Before I was even pregnant with my third baby I imagined my perfect birth. There wasn't a lot of detail, I would labor at home and stay at home. I desired a long early labor phase with manageable contractions and a baby born shortly before dinner time. And then, after the baby was born, we would enjoy dinner at our own family dinner table, in the comfort of our home.
Well, I got my perfect birth. And then some. I got more for my birth than I even knew I wanted.
I went to bed at 10:30pm, August 5, 2015 with what I finally recognized to be tightenings. I smiled to myself with my little secret, guesstimated that they were about 10 - 15 minutes apart, and I went to bed. I awoke to my husband preparing for work early the next morning, with the same familiar pattern. I smiled to myself, realizing this was the early labor I had dreamed of. I couldn't fall back asleep, so I got up and enjoyed my birth ball, texting my doula shortly before 6am, letting her know that we were expecting a dinner time baby.
My husband stayed home from work and we got the eldest child up and ready for school. After dropping him off, we stopped by the grocery store for some yogurt and other healthy labor snacks. It was around 8am and I began needing to pause within for my surges. I had trained earlier this year to become a Birth Boot Camp educator, and one of the tools we learned about and teach our students became my favorite labor technique!
After the grocery store, we saw a good friend at the duck pond on our way home. We stopped to say hi and feed the ducks with our soon to be middle child enjoying the morning alongside us. Labor continued on easily and joyfully. We had a delicious breakfast of fruit and yogurt and then went on a short walk. It was then I began needing to fully pause for contractions. We returned home and I wrote down my newly favorite mantra, knowing I would need the reminder later.
My doula, Kelly, lived a little less than 2hrs from us, so she had asked me to let her know when my contractions were 5 minutes apart; around 10:30am I decided to finally time them. Lo and behold, they were 5 minutes apart. I texted her an update, let her know we were doing great, just settling in to watch Alice In Wonderland. By noon, I was ready for her to head our way.
My husband was such amazing support for this birth. And our doula came right alongside him to help with the needs of a homebirth. The birth attendants and Kelly arrived between 2 & 3 pm as requested. Margo did an initial assessment of my vitals and we listened to the baby with a doppler. Maryn suggested I eat some lunch and then they both left (upon my request) to allow us to labor. I had this strange fear, with labor being so easy, that it really wasn't going to happen and I didn't want too many people arriving at once to stall me out. My doula had suggested a vaginal exam to assess my progression but it wasn't something I really wanted. Margo sat with me; she asked me how I felt about my labor and encouraged me to continue on as we were. After they left, Kelly made me a grilled chicken salad for lunch. I ate, standing in between taking bites for contractions, while she and my husband filled the birth pool. She had an apprentice doula with her who kept me company but I continued to enjoyed the comfort of my husband's arms during contractions and called for him as I needed the support. With Kelly there, I knew the essentials were being taken care of while my husband and I enjoyed our labor together. Kelly had timed my contractions to be 2 - 3 minutes apart by 3pm and after eating lunch, I got into the pool, a little before 4.
Labor had certainly picked up, just as Maryn had said it would. It wasn't quite as enjoyable anymore, so I would say we were officially in active labor; there was no more denying that we would have a baby this day. I still "knew" we'd have our dinner time baby but kept doubting how close we were because I didn't want to be wrong. Beyond this point, everything is quite a blur. I labored, I worked with my body. I remember Kelly moaning low and I began to vocalize with her which helped immensely. I think there were conversations that I enjoyed listening to in between contractions. I asked for a bowl of ice cream. Delicious as it was, I probably was just looking for a bit of sugar for energy.
At some point in time, Kelly was on the phone with Margo who heard me work through an intense surge. Margo recounts this part of my birth story
Maryn and I were at Red Rooster Cafe, getting reading to order some take out. I listened to you labor and you sounded amazing. When we talked, I asked you how you were feeling and you said "good, just don't ask me during a contraction". I asked if you thought the baby would be born within the next half hour or so.
"No way," I thought. I continued to deny how close we really were. It was too good to be true and I didn't want to be disappointed. I told Maryn and Margo to go ahead and grab their lunch and then head on back to the house.
Kelly knew otherwise. She knew we were getting close and 20 minutes after our conversation with Margo, my contractions began to change in their form of intensity. Perhaps she asked me to, perhaps I felt on my own, but I reached in to feel my cervix and only got to the middle of my finger before touching the baby with the sac still intact. By 4:30 my body began pushing with contractions and Kelly was on the phone with Margo and Maryn. My bag of waters ruptured and I continued to push.
I felt challenged during the pushing phase with this baby, but with the help of my husband and Kelly, I worked to control the urge to allow my tissues more time to stretch. Patience has yet to be my virtue during this phase. The midwives walked in at a quarter to 5 and at 4:48 pm, our baby was born on August 6, 2015.
Looking back at my birth experience I am so in love with how empowered we were. I am in love with the beauty of it. I am in love with the simplicity of it. I enjoyed the freedom we had, the confidence and support that surrounded us, but most of all, I love that it was fully ours. I was never intruded upon. I love that I am the only person who ever even attempted to check my cervix. No one "measured my progress" or told me how I was doing. My day was not measured in centimeters, I recall it in moments - moments of love and moments of laughter. I enjoyed my day in the beauty of itself as it unfolded without interruption. I was never pressured into anything. I was only ever reassured and affirmed in my laboring.
My birth story was picture perfect. It was just as I imagined. I never would have thought I wanted such an undisturbed birth and for that experience, I am so grateful. Looking back, I cherish this birth being so intimately our own.