My Birth Story
This is the birth story of my first son, Clayton. Fair warning, this might be TMI if you’re not familiar with birth. I share my story because birth stories helped me prepare for my labor, and I know others enjoy reading them as much as I do.
As my due date got closer, we wondered when labor would start. We were planning a home birth and were very confident in our decision. (If you’re wondering why, you can read my post: 8 reasons I chose to have a home birth.)
Tim (my husband) and I had planned that when my contractions started we would just go about our day and try not to get too excited too early. On Saturday evening (3 days before my due date), we went out with friends and then back to our house. While we were sitting there talking I started to feel some contractions. They were really small, but this was the first time I could actually feel them. We went to bed not thinking too much, but they continued through the night, and I found myself awake and unable to go back to sleep around 5 a.m. I was having consistent contractions that were not super painful but that I was definitely feeling. We were thinking maybe this was it!
Tim was great! He held me while we lay in bed for awhile, then we decided to watch an episode or two of Lost since we obviously were not going to fall back to sleep but still needed to rest. We had discussed with our midwife that if we popped out of bed at the first sign of labor then we might be exhausted by the end. We were determined to resist this temptation. Soon it was time to get out of bed, so we prepared for church. We were determined to not tell anyone at church and made a game of it. It was quite challenging, as pretty much everyone asked us when the baby was coming and we were thinking “looks like today!” During the service Tim held my hand through contractions as he timed them. They were pretty consistently 5 minutes apart. Looking good…..
After church we had lunch with Tim’s family. Towards the end of the meal we told them I was having contractions, but through the afternoon they seemed less consistent. We went home, and I took my Sunday afternoon nap. By the time I woke up, the contractions were pretty much done. We were disappointed and were thinking maybe a walk would get us back on track. So we went for a walk down to the park and all through the woods down by the creek. We walked for about an hour or so and I was feeling something, but after we got back home things petered out again. We had tried to temper our excitement but were still disappointed.
We expected that labor would start back up within the next day or two, but one day after the next nothing happened. I had inconsistent contractions off and on through these days. By Wednesday, I was pretty frustrated but by Thursday my head was back in the right place. The baby would come in God’s timing.
On Thursday afternoon I was about to go for a walk on the treadmill but decided to try a slow jog instead. Maybe this would get things going. Well, I don’t know if it was the jog or not, but that evening the contractions seemed more consistent than they had been throughout the week, and they seemed to continue through the night. The next morning we were definitely trying to play things down and not get too excited, as we knew how things could easily stop again. Tim went to work and I kept myself busy cleaning the house and answering work emails.
By the afternoon, I knew something was definitely happening, and unless it stopped again this was it! I went for a short walk then tried to take a nap, but the contractions kept waking me up. They were gradually getting more intense, although they never did get to a consistent pattern. We had tickets to the Indians game that night and were debating whether or not we should still go. I called our midwife, and she said we should go ahead and go. This would keep ourselves occupied and maybe help move things along. (We only lived about 10 minutes from the stadium so we could get home quickly if things picked up.)
So we went to the Indians game with our friends, and I was definitely feeling the contractions pretty strongly at this point. Looking back, I’m fairly sure I was in active labor. Sitting in the seat was uncomfortable during contractions to say the least, so I found myself standing and swaying, going for a walk or squirming in my seat through them. The Indians actually did well that game, so I was glad for the reasons to stand and “cheer” (i.e. endure my contraction). We stayed through about five innings until I felt that I needed to be at home.
We headed back home and Tim drew me a bath. My midwife said I should try to relax myself as much as possible and see if I could get some sleep that night. The bath felt good and was very relaxing as Tim set up candles and music. During each contraction I just kept thinking “open up for baby Clayton. God made my body to open up.” As I tried to welcome the contractions, they got closer together and I began to wonder if I would need to have my midwife come sooner versus later.
Up next on the agenda was trying to sleep, so I went upstairs to lie down as Tim worked on setting up the birth pool. But lying down through the contractions was quickly becoming unbearable, and soon I couldn’t handle it in that position. I went downstairs to where Tim was working on the pool. Walking and moving through the contractions made them much easier to handle. Tim finished setting up the pool and we called the midwife again to update her. As I spoke with her, I had to keep handing off the phone during contractions. They were getting too intense to do two things at once. We decided that I would try to sleep again and let her know when I needed her.
It was around here that Tim called my sister-in-law who was going to come and help assist during labor. We had no idea how far along I was, but we figured she could just sleep in our guest room if things were going slowly. Tim and I went upstairs, and during each contraction he would rub my back. That helped some, but soon I was on my hands and knees for each contraction, and it was becoming apparent I wasn’t going to be able to sleep. Just then I felt an urge to throw up and yelled for a trash can. “Wow,” I thought, “I remember learning this is normally a sign that you’re pretty far along. We’d better call the midwife back.” Tim called her and she said she’d be over right away.
