And even though I was proud of all my labors and all my births, this time, I wanted it to be different. Supernatural.
I wasn’t working when I was pregnant with Judah. He’s my only baby where this was the case. I knew that I wanted to use the birth center this time around. Naomi’s birth was the closest thing to really natural birth that I had experienced, but I knew that it could be even better.
Plus at this point I had read so many birth stories and wanted to experience a water birth.
I prayed a lot more during this pregnancy than any other. I read “Supernatural Childbirth.” And while I’m not opposed to people wanting a pain-free childbirth, my faith isn’t in a place where no pain seems realistic. There is something to be said for childbirth pain and laboring for your child. It makes the experience like nothing else in your life. It’s worth everything you go through. And if it was painless, I’m convinced it wouldn’t be the same. But that’s my humble opinion.
Birth pain isn’t something to fear. And so I didn’t pray for a pain-free birth, but a supernatural birth experience. To me that meant something that was beyond peaceful. Where I felt God’s presence in a real way. So I prayed for very specific things for his birth.
And honestly, that’s what happened for me. Birthing Judah, was in all ways, perfect.
Like Naomi’s birth, I had a lot of pre-labor pains for several days before he was born. His original due date was Micah’s birthday and I really wanted their birthdays to not be on the same day. Just so they could have their own special day.
The morning where real labor kicked in, we had gone across the street to pick up the kids’ report cards from school (we were not homeschooling at the time). I remember calling my mom and telling her that I was contracting but it felt like it had over the last few days. When we got back, I realized how dirty the car was and I really wanted to bring home our baby in a clean car. So my 40+week pregnant self climbed in and out of the van and vigorously cleaned! It was a great way to spend early labor. As the day went on, I was still having minor contractions and didn’t think too much of it, but in the back of my mind, I was wondering if it was real.
Around 3, I called Jason and told him to come home from work early because I was pretty sure labor was picking up. I called the midwife and told her that I would most likely be coming in but I’d let her know for sure if I did. I ignored the kids for a bit and just sat on the birthing ball and dug my pelvis in there for some pain management.
I called my mom and told her to come over. I was in the living room bouncing on the birthing ball when she got there and I was really glad she had come so quickly. I love my littles but I needed to focus on labor. Jason came home and we left around 4:30. The birth center was an hour away and I was a little nervous, not knowing how fast labor would progress.
It was a beautiful drive over, but I spent most of it breathing out the window and I think the fresh air helped. It was really hard to get comfortable in the car. The contractions were really strong and there wasn’t much of a break in between. When we got to the birth center, the midwife checked me right away and I was 7 cm. All the praise hands!
I told her it wouldn’t be long so to please fill the tub. I’m pretty sure she didn’t believe me because she laughed and said it could be awhile. But I knew based on my other births that once I hit 7cm, it’s not long. Thankfully. So the midwife filled up the tub and by the time I got in, I was ready to push.
It took a few minutes to adjust to the water. It felt strange at first since I hadn’t even had time to labor in the tub. I was pretty unsocial by that point and was just focusing on the contractions. They laid a cool cloth on my head and had a small fan running on my face which was an amazing sensation against the warm water and really helped calm my breathing.
I tried laying length-wise and gripping the handrails they had on the side of the tub. The midwife sat on the edge of the tub. But it was hard to get a good grip with my feet. I pushed once in that position but it felt a bit awkward. So I turned sideways and Jason sat behind me. That way I could really brace against the tub when I pushed.
Some people say that the water is a natural epidural. Perhaps it’s like that for labor but I wouldn’t quite say that it takes away the pain because there’s still pain in the water. What was the most amazing thing about pushing in the water, though, is that I felt much more in control. Pushing out of water is just pushing through the pain. In the water, the rest of my body was more relaxed and I felt completely in control pushing (the other reason I knew after giving birth that my body was relaxed is that the only part that was sore was my arms where I was gripping the rails on the tub).
In the water, I knew where he was in my body. I could tell when the head was going to pop out. I gave a push and felt it slowly emerging. And then~oomphlsh~(seriously, I think that was the sound it made), his head popped right out. And I saw that dark head of hair just hanging out in the water. That was all the motivation I needed to give one last push. I was able to control pushing his body out and saw his entire body leaving mine. It was amazing. Indescribable really. Again, my water broke while pushing. I knew because I saw the fluid in the water and such.
I was sort of stunned when he came out. I think they were waiting for me to pick him up and when I didn’t, they scooped him up, instantly dropped him in a towel and thrust him in my arms. I was crying and staring at him. I was the one who checked to see if he was a boy or a girl. That was pretty neat to be the one to say, “it’s a boy.” I nursed him immediately. We just sat there in the tub for a bit. There was no pressure to cut the cord right away or wipe him down or check him. It was just mama and baby, nursing and admiring. It was truly the most natural experience, the way it should be, really.
Side-note: I’m simply recording this detail since it was the only time this every happened. Normally you deliver the placenta in bed and you can look at it if you want but you don’t have to. When I got out of the tub, I just sort of squatted on a towel and gave a little push and out it came. And then it sat on the towel for awhile. Just sort of staring at us in the bed next to it. Until the midwife said, maybe she should do something with it since it was kind of in the way. The placenta, while ugly to behold, is truly a fascinating miracle as it holds everything your baby needs.
It really was a supernatural birth. Perfect in every way. If I were to have more children, I would want to repeat this birth experience the most. He was born less than 30 minutes after we got there so the timing was perfect as well.
While I can’t speak for the practice of all birth centers, Judah’s birth was so peaceful. The lighting was low, there was no constant checking of the heart rate on the machine and having to sit still and be hooked up. The midwife sat on the edge of the tub and just encouraged me with words like, “you’re doing great, mama.” I was allowed to be in control and just do what my body was telling me. She didn’t feel the need to check me to see if I was fully ten centimeters. I could wear what I was comfortable in rather than a birthing gown. And just 3 1/2 hours after he was born, we were headed home.
I highly encourage any woman to check out an alternative birthing center.
Did you ever have a water birth? Please share!