Oaks is 8 days old today and I am still basking in the light of his birth.
Some background info: my first two babies were hospital births with epidurals. They were two of best days of my life, however as I have learned more about birth, I knew I wanted something different for this baby’s entrance into the world. When we found out we were pregnant, I dug deep into reading everything I could get my hands on and talking to anyone I knew who had had a natural birth and particularly home birth. The more I found out, the more safe and excited and at peace I became, and Ty felt the same. For 10 months we were anticipating this birth day and the joy that was set before us.
So, the story!
I had prodromal labor for a month and it seemed like it would never end. Finally on 8/7 (41-42 weeks pregnant), I began losing some plug and it seemed like we were getting the show on the road.
The next day we walked around the book store, mall and Whole Foods as a fam.
That night, labor began at 11:30. Ty was asleep, and I got up and sat on my birth ball. I started timing contractions at midnight (5-6 min apart) & praying through each one. As each contraction began, I thanked God for that contraction knowing that it brought me one step closer to my baby, and asked for Him to make it a productive one. I then spent the duration of each contraction in prayer over something specific: for one contraction I’d pray for my marriage, for one contraction I’d pray for the kids’ transition into having a new sibling, for one contraction I’d pray for baby to get into the perfect position, I prayed against meconium, against hospital transfer, against fear, etc. There is something so magical about this first part of birth. The time spent in prayer during those hours was one of my favorite parts of the whole experience.
From midnight-1:00 am, contractions were less than 5 minutes apart. From 1:00-2:00 am, they were less than 4 minutes apart. I could still talk through them, so I just rolled my hips on my birth ball and rode the waves.
At 2:00 am, there was some “bloody show” and I text my doula. She let me know it was time to call midwife and let her know what was up. I continued praying and laboring on the ball. Contractions stayed 4 minutes apart or less. I called the midwife to let her know what was going on, but told her I didn’t think I needed any help yet since I was feeling great.
Then I laid down to rest between contractions. The next thing I knew, I was waking up to sun streaming through the windows. 7:00 am. No more contractions. Everything stalled… again.
This was frustrating and mentally hard. We were certain that night was going to be the night. Prodromal labor is just… rough. Anyone who has experienced weeks of it will tell ya.
That day, 8/9, I got adjusted and got acupuncture on my labor points. Minimal contractions all day. Drank a strong batch of red raspberry leaf tea at bedtime.
At 3:30 am 8/10 I woke up in the middle of the night with painful contractions and some more blood. They were about 10 minutes apart. I took a shower and they spaced back out. I assumed this was more prodromal labor and decided he was perhaps never coming out 😉
I had sporadic contractions through the morning and a midwife appointment at 10:30. I was delighted to hear that I was 4cm dilated and fully effaced with baby’s head even lower than it had been the previous week (0 station – super low). The weeks of prodromal labor had not been for nothing. (In hindsight, I think the Lord actually used it for me to draw nearer to him and prepare my heart more for the big day). She stretched me to a 5 and swept me, then she told me to go straight home because we’d have a fast labor that day!
We could not stop smiling! Today! He was coming today.
I was having contractions immediately upon leaving the birth center, but we stopped by the chiropractor at 11:30 super quick to make sure everything was lined up in preparation for birth.
We dropped the three little kids at our best friends’ house. Cade wanted to stay with us and see his brother born. We let him know there was an open door policy and he could come and go as he felt comfortable. He is 8 and very scientifically inclined and we had watched births and helped him understand what would happen. He was so excited! And he ended up being the perfect little doula.
I labored on my ball and walking around the living room. My favorite worship music was playing and it was just Ty & I during this time and it was so special. This was another of my favorite parts of the whole experience, just being with him and knowing that our lives were about to change forever again.
Things got more intense and close together (still laughing & talking between each one) and we started letting the birth team know they could arrive around 2:00 pm. Our incredible doula Emily showed up first and was such a welcome presence. Ashlie (friend) and then Ruth (midwife) showed up next. Each of them enriched the environment with their presence and I was so thankful for them.
I was just through getting checked when Cassie (friend), Blair (friend/videographer) & Ashley (friend/photographer) arrived. I was a 7 and could not believe it. I felt amazing. Why did I feel so amazing?! Who knew birth could be like this?
