This was originally posted on my old website (that crashed) back in June of 2013. I've re-posted it here on my new blog just because I love to read birth stories and I bet there's some other crazy women out there like me who will appreciate it :). I also recently re-posted my daughter's birth story, which can be found here.
READ ME FIRST (DISCLAIMER)
This is the story of the natural birth of my son. I don’t leave out any details. I talk about things like contractions, crowning, placenta and breastfeeding. I also have pictures from the birth in this post – I wouldn’t consider any of them inappropriate, but, if you are uncomfortable with any of those things STOP HERE!
I’m writing this account because while preparing for my birth experience, I read tons of birth stories and found it very helpful to see what other people’s experiences were like. No two were the same, but they were all helpful. Now that I’ve had my baby, I want to contribute my birth story to the blogosphere for those interested.
Bay Harvey Bennett – 6/22/13 – 3:17am – 6lbs 10oz – 20.75″ long
My initial reason for considering a homebirth (well, birthing center birth, but for the sake of keeping it simple I’ll just say homebirth) was not very well thought-out. It wasn’t because I had done my research and knew that homebirths were just as safe as hospital births for low-risk pregnancies (some would argue safer).
You see, I am terribly uncomfortable in hospitals, I hate IVs and the idea of a giant needle going into my spine really creeps me out. I knew I wanted a natural, un-medicated birth and I had heard all sorts of stories from women I knew who went into the hospital wanting the same thing but were talked (some even tricked) out of the natural birth experience they wanted. Birth is usually long, loud, messy and primitive. From what I’ve heard and seen, doctors and nurses generally prefer it to be quick, quiet and on their schedule. So when my good friend Andrea planned a homebirth, I was intrigued. I began looking into the safety and statistics. I watched The Business of Being Born (which is available on Netflix), read Ina Mae’s Guide to Childbirth, and met with Tulsa midwife Ruth Cobb to ask her about her certifications & birth statics. After thoroughly researching the topic, I knew that the birthing center was the right place for us to have our baby. JP trusted my judgment and supported my decision.
How I prepared.
I spent my entire pregnancy mentally and physically preparing for a natural birth. I re-read Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth, asked several people about their birth experience, read all the homebirth stories and blogs I could find, attended Melissa Cameron’s Pure Birth holistic childbirth class, practiced positive thinking and birth affirmations, ate the healthiest diet I could manage (it was difficult sometimes in my first trimester) and consistently exercised from the day I found out I was pregnant to the day I went into labor. I also prayed daily thanking God for the way he designed my body perfectly to give birth to my baby. I also thanked Him for the peace of knowing that when I went into labor I wouldn’t have to rely on my own strength but that I had His strength in me.
On Friday, June 21st – five days before my “due date” – I woke up at 6am for my 6:30 CrossFit class like I had done every Monday, Wednesday & Friday during my pregnancy. At 1pm I took JP (my husband) lunch. That afternoon, I went to my parents’ house to swim. Around 5pm, I headed home to get dinner ready for JP, who was supposed to be home around 7. I began feeling light period-like cramping at about the time he got home. I had had some mild cramping about 4 days earlier around the same time so I didn’t think much of it. JP and I made a big salad for dinner and the cramps seemed to get a little worse. I was hesitant to mention it to him. I didn’t want to be “the girl who cried labor.” I went ahead and casually told him I was having some mild cramping. We sat on the couch for a while then decided to walk out and check that the horses had enough water. As we walked out to the horses, the cramps got more intense. It was still easy to walk but they were definitely hard to ignore. I was feeling them every few minutes and thought surely they couldn’t be labor contractions since they were so close together. I offhandedly mentioned to JP that they seemed to be getting stronger. He asked if my belly was tightening like it does with my Braxton Hicks contractions. I didn’t think so. I couldn’t tell. I was less than convinced that these uncomfortable cramps were contractions. By this time it was about 9pm so I told JP we might as well go to bed – you know, just in case we needed to be well rested should anything happen. I went into the bathroom for my nighttime routine and low-and-behold I had the “bloody show” (I think that’s a terrible name for a little blood tinged mucous– makes it sound super gross). Well, I thought, this must be labor! I told JP and then called my midwife, Ruth Cobb, to let her know that I was probably in early labor. She told me to try to get some rest and that labor would likely intensify in the middle of the night. She said that if my contractions got more intense it would be a good idea to go ahead and time them. I hung up the phone, curled up in bed, turned off the light and tried to go to sleep. It wasn’t going to happen. The cramps (which I now knew were actually contractions) had gotten too intense to sleep through. I downloaded a contraction timer app and timed the next 3, which were all pretty intense. Just over 2.5 minutes apart and they lasted 40-50 seconds. Dang! I called my Ruth back – it had only been about 15 minutes since our last conversation so I think she was surprised to hear from me. She said I better head to the birthing center (I had tested positive for Group B strep, so I needed to get an antibiotic injection at least 4 hours before delivering).
I woke JP up and told him we needed to go to the birthing center. We were both surprised and excited. I grabbed my already-packed bag, the diaper bag & a few snacks. The 30-minute ride to the birthing center was a little rough. My contractions started coming every 2 minutes. Between contractions we would laugh and joke and talk about how we were about to become parents!
Once at the birthing center (about 10:00pm), Ruth checked me and I was 2cm dilated & 85% effaced. I texted my friend Andrea (who generously offered to photograph the birth) to let her know she should probably head over soon. Things seemed to be moving quickly. Ruth prepared the antibiotic injection.
By now I couldn’t really walk during contractions. I tried the birthing ball but kneeling on the ground with my head on the bed seemed to be the most comfortable position for me. Contractions weren’t pleasant but between them JP and I would talk and laugh. It was really quite nice. This is about the time Andrea showed up.
