I discovered I was pregnant in April 2011. We were shocked, but not terribly so. We weren’t trying and we were (kind of) preventing; paying attention to cycles and such but, still, trusting that if the Lord wanted us pregnant, there wasn’t much we could really do about that. Well, He definitely wanted us to have another baby and once the news sunk in (and I had an ugly crying/laughing/praying fit in the shower one morning) we were over the moon thrilled! We discovered that my “due date” was Christmas Day 2011. How wonderful!
The next step in our journey was to choose our midwife. I am heavily involved in the local birthing community and know many midwives both professionally and personally. I think I probably had a more difficult time choosing someone because there are SO MANY wonderful midwives in our area that I know well. I asked for recommendations from friends and sister doulas and I prayed about my decision a lot. You know what I discovered? When God wants you to go in certain direction, He can often be VERY clear. I had a few midwives in mind when I started my search and over and over and over the recommendation was the same: Kim Watkins. We spoke with Kim over the phone for an interview and told her we’d discuss our decision and let her know in the next few days since we still had a couple of other midwives to speak with. Jason and I hung up the phone, looked at one another, and instantly called her back. Our decision was made. Kim and her senior apprentice, Abbie, were our midwives.
Christmas day came and went and I still had a baby in my belly. We had a wonderful time with family celebrating the holiday and we just knew we’d have a baby within a week. The latest I’d delivered a baby was 40 weeks and 6 days so I was confident that we’d have a new bundle by the New Year.
The week after Christmas was really nice. We spent lots of family time together, I had several chiropractic adjustments (I’d been going at least weekly since I was 15 weeks along), and one “dress rehearsal” of labor in which I’d contracted every 6 minutes for HOURS and called in my entire birth team. After having my mom, my midwifery team, and my birth photographer’s back-up (my photographer was at another birth) at my house for a couple of hours, my contractions fizzled and then just plain ol’ stopped. That was super frustrating but everyone around me was so supportive. At least we’d had an occasion to get everything out and together for the birth even though we’d had no baby just yet.
When the New Year dawned I was totally bummed out. I was 41 weeks. I’d never been this pregnant before and was, frankly, kind of pissed off that I didn’t have a baby in 2011 (I am a tax accountant’s wife after all). I sent the kids off with Jason to church and then attempted to drown my misery in heavily sweetened coffee and a marathon of TLC junk shows. Jason definitely sensed that I was “off” (how could he not since I woke up and immediately started bawling first thing in the morning) and attempted to give me lots of love and lots of space that particular day. He took the kids to play with some friends that afternoon and left me alone so my friend and massage therapist, Hannah, could come over for an acupressure appointment. It definitely helped me relax but, alas, didn’t start labor. This little one was not ready to be Earthside just yet.
I’d texted Kim and Abbie during that day and we’d decided that if we didn’t have a baby by Friday night, they’d come over and we’d chat about what to do next. I had no idea if I was dilated or effaced at all since my midwives were very “hands off” about that kind of thing. In fact, my pregnancy had been mostly intervention free up till this point with the exception of some blood testing. I hadn’t even had an ultrasound which was just fine by me.
On Thursday, I decided that an acupuncture appointment sounded like a good idea so I could relax a bit and possibly get my labor moving. I’d been having contractions every 20 minutes or so that morning but nothing I’d categorize as painful or labor-like. My appointment was at 11:30 (I had several “good” contractions during my treatment) and my mom went along with me for the day. We ran some errands, went to my appointment, and had a wonderful lunch out before heading to pick up the kids. I’d asked her to pick them up for me so I could avoid the “you’re still pregnant???” conversations. I know folks mean well but I was on my last thread. I continued contracting every 20 minutes or so throughout the rest of the day. After we put the kids to bed for the evening, Jason and I went for a walk and had such a sweet time just being together and joking with one another. We definitely had a special evening. I rounded out the day with a small glass of Moscato (which was wonderful) and a nice hot shower before going to bed.
January 6, 2012:
3am: I remember waking to my first contraction. I got up and went to the bathroom, of course, and them back to bed. My contractions were enough to wake me up but not enough to get me out of bed just yet. They were coming about every 10 minutes.
4:30am: I nudged Jason to let him know he wouldn’t be making his business breakfast that morning. I was in labor. I couldn’t imagine why I’d ever thought I was in labor the week before. These contractions were no joke and I had to breathe through them but I was still fairly comfortable in bed.
5:43am: Still in bed, I text Kim and Abbie to let them know that today’s the day! I’m still trying to snooze between contractions that are still 10 minutes apart.
5:50am: OMIGOODNESS I have to get out of bed. NOW. I’m no longer comfortable and I do not want to have another contraction lying down. No thanks. I decide to head to the kitchen and have some juice and cereal while sitting on my birth ball and checking Facebook before the rest of the house wakes up.
For some reason this morning, Jack and Caroline decide to sleep later than their normal 6:15. They both wake around 6:45 and I think can sense something going on. I tell them that I think today’s the day their new brother or sister is going to be born. They’re both excited. The distraction of getting them ready makes me doubt my labor and I think my contractions may have slowed a bit during this period. My mom shuttles them off at 8am to take Jack to school and Caroline to a friend’s house for the day.
