After having a relatively easy hospital birth (with pitocin and an epidural) with the birth of my son, I wanted something completely different the second time around. After much research and talking to my sister who had recently had a natural birth (in the hospital with a doula), I knew I wanted to make it happen for myself. I set out to find a midwife that delivered in the hospital, but after the first few visits, I felt like there was no difference from seeing an OB/GYN. I went to a birth options seminar at the birthing center near our house, where a whole new world had been opened up for me. I was so drawn to Jan and the idea of having a home birth. When I got home I ran the idea by Jesse, my husband and he was nothing but supportive of it. I was thrilled! So, after interviewing Jan together, we decided to switch providers and hire her. In retrospect, I wish I had found her from the very beginning so I would have had more time with her, I so enjoyed my prenatal visits. They lasted an hour long and I felt I was in the best of hands, it was like a therapy session! It far exceeded any visit with any OB.
My due date was June 14th, 2009, and since I was a week early with Julian, I sort of expected to be early again. My sister flew in to be my doula, she arrived 2 weeks before my due date, so we got a lot of hanging-out time in. On the morning of Friday June 12th, I dropped Julian off to school and went home to complete yet another project on my to-do list. I was going to clean out all the bathroom drawers. I had just emptied out my make up drawer and had to use the bathroom. I peed and right then and there my water broke! It was about 10:15 am, I was so excited and said to myself “Oh my God, this is it! Today’s the day!” Quickly I called Jesse and told him the news. He came home shortly after I called him. I next called Jan to tell her. She said to just go on about my day, finish my little project, and call her when the contractions get started. If nothing is happening by 2:00pm, I should call her back. Next I called my sister and she called my mom; everyone but I started racing around frantically. I felt fine, very calm, totally happy, and excited…no contractions had started yet. My mom picked up Julian from school and brought him home to pack his suitcase, since he’d be staying over there for a few days. We told him “Junebug” was coming today and said goodbye to him.
Ok, so I had my birthing team in place: Jesse, my husband, and Sarah, my sister. We were just hanging out, having fun and making lunch and still nothing was happening. It was a gorgeous day, sunny, blue sky, and warm but not too hot. After lunch, I gave Jan a call. It was starting to worry me that I wasn’t feeling anything yet, as it had been about 4 hours since my water broke. She said, “Ok, it’s time to go sit in front of the TV and stimulate your nipples as if you’re hand expressing milk. Stimulate until you get a contraction, keep doing it until you get them 5 minutes apart without needing to stimulate anymore and then call me back.” So, we went downstairs I took my shirt off, Jesse grabbed a breast and I took the other one and we started stimulating away. Ha! We were watching the Kathy Griffin show while doing this. I made my sister cover up the clock on the VCR because I couldn’t stop staring at it and feeling like it was taking forever. It took about 30 minutes (3:30pm) and I felt a contraction. It wasn’t painful by any means, but definitely stronger than a Braxton-Hicks contraction. It wasn’t long until they were coming on their own every 5 minutes. I was getting really excited.
I gave Jan a call and she suggested we go for a vigorous walk. Perfect, it was actually just what I felt like doing at the moment. I was feeling pumped and wanted to get these contractions in full gear. I kept thinking “bring it on! The longer and stronger they get, the sooner I’ll get to meet this baby and find out what it is.” I was adamant about thinking positive and not resisting the pain. Jan said she’d be at our house by the time we returned from our walk. So, we headed out the door and I swear we hadn’t even gotten to the end of the driveway and they were already coming every 2 minutes apart. My sister was timing them for us. They weren’t very long, only about 30 seconds but kept coming consistently every 2 minutes. Still not painful, but I did need to stop and stand still during a contraction. We walked up to Tonawanda (the nearby elementary school) and walked in the woods where I took a quick potty break. I was laughing so hard as I squatted in the woods, accidentally peeing on my shoes, and had a contraction at the same time. It was pretty ridiculous! They were starting to last a little longer now, about 45 seconds and feeling a little more intense, still bearable though. I felt the need to get back home as they intensified.
We got back right around 5:00pm and Jan pulled into the driveway literally 5 minutes later. She immediately started setting up the tub, filling it, and getting her things unpacked. She had her kids in the car who were visiting from out of town and had every intention of just getting things set up and coming back later. For me, things were quickly getting more intense, I was starting to get uncomfortable but was still dealing pretty well with it. Jan checked my dilation at 5:30pm and said I was at 4cm. She also said she wiggled her fingers inside and it could get things really moving, so don’t be surprised if the next contraction is more intense. Well, she was right…yowza!
