When I first found out I was pregnant, I knew immediately that I wanted a home birth. (Click here for my 20 reasons.) I spent nine months envisioning how the experience would go, from the first contraction, to the water birth, and the first moments of meeting our newborn baby. I imagined candles burning quietly, essential oils in the air, Christian music playing in the background, and the loving hands of my husband helping me through as I worked peacefully through each part of the labor. Little did I know that my experience would be very different than what I had hoped for. I am still processing through it all, and I am not sure I can quite capture it all in words. Nonetheless, here is my birth story, from the very beginning to the end.
It was Thursday evening, April 9th, when I began to get my first signs that labor would soon follow. I had a headache that came out of nowhere, and I was extremely sleepy. I took a short nap that evening, wondering if I would be up that night awaiting the birth of our baby. Instead, I awoke at 2:30 AM at the pleas of our three-year-old daughter and soon found myself hungry and in the kitchen eating a complete meal of leftovers. When I awoke the following morning at 7:00 AM, I felt the first slight contractions. They came and went throughout the morningand well into the afternoon without any pattern or consistency. I spent the day cleaning, ironing, catching up on all my laundry, and at some point in it all, frustrated because the labor just wouldn’t seem to pick up.
It was about 4:00 PM when I was tempted to take things “into my own hands” and go for a walk to move things along. I began searching the internet for natural ways to induce labor and even had a batch of labor cookies someone gave me sitting in a cabinet. Just then, however, I felt a surge of sleepiness and took a nap instead. In retrospect, I am so glad that I didn’t try to control what happened next. Despite my eagerness, I kept telling myself, “It’s all in God’s perfect timing.” I came to discover later that night that His timing was precise downright to the minute, and the nap I took was a much-needed one.
My early labor continued until about 11:00 PM that night. It was then that things started to get a little more intense and by 12:15 AM, we began to find somewhat of a pattern. 8 minutes apart, 6 minutes, 7 minutes, 5 minutes, 9 minutes, and then at 1:00 AM, my water broke. I can honestly say that I didn’t know what to do next. I lay there for what felt like forever as my husband called the midwife and family. Finally, I made it to the shower and to the closet for a change of clothes.
After that, the contractions continued on a bit more intensely, and I worked through each of them on a pillow as my husband rubbed my back. I took deep breaths and “fell into” each one as I imagined my baby getting closer and closer to birth. We played Christian music in the background just as I had wanted as my midwife and her two assistants set up all of my supplies in the bathroom by the tub. A Himalayan lamp shone softly as I walked around, chatted a bit here and there, and resumed my labor position through the contractions. Things were going well, and it wasn’t until close to 4:00 AM when I discovered that things were about to take a turn in a different direction.
I had gone to the restroom at that time and had found some “black stuff” on my bottoms. I asked my midwife to check it out, and her face grew concerned as she told me that it was meconium (baby poop) and a sign that my baby was in distress. She looked me in the eye and told me we would have to go to the hospital immediately . . .
I began to shake from head to toe. I didn’t understand how this could be happening. They had checked the baby’s heartbeat throughout the labor and there were no signs of concern whatsoever. I began to pray instantly . . . for direction . . . for the wisdom to know what to do . . . for the guidance of those in charge of my care. It was then that my midwife said that another possible explanation for the meconium (one that wasn’t as troublesome) would be that my baby was breech. Up to that point, she had never presented as such, but she thought it best to check just in case.
She came to find that I was 8 cm dilated by that point, and somehow, some way, my baby had ended up in a breech presentation. My midwife said that she didn’t feel comfortable delivering the baby without another midwife who had more experience with breech births and said she would call to see if anyone was available if that was the route I wanted to take. Because I was so far along in my labor, she gave us about 10 minutes to decide whether or not we would stay and continue at home or transfer to the hospital before it was time to start pushing. I knew that at the hospital, I would end up with a Cesarean section, which carried its own set of risks, since most doctors were not well trained in delivering breech babies vaginally. What I didn’t know was whether or not that was a better option this late into the labor.
I shook in my husband’s arms as he prayed over me, over us, over the baby. My labor seemed to stall during that time as we prayed for clarity. We prayed for guidance and peace so that we would know exactly what we needed to do. Shortly after our prayer, our midwife came in and said that the midwife she had contacted, who was well trained and experienced in breech births was 15-20 minutes away and would arrive shortly if we wanted to continue. We were also told that her assistant was a former NICU nurse and would be accompanying her for the birth.
We were amazed at their credentials but even more so at The Lord’s provision. My husband and I looked at one another and knew it was time to step forward in faith and continue at home with the birth. We both felt peace about our decision, and I immediately stopped shaking. We lay on the bed and quoted scriptures together . . . he’d start the verse, “I can do all things” and I would finish “through Christ who strengthens me.” . . . “Greater is He that is in me” . . . “than He that is in the world.” . . . Soon, my contractions began to pick up once more.
My midwife prayed with us then began to move the supplies out of the bathroom and into the bedroom for the delivery. I began to work through the more intense part of my active labor. My husband held me each time, comforted me, and helped me stay strong. As much as I knew that this was what we needed to do, I was scared of the pain, scared of how I was going to get my baby girl out. I replayed the scriptures in my head over and over again.
