Welcome to Birth Story Collections at The Promiseland Farm!
For the first story in the collection, I’m going to share the birth story of our little girl, Isabella in 2011. If you have a birth story you’d like to share, please email me at thepromiselandfarm[at]gmail.com
Fear is a strong motivator. Fear fueled by the unknown is even more powerful.
Little girls in my generation grew up with a lot of fear surrounding birth.
TV, movies, books and story’s from family and friends paint a picture of a hospital birth where the woman is either screaming her head off, being whisked to the operating room or having a “painless” delivery with medicine. Birth with a Midwife is not often talked about and is conventionally considered reckless and outdated. Right? Everyone has their own birth story and each is unique and special.
Our baby was 12 days past her due date.
The entire pregnancy went well up until 40 weeks and 1 day, then I started to feel tired, uncomfortable, my ankles and fingers started to swell and I got stretch marks under my belly button (I didn’t know this until I delivered and could see under my belly button!)…
Ok here’s the story dinner Tuesday evening, June 21st, I mentioned to Andrew that I had crossed off the last item on my “to do” list before the baby was to come. We were eleven days over the due date and I was feeling very pregnant! I wasn’t sure what contractions were, but I’d been having what I called “hardening” all week. What every book calls “practice labor” or “braxton hicks”. Well, the same feeling of hardening started regularly around 10:30 p.m. that night.
Labor started Tuesday night around 10:30 p.m.
My belly started hardening regularly and taking my breath away. We started tracking them and realized they were steadily about one minute long and five minutes apart. I was anxious to call the midwife after 30 minutes of this, but didn’t want to bother her since it was so late. I also wanted to make sure it was the real thing since I knew first time labors can be long. After tracking my contractions for a little over an hour, we called our midwife Vickey and her assistant Sarah from Labor of Love in Tyler, Texas) and she was on her way. Bless her heart, Vicky had to drive about 70 miles through a heavy rain storm in the middle of the night!! But, she never thought twice about it and just laughingly mentioned that’s when babies like to come – at night and in bad weather!
Midwifes arrived at 1:00 a.m.
Vicky arrived around 1:00 a.m. with her assistant, Sarah, not far behind. As she set up her equipment and got things ready, I continued to labor. I walked all around the house, using anything that was strong to hold on to during a contraction, the kitchen counter, guest bed, computer desk, etc. Soon after her arrival she checked me and to our surprise I was five centimeters dilated and 90% effaced (I had to get to 10 centimeters and the cervix effaced or thinned out to 100% before pushing). I was so worried we’d called Vicky too early, but this news confirmed that we’d called her just in time to help me through the toughest part to come.
Labor was much different than I thought it would be.
I learned my “style of labor” early and in so many words told everyone…No talking, no lights, and no smells.
I actually asked Andrew if he would take off his deodorant because of the fragrance and empty the kitchen trash, neither of which I would normally have noticed at any other time. We got out flashlights and turned out lights. Our midwife’s working table was lit by a little lantern with one of Andrew’s dark shirts over it to dim the light. I had planned for Andrew to be my primary coach or my “Doula” during my delivery, but once labor started, I wanted none of it. All I wanted was him to be near me; never to leave the room, but no talking or touch.
Natural labor is really very amazing – the greatest thing is you get breaks!
You’ll get a contraction that takes everything you have to stay relaxed while you’re in some of the most intense pain of your life. But, after every contraction, you get a break and those breaks are really important. Contractions are consistent and strong but there is a break between every one. During the breaks (from the first centimeters to probably about seven centimeters dilated), I could have a normal conversation and even smile. But as labor progressed, when the contraction came, all I wanted was silence. I would mentally retreated to a place I’ve never been before and concentrate on just getting through that contraction relaxed and breathing.
When I was about half way through labor, Vicky (Midwife) said I needed to get a bite to eat to keep my strength up.
Andrew made me my requested snack which was a glass of milk and a piece of homemade sourdough bread with peanut butter, honey and banana’s on top! I tell you, I felt so much better and had much more strength after a snack! It gave me the extra boost I needed for the most difficult part to come.
