I am so thankful I got to experience the blissfulness of Jude’s birth in my own home. I’m proud to say that with the assistance of these wonderful women I got to curl up with my cats and new baby, in my own bed, in my own home, eating a bowl of soup, and feeling great after a nice shower. I strongly believe that the laid back mellowness of our maternity journey and labor led to his extreme happiness and mellow behavior. We started that morning as just a family of two and ended it a happy family of three.
My husband and I started trying for a child roughly two years before I got pregnant. We knew going into this journey it was going to be a bit more difficult thanks to my pcos. With a little help from a fertility specialist to jump start my system we found out I was pregnant the day after our wedding! My husband like to joke that we got to mark shotgun wedding off our bucket list.
Our journey started in Kansas City, Missouri where we lived, and because I let my anxiety get the best of me, and being in the Midwest where midwives were a rare commodity, I talked myself out of going to a midwife. I held my breath for months it seemed, worried something would happen to the baby. Every appointment was met with anxiety and nervousness. I was surrounded by less than enthusiastic doctors, sterile environments, overly bright lights, and pushy nurses. I knew from all my research and stories from a good friend that this was not at all what I wanted for myself or my child but I was scared to make any decision that was different than what I had always seen done.
When I was 6 months pregnant my husband and I decided to move across country to the Portland area. I had another appointment with my doctor and everything checked out perfect. We had reached the point where the risk of anything happening dramatically decreased and for the first time I took a small breath. I decided now is when I needed to make a choice for myself and my child on where we will go once we move. With one final push thanks to the birth without fear blog I sent an inquiry to see if A Gentle Beginning had any openings for a soon to be 7 months pregnant woman. I didn’t expect anything and painfully looked through reviews of hospitals when I got a phone call almost immediately from a very lovely calm sounding woman saying she would love to set me up an appointment.
A sense of excitement came over me. “I’m doing this! I’m going to go through with exactly what I wanted and not be bullied into anything anymore.” A 28 hour drive over 3 days at 7 months pregnant with two cats in the back seat we arrived at our home. No furniture, no friends, no family, and for me no sleep! I was scared and my anxiety was through the roof. I hadn’t felt the baby move in days really and I was running on fumes. The next day we stood in front of the little house on a rainy day ready for our first appointment. The second I walked in I was so relived and felt calmness come over me. The lights were low, there was calm music on, an oil diffuser was being used, a little boy was laying on the carpet half playing with blocks while rambling on about his rain boots and a rock he found in his pocket. This is what I wanted. I had not realized until that moment that my home birth also meant a different prenatal environment as well. I was greeted with enthusiasm, love, and warmth. Everything was simple, calming, and on my terms. They got a heartbeat and as soon as our baby boy heard it he kicked like crazy. I walked out of my appointment for the first time feeling happy and peaceful about my pregnancy. That’s how a mama should feel, right?!
The next few months were just as lovely. Nothing invasive or unnecessary like I had experienced previously. They kept me well informed on what to expect in the coming weeks leading up to the baby’s birth and how to prepare. A huge applaud to the receptionists for staying calm with my insurance company, which is not an easy task, and finding out that 80% of the birth would be covered! Everything was going better than planned and we were getting ourselves prepared for the next big step. Waiting. Here I thought the pregnancy was tough and the labor would be hard but in reality waiting that last 3 weeks of waiting were by far the hardest part!
On April 9th my contractions started to become more regular at every 15 min apart. My husband and I walked the mall for an hour and then went grocery shopping to try and not only help the labor progress but to try and squeeze in last second errands! Once home I stripped to only my underwear I was so hot and paced the hall of our home with windows wide open wading through the 6 min apart contraction. It was a miracle nobody in our apartment complex complained!
We called Carissa and informed her of my progress. Within the hour she arrived and brought a calmness to our home. I was excited now even though I know it didn’t show! I remember my mother texting me saying “hopefully you’ll be like me and it’s over in 20 min!” Wishful thinking! My long night was just beginning.
You know how they say have a birth plan but expect it to change? Yeah, that’s so true! I had spent months watching beautiful home birth videos and looking at photos and when my time came I felt like an overstuffed sausage that was being ripped in half! Not graceful or elegant at all! As the night progressed I stayed firmly planted in the one kitchen chair that I’ve hated for years. Funny how things work out in the end. I rode the waves with my husband in front of me steadily progressing through the night. Things slowed down and this weight of exhaustion fell over me to where I could barely walk and between each contraction I was falling asleep. With assistance I made it to the bedroom and curled up to try and get some sleep between contractions before they picked back up.
At one point I went to the couch to try and get a little more comfortable. I laid there on my side going through the motions of breathing and working through the pain when in my head I was screaming “STOP LICKING MY TOES!” Unknown to anyone else in the room my cat was licking my foot that was hanging off the couch! Shortly after I was rolled to my back and my water was broken by assistance. That’s when it hit me! I’m on my brand new couch in the middle of a beige carpeted living room! Shit! I sat up and tried to quickly make it to the hardwood floor. I successfully made it all the while my husband laughed saying I needed more puppy piddle pads under me. Swear this guy was begging for a divorce!
I’m not sure when they started back up but here I was doing everything I didn’t have on my birth plan! I was in my bed instead of my pool and on my back in one of the hardest positions to birth in. Even then I was very happy in a loose term. I was in my home, in my bed, losing my voice from screaming, and when I could lookup my cat was creepily staring me down wondering what kind of hell I got myself into! Even then I wouldn’t change a single thing.
After several hours of pushing it was suggested I try and stand to let gravity help me out. I thought “yes! I’ve seen those photos! I’ve seen those beautiful women standing so strong. That’s easy I can do that. I can be beautiful too!” I was so very wrong! I tried standing. The moment I got up and saw my reflection in our bedroom tv I felt like I was staring down my 14 year old self. The sweat from labor had saturated my hair and my pony tail had gone from a nice tight one in the back of my head to mostly out causing this extreme mass of messy curly Jewish fro to emerge before me! My husband couldn’t help it he laughed and held me up while I attempted to fix the mess. The next contraction was about to happen and I was ready. I had this. I would stand and be beautiful and strong and catch my baby like all those women I had seen! Nope! The contraction hit and I quickly collapsed into a heap on the floor. Not beautiful and not strong and if they thought I was able to bend over to catch my baby ha! That was unlikely at that point with how sore everything was.
So there I was on the floor of my bedroom with what little room we had birthing my baby. Damn they are going to charge us a carpet cleaning fee for the mess that’s about to happen for sure! Not more than maybe 30 min after moving to the floor his head was nearly out. They had me reach down and feel him and that’s all I needed to muster up the last remaining energy I had and push him out. I honestly didn’t even know he was out until I saw him. This entire wave of relief and fog washed over me for about 5 min. My stubborn radiant boy was there on my chest. That first big cry sent a wave of relief and tears came instantly. My overly exhausted husband who missed his first day of college was next to me crying cutting the cord of our first child. I was depleted of energy and so sore I couldn’t even bend my fingers but this squishy tiny human was healthy and safe.