On January 19th, I had been having Braxton Hicks contractions the previous two nights so I didn’t think much of the ones I was feeling that night. After his ceremony, we went to Brandon’s parents house for dinner. While we were there, something had changed. I felt different and I just wanted to go home and relax. It felt dire to go home. So I urged Brandon to get Ryker and get in the car. We picked Truxton up from my mom’s house and headed home. When we got home, I got the kids to bed and picked up the house. I went to bed around 10pm and my waves weren’t letting up in bed like they had the nights before so I figured they would progress. I fell asleep (except for when I had a wave) until midnight on January 20th, when I couldn’t lay down anymore. I got up, grabbed my birth candle (that I received during my Blessing Way) and oracle cards and headed to the kitchen. My waves were mild but I knew this was turning into active labor. I had a list of things I wanted to do when labor began. The first thing I did was read my cards and get an idea of how this labor would be. I pulled Ostara (fertility/birthing), Sige (quiet time/meditate), and Green Tara (ask for help). I couldn’t have gotten more fitting cards. I excitedly lit my birth candle and snap chatted my friends to see if anyone was awake. Julie Francom was the only person who responded. I told her that my waves were coming every 4-6 minutes and that I didn’t want to wake anyone up in case it were to slow down. I called my mom and told her to come over and sleep because it could still be a while.
After I hung up with her, I baked a white cake for Atlas’s birthday. I was having to focus on breathing through my waves at this point but I still wasn’t convinced that it was time to call my birth team (silly me! I should’ve known). Julie told me that she thought it was definitely labor and I should let my midwife and doula know. I agreed and texted my midwife, doula, and videographer to be sure not to wake them if they were sleeping (I’d call them in a bit if they didn’t respond but they all did!). I told them I didn’t need them yet but Melissa asked if I wanted her to come by to help me decide when to have everyone come. I said yes. So when the cake was done at 1:19am, I hopped in the shower. I really loved the hot water on my belly while I lifted it up and leaned back with my head resting on the wall. I stood there and talked to my baby boy. I let him know that I was ready for him whenever he wanted to come and that I trusted us as we worked together. My waves were coming about every 4 minutes so I still thought it’d be a while. I washed my hair and body and hopped out. I was really leaky (I think my bag of waters had a slow leak that started 2 days previously) so I put on a Depends.
I made my way back to the kitchen where I labored alone with my baby. I swayed back and forth while watching the numbers on the contraction timer increase. They were lasting longer. I tried to listen to some music but quickly decided I wasn’t feeling it. I also decided that I wasn’t going to wait for Melissa to get there to call everyone. Things were picking up and I knew everyone needed to start heading my way. I told Sarah, my doula, and Sarah, my videographer, to head over. Around 3am when my waves were coming every 3 minutes, I went to our bedroom and woke Brandon up and told him it was time. I didn’t want to wake him up earlier because the night before, he was having really bad stomach pains so I wanted to let him rest as long as possible. He practically jumped up he was so excited. He called his mom, Dawn, to come and then he didn’t waste any time getting the pool set up.
I was now moaning and still swaying through my contractions. There was so much energy and power coursing through me and it was as if it needed an outlet. Moaning allowed it to flow freely. I called my close friend, Karissa, and my sisters Jen and Heidi to come. My sister, Jen, didn’t believe me until I had to hand the phone to Brandon while another wave took over. My mom and Melissa got there first. My mom played with my hair and Melissa helped Brandon get water in the pool. They also got pots with water going on the stove. Dawn showed up and then Karissa and my sisters came shortly after. I tried to lean over my birthing ball for one wave and as soon as it started, I knew I couldn’t do that again. It was awful! But it was also a revelation…my body was guiding me and letting me know which positions I needed to be in! After that, I brushed my teeth and attempted to take my pants off but needed help so my sister, Heidi, pulled them off for me and I walked around for a minute. Sarah my videographer showed up around this time. I wanted to try the belly lift since I had liked it earlier. I had Brandon lift from behind. I liked it once and with the next wave, I couldn’t stand it. I knew my hormones had shifted.
I made my way back to the bathroom, still thinking I had a while before another wave. But they were coming right on top of one another. Another one came and right in the middle of moaning, I let out the tiniest little push and then continued to moan. I knew right then that my cervix was fully dilated and it was time to push. I remember thinking in that moment how excited I was. How beautiful this labor process had been and how much trust I had in my body and baby. I am really thankful to have taken Lauralyn’s birthing class and listened to her tracks. I trusted my birthing process so much and I think her class and soundtracks had a ton to do with that. Never did I think to myself that I was in pain. Rather, that I was a universe and all the energy in my body and soul were bringing down another little universe to me. I honored every feeling I had, just allowing it to be there. I was content and I loved that.
