The Birth Story of William Edward
How I got here.
My pregnancy had progressed as planned. Well, mostly! I was low risk, my son was head down, I kept up with exercising and eating (relatively) healthy. I had passed all of the blood tests and met all of the requirements to have my dream home birth.
Why a home birth? To put it simply... I don't believe birth requires medical intervention. That IS a blanket statement, and I fully admit that. There are births that DO require this kind of care. However, I believe that number to be very small. And the upswing of interventions in westernized culture is, I believe, a result of the medical community's need for control, predictability, and convenience.
Strictly speaking, I did not want any interventions. Yes, that meant I was submitting myself to "pain". But birth is meant to be intense. That "pain" serves a purpose. And much of it can be mitigated by simply doing what is natural. When Daniel and I decided to get pregnant, I had already explored the idea of home birth. I knew a few women who had either had or attempted home birth, and their stories were inspiring and empowering. I wanted that. I wanted everything that a natural birth offered. A healthy start to my emotional bond with my child, a positive birth experience, the comfort of my own home, and an environment where fear wasn't the sole motivator for interference with a process that nature has perfected. However, we had our doubts. Any normal person would. I mean, births happen in hospitals for a reason, right? Well... yes. But those reasons aren't generally a result of necessity. So Daniel and I set up our pre-conception appointment with Cindi Denbow, certified nurse-midwife, and owner of Gentle Birth Options, out of Niceville. She threw the book at us. It was a pretty heavy book, too. It hurt ;) Daniel, more skeptical than I was, left completely confident in our newly formed decision to home birth. We were even excited!
Previous to my birth, saying all of the above felt kind of hollow. That's because I'm a first time mom, and no matter how much I say what I believe, until I had experienced it, it was never quite real.
Transformers. It all started with Transformers! Or should I say, the beginning of the end started with Transformers ;)
That Thursday morning I had had an appointment with Cindi. The week before she had checked me and told me I was only 50% effaced and not dilated at all. I had been pretty bummed, because I was so tired of pregnancy and ready to meet my little boy. So I was hoping for good news... and I got it! I was 1cm dilated! WOO HOO! Progress! She stretched my membranes a bit and sent me on my happy way. We had no idea when labor would begin... but it was a start, right? I and three other moms were all eagerly awaiting to meet our children with Cindi's help over the next few weeks. While at the appointment, I found out that one of those other mom's water had broken that morning. While excited for her, I couldn't suppress that small twinge of jealousy. Oh well, I'd meet him soon enough.
I then went to get adjusted at Health Source Chiropractic. I would have seen Sarah that day, but she was under the weather, so I saw her husband Shawn. Being as pregnant as I was, I was dismayed when he told me the center of the table didn't drop down any further to leave room for my belly. I thought to myself that this pregnancy better end soon, or my chiropractic care was going to suffer! Adjusted and happy, Daniel drove me home around 4:00pm.
We then got a text from our friend Dougy, telling us he wouldn't be able to make the movie we had all planned to see that night because he was sick. We had been taking every opportunity to see movies that we could. Afterall, we'd have a newborn soon, and that meant less husband/wife time out of the house! At least in the beginning. So at 9:00pm we were going to enjoy the predictable, yet totally worth it, explosions and crazy camera angles of Michael Bay at the local Crestview theater. I had been whining about the time, because it was late. But our friend Dougy could only make that time and our other friends, Nathan and Jacob, insisted on seeing it in 3D. So preggo exhausted me gave in. Men will be men. However, after receiving the text from Doug, we then realized we could go to the 5:45 showing instead! Woo hoo! Sleep! So we SOMEHOW successfully coordinated the quick change of plans for everyone and made it home in time to catch the show.
That's when things started to go a little... funny. I had been having frequent Braxton Hicks all day... but that was no new occurrence. They had plagued me my entire third trimester. As always, I ignored them. Well, ignored them as often as I could without running to the bathroom for fear of peeing myself due to the extra uterine pressure ;) But in the movie that night my tailbone started to ache. And I mean... ACHE. I hadn't felt pain like that since I fell on my grandmothers porch when I was 11 and bruised my hind end. I hadn't felt tailbone pain once in my pregnancy. I couldn't find anything about sacrum pain pointing to early labor, so I just assumed I had done too much sitting. PS, don't sit in the middle of the middle aisle at a movie theater when you're 39 weeks pregnant. The snooty couple at the end WILL judge you when you have to pee and shove your ginormous stomach in their faces. I mean, COME ON!
