About nine months ago, I got an unexpected call from one of my best friends, Tara, telling me she was pregnant!! Tara and her husband live in Canada, so it's not super easy keeping in touch, but through email and phone conversations here and there, we were able to discuss her pregnancy and what she wanted for her birth. It was such a joy to be able to share my birth story with her, encouraging her to be confident in her Creator and in her body, and not to be fearful! It was also a huge blessing to get to spend some time with her when they came home to visit over the summer. Tara chose to go with a group of midwives (who happen to be abundant up in Canada!), and to deliver in a hospital. She also hired a wonderful doula :)
Here's her story...
"Tuesday, September 27th Clinton and I woke up to a beautiful sunny day at around 7 a.m. I had gotten up around 4:30 in the morning, felt a bit of discomfort in my tummy, but was able to go back to sleep for a bit. Clinton got ready for work and I told him that I would give him a call if things felt different or more intense. So he left and I jumped in the bathtub. I called my good friend Kimo, who is a doula in Illinois, and asked her if what I was feeling might be signs of early labor. She thought that they were and I before I hung up the phone I told her that if I didn’t call her at 1:00 for our scheduled chat she would know why! :o) I then called my doula, Vivian, who we hired in Calgary. She agreed that I was showing signs of early labor and told me to call her whenever I was ready to meet her at the hospital. I called up Clinton and asked him if he would come home, he had only been at school for a half hour. He got home around 9:00 and by this time I was feeling the waves of contractions. Before he got home I had also called my mom and my sister-in-law, Michelle, to tell them that I was in labor and to be praying!
I tried to keep myself busy, cutting my nails and shaving my legs, but as we started timing my contractions we found them to be coming almost every three minutes and lasting 30-40 seconds. Clinton paged our midwife team and Nadine told him that those were pretty close together, and she wanted them to last about a minute to know that active labor was in effect. She was making a house call but would be coming over right after. She showed up somewhere around 11:30 and checked me out only to find that I was already 8 cm dilated. :o) So… a decision had to be made whether we were going to go to the hospital or stay home. Nadine told me that everything was going fine, she had listened to the baby’s heartbeat and said we could stay at home if I wished or go to the hospital, whichever I preferred, it was my choice. I had my hospital bag packed (3 weeks earlier) and had written in my birth plan that that was where I would deliver. I started getting dressed and Clinton told Vivian (doula) to head to the hospital to meet us there. There were no rooms at the Foothills hospital (only 10 minutes away) so we would be going to Rocky View (about a 40 minute drive). I sat at the top of the stairs having another strong contraction and I thought- I don’t know if I can do this in the car. Thinking that I was already 8 cm, who knows how long the rest of my labor would be and why would I want to spend an uncomfortable 40 minutes in the car going through active labor. So I decided to stay home. I had an emergency stash of supplies- garbage bags, old towels, wash cloths- ready to go just in case. I was also comfortable about the idea of a homebirth, not worried about complications because I knew the midwives were skilled enough to let me know if there was any reason for concern and we would need to go to the hospital. The only thing that worried me was the potential mess, which didn’t really happen due to my prepared supplies and all of the things the midwives carry in their car in the event that we do a home birth.
Clinton helped me work through some more intense contractions and also put a focal point in front of me on the bathroom sink; it was the Willow statue I gave him when I told him I was pregnant (a dad holding a little baby and the mom kneeling beside them). As I sat on the toilet (my birthing stool) :o) I kept my gaze on the little baby, that looked like a little peanut, and inside kept telling myself that each contraction was getting me closer to meeting my little one! Vivian arrived around 12:30 and joined right in. She massaged my neck and her and Clinton took turns refilling my water and putting cool cloths on my neck and forehead. Her gentle nature was soothing and her encouraging words continued to help me relax and focus on my goal. After a while I moved to the bathtub…not to have a water birth, just to ease some of the pain. :o) Clinton became my birth stool and sat in his bathing suit on the edge of the bathtub while I propped myself up on his legs and went through a few more heavier contractions. Nadine stayed out of the way, getting things set up for the delivery and continuously checking the baby’s heart rate to make sure things were good. But she also gave me encouraging words through my contractions, telling me I was doing a good job and telling Peanut to come out soon because mommy wants to meet you! The only times Clinton left my side was to go to the bathroom and grab a small snack. While he was eating a fruit bar and the wrapper was crinkling I asked him, in my most polite “contraction” voice…do you think you could eat that later. Ha ha… the funny thing is that when Vivian was going through the snacks I packed I asked her if she could pass me the Swedish berries, which she eagerly handed over! In between contractions I was munching on Swedish berries, my favorite candy- BIG SURPRISE, eh? :o) While in the tub, the other midwife, Claire, arrived and the first thing she said to me was “you’re going to have your baby in the sunshine!” as the light was coming in through the bathroom window. It really was a gorgeous day!
[So peaceful, just before pushing]
Nadine asked me if I wanted to move to the bed and since I’ve never pushed before she would coach me through that. Claire came in as a support and gave me position advice and also made me laugh when the Doppler gel splashed in her eye. She also warmed up some wash clothes with lavendar and put them on my feet…the aromatherapy was refreshing and calming! In the background the IPOD was playing Celtic Women which was soothing Irish music that Claire said was a nice way to welcome my baby. As I laid in bed, Clinton and Vivian held my hands and pushed on a pressure point on my shoulders in between my pushing to speed up contractions. Nadine guided me on how and when to push and breath. Everyone had such encouraging comments... Clinton- "I love you, I'm proud of you" and “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me!” – he repeated that to me in English and in Spanish several times throughout the whole labor. Vivian – “you’re doing great, nice rhythm in your breathing!” Nadine – “good job, love!" Claire – “that’s good, take your rest, keep breathing.” I kept thinking to myself, this is painful, but I am handling it. It is not at all what I thought it would feel like, it’s not THAT bad! Crazy, I know…but God truly was giving me the strength and the peace to just allow my body to do what He created it to do. After a little while of pushing Nadine had me reach down and feel the head….so amazing!!! At this point I knew I was going to meet my baby very, very soon! Vivian took a video of Clinton and me saying one last thing before we were going to meet baby Peanut. Then after another good push the head was out…you could see the