Friday, July 30th, the day after the due date, I woke up at 5:30 feeling energetic. I decided to make David a good breakfast. I went out to the kitchen and as I gathered the ingredients for blueberry muffins, I felt some fluid leaking out of me. I wondered if my water hadn’t broken, so I ran into the bathroom. There really wasn’t that much more that came out, so I wasn’t sure. I was feeling pretty tired, as I had all that week, so I was taking it easy. I read some Bible verses that the midwife had compiled to help with fear of labor, etc. I had mild contractions once or twice every hour all morning and early afternoon. Around 1:30 I spoke with my mom about what was going on and she urged me to call my midwife. So I did. The midwife suspected that I had just lost my mucus plug that morning and that I could still be another couple weeks.
With that, I was feeling discouraged so I decided to get out of the house and run some errands to get my mind off waiting for the baby. I headed out to CVS and 2 banks around 3:30. I dropped some photos off at CVS to be lightened and headed to the first bank. I noticed that my contractions were now about every 10 minutes. However, this had happened a couple evenings before and then went away, so I wasn’t too concerned. The teller at the first bank took a really long time and I ended up having another contraction while waiting on him to deposit my cash in the drive thru. I realized sitting in the car behind the steering wheel was not all that pleasant of a place to be while having a contraction. I just wanted to go home but since I was already in town, I finished running my errands.
By the time I got back home at 5:00 I was rather uncomfortable and the contractions were occurring about every 6 minutes. Dave had made plans earlier in the day for his brother, Steve, and his family to stop by on their way home from vacation. I was beginning to think that wasn’t such a good idea. So I tried to call Dave and tell him, but he was still working and wouldn’t answer his phone. By the time he called me back, they were in our driveway. So they came on in. My contractions slowed down a little bit with this distraction, and I visited with Steve & Surena a while. Dave got home and we decided to order a pizza. He had brought me flowers for no reason…but as he handed them to me, I realized how perfect it was because I’d probably birth his baby later that night. While we were waiting on the pizza, the Kirby vacuum salesmen showed up. Dave told them I was in labor and it wasn’t a good time. When they looked skeptical, he announced we were having a home birth and showed them the birth tub. They ran away. It had to be the best excuse they’ve ever heard.
The pizza got here around 7:00. I struggled to eat a couple pieces as my contractions began to come about every 3 minutes. I kept getting up and walking to the bathroom for each contraction because I didn’t want to scare the kids and I didn’t feel like being social during those times. Finally at 8:00, I was really starting to stress out. Dave was still in the great room chatting it up with his family, and I was having trouble remaining calm thru the pain of the contractions. There just wasn’t much of a break. They seemed to be getting longer and I was barely getting a minute break in between each one. I called for him and told him that they had to leave. He said they were working on packing things up. They yelled goodbye to me a few minutes later. I probably wasn’t very nice. I told Dave that I just really needed his help. And I needed him to call the midwives. He did. They said to call again in an hour if it was progressing.
That next hour was probably the worst of the entire experience. I felt very alone. Dave went to the bathroom (since his stomach was upset from the pizza), he took a shower (since he was filthy from work and would be getting in the birth tub with me), he washed dishes, cleaned the great room, etc, etc. He had all kinds of things that needed to be done, and I just kept yelling at him to help me, to get me water, 7up, cool wash cloths, etc. At one point, he told me that I was in the worst mood he’d ever seen me in and started laughing. That didn’t really help. I was pretty angry with him. The contractions continued to occur about every 3 minutes. Anyways, the midwives checked back in with us at 9:30 and said they’d be right over. I was lying naked on the bathroom floor in misery at that point. Dave kindly got me a nightgown so I looked a little better for them.
Amy arrived first around 9:45. She is the very first person that I talked to from Believe Midwifery Services last December when I went for my initial interview. She had resigned a few weeks before to move to Africa for a missionary type thing and I thought she was long gone. Apparently, that hadn’t worked out, so it was pretty neat that she got to attend the birth after all. She checked the baby’s heartbeat as soon as she arrived. It sounded great. She continued to check it the rest of the night. About 10:15, Shelly and Penny arrived. Shelly was job shadowing Penny for June & July, I believe. She had worked as a nurse for like 10 years in Cincinnati. She brought a lot of experience and knowledge to the table. Plus, she reminded me of Monica & Michelle Riggle, that we grew up with. Penny is the main midwife, the one that we’ve met with for the majority of the time. Her presence is so calming. Although, at first I recall being shocked that they all arrived in scrubs. I felt like I was in a hospital or something. Haha! Exactly what I was trying to avoid. But it wasn’t long before I realized that this was an amazing level of care that I’m sure would not be possible in a hospital and I calmed down. I remember one of the first things Penny said was “I never would have thought…” as she shook her head. She was shocked that I was in labor, that I didn’t even call them till I was in transition, etc. Based on our conversation earlier in the day, the fact that it was my first baby and I was only 1 day overdue, and the fact that she had a couple other moms due any day, she had figured they would go before me. In the kitchen, Penny told Dave that I’d probably be pushing out the baby in a couple hours.