Thank god my sister was there to help me through the next 20-30 minutes, because it was crazy. We went up to the bathroom to do a vaginal wash because I was strep b positive. I got in my bathtub, squatted and my sister squirted it for me. I remember we started cracking up and then all of a sudden,the contractions really intensified and I was welling up with tears. It was just so much, so fast. I remember hugging Sarah and saying “this is really starting to suck now” and she just held me and said nothing but positive things, told me I was doing great and said “you’re taking baby steps and pretty soon we’ll get to meet “Junebug”. I got out of the tub and I was feeling like I didn’t know what to do when a contraction would hit me. My body wanted to go down, I would drop to my hands and knees, it was the only place that felt right. When Jan saw what was happening she said “I have a feeling she’s taking some pretty big steps.” The bathroom tile didn’t feel too good on my knees so I came down to the first floor and got on my hands and knees on the carpeting. My sister would put pressure on my lower back through the contractions, it worked for some and not so much for others. I was moaning and grunting and making all sorts of bizarre primal noises. It’s amazing what comes out of you in the heat of the moment. Then I wanted to be back in the bathroom, sitting on the toilet, so I ran up before the next one hit me. It felt good to sit there and be loud as hell. All the sudden I’m tensing up and everything is tightening and I’m grunting and saying, “Why I am pushing?!?!??” My body was just doing it. Jan screamed at Jesse, “Get the gloves, get the gloves!!!!” She checked me and said, “because you’re ready, and if you want to get in that tub we have to go now.” That was all I needed to hear, I ran so fast down those stairs and hopped into that tub, ha! I didn’t want to have another contraction out of the water. The tub felt wonderful, but I don’t know if it really helped the pain, everything was getting really intense now. Jesse got right in there with me too! The contractions were these HUGE waves that would hit me, and my whole body would tense up and tighten, I was very vocal in order to deal with them. After about 3 more big ones in the tub I said, “Why are my toes curling?!?!” That signaled Jan that I was definitely ready to push now.
I faced Jesse and clasped my hands into my sister’s hands, she was right behind me. It was probably about 6:00pm, or a little while after when I started to push. My body couldn’t NOT push, it was such an overwhelming sensation. I just let my body lead the way. It felt good to have something to do and I felt like I was finally accomplishing something. I remember feeling very intense stretching, I kept saying “Ohhh, it’s BURNING!” Jan kept saying, “It’s just stretching.” We went back and forth like this for many contractions. I would have these wonderful breaks in between contractions where I would just close my eyes, relax, sway my head back and forth and gear up for the next one. I remember mentally trying to stay in the present moment and thinking about how exciting this was to be giving birth.
I continued to push and ease the baby down, not rushing. I had to get the baby under the bone and that part was ohhh-so-intense but soon after, her head finally emerged, and with the next push I remember Jan saying “I got a shoulder” and the baby slid right out and was guided directly onto my chest. I was in total and complete awe of what had just happened! I sat there with my mouth wide open trying to take it all in and kept thinking, “That’s it, I just did it, oh my God, I just did it!!!!”
All the pain was completely gone, instantly, in fact I felt like a million bucks. The love hormone was pumping hard and I was in a state of pure joy! It was like time stood still, and I was frozen from the high of it all. I didn’t even know what the baby was for a few minutes, lifted her up to discover we were right all along, it was a girl. I threw my fist in the air and exclaimed, “YES, it’s a girl!”
She was perfect, just the sweetest little thing, looking at us so peacefully, not even crying. She was covered in lots of vernix too. She was born at 6:27pm, so I pushed for approximately 20 minutes. After I delivered the placenta (which was a piece of cake by the way) we waited for the cord to stop pulsating and Jesse then cut the cord.
Soon after that I got out of the tub with the baby still on my chest. I got situated on the couch with her and then we decided on the name Nola Bea Robinson. Nola found my breast when she was ready and just latched herself on no problem. It was beautiful. We lay there for 2 hours together snuggling and bonding.
Friends arrived shortly after the birth for a champagne toast, it was awesome to share the experience with them! That night I couldn’t sleep, all I did was lay there replaying the day’s events over and over again. I have never felt so incredible, like I could do absolutely anything. Having a natural birth was the most empowering and beautiful experience of my life.