Pregnancy and birth are such exciting and precious times in life, and I'm so grateful to God to have experienced them both. There was a time when we weren't sure pregnancy would ever result in a live birth, but God knew it would. Samuel's birth was a bit different than what we had "planned" for but it was a good experience overall. I have fond memories from his birth and cherish them all. Kate's birth, amazingly, was exactly what we had envisioned it being...peaceful, calm, and joyful.
At 2:30 Monday morning, the 6th, (Labor Day), I woke up having some really good contractions and back aches. I got up at 3 and tried to walk to the bathroom. When I barely made it there I realized this was it. I was shaking a bit and the contractions were every 4 minutes. I called Christy, our midwife, in between and she headed our way. In the meantime, Jeremy started inflating the labor/birth tub and filling it. Mom and Memama scurried around helping in different ways, and the midwives were here by 3:45. Lynsey, the photographer, was here by then as well. Everyone was busy getting things arranged, and I was busy with contractions.
I started out sitting on the edge of our tub, leaning against the wall in between cont. At this point I would need to stand during them and have someone apply pressure to my lower back. Much like Samuel's labor, I had a lot of pressure in my back. In between cont. I was on the verge of falling asleep. Christy told me my body was giving me the hormones I needed to cope. I felt drugged without the drugs. It was nice to rest at these times. I would need it later! Lynsey, our birth photographer, was in there with me, so I enjoyed the company of someone I trusted but who had done this as well. We talked a little, but she was also served as a silent encourager. During labor, there were times of prayer, focus, and even laughter. It was such a team effort, and the unity I had prayed for was very apparent.
Around 5 or so, I think, I was ready for to get in the tub. I really found the water very relaxing with Samuel's labor and was anxious to get some relief. Once in the tub, I felt instant relief, but the contractions were far from being any easier. I had been reading Ina May's Guide to Childbirth and had gleaned a lot from the birth stories about breathing, not allowing the contractions to overtake me, and letting your baby go.Those stories were so helpful, and they challenged me to do all I could to make this birth happen. The Lord was with me and was speaking through everyone as they encouraged me. He was so gracious to answer our prayer that my water not break so labor wouldn't be as difficult to bear. There are so many aspects to the birth that the Lord answered our prayers on, and we are so thankful.
I continued to labor in the tub, and around 6:30 my water broke. At this point the contractions became very intense. Thankfully, I only experienced 3 or 4 "transition" contractions at this time. This is the only time I thought, "why did I do this?!". :-) I think I may have even said "I can't do this" but then quickly remembered I WAS doing it, and I COULD do it. Besides, I knew that to get in the car and go to the hospital would be stupid because the baby would be born by then. So, I made myself focus and stay ahead of the contractions as much as possible until it was time to push. Funny story...one of the midwife apprentices was leaning over the edge of the tub to take fetal heart tones. I grabbed her outside arm closest to me and squeezed it as hard as I could through these contractions. At one point, I put my teeth on her as if I was going to bite her. Even in the midst of all the pain I realized "I can't bite her...she's another human!!". We talked about it later...she was a good sport and laughed WITH me not AT me. :-)
Around this time Christy said "you're going to have your baby at sunrise!" and I asked, "when's THAT??". It looked pretty dark outside to me still so I wasn't too encouraged...then I looked out the back door window and saw the pink and blue of sunrise and thought "oh, it's NOW!!". This helped me get through this stage of labor. Knowing she would be here soon and envisioning the newborn exam afterward, I felt her descend even more and knew she was well on her way.
A few minutes after my water broke I felt the incredible need to push. It's amazing how your body works when you don't interfere. I couldn't have stopped it if I wanted to. I still had never been checked during the entire pregnancy, but I just knew it was time to push. Jeremy got in the tub with me and supported me during this stage of labor. Pushing was a relief. 18 minutes later, Baby Kate was born into the water, and we pulled her out of the water together. All I remember saying was "She's out! She's out!". After waiting for so many days she was finally here. The cheering from everyone reminded me of a football game. Jeremy's parents arrived at the house just seconds before she was born and my parents and grandmother were already here. Memama had never seen a baby be born in spite of having 4 of her own. I'm so glad she was here with us. Having our family present and lots of midwifery support were two of the reasons we chose a home birth.
The herbal bath with Kate and myself was probably the highlight of the day for me. Just the two of us and a chance to really look at her. It was so peaceful, and the herbs were so healing. Again, Lynsey was there photographing silently, but also recounting with me the events of the day. The rest of the day seems like an out-of-body experience and it was just the way I had visualized it for months. The Lord was so present in every aspect of our labor, delivery and after care. Our birth team was calm, encouraging and extremely helpful. It truly was a privilege to work with them to get Kate here. Our baby girl is finally here and her arrival could not have been more perfect...including the rainy days that followed that were so relaxing. We thank God for His presence and provision.