I had restless sleep, again, and woke up around five in the morning, fifteen days before my due date. I went to the bathroom, in the dark, and as I was wiping, I felt something very slippery. I turned on the light and looked down at the tissue and saw a bunch of mucous. My mucous plug came out! There was quite a bit of yellow-y mucous and I was so happy that this baby was getting ready. After washing up, I went to my books to read how much longer it would be. At the last stages of pregnancy — I think that is the hardest part – not knowing when you will meet your precious little one and waiting on God for his perfect timing. I was disappointed to read that the mucous plug leaves the cervix opening hours, days, or even weeks before labor, so I knew that I could still be pregnant for three or more weeks.
I had a midwife appointment at ten in the morning and Amanda checked me out. She was encouraged that my mucous plug came out but cautioned me against becoming too excited. I left feeling very happy and looking forward to meeting our little one! I stopped by the grocery store to pick up juice, fruit, some frozen food – items the midwives advised that I have on hand.
Then I was off to my sister-in-law’s house. Jenny is an amazing photographer and offered to take some pregnancy shots of me. I was still nine days from my due date, so we both thought it was time. It was so nice to see her son, my nephew Gavin, and hang out for a bit. I went to the bathroom to change into some nice white clothes and sat to go pee. I finished, but then the “pee” kept coming…. Did my water break? I called Jenny in and we both thought it did, but I still was not certain. I called my husband, Nathan, who was out of town on business, but was coming back home that night. He said that he would leave as soon as he could. I then called my midwife, Amanda, to let her know what happened. She was trying to figure out if my water really did, in fact, break when, a gush of water went down my leg onto Jenny’s kitchen floor. This was definitely it. The midwife told me to calm down and start heading home to relax and prepare for my impending birth. I was going to meet my little one today (or tomorrow!) I just couldn’t be more thrilled. I began to feel confident that I could do this. God made my body to do this.
Since I was at Jenny’s house and had not started feeling contractions, we decided to go ahead with some pregnancy pictures. I am so glad we did. It was a chance for me to relish in my pregnant body one last time and reflect on what was about to happen. I’m so thankful to Jenny for that time and her support throughout these early stages of labor.
Around 3:30pm, my contractions began. The first thing I felt was in my back. I knew my baby was in the ideal position, that is, back towards my belly button, so I was surprised I still felt a jolt in my back. Then the contractions began to feel like period cramps. We decided it was time for Jenny to drive me home. In the car, we chatted, but every 5 minutes or so, I felt intense cramping for 15 to 20 seconds. “Woh, I can do this, this isn’t that bad,” I remember thinking. By the time I got home it was about 4:30pm. Things were still very mild and my spirits were lifted because I was so excited. Jenny helped me move the kitchen table, set up the birth supplies, and she even began blowing up the water pool.
At that point, the contractions were five minutes apart, but only lasted for 30 seconds or so and were pretty mild. I was on all fours during this time, mostly upstairs in my bed. One of the midwives arrived at 6:00 to see how I was doing and she determined that things were still pretty early. While she was with me, things became a bit more intense and I found that it was hard to concentrate on what she was saying while they were rushing inside me. While she was talking, I heard another voice, my husband, Nathan, had arrived home from Indiana. (He later told me that he was speeding the whole way home.) It was such a comfort to see him and kiss him; “Okay, little baby,” I thought, “now we can do this.” Jenny stayed for a little while longer, helping Nathan with different things while I concentrated on opening up. My cervix felt about the same and I kept telling it to open up during the contractions; “the baby is closer, I will get to see my baby soon; I am closer to my precious little one!”
Nathan helped me into different positions. Early on I really liked being on my side on our couch. At around 8:30, we called the midwife to let her know my progress. Contractions were now 3 minutes apart but still only 30 or 45 seconds long. She said she would be over within the hour, but that things were still progressing.
Once Amanda got there, Nathan had already brought me over to the shower. I went in the bathtub on all fours and let the hot water spray down my back. The baby was in the right position, but I felt it very intensely in my back during contractions and this gave a lot of relief. I was getting so excited to see my baby and I groaned with each contraction. In my head was, “the baby is closer, the baby is closer.” I told them that I wanted to get into our big kiddie pool that was in our kitchen, but it was not quite filled yet.
