Rainy’s Birth Story
After having my first child, I was lucky to be able to take advantage of the natural birth control God created called breastfeeding. It is a method not always reliable and ends when baby wants it to, (when baby is nursing less frequently), not you. So I ended up getting pregnant unexpectedly after returning to fertility when Astra was around 13 months old. Though unexpected, the baby was not fully unplanned as I knew early on into Astra’s life that we had to have another one of these awesome little beings in our life. I also knew that how we were to bring this new baby into our life was important too. When I was pregnant with Astra I knew that I wanted to have a natural birth, I mainly just don’t like to take drugs but I also have a strong belief in my body and that God made my body so it knows what to do just as my body breathes and my heart beats and every other process it does without me having to think about it. Making the decision to use an OBGYN and birth at a hospital really took control of my labor and birth experience rather than maintaining the control myself as I had wished to. This time I was determined for things to go differently. I toured a birthing center where I could birth my baby in a home like environment, attended by nurse midwives and be only a block from the hospital, where I could transfer to if the situation arose. I chose not to birth there, as I felt the environment I would be allowed to labor and birth in were fairly small and I would be required to leave four hours after giving birth. So I decided that I would rather birth in my own home where I would feel the most comfortable and not have any reason to leave by a certain time. I then began interviewing home birth midwives in my area, after only a short phone conversation I was pretty certain I would be choosing to use Brenda as my midwife. Over the next several months I read up some more on natural birth and home birth, though after having Astra I had read quite a bit of info on homebirth.
The most typical view of birth in the US is of a pregnant mother laboring lying down in bed with the use of an epidural and Pitocin (the synthetic form of oxytocin, the love hormone) which causes contractions. I knew already when pregnant with my first child that I didn’t want an epidural and I knew that lying in bed was not the most useful way to get baby out, as a more upright position allows gravity to help. It is also well known that the more you intervene with the natural state of labor, the more likely that complications during labor and birth will arise. As a healthy woman, with a healthy baby, I knew that homebirth was the right option for us. I planned to birth with only my husband, daughter, midwife and I and possibly my mother to help out with caring for Astra during the labor, in the comfort of my own home, allowing my body and unborn baby to do the signaling of when labor should occur, rather than forcing baby out before she was ready.
Although wanting to wait until she was ready, I still had my own ideas of when I wanted her to come out. With a due date of December 18th, I knew that I wanted her to stay in past Christmas to make the holiday easier and by Christmas Eve I was ready for her to come out, realizing that if she came out before the end of the year I could use the child tax credit for her. Just like her big sister, my unborn proved she was also a good listener. I felt slightly sick around 11:30PM on December 30th but I was unsure if the culprit was the salmon I’d eaten at Red Lobster earlier in the evening or a pre-labor sign, as I had read that feeling sick beforehand sometimes occurred. I also felt extremely tired and decided to go to bed earlier than normal. I had a feeling that I may go into labor the next day and had high hopes since it was supposed to snow the next day. My midwife said that in her experience if baby is ready, a change in the weather such as a snow storm would bring on labor. I woke up for a drink of water and noticed it snowing around 6 AM. I woke up again feeling rather awake just before 7 AM on December 31st, only to feel a strong cramp several minutes later, which I was fairly certain, was a contraction. The contractions were not too strong, as I could still lay in bed through them, as I didn’t feel like getting out of bed yet, so I just cuddled with Astra until finally getting up to get my cell phone to help time contractions. I noticed the walking only caused the contractions to come on sooner. I cuddled back in bed with Astra and timed between 7 and 10 minutes between each cramp. Mike came in to say goodbye before leaving for work around 8AM or so and I told him, “I’m having some cramps and today might be the day she comes out.” He later told me that he didn’t realize what I meant by that because I used the word cramp rather than contraction, which at least to me contractions feel like strong menstrual cramps. I continued to cuddle with Astra and count between contractions until they were too painful to lye through at around 8:30AM. I got out of bed and gobbled down a couple granola bars as I read parts of “The Birth Book” by Dr. Sears to try to find out for sure whether what I was having was fake or real labor. I was pretty sure it was real labor but didn’t want to excite anyone yet. Astra woke up around 9 AM and we had yogurt for breakfast as I continued to read about labor as well as trying to time the length between contractions. I texted Mike and told him the length between contractions and that I hadn’t talked to the midwife yet and it could be fake labor. I finally called the midwife to let her know what was going on around 10:30AM; she said she thought it sounded like early labor and to call her back in an hour or so. I found that sitting on the toilet or on Astra’s toy box helped to ease contractions, so I found myself walking very fast toward either location when a contraction began. Mike returned home briefly to get some equipment for work soon after and I told him he could go back