Our Birth Story
you might wonder why i would want to share our birth story and why it is so prominent on this blog. well, i feel that although it is very personal, it is a little different than others you might hear...my hope is to empower and encourage others who might be looking into alternatives some might see as "different than the norm". i know it isn't the right choice for everyone, but i do feel that no matter what you decide, you should feel strong and proud.
i have never written a birth story before, and am not completely certain how to put into words such an incredible, challenging, emotional experience. but, i will try my best....
our choice began before we were even expecting. i was pretty certain a natural birth was what i really wanted and really loved the idea of what a home birth could be for us. a good friend of ours had her daughter at home and was really great about sharing her experience with me. we spent a lot of time researching the positives and negatives and when the time came, we knew the choice to have a midwife and home birth was the right choice for us and were excited about our decision.
from the beginning, i felt very at ease with this choice. of all the things to worry about, for me, having our baby at home was never one of them. our midwife really made us feel comfortable and we were able to be very open about any concerns or worries we had. the biggest challenge i had was answering other people when they asked what our plans were. more specifically, other women. wow, i really thought other women would be more supportive but it really wasn't the case. i can't even count how many times i was asked "who is your obgyn? what hospital are you going to?" my answer was always the same, as i was very proud of our choice and had no problem sharing it. " we are having a home birth with a midwife " i would say. to which the majority of responses were fairly snarky...something like " well, good luck with that. " followed by a roll of the eyes. once again, my response is wow....it's too bad more women aren't able to be supportive and help empower other women regarding decisions such as this. at times i just wanted to avoid the conversation but i felt so strongly about our choice that i continued with my answer, regardless of the response was from others.
as our pregnancy continued, i realized that i wasn't as "good" at being pregnant as i hoped to be. i had always looked forward to being and experiencing pregnancy but, in the end, i didn't enjoy the process as much as i had hoped. that's the second time i have written " what i hoped". i am very guilty of having certain expectations about events in my life and my pregnancy was no different. i was exhausted from start to finish, never got that burst of energy in the second trimester and couldn't get comfortable at night to save my life. i somehow managed to gain almost 60 pounds, even though i taught yoga and spinning classes right up to two weeks before giving birth. (more on that part of my life later) at the very end, i swelled up and gained so much water weight i truly thought i would explode. all that being said, i was very fortunate to never have morning sickness, just nausea, or get any stretch marks, which i am thrilled about.
i tried very hard to be in the moment throughout the entire process, i wanted to try to enjoy it as much as i possibly could. i loved feeling every kick and somersault and hiccup, which happened often. we had a little night owl, who danced around in my belly for hours as i would lay in the dark, imagining who she would be. somehow, i knew from the start we had a little girl coming our way. and i wasn't the only one. my mother always said she had dreams that our family was supposed to have another girl in it. sure enough, after two ultrasounds to confirm, we learned it was a girl indeed.
even though i wasn't feeling my best, our pregnancy was pretty quiet. i practiced relaxation techniques and continued my daily yoga and long walks in the fresh air. we picked up all of our birth supplies and prepared our guest bedroom for the big day -which actually came two weeks early. we were due in march but, at the end of february, things began to feel different. a friday appointment, with our midwife, showed no signs of early labor.
i woke up the next morning leaking some clear fluid, though not enough to think my water had broken, and some light cramping. by noon the contractions were coming, fairly far apart, but i was certain it was time. i tried to lay down and nap to store some energy. by mid-evening, our midwife was getting things ready to come over. we decided against using a birthing tub but i did hop in the warm shower to try to relax some.
by the time our midwife arrived, along with her assistant, the contractions were much closer and i was beginning to have back labor, ie, NOT pleasant. it became very difficult for me to use any of the relaxation techniques i practiced for so long. the pain was unbearable and i could not get a handle on it. with the back labor, at least for me, as soon as a regular contraction would end (which is when you typically get a little break and catch your breath) a back contraction would begin and they would go back and forth giving no break in between.
i cried, i screamed, i could not get ahold of myself. i was disappointed that i wasn't handling it "better". nothing we did seemed to help. we tried a warm bath, where luc poured the soothing water over my belly until i finally had some relaxation. (luc was the most wonderful support through this all). the contractions were still strong but the warm water helped with the back labor.
after getting out and being checked, we were still only at eight centimeters. it truly seemed like this was never going to happen. I remember thinking "what if i can't do this here? will they make me go to the hospital? i have worked so hard to do this here at home. what if i cant do it?" through the contractions, we started walking the stairs to see if it would help move things along. i never imagined climbing a set of stairs could be so excruciating. it didn't seem to be helping.
around midnight, when our midwife asked if i was open to trying a new position. at this point, i really just wanted to be done. she had me lie down on my back, knees to my chest and try to focus on going with the pain and making this happen. sure enough, all of the sudden, my body just started pushing. i had wondered how i would know....i didn't...my body just did what it was supposed to do on its own.
though it felt like forever, luc says i was in active labor just over an hour. the urge to push came fast and hard and again, it was so difficult to focus in and go with it. i remember having such a hard time catching my breath and the pain was so intense. throughout the entire evening, i was given coconut water and greek yogurt, to help keep up my strength. i really think it helped because once active labor hit, i had very little energy left. i just wanted it to be over with.i tried my best to focus on our little girl, for the whole reason i was lying there and working so hard. she was working hard too, just trying to get out to meet us! finally, after the longest and hardest push, came a rush of relief...she was out.
she did not cry right away, there was a little fluid in her lungs. she was laid on my chest while her lungs were cleared and she was given oxygen. i was so worn out, i wanted to enjoy every minute with her but, i also just wanted to sleep. i remember looking to luc and asking if she was ok. i closed my eyes for just a few moments to try to gain a little energy. she cried and snuggled into my neck. i opened my eyes and truly took her in. her fingers were so long and tiny. we loved her immediately and were so proud of the way she came into the world.
they kept the cord on her for almost an hour, which luc cut when the time came. she was weighed and checked...everything was great. she was healthy and beautiful. channing eleanor was 6 pounds 7 ounces and born at 2:57 in the morning. what a night. we couldn’t believe she was finally here. she was ours.
what a surreal feeling. i was no longer pregnant. i had just had a baby. i think i was in a bit of shock but was surprised at how good my body felt, outside of being tired and a little shaky. i was helped into the shower to wash off and then back to bed to snuggle with my little family. it felt wonderful to be comfortable in our own home, to know that we had this time all to ourselves to soak it all in.
our little bird slept on my chest that night which was so perfect and comfortable. we were happy to be in our own home.
after almost a year, we are so in awe of our amazing little girl. she makes us stop and pay attention, to be grateful for every smile, every giggle. i still look back at our labor and wish i could have handled things differently. i know, there are those expectations again. i remember feeling so unprepared for the pain, unprepared for the back labor. i wish those final pushes hadn’t been so intense that i gave myself two black and bloodshot eyes and i didn't get any good photos of myself and my little bird in those few hours. (our midwife said that didn’t happen very often, lucky me). yes, i am very proud of the work i did, of the work we did, of the work my body did. and know i need to learn to be easier on myself, to let go of my expectations. i am trying. in the meantime, every sunday, i take a moment to reflect on that particular sunday morning that changed our lives, that changed me and brought this silly, happy, smiley baby girl into our lives. we are so thankful. xoxo