A week ago yesterday our sweet baby was born. My due date was Saturday so I wasn't expecting to go into labor just yet. But that morning soon after my husband came home from work, I noticed mild contractions roughly 5 mins apart. I asked him to start timing them, just out of curiosity, and they were almost exactly 3 minutes apart from each other. Being still very manageable we all headed to the grocery store near our house to grab some snacks and for labor-in case this was the real thing. we bought my favorite superfood smoothies, fresh pineapple (my favorite) and white tulips. As we shopped each contraction slowly became more intense but it felt so good to be up and walking around that we finished up before heading home.
Maybe I should explain, before I go any further, that we have been planning a home birth with this baby. I had my son naturally and without drugs but in a birthing facility. I did a lot of research and found that home birth is incredibly safe and has many wonderful benefits. So you can see I wasn't in a rush to leave the store, I was happy to have my early labor among the product aisle.
We kept in contact with our midwife and doula about my progress and decided we'd meet at our house soon to have her check in on me. Soon we were back home and even though my contractions were consistently 3 minutes apart still and growing in intensity, I was happy to carry on a conversation, unload bags from the car and trim flowers I had bought to put in a vase. I'd pause as another contraction would come on, leaning over the table or on my husband. It was so relaxing to be in my own space, among my own things and moving at my own pace. It felt great to move around and keep walking, albeit slowly. It felt great to light some candles and put on comfortable clothes, to put on some of my favorite lotion to just relax.
Within an hour my contractions were taking up all my energy and attention, they were powerful. I'd hang on my husband during them and relax my knees, remembering to stay soft and let each one do its job to dilate. Sometimes I'd tense up with surprise at how intense each new one was, but I quickly reminded myself that they were doing a great job in me and not to be afraid.
Jeremiah and I went for a short walk behind our house. The cold air felt amazing and I loved just walking, talking with him. He was so encouraging and supportive, as were our midwife and doula too. I had 3 big contractions on our walk and soon felt like we needed to go back inside. By this time I asked for the midwife to check my dilation. I had been hesitant to be checked earlier in case I had not dilated much, I didn't want to feel discouraged but I knew I was close to transition and was too curious not to know.
Well it was a good thing I did have her check me because I was 9 cm dilated at this point, almost there!
I was still feeling pretty good and pretty encouraged by this news but really wanted to get into the birth pool our midwife had set up for me. The warm water was relaxing and supportive. I had a few more strong contractions, these were serious. They moved over my whole body like a wave and I kept imagining them to be like waves in the ocean, passing over me and opening my cervix, getting closer to bringing my baby out. On my knees in the water, with my husband sitting behind me, I savored those little breaks in between each contraction. After 3 or 4 of those I suddenly felt the overwhelming urge to push. In my mind I yelled a little "yay!" as I could feel baby's head suddenly passing through. I've heard some moms say they didn't like pushing, but this is a stage I always liked. It's so very intense but also feels incredibly productive.
Two pushes and the baby's head came out. I remember our midwife whispering "feel your baby's head" and I reached into the water and felt her soft, fuzzy head. It was so encouraging, she was almost here! Two more big pushes and she was completely out! I opened my eyes which had been closed for the last half hour and saw this our perfect baby girl in my arms. She was here, and so quickly! I kissed her soft wet skin and rubbed her back. My husband and I talked to her, telling her how happy we were to have her here, how beautiful and perfect she was and how thankful we were for her.
It was pure euphoria, an incredible high and rush of emotions. This is what it's all about, this very moment. I savored it and tried my best to memorize her new smell and little sounds. There, still in the water I nursed my baby for the first time. She latched right away and everything was right in the world! We had a wonderful, supported birth and now a perfectly healthy, responsive and beautiful baby. These first moments of birth that I've experienced with both my babies are the highest and most blissful moments I've experienced in my life. I wish every mom could have an experience like this, it was a gift!
I hope you all don't mind my being so personal. I feel a bit exposed but at the same time I think it is so important for people to hear positive birth stories from moms who enjoyed their births. It wasn't panicked, it wasn't rushed, it wasn't interfered with, it was a perfectly normal, healthy act and it was all mine. I loved building a relationship with our caring, knowledgeable midwife these past few months.
I feel so blessed and hope that for some mom out there my story will encourage them also.
Needless to say to those of you who have kids, this first week has been a slow one. Lots of nursing, lots of trying to sleep, a whole lot of laundry and even more little kisses from mom, dad and new brother. We all love little Elin so much and are happy to share a bit of her with you.
Thank you all dearly for listening. And I hope to be posting regularly again soon (fingers crossed).
*a couple resources about home birth you may find interesting
BMJ article on outcomes of home births
Home birth safety article
Ina May's Guide to Childbirth (highly recommended!)
The Business of Being Born