9am: Jason speaks to Abbie and lets her know that he’s ready for her and the rest of the crew to head on over. It will take them at least an hour and a half to get there. I’m not ready for them just yet and am hesitant to tell them to come. I really don’t want a repeat of having everyone out and then sending them all home again but we tell them to come anyway. I also call my birth photographer, Lynsey, and put her on notice that things are happening but I’m not quite ready just yet. Jason looks at the back door and HAS to clean it. His nervous energy makes me laugh. The door’s been dirty for a while but it had to be cleaned right then. Hehe! Jason and I take a walk in the gloriously beautiful morning. The high temperature forecasted for the day was 73! It was lovely and our walk was long. My contractions are still coming every 10 minutes but are fairly uncomfortable. Still not painful, though.
All times here on out are based on my best guesses. I was entering laborland and my sense of time was definitely skewed.
10:30: We return home from our walk and I decide to have a snack. Grapes and oranges never tasted so good. And I need water. Lots of water. My mom is back from shuttling the kids around and she and Jason laid hands on me and pray over me and the baby.
10:40: Lynsey arrives and we chat for a bit. I decide I have to make Jack and Caroline’s bunk beds. Picture me on a bunk bed ladder breathing through a contraction. Awesome. I finish cleaning the big kids’ room and work through more contractions on the birth ball. They’re probably every eight minutes or so now.10:50: Abbie arrives. She checks on the baby with a fetoscope and does a quick check of my vitals. All is well. Kim and Donna arrive shortly after and begin bringing in their haul of birth tools.
11am: Jason begins filling the birth pool in the living room. I need him to apply counterpressure to the small of my back during contractions while I lean on something (couch, counter, door frames, kitchen table, etc.) and push back against him. He is right there every time. There’s just something about his hands and how they feel just right.
I REALLY have to work through my contractions now. I remember being a bit cold and standing in the sunshine coming in through the back door. It felt wonderful. Right then a contraction hit and I had to hold on to the back of the couch and squat to get through it. No more counterpressure. Squatting felt GREAT.At some point someone asks me if I’m ready to get into the pool. Easy answer. YES. I get in the water and it instantly relaxes me. I’m trying to listen to the praise and worship music that’s been playing in the background (that Jason had been obsessing over getting just right for a while – more working out nervous energy). I remember one song (though I can’t remember which one) that really moved me. I know that the Lord was in our home and guiding us through our birth. I felt His presence and knew that I would soon have my sweet baby in my arms. It was such an amazing encounter with the Holy Spirit. I labor resting on the side of the tub for a while and then find my favorite position: hands and knees. I no longer want to be touched much and I feel like the contractions are coming much more quickly but my pain’s not really increasing. It was such an interesting feeling to me.
I had a particularly intense contraction and was beginning to feel a moment of weakness. I needed to call on the Lord to help me through but I just couldn’t do it. I asked Jason to come pray over me and he tried but was overcome emotionally. Kim placed her hands on me and prayed for me. I talked to the baby and asked “sweet baby, come to me”. I then decided I’d like to try another position for a minute so I laid back against the tub and immediately had what I remember the most intense contraction of my labor. I could NOT be still and could NOT lean back. I roared through it and said “I don’t know what to do with it!” I meant the power. I felt SO MUCH power pulsing through my body and I honestly didn’t know how to cope and make it work for me. During that contraction I felt my water break and I knew it wouldn’t be long now.
I was vocalizing a lot, very loud and low. I was thinking “OOOOOOPPPPPPEEEENNNNN” as I moaned through my contractions. Again, I was not really in pain, just feeling an overwhelming power taking over my body with each contraction. For some reason I felt afraid to push and during a couple of contractions, when the power was at its peak I’d yell “SHIT!” Not like me at all but so necessary at the time. Now it just makes me giggle bit thinking about it. Maybe I was feeling afraid of pushing because I wasn’t sure if I was dilated fully yet and didn’t want to push if it wasn’t time. This was my first labor that was completely intervention free – I’d had no cervical checks and didn’t want any. Once Kim and Abbie suggested a little push to see if it felt right during the next contraction I was able to relax a little more and give myself permission to push. I tried a couple of times and didn’t feel ready just yet. I waited and moaned through a few more contractions until I felt my body pushing on its own. I could feel the baby move down with each push and it was such an incredible feeling! Several times I’d become overwhelmed by the intensity and Kim would calmly whisper affirmations to me to ground me. It was so incredibly helpful and kept me focused on what I was doing.I’m not entirely sure how long I pushed but I don’t think it was more than about thirty minutes. I pushed on my hands and knees and kept saying “c’mon sweet baby, c’mon sweet baby”. As the baby was crowning my contractions seemed to slow some so my body could stretch. This was so different for me as Jack and Caroline came out so quickly. This was better. I did feel the “ring of fire” this time and I don’t recall feeling it with my other births. It was no joke. I definitely yelled “It hurts like FIRE!!!” Kim had me reposition a little to relieve some pressure and it helped a bit. Then, within a few minutes my body gave some MASSIVE pushes and the baby’s head came out. I heard someone say “the head is born” and then my body gave me a little rest before I had to push out the shoulders. With the next contraction I gave another big push and my sweet baby, the one I’d been calling out, was born into Jason’s hands. He passed her through my legs to me and I leaned back, excited to see my new little one. We all looked together and discovered we’d had a girl! I knew it! It had been my feeling the entire pregnancy and I was right.
Little Emmalyn Ruth was born at 2:09 pm weighing 9lbs, 12oz and was 22 inches long. She is such a blessing to our family and her birth was so peaceful and beautiful. We did it! After waiting “patiently” for twelve days past her due date we finally had our homebirth! It couldn’t have been more wonderful.