As I sit here, finally having a moment to sit down with my thoughts, in front of the fireplace, coffee in hand and a twelve week old baby napping, I am in complete awe of how quickly a heart can expand in the matter of seconds. The moment Asher came into this world was one Chris and I will never ever forget. I have been wanting to share our special day since it happened and while it’s already been almost three months- I hope to take you back to that day to share the most personal yet powerful moments of my life.
Pregnancy was fairly uneventful and I counted my blessing everyday for that! I didn’t have terrible morning sickness or struggled with pains, I battled fatigue throughout the second trimester due to anemia but once I increased my iron intake that surpassed and the third trimester was a breeze. While you can never guess what kind of pregnancy you’ll have, I do think that staying active, supplementing with whole food nutrients, chiropractic care, massages and eating healthy (and regularly) throughout helped a lot for mine and Asher’s well being. As we neared the due date and anticipated a new baby boy, I didn’t have anxiety, fear or doubt regarding labor or birth- I think I was more anxious about what to do with a newborn once he was here since I had never really been around babies! haha. In part, the positive feelings towards labor had to do with the incredibly comforting, knowledgable, and helpful midwives we had throughout- along with the birth classes we took.Photo: Matthew Land
If you are pregnant or know anyone who is (or plans to be) these birth classes are a definite resource- regardless of labor preference! They were created by Penny Simkins who is the author of many child birthing books including Pregnancy, Childbirth and the Newborn and The Birth Partner which are two of the most informative books I can recommend for first time parents. I didn’t know very much regarding birth, the benefits or caution of certain procedures, what to expect, or how to handle contractions or certain scenarios if they were to come up so I’m VERY thankful for such experienced midwives and books to help. Another book that I absolutely loved and was empowered by in pursuing a natural birth was Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth.
While these books and classes helped prepare me mentally for what was to come, nothing can really fully equip you for the pain to expect in active labor. The classes and books definitely helped me understand the type of coping techniques I preferred, certain positions that helped with contractions and helped Chris feel more prepared to be my partner and rock during it all. With a natural birth there were two options for us… give birth at home or at The Center for Birth that was near our home. We chose the latter and couldn’t have been more thankful for the opportunity to give birth in a comfortable, welcoming and warm place with a friendly and patient support team to surround us.
Asher’s Birth Day
Disclaimer: I share many personal details so read with caution. 😉
Asher’s due date was Oct 18th, so on that day I had a check up appointment to see how things were going and to discuss the natural ways to help ‘ripen’ the cervix to assist in going into labor. My midwife checked my cervix and I was only 1cm dilated without any indication of going into labor so I went home, took a really long walk, ate spicy food, took a nap, drank my raspberry leaf tea, did a few other things that were supposed to help and went to bed. Little did I know that would be the last night I would be pregnant with Asher and our world would be changed forever.
In our birth class we learned that labor can often times begin really slow or start then taper off and to try to rest during that time to save energy for active labor… so when I woke up at 1:30am with a strong cramp across my mid section I was surprised and anxious since I was expecting something a little less painful to begin with. I was curious to see if and how long it would be till the next one came and sure enough within 15 minutes I felt it again. I didn’t want to wake Chris up until I was certain they were contractions so after 3-4 of them I woke him up and was like, “Babe, I think I’m having contractions!” Since we thought it would start off slow he responded with, “Try to lay down and go back to sleep”. Haha. He meant well but at this point the pain was already at a point where I had to use breathing techniques to cope with it and there was NO way I could lay down again.
Very quickly the contractions were increasing in timeframe and pain so I got in the shower to see if that would help while Chris tracked my contraction times and got on the phone with our doula. I don’t think it really made a difference for me in terms of pain relief- except now I was laboring and wet. The moment I stepped out of the shower, I projectile vomited everywhere. No kidding.. I was trying to reach the sink and it literally went all over the entire bathroom. It was quite impressive, the nooks and crannies it reached. Chris couldn’t stop telling me where it all reached- may have even hit the ceiling- he was either impressed or mortified! Sorry if that was TMI but we are just getting started. 🙂
Chris was my savior throughout the entire process- beginning with his grace in cleaning up the terrible mess I made while I continued to labor. I had to get back in the shower to rinse off and by this time the contractions were getting worse for me and our doula was going to be on her way over to help with the next phase of labor. The only way I could cope through each one at this point was to stand with my head rested against the wall or Chris’s chest but after that second shower the breathing technique that seemed to help at first was beginning to lose its steam.
