(*This Post contains some raw Birth Photos from our phone so please view with discretion.)
My Birth stories start at conception, but for documentary purposes and time, I’ll be sharing about the time in general time leading up to the births and the births themselves.
For our third child, we knew we wanted a homebirth. Our first two were hospital births in Saint Louis and I had epidurals for both because I could. I labored for as long as I could without but in the end, a hospital is just not a home and my mind and body wanted an escape from the real work involved in labor. They were vaginal uncomplicated births but just night and day experiences from my other two at home which I will share about now!
I was around 39 weeks with our third, Edith Shalom, and my water broke as a slow and steady leak. I called my midwife and we waited for further signs of labor. It was peak summer and our a/c went out as well so that was fun. We fixed it the next day and all was well, I just remember how hot and miserable I was. I truly do not enjoy pregnancy. I feel trapped in my own body and unable to do the things my mind wants to accomplish as a home-maker. So I was just ready to give birth and hold my sweet baby! My midwife had me walking around but there were still no more sign of progress. She came that night and examined me. She found that the baby’s head was not engaged and that she was simply hanging out in front of my pelvis. I wore a wrap around all day and night to pull her up and in to engage and hopefully start labor, and nothing until…
It was nearly 24 hours since my water broke and I was getting a little anxious. We decided I would take the “Midwife Brew” (a labor drink involving juices, teas, and castor oil) to kick start labor naturally. I drank that horrible concoction and still nothing! Ha. I was sitting in the rocking chair in our living room around 3:00 pm with my phone nearby just patiently waiting and feeling very comfortable. Then, I heard and felt a “pop!”, feeling like somehow her little head engaged in just the way that it needed (or something?!) and I felt my very first contraction. I text my midwife and she said, “Great! This is what we’ve been waiting for. Call me when they become a bit more intense.” Two minutes later I said, “Come now.” She replied, “On my way!”
Well from the time I heard that “pop” and the time she was in my arms was THIRTY MINUTES. My midwife walked in through the front door JUST in time to hear her first little cries. In that half hour, I labored HARD in the rocking chair, groaning, and screaming toward the end. No one was around, the children were playing periodically coming out to see what was going on as my husband gently guided them back to their play. My husband wasn’t sure whether or not to blow up the pool because it didn’t seem like there was time, and there was not. At the end of that intense half hour, it was still just my husband and me. I was still sitting in that rocker fully clothed. I screamed for him to come, I stood up and said to him, “The baby is COMING!” As I stood, a gush of water rushed down my legs, he grabbed a towel and immediately pulled the rocking chair back and out of the way. We pulled down my clothes and the greatest sensation to push came along with the greatest relief from pain. It felt SO good to push and so I did. In one strong push, while standing, Edith came. My husband caught her and gently placed her on the towel. I held her in shock and relief and awe and bewilderment. I mean WHAT?! Ha. My midwife walked in the door and we laughed and I breathed and just couldn’t believe it. She tended to my exhausted body and soul right away and everything was just perfect.
I would of course be having another home birth for our fourth since we fully enjoyed the natural process of birth with our third. My previous midwife moved away so I called up her business partner and friend Gloria the week I found out we were expecting again. This pregnancy was even more miserable as I now had three little ones running around, a tiny home for all that running, and a VERY large belly. I’m 5′ tall so my babies have no where to go but OUT! Anyway, I made it through that pregnancy and I can’t believe that we did. I had intense anxiety when my husband would leave for work. I had chest pain, shortness of breath, and my mind was everywhere. Gloria actually had me go to the emergency room to make sure it wasn’t an pulmonary embolism since all my symptoms seemed so similar. I went and everything checked out normal, it was all just a stress response to the very real demands of life with small children.
My labor with Ada began once again in the heat of summer. I was also around 39 weeks and just READY. I had been having BH’s for a long time and we discussed waiting until labor started on its own or if I wanted to induce naturally with that lovely potion again. I obviously chose the latter! So I mixed it up, for the final time, and drank that baby as fast as my body would allow me to. Half an hour later contractions started and Gloria came.
This time, I was more prepared. I had undressed and was laboring on the floor in our living room, leaning over our couch. Contractions were increasingly more painful. For the first half hour, I could manage them in my mind. My water broke with a tinge of blood. I had no idea that was abnormal at the time so I didn’t think anything about it. Gloria remained calm and comforting the entire time. The last half hour became a bit hysterical. I gripped the sofa under the incredible pain and pressure of her head descending. I breathed and struggled and writhed in agony. I kept telling myself out loud, “I can DO THIS.” and Gloria encouraged my determination and repeated those little yet profound words to me.
My “I can do this” phrase quickly turned to “I don’t LIKE THIS!” (Ha!) as the last remaining minutes arrived. Gloria had an oxygen mask to my face by this point as I continues to move and WORK through those unending contractions. Finally, I sat up and moved into a sort of half squat and pushed one or two giant pushes and out came her little head. These pushes were much more painful like I was birthing a giant ROCK. Then out she slipped with the next push. YEEESSSS!
I sat down and Gloria gently rubbed her back and she coughed a bit and cried her little baby cries. I held her and cried and loved her with all my heart. I sensed a slight note of command in Gloria’s voice as she asked my mother (who was there the whole time, at first from afar then close as Ada arrived.) to help make a little bed on the ground so I could lay down. I did so and she tended to the delivery of my placenta (which was also incredibly painful.) Turns out…
That once my placenta was delivered, along with other signs that only Gloria recognized, that I had a partial placental abruption. If my labor and birth had not happened so quickly (a little over one hour total) we would have transferred to the hospital as my baby would have lost her oxygen supply. Praise God that everything occurred the way it did. Everyone and everything turned out alright, and I am forever grateful to Gloria, my husband, and my mother for the support and love and knowledge they all gave me during that time.
Amidst all the blood and newly surging hormones there in our living room, by sweet baby girl was finally here and our new family of six was born. They all piled into the living room, as I held her for a good hour at least, skin to skin, until Gloria gave her her little exam. I wouldn’t trade these experiences for the world. All praise be to God.