Birth stories are intimate; they're personal; they take every ounce of our soul to write and in sharing, we open up a little piece of our soul for everyone to see. How important it is that our birth stories are shared! How else will we pass along our cultural knowledge of birth, how else will we pass along the torch to new mothers after us to learn from our collective birth knowledge and experience? In gratitude to today's birth story and the amazing mother who is brave enough to share her story with all of us. It is our absolute honor to have walked beside her on her journey through pregnancy and birth. In doula love...Christine and Tara
"This pregnancy was not physically difficult for me but proved to be mentally and emotionally challenging at times. Between working full time, parenting an increasingly energetic toddler, and my husband, Athan, spending extra long hours teaching and coaching high school basketball, we were a bit busy. We decided I would stay at home once this baby arrived, so we needed to sell our home. And we were hoping Athan would get a job in Texas so we could move and be closer to family. In the midst of that planning, I got laid off my job while 6 months pregnant. That turned out to be a blessing because I didn't have to work the last trimester and had time to pack for our potential move. In addition to all these major life changes and stressors, I was dealing with my own set of fears and doubts concerning the upcoming birth. Even though I had a successful home birth with our son, Niko, there were several recent stories of heartbreaking loss in the community, and I knew that every birth is unpredictable. Also at 37 weeks, the home birth midwife group I was working with welcomed a new midwife. Due to unforeseen circumstances, I knew it was likely that she would be the one to attend my birth. I was a little unnerved by the last minute changes and additional unknowns, but after meeting with her a few times, I grew more comfortable with the situation. I incorporated several daily practices to help combat my fears and doubts. I listened to hypnobirthing meditations and read the positive birth affirmation cards we made in our Birthing From Within classes. I listened to home birth podcasts, reread encouraging books and talked things through with my doula, Tara. I walked, meditated, prayed and did spinning babies exercises. I was feeling more positive, confident and mentally strong as Eliana's June 26th "due date" approached.
On June 26, I woke up with some bloody show, which I was excited about, but I knew there could still be some time. I went to the chiropractor and got acupuncture that morning. By evening, I was feeling increasing pressure in my pelvic area and the show was getting more mucousy. Some thunderstorms came through so I thought the change in barometric pressure might help jump-start things. I had a hopeful feeling that something was going to happen soon, so I thought it would be a good idea to shower and try to go to bed early. I awoke to some persistent cramping when Athan came to bed at midnight. I dozed on and off until around 1:30 AM when I thought maybe these are contractions and not just cramps. So I started timing them, and they were consistently 7 minutes apart and lasting 1 minute long. I tried to snooze in between and focused on breathing during the contractions. I listed to my labor meditations and birth playlist. I kept feeling like I had to pee, and every time I got up, the contractions would intensify and become more frequent. I ate 1/2 a granola bar to ensure I had energy for the labor ahead.
Around 4 AM, I had a bowel movement, and it was game on after that! (TMI?) Suddenly contractions were 4 minutes apart. I had to breathe deeper and wanted to get on my hands and knees during them. I was finally breathing loud enough that Athan woke up and asked if I was okay. I told him I was in labor and asked him to do some hip squeezes during contractions.
I called the midwife and texted Tara around 4:45 AM. I asked Athan to fill the tub so I could labor in the water, as the contractions were getting more intense. I got in the tub and felt immediate relief. In between prepping the bed and getting our son and dog ready for grandma to pick up, Athan applied counter pressure to my lower back and did hip squeezes.
Tara arrived around 6:00 AM, helped with hip squeezes and encouraged me to breathe deeper and lower. I drank coconut water and ate ice chips. The midwife arrived around 6:30 AM. She immediately checked Eliana's heartbeat, and it was great. She suggested I get out of the tub so she could check me and they could refill the tub with warmer water for a potential water birth. She asked me to try to relieve my bladder on the toilet. I couldn't do it and was feeling the urge to push while sitting on the toilet. I had to get on my hands and knees before making my way to the bed. I was very uncomfortable lying on my back while she checked me. I can't believe I was in that position for so long while laboring and birthing Niko. She checked me, and I was fully dilated to 10 cm, and she could feel the head! I remembered with Niko, I was 10 cm at 8:00 AM but he didn't come out until 12:10 PM, so I wasn't sure how much longer Eliana's labor would be. I labored on my hands and knees on the bed for another 4 contractions while they finished refilling the tub.
I finally made my way back to the tub and was immediately relieved to be back in the water. I had one contraction and was bearing down and feeling the urge to push. Suddenly I felt the infamous ring of fire, and I thought her head might be out. I asked the birth team what was happening, and they all reassured me "you're doing great." "No, I think her head is out!" I said, and the midwife reached down and confirmed, "Oh yeah it is, give a good push on the next one!" So I did, and out came Eliana at 7:04 AM!
I held her to my chest and was so relieved, overjoyed and in awe that she was here and came so fast! She had a wonderful layer of vernix on her body, a full head of hair, and really long fingernails! She had a sweet little cry, but settled down on my chest and after a few minutes, latched and began nursing. The midwife suggested I receive a shot of Pitocin to help slow my bleeding and prevent having to go to the hospital. I agreed. Tara and the midwife cleaned up the house and cooked us a delicious quiche for breakfast in bed.
Eliana weighed 8 pounds, 2 ounces and measured 19.5 inches long - the exact same measurements as our son Niko when he was born! After the birth team left, Athan, Eliana and I snuggled and snoozed in bed. Our prayers were truly answered for a safe, smooth water birth and healthy baby girl. We joked that if Eliana had come any quicker, we would have had an unassisted birth!