It's true. Under the clear night sky on a warm spring night, I did a glorious thing - I gave birth to our sweet baby girl. My husband, smelling of patchouli (one of my fav scents on him), sipped a beer and with the other hand held my hand tight, kissing the top of my head and speaking encouragement when it seemed right. My other hand was held by my doula (I always recommend a doula!), massaging my lower back during those last contractions and coaching me how to breath when it came time to push.
My view was a half moon and a backdrop of stars. It was beautiful.
They all arrived for the last couple hours of my labor and delivery, and all hung out for the after party as well.
My labor was about 24 hours total. The first 22 hours it was just me and my husband mostly. We took walks, got it on (cause hey, it's gonna be awhile!), watched a couple shows of Parks and Recreation (our current Netflix season at the time), ate some of the table-full of food my girlfriend brought, and just hungout. It felt like a really long day.
My doula had come the night before when I started to have contractions to be my friend while my husband worked (he works nights). While I slept, she wrote a song for me which she played/sang for me the hour after baby girl was born. My doula was and is awesome.
Having amazing womanly support around me was just as it should be, at least for me. The month prior to my birth, these gals came over to my home and prayed with me/for me and over my home, my family and birth to be. It was so special. I was so looking forward to having these strong women at my birth to cheer me on and support me during this treasured time.
My labor was slow for the first 18 hours. My contractions were 30-45 minutes for most of that time then down to 20 minutes apart mid afternoon of baby's birthday.
I was having an emotional afternoon. I missed my firstborn who was with my mother and I felt like I was disappointing people (like family, my birth attendants, even my husband) with my slow progression and I was also bummed that things were moving slowly - I had presumed I'd have a shorter labor this time around, but that was not the case.
I talked to my four-homebirths-girlfriend on the phone and told her how I was feeling. She encouraged me to speak out (after I got off the phone with her) all that was bothering me, all that was making me emotional, and let it go. She also spoke to my heart and mind to embrace this labor for what it is because it is beautiful and special. She reminded me that this little babe I was carrying was so much different than babe #1, so this labor will be different as well - to not compare them. She encouraged me to let it remind me how unique and special this little girl is, and be joyful about her coming at her own pace with my body. Revel in this labor for what it is (special! unique!), and bond with my little babe.
It was just what I needed to hear and after I hung-up with my girlfriend, I spoke out all that was getting me down and asked Jesus to fill me with truth and peace and joy. He did! :)
My mom and sister came over with my niece and my daughter to give us some company, make me laugh and I needed kisses and hugs from my little girl. They hung out an hour and upon their leaving, my contractions jumped up to seven minutes apart!
I called the midwife and things started moving. My husband aired up the birth tub on the back porch and began filling it with water. My doula and aunt showed up, then my midwife and her apprentice.
At that point my contractions were just a few minutes apart. I could feel baby coming down.
I absolutely cannot sit down nor lay down during a contraction. I think the pain turns times two! I've gotta be standing up. It just makes sense too with a baby coming down through your body, right? I gripped the bricks on our fireplace those last couple hours of labor. My doula was so good to me, rubbing my lower back (I have hefty back labor) and she just being beside me was a comfort to me.
My husband was busy filling up the tub. The hot water did run out so they were boiling water on the stove and pouring it in the tub, ha! It was a funny sight to see the gals and my husband back and forth from the kitchen, carrying pots of water to the tub.
There was a chance I'd be delivering baby girl inside, but at just the right time the tub was filled and the water at just the right temperature for me and baby girl.
I got in the birth tub in-between a contraction. I was complete, transition closed, my body rested before pushing stage, then it was upon me - time to push!
This is the hardest part for me. I can do contractions fine because there is that gracious time in between contractions to rest, feel normal, have a laugh, eat a cookie (I have a friend who calls it Christmas morning, ha!). And really during contractions your body is doing most of the actual physical work. As the woman in labor your job is mostly mental - focusing, breathing, letting your body do what it has been instructed to do. It's actually a bit enjoyable for me, the feeling of baby coming down is incredible. I am in awe of the process as I'm experiencing it.
But now pushing is the hard work. It's where I grunt and yell and feel like I am having the most gigantic poo of my life. Fortunately, we live on eight acres in fine country land and our neighbors' homes are far enough away to hopefully not hear my primal sounds, or perhaps they thought it was a deer delivering triplets in the woods. :)
My midwife and doula instructed me in pushing and breathing. At one point, I let baby girl's head sit there to stretch my perineum - this was my midwife's instruction, of course. She was trying to prevent me from tearing down there and allowing baby to come out steady and not quickly. I had to breathe quick breaths during that time, and my midwife said "You're basically breathing her out right now...". I wasn't sure whether to believe her or not, at the time.
My midwife encouraged me to feel her head which I wasn't inclined to do, but she asked me a second time and so I did. I'm glad I did, I still remember that squishy feeling of her exiting head. So amazing.
I remember during delivery thinking "I'm too old for this." You may hear from others and in my experience twice now it's been true, just when you think you can't go any further, your baby is almost in your arms. Just keep on for a bit longer, and you will receive your reward.
Before that final push after my midwife checked for the umbilical cord, Ryan left my side to "catch" baby girl. I gave that final push and baby girl was caught in her Daddy's embrace and given to me.
Her warm wet body on mine, I can recall the feeling like it was minutes ago. The endorphins and happy hormones flew through my body in that moment. I remember the rush of what I could say was physical joy moving through my body.
I did it. We did it. Baby girl and I worked hard together. We conquered labor and delivery, and received our prize - each other. It is an incredible moment.
I so wish for every pregnant woman to have such an experience, though I know for some they physically can't and I'm so thankful for hospitals and doctors trained for those specific situations when the body is not doing as it should.
After baby girl was born, we enjoyed her. I delivered the placenta maybe 15 minutes after. The placenta was put in a bowl I bought just for the placenta at Target (how many bowls do they have bought for placentas, I wonder?). With baby in arms, I got out of the birth tub with support of my husband and the women. We walked indoors to my recovery room. We let the placenta drain completely (about an hour) so baby girl received all of those wonderful stem cells and nutrients.
She nursed on her own about 45 minutes after birth. It was so funny. She was rooting around, so I gave her a little help by bringing her up to my breast. She then lifted her head back (strong newborn!) and with a mouth wide open planted herself perfectly on the nipple. I laughed. She nursed.
Now if you know me, you know I love a good party. And that is exactly what this was. The gals, my husband and I, talked, ate, laughed, celebrated. My husband made coffee for him and the gals, and we all shared in our little girl's first birthday cake. Delicious! My doula sang the song she wrote for me the night before on her guitar. And we drank in this glorious night of our baby's birth.
All was precious, and remains so very close to me now.