The movie was excellent. I didn't shed a tear this time. GO ME! Probably because I was concentrating on the relatively intense pain in my arse instead. We went home, and finally gave in to my urge to pre-watch the next week's episode of True Blood on HBO Go. We cleverly set up the iPad on a spare Amazon shipping box (who needs fancy stands...) and snuggle on the couch to enjoy. About 35 minutes into the episode, or around 10:30 pm, we both hear and feel a "pop". Daniel's hand had been resting on my ever so large stomach, and the sound we felt/heard might sound similar to when you pop your shoulder socket. He didn't acknowledge it, and I had a sinking feeling I knew what had just happened, so I said "Dear, help me up, I've got to use the restroom."
I stand up and... nothing. Hmm. Maybe I was wrong? I go and sit on the toilet and sure enough... GUSH! Thank goodness I had sense enough to go to the restroom! I thought that was it. I mean, for the volume... you'd think that would HAVE to be it. So I get up and walk in the living room and calmly say to Daniel "I think my water just broke." I get that blank stare and "What?" By this point I'm shaking, and dripping all over the floor, because despite my conclusion that I had drained all there was to be drained... I hadn't. I call Cindi, who I'm sure heard the fear in my voice, to tell her. My voice is shaking as I tell her the details. There was light cramping immediately after my water broke, which was when I called her. She told me that she was with another mom who was in labor (the mom whose water had broken that morning while I saw Cindi in her office) and that I was going to have a long day tomorrow laboring, so I needed to rest and try to sleep between my mild contractions.
I did as I was bid, and laid down in bed to rest between contractions. Five minutes of that and I knew that wasn't happening. By the time I had hung up the phone and followed her instructions, my contractions were about three minutes apart, and I couldn't talk through them. Daniel was frantically following my instructions to set up our supplies and blow up the pool, but he'd drop everything the moment a contraction came to come and hold my hand and talk me through it.
We had not expected it to happen so soon at such a late hour. Why? I'm not really sure. Denial that birth would ever happen, probably. I had Daniel text Cindi to tell her that there would be no sleeping, and that I could not longer talk through my contractions. Soon after (maybe 15 minutes?) I could barely breathe through them. I got in the tub and attempted slow, methodical breathing. I made a lot of noise in these pitiful attempts. A lot of "Oh's" and not the good kind either.
You have to realize how I felt in this moment. The average time of labor for a first time mom having a natural birth is 24 hours. Twenty. Four. Hours. That's what I imagined I was in for. That's what Cindi imagined I was in for. So when Daniel continued to update her on my progress, and she heard my attempts to breathe through contractions, she sent out reinforcements!! GBO's birth assistant, Carnley, soon arrived to check on me. Cindi remained with the other mother in labor. Carnley was there to help me labor, check on my progress, and keep Cindi in the know. Because Daniel and I were completely new at this, and it wouldn't have been the first time (I'm sure) for a first time mom to exaggerate her progress. Not that Cindi thought I had, but with two mom's in labor, she had to be sure! Carnley called Cindi shortly after arriving to let her know that my contractions were right on top of each other and that she may want to head over.
So about an hour later, Cindi and the entire team arrived. Two mom's had never labored at the same time before in GBO's history. Cindi only takes on 5 clients a month to prevent it from happening. Well, it happened! Mom no. 1 needed some relaxation to help her progression, so I got two labor teams that night! Cindi, Shay, Carnley, Brittany, Nicole (my photographer) and Michelle all arrived and began their practiced and perfected setup for a birth. I wasn't even aware of what was going on because my contractions were too intense. I'd open my eyes long enough to see a face and mutter an agreement or dissent, and then get back to laboring.They were angels. At every turn from beginning to end I had someone talking me through my contractions. Whether every single instruction was strictly necessary or simply existed to distract me, I have no idea. I labored quite a bit on the toilet (smexy. I know.) I got a lot of "knees apart, toes forward, try to breathe without all of the noise, in through your nose out through your mouth, slow down your breathing, drop your shoulders". Occasionally, they would have me change positions. I didn't exactly love this, because the first contraction in a new position was always ridiculously intense. Or sometimes I'd get caught in a contraction while I was standing up, and considering the intensity made me dizzy, I wasn't happy about those instances! I'd lay down on my side, sit on my birthing (yoga) ball, go back to the toilet, rinse and repeat. At some point, Cindi checked my cervix. I was 4cm. Ugh. All that and only four centimeters? Everything was a blur, and I couldn't tell you who was touching me when throughout the night. All I know is that it helped, and they helped, and their encouragement always quelled the ever persistent self-doubt that kept creeping into my mind. If this was early labor, then how was I going to make it through transition?
