Around 3:30am on July 23rd, Max and I could not sleep that night and woke up early.
I went to lay down on the couch which had become more comfortable than our bed in my late stage of pregnancy. Max was upstairs playing a video game. He came down at some point and asked me a question. Neither one of us could say what that question was because at that exact same moment, my water broke! I jumped up so fast and wobbled to the bathroom.
We savored the moment for just a little, I think both in disbelief. Then we texted a few friends and family and I let work know maternity leave would officially be starting! We also let our midwife, Meredith, and doula, Gail, know.
From there, it was back to sleep I went, and I tried to rest all day in preparation for labor. I was actually able to rest well and slept on and off all day with no contractions, at least that I could feel. I also did some curb walking and lunges on the stairs.
At about 4pm, no more signs, so we headed over to our birth center, about 30 minutes away. I was only dilated to 1cm, which I wasn’t surprised by since I could tell I wasn’t in active labor yet. However, as I was checked I went from a 1 to a 4! This was super exciting! I was given a yummy castor oil drink concoction and Max and I left to eat dinner and labor at home. We got salads at Salata, but my contractions started to intensify and I could barely eat. I wasn’t in pain, but I just did not want food.
We drove home. I laid down to rest some more. Contractions continued picking up and Max started timing them for me. Around 8pm, Gail gave us the green light after listening to me through some contractions to head back to the birth center.
We arrived around 8:30pm. Max, Gail, and I went outside to do some curb walking. Thank goodness the sun was down because it was toasty outside! I stopped every contraction to lean against or into Max while Gail did hip squeezes. From the first hip squeeze I had to have them at every contraction. I would say, “HIPS!” Max teases me to this day but I had to have someone pushing back on me in order to get through each contraction!
When we went inside, I labored just about everywhere and in any position I could….
I moved all around that sweet, homey little room. I bounced on the birth ball, labored on the toilet backwards with my head on a pillow, I got back on the birth ball facing forward with my knees on the ground, got on the bed with the peanut ball…
…and eventually, back flat on the bed, my least favorite position. I wanted desperately to get into the tub to relieve the contractions that had definitely picked up by now. Meredith knew I was progressing more when I was flat on my back, but we decided to try it anyways, since I wanted to give birth in the tub and wanted the relief of the warm water.
LABORING IN THE TUB
I was in the tub for I don’t know how long, a few or more hours, and the heat was glorious. I was able to rest a little and enjoy the warmth of the water. However, my contractions were ALL OVER THE PLACE. Sometimes they would slow down and others there would be 5 minutes between them. I would apparently nod off a little and then wake right back up to moan and breathe through the next one, and yell HIPS! to anyone around me.
At one point, I was tired and ready to be done and someone asked what I needed. I asked to have my cards with verses and affirmations read over me. Max and Gail read them and prayed over me. In all honesty, this and having my worship playlist running in the background were the most helpful for getting through the contractions. Many details are fuzzy, but I can specifically remember my music pausing twice and each time I asked for it to be put back on immediately. Having God’s word read over me and hearing His words through music were insanely powerful and calming.
Eventually, I am not too proud to say I told them I didn’t think it was working and that I didn’t think it was going to happen the way I wanted (hello transition). Calmly, my midwife suggested we get out of the tub and on the bed. I didn’t want to because that position hurt the most, but she said she thought I’d be ready to push soon on the bed because I progressed a lot the last time I had been in that position and she checked me. I wasn’t progressing much in the tub. All that hot water was calming me down a little too much!
Everything was always, always my choice and my decision, which empowered me so much and made it easy to trust these amazing women.
The idea of getting to push made it easy for me to get out of the tub. I didn’t stop to let them dry me off; they dried as I walked! Haha I was ready to push! And then I was scared…
With fear came the sweetest part. Max got to lay right next to me, side by side, on the bed. We held hands and I looked him in the eyes and told him I was scared. With the calmest eyes and most reassuring voice, he smiled and told me it was all going to be okay, and that we were going to meet our son soon. The way he said this just let me know it was true, it was so true. I got checked once more, went from an 8-10, hallelujah, and we were ready to push! I think I was still in disbelief that I could actually push, and it was awesome!
Pushing Bear out…
We used a rebozo, which is a traditional Mexican scarf, for pushing. I got to hold onto it while my doula and then Max, held it from the other side. Pushing was hands down preferable to contractions, mainly because I didn’t feel the pain of a contraction while pushing and I couldn’t think about the pain of pushing because I was focused on the act itself. I pushed for 59 minutes and I swear to you, it felt like 5-10 minutes. It was hard work and I was tired between pushes, but it just did not feel that long.
I kept asking if his head was out and they must’ve known it wasn’t because they just kept encouraging me and commenting on how close he was, his hair, oh his hair, and keeping me uplifted.
Once his head was out, my midwife looked me square in the eye and calmly but firmly said she needed me on all fours. I turned over so fast it makes me laugh because I could barely turn to one side earlier during labor to change positions without help. I also apparently threw the rebozo and I think it hit someone! I didn’t even know I was still holding it! Max came from the foot of the bed where he had been to hold the rebozo to the side to be face to face with me while I was on all fours.
Bear ended up getting a little stuck behind my pubic bone (shoulder dystocia), so Meredith hooked her finger behind his left shoulder, and I pushed as best I could, and after a few pushes this way out he came! I’m so grateful she knew what to look for, what to do, and acted promptly to make what could have been scary completely smooth. No one had to tell me when he was out because it was the biggest whoosh and sense of relief! I turned over and before I knew it our precious baby boy was in my arms. Then they brought us the most wonderful warmed up towels to cover him and me. I LOVED these! Haha
As we were laying skin to skin, I will never forget how his little face looked up at me and his eyes widened when he heard my voice for the first time. It was so clear that he was recognizing it was the sweetest thing I wasn’t expecting to notice so undeniably.
A little while later, Max and I sat on the bed while Bear got his newborn tests done at the edge of the bed. After all of this little checks and exams, we were given some time alone. Max had written a beautiful prayer that he wanted to pray over Bear before he was born. If you know Max, he is a phenomenal speaker just off the cuff, better even than when he was to write it down. For this though, he intentionally wrote this prayer down so Bear could have it one day and maybe continue it with his own children. Such a sweet sweet moment for all three of us!
Eventually, about two and a half hours later, we ate some Chick-fil-A breakfast with our birth team, loaded up our sweet baby, and then headed home and let this wonderful, crazy, hard, worth-it journey begin!
(Lastly, I had prayed and prayed and prayed for a short labor and delivery. If I was going to do this unmedicated, I wanted it to be as short as possible! At one point I even threw out the number 12 to God. I went into active labor around 5pm and Bear was born at 5:05am. God is good. Also, I looked up at Max randomly one day and said, “I think I’m going to give Birth on all fours.” This was even though I wanted a water birth and didn’t have all fours anywhere on my birth plan. And yep, on all fours it was! Again, GOD IS GOOD. Don’t stop praying, because He answers prayers. He knows the desires of our hearts. And sometimes, He even gives us a glimpse into how it’s going to go that we’re not even asking for.)