My baby turned two weeks old today — two weeks old?! How and why does time go by so quickly! Zellene is such a delight to our family, and we’re loving every minute of being a family of 5! A number of you have asked that I share her birth story, so I wanted to take the time to write it while it is still fresh in my head.
I woke up on Saturday, June 28th in early labor. I was having mild, irregular contractions that were finally more than just Braxton Hicks. Maggie and Jacob had spent the night at their grandparents’ house, so Orin and I had the house to ourselves already. We spent the morning inflating the birthing pool, cleaning the house, and preparing our bed (we put 2 sets of sheets with a shower curtain liner between the two to create a waterproof barrier and then fresh sheets are already in place after the birth). I also decided it was probably time to assemble some of the new baby products so they would be ready when the baby arrived. (No, I’m not a procrastinator at all!) It seemed like time just kept passing. Whenever I was on my feet, the contractions would come, mildly and sporadically, but the moment I would sit down, they would stop. I felt just certain that our baby would be born sometime on Saturday, but as time ticked by and my contractions remained sporadic and mild, I have to admit that I felt discouraged and impatient. I tried to nap twice. Each time I would fall asleep only to be awakened 10 minutes later with heartburn and a contraction.
Around 4pm I developed a small leak from my bag of waters, but still my contractions didn’t change. Orin and I went for a walk through our neighborhood around 7pm. This resulted in a number of regular contractions, but again they stopped when I sat down again inside. I took a nice bath, and still nothing. Finally around 10:30pm (after spending 30 minutes online looking at middle names — yes, we were still undecided!) Orin and I decided to head upstairs to our bed, turn on a movie, and get some sleep. Wouldn’t you know it, the minute we were in bed and started the movie, I got a contraction, then another, and another. I started to time them. After 5 or 6 in a row, all about 4-5 minutes apart and growing in intensity, I told Orin it was finally time. He got back out of bed to fill the birthing pool with water and I sent a text to our midwives. It was 11:30pm.
Our midwives arrived around midnight and while my contractions were still about 5 minutes apart, they were also not yet very intense. We chatted for a little while between contractions while my midwives prepared other items for the birth. I have to admit that I lost all track of time from this point on. I stopped looking at the clock and just focused on my labor. At some point (obviously) the contractions did get more intense and I made my way to the water. They are usually more manageable in there, so that is where I spent a large portion of active labor.
As my contractions became stronger and closer together, I grew more and more tired. As the hours passed I started to fall asleep between contractions (while sitting up, still in the water). I was so tired, I can remember thinking to myself that I totally understood why some women choose to get an epidural. At that moment I so badly just wanted to sleep; I was exhausted. It’s funny actually, I had heard of other moms (unmedicated) falling asleep between contractions, and I just could not understand how someone could fall asleep during contractions. I couldn’t imagine getting to the point during labor where I was so exhausted that I would be able to fall asleep between contractions coming every few minutes. Well, now I completely understand! It IS possible.
I think the thing that kept me focused and encouraged me to keep going was, ironically, the fact that I was feeling so horrible . I know, especially after already having 2 other natural childbirth experiences, that you get to a point where you think you can’t handle it for much longer. I certainly felt that way as I drifted in and out of sleep. I just kept telling myself that I felt so awful, that could only mean that the end was in sight.
At some point, one of my two midwives, Shanna, suggested I get out of the tub and onto our bed, that way I could relax and sleep better in between contractions. I was so exhausted, that I figured she was probably right, and Orin helped me out of the tub. As I mentioned, I lost all track of time, but it felt like just a few minutes after getting into the bed and 1 or 2 contractions later that I felt the full break of my water. The next thing I knew I was telling Orin that the baby was coming and I had to start pushing.
I have always loved the pushing phase of labor. The contractions are not as intense and it feels like a relief to finally be past the transition phase. Orin said he noticed the relief come over me and a renewed sense of energy. My midwives said I pushed for 10 minutes – I think I had maybe 3 contractions during that time. I am very careful to try to take my time when I push. I also try to only push as I’m getting a contraction. I credit my slow, calm pushing to three births with no tears. At one point our midwife Shanna told me if I reached my hand down I could feel her head. What a great adrenaline rush that was, knowing our baby was right there ready to enter this world! Our sweet Zellene was born into this world at 4:31am. She was caught by my midwife Zellene (yes, our little girl shares her name with the first person to welcome her earthside) and immediately handed over to me. I placed her little wet body on mine and fell instantly in love.
One of my favorite things about having a home birth is what follows the actual birth itself. My baby is handed to me immediately, and we are given the opportunity to bond for as long as we’d like. I was so thrilled to have my baby in my arms, it was probably at least 2 minutes before I took her off of my body to FINALLY see if we had a little boy or girl. At that point, when you are finally meeting your baby face to face, the gender just doesn’t matter. Of course, as you know by now, we had a girl and just love her to pieces!
After every natural childbirth/home birth experience I have, I become an even bigger believer in giving birth that way. There is just something amazing about feeling every feeling as you bring your baby into the world. Sure, it hurts, it’s uncomfortable, it’s tiring, but it’s also empowering and amazing. Honestly, there are no words to quite express how incredible of an experience it is!
If you’d like to read more about natural childbirth/home birth, here are some other blog posts I’ve written:
- Maggie’s Home Birth Story
- Jacob’s Home Birth Story
- An Appointment with my Home Birth Midwife
- Why I Chose a Home Birth
Natural childbirth and home birth are two things I’m very passionate about. I think we live in a society where there is now a lot of fear associated with giving birth. I think women are missing out on the amazing experience of giving birth without drugs and interventions because of that fear and it saddens me because I know how wonderful of an experience it can be.
If you’re considering a natural childbirth and/or a home birth, I’d encourage you to research, research, and research some more. Enroll in Bradley childbirth classes and read some great books about naturally childbirth, like Husband-Coached Childbirth and Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth. You CAN have a natural childbirth and you don’t need to be afraid. It’s the experience of a lifetime!