Shortly thereafter, the other midwife arrived to find that I was completely dilated and ready to start pushing. I had been anxiously waiting for this part of the labor, but it was unlike my previous experience with our other daughter. This time, I didn’t feel the overwhelming pressure to push. I didn’t feel the strong contractions pushing her through the birth canal. Instead, my contractions were weaker because of her breech presentation, and I had to push with everything I had. It was exhausting and painful! My body didn’t seem to work with me, and it took all the energy I had to work through each of the rushes.
The midwife applied extra pressure to help me along, and although it helped, it was even more painful and uncomfortable. I remember asking over and over again why she wasn’t coming out. Why wasn’t it working? Finally, after what felt like forever, her little toes and bottom poked through, and I delivered her leg and bottom. Slowly the rest of her body followed suit, except for her head. It was then that things seemed to stall for me.
The contractions were weak at best. I was drenched in sweat. My legs were cramping, and I was so very tired. After minutes of trying and trying and trying, all I could hear was everyone telling me that I had to push her head out NOW! They told me over and over again, but I just couldn’t do it.
I lay my head back in exhaustion and took deep breaths. Somewhere in the midst of it all, a midwife rubbed my face with a cold, wet cloth; another gave me whiffs of essential oils to liven me up. My husband grabbed my arms and told me to hold onto him and do what I had to do. I nodded, but I had nothing left in the tank. I remember telling God in my mind that He needed to get me through this because I was at the end of myself. I was exhausted and in so much pain.
“You need to get her head out!!!” they kept telling me.
Finally, I reached for my husband, wrapped my arms around his neck, shut my eyes, and supernaturally felt a force of power work through me as I pushed her little head out. I came to learn that at the exact same moment, the midwife had inserted her thumb in our daughter’s mouth and pulled her head down to tuck her chin in. I birthed our daughter at 6:03 AM on April 11th.
They lay her little body on my abdomen as she took short, tired breaths. I looked at the former NICU nurse to see if her face would tell me if she was okay. Why wasn’t my baby crying? The NICU nurse had no expression as she gave her a bit of oxygen to open her lungs. Our daughter let out a loud cry shortly afterwards as I sunk into the pillows in relief and gratitude. Her Apgar scores were great at the minute mark and thereafter, and I worked through the last stage of the labor as I held her close, somewhat in shock, somewhat in awe of all that had transpired. It was a whirlwind. It was surreal.
Shortly after, our other two children, who had slept in their beds through it all, came into our bedroom to meet their baby sister. We visited with the family for a brief while then took an herbal bath before laying down to rest on our warm bed. The midwives cleaned up our room, prepared breakfast, and left us to enjoy the rest of the day together. The day seemed to drift by, and I vaguely remember much more than just staring at her sweet face and tiny body and replaying her birth over and over again in my head. It wasn’t until the following day during our follow up that I came to find out the other side of the story. . .
You see, up until a couple of months ago, my midwife had a different assistant that had been present at all of my prenatal appointments. She left the practice at some point in there and another lady was hired to take her place. When my midwife went to call the other midwife to help with the breech presentation at 4 o’clock that morning, she didn’t realize that she did not have her phone number or any way of contacting her. Her new assistant, however, had worked with the other midwife previously at a birth center and had her cell phone number on hand. It was because of this that my midwife was able to contact her at that time.
She soon discovered that the midwife was only 15-20 minutes away because she was with one of her own clients who was in labor. The client’s labor, however, had actually stalled at 6 cm dilation, and it was because of this that the midwife was able to attend to me on such short notice! Isn’t God amazing!??!! We came to discover that she was one minute away from breaking her water bag in order to progress the labor when she received the phone call from my midwife. She immediately came to help and then returned to continue the labor with her client. We also discovered that the former NICU nurse, who was with her on location, lived over an hour away and would not have been available to us any other time.
My husband and I couldn’t believe all that had happened in order to make the birth of our daughter a safe and miraculous one. I still cry thinking about how everything came together so perfectly. It wasn’t the birth that I had envisioned; it was loud and surprising and intense. But yet, it was so much greater than anything I could have ever done. It was beyond me. I came to the end of myself in this birth and truly gave it all up to Him. I was completely dependent on Him, and He was faithful.
That night was such a testimony to The Lord’s goodness. I was placed in the care of wonderful women who understood the labor and birth process, including the emotional, spiritual, and physical aspects of it all. We stood in awe of the miracles that made it all possible, the beauty of birth, and the sweet little angel He blessed us with.
Over the past two weeks as I have recovered slowly, I’ve thought about what would have happened if I had taken that walk during early labor. What if I had tried to take things into my own hands? What if I hadn’t seen the meconium in time to call the other midwife? What if I had checked one minute later? What if we had transferred to the hospital instead? What would have happened? Would we have made it in time?
And that’s when I get to sit back in faith knowing that He is in control, (He has always been in control) and I can fully trust in Him. It is a lesson that I will always carry in my heart.
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. -Romans 8:28
There are no words to express my gratitude and joy. Soli Deo Gloria.
*A special thank you to my husband, family, midwives, and photographer who shared in the beauty of our daughter’s birth . . . I will forever be grateful for it all.
Linking up at: Mama Moments, Monday’s Musings, Mom 2 Mom, Mommy Moments, Turn It Up Tuesday, Titus 2 Tuesday, Wholehearted Wednesdays, Wise Woman LinkUp, SHINE Blog Hop, Faith Filled Friday, Fellowship Friday