It was Thursday, July 18th, 2019. That evening we had our friends Matt and Elisabeth over for our weekly dinner. My mother-in-law was staying with us for a week so Jamie and I could get away for a couple days before Jonah arrived. I was 37 weeks the next day and had an appointment scheduled with Amy, my midwife, that morning. We were all just sitting around the living room laughing and reminiscing on our young and naive days and Debbie was outside talking on the phone. At about 8:30, I went to the bathroom. After I got done, I went to the kitchen to do something but was stopped in my tracks when I felt a trickle of fluid come out. I immediately suspected it was my water. So I unpredictably walked back to the bathroom with a half grin on my face. I checked my underwear and sure enough they were wet and fluid began running down my leg. I knew inside it really was my water but I just couldn’t seem to accept the reality. I called for Jamie saying “Baaaabe?” Everyone else I’m sure was wondering why I needed my husband to come to the bathroom, lol. So I told him that I was pretty sure my water had just broken. I told him to run upstairs and grab me a pad. As he ran upstairs, Elisabeth jokingly said something along the lines of me being in labor and Jamie said something like “uhh yeah?!” So after I came back into the room I told everyone that I was pretty certain that my water had broken. I text Amy and she called me and told me to wait half an hour and if it really was my water it wouldn’t stop trickling. It hadn’t so I text her 30 mins later and she said she would leave her house soon.
Contractions began at about 9. They were very mild lasting maybe 30 seconds. Jamie however had lots to do! He had just picked up the tub from Amy’s house that afternoon so we still had to bleach it twice before using. Jamie started working on that right away while Matt and Elisabeth left. Elisabeth had to go home to grab some stuff before returning. I however began listening to my Christian hypnobirthing track in my headphones so I could begin relaxing since this is what I wanted to do while in labor. I laid on the living room floor to relax and Amy and Tigist showed up around 10:15. I opened my eyes and saw them and said, “Wow that was fast!” Time was already flying by for me. When they got there they checked my vitals and also checked on Jonah. I tested the amniotic fluid on a strip to verify that it was my water and it was.
Two weeks prior, at my 35 week appointment, I was tested for GBS and it turned out positive so there were risks involved with my labor and delivery. Amy shared those risks with me. That if any sign of a fever or if active labor did not begin in 24 hrs since my water had broke, than I would have to be transferred to the hospital. I accepted the risks and had the confidence everything would be fine.
Amy thought it would be best to get on top of my contractions since they had subsided since her and Tigist arrived so I took some castor oil to see if that could speed things up.
It was then about 10:45 and Elisabeth had just got back. I decided to go for a brisk walk and took her with me. Jamie was still trying to figure out how to fill the tub in our bedroom since we didn’t have time to buy a hose connector to use the sink. So he had the brilliant idea to use the washer hookups! This turned out to be the perfect idea and I’m so thankful he didn’t give up on brainstorming. Meanwhile Elisabeth and I walked around the neighborhood. We chatted about the reality of being in labor this early. We talked about what might happen but we also chose to have faith that Jonah would be delivered at home like we planned. Shortly after claiming that he would be delivered at home as planned, my contractions began again. After walking about a mile we returned home. I had 3-4 contractions about 1 minute apart while walking. I got back to share the news with Amy and Tigist. Then I decided to use the next few hours to get some rest because I knew that was my only chance to. Everyone else decided to do the same. While we were upstairs Jamie, Elisabeth and I were talking about the tub and how Jamie got it all set up and ready to go. Jamie made the comment, “Man I think I filled it up too early.” I then replied, “Idk it could be the perfect time. This could be a lot faster than we thought!” I was saying that really not knowing just how fast was fast! I slipped my labor/postpartum gown on that a friend made for me and put my hypnobirthing soundtrack back in my ears and rested.
Tigist came in every 15 mins to check Jonah’s heart rate. I got a little bit of rest but it didn’t last long. After 45 mins or so I had to get out of bed. Contractions were coming harder and harder with each one. I remained completely relaxed however, reminding myself constantly to allow everything to take place in my body. Surrendering to the process. Even though contractions were coming every 40 seconds and getting more intense with each one, I was in complete control, not allowing any fear or worry to consume me. The contractions felt like progress and that helped. I then spent a little time leaning over the birth ball while Jamie rubbed my lower back. But that didn’t take long before it started to feel uncomfortable for anyone to rub me. It was then roughly 12:45am and I was beginning to feel nauseated after each contraction. I was hitting transition. Elisabeth got me some Peppermint oil so I could inhale it when I felt sick. That helped me as I continued to remain relaxed and in control. This was all going so much faster and smoother than my labor with Judah. The experience thus far was already more empowering. I just still couldn’t believe it was all happening so fast! But I was accepting it all. I don’t think at that point I had any thoughts of doubt or discouragement or fear.