After a few more contractions we started filling the birth pool. Getting in there felt amazing. I alternated between lots of positions and Emily reminded me to keep shoulders down and jaw, face, and bottom loose. I mentally thanked God for each contraction as it began and asked for it to be a productive one, and He helped me ride the waves better than I ever dreamed I’d be able to. On more than one occasion I whispered to Ty “I love this day so much” and he whispered back with tears in his eyes “I know!” We did not expect for it to be so beautiful and we were blown away as it all unfolded.
At some point my water popped (a kind of freaky sensation) and I started to feel a little bit panicky inside. I was hot, restless, and moving around trying to find the best position but didn’t know what I wanted. Silent tears fell and I didn’t quite know why. It was just a wave of intensity. Transition.
I knew this next phase things were going to get real. I voiced that I was scared and then I remembered that fear is from the enemy and not from God, and I mentally decided I would not have it. I regained composure and got back to work.
I can’t say enough about each person there. I’ll never forget the love and support and empathy that filled the room. Each time my eyes met one of my friends’, I was greeted with tears and smiles and told I was doing so incredibly well. Their belief in me was so empowering.
The time to push came. My body’s fight or flight response was telling me to get the heck out of there, but I ultimately knew that I was safe and that everything they say about transition is true — “right when you feel like you can’t do it anymore, is when your baby is coming.” It was a heavy realization that the only way out was through. So through we went!
After a few pushes his head began to crown and it hurt like a mother. The ring of fire is a real thing, friends. This was not a drill. Instantly upon feeling it, I was like enough’s enough of this, and I roared out his body. He pretty much shot out into the water like a canon.
Ruth put him on my chest and I was SHOCKED. Someone said it looked like I didn’t even know I was pregnant and someone handed me a baby. HA! I was just like WHAT. IN. THE. WORLD. The whole thing was crazy surreal and like an outer body experience. I heard Ty crying, and I looked to find Cade’s face and was relieved to see complete joy and no fear. Then I finally looked at Oakland and was just like HI. Oh my gosh. You’re a real person. He was instantly crying and healthy and perfect and there was no fear at all, only relief and joy and SHOCK. My first words were “thank you, Jesus.” And truly I was so thankful for Jesus’ mercy and goodness to me in that moment.
Ruth had warned me beforehand that I could birth in the pool but would need to get out quickly so they could aggressively monitor my bleeding since I had low iron, but my bleeding was super minimal and I was able to stay in for several minutes and just soak up what had just happened. God had heard our fervent prayers against hemorrhage, just as we knew He would.
At some point I got out (still attached to Oaks by the cord). I got on the bed, delivered the placenta, and got stitched up which was the worst part of the whole shebang. The lidocaine didn’t take for whatever reason and I felt every single time the needle went in and every single tug of the string. At that point I requested an epidural 😉 Obviously, not an option. O was on my chest nursing around this whole time and we got through it.
After that, they did his newborn exam. My last babies were 7 pounds 10 ounces & 7 pounds 7 ounces. I was prepared for an 8 pounder since he had gone overdue, but the entire room was shocked to find out he weighed 9 pounds 9 ounces and had a 14.5 inch head!
After what felt like forever (but was probably about an hour from the time he was born), I was able to be left alone and sit up and soak it all in. Emily cleaned up the birth pool and everything else, making our home like nothing ever happened. Before we knew it, we were alone with our sweet snuggly baby in complete bliss. There is nothing like home sweet home. We were so thankful to be there.
Ty picked up Story, Nolan, and Harbor from our friends’ house down the street and they came in to meet their brother, and then we all went to sleep. Oaks slept for a blissful 5.5 hours. Mama stayed wide awake staring at him the entire time. The high that occurs when all those love hormones aren’t blocked by drugs? It’s like no other. I wish every woman in the world got the chance to experience it. God’s design is truly magical.
My friend Blair captured the most beautiful video for us (click here or watch below). Please ignore my hugeness and also be sure to check out my INTENSELY SHOCKED face 😉
Welcome to the world, Oakland Jude! You are so tremendously loved.
PS. I’ve gotten lots of questions about natural birth, home birth, water birth, etc during the last few days. I plan to blog all sorts of resources, my birth must-haves list, worship playlist, etc this week.