Since I often support other women during labor, I thought I would share my own birth experiences and how each one led me to my dream of helping women before, during, and after labor.
November of 2011. I was pregnant for the first time and was in the second trimester. My husband and I were starting to discuss how we envisioned labor going, and starting to seriously research everything about maternity care. After weeks of careful research and study, we both came to the same conclusion: birth was a normal, physiological occurrence. We knew we wanted birth to happen as naturally as possible, free of any and all interventions if possible. We knew that in order for that to happen, we would need to have a birth team that also valued and respected the birth process. We decided that the best choice for us was to have a homebirth. In December, we hired a homebirth midwife to help us gently welcome our baby into the world.
April 24, 2012. I was 1 day past my due date. Around 7 pm I started feeling some contractions that seemed to be different from the Braxton hicks contractions I’d had earlier in the week. At 8:30 I suggested to my husband that we try and sleep, just in case this really was the start of labor. We went to bed, but of course I was too excited timing contractions to sleep! By 1 am I woke up my husband and told him I was definitely in labor and needed his support. We spent the next 4 hours on the couch, watching Man Vs Wild, talking, and breathing through each contraction. I didn’t know it at the time, but baby was in the posterior position, causing almost all of my contractions to be felt in my lower back. My husband was wonderful about massaging my back, putting heat on it, and helping me in and out of the bath.
At 6 am I called my midwife to let her know I was in labor and needed her to come to the house. She arrived a little after 7 and got to work setting up supplies and supporting me through contractions. Around 8 I asked her to check dilation, and was pleased to hear that I was at 6 cm! She had used the fetoscope to listen to the baby when she first arrived, and took the time to listen again. This time, we noticed something was wrong. We could hear what sounded like a heart murmur–something we had never heard before during the pregnancy. She told us that she would support us in whatever we decided to do, but that if it was her she would go to the hospital, before it turned into an emergency situation. We talked it over and decided to transport to the hospital (I was still seeing an OB just in case).
We arrived at the hospital at 9 am. I was 7 cm dilated and the back pain was worse than ever. My midwife stayed with me and acted as my doula. Even with the pain, I knew I wanted to birth naturally. I was so thankful for the support of my husband and midwife for keeping me focused. At 11:30, less than 3 hours after arriving at the hospital, I felt the urge to push and was dilated 10 cm. I pushed for 30 minutes before giving birth to a healthy and beautiful baby boy.
Gunnar was born on April 25th at 12:06 pm weighing 7 lbs 3 oz. I can’t even describe the emotions that flooded through me. Labor had not gone as I’d planned, but I had been supported the entire time and had given birth naturally as I had hoped to. As I held my son skin to skin, I realized that each contraction was a blessing in disguise because each one brought my son closer to my waiting arms. He will soon celebrate his 4th birthday and brings a new level of excitement and adventure to each day!