During the last part of my first pregnancy I re-read Ina May Gaskin’s Guide to Childbirth. My favorite part was, and always is, the birth stories shared at the end. With these stories still fresh in my mind, I knew I wanted to write my own birth stories. I wanted to be able to share the magic of my sons’ births with other women and inspire them, the way I have been so inspired by the stories in Ina May’s book. I wanted other women to know that childbirth doesn’t have to be a fearful, highly medicalized experience and that when it comes down to it, it really can be just about you, your baby, and the amazing things your body is capable of doing. And hopefully you are as lucky as I have been and are able to find midwives in your area who respect and honor this and do everything they can to make your experience absolutely beautiful.
I went to bed on Friday night, the night before my due date, with the same thought I’d had every night for the last couple weeks-would tonight be the night? Would I finally get to meet the baby that had been growing inside of me for the last 9 months? I woke up an hour later, around 10pm, in a puddle of fluid. It only took me a few seconds to realize my water had broken. Within moments of telling Adam, my husband, contractions started. From the get-go they were hard and fast, progressing quickly from nine to five minutes apart. Right after labor started we called Denise, checking in with her every hour until 1:00am when my contractions were around five minutes apart, when she said her and Tavniah were on their way. We also called my mom at this point and told her it was time to come over.
During the early part of labor Adam alternated between supporting me during contractions and starting to get the pool set up in our living room. My mom arrived just in time to take over getting things ready, as the contractions were getting very intense and I found I needed Adam to be with me, holding my hand through each one of them. Even though I was having terrible back labor, I couldn’t tolerate any other touching aside from hand holding. I’m sure there were times during the birth process that Adam’s hands had to be almost numb from my grasp, but he never let on, just sat calmly while I gripped away.
By the time Denise and Tavniah arrived I was very inside myself, concentrating on how each contraction brought the baby further down, to the point where most of the remainder of labor is a blur. I remember being checked so I could get into the pool, which offered some relief from the back pain I was experiencing. I also remember the midwives injecting sterile water under the skin over my sacrum, shots that hurt almost as bad as the contractions themselves, but that also helped alleviate some of the back labor. Shortly after this point I started pushing and, because my baby’s head was crooked coming into my pelvis, continued pushing for what seemed like forever. We tried a variety of positions in an effort to bring him the rest of the way down. I could feel the top of his head, which was both motivating and frustrating because it felt like I had been stuck at that point for days. By the time the sun was up I was dozing off between pushes and sipping orange juice and spoonfuls of honey to keep up the energy needed to bring my little baby into the world.
I eventually ended up on our bed, where Denise and Tavniah helped his head come through and I was at last able to meet Oliver Alex and hold him in my arms. He was absolutely perfect! The next few hours were spent with me snuggling my new little boy while the midwives made sure we were both healthy. Throughout the whole process the interventions were minimal-never more than was needed and always done in such a way that they didn’t disturb the natural birthing and bonding taking place. I could not have asked for a more amazing birthing experience, it was serene, calm, and on my own terms-and I had the most beautiful baby boy, I could not have been happier!
Adam and I had just settled in for the night when I both felt and heard the “Pop!” of my water breaking. Even though I was four days overdue I was still quite taken by surprise as there were really no signs that tonight was going to be the night. Just like my labor experience with Oliver, contractions came on almost immediately after my water broke. Unlike Oliver though, my contractions were all over the place, ranging from two to seven minutes apart. We waited about twenty minutes after labor began to call Denise and since I really had no idea what the contractions were doing she asked us to call back in fifteen minutes. In those minutes the contractions grew increasingly intense, I felt very nauseous, shaky, and almost feverish. Adam called Denise and told her what was going on, she said she would leave shortly to make the almost hour trek to our house. He also called my sister, Jacqui, and told her it was time to come over.
I spent the majority of the first part of labor in the bathroom, alternating between sitting on the toilet and squatting in the tub. Eventually I made my way into the living room where I sat on the floor next to the couch, the only position that seemed to make the contractions even remotely bearable. Things were so strong and fast-moving that I could hardly seem to get a handle on the contractions and instead of concentrating on my breathing and bringing the baby down, I was completely overwhelmed by the pain and very unsure of whether I could make it through. It got even more intense when I realized I wanted to start pushing and Denise had not arrived yet! Jacqui called her and told her I felt like I needed to push, she told them to get me on the bed, laying on my left side, and put warm wash cloths on me to help slow things down. She also told them that if they could see baby to call her and she’d talk them through what to do. I was really hoping it wouldn’t get to that point, although Jacqui and Adam were both extremely calm and ready to deliver if need be.
Getting me onto the bed was no easy task. I give Jacqui and Adam a lot of credit, because I absolutely did not want to leave my spot on the living room floor. It took a good deal of encouragement on their part and eventually I was willing, with their help, to make my way to the bedroom. Shortly after I made it to the bed I really wanted to start pushing, but also really wanted Denise to get there and help me. She arrived about fifteen minutes after Jacqui called her and I could not have been more relieved-her voiced helped me find the confidence and breathing I needed to bring my baby into the world. The next 40 minutes were filled with lots of pushing and positive energy. Denise and Allison, another midwife, kept warm wash cloths on me and eased me through crowning, keeping me from tearing. Jacqui gave me sips of juice and water and brought cool cloths for my forehead. Adam was my rock, holding my hand and letting me bury my head into him as I used every ounce of energy I had to push my little boy out.
Two and a half hours after my water broke Finley Peter was born and I finally got to hold my newest baby boy in my arms. I could not believe what a big boy he was-almost ten pounds! Oliver, who had been asleep in his bedroom through everything (amazing since I wasn’t exactly silent and he isn’t the soundest sleeper normally!) awoke to find that the brother we had been preparing him for over the last few months had finally arrived. As I sat in my own bed that morning and snuggled both of my little boys I couldn’t help but feel so grateful for my midwives, my sister, and my husband, my dog (our very large yellow lab stuck right by my side during both births), the power of my own body-I was able to bring both of my babies into a calm, peaceful environment surrounded by such an amazing amount of love and joy. I am truly blessed!
The Births of Finley and Oliver
Finley Peter & Oliver