July is birth story month at the Motherhood Collective. Reading the good, the bad, the ugly and the BEAUTIFUL experiences of other mothers gives us a real appreciation for the strength we have in childbirth. Hopefully these stories will inspire you.
The Events Preceding the Birth of Beatrice Elise
I began contracting shortly after we went to bed, but this was common for the evenings, and since I had been cleaning so vigorously I was not surprised. Throughout the night as I rose to use the restroom (too many times to count at that point) I noticed they still hadn't stopped, but again, no big deal. At 6am Sunday morning I woke Adam and asked if he would massage my lower back, again, cleaning must have made me sore.
It was a beautiful fall day and I enjoyed layering up in a sweater and boots! We got our Starbucks and met up with friends who were visiting our church. On the way to church Adam asked me to at least text Laurie, my Doula and dear friend, with an update. I obeyed.
I chatted with friends after church, all the while "plie-ing" and moving. Once we were back in the car, Adam insisted I call Leslie, the Midwife, Laurie, and Barbie, friend and Assistant Midwife. I felt ridiculous, again, I just KNEW I wasn't in labor. I left messages with all three and went and joined dear friends over a delicious lunch! I asked Adam for seconds, thinking that if for some strange reason "this was real" I should eat as much as I could.
Leslie called back and suggested I head home after this lunch and nap. Either I was up for another night of contractions, or active labor was on the horizon. She asked me to stay hydrated, and she was glad I was eating such a large lunch.
I chatted with my dear friend Julie, and at Adam's prompting, finally headed out around 2:30pm.
Instead of going straight home, Adam asked if I would instead enjoy a rainy day drive with the heated seats. We had a few errands to run for the nursery, and I couldn't see why not! We drove to T.J.Maxx and I began to time my contractions on the way. Adam had previously downloaded this nifty Contraction Timing App for his iPhone, and it was nice to just tap "start" and "stop", and let it do all the recording.
We drove to Joe Beans (where I got a decaf caramel spice latte) then to Lowes where I sat in the parking lot timing contractions and Adam ran inside. At this point I was noticing that these silly contractions were all roughly 50 - 60 seconds long. Through our excellent childbirth classes I knew that contractions of this length were worth noticing. This frustrated me slightly, and I began to think I was timing them incorrectly. I called Laurie, who was also our childbirth instructor, and left another message.
Once we finally reached the house at 6:00 pm Adam and I both spoke to Laurie who told me I was indeed timing correctly and she thought active labor was beginning. WHAT?! She urged me to rest in a completely dark room for an hour and to have Adam call her at 7:00 pm with a status report.
The Birth of Beatrice Elise
I don't talk much about my birth choices... but before I tell the rest of the story of Beatrice's birth I must inform you of my decisions. And they are simply that, my decisions. This is not a decision I feel is right for every woman. But it was right for me. My decision is not better than the decisions of other mothers. It was best for me. I do not judge the decisions made by any other mother, I ask that you do the same for me.
We chose to plan a home birth with Certified Professional Midwife, Leslie Payne and Doula, Laurie Flower.
Here is a link to an excellent, albeit a little "new-agey", film, I agree with their final statement. "Accept your responsibility. Find YOUR truth." This is ALL I believe. We as mothers are responsible for seeking out our truth.
OK, I'm off of my soap box. Now onto the story of this precious girl's arrival…
At the end of the last post it was 6:00 pm and we had just checked in with our dear friend and Doula, Laurie. I tried my hardest to rest, but quite frankly I had missed my window for resting while I was gallivanting around T.J.Maxx! I attempted to lie down, but found it was more comfortable to pile all six of our pillows into a tower on our bed and rest my head while sitting up.
Adam went downstairs around 6:45pm to make himself a bowl of grits and relax, apparently thinking things were about to slow down. Poor guy. At 7:00pm, right as Extreme Home Makeover was beginning, I believe I experienced my first Active Labor contraction. Sitting was no longer an option, and neither was ignoring these signals from my body. It was time to get to work. I jumped up and let my body move through the intensity, then called downstairs to Adam.
He came bounding up the stairs and I informed him it was time to call Laurie, Barbie, our dear friend and Assistant, and Mauresa. Things had changed and I needed my support.
Laurie said she was on her way, Barbie had just gotten off work and she would be over with a few of my food requests, and Mauresa would be there as soon as possible with the dinner we were to have eaten together in her home at 8:00 pm.
