Exactly Six years ago today I gave birth to my second and last baby on the floor of my bedroom in what I can only describe as a transformative birth experience!
My journey started more than 7 years ago when I became pregnant with my daughter only a year after getting married to my soulmate. I wanted to be a mom for so long and I was so excited to finally be preparing for a baby. I did all the things I felt were right at the time. I purchased all the stuff, created my registries, decorated the nursery, and even attended weekly prenatal yoga classes. I read some books about labor, but I did not educate myself about pregnancy, labor, or childbirth. I did not know the difference between a midwife and an OB. I knew that I wanted to give birth at Kennestone Hospital, so I had already started seeing an OB that delivers there before becoming pregnant.
I had a pretty easy pregnancy (despite the debilitating carpal tunnel syndrome in both hands).
Because of the pain in my hands, my OB agreed to an induction at 39 weeks (at my request), but the night before I was scheduled to go in for said induction, my water broke. Contractions started about an hour after arriving at the hospital and I immediately asked for an epidural. My labor was quick and easy and for the most part I could not have asked for a better experience. I labored for only 12 hours and pushed for about 30 minutes. I delivered her vaginally with only minor tearing. My daughter was the most beautiful baby I had ever laid my eyes on and I was in heaven.
Fast forward a few years…
When my daughter was almost 2 years old, I got pregnant again. Unfortunately, this pregnancy ended in the miscarriage of twins at 9 weeks. I had spent a few weeks celebrating my new pregnancy and had not even gotten the chance to start preparing before the dream was ripped away from me. I desperately wanted a sibling for my daughter, so it was not long after my miscarriage that I got pregnant again. In fact, it was about 2 months after (I had 1 cycle before trying again).
I spent 2 weeks of my early pregnancy in Ireland!
I got a positive pregnancy test less than a week before leaving for Ireland with my family for my husband to work abroad for 2 weeks. Being in a different country and culture during those first weeks was odd and sometimes a bit frustrating, but I am so grateful that my little family of 4 all got to be there together (even if 1 was inside of me).
Once we returned home, I was able to really start preparing for my new baby. I kept this pregnancy under cover for much longer than the last 2 and entered into this pregnancy with more caution that I had in the past. I had previously spoken to my friend and former prenatal yoga instructor who had recently had her first baby in an unmedicated birth with a doula and she shared with me her experience and her fondness of having a doula present. I did not know what a doula was before this conversation, but it stuck with me as I started preparing for my second baby.
Once I got past 12 weeks, I felt more confident to really start preparing.
I had decided that I did not want an epidural this time around, I wanted to have as natural and unmedicated labor as possible. I was inspired by my yogi friend and felt that I could do it too. So I started reading. I started preparing for labor more than anything else.
I also hired a doula!
The first book I read was Orgasmic Birth: Your Guide to a Safe, Satisfying, and Pleasurable Birth Experience by Elizabeth Davis and Debra Pascali-Bonaro. This book changed my whole perspective on birth (and not in the way you are probably thinking). With this book I decided that I wanted a home birth. I knew myself and I knew that to get the unmedicated birth I wanted that I needed to ditch my traditional OB and all of the temptations for pain medication associated with the hospital setting. I came to this conclusion right after hiring my doula. I called her and asked her for advice on how to get started in finding a midwife for a home birth. After some research on what my insurance covers and midwives in the area, I hired my midwife team and began preparing for my home birth.
My reading did not stop; in fact, I continued to educate myself on natural childbirth and birth without fear until the day I went into labor.
This pregnancy was amazing! I had already corrected my carpal tunnel syndrome in both hands after my first baby was born, so I was not suffering through that pain this time. I was reading daily and really enjoying the books and learning about birth in a physiological way. Having my doula available throughout my pregnancy to answer questions and ease my mind anytime I had doubts was so important for my preparations and confidence.
The more I read about how wonderful birth is, the more confidant I became in my ability to birth my baby at home.
Planning for my home birth was freeing and so enjoyable. It was also less stressful for me to not have to worry about finding childcare for my daughter. Knowing that she may be able to be present for the birth of her brother was also very comforting. I had made all sorts of plans with my family for support during the birth. I wrote a birth plan and made several copies. I had my bedroom set up according to my midwives’ guidelines by the time I was 36 weeks and my home was clean and ready to go for the big day. I anticipated going into labor early and for a quick labor based on my first coming at 39 weeks with only 12-hours of labor. My midwives were on the other side of Atlanta from me, so I knew there was a possibility that my baby could be born before they arrived. I prepared my husband for that possibility just in case!
