This last weekend my baby turned 3! THREE! We spent the day as a family doing things we love like going to the beach, and getting Bodie his favorite cookie (vegan oatmeal raisin) from Whole Foods. It was very mellow, just the way we all like it.
In honor of Bodie's third birthday, I thought it would be fun to finally share his birth story. I've wanted to share this for three years now, but I guess the third birthday is the charm. If you're not okay reading about the messy truth of labor then I'd skip this one! I'm also sharing the few photos we shot with our cell phone, but don't worry, there's nothing messy about those! Phew.
We had planned for a home birth, in our living room, with just our little family present (my husband, myself (obviously me, ha!), the dogs), and our midwife. The due date came and went, and I remember feeling unsure about what was going on... although my husband kept reminding me that most first time mothers were up to a week late, and that was completely normal (he read every single book on holistic home births btw). Its funny how much pressure we place on ourselves. Of course there are times where medical intervention IS necessary, but perhaps most of the time we just have to let our bodies be ready when they're ready and not rush it.
I felt really good physically in those final weeks. I continued my yoga practice, and was walking outside with the dogs as much as possible, but I was so ready! Maybe it was the nesting instinct in me, but I felt the need to groom Lola, our standard poodle, at home, 5 days past my due date. Anyone who knows standard poodles, I hope you're laughing, because this is a serious undertaking. But we are DIY folks, so we figured, how hard could it really be? The answer is hard and terrible. It took 6+ hours. By 11pm we were done, and she looked like she got a haircut by a 5 year old. I was so tired from being on my feet all day. I went to bed, and 4 hours later, woke up with what felt like gas pains. I had a lot of digestion issues during pregnancy, so this was really nothing new.
I got up, went to the bathroom, and went back to bed. About 45 minutes later, more gas pains. Went to the bathroom, looked into the toilet and realized that my water was semi breaking. It was like there was a teeny pinhole in it, so we aren't talking about a dramatic water breaking moment you see on TV. "I think I'm in labor." I wasn't totally sure. I was standing in the exact same location I had the thought "I think I'm pregnant" 9.5 months before. The same feeling of disbelief, excitement, and "holy shit" all happening at once.
I went back to bed. "I need to rest." My midwife had trained me for this, and I knew that it could be long and crazy. Resting right now was key. I dozed in and out for several hours. Around 6:30am I woke my husband up, and told him not to go to work, and that I was in labor. At first he didn't believe me. We walked downstairs, and I was telling him that I was absolutely in labor 100%, and at that very moment, my water began to break more, not fully. He believed me.
I texted my midwife, and gave her a head's up. I went into the kitchen, made myself some poached eggs, and then relaxed in the living room. The contractions started to get closer together. My husband and the dogs were napping, and I remember at that moment feeling annoyed by them. Like I was about to deliver a baby, and they weren't even slightly about to deliver a baby.
Around 3pm my midwife, Kate, came over. I remember seeing her sitting in the corner reading a book, calm as can be. My husband was still chilling out. Dogs sleeping. And I was sitting on an ottoman leaning forward thinking about how it felt like this baby was clawing its way out.
Kate wanted to check to see what was going on, and here is the kicker: I was only 3 cm dilated after 14ish hours of labor. I remember wanting to break down at this point. I questioned everything. Why was I doing this at home, and was I even capable? Should I have listened to everyone that said I should go to a hospital? Kate said it was all okay, but since my water was slowly leaking, we had to be a bit extra cautious. The water was clear though, so that was a good sign.
At this point, Kate told me that my cervix was tilted back and not stretching - whatever that means... and she did some sort of crazy manipulation that involved moving it and stretching the cervix open. It was not pleasant, but it was quick and done before I knew what she was doing. I'm pretty sure she put my body into active labor, and saved us from going to the hospital. She told me to take a shower and relax. I got in the shower, and threw up everywhere. I didn't feel like I could even stand. I got out, and sat back down. Kate told me that I had to stand. I told her I couldn't. She said, "you're standing."
Ed got up, and literally held me in his arms while I had contraction after contraction. There was never a break. They just kept coming. A day later he told me he remembered thinking how hard it was to hold me that whole time. I told him that it was a good thing he kept his mouth shut at the time.
After a solid hour of what was one of the hardest hours of my life (I had no idea it would be that challenging), I felt something different. I could feel my body start to push.
Now Kate was prepared, and had been setting up the birth pool. Funny story - our hot water tank wasn't big enough to fill it. So my husband was heating up water in his beer brewing pot and adding it in. I really wasn't aware of any of this at the time.
Kate told me that the noises I was making sounded "different." She could tell that my body was going into push mode. From watching movies and tv shows, I always thought that I had to do the pushing. You know how they're always yelling "push!"?? Well, I couldn't not push. It was like throwing up. You cannot stop it. I felt things opening up, and Kate told me to feel for the baby's head (we didn't know the gender). I put my hand down there, and and could feel his head. She told me that in another contraction or two the head would be out.
This was the moment I channeled all of my strength, and I trusted my body to do what it was doing more than ever. I didn't care if I completely tore. He was coming out then and there. Sure enough, with the next contraction his head came out (and no, I did not completely tear!).
"What do I do now?" Kate told me that his body would come out with the next contraction. Sure enough, it did. I caught him in my own hands, squatting in the tub, and pulled him up to my chest, clutching him tightly. He let out a cry immediately with eyes wide open looking around the room. A boy. My baby boy.
I immediately started sobbing. I could not believe he was real, and that I did it. He was absolutely perfect. I held him so tightly against my chest, and my midwives (There were two there now. Don't ask me when the second one showed up) wrapped blankets around Bodie.
At this point, I was still bleeding pretty significantly, and I was instructed to get out of the tub. My body felt so strange. I laid down, delivered the placenta (which is like a joke by the way - so easy), and Bodie latched on and began to nurse. I felt my uterus contracting.
The bleeding did not stop, and it was almost considered a postpartum hemorrhage at this point. Kate injected me with a small shot of Pitocin to make my uterus contract more which would stop the bleeding. It worked. I was given 1 or 2 stitches which I couldn't even feel, and never ever itched or bothered me while I was healing. It was so not a big deal, promise. Everything was cleaned up, and then they left.
There we were. My husband and I were just hanging out with our brand new son, Bodie, our little miracle. I passed him over to Ed, and they had skin to skin time. I closed my eyes and fell asleep.
It was the most amazing and empowering experience of my life. It was so primal, and I felt so womanly and beautiful. I feel blessed to have had the experience at home, as planned. I know that it doesn't always work that way.
Here's the thing about motherhood, pregnancy, and birth... It is all a gigantic lesson in surrendering. We have to learn to trust our bodies and follow our intuition rather than our brain who is rigid and wants to control the situation. You cannot be in control. And as a mother, I've learned even more that I'm not in control. My son is his own person, with his own body and brain, and his own will.
I'm sick of the horror stories being told about labor and delivery. Ladies, our bodies are miraculous. Was it a pleasant walk in the park experience? No. It wasn't. Would I want to experience that every day? Nope. But I still feel like a superhero, and would hands down, do it the same exact way again. Trust your body. Don't be afraid.
No matter how you have your baby, it's the right birth story for you two. If you have to go to the hospital, it is okay. If you want to be at the hospital, it is okay. If you need some form of intervention, it is okay. If you go all natural at home with the dogs, it is okay.
We are all so okay. Let's stop telling ourselves otherwise, yes?
I hope you enjoyed this very personal story. Three years in the making. :)