I believe at this point Adam brought me one of my birth CD's, (which I had just made a few days prior), filled with quiet music. I changed into my "birth outfit", consisting of my bikini top, a pink jersey dress and a pink headband, (inspired by my friend, Erica).
I must tell you that even though I could acknowledge that things had changed, I truly did not believe I was in Active Labor. I kept thinking that everything would end, that I was making a fool of myself by calling everyone over, and that I would just be changing out of my birth outfit later that evening.
After changing I continued to try and rest in between contractions. I will tell you that I began crying tears of joy. My “bringer of joy” was on her way.
Laurie arrived at 7:30 pm, I remember her holding me and crying with me. What a miracle. My little girl was coming. Then it started - I entered "labor land". The following times have only been relayed to me by those in attendance. I literally felt like I was in a land of my own. And what a wonderful place it was!
Laurie worked through a few contractions with me upstairs, but as soon as Mauresa arrived with food, she insisted I head downstairs to eat! I ate Mauresa's delicious soup in the den on my birthing ball, while Laurie kept asking for "carbs" for me.
After eating some soup and bread, I starting working with the stairs - climbing up and down sideways while holding on to the banister, with deep squats on every step. After doing a few sets of singles we switched to two at a time working with the contractions. Laurie suggested we labor in Beatrice's nursery for a little while, using her glider to alleviate some lower back pressure. What a joy it was to be in my soft lit nursery bringing my little girl into the world. Barbie arrived and quickly prepared some wonderful warm compresses for me. I was able to rest my head and arms on the glider and rock back and forth on my knees while Barbie and Laurie applied the compresses.
I wanted to start working with my body again. We went out into the hall and this would be the point when my ballet background kicked in; I thought it might, and hoped it would, but I didn't know to what extent. I used a section of wall and did deep grande-plies in second, breathing deeply and working with each contraction. I loved this so much that they suggested I continue what I was doing, but in our shower. We have a wonderful shower with two shower heads, and the lower one can be aimed right on your back.
I entered the shower around 9:00 pm and adored it! They brought my music in, lit candles and kept refilling my water bottle again and again. I was never alone, yet I was granted the utmost privacy. I always had a supporter right outside of the shower, they rotated, Laurie, Barbie, Adam, Laurie, Barbie, Adam. They read scripture over me, prayed for me and Beatrice, brought me frozen peppermint compresses (heaven!) and surprised me with a book full of prayers and notes from friends. In between contractions I was able to talk and laugh, and during I was fully engaged in the work of my body. I believe it was at this point that I began to talk to my body and to Beatrice. Don't laugh, but in this deep guttural voice I started saying things such as "down", "open", "good girl, Beatrice", "come on little girl", and so much more. I began using my entire body, not just my legs, but my arms and hands to stretch and almost dance. It helped immensely to keep my body loose and to keep me from tightening anything. I also found my animal moan at this point. I loved hearing it echo on the shower tile, I loved how it reverberated inside me. It felt so wonderful. It reminded me of vocal/acting relaxation exercises.
Leslie, my spectacular midwife was called at some point and arrived around 10:30 pm while I was still in the shower. Apparently I was in the shower for a whole 2 hours. I depleted the house of its hot water supply, and still remained in the shower. I vomited up all of my extra large lunch from that afternoon, (again, it felt so wonderful), and still I remained in the shower, I absolutely loved it! Leslie, didn't mind my singing or my shower dancing or my other-worldly birth chants, she just watched me carefully and asked to hear Bea's heartbeat every once and a while. Oh, the heartbeat! Every time she would put the doptone up to my belly and I could hear my little one's strong heartbeat it was as if I was filled with a brand new dose of energy.
Around 11:00pm, they informed me that the den and the birthing tub were ready. They had Adam climb in the shower with me to share a couple of moments with me before we transitioned to the next phase. It was like a dream. He massaged me and told me what a magnificent job I was doing. What a gift.
I remember getting out of the shower and someone wrapping me in a towel. I remember Adam trying to help me down the stairs, but I must have been in the middle of a contraction, because I wanted no assistance.
Then it happened. I walked into my dream come true. For months I had dreamed of this moment, and it was here. I had written a "wish list" for my birth during my fabulous Childbirth Education Classes but never did I imagine it could look so beautiful. There were candles everywhere, the windows were down and the sound of pouring rain and a cold soothing breeze were slipping in, there was a roaring fire in the fireplace (my one request everyone thought was crazy, but it was PERFECT for this cool night), my carefully chosen music filled the air, and surrounding the huge birthing tub were the best support team anyone could ask for. I burst into tears. I couldn't believe this was the night for the birth of my child.