The midwives started me a warm bath soon after they got there, which was heavenly! Praise Jesus for warm water!! I used the tub in our master bedroom and it worked fabulously. I would never buy a house without a tub after using it for labor. I worked through a few centimeters in the tub and then got out to labor standing up, leaning on the foot board of the bed. I was so thankful for our high bed; it was the perfect height to lean on while working through the contractions. After the tub and laboring at the side of my bed, I needed a break and crawled in bed to work through the coming contractions there.
The importance of a midwife
This was the point I NEEDED the experience and counsel of my midwife. She taught me to relax and work through the contractions. Riding the pain up and then coming down from the pain like a wave. The most important thing she taught me was how to relax even though the pain was more excruciating than any I’d experienced in my life; she taught me to breath through it. The pain was bringing my baby down. There was a purpose to the pain. Screaming and tightening up from the pain would stall labor and wouldn’t stop the pain; I couldn’t run away from it.
It was at this point that I knew I needed the midwife. Once I got to this point, they never left my side. They held my hand, touched me in just the right way and spoke just the right words softly and gently to get me through each contraction. I could never explain to you how important it was for me to have an experienced woman with me during birth. There is something about having someone who has been through it, who understands your pain, who is wise, calm and patient with you; that is worth more than all the money in the world, just to have them help you through the hardest work you’ll ever do in your life.
Labor was all consuming.
I lost track time and everything around me. All I wanted was Andrew within reach and Vicky by my side. I actually started to take naps between contractions! I read about woman doing this, but never thought I’d be one of them! After working through several contractions in bed I moved to the tub again. I never remember going through what people call “transition”. I think the warm water helped me work through that part with out realizing it. By the time I got out of the water I was 9 and 1/2 centimeters dilated and really tired. I was completely effaced, the baby was really low and my water bag was bulging. Vicky decided to try counter pressure during a contraction to break the water, but it didn’t break, so she decided to break it with a little device. Breaking the water didn’t hurt and brought forth a gush of warm water. I immediately moved to 10 centimeters, fully dilated. It was at this point that contractions slowed and I was able to catch my breath. I defiantly had a moment to compose myself for the most painful and difficult part in my labor – pushing.
That’s when the real pain started – at pushing – Holy smokes!
For me, transition was cake compared to pushing; contractions were nothing compared to pushing. It was at this point I wanted to retreat. Please roll me into the ER and someone get this baby out! I didn’t want to do it anymore, I couldn’t take the pain. If pain medication was offered to me I admit I would have taken it. That is why I’m so glad I wasn’t in the hospital. I would have given in.
I have NEVER and will probably never be in that kind of pain again in my life (unless I somehow forget how painful this birth was and have another baby!) It was at this point I had a “come to Jesus”. In my heart of hearts I felt like if I pushed I was going to die. It was that difficult. I turned to God and asked him for help. I couldn’t do it. In my mind I had to choose to die to get this baby out. In and of myself, I couldn’t do it. Vicky coached me how to push, but I didn’t want to. I have never fought something so much in my life. I didn’t want to go forward. I didn’t want to push. I never thought it would come to this. When I finally accepted the reality that I couldn’t do it, but that God was going to help me through it, I finally set my mind to push during the contractions. I admit, I screamed. Andrew said he thought the neighbors a mile down the road could hear me. I’ve never gritted my teeth so hard and focused so much in my life.
Nothing else mattered but getting through one moment to the next.
Each push brought the baby down, but after it came down it goes back up a bit. It’s natures way of gently opening for the babies entrance to the world. Each push seems like it’s the one that get’s the baby out, but there’s more than one push, I had to keep pushing!
I had these grand ideas of Andrew catching the baby, but when Vicky asked if he wanted to catch the baby, I abandoned all ideas of a catch.
Forget pictures and formalities, I just wanted to get this over with.
Vicky stayed at my feet and helped me through the strongest pain I’ve ever experienced in my life. She had just the right touch. She had this miraculous way of putting counter pressure on my pelvis during contractions that made it bearable. Then in between pushing contractions her assistant, Sarah, had a warm compress (from water heated in a crockpot steeped with healing herbs and salts) and massaged the baby’s passageway with olive oil. These were life saving aids!
