This post is the final installation of a three part series of Luke’s Birth Story that ran this week.
Click here to read Luke’s Birth Story: Part 1, The Road to Homebirth
Click here to read Luke’s Birth Story: Part 2, In Denial
At 1:00 AM sharp I awoke from a deep sleep. I immediately felt three quick pops, a pause and a pool of water. At that moment I was ever thankful that my mom had brought me a waterproof pad for our mattress! I excitedly woke Allan with a shriek, “My water just broke!”. I called Kim and Karen to let them know it was time to come over.
It was a very odd feeling to walk around after my water broke. Each contraction released a gush of water. I would look down at the water wondering if I had just peed myself or if it was amniotic fluid. I kept apologizing to Allan for creating little puddles around the house. He didn’t seem to mind, but I felt embarrassed. Finally he talked me into hanging out on the landing area he had created next to the birthing tub. That way I didn’t have to worry about pools of water on the hardwood floor. I was so thankful for this little area and spent quite a bit of time laboring there waiting for the tub to be ready.
Jane was the first to arrive, it was 1:15 AM. She joked with Allan that she was still wearing her nightclothes. Her warm smile softened my heart and mind. Next to arrive was Jamie, a midwifery student. I didn’t anticipate Jamie being able to attend my birth and was overjoyed when I learned she would be joining us. Soon thereafter Karen arrived. As each of my support women walked through the door, I could feel the crisp fall air enter the house. At this point I felt comfortable chatting and joking between contractions.
Right after Kim arrived my labor intensified. Everyone was present and I felt comfortable going deep within myself. The duration and intensity of my contractions increased and they were much closer together. I was no longer comfortable speaking between contractions. I needed to save my energy to prepare for the next wave.Throughout my pregnancy the birthing ball was my best friend. Labor was no exception. I spent time sitting on the ball and draped over it. As my labor intensified I settled on to my hands and knees. As in my labor with Matthew, I felt the majority of the pressure in my lower back, requiring firm counter pressure from Allan – he was my rock. Karen made sure that I was comfortable, hydrated and applied light touch massage to my upper back.
At 2:13 PM, after bailing ¼ of the water from the too hot tub and filling it back up with cold water, the water was a perfect 98˚. Following a very strong contraction we quickly mobilized, knowing that I didn’t have much time until my next contraction.
I draped my body over the side of the tub and Allan climbed in with me. He knelt behind me, keeping pressure on my lower back. Karen sat outside of the tub holding my hands, getting me water and applying cold washcloths to my neck and face. My eyes were closed and I was deeply focused. Between contractions I only had energy to whisper one or two words, which Karen had to quickly interpret. With each wave I moaned low, my voice vibrated in my chest and soothed my mind.
Contrary to what you might think, contractions are not a steady pressure that comes and goes, they are very much like waves of energy – you can feel them coming on as they rush over your body, peaking and then slowly dissipating. Oftentimes not knowing where one ends and the next begins. The key is to stay on top of them with focus, relaxation and self-restraint.
Kim asked Allan for our camera so that she could take photos. We had completely forgotten about photography – which was something that I really wanted this time around. I mourned not having photos of Matthew’s birth and wanted it captured this time around.
At what I believe was transition, I almost let the waves take charge of me. I came out of myself for a moment just as a contraction peaked and I bit the side of the tub. I instantly caught myself and relaxed. I could not control what was happening to my body. I needed to let go and allow myself to birth my baby. In between contractions I gave myself a little pep talk, “Hmmm… With Matthew’s labor, I don’t remember experiencing a fight or flight moment, where I simply wanted to run away from labor and thought that I couldn’t do it anymore. I guess if I had to pinpoint a moment that might feel like that, it would probably be right now. Huh… that must mean I am in transition – that’s pretty cool. My baby is really close to being born!” And with that I asked Karen to turn the fan on because I was hot. It was 2:35 AM.
I could feel a palpable change in the way baby was positioned. It was as if he was twisting and moving down. I could then feel his head begin to move past my cervix. I told the ladies, “baby is coming”. I felt the urge to be more upright and to spread my legs further from one another. My knee rubbed against the side of the tub where the heaters were and I tried moving over to avoid the heat. It seemed that no matter how far I moved I couldn’t get away from the burning. Allan and Karen asked someone to unplug the heaters.
Soon I felt an uncontrollable urge to push. I breathed into the feeling, letting my body go limp. I took deep breaths and moaned loudly. Karen reminded me to moan deeply, which felt amazing. Beside breathing and moaning, pushing required no conscious effort on my part. I simply allowed my body’s expulsion reflex to do the work. Prior to each contraction, I could feel my baby’s feet push on the top of my uterus, then my muscles would tense up and he would move further down the birth canal.
At 2:57 AM, the baby’s head began to crown. I slowly let him emerge on his own. The ring of fire was intense. I could feel my skin stretching to its limit around baby’s head. I kept repeating the mantra “easy, easy, easy” during each contraction. Crowning took a full 4 minutes.
At this point Jane analyzed the situation and told me that with my next push I would have to more than ease him out, it would require some additional effort on my part. Two minutes later, which was the longest wait of my life, I experienced my next contraction. It was long and strong. I called out to my baby in a deep voice, “C’mon, Luke. Oh Luke. It’s time to be born.”
At 3:03 AM, Allan caught our baby and passed him under my legs into my waiting arms. I quickly picked him up and placed him on my chest and relaxed into the side of the tub. Allan sat in front of me supporting my legs. At 3:04 AM Luke let out a few strong cries, but overall he was very peaceful and alert. His eyes were wide as we soaked each other in.
Jane later told me that Luke’s presentation was anterior, but very straight with both hands high on his chest.
Once out of the tub, we were moved to the couch. Luke immediately began rooting and latched on a few times. At 3:50 AM, I still hadn’t experienced after pains. Jane asked my permission to encourage my placenta to expel. She figured it was already loose and simply needed a little help. She was right and with some gentle enticing it was birthed. At 3:53 AM Allan cut Luke’s umbilical cord. At 4:00 AM we moved to our bed.
At birth Luke weighed 9lbs, 8 ounces and was 22 ½ inches long. His head diameter was 14 inches and his chest was 14 ½ inches around. He was covered with a lot of vernix and had lanugo on his shoulders. His head had cone shaped molding, possibly due to spending quite a bit of time posterior in utero.
I had a labial laceration near the same location that I tore with Matthew along with a small perennial laceration.
Bringing forth life is an amazing, powerful experience that has altered my perception of the world. Being a mother is the most rewarding and challenging thing I have ever done. The love that I have for my children is unlike any other. Honestly, being able to feel this overpowering love has helped me to feel closer to God – better understanding the joy and pain that we bring him.
Having a homebirth was an unencumbered experience where I was able to allow my body to simply follow through with God’s perfect design without distraction or pressure. I am so thankful that I made the decision to allow myself this experience. I felt completely connected to Luke at every moment of labor and more vividly remember the experience than any other in my life.
If you are pregnant or trying to conceive and considering a homebirth I would definitely recommend you investigate your options. The prenatal and postnatal care that you receive from a traditional homebirth midwife is more personal than any clinic setting. I loved that I was encouraged to call one of my midwives at any time, day or night, if I had a concern, question or just needed to talk. We truly built a relationship of trust that enhanced my birthing experience along with my preparation for being a mother to my two boys.
Please let me know if you have any questions about my homebirth or hospital birth experiences. I am more than happy to discuss any of it with you!