Anyways, back in the bathroom, Shelly was right at my side, coaching me and encouraging me, as she continued to do for the rest of the night. And Amy was getting me drinks every 30 seconds or so, as she continued to do for the rest of the night. At some point, I was beginning to feel a lot of pressure. I thought I had to have a bowel movement. So they told me to push, while laying on a chux on the floor. And the water bag broke. Ugh. What a mess! I began feeling pretty achy, my back, etc. And I was unsure what to do. I felt a little like pushing but I was terrified to do it. I was fighting all the feelings and saying things like “I don’t like this!”, “I don’t want to do this!” and I kept secretly hoping that the contractions would go away like the had a few nights before.
Around 10:30 they suggested I try getting in the birth tub. The heat felt great on my aching back and I calmed down a bit. They told me to just go with the feelings and start pushing if I felt like it. But I was pretty confused. I kept saying “I don’t know how, I don’t know what to do…” Meanwhile, I was also making little one word commands such as “drink”, “cloth”, “rub”, etc. David says I was very serious, there was no joking around with me the entire time.
The contractions seemed to slow down a bit and I wasn’t sure how to push in the water, so after a while, they suggested I maybe get out and try another position. But before, Penny suggested that Shelly check me to see how far I was dilated. I was reluctant but Dave talked me into it. I said if it hurt too badly; she’d have to stop. Turns out my pain tolerance was increasing or something. Shelly was surprised when she realized the baby’s head was only about 1 inch from coming out. With this announcement, I was encouraged. Before that, I had no idea at what point in this process I was in. Knowing the head was so close encouraged me. I got out and tried laboring on the toilet. Did not like that. So then I got on the bed about 12:30.
That is when I totally surrendered to the experience and stopped fighting it. I guess I figured that there was no getting out of it at this point, and I wanted the baby out bad enough, I didn’t care what happened to my body anymore in the process. I really began pushing effectively with the contractions. I started to understand what they meant about pushing down into the contractions and making low sounds to help me do it. I remember grunting and screaming “God!” each time, not that I was using the Lord’s name in vain, but it was kind of a one word prayer for help. And at 1:56 a.m. July 31st, our little baby was born into Shelly and David’s hands. They placed it on my stomach, as the cord was only about ½ the length of the average cord, and it couldn’t reach my chest. I watched the baby’s big eyes looking up at me and it was crying. Its body turned pink right away. Those moments were amazing. I could not believe that our baby was finally here. I had been focusing so much on getting thru the labor I had almost forgotten what it was for. I was shocked. The baby was so beautiful. It was amazing that the Creator of the entire world had made this baby just for us to raise. Dave was overwhelmed that after 8 years of it just being me and him that now this little baby was going to rely on us for everything. Shelly suggested we find out the sex. They gently lifted the baby up so David could see and he announced “It’s a boy! Levi Reuben”. We were overjoyed. Not that we did not want a girl, but both of us secretly had been wishing for a boy. I just always feel like I can relate to boys better. And we’d had his precious little name picked out since we were 17 years old kissing in the car in Dave’s parents’ driveway dreaming of getting married and having a family together.
When the cord finished pulsing, David cut it and they lifted the baby up to my chest. I kissed his head and told him “Momma loves you” over and over and over. The placenta came out just a couple minutes later.
At 2:26, 30 minutes old, Levi ate for the first time. A while later, they gave him a Vitamin K shot, weighed and measured him. We had all guessed he was 7 lbs something. We were surprised when the scale said 9 lbs 3 oz. He was 20 inches long. His head was 13.5 inches in circumference. Penny remarked later that Levi didn't completely rotate for when his shoulders came out, but it was ok, because I could have birthed an even bigger baby. So amazing! Perhaps if our next one is bigger, that is good news.
The midwives stayed until they knew we were both stable. They washed all the dirty laundry and cleaned everything up. And David fixed us all bacon egg and cheese sandwiches. They left around 4:30 a.m. David remarked later that it was amazing. There was no sign that a birth had occurred, other than the baby was here. The only thing left from all the mess was a big trash bag in the laundry room.
I also remember telling David soon after the birth, “Ok. We can have more than 1 child.” Because I’d always told him I had to go thru childbirth at least once before I’d know if I’d ever repeat it. And even though it was challenging, I would not shy away from doing it again. I am not a person who likes pain at all, but I birthed a 9 lb baby at home, with no drugs or interventions. I feel like if I can do it, anyone can. We met with a lot of opposition over the course of the pregnancy. People wondered why on earth we’d want to have a midwife and home birth. They said it was dangerous or that I was brave because I was going to be in a ton of pain. That I should go to the hospital so I could get an epidural, etc. I had to work really hard to protect my mind and my thoughts and not let their comments affect me. In the end, it was amazing. Throughout the entire labor, not once did I have a fearful thought that the baby was in danger or that I was in danger or that we should just go to the hospital or that the pain was too much for me to bear. Once the midwives were here and Dave wasn’t in the other room cleaning up, I felt very encouraged just by having people with me, waiting on me, etc.
I also recall feeling totally safe and comfortable at home and wondering how on earth I could have loaded up in the car and gone to the hospital in such a state. I had complete faith in God that He would keep us both safe and if not, that it was His will that something else would happen. I had faith that the women attending the birth knew what they were doing as well. It was an amazing experience and it was so right for us. I would recommend it to anyone. Since I was their only patient, the midwives were all able to focus totally on my needs and helping me get through this. And should anything crazy have happened they would have noticed right away. I think in the hospital, this is not always the case.
I am so thankful to God that He gave us a son and that He gave us such a good birth experience as well. To Him be all the glory!
I am so thankful to God that He gave us a son and that He gave us such a good birth experience as well. To Him be all the glory!