So this was it!! We headed back downstairs around midnight, and I started walking through the contractions. My sister-in-law soon arrived, then the midwives. This is where I started losing track of time. Tim was helping me through contractions as I was continuing to walk through each one, as that seemed to help the most. My sister-in-law cut me some watermelon and I was able to eat a little bit in between the contractions. We started to fill up the birth pool, and I was relieved to be able to finally get in. By this time the contractions were very intense and some of them were on top of each other. I hadn’t really planned to do this but I started blowing raspberries during the contractions, and that helped take the edge off. I heard my midwife telling me that I was doing great. Tim was there right by me the whole time reminding me to breathe deeply, telling me I could do it. What a help and encouragement he was, reigning me back in every time I was about to panic.
We had decided that my midwife wouldn’t check me very much unless it was necessary but I asked her if she could tell by observing me about where I was. She said she wasn’t sure, and I was just wondering how I’d be able to handle it if they got much more intense. Looking back, we now know I was in transition at that point, but she said she couldn’t be sure at the time because I was fairly calm. I think that not knowing I was in transition actually helped me. I was just thinking that it was going to get worse and that I couldn’t hit the wall too early.
Soon the contractions changed a little and I felt a little like pushing. I didn’t think much of it, just glad for a little bit of relief.
During this whole time, the midwife was monitoring the baby’s heartbeat, and it was a little bit low. She told me that she wanted to check me to see where I was so that they could make a wise decision regarding the low heartbeat. We went into the bedroom, and she checked me. I couldn’t believe the words I heard – some of the best words of my life – “you’re complete!”
She told us later that if I would’ve only been 6 cm or so that we might’ve had to go to the hospital but that since I was so far along she knew we were probably good to go. The heartbeat was okay where it was but the concern was that if it dropped suddenly that could be a problem. Since there was no way to know why the heartbeat was low, she wanted the baby to be born sooner versus later and thus encouraged me to push hard. This sounded great to me and I started pushing hard to help Clayton descend. I knelt on the bed over a stack of pillows and pushed with all I had. My water hadn’t broken yet so she decided to break it since she thought it might be in the way of his decent. Since his head was so low, though, only the small part below his head even burst. I tried many different positions moving to standing then squatting while holding onto Tim. I was making progress. He was moving down.
My sister-in-law asked if I’d like to move back into the pool and I remembered “oh yeah, that’s the idea of a waterbirth.” But when I got back in the water the contractions were slowing down. Someone said I had been pushing for about an hour, and I was surprised it had been so long. The heartbeat was still low and since we had a sense of urgency for him to be born, I decided to get out and head back to the bedroom. I didn’t feel any disappointment at not having him in the water; it felt right to take whatever position best helped him be born, and I had felt good success pushing in the upright positions.
On our way from the pool back to the bedroom, I suddenly felt a contraction coming on. I stopped right in the hallway to bear down through the contraction. When it passed I asked if I should keep moving to the bedroom but the midwives had already started setting everything up so it looked like we would stay in the hallway. I was getting so close and she said that she could see the head. I was pushing with all my might, and after a few more contractions he finally crowned. His head came partially out, but we had to wait for the next contraction. When it came, our precious baby slid out all at once, and the joy and relief was immediate!!
I pulled him up to my chest but could only get him to my stomach because his umbilical cord was so short – only about a foot long! That was what was causing his low heartbeat, but he was completely fine – perfect and whole. My husband was crying and I was thrilled. Tim had been really worried that something was seriously wrong, but our midwife later told us that as soon as she saw his head she saw his color was fine and knew he was okay. He was born at 4:19 am on Saturday in the middle of our hallway 🙂
We cut the cord so that we could pull him up completely….oh and did I mention that he pooped all over me immediately after he was born? 🙂 A little later we moved to the bed to start feeding and take care of the post-partum procedures. Clayton weighed in at 7 lb 12 oz and was 21 inches long.
What a blessing it was to be in the comfort of my home with my wonderful husband for the first precious hours! I praise the Lord for giving us such a wonderful birth experience and am so thankful for those who were there to help me. My midwife and her apprentice were wonderful, and I knew I could trust them completely. My husband Tim was everything I needed him to be and more, and my sister-in-law provided great emotional support as well as providing us with photos and video.
Throughout my pregnancy I knew that labor would be difficult but all I wanted was for that moment when he was placed on my chest to be worth it. And it most certainly was! Clayton’s birth was one of the best moments of my life, and I couldn’t believe how beautiful and perfect he was! In that moment I couldn’t believe how blessed I was and wouldn’t have changed a single thing.