After about three hours of laboring at home, I knew I needed to head over to The Center because the contractions were becoming pretty unbearable at that point. Our doula didn’t even have time to make it to our place with how quickly I was progressing so she met us at The Center. I hated being in a car while going through contractions but by this point I was keeping my eyes closed the entire time and just trying to stay in the moment to get through each one. We made it to The Center around 6am where my midwife had to check me first to see how far dilated I was before proceeding. I was already at 6-7cm dilated- so it was definitely go-time! I almost forgot to mention that right after she checked me I threw up again which often times signals a transition in labor and actually helped me progress quicker.
With the room being so comfortable, as if I was in my own bedroom, and the calm demeanor of our midwives, doula and Chris allowed me to stay really relaxed (considering the condition I was in). They got the tub ready and checked mine and baby’s vitals every so often throughout to make sure we were both doing well. I don’t even know how long I was in the tub but it wasn’t my most favorite thing to labor in. As if laboring anywhere is easy. Chris was sitting behind me as my support and comfort in the tub but I didn’t really progress and my water still hadn’t broke so the pressure from it was immense. I wasn’t sure if that pressure was causing the contractions to worsen but it definitely seemed like it. After what seemed like forever we decided to get out of the tub and move to the bed where I laid on my side to rest a little bit. Still with my eyes closed of course. It must have helped me stay in the zone or something but I definitely didn’t even try to open them… ever. The bed may have been my least favorite place to be laboring but at this point I was also at what seemed like the highest peak of pain for contractions. To cope, I tried to stay with each contraction and work through it by repeating in my mind ‘the pain is only temporary, the pain is only temporary, this will pass, there is an end in sight’. While that was going on in my mind, I had a verbal repetition of “owe, owe, owe,” that would get louder with each contraction. You can never know how you will react to contractions until it happens. Although it didn’t really seam like there was an end in sight, I was trying to hold on for dear life to get through each one. After awhile on the bed and feeling exhausted from the contractions I had to make a big decision.
I was at a breaking point in labor. I either needed pain relief or they needed to pop my bag to keep everything progressing. I remember telling Chris that I didn’t know what to do but I knew something needed to happen. He was so present and so helpful in so many ways- even with my eyes closed I felt his love and strength in every touch or word and his presence was more than I could imagine. I wasn’t sure how much more I could take so we all agreed it would be best to pop my bag. The moment my midwife popped my bag there was an immediate feeling of relief and it all started to pick up pretty quickly after that. I began to labor on a birthing stool which was a position I preferred and resting against Chris again, I felt completely ready and encouraged to make it through the next phase- the push.
After awhile on the birthing stool they moved me to the bed to hopefully give birth there but the bed actually made me regress a little bit so we went back to the birthing stool. Resting against Chris with my hands in his I pushed for about an hour before Asher made it out healthy, strong, and as beautiful as ever! With Asher on my chest, rested in Chris’s arms, we both shed tears of complete joy seeing our baby boy for the first time. Labor may have been hard but that doesn’t come close to the overwhelming love we felt for our baby the moment he was in our arms. We made it home about four hours later once both baby and I were all good and our lives have never been the same- in the most amazing way. Asher is full of life and happiness and it has been everything to watch Chris as a dad. I look forward to the milestones and watching Asher grow. There is nothing int he world that can compare!
The support and encouragement I felt from everyone in the room that day is something I will never forget. There is no way I would’ve been able to go through it all without Chris and the calming spirit of our midwives and doula. Having gone through the natural process of labor, I have an even bigger appreciation for a woman’s body and the miracle it can create. We should never question the power of our body and the creation we are to birth our children or the strength we have to overcome hard situations such as labor. There are many events in our lives that we can control and labor is not one of them. Nature will take its course but without knowledge there is no power to overcome or understand the process of birth or the complications that can occur and how to work through them. I thank God every day for a positive experience with Asher’s birth and for his health because I know that is not always the case. Believe me, I will always count my blessings and pray for everyone going through labor because it is definitely not an easy fete.
I do highly recommend anyone thinking about getting pregnant to ask more questions and do more research to fully understand options, procedures and possibilities for labor. My experience would not be the same without an incredible team or my rock of a man. Chris wasn’t just a supportive husband, he was in the trenches with me, experiencing each contraction and wanting to do everything in his power to help. I would like to give a special thanks to Beth, Lynn and Sara with Rainy City Midwifery and our doula, Darlene “Dolly”. I felt loved, supported, encouraged, and strengthened by their expertise, kind manner, patience, and overall demeanor.
Photos: Andria Lindquist