clear to my midwives that my contractions weren’t as effective because I had a little lip left. The contractions were strong and I believe I must have been in transition because I sought Val out and made it very clear I couldn’t do many more of those. Classic transition. I was done. If they hurt that bad and I wasn’t fully effaced there was no way I was having that baby, in my bathroom, in a blow up pool. If only I knew then.
My midwife talked to me about getting out and breaking my water and I agreed. I trust Brenda and her care of me explicitly. We moved to the bed and broke my water. I then moved quickly back to the tub. I knew that I had to be back in that water before another hit. Sure enough, contractions picked up considerably and I was then unable to keep myself from pushing during a contraction. Pushing felt, like the only way to cope. It felt amazing to bear down, and I knew that pushing was way better than simply contracting and I wanted to keep going. I soon found that pushing while kneeling wasn’t as effective and so although I was drowning a little with my small frame in that big pool, I made the flip over.
This last thirty minutes I remember very differently than those watching me. To me, it was a complete out of body experience. I felt like I was not enough. I kept apologizing, assuming my contractions weren’t effective enough, that my pushing wasn’t good enough. Through all of this I had an overwhelming urge to get this baby out. It became instinctual to reach down and support everything as I pushed and although I have never done this before I needed to feel baby’s head. At some point I remember saying something along the lines of “I cant do this, I am done.” In my mind, I wanted to fight the pain, keep baby put and also have him or her here ASAP. I said at some point, “I either need the pain to stop or the baby to be here.” Brenda replied that if I got the baby here then both would happen.
There was another point that someone asked “What do you need?” and I feel like I yelled, “I am freaking out.” It was burning, it was the most intense thing I have ever felt in my life.
Brenda said, “Look at me. I need you to stop fighting against it.” She caught my gaze, woke me up, and I knew I had to get this baby her and do it now. I was ready.
With the next push I reached down and was amazed that I was holding my baby’s head. My body, not me, was pushing and with the next solid contraction baby was out.
I reached into the water to pull it up to my chest. The midwives kept me from doing anything to fast and a hot towel was brought in the pool to keep baby nice and warm.
That moment y’all. I just went through the most excruciating pain of my life. I had been confident, then ridden with doubt and in two seconds it was all gone. Every emotion except pure joy and relief. I was a mommy again for the third time. I didn’t even look to see what we had. I just couldn’t stop crying, telling the baby hello and thanking God that it was here. We were vigorously rubbing baby, midwives were getting heart tones and making sure we had a good cry and the whole room was alive with activity. To be honest, I don’t even know who was who, and what was where but I could feel this incredible energy from a room full of people who were proud of me and in love with this little human we didn’t even know yet.
Then I heard, “Well what do you we have?” and I remembered I didn’t even know what my baby was!
I lifted that little bundle off of me, peaked under the towel and it was perfectly clear that my guardian angel had blessed us just what I had secretly hoped for.
“It’s a girl!!”
Again a flurry of activity as people hugged and congratulated and I cried all over again. I couldn’t believe it. I truly would have loved a little boy, named after my Daddy and looking just like Brock but I was thrilled for my little girl.
The rest is not much fun. Brock did skin to skin with Lindley and I was able to get cleaned up and in the bed. The midwives did their jobs working on me while Lenny was passed around and loved on and then I was checked.
I was remarkably unscathed and although I technically hemorrhaged, the blood loss was kept under control and one by one people kissed our littlest love goodnight and slipped away until it was just us. The clock told it was nearly midnight and we were exhausted but so in love and couldn’t stop talking about how incredible the whole thing had been.
Today we are still in awe. She is the most incredible baby. Other than being a little piggy like her brother and sister she is perfection. I haven’t even heard her give me a good cry (I know, it’s coming). She is now a day old, has met her brother and sister who are perfectly smitten by her and we are about to settle in for our second night here at home.
I know not all home births end this way. I know there are tragic endings to all types of birth, but I am grateful to report that our story ended with this beautiful little blessing. Our little 8lb, 19 1/2 bundle of sugar. She is named after my grandmother who we lost a year ago this June 19th. We now have two special little girls who are named after their incredible, wonderful grandmothers that they never got to enjoy, but we get to watch them grow and know they are watched over every day by a pair of beautiful guardian angels.
HUGE thanks to Brenda with Traditional Birth Services. I could not have done this without your care, your wisdom, your support and your love! Valerie, my incredible friend and doula. You were instrumental in in getting me through the hardest moments. & finally to Jennifer, my dear friend with J.Blanch Photography who captured these incredible images for us to cherish!!!!!