My midwives had made it clear to me that I needed to make it to at least 37 weeks and not go past 42 (among other things) in order to be able to have a home birth in Georgia. In my last month, I anxiously awaited 37 weeks and once that day arrived, I breathed a sigh of relief.
I had made it to the magic number and my baby boy was head down!
My midwives came for a home visit in my 37th week, and that day, I started having contractions! Could this be the day?! My contractions were irregular, but strong enough for my midwives to wonder too if it was the day. They stuck around my area for quite some time anticipating labor to pick up. But it never did.
I continued to have irregular contractions for 3 more days!
On the eve of hitting 38 weeks something felt different. I was putting my daughter to bed around 8:00 pm. It was Sunday night and she was starting summer camp the next day. As I was bouncing her on the yoga ball, I was having pretty consistent contractions. I laid down next to her in her bed and started timing them. These contractions were not going away. I walked downstairs after she fell asleep and I told my husband that I thought this was it. They were not painful, but they were much different than what I had been feeling for several days.
I called my midwife and she told me to get in the tub and call her in an hour.
I got in the tub and continued to time my contractions. These were not stopping, and the intensity was picking up. I called my doula and after talking for a few minutes, we decided it was time for her to head over. I then called my midwife back and told her I was pretty sure it was time. She agreed and both midwives headed my way. They were over an hour away from me at this point. When my doula arrived, I was bouncing on the yoga ball and breathing through my contractions. I had a pleasant conversation with her between contractions and all of a sudden, I felt a gush! That sudden gush sent me to the bathroom and started a cascading flow of intense contractions.
With that gush, I hit transition. I got in the shower for a bit, and then got on my bed and my doula put warm compresses on my lower back. I felt the urge to push, but the midwives had not arrived yet. I was moaning so loud and yelling that I needed to push and at that moment I heard the front door open and the sound of running up the stairs. I was now free to push! My team (husband, doula, and midwives) got the floor prepared for me and I leaned up against my yoga ball with my husband behind me and immediately started pushing. I pushed about 4 or 5 times and he was out!
My son was born at 12:58 am on July 18, 2016.
I held my baby boy in my arms as I awaited the placenta. He remained attached to his cord until well after the placenta was out (something I had longed for with my daughter but was told I could not do). Once I got on the floor to push, my doula grabbed my camera and captured the most amazing photos of my sweet baby being born, the first moments after his birth, our raw emotional expressions, and so much more. I will be forever grateful for these photos that I continue to share with my children any chance I get!
I was immediately in love, but I was also not exhausted.
After my husband cut the cord, we moved to the bed and I breastfed him. I cuddled and gushed (emotionally) over him for a bit and then gave him to my husband to enjoy some skin to skin while I took a shower. When I got out of the shower, I saw my daughter meeting her new baby brother for the first time and my heart melted!
After my son’s weighing, measuring, and evaluations, my little family of 4 all laid down together in our queen size bed and (2 of us) drifted off to sleep. In only a few short hours, my daughter would be off to summer camp and I would be taking care of my sweet little boy with no beeps, constant interruptions, or discomfort. My labor was short, lasting less than 5 hours, and my recovery was amazing. I would recommend a home birth to all low risk women who wish to have autonomy and control over their experience. It was intense, but amazing.
This experience provided me with a newfound passion for pregnancy, labor, and birth.
I eventually supported my sister in law through her own desire for a different birth experience from her first. She leaned on me due to my own experiences and requested my presence at her birth for support and encouragement. Supporting her through her pregnancy and then labor and birth kept my passions alive. I left her birth knowing that I was meant to be a doula and share my passion, experience, and knowledge with other mothers and families. My path to becoming a doula started that day. Supporting families through the amazing transition into parenthood is incredibly fulfilling. Although MY goal was an unmedicated birth experience, my support does not end there; I support and encourage all types of births, medicated, unmedicated, vaginal, cesarean, home, hospital, and birth center births. I am here to provide the encouragement families want without judgment or prejudice.