After a few hours of this, my chiropractor Sarah showed up. She set up her table to adjust me. After working through a few close waves of contractions, we attempted an adjustment. I can't tell you whether or not it helped, to be honest, because shortly after I entered into transition. I knew, because it was the first time I had exclaimed "I can't!" when given an instruction. With transition began back labor. Sarah and Shay's hands were magic. After my adjustment, the pool was finally ready, so I attempted laboring in the water. It definitely helped. I honestly cannot remember why I even got out of the pool. Probably to use the restroom. All I know is that, soon after, I was sitting on the toilet, and I had an undeniable urge to push. For the men out there or women who haven't had children... it feels like you have to poop. You're welcome for sharing. So with a growl and a grunt, I pushed for the first time.
Everyone had been resting in the living except for Cindi and Daniel. All it took was the first "sound" of pushing for them to rush back into the room and get everything prepared. Cindi asked to check me again, to make sure I wasn't pushing through 5cm and that I truly had dilated enough to delivery. I was 10 cm. It took her only a second to figure that out! The relief I felt upon her confirmation of my progress is indescribable.
I pushed for a few minutes in the pool, but Cindi preferred me out of the pool for delivery, since I was a first time mom and she wanted to help with perineal massaging to prevent tearing. So I got on the bed and we got down to business. This was the clearest part of labor for me. They'd give me instructions, and I'd peep a "Yes ma'am" on an exhale and follow. I did a bit of screaming, I'm not going to lie. And by a bit, I mean my throat was sore the next day. They instructed me to take that energy and put it into my push. It helped tremendously. Cindi checked my son's heart rate after every pushing session. He was doing swimmingly!
After 25 minutes of pulling my knees to my chest and pushing with all my might I heard "one more push and we'll have the head!". Sure enough *grunt* and out was his head! I was still in the zone and Cindi instructed me to push ONE more time. So I did. And in a second my son was on my chest, wailing. I was in shock. Shock because I had never done ANY version of birth before. This little person we had been dreaming about for months was here on my chest. Crying and wiggling and OURS. I loved him so much. He was beautiful. I had done it .6 and 1/2 hours later... I had done it.
He was born 6 lbs 15 oz and 21 inches long. He was born with a true knot in his cord. He was my little hero.
A moment that stood out to me was when I was close to hyperventilating during the pushing stage (a flare for drama runs in my family...) and Michelle was on the bed face to face with me telling me I could do it and to breathe. She brought me out of my anxiety and back to the reality of my birth.
Cindi quickly made sure everything necessary was in order, the left to help Mom no. 1 birth her beautiful baby. I had a small tear that Cindi came back and sutured a few hours later. It was the least of my worries and didn't pain me at all. I was too busy loving my sweet little William.
AFTER all of this... we called our parents. They were a little bit in shock that William had arrived without them even being clued into labor, but I think that worked out for the best. I know my dramatic laboring would have had them absolutely frantic, and their worried would have made me absolutely crazy.
My birth was fantastic. I'd do it over in a heart beat, despite my proclamation during labor to Daniel that I didn't want anymore kids ;) GBO made my birth amazing. Even when I felt like I couldn't go on, they were there to assure me I could. And they were right. Was it worth it? Absolutely. Was I worried? Not a bit. I felt so comfortable in their care.
My birth went nothing like I had planned. It was intense, quick, and I felt ill-prepared. However, I can easily say it was everything I hoped it would be :)
I'd also like to note... had we GONE to the 9:00pm movie... my water would have broken right then and there in the theater! Bahahaha.
Thank you everyone who attended my birth and made it fantastic. I hope that more people take advantage of the awesome opportunity to have a home birth. I can never thank you enough for giving my family this birth experience and story.
Other unimportant (but interesting) details: I had my placenta encapsulated and have been taking it in pill form to help with recovery and to help prevent PPD. I ended up having to use and wean from a nipple shield the first few days for breastfeeding. I had no stretch marks on my stomach, but tons on my breasts and a few on my hips.