20170701_131325I read an awful lot of books during my pregnancy. When I found out I was pregnant in November, it was a complete shock, and not at all what I was planning to do with myself for the upcoming year. I laid awake at night terrified of the idea of childbirth. So from the first day I saw those two lines on that test, I immediately began researching what to eat, what not to eat, what to expect, etc. I kept my pregnancy a secret for the first few months, wanting to make sure it was really happening, trying to wrap my head around this new reality I was living.

Eventually I started sculpting my birth plan, learning to roll with the changes pregnancy brings, seeing my nurse midwives on a regular basis and generally watching my child’s development moving along without a hitch. Every visit went well, each test came out clear, no red flags, a strong heartbeat since 8 weeks, and my weight gain was right on track. By month 5 I was loving being pregnant, loving that everyone finally knew, and starting to become obsessed with all things birth.

The first book to open my eyes about natural childbirth and finally instill some confidence in me, was Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth, given to me by a friend. The birth stories in there were incredible. One after another of successful, rewarding, normal births. I went on to investigate local birth circles, find a home birth midwife, take prenatal yoga classes and essentially dive as deeply as possible into preparing for my birth. (Other great resources I used will be listed below for your reference.)01BirthAffirmations3

My due date was July 11th, but all along I knew this baby was going to be ready early. It was Wednesday July 5th when I finally had my last chiropractic appointment and there was nothing else on the books. I ran a few last minute errands and I knew deep inside that I was finally ready for baby to come. And sure enough, all day I was feeling crampy, like I was going to get my period. I spent the day working on a small painting of a mountain, knowing that any minute now my mountain climb was really going to begin. By 6:30pm contractions had started happening and we timed them to be about 20 minutes apart and lasting about 30-40 seconds.

We felt pretty sure that this was labor’s start, so we went around preparing the house. We had the mattress brought downstairs and covered in plastic and old sheets, the balance ball and yoga mat were out, the white shag rug was put away, and the painting that I recently finished was brought out. We had our toolkit of the rebozo scarves, wooden spoon, back massager, tennis balls, and labor ade all on hand. Our plan was to have the baby in the hot tub, so Dave went and opened that up so the last application of bromine would finish evaporating by the time we needed to get in there. We were ready. This was exciting. Dave even put his swim trunks on (a little prematurely).1EarlyLabor8

That evening we laid down to rest, and while Dave slept through the night, I was up about every hour needing to either lay down in another bed, walk around downstairs or use the restroom. By about 7am I was done trying to rest and wanted us to get up. We kept everyone on my birth team posted and by 11am, our Doula and my mom had come over to help us out. 1EarlyLabor9

We tried everything to pass the time while waiting for labor to increase. I walked the woods, bounced on my balance ball, got massaged through the contractions, ate some spicy kimchi, baked a chocolate birth day cake from scratch, and watched Tooltime. Unfortunately by 6pm nothing had really increased, so our midwife suggested everyone go home and wait til tomorrow. That’s what we did. 1EarlyLabor14_2

Dave and I tried to relax and settle in, took a shower, put on a movie, dimmed the lights. But that’s when baby had another plan and decided to speed things up. Within the hour he was texting the doula (without my knowledge) that contractions had picked up to every 6 minutes, for about 40 seconds. Their intensity was definitely increasing. I could no longer lay down, I could hardly sit, I was either on the toilet or standing. I lost some of my mucous plug at this point. I said, “I don’t want to call anyone back until you’re panicking”, I really wanted this to happen. This went on for 2 hours.  Sometimes the pressure of being watched and expected to perform will cause labor to sort of peter out. I wasn’t going to let this take a whole nother day.

At 10:15pm I texted the midwife with an update that these were very intense and that it would be nice if she sent her assistant to the house now. I wanted someone there to know when things got serious. At this point I Had to get in the hot tub, I needed relief. So with the Midwife’s Assistant on her way, we got in the tub. Worship music played on the tv, the temperature was set to 98* F, the christmas lights glistened in the pergola above us, and I groaned and moaned my way through the rushes.2HotTub4_2

By midnight the assistant arrived and Dave told me my mom was on her way. I didn’t really care about what was going on around me, by this time all my attention was on surviving the pain as it came in waves. My mom joined us in the tub and they rotated applying pressure to my back as I was going into a rush every 2-3 minutes now. During one particularly strong one, I felt a big POP and asked “what the heck just happened?” Apparently my water broke.

That was it, the camel’s back was broken, and labor moved on in full force. I felt immense pressure as baby descended, filling my pelvic bone to the max. My back felt like it was going to explode, and deep inside my head I knew I was in a place where the only direction to go was forward. It was like my baby and I were in this together. I was scared, but it was a fear that had only one option: Face it, full on. I might have said “I can’t do this”, but we all learned that’s cue for “It’s about to happen.” 2HotTub7_2

So with Dave in front, and my mom behind me, I was in the center of the tub, bearing down with each intense rush of pain. Being coached from the sideline and treated with cold washclothes on my forehead and neck, I saw towels being brought out, gloves being put on, but most of all I felt inside myself to know what to do. I knew baby was moving. I knew I had to make him move. I pushed very hard from the inside to make him move down. I was very loud, I felt my lips flutter with Horse Breath, I didn’t tell myself to do it, but I know why I did. I kept my howling low and gutteral, which actually took most of my concentration and distracted me from what I was feeling. Between each push I let myself float back, totally relaxed, and fall asleep, even to the point of dreaming! Each rest was only about 30 seconds or so, but it felt like hours. Each subsequent push felt like all of the energy I’ve ever expressed balled up into a few seconds. The balance between the two was incredible.

“Oceans” by Hillsong came on right then. His head finally crowned, what I expected to feel in my perineum happened, I reached down to support myself from tearing and I could feel his head. I wanted it out of my so badly, but I tried to listen and control my pushing so I wouldn’t tear. When his head finally emerged about 3 pushes later, I waited briefly while Dave watched him rotate so I could deliver the rest of his body. One more push and out he came, like a small torpedo, right into Dave’s waiting hands. And out of the water, directly to me, screaming his head off. 3Born3_2

My perfect, healthy, loud and beautiful baby boy was born at 1:43am that night, technically Friday, July 7th, 2017. He weighed 7lbs 14 oz, and latched immediately. A seriously amazing and empowering experience. I couldn’t believe it had happened. I did it. Everything we had dreamed, planned, prepared and prayed for came to fruition that night. The pain was gone immediately, I only tore the slightest bit, not even enough to warrant stitches, and I was home, in my sanctuary, to learn to love my baby without any interruption.

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References, Books that helped prepare me to do this beautifully:

The Thinking Woman’s Guide to a Better Birth- Henci Goer

Birthing From Within- Pam England & Rob Horowitz

Bountiful, Beautiful, Blissful- Gurmukh Kaur Khalsa

Anyone who has questions about the preparation for the hot tub, please feel free to comment below (we searched everywhere online for advice and didn’t find much). All we did was balance the ph levels, and keep the Bromine to a minimum. The test was to open your eyes under water for as long as you can hold your breath and see that they don’t burn. We also opened the tub and ran the jets when labor began to evaporate any remaining chemicals. And yes, we drained and thoroughly scrubbed the tub the following day.

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I believe in birth, I believe in the capabilities of women’s bodies. Don’t let someone else write your birth story for you. You are strong. Your body knows how to give birth.

God is so good.

-Bert