to work as I wasn’t sure how long my labor would last and didn’t want him to waste his time. I called my mom soon after to let her know I was in labor, both my parents were in town with my niece and nephew getting snacks for their New Year’s Eve party and wanted to stop by and get Astra while in town. I didn’t want to send her away as I knew I would miss her but was having a hard time caring for her between contractions. I was putting plastic and old sheets on the bed in case we birthed the baby there, when my parents stopped by to take Astra to their house around 11:30AM. After she left I threw a load of towels in the washing machine and called my midwife again around noon and then called Mike and told him to come home, as I just wanted someone to hold me and did not want to be alone. I then hopped in the shower because I wanted to be clean when I had the baby, although standing through the contractions was not easy. I found the shower running on my lower back helped ease contractions at first but then of course eventually it stopped helping. Mike returned home, around 12:30PM, as I was getting out of the shower and I told Mike to go ahead and call the midwife to come to our house to ease my mind. After throwing on some sweats and a nursing cami, we just sat together with the lights off in the bedroom, talking and timing the length of contractions as well as the length between contractions until Brenda showed up. At that point my contractions were lasting around 40 seconds and were about two or three minutes apart. Mike seemed to find it interesting as I tried to describe to him how I felt during a contraction. First I would feel the urge to poo, followed by wanting to cry and finally wanting to sleep as the contraction ended. I remember I felt like taking a nap and wanted to curl up in bed but it felt so uncomfortable to lie down. I have no idea how I managed to lay down while having Astra, as I didn’t have any drugs with her either. The midwife showed up around 1:00 PM, checked in with us and sat in the dining room and left me to labor as I wished. Brenda thought that I was probably around 5 cm dilated but I didn’t want her to actually check. Mike thought I should walk around to encourage labor to go quicker, I didn’t want to, as I found that the contractions came on so much quicker when I walked and then I wasn’t in a good spot to sit to ease the contraction. I took his advice though and walked into the dining room to talk with Brenda. I stood and talked between contractions and then knelt on the floor, holding onto Mike’s legs as he stood during contractions or with my hands on my hips and breathing. The breathing during contractions is what I have always felt was so silly during birthing class when I was pregnant with Astra but during contractions it just happened naturally, I couldn’t help but to do it; though I had a sore throat a bit afterwards from all the breathing. We wound back up in the bedroom at some point and I sat in the glider because although it was not helpful to sit in during contractions it felt so comfy between them. At that point Brenda asked if I was ready for the birthing tub (an inflatable swimming pool basically, that you fill with warm water which helps to ease the pain of contractions). Brenda began to get the birthing tub ready as I was well ready for it and had forgotten all about it until she mentioned it. After a few minutes I left the room because the noise from the air pump was rather loud. I walked onto our porch to get a Gatorade off of the refrigerator, having to kneel for a contraction during so while on the porch still. I walked back into the kitchen only to have to kneel for another contraction and that is when my water broke at about 2:20PM. Brenda thinks I would’ve had the baby right there after my water broke if it had not been for the fact that Rainy was facing the wrong direction. She was head first but usually baby’s nose is facing towards the momma’s spine but Rainy was facing with her nose towards my belly button. This apparently makes baby harder to get out and is more painful. After my contraction I wanted to go clean up from the water breaking, so I went and sat on the toilet, only to have another contraction before getting a chance to clean up. So on the toilet with my sweat pants at my ankles, wearing my slippers I was told the baby was probably about to come out. My mind raced as I tried to think of where I should go to have baby, but could not think of a better place, in a better position to be in. So I pushed when I had the urge and sat until Mike said the head was coming out. I couldn’t manage to lift myself so Mike helped me to stand as I pushed my beautiful baby out. As she came out at 2:31PM, I heard Mike say “Help.”, as he couldn’t fully grasp the baby to catch her while also holding me, Brenda reached out and helped Mike catch our baby. I then lifted her up to my chest and held her and talked to her as she cried. I continued to hold her until we decided maybe her umbilical cord was being pulled and it was hurting her, causing her to cry. As Mike was about to cut the cord, Rainy finally latched on and began to nurse, causing a contraction and the placenta to be birthed, which was what we were originally waiting for to happen before cutting the cord. We then retreated to the bed to relax and eat some food before weighing Rainy. The birth of Rainy is everything I could’ve hoped it would be. I wanted her to choose her birthday, as I will never know what Astra’s birthday would’ve truly been if my water hadn’t been broken and her forced out before her chosen time. I knew I didn’t want drugs and I wanted my body to do what God made it to do with no interruptions and although I didn’t get to have the experience of using the birthing tub to ease contractions because I was farther into labor than we thought and the birthing location isn’t the prettiest, I don’t have regrets. Rainy Jane was born weighing 6lbs 12 oz. at 2:31PM on December 31, 2012 in the comfort of our own home.