Hey y’all! I’m so excited to share another homebirth story with you guys! Most of the mamas I find to share their homebirth stories I find through Instagram…I think Instagram is actually a great tool for networking and meeting new friends. Usually those are just online friends, but in this case I found a new real life friend that I could relate so much to! I follow the homebirth clinic (NOVA Birth Services!) that I used myself on Instagram and they shared a photo of Chelsea! Chelsea had a home water birth just like me, and we also had almost the exact same birth team at our home births so I had to reach out to her! We met for coffee and loved talking about homebirth and mom life. Anyways, she is awesome! She is married to her husband Isaiah and she works in coffee sales in Nashville! Her homebirth story is AMAZING- I literally laughed and cried when I read it and felt like I was right there as a fly on the wall watching it all unfold. I hope you guys enjoy it as well!
“This will be our year. Took a long time to come.” – The Zombies
Nothing about Isaiah and I’s courtship was elongated. We dated for four months, were engaged for five months and had known each other just over a year. The song we danced to at our wedding suddenly became so significant because of how long we waited to have children. People constantly asked us when we would start our family, but you start getting funny looks when you wait longer than five years. After six and a half we decided to start trying, after God prompted us to add to our already very happy family. By the time the miscarriage happened and Seattle was born we had just celebrated eight years.
Since the idea of having children has entered my world I’ve heard labor horror stories. I was told that childbirth is scary, painful and hard and that you just deal with it. I grew up thinking that childbirth is a scheduled medical event, only to be controlled by painkillers. Labor is a means to an end to get your child, not an event in itself to be cherished or excited about. For a long time the idea of birth scared me so much that I truly thought I might not have children and if I did I would be knocked out the entire time.
But, as I got older God put women in my life that had a different perspective and experience. I started asking questions and in whispered conversations I began learning those horror stories didn’t have to be how I birthed my daughter.
About six years ago I decided I would have a natural labor. Two years ago I decided to have a home birth. I desperately wanted my labor to feel relaxed, intimate and peaceful. I just didn’t believe I’d have that in a hospital environment. My home is my haven, my place where I feel most comfortable, so it makes sense that’s where I should birth. I wanted positive attitudes and believers surrounding me. I knew with a homebirth I could control that. Isaiah was 100% supportive from day one. If he wasn’t as involved and for it as he was I would have had a very different experience.
We went through our share of people politely questioning our choice – but I was confident in my decision. I didn’t listen to the critical comments or fear from others. I knew I had chosen an experienced team to work with and that the most important person in my life was going to be by my side, supporting me through each step.
Of course we had a hospital plan, just in case. But, I worked very hard to achieve my goal of birthing Seattle at home. It wasn’t by chance that I was really healthy throughout pregnancy. I did squats everyday to strengthen my pelvic floor, studied the way hormones affect our bodies in labor and how to work with them instead of against them and did special stretches every day for months to help prevent a breech baby.
People asked if I was, “Going to be the hero” and have a natural birth. And that’s really not why I did it. I felt having a natural, home birth would be the best way to welcome my daughter into this world and would be healthiest for me, not only physically but mentally. My dad’s battle with cancer brought me to the hospital more times than I’d care to count. My anxiety is triggered when I’m in one and I didn’t want that anywhere near Seattle’s birth.
Because I chose homebirth all of my prenatal care was so personal and peaceful. Even when I tested positive for GBS or got a UTI, Heather, our lead midwife, presented me with the facts and my options. I never felt bullied in to doing anything or shamed for a decision I made. It was important to me there wasn’t any fear during my pregnancy or labor. I’m thankful to have had this kind of care. I believe having these positive thoughts and environment during my pregnancy lent itself to the labor I had.
The reason I’m sharing this intimate and vulnerable story is because people need to hear about positive birth stories. They need to hear about home birth. Women need reminders that they CAN do this. We all need positive reinforcement and voices of love encouraging us. I want to celebrate my birth and hope you’ll celebrate it with me.
They said it was a textbook birth. Everything went exactly as we hoped.
I was told to ignore labor for as long as I could and I’m nothing if not a rule follower. I felt my first itty bitty contraction at 4:45 AM on 8/30/18. My response was to stay in bed and watch Gossip Girl. Isaiah stayed home from work and after a few hours of lazing we went to breakfast. Afterwards we walked around Home Depot and then headed home to play board games. We listened to hip hop throughout the day and we laughed. I had a contraction during “Ultra Light Beam”. When I texted my sister about it she promptly told all of her friends. They all thought it was pretty cool – as did I.
My contractions were 10-30 minutes apart for most of the day. I knew this could go on for several days. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. I was having frequent, soft stools. All positive signs! Isaiah made it a point to not actually tell me how far apart each rush was. He filled me in on times later. All I knew was that by dinner time my contractions were frequent and strong enough that I couldn’t continue to sit on my yoga ball and play through my turn in our board game simultaneously. In an attempt to keep my energy up Isaiah started dinner. He put some Costco stuffed peppers in the oven and after the eternity of their two hour cooking process labor was strong enough that I didn’t have much of an appetite.
