I hesitate to publish my birth story, not because it was traumatic but because it was wonderful. I don’t want anyone to think less of their own birth story after reading mine. I believe every birth story is a testimony to the miracle of life. We need to share our stories of giving and sustaining life, of intertwining heartbeats, of gazing into brand new eyes, of saying “hello, it’s so nice to finally meet you” for the very first time.
As soon as I had calculated Rowan’s estimated due date, I had a knowing that he would actually be born two weeks later. I wished it away because I really didn’t want to be pregnant 42 weeks. When I started having regular surges just before week 40, I was excited and skeptical at the same time. My skepticism proved accurate as the surges were the beginning of 3 weeks of prodromal labor. This was physically and emotionally draining but was also deeply spiritual as I practiced leaning into Jesus more and more every day.
I also picked up the HypnoBirthing book and read it cover to cover. As the days turned into weeks from when I had hoped I would deliver, I worked on breathing and letting go- not just in preparation for birth but also in surrender of events as I had planned them. Holding on tightly only served to make me more stressed and anxious; release brought freedom and renewed hope. I am thankful for the midwives’ presence and encouragement through those long weeks of waiting; they even took time to call me and text back and forth with me when I was the most emotionally worn down.
Finally, during the night of August 18th my surges found a consistent rhythm of 7-8 minutes apart. This was after two days of implementing a handful of natural methods to nudge my body towards labor: chiropractic adjustments, and an herbal tincture were a couple of the them. After a long walk in the early morning of August 19th (two weeks after my EDD), my surges switched to 2-3 minutes apart. I called my midwives as I settled my mind on active labor.
In the early stages of active labor I was able to literally sing praises to God. I was SO ready to deliver this baby. I prayed aloud, thanking God for me for each surge that brought babe and I closer to seeing each other. Between surges I conversed and laughed with those attending me. For some of the time I walked around our bedroom and bathroom; some of the time I spent in the shower, allowing the hot water to soothe my stretched abdomen; some some of the time I spent draped over the birthing ball, moving it forwards and backwards. Eventually my limbs begged for rest so I laid on my side on the bed.
I never planned to labor or deliver on the bed but it felt so good to be comfortable and relaxed. I actually transitioned on my side, breathing through those distinctly sharp transition surges and leaning into the sensations when I would rather have run away from them. I tried to focus inward: noting my temperature and blood pressure rising and falling, as well as Rowan’s movements and position, all indicators of when I would be releasing him from my body. When I felt him on the cusp of crowning, I rolled over on to my hands and knees.
Once there my water burst (spraying anyone within reach!) and the full force of his head was there. Oh! The pressure and searing pain! I wanted to say, “I can’t!” But I knew with Christ I could. I focused on his head rather than the pain- and then it was free! Then I focused on his shoulders and then we were both free! I wept and repeated over and over “oh! Thank you Jesus! Thank you!” And then I was holding our perfect fourth son! All this time Jared never left my side: massaging my back and thighs with black pepper essential oil, doing gentle caressing touch and whispering affirmations. I think it was our best birth as a couple (and we have six under our belts now!)- almost like a dance.
I think I will always remember the serenity of this day that came through the calm assurance from Christ, Jared’s strong attentiveness, the cooperation of the children and the camaraderie of our friends and midwives. I have no regrets or “if I could do it over again” thoughts. My home was a haven on our little boy’s birthday. I want to remember that goodness is all the sweeter for the waiting and the longing.