After about 30 minutes of pushing Isabella was born at 8:55 A.M. – Ten hours after labor started
Vicky immediately put the baby on my stomach and Sarah put a towel over her. I’ve never been so shocked in my life! Our baby came out a bit blueish purple and started crying right away and turned a bright pinkish red! Andrew asked the midwives what the gender was, but they said they don’t look, that’s was for us to discover. Andrew reached over and we took a peak, it was a baby girl! We named her Isabella Cristina. Our babies gender was a big surprise since we had opted out of all ultrasounds during my pregnancy.
Unfortunately, that wasn’t the end of the story and there were a few hurdles yet to clear.
First, I had to deliver the placenta. I’m not sure why people say it’s not painful – for me it was; I’m not going to sugar coat it. After the baby is born, you want to be done with the pain and then you get to push out the placenta. Mine didn’t come out right way, so the midwifes encouraged me to bring the baby to breast feed right away. But, she wasn’t having any part of it. She had quite a bit of liquid in her system and was gurgling a lot. She didn’t seem to be born hungry like most stories I’d heard about. So, Vicky pushed lightly on my belly to see what my uterus was doing and then asked me if I was still contracting? I was, but very lightly. She told me I needed to push. I said, “Again!” After two contractions and some pushing (like doing kegals), the placenta was out. It was amazing! Thank goodness it came out and all in one piece.
After that, Andrew, the baby and I got to snuggle for a few minutes and then I had to get up. Yes, no one tells you about the pain after the birth; it doesn’t seem to end. Getting up was intense and I had to get up pretty soon after delivering the placenta. Thankfully Sarah had another fresh warm, wonderful bath ready with healing herbs and salts in the tub. It felt so good to be in the water with my baby. After we got our initial bonding and bath together, Isabella had her new born exam. She had her little heart checked, blood pressure, eyes, refluxes, head and body measured, and then she was weighed.
She came out to 8 pounds 4 ounces and 20 inches long.
The following weeks have been a time of recovery and joy as we are getting to know our precious little daughter, who has brightened our lives with her cute smile and little baby sounds, along with many restless nights, frequent feedings and diaper changes. Birth was certainly a very painful, intense and humbling experience but an extremely incredible, miraculous and wonderful experience at the same time. It is hard work, but it is worth it! I am so grateful for the knowledge and the God-given peace of mind to attempt a home birth so that our baby could have a most natural transition to life outside the womb, the way God designed it and without any unnecessary or potentially harmful interventions that seem to be too common these days.
I couldn’t have made it through with out the support of my wonderful husband, Andrew, and my two Angels sent from God to help me thorough my labor, Vicky and Sarah.
I will never forget their crucial role in guiding me through labor and helping bring our little doll, Isabella Cristina Harris, into this world.
Wednesday morning June 22, 2011 at 8:55 a.m. we were blessed with a new life.
We praise God for this indescribable gift!
Fear is overcome by truth. Truth comes from God. Praise Jesus, he put a head on my shoulders and gave me an a desire for learning. I never would have considered home birth with a Midwife if I hadn’t read and read and read some more!
24 Hours old – Our Little Family
Getting the weight of our little girl
We took a little nap, tired from a sleepless night! And Andrew went out to milk our family cow… who was very full and 3 hours past her milk time!
Weighing our little girl at her 2 day check up
One of our fabulous Midwife’s, Sarah at Labor of Love. The two day check up.
Our little newborn joins in on the family chores. The Ergo Baby Carrier is by far my favorite carrier! We use it alllll the time.
Here are some of my favorite books and a DVD we used to get ready for our home birth:
The Business of Being Born DVD Producer Ricki Lake, Director Abby Epstein (FAVORITE)
Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth by Ina May Gaskin
Spiritual Midwifery by Ina May Gaskin (FAVORITE)
Birth Matters: A Midwife’s Manifesta by Ina May Gaskin
Baby Catcher: Chronicles of a Modern Midwifeby Peggy Vincent
I’d love to hear from you. What was your experience. Comment below!
If you have a birth story you’d like to share, please email me at thepromiselandfarm[at]gmail.com