It had been planned from the beginning; a home birth without medical assistance. A birth free of stress, unhelpful commands, and strange hands touching me and my baby as we plunged into what would be the most vulnerable time of our lives. I had lived by the hospital rules twice now and I refused to go down that path again. After all, I was made to do this and unless there was a medical emergency, I wanted to reach deep into the core of MY womanhood, experiencing birth as it was first created; raw, emotional, vulnerable, and untouched. And what an amazing gift it was to partake in the wild dance of free birthing.
Eight in the evening and Gabe, Grandma and the kids had been at the playground now for about an hour. I was bouncing on my yoga ball, mindlessly watching a cooking show, full of restless desire to birth the life I had been carrying for forty weeks and four days, but afraid to believe that labor would come soon (in case it didn’t). Moments before clamoring onto the yoga ball, I had taken some time to speak to Indy directly (as I had been the last few days), letting him know he was safe to come out and singing gently to him, hoping that my words would somehow coax him Earth-side. After bouncing for some time and reading for the millionth time that I could not actually induce labor unless my body was already at the point to begin anyway (which was so reassuring) I decided to try nipple stimulation. With Leif, I had tried as well, but it never worked and I had tried regularly, but this was the first time I was trying in this pregnancy and I wasn’t expecting much, but after consistently monitoring the way I felt physically and emotionally for some time, I just knew labor had to be near.
Maybe less than fifteen minutes later my stomach began cramping and contracting and I rushed to the bathroom thinking I needed to go. I was surprised to find that when I got off of the toilet, the bowl was full of water and…vernix? Did my water just break? I hadn’t been able to feel or hear anything out of the ordinary besides the contracting, but I knew to expect that from nipple stimulation regardless, as it often brings on light Braxton Hicks. Pretty sure my water had just broken, I put on a pad and went back into the living room and sat on the yoga ball again. After about two minutes of lightly bouncing, a rush of water started to pour out of me. It was so dramatic! I took off running to the bathroom, soaking wet, and making it just in time as everyone was coming in from outside. I sent Olivia to grab me some new clothes, dried off, and told Gabe to check his texts from me as I had let him know after my first bathroom trip that my water had broke.
After that, I continued to lightly bounce on my yoga ball as Gabe and my Mom got the kids ready for bed. When it was my turn to sing to Leif, I had to leave in the middle because my waters began pouring out again! Thankfully that was the last time. 🙂
Contractions started coming maybe every thirty minutes and they were very light but also seemingly regular. We let my Mom know that my water had broken and let Olivia know that her brother would probably be coming that night and together we enjoyed our last quiet evening, my mom baking me some nutritious after labor brownies that I had insisted we pick up the ingredients for that day.
At this point it was around ten-thirty at night, so we sent Liv to bed with promises of waking her when Indy was born and then Gabe and I each took a couch to sleep on as the bedroom was set up for birthing. My Mom finished baking around eleven-thirty and headed to bed and I continued to try to sleep through the early contractions until midnight, when they became too uncomfortable to ignore.
At this point I was feeling hungry and knew I had a lot of work to do so I ate one of the brownies (absolutely delicious) and took what I needed into the bedroom. Everything was quiet. Gabe and the kids were asleep, and my mom was either asleep or falling asleep, so without disturbing anyone, I shut my bedroom door. I turned on the labor play list I had found on Spotify a few weeks ago, featuring the most soothing songs, lit a candle, and started my diffuser (filled with a stress relieving blend of oils). With one dim light on and the candle I began to relax myself into the contractions (now coming every 4-6 minutes) letting them cascade over me like waves. At this point they were just uncomfortable but I tried to imagine them as pressure instead of pain.
It was amazing to be alone. I sort of danced through the contractions, letting my body take control and envisioning myself opening and expanding. By one in the morning, the contractions were starting to be painful and increasingly close, now at every three to five minutes. During the rests I would walk around the bedroom, breathing deeply, and preparing for the next wave. Some time before two, Leif woke up therefore waking Gabe, who went and saw to him (getting him back to sleep) before coming into our bedroom. At this point, I was on the floor, my body low on energy and feeling too shaky and weak to stand. I used the yoga ball as support through the contractions and then as a resting place in between. During this time, I had Gabe massage my lower back, providing counter pressure and some pain relief. By two, I could no longer talk through contractions and it was impossible to view them as simply pressure at that point, each one growing increasingly painful. I made my way to the bathroom to empty my bladder and check progression, finding that I was dilated to a six or seven. I knew transition was very near and as expected, a few minutes after returning to the bedroom, I sent Gabe for a bucket as I became very nauseous. I was positive that I would throw up, but instead was just spitting out lots of heavy saliva.
I was still fully dressed on the floor, but something told me it was nearly time to start pushing, so I undressed my lower half and climbed onto the bed that was set up with chux pads, an old sheet, and a mattress protector. Laboring for a short time on my hands and knees, I was beginning to feel massive pressure but I just couldn’t seem to fully surrender while Gabe was still near me. I tried to make sure that he knew it wasn’t so much him (he had been amazing in the whole process and exactly who I had needed while he was with me) but it was me. I needed to let my body take complete control and I just couldn’t do it unless I was entirely alone, so he waited outside of the door saying he would check on me in five minutes, but as soon as he left, I could feel myself losing the last bit of stress keeping me back and I knew it was time. I text him to bring me some water and then to go back out because I had to do it alone…it felt so natural, the room buzzing with energy and pain and beauty. And when he had left for the final time, I let the pressure and pain overcome me and began to push, slowly at first so as not to hurt myself. The pain was excruciating, like nothing I had ever before felt, and I felt so wild and alive and raw and helpless and brave. And with one push I felt Indy’s head come out of me, supporting him with one hand and feeling his head turn to the side just before my next push, where I caught him with both of my hands and set him in front of me.
I called for Gabe as I unwrapped the umbilical cord from around his neck, me shaking and exhausted, and still in pain. And I couldn’t believe it. There he was, purple and fresh and so beautiful and alive and definitely a boy. We rubbed his back and soon after he began to cry and breathe and I had never felt so much as I did in that moment. Three minutes, two pushes, and that’s all it took. And the first hands to hold him were mine and the first faces to greet him were ours; the ones who love him the most.
In recovery: Indy has been perfectly healthy, no tearing for me or any health concerns whatsoever. Everything was as I had hoped. Labor came at the time I dreamt and prayed for and with only two hours and forty-five minutes of active labor. I am forever grateful for such a beautiful and powerful experience and grateful to have Gabe as such a strong, encouraging, and brave birthing partner.