My body was working on instinct. I was using my primitive brain. I had no understanding of time passing. My needs were drink water, eat watermelon, breath and work through each wave – and Isaiah was helping with each step. I’d open my mouth and my straw was an inch from my face. I’d whisper, “watermelon” and before the word was out of my mouth it was in front of me for the taking.
It would rush on, ramp up, and slowly yet powerfully overtake my body. I felt my contractions low in my belly and they were like an increasingly burning pain. I moved my body into positions that allowed my hips to open and for my body to ride this wave of pain. I moaned deeply, my chin was in my chest, letting the tone vibrate through my whole body like a drum. I prayed a lot during this time – asking God for strength and reminding myself I was created to do this. I prayed from my heart and in the spirit, not making any sense, but knowing God understood me. Being on my hands and knees on the bed felt most productive. I would push myself back and forth. At other times I would wrap my arms around Isaiah’s waist. He would hold my body up and I would hang on him and squat.
Bartolo, our sweet Old English Bulldog, was such a source of comfort for me. He stayed nearby all day and when I wanted I would hold him and moan through a contraction. He never acted weird. He knew he had a job to do.
After dinner Anna, my doula, called me to hear how I was doing. I wanted her and Heather there – if for anything to help Isaiah so I could have non stop attention. She kindly reminded me I needed to rest, suggesting I take a nap or bath. We tried a warm bath, but it was short lived. It was uncomfortable in that hard, confining space. I felt the most pain lying on my back or side. I had no control over my motion in those positions. But, Isaiah encouraged me and after the bath he laid down with me and held me.
I half slept through some more waves for maybe all of 20 minutes. Isaiah got some much needed shut eye as well. The next thing I knew I was yelling out, my body shoving Isaiah, and I was riding this humongous wave of pain for four and a half minutes. It was one of my biggest contractions and I just kept thinking, “Is this ever going to end?” and, “Are they going to get bigger than this?!?” Isaiah soon realized I had gone from six minutes apart to three and a half minutes apart. At this point active labor had begun and it was time to call the midwife!
Heather and Anna arrived at 1:30 AM on 8/31/18. While they were on their way Isaiah suggested walking around the house. As we entered the living room I saw the headlights in the driveway and it was then my water started to break. I only had to have one vaginal check. I was at a stretchy 5 cm and was 90% effaced. I could tell Heather was pleased, so I was too.
“I would open hand slap someone for a cup of coffee right now,” said Isaiah when I asked him after 21 hours into labor how he was doing.
Isaiah didn’t leave my side for 12 hours. He had a constant positive attitude and encouraged me every step of the way. I felt like a team with him.
At this point contractions were feeling very productive. I could feel her moving down, especially during the large and long rushes. I was speaking affirmations over myself and asking Isaiah to repeat them. I would say things like, “I’m a rockstar!” or “I’m awesome!”
Anna had a sock filled with rice that she would microwave and rub on my back. The heaviness of it felt so good and I leaned into it. During this phase I felt the need to poop. My education taught me this meant I might be ready to push. I was excited! Anna told me I could sit on the toilet for contractions and I could feel free to push when I wanted.
Isaiah knelt down next to me and encouraged me and let me rest on him. It all happened so fast in retrospect. I wasn’t even thinking of how soon Seattle might be born. I didn’t want to psych myself out. My mind didn’t even go there yet.
While I pushed on the toilet I kept asking when the pool would be ready. I wanted a change of scenery and that warm water. The team prepared it as I labored.
“Is it supposed to feel this good?” I asked.
That wasn’t a question I was prepared to ask during labor, but as soon as I got in the pool I literally felt like a new person. I was able to smile, laugh and joke. I was relaxed. I was still having contractions, but I had a renewed energy and was excited. I knew getting in the pool was a positive, because they wouldn’t let me in if they thought I was too far off. Seattle would be here soon.
I let myself think about it finally – the thought that I was succeeding at my homebirth. I kept looking at Isaiah and saying, “We’re gonna do it, baby! We’re going to have our homebirth. I’m going to birth her in the water. We’re going to do it!” I was filled with joy and gratefulness.
I pushed with nearly every contraction I had while in the pool. It felt good to let my hips float in the water and hang while I let the pain rush over me. I went back and forth between pushing on my back and then on my hands and knees or hanging over the side of the pool. During one push I felt a huge gush of liquid. It was my water fully breaking. I also ended up pooping in the pool, but the team was very quick and discreet about fishing it out. I truly didn’t even care.
While in the pool we listened to my relaxed labor playlist that Isaiah made for me. It had instrumental worship music and some of my favorite trip hop and noise rock. We also added all of our sentimental songs to this list. They happened to all play in a row and this is when I got emotional and in retrospect was likely going through transition.
