She’s here … Yes, our little girl (the one I just knew we were having) was born in our home on Saturday morning, January 4th. Before I share her birth story, I really wanted to share this letter I wrote to our baby before we conceived her. Back in March, after months of trying for a baby, I was sitting at home, and was struck with a vision. It was one of the most powerful things I’ve ever felt. I had no idea we’d learn of her the very next month … This vision brought me so much peace, and I knew it was a matter of time before we’d start our family.
**This post was written & saved on March 3, 2013**
I know you already. Those words are strange to write, but with every ounce of my being, I know you. Standing on the beach in January brought me a wave of peace. Then, while sitting at home, it struck me: every part of you … I know that as of now, you’re just a dream of our future, but I know so much about you. In my vision, you were a sweet baby girl. We named you Alba. We had you in our home, and there was a golden light shining in through the windows on the day you were born. Our home felt warm and comfortable, and we were so very happy to have your sweet presence.
Even though my first pregnancy ended in loss, I have not given up hope that we’ll be holding you one day. At times, it feels very surreal … maybe un-real that we’ll ever have a baby of our own. I know it’s because we’ve never gone through it before. We haven’t been down this path, so it feels so very foreign, and unknown.
Maybe it’ll be a few more months until we learn of you. After all, you were born on a sunshine drenched day, which makes me think it was summertime. Oh baby, I wouldn’t mind if you were here earlier. Even in the middle of a cold winter night. Even if you were a little boy … I’d be the happiest person in the world. Who cares if my vision was wrong. My soul aches at times when I think about how much I want to raise you & foster your life. But, my soul is comforted when I remember how things, all things, happen when they are meant to happen.
I won’t share this post with anyone until you are born … but for now, I want you to know I feel you in my heart. I know you already. Whether you’re a little Alba or a little boy, we’ll love you more than the number of stars in the sky.
Okay, now time for the story of how we welcomed her earthside.
I had been feeling like labor was eminent for about a week. Sure, I knew I wanted to have this baby, but physically, things were really changing, and we were so excited.
On Friday evening, we were going to head to the movies, but as we were getting ready to leave, I needed a little nap, and then I got some anxiety about timing … Not wanting to stress out, we opted to head out to a little hole-in-the-wall Italian place that we’ve been wanting to visit for some time. I chose to eat gluten AND dairy (which I typically avoid), and obviously, I had no idea I’d be going into labor later that night. If so, I probably would have stuck with carrot sticks. Either way, the food was amazing.
After dinner, we came home, watched an episode of The Sopranos, and headed to bed at 11:30. At midnight, I started having contractions. Not wanting to alarm Jimmy (or get too excited), I tried ignoring them. Soon after, I needed to use the restroom (thanks to the Italian food, blah). When I noticed the stomach cramps weren’t going away, we started using our contraction timer. They were an average of 3-8 minutes apart, and lasting a minute. We called our midwife, Heather, to let her know something was happening. She told us to relax, start filling the birth pool, and call her when things got more intense or regular.
Due to the baby’s position (ROA), we were warned that my labor might be rather short & intense. It was actually a really beautiful conversation with another one of our midwives, Linda. She just said to take it one contraction at a time … That I was likely to have a shorter labor, and that I should ignore the clock no matter what. No comparing my labor to others that I have heard about.
There reached a point with the contractions that I stopped using my timer. I think I just knew this was the real deal, and I didn’t really want to fuss with my phone each time. I picked different places in the house: yoga ball by our bed, the toilet, a foot stool, the couch, etc. to get through contractions. Jimmy was amazing at providing me with counter pressure and verbal coaching I so needed.
At about 2:30, I went to the restroom, and I had lost my mucus plug! This was so very exciting. It meant that things were really changing as far as my cervix was concerned. Up until this point (including my entire pregnancy), I hadn’t had a pelvic exam (the midwifery model of care understands that cervical dilation isn’t always the best indicator of labor … you could be dilated for weeks before true labor starts).
I have no idea when Jimmy spoke with Heather again, but the next thing I knew, she had arrived, and was setting up all of her equipment. This was about 3:45, and it’s pretty much the last part of the labor that I really remember being in my body. Actually, the very last part that I was really consciously aware of was my water breaking. At around 4:40, I was on the couch, going through a contraction, and my water broke in a glorious gush. Some of you might remember that since week 25 or so, I kept thinking my water was breaking. Turns out, it was very much intact, and that gush was so amazing. It wouldn’t stop, and I remember freaking out that I was on hands & knees on the couch, and wanted to get onto my birth blanket right away.
After another contraction in the living room, the remainder of my mucus plug & bloody show were gone … Things got so intense.
I spent the next bit of time transitioning between the bathroom and my birth blanket on the living room floor. I kept feeling like I needed to sit on the toilet, but to my surprise, I never had to poop (hooray) … it just felt that way. While in the bathroom, I started getting very primal. I would almost lose consciousness during the contractions, and got through them by deep breathing & loud vocalization. Towards the end of each one, I remember that I’d open my eyes & Jimmy was right there to welcome me back. At this point, he was sitting on the edge of the bathtub, and I used him as a point to brace my legs.