After Tigist got done checking on Jonah’s heart rate again, I decided it was time to get in the tub. Immediately the warm water felt so good and relaxed me even more. I instinctively got on my knees and leaned forward, resting on the tub. Again, completely relaxed still listening to the hypnobirthing soundtrack. This had been working so well for me to tune outside noise out and to surrender to myself. Contractions felt a little less intense I could tell due to the warmth of the tub but it didn’t last long. As I said before, contractions continued to progress and intensify with each one. Each one beginning with a quick rise in intensity and lasting for 45 seconds and then slowly releasing. All of them coming about a minute apart. I labored in the tub for about 30 mins before the contractions really got strong for me. I began having some doubt creep in that it was going to be too much to stand much longer.
I think this is one of the hardest parts about natural labor. It’s the point where your mind wants to give in to the pain and fear because you just don’t know how much longer it will have to go on. This was my rock in a hard place with my previous labor with Judah. It just felt like I was at that intensity for so long that I didn’t know or believe it was going to end any time soon.
I now was beginning to let out low moans through my breaths. I reminded myself to continue to breath and to keep the sounds low. I did this for a few contractions but could tell that it wasn’t really helping me remain in control. So I ceased that and told myself I needed to really dig deep into myself and remain in control. So I took myself into a deeper level of concentration. It was at this point that others said they could not tell when I was contracting because I was so calm and relaxed!
Some thoughts that I kept feeding my mind were, “One contraction closer to meeting Jonah.” “My body has what it takes to birth him” “It knows what to do” “Relax” “He’s almost here” I also would picture in my mind each contraction opening up my cervix like a rose petal slowly opening up. And I also pictured Jonah being born and me getting to meet him and hold him for the first time. This helped me pursue.
At roughly 1:45am I could “hear” my body tell me “Ok you’re at 10 centimeters, you’ve reached the end.” It was then that his head immediately began descending down the birth canal. In one contraction, his head completely descended to crowning. I immediately sat up straight completely rested on my knees. Then the words came out of my mouth, “Ok, there’s your head, I feel you buddy.” The next contraction he crowned some more and I reached down to feel. I felt so much hair! I continued talking to him saying, “Ok buddy, nice and easy. Take it slow. Good job.” I was focused on not going too fast as to not tear. At this point my body was “pushing” all on its own. When I heard that your body does it all on its own I wanted to experience that. Sure enough by me surrendering to my body’s natural instincts, it was doing it all on its own.
Now I won’t say that it didn’t hurt at this point because I certainly felt the ring of fire, but it was such a different “pain” I’m not sure I would even describe it as pain. But more so a lot of pressure and stretching. All of the feelings were completely bearable!
Another contraction came and his head was out! I continued rubbing his head gently still talking softly to him. Telling him “Good job bud… We got this… We’re almost there.” Everyone was so surprised that his head was already out! They all just sat there around the tub watching quietly. Whispers here and there of, “Oh wow!…There’s his head…” I could feel his body turning inside as he made way for the rest of his body to be born. I remember saying “Yeah I feel you turning, good job.” It was so fascinating feeling all of that in my body, completely on its own! I can’t say enough how this experience shows the extraordinary design of our Creator.
The next contraction came and Jonah began to literally slide out! I looked down and there he was being born, in the water, calm almost as if the time was slowed down at this particular moment. I began to grab him instantly, but was caught off guard because I realized his feet were still inside me so I gave a little more push to birth them. I quickly noticed his umbilical cord was wrapped around his neck twice! So I began to try to unravel it. This was much easier said than done! I had a hard time finding enough slack to unravel it. After trying on one end and failing, I then grabbed the other end and Amy told Tigist to help me unravel it so she gently helped me. This was the only part of the entire birth where I had assistance. I was then able to free him and slowly raised him out of the water and onto my chest. I quickly saw how tiny he was! He was so so little and I knew he was smaller than Judah was. He also had so much vernix on him. Something that Judah didn’t have. Tigist gave me a towel to cover him and I began rubbing his back and talking to him saying, “Jonah…hey buddy!” Amy listened for his heart. It was at 40bpm. I continued to rub him and about a minute and a half to two minutes later he let out his first cry! His heart rate was then at 100bpm. He only let out a few cries. Just enough to let the world know he was here! He was so calm, and relaxed, just like the rest of the room.
