When expecting my first baby, I loved reading positive birth stories. So I’m thrilled to share my natural birth story with you. Whether it’s in a hospital or at home, with a doctor or a midwife, completely natural or with interventions, every birth is a beautiful miracle. Here’s the first chapter of my miracle, laboring at home.
On Wednesday morning, July 3, 2013 I woke up with a familiar feeling,.. I felt like I was going to start my cycle, but being 38 weeks pregnant I knew this had to mean something else was going on. For the past few weeks I’d been having “lightning crotch,” a brief but intense stab of pain in my groin, and a few random contractions. Around 7:00am I started noticing mild contractions occurring five or six minutes apart. “Gasp! Is this it?” I thought. These contractions were steady for about an hour but then began to space apart and eventually stop… “Oh well.”
Throughout Wednesday afternoon I had some more random contractions, but nothing regular. I met my husband, James, for lunch, ran a few errands, and tried to relax. During dinner that evening I had another episode of regular contractions. James downloaded an app and we started recording contractions… But, once again, things fizzled, so we went to bed, I thought to myself hopefully, “Maybe we’ll have an Independence Day baby?“
Very early on Thursday, July 4th, I woke up with contractions again; however this time they were stronger. I started watching the clock at 2:38am, timing a solid hour of roughly minute-long contractions that were about five minutes apart, “Hello 5-1-1 rule!“ I got out of bed, braided my hair, woke James up, and called the midwives. As I spoke with the midwife on call, my contractions slowed down to six or seven minutes apart. The midwife told me to drink lots of water, have something to eat, and try to go back to sleep. “How can I sleep when this is so exciting?” I thought, “Okay, okay, I’ll sleep.”
Later that morning, although the contractions were further apart, they did not fizzle. After having some of my “labor soup,” which consists of homemade chicken broth with rice, we went for a walk to Whole Foods, hoping that walking would kick things up a notch. The walk, or more likely being in public, had the opposite effect and my contractions slowed significantly. I guess my uterus is shy! James bought an epic sausage breakfast sandwich. After all, my husband doula needed to be energized.
We continued our stroll and ended up in the garden behind our apartment building. This was truly a special moment together. We settled on a bench and simply took in the beauty around us as I breathed through some contractions. In the quiet I was reminded that God was sovereign over my labor. As I surrendered and accepted each contraction, I thanked Him for His hand over me, my baby boy, and the birth process.
My contractions continued to vary about 5-10 minutes apart for much of the afternoon, they increased in intensity but I was still able to talk through most of them. My uterus and lower back consistently hummed with pain so I knew progress was being made. Using a heating pad helped managed the discomfort. I loved that heat! Breathing through some yoga poses also helped, as I told myself quietly, “Welcoming breath, cat, exhale, cow, inhale, cat…“
We passed the time watching some shows and a movie. Occasionally I was tempted to be discouraged because it was taking so long for my labor to really kick in. I was afraid somehow I was doing something wrong. “Am I holding tension somehow? What am I doing wrong that this is taking so long,” I worried silently.
James continued to help guide my thoughts and keep my spirits up. During the contractions he reminded me that this pain has a purpose. I needed a lot of encouraging words and rest. I took a nap while James went to tie up some things at work and picked up a frozen pizza for dinner. After the nap, around 5:00pm I lost my mucus plug, and things started consistently progressing. During dinner my contractions became more regular.
After watching another movie we went for another walk. When we got back to our apartment we walked up the five floors to the roof deck to see the Boston fireworks. I had to stop on almost every floor for a contraction. The roof deck was crowded, but James and I were in our own world together, enjoying the fireworks as I breathed through the contractions. “No talking through them now,” I thought.
When we got back from the walk I called the midwives again. I was determined to at least go in and get checked because it felt like things were moving along. My midwife, Dianne, suggested that I take a bath. She said the change would either pick things up or slow it down, either way it would tell us something. James drew a bath, I put on my labor relaxation music and got in. My contractions sped up while I was in the tub so I called Dianne after I got out. She had to breathe through some contractions with me over the phone. “Okay, it sounds like we’re having a baby so come on in,” she said. Finally we were going in!
To be continued…