I climbed into the tub, and after an hour in a cold shower, it felt incredible! I felt so light and buoyant. Everything I had heard about laboring in the water was accurate. I loved it. It did change the feel of labor completely, but with coaching and encouragement I was able to feel the transition and change with it. I continued to move, moan, dance and speak in my low birthing voice. Not once did I feel ridiculous or silly. Everything felt so right. I could feel my body working to deliver my baby, and I wanted to help as much as I could.
At around 1:30 am they suggested I get out of the tub and try to use the restroom. I complied, but as I was climbing out a contraction came on, and I had to MOVE! I apparently took off around the house circling and circling the main floor; shaking out my limbs and marching to keep anything from tightening. I must have seen the blinds were all open, and I was appalled! Barbie scrambled to close all of the curtains and out of the corner of my eye I saw her fly across the dining room. I later found out she had tripped over Laurie's suitcase! What dear friends I have. After the contraction came to an end I attempted to use the restroom, but to no avail. Adam told me that they needed me to rest and relax at this point (apparently I was working too hard). They tried to have me lie down, but I despised that position, instead we moved to the den doorway, and while I hung on the door frame, Laurie and Barbie swung my hips from side to side as I moaned, "surrender". (I wish everyone could hear my husband's impression of me at this point.) The doorway failed to let me do what my body wanted, so I grabbed Adam and hung from his neck while continuing the same rocking. This felt so great, and truly helped relieve my lower back pressure.
I climbed back into the tub, and again, things changed. After throwing up again, (my poor helpers - I vaguely remember them scrambling to find something for me to vomit into), there was a moment where I lost my confidence. But with one look into the eyes of my amazing support, and one request that they assure me I could do this, I was back on track. I began chanting my new mantra, of, "I can do this. My body can do this." Adam climbed into the tub with me and in between contractions they had me recline into his arms to rest. Again, it couldn't have been more beautiful.
At 2:40 am I had a contraction different than all the ones before and at the end I felt my body pushing. What?! You must remember I had thought earlier that I was only fooling myself, and somehow I still couldn't believe it was true. It felt like only minutes had passed. In astonishment I told Leslie I felt like I needed to push. I knew she was going to tell me I was crazy, so I asked if she needed to check me or something. She told me that there was no need. I had known what my body needed till now, and that Bea's heartbeat was wonderful, so I needed to do what I needed to do.
Pushing naturally isn't really pushing. It's more like falling. There is nothing you can do to stop it. Your body just does it. I hate to compare it to this, but it's truly like vomiting. Your body has such power that you can't resist it. It is impossible to fight against it, and you simply need to relinquish your control and let your body do what it needs to. With every contraction I had three or four rushes of pushing. I could literally feel her descending. It was magnificent. The pressure was insane and the stretching sensation unlike any other, but all together amazing.
One or two contractions into pushing I felt my water break. What a feeling. It was as if a giant balloon had just burst inside of me. After five or six contractions I asked Leslie to help me understand where she was in the descent. She described how she was working her way underneath the pubic bone. It felt so right. After five or six more contractions it was truly time.
With my husband holding and supporting me from behind they coached me into a position where I could use my whole body. With the next contraction she began to crown. The next contraction brought her a little farther, the next contraction even farther. Leslie told me to feel the top of her head and I couldn't believe it. It was such a small portion, what a miracle the overlapping of an infant's skull is. Over the next few contractions the rest of her head began to emerge until I could put my entire hand over the top of her head. AMAZING!! I think that so many talk about this point feeling like a "ring of fire", and a burning sensation. But I truly could only call it stretching, crazy stretching.
Then, at 3:38 am, Monday, the 27th of September, a day before her due date, there in the birthing tub, it happened. With the next contraction and the four rushes that accompanied it I pushed, pushed, pushed and then SHE BURST FORTH!!! All of her! It was if she exploded into this world! No head, and then waiting for the next contraction for her body, no, my precious little one came flying into Leslie's arms.
I couldn't believe it. Here was the child that grew in my womb, that was bringing joy into such darkness. I couldn't believe it.
She was immediately placed in my arms and when I looked up, every eye was full of tears. My husband, her father, was sobbing tears of joy as he held us both. Here she was. I swear I could hear the angels singing, and my mother, now in heaven, joining in the chorus! She was so beautiful. My daughter. My Beatrice Elise.
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