(Trigger: this post contains detailed accounts of birth and pain)
For those of you who are friends with me on social media, you’ve already seen some of our photos from our homebirth. And can I just say how thankful I am for our photographers? They sure captured such beautiful moments that day! Thank you so much Erica Morrow Photography and St. Paul Photo Co.!
For those interested, I thought I’d give a summary of our birthing day, especially since this was our last (home)birth. This post will be a way for me to keep a place for part of Judah’s birth story as well as to share his birth with our wonderful community. <3
Out of my three labors, Judah’s was not only my longest one but also my favorite. I was 42 weeks pregnant with him, and I was soo ready to give birth and be done being pregnant. I had had a couple false starts, which I had never experienced with the girls, and it was such an emotional tease. At 42 weeks you just can’t mess with a pregnant woman like that!
So my dear friend Sophia (who’s an acupuncturist) came over Tuesday night (Sept 29) and gave me an acupuncture treatment to help get labor going. She finished at 9pm, and I went to bed shortly after. At 2am I woke up to a sharp contraction (yahoo!). I got up so that I wouldn’t wake John (you’re welcome, honey:) and labored in the guest room to see if these contractions were the real deal or not. They were 10-12 minutes apart and I was able to go back to bed from 3-4am. The contractions picked up in intensity at 4am so I got up and found that my contractions were now 3-4 minutes apart. I called my midwives and my doula and asked them to make their way over.
They arrived around 6:30am and at this point, John is up and pouring coffee into his (Mermaid) mug.
My contractions were pretty intense but between contractions I felt fantastic. Slowly the whole entourage arrived (friends, family, photographers, in addition to our midwives and doula – what can I say, I’m a social birther:) and the pool got set up.
I then continued to labor until 3:30pm or so, and I labored in almost every room in the house – living room, dining room, kitchen, both bathrooms, our bedroom, and our stairs. This is one of many things that I love about birthing at home – the ability to labor anywhere and everywhere and to be able to eat and drink as needed. I had an appetite all day, and my doula kept commenting, “Wow, this is the most I’ve ever seen a mama eat in labor.” 😉 And it was definitely the most food I had consumed during any of my 3 labors! At one point I even wanted to go on a walk outside but was nervous of trying to labor in front of my neighbors’ houses. (All of which are right up against the sidewalk, so not much privacy).
The midwives could tell baby was having a bit of a hard time getting into position, so they had me doing all kinds of lunges and positions to aid baby in finding the best birth position possible. I was getting tired as the day wore on, so my midwives had me pull my
tummy stomach in during contractions to try to help baby push down instead of out. And can I just tell you how painful it is to pull on your stomach during a contraction? Seriously, I wince just thinking about it. John had to wrap his arms around me to help pull it in because I was so scared of the pain.
At one point, we were in my bedroom and I was sitting on John’s lap so that he could help pull on my stomach, when all of a sudden my water burst. Because I was on John’s lap when this happened, John felt like he got to experience what it’s like to have your water break. :p
We were halfway down the stairs heading towards the birthing pool when another contraction hit. My midwife announced, “Baby’s crowning! Okay, Nikole, you can either give birth here on the stairs – I’m totally comfortable catching baby here. Or if you prefer the water, we can get you to the tub. It’s up to you.”
I remember thinking two things:
1. That is awesome my midwife feels so comfortable catching baby on the stairs. She’s friggin amazing.
2. And are you kidding me?? Get me in that pool!
So we waddled as fast as we could and it felt so good to dip my body into a pool of warm water.
Now it only took 45 minutes from the time I entered the pool to baby being born, but during that time, it felt like ETERNITY. No joke. You lose all sense of time, which is good in some ways, but a slight form of torture in another. You just want to know when it will all end!
It was time to push, and, you guys, I have never pushed so hard in my life. I remember thinking I was going to give myself a brain aneurysm from pushing so hard (not sure if that’s a thing, but it sure felt like a thing at that time!). With Mercy’s birth, the pushing was intense but I can’t say painful. It felt good to push with the contractions. But with Judah, every time a pushing contraction hit me, it was the most painful moment of my life. I could tell baby was having a hard time getting out but I couldn’t push any harder than I already was. I began to sob because of how painful it was and how hard I was working and yet how in vain it all seemed to be. But whenever a sob would escape my throat, it would make my pushing less effective, thus making Judah’s birth (and my pain) last that much longer. I felt lost in a game of torture. A morbid thing to say, but it’s truly how I felt.
I would later learn that baby was being born elbow first which was what was causing so much pain and preventing my pushing from being as effective as it could have been. Had his elbow not been in the way, my midwives believe he would have slipped out in one or two pushes. (Oh, Judah, mama would have loved to have experienced that!)
I can’t articulate the level of pain I experienced in that short time of his birth. It was the worst pain I had ever experienced in my life to where I could feel my mind was trying to escape it through the form of fainting. After Judah was out, I remember feeling like I was standing at the edge of cliff which dropped off into a black void. I was tilting forward and everything in my mind was screaming, “Just fall forward!” as a way to escape the pain. But my body knew I needed to stay with it in order to take care of Judah now that he was out. And so my mind and body lingered in that teetering cliff hanger for about an hour after Judah was born, which is why I couldn’t hold my head up after birth – I was exhausted and quite out of it.
Through tinctures and the consumption of my placenta smoothie (yes, that is a thing:), I remember slowly coming back to reality and feeling less woozy. And then, THEN I finally got to soak in my sweet baby boy and all of his squishiness. He was beautiful. Absolutely beautiful.
In addition to the pain, I had lost about half a gallon blood which led to quite the slow recovery. My midwives recommended 30-40 days of as much rest as possible. And because of our amazing community, I was able to rest for the entire month of October. People cared for us for thirty-one days – that is an unbelievable amount of time to pour into someone! And it’s because of them that my recovery and postpartum experience was as good as it was. With such care, I believe that is what helped keep postpartum blues away and allowed me to focus on enjoying my son instead of hurrying back to life on my own.
It took a village to birth my son and it took a village to help me get back on my feet to a mama of three. Thank you, Village. Life wouldn’t be as beautiful without you in it.