Around 5:30 Heather suggested that we go back to the living room. Since our bathroom is so teeny, she knew it was not the ideal place for me to deliver this baby (plus, who wants to give birth on the toilet). I came back out to the birth blanket, got on all fours, and would rest on a pile of pillows between contractions. Jimmy said the contractions were less than 1 minute apart at this point. Again, I was so out of it. I feel like I maybe had 4 contractions, total while I was laboring on the floor. It’s still so odd to me how my brain just checked out.
This entire time, Jimmy & Heather were working together (emptying water from the pool, boiling water, carrying it through the house to warm the pool) … I’ll just cut to the chase now: I never got into the pool. As soon as Heather poured in the last bucket, she told me I could get in, and my only response was, “No!” … I feel so bad about this one … but, Alba would be born shortly after, and my body probably knew this.
This is a good time to mention that contractions were so different than I thought they’d be. From the ones that I can remember, it was so intense … way more painful and different than I prepared myself for. Instead of managing the contractions with breathing & mindfulness, my body just knew my brain needed to shut down. No thinking … just primal yelling and vocalization. Thank goodness my body took care of my mind.
Our second midwife, Amy Jo, arrived at 6:15. She walked in the door as I was having one of my last vocalizing contractions, and I was starting my pushing. My body started pushing on it’s own. I had read somewhere that the body pushing on it’s own is a myth. I am here to say that it can push on it’s own. I had no control.
Each contraction brought more pushing. I was still on hands & knees. Jimmy was at my head, putting the most glorious counter pressure on my forearms. Again, the pushing was so different from what I imagined it would be. My body was pushing so effectively, but my brain kept trying to keep it from happening. I felt like she was coming out of my butt (lovely image), and the “ring of fire” was more like a horseshoe of fire with most of the intensity up by my urethra. I remember being so afraid that I was going to damage myself. I voiced my concerns to the midwives who assured me that I was stretching beautifully, and everything was just fine. They never yelled “PUSH!” or anything … Just told me to breath when I needed to, push when I wanted to, and that my body was doing what it should.
Within a matter of minutes, Heather & Amy Jo had coached me to the point where baby’s head was getting ready to emerge. I kept reaching back to feel the top of her head. So much motivation. Next thing I knew, Amy Jo & Jimmy switched places so he could catch the baby. Heather handed him a wash cloth to place on the top of the baby’s head as she emerged.
One big push & baby’s head was born into Jimmy’s hands. Jimmy started crying … the most beautiful motivation ever. Seriously, all I could process in that moment was the sound of my husband’s emotional anticipation … there was no pain. Heather checked for a cord around the neck, and once she confirmed there was no cord, I pushed one last time and our baby was born into Jimmy’s hands at 6:42 am. He was sobbing when he announced that we had a GIRL! He passed her back under me, I grabbed her under her arms & put her right onto my chest. All I remember was saying, “I knew you were a girl!” … I so wish we would have set up a camera to video this moment. I am so thankful for what I remember, but it would have been so wonderful to capture that part on video.
Jimmy helped me onto my back & he held me and our girl while we waited for the cord to stop pulsing. The cord stopped pulsing pretty quickly. This baby came out screaming, so it makes sense that she was ready to be a part of the world. She was a pistol right from the start. Jimmy cut the cord, then he held her while I delivered the placenta.
After this stage of the birth, the midwives used the water from the pool to clean me off. We then transferred our little family into our bed. Here, we spent the first hour talking about her name (of course, every single part of my vision (girl, sunny day, this home, etc.) had come to be reality, and we knew we had to honor it). We called our parents to tell them about their granddaughter, and we just soaked in the “oh my goodness, we just became parents” thing. Alba latched onto my breast for the first time, and I felt like such a warrior. Like a mama goddess. My baby at my breast … my husband telling me how amazingly strong I was. It was heaven.
After having so much time to cuddle, the midwives conducted the newborn exam (which Alba passed with flying colors), and checked me for tears. In the end, I had two small tears, which they fixed with sutures. Amy Jo showed us the placenta, then started processing it for my placenta capsules. They cleaned our home and made us breakfast (seriously, midwives are the most wonderful souls in the universe).
Within a few hours, it was time to say goodbye to Heather & Amy Jo. We spent the rest of the day in bed, and talked for hours and hours about our greatest creation ever. We made this little person …
I am so happy we decided to have Alba at home. Every part of my birth story is exactly what I wanted & needed. I plan on writing a reflective post another time, but for now, I am just so very happy. I am so proud of myself and I know I couldn’t have done it without Jimmy. He was the most amazing support & motivation. Watching him with Alba is something I never knew I could feel … I love him more than anything in this world, and watching him be a dad just makes my love for him grow on an exponential level. Our baby girl is so precious, and we still spend hours just watching her … The universe knew exactly what kind of baby we needed … she’s that baby.
I am also so thankful for our midwives. A friend told me that the people at your birth will transform in front of your eyes. They go from people you know & respect to people that you love & are forever bonded to. Amy Jo & Heather will always be precious beams of light in my life. I can never thank them enough for giving us the exact birth we wanted. I wouldn’t change a single thing (except that I wish I could see them every day to give them a hug and sing their praises).
So, that is our home birth story. It was simple, hard, beautiful, humbling, peaceful, and perfect. I am so grateful.