When Ruth noticed that I was becoming a little more vocal during contractions, she asked me to get on the bed and checked me again.
I was 3cm dilated. I think it was probably about 11:00pm. I stayed on the bed and tried various positions to get comfortable during contractions and laid down to rest between them.
They were getting much stronger but the time between them was a little longer (around 3-4 minutes). By this time, I was in active labor and had entered labor land. I wasn’t very aware of what was going on around me. During contractions I would moan and say my birth affirmations to myself. I found comfort in coaching myself through contractions. I would say things like “relax through the pressure” “this is bringing my baby closer” “God designed my body perfectly to deliver this baby” and “the peak is over, this one’s almost done.”
At some point, my whole body was shaking. Ruth said it was pretty normal and it was due to the hormones. Ruth got me a big heating pad for my feet and I got under the covers. JP and I cuddled and I continued to coach myself through contractions. Time was a complete blur. Before I knew it, Ruth was checking me again. I was 5cm dilated and she told me I could now labor in the bathtub if I wanted to. I definitely wanted to.
Getting in the tub helped me wake up a little bit. I became more aware of my surroundings between contractions and enjoyed talking to everyone a little between contractions.
Ruth got me a cold towel for my head and JP put a little lavender oil on a washcloth. It smelled wonderful.
Contractions were now even more intense. I continued coaching myself with birth affirmations & telling myself to relax, to use low moans instead of yelling and to trust God.
As I neared transition, I started talking (loudly) to the baby and praying during contractions. “Good baby, I can’t wait to meet you” “Yes, good baby, you’re getting so much closer” “Praise God, I am going to get to meet our baby!” “I CAN do this” “Praise Jesus” “I love you sweet baby, I can’t wait to hold you.” My back started to ache really bad during contractions.
Ruth said that meant the baby was getting very low and my hips and pelvis were expanding. She checked and I was dilated to 8 cm. I started having a slight urge to push during some contractions.
I asked JP to push on my back during contractions – it relieved the backache just a little bit.
They were so intense that I would lean back afterwards and instantly fall asleep for the few minutes I had between them.
Suddenly I knew I needed to vomit. I threw up (in a bag) several times and felt my water break then gush with each lurch of my stomach. I had made it through transition!
Ruth said it was time to get out of the water and onto the bed so I could start pushing. JP helped me to the bed.
The next contraction was crazy. Ruth checked me once more and said I was completely dilated and that I could start pushing with the following contraction.
Pushing was crazy! It took me a couple tries to get a productive push.
There was no more talking or coaching, I was just making crazy noises. I knew I needed to keep my voice low to be productive (even though it was tempting to scream) so I would say “LOOOOOOOOOW” “DEEEEEEEEEEEEEP” as I pushed.
After 3 pushes, he was crowning and I recognized the “ring of fire” feeling I had read about in so many birth stories. Two more pushes and he was out. I pushed for a total of 5 contractions – about 20 minutes.
The entire time I was pushing, my body was shaking. My body continued shaking after delivery for about an hour or so. I say this because I didn’t expect it. I hadn’t read about it in other birth stories, so I want anyone who is pregnant and reading this to know that if that happens to you, it’s normal.
Then they laid him on my chest.
Oh my goodness! Our baby! Our sweet boy! Bay Harvey Bennett. He was perfect. He took his first breath and let out a few squeaks. We rubbed his feet and encouraged him to give more of a cry. He was so relaxed, it was hard to make him cry. But he did, and he sounded perfect. I held him close. He was born at 3:17am.
After maybe 10 minutes, the umbilical cord stopped pulsing and Ruth let JP cut it.
It wasn’t long after that that I delivered the placenta. I took off my sports bra and in another 5 or 10 minutes he was nursing.
He nursed for about 45 minutes, and when he was finished JP held him and helped Ruth’s assistant with his initial exam while Ruth checked on me and stitched up a small tear.
I’ve always heard that all pain is completely gone after you deliver the baby. I didn’t think that was quite true. My uterus continued to contract and expel fluids and whatnot. Ruth pushed on it to encourage the cramping. That did not feel good, but that’s what they do to help bleeding stop. This is another bit of information that most people leave out of their birth stories. Well, now you know!
My tear was a side tear (which is a little unusual) and only required 2-3 stitches. Ruth used lidocaine to numb the area and I didn’t feel any pain while she stitched.
After I was all cleaned up, I put on a nursing bra, braided my hair, put on a little makeup and called our family to let them know that Bay had arrived! Our family came to visit and stayed for an hour or so.
Home sweet home.
After that, JP, Bay and I took a short nap. Around 10:30am, I took a shower and at about 11am, we headed home. We spent the rest of the day at home resting and cuddling our sweet baby boy. My birth experience was everything I hoped it would be. I love being a mama and I love our new family <3
My husband. I want to thank my sweet husband so much for being loving and supportive and staying by my side to encourage me. JP, you are an amazing daddy and an even better husband. I love you more than I could ever explain with words.
My friend. I also want to thank my friend Andrea Sooter for these ammmazing pictures. It means so much to me to have that day captured to cherish forever. The day I became a mama. (: I also want to thank you for all the support, advice & encouragement you offered me throughout my pregnancy – you’re an incredible friend!
My midwife. Of course, I need to thank my rockstar midwife, Ruth Cobb, for the most amazing birth I could have ever imagined. You prepared me so well and I never once felt scared or unsure. And I can't forget her assistant midwife, Elizabeth Norwood. Thank you ladies!!
My family. And I want to thank my family – they ultimately decided to support my decision for a homebirth after initial hesitation. I know it was hard and scary for you guys and I love you for supporting me anyway!