After creating this post announcing the birth of our baby girl, I got requests for the birth story. I really hadn’t planned to share much about our children here on the blog.
But so many of you have been on the journey with us over the years, I just couldn’t say ‘no’ to the requests that were sent my way. So here is the birth story of our sweet baby girl.
Like most birth stories, this one didn’t go as planned. In my mind’s eye, I always thought I’d go into labor in the evening after a peaceful and restful day. I’d labor all night and the wee babe would be there by morning.
None of which actually happened.
If you’d told me I’d go fishing, butcher ducks and pressure can a batch of bear meat before going into labor in the afternoon, I think I’d have been a bit more worried about it all.
But I didn’t know (a little fact I’m grateful for).
I went into labor in the afternoon on a very busy day.
The midwife had me take a labor-inducing cocktail before I went fishing that morning. Five days overdue, she really wanted me to have the baby that weekend. So I made and took an awful smoothie consisting of castor oil, almond butter, apricots and lemon verbena oil.
I didn’t think that it would actually work.
But it sure was nasty.
After all the health issues I’ve had and the natural remedies I’ve tried, I can guzzle just about anything. But this cocktail? I had to “sip it slowly” and as a result I had to swallow some mouthfuls more than once!
Driving helped distract me as I headed out to my favorite fishing spot.
Look at the trees (gulp). Observe how the yellow lines on our little country road are fading (gag). Oh look, there’s neighbors dog (swallows the mouthful again).
I caught my fish and returned home to help my man finish butchering our Pekin meat ducks, which was something we wanted to do before the baby came!
Light cramps were setting in and once the butchering was finished, I headed indoors to take a second cocktail and pressure can the bear meat I had roasting in the oven.
With 20 jars of bubbling, canned bear meat cooling on the counter, I decided to go have a hot bath. Kneeling on the bottom of the tub to submerge my swollen belly, my water suddenly broke.
And I felt a wave of overwhelm sweep over me.
It’s happening for real. Today!
From there, things become a bit blurred.
I started having contractions that built over the hours. The midwife stopped in several times. At one point, I remember looking out the window and was surprised to see that it was dark.
Had that much time already passed by?
Things were progressing nicely and the midwife thought the baby should be there around midnight.
But 8pm came and went. Then 9 pm, 10 pm and 11 pm.
For some reason, the baby wouldn’t engage and drop down as it ought. I was 5.5 centimeters dilated when contractions began to slow down.
And got slower.
The midwife told me to take Tylenol and try to get some sleep.
Around midnight, I crawled into our armchair and snoozed between contraction. And then I fell into an even deeper sleep as they continually grew weaker.
By morning, I was having 1 mild contraction every 45 minutes. And because my water had broken early in the process, the midwife told us to meet her at the hospital.
It was time to be induced to avoid the risk of infection.
I was disappointed.
You see, I grew up in a home where birth was normalized. Between witnessing animal birth on the farm and my mom’s choice to have home births, I was intrigued by and unafraid of the process. Living only 10 minutes from the hospital, both my man and I felt at peace with a home birth.
In fact, I felt more relaxed with the idea of a home birth than I did a hospital birth.
I tried to put myself at ease: a hospital birth is probably best, it being my first time and all.
At 10 am, we met the midwife at the hospital where we saw a second midwife who examined me.
“The baby’s head is tilted a bit and that’s why it wouldn’t engage last night,” she told us. And then I was reminded as to why I had wanted a midwife so bad.
She scooted me over to the edge of the hospital bed and with the help of my man, rolled me on my side. And placing her hands on my hip, she “jiggled me” for several minutes. And she repeated that motion on the others side as well. Dropping the front of the hospital bed down, she had me kneel and lean my forearms on the lowered part, so my hips were higher than my head.
“That should have disengaged the baby so its head reposition and engage correctly. You’re still 5.5 cm dilated and you’re ready to deliver.“
And I was.
Away she went, leaving me with some nurses, the original midwife and my man.
Hooked up to the oxytocin, I labored. My man was a wonderful coach (I can’t say enough good things about the Bradley method we studied during my pregnancy) and help me concentrate through every contraction. I was so focused on embracing the birth process, time flew by. And after what seemed to be about 30 minutes (it was actually about 4 hours), I felt the need to push.
Everyone was surprised. Contractions were still only 45 seconds long and they had just upped the oxytocin to 8 mg per hour.
They made me wait through another contraction just to be sure. The urge to push was stronger.
Across the hall to the birth room we went and after about 3 more contractions, it hit. I suddenly felt like the upper part of my belly turned into a battering ram and was trying to turn itself inside out.
I’ve never experienced anything like it before. My body was out of my control and very much in control of itself at the same time.
About 25 minutes in, I felt a dull and burning pain that seemed to split me in half.
The very top of the baby’s head appeared and I remember the midwife asking me if I wanted to feel it.
“No, I don’t!” I clearly remember saying. And then I asked my man if the baby had hair. I also remember asking the midwife if I should hold back a bit or just push?
“Just push!” she said with an encouraging and rallying tone.
So I did. The first push brought out the top of the baby’s head. The next brought out its forehead and stopped at it’s eyes. When the next contraction came, I pushed long, slow and steady. Head, shoulder, tummy and legs, our wee babe slid out all at once and fell into my man’s hands. The water behind splashed into it’s little face and an instant scream was the result!
That splash got my man. And the midwife. Both had soaked shirtfronts, but they didn’t seem to care.
And I felt an incredible urge to have my baby in my own arms.
Not being used to seeing a newborn baby’s swollen gender parts, I just caught of glimpse of things “down there” as they handed my baby up to me and I turned to tell my man we had a baby boy.
“Uhm, you might want to check that again” the nurse told me with a laugh.
A closer look revealed that we had a baby girl, not a boy. 🙂 But we didn’t really care what the gender was.
I held her close and my man and I marveled over her tiny body, her pink skin, the way she already made eye contact with us. We marveled over the birthing process and everything that had just happened.
She was exactly 7 lbs. I was surprised I’d had such a small baby. Part of me felt bad, like I should have taken care to eat more and have a chunkier wee one.
But that was only a fleeting feeling at the moment. Because she was here. Safe. And in our arms.
After examining her, giving me a few stitches and putting the baby skin to skin with me, the midwife and nurses left us alone for several hours. Soon after, we walked out of the hospital and put our baby in the car.
We were taking our baby home!
As we came up to the country road that led to our driveway, I felt an overwhelming sense of…something sweep over me.
I can’t describe it.
After so many years of working toward the goal of starting a family, we’re finally here. She’s here. The 7 year journey has been long and hard. Now that we’re here, the fulfillment of our goal feels unexplainably rich and sweet.
There were times in the past when it felt like we’d never arrive.
We’d never actually get on top of my health. Get in a mold free home. Establish the gardens and raise the good food my body needed to stay strong. Having children was just a far and distant goal we’d work toward for forever and never actually get to experience.
But it all became real when we drove down our bumpy driveway and carried our baby over the thresh hold of the home we’d built in pursuit of her.
Welcome home, wee one. You’ll never know how long and hard we worked so we could have you. But we’re so, so, so glad you’re here!
I didn’t have the 100% natural home birth I’d dreamed of. But even now, it doesn’t matter.
We have our baby. She’s healthy, gaining weight and my body is finally supplying all of the milk she needs.
We’re happy with this calm little girl. And we wouldn’t trade her for anything.