I yelled out the door for someone to wake Ryker up and that I was getting in the pool now. The pool wasn’t filled up that much but it was good enough. I stood in the doorway of my bedroom before I hopped in, to let another wave take over and this time, I was even more pushy, and felt like I had to go to the bathroom. I knew his head was low and that was why I was feeling those sensations. I let everyone know what I was feeling. Brandon asked if I wanted him in the pool with me and I said “yes” and to hurry and get dressed. I was surprising myself to see the way I birthed. When I was pregnant, I always thought of how I would go to “labor land” yet I never went there. I was entirely in the present moment. I was empowered and knew exactly what my body and baby were doing every step of the way. I was and still am so proud for allowing myself to go to wherever I felt I needed to go inside. And for this birth, I needed to be present.
When I got in the pool, I checked myself. I announced that my baby’s head was about 2 inches away. I continued to push, keeping my hands completely limp, letting my body completely take over. I was surrendering and it was such a gratifying feeling. After a few pushes I checked myself again and announced that he was now about 1 inch away. I changed positions so that I was now facing my bedroom door where my family and friend stood. I leaned back in between Brandon’s legs and continued pushing. My doula, Sarah showed up and came to my side. Ryker was also by my side. At one point, he calmly let me know that there was a little blood in the water and I shushed him. I started to feel the “ring of fire” and I could hear Sarah’s steady voice reminding me to let everything stretch out. I was fascinated that my body would bring my baby down just enough to stretch and then the wave would end. It was never too much.
I got past the burn and when his little head arrived, I started to laugh. I could feel his body moving and wiggling inside me still. It was a moment of in between. Partially earthside and partially still in my womb. It is a moment I will never forget. I kept my hand on his head, feeling his slippery, smooth head and hair. After a minute or so, I hadn’t felt the urge to push so my midwife helped pull him out a little until me and Brandon could grab him underneath his arms and pull him up to my chest. It was 4:45am. Our family started to cry and Maraysia, my niece arrived. His cord wasn’t very long so we kept him low. He didn’t cry much at first so I instinctively started to rub his back and under his arms really good. Melissa suctioned him a little and he was good to go! He started nursing right away and I was so grateful for that.
Melissa let me know that if I didn’t stop bleeding soon, she’d give me some pitocin. My body listened and everything was great. I birthed my placenta, which was small for Atlas’ size. Ryker happily cut his cord and “gave him a good belly button”. Brandon was eager to get out of the bloody water so he left to get in the shower. My team helped me to my bed. I nursed Atlas some more while Melissa gave me 2 stitches (the second was for good measure). At this point, we still didn’t know what our baby’s name was until Ryker came in and said, “Can I hold Atlas?” We giggled and let that be his name. We brought Truxton in to meet his little brother, who he didn’t care much for, and then weighed Atlas. He was 8 pounds 2 ounces and 21.5 inches long. We sang Happy Birth Day to him with the cake I had made earlier in labor. Most of our family and friends left after that and we spent the rest of the quiet early morning hours snuggling our new baby. It was perfection. Welcome to the world, my sweet Atlas!
A special thanks:
To my husband for standing by my side, literally. Thank you for informing those who were against our home birth. Thank you for all of your love and support and for listening to me, even when it was just my body talking.
To Ryker, my first born. Thank you for also standing by side. Thank you for your willingness to learn and for holding my hand through your brother’s birth. Thank you for whispering your words of encouragement to me as I began to bring Atlas earthside.
To Atlas for being my perfect birthing partner. We were an awesome team, you and I.
To Our Family and Friends for never questioning us on this journey. For allowing us to follow our hearts without any judgement. For surrounding us all with all the love.
To Melissa for your wise mind and your wit.
To Sarah (doula) for your calm voice and steady hands.
To Sarah (videographer) for showing up so quickly even though you live a ways away!
To Julie for convincing me I was in labor. I may have had an unassisted birth!
To Lauralyn for your ability to instill confidence in a birthing mother, including me. Thank you for always allowing whatever feelings came up in class, never trying to alter them. Thank you for your tracks… your words were perfect.