The next couple of hours were excruciating, I tried different positioning and liked the shower and sitting on the toilet the best. My midwife encouraged me to lay on my side on the couch because there is where I felt the most intense rushes. She kept saying, “soft and slow.” I thought of my cervix softening and opening and she knew that that position told it to keep opening for my precious little one’s head. During each wave, now at least one minute long and only a minute or so apart, I concentrated on the baby and breathing deeply and heavily. Sometimes I could not control myself and began to shriek, but the midwife and Nathan kept encouraging me to do lower grunts which I tried, sometimes to no avail.
Finally, after several hours, I told them that I was going into the pool. Certainly they could not stop me. I got in around 2:00 in the morning. It felt wonderful all over my body. After about a half an hour, the contractions seemed to slow down and I had a few minutes of rest. I welcomed the break and did not realize that the next contraction would give me an overwhelming urge to push. As I began my first push, Nathan turned to Amanda and said, “she’s pushing!” and she encouraged me to do what my body told me to do.
I was so happy that I chose to not be checked for dilation; the labor progressed fairly quickly because I was thinking of the baby and not a number. At that point, she also checked the baby’s heartbeat again and it was still very strong. With each contraction, I faced the edge of the pool, holding onto Nathan’s arm and the side of the pool and brought my legs underneath me. Water was pouring over the sides with the movement, but I just couldn’t stop. The other midwife, Jamie, had arrived and rushed to get more towels to save our kitchen floor. The movement made it easier to push and Nathan stroked my back with each one. After about an hour of these intense pushes, I felt my baby’s head coming through. I was hoping he or she would be getting closer, but the head was stuck and seemed to retract back. Amanda sensed my frustration and suggested we change positions. She knew I liked being on the toilet, another upright position, so she asked if I would be okay to walk there.
It felt like I ran to the bathroom because when I got on the toilet, everything progressed smoothly. Nathan was to my left and Jamie to my right and I just kept pushing. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. “Baby, come on, baby,” I kept talking to my little one and telling him/her to come out. I pushed for another 30 minutes, and with every one, I felt the head coming out even farther. The bluish-gray head with bits of hair scared me a little. I knew my baby would be blue, but when you see that color for the first time, you know that the only important thing in life is to birth this baby. Amanda had to keep telling me to stand with the pushes and Nathan and Jamie were helping me the whole time. Jamie checked the heartbeat every few minutes and Amanda rubbed oil on my perineum to prevent tearing and said that I looked very good. I felt a burn that I had never felt before, but I still felt calm, I knew that this was the process: “Baby, come baby!” I was yelling for my baby to come.
Finally, in one push, my baby arrived in the world. I saw the blue body in Amanda’s arms and I just kept saying, “Baby, baby, baby.” They looked him or her over and gave some type of homeopathic in the mouth and once Amanda started pumping the cord with her hand, the body changed from blue to a beautiful warm pink; my baby began to cry. She handed me our baby, and in awe, I finally looked, “Oh, you’re a boy, Nathan, you have a son, we have a son!” My precious little boy. What is his name? “Ezra,” we both said, “Ezra, Ezra, Ezra.” I looked at him, his little hands, his precious feet, his nose, his eyes, he is perfect. Thank you God, he is perfect.
Amanda was massaging my belly and telling me to tell my body to stop bleeding, and within minutes, my placenta popped out – it truly felt like a pop! Amanda wanted me to go lie down, so Nathan took the baby and I slowly walked to the bedroom. Amanda was concerned because I lost a bit too much blood and with the final push, she knew I had torn in that instant. As I lay down, she checked me out and determined that the tear was too intense for her to repair by herself. She called my OB/GYN, who supported my home birth, and had three home births herself, and made an appointment for 10:30am. Ezra was born at 5:29am (at 8 lbs 5 oz), so we had time to snuggle him before piling up into the car. I am so thankful for Amanda’s discernment in choosing to bring me in. While at the doctor’s, I was stitched up and also given a glucose IV because I had lost a bit too much blood. I felt a lot better and we called our family on our way home.
Back home, we waited for immediate family to arrive and then leave so us three could enjoy the time together. We snuggled into bed together, no doctors, no nurses, no fear of him catching any bacteria or having someone take him away. My birth felt normal, safe, comforting. It happened, not as I had imagined, because life always brings you surprises, but with more joy than I could ever hope for.
**Published in the Fall 2010 issue of The Birth Project magazine.