Tigist and Jamie then helped me out of the tub and onto the bed so I could deliver the placenta there. I was so in awe with how fast the whole labor was and so thankful he was here, healthy! Fifteen minutes later I began to nurse him. It didn’t take long for him to latch. I was so relieved! Especially with him being early and with the struggles with Judah. This definitely initiated the placenta to finally detach and come out. So 20 minutes after birth, I delivered the placenta. The contractions were pretty strong and very uncomfortable. It was a HUGE relief to have it out! At 2:20, Jamie cut the cord after it finished pulsing and blood was no longer flowing through it.
Amy and Tigist examined my placenta. They notified that the rupture sight was quite small. His little body came through a small opening. Everything looked healthy and normal. What came next was something less than pleasant. Amy cut a chunk of my placenta and said. “Ok, you’re going to eat this. You’re going to just swallow it.” I was like umm what? She said “Yeah it’s a small piece you can probably just swallow it whole.” I looked at the piece and thought yeah right swallow it whole! That was a huge piece. If I hadn’t just experienced the empowering feeling of giving birth naturally I don’t think I could’ve even opened my mouth. But I did. I closed my eyes and did my best not to think about it. I chewed it and boy was it chewy and raw. It tasted like bloody flesh. Yuck! I gagged as I swallowed. Then I had to put something else in my mouth immediately to remove that taste.
Jonah continued to breastfeed and Amy waited patiently until he finished before doing his examine. In the meantime, she examined me and saw there was no tearing on my perineum. An answer to prayer! About 4am, Amy then began the first exam on Jonah. He remained fairly calm during it. Everything looked great. His APGAR score was 9/10. It was then time to weigh him. Everyone was throwing out their guesses. I guessed 5.11. Amy guessed 6lbs. Tigist read it. 6lbs 1oz. I didn’t even think he would be 6lbs because he looked so small. His length was 20in. I couldn’t believe that either. So much length for being so tiny. Amy and Tigist finished up and left the house around 5am. Jonah quickly passed out into his after birth snooze and the rest of us attempted to get some sleep.
We were so so thankful for Debbie being there to care for Judah as he was getting up for the day a couple hours later. Judah got to meet Jonah after getting up. He was so sweet but didn’t seem surprised at all that there was not a baby when he went to sleep the night before and now there was.
My recovery was so smooth and quick. I felt so energized even after being awake all night. There was plenty of oxytocin still running through my body.
A few final thoughts…
I am first and foremost incredibly grateful to my heavenly Father for answering ALL of my bold prayers, that is with one still pending.
These were the specific things I and loved ones were praying for.
Jonah had no signs of contracting GBS.
My labor was smooth, fast and pain-free!
Everyone was relaxed and enjoyed the time.
I delivered him myself and had the confidence.
Elisabeth got to be there.
Absolutely no fear!
And I got to share my faith time and time over.
He designed my body to give birth. He had a plan for the way he was to be born and planned it long in advance. I am so blessed to be used in his story in a small way. It was his grace and mercy that gave me the strength to have the birth of my dreams. He led me to the right people that inspired me to give birth the way I feel passionate about. This wasn’t just a birth I had watched on youtube or read in a textbook. This was my birth I had the privilege to experience. I only pray that it inspires others to have the confidence in themselves to give birth naturally, calmly and in control. To know that they can birth completely unassisted if they so desire. That they can strive for a healthy pregnancy resulting in an intervention-free labor and delivery. There ARE options. We have been made for this!
Lastly, I couldn’t have done this without the love and support around me. My husband, Jamie, for always supporting my every decision in how I want to birth. For my amazing friend Elisabeth, who was my doula and postpartum support person. And for Amy, my midwife, for allowing me to birth unassisted and supporting me in that decision. Also for taking a risk and caring for me at home!
All praise and glory goes to God!
If you haven’t had a chance to view my birth video you can watch it here. 🙂