“Do you remember when we danced to this song two years ago on our anniversary?” As I pushed through a contraction I remembered vividly and I cried.
At the time of that dance we had just found out weeks earlier that our first child miscarried. We stood in the living room and danced to Sam Cooke’s “Nothing Can Change This Love” And I loved Isaiah more that day than maybe ever before. What I didn’t anticipate was to have a moment like that again as he encouraged and supported me through birthing our daughter.
Our wedding song, “This Will Be Our Year” by The Zombies played. I wept more. “Sweet Avenue” by Jets to Brazil played, a song Isaiah had put on a playlist for me early in our relationship and what he played for me when he surprised me with flowers the day after we found out we were pregnant again. Some other songs that hit me hard were “Beyond” by Leon Bridges and Ellie Holcomb’s “He Will”. Heather later told us that during this time she sat at our kitchen table and just watched us loving each other and she cried too. It makes me glad to know our love was so evident in this moment.
Seattle was coming through the birth canal and I was able to feel up inside myself and feel the top of her head. I was incredibly motivated. It was intense. I would take a deep breath when a contraction would start and then hold my breath while I pushed for as long as I could last. It was effective, but it was hard to catch my breath in between rushes. I was on my knees in the water, grabbing Isaiah’s shirt as tight as I could. I thought I might accidentally rip it because of how hard I was pulling. I was yelling, “Come on, baby! Come out!!!!”
I didn’t get mean or swear during labor. Isaiah says the closest I came to being mean was while I was pushing in the pool. Heather had me flip on my back and suggested Isaiah hold my legs back. But, as soon as he did this a contraction started and I felt claustrophobic being held. I kicked my legs and yelled, “LET GO OF ME!”. He immediately did and went back to doting on me and encouraging me.
I pushed for nearly two hours in the pool. The team was monitoring her heart tones during every contraction. They had a doppler they put on my belly. I heard them saying the numbers, but didn’t think anything of them. At one point her heart rate was 109 and I knew that was kind of low, but I also knew she was in my canal. I just needed to push her out. So, I didn’t get scared. I just motivated myself to get it done.
“I’ve got reservations about so many things, but not about you.” Wilco played in the background and I thought she might actually be born to this song and I thought how sweet that would be. It goes to show how warped my sense of time was, because she definitely wasn’t born during that song. It was very intense at this time though. I had hardly any breaks between pushes. I was focusing all my power and might into pushing her down.
Finally she crowned and I had fetal ejection reflex, where she literally just pops her head out with hardly any build up or stretching out. This doesn’t mean I didn’t experience the ring of fire though. I totally did and it was the most intense part and the only moment where I was a little afraid I had hurt myself. I was sure I had torn everything!
“It’s supposed to get easier now, right?!”
I was on my back and Bobbi was reminding me to keep my hips under water, because Seattle’s head was born. I felt down and could feel all her hair. I just kept saying, “Oh my gosh! Oh my gosh! Oh my gosh!” Heather had me flip to my hands and knees to rotate her shoulders and push her out the rest of the way. I pushed two or three more times.
“Reach in and grab your baby, Isaiah”.
He reached into the water and his hands, along with the rest of the teams, helped catch Seattle and lay her on my stomach. I leaned back and grabbed her from everyone. I felt her slippery, wet body – how light and little it was. “Oh my gosh! She’s beautiful! She’s so beautiful!” I felt her hair and stared at her. I picked her up to check and make sure she indeed was a girl. She opened her eyes and looked at me. I looked at Isaiah and kissed him. I was crying. Explosions in the Sky played in the background. We don’t know which song it was, possibly “Your Hand in Mine”. Isaiah and I both love that band and we were happy she was born to their epic, instrumental music.
There was so much noise around us. The team was talking behind us, communicating what they needed to. Isaiah touched her head and spoke the Hebraic Blessing.
The Lord bless and keep you.
The Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you.
The Lord lift his countenance upon you and give you peace.
I kissed her head and Isaiah kept his hand on her. We stared at her in amazement and told her how much we love her.
I pushed my placenta out in the pool about 30 minutes later and then they walked me to my bed. I tried nursing her for the first time. The team gave us a while longer before doing mine and Seattle’s exams. When we did get around to checking everything out I was pleased to find out I didn’t tear at all. I was shocked! Isaiah got to weigh Seattle for the first time and cut her cord. Everything was so intimate and personal. She was born at 5:21 AM on 8/31/18 after 25 hours of labor (6 hours of active labor and 2 hours of pushing). She was 7 lbs 15 oz and 19 inches long with a 13 cm head.
It was an honor to labor and birth my daughter at home. In the place I feel most myself and comfortable. It was personal, relaxed, peaceful and life changing. It was the most loving and supportive atmosphere I’ve ever experienced. There was this sweetness of her birth going so perfectly, beyond what I even imagined for myself. I miscarried a year prior to Seattle being born. It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever walked through. Seattle’s birth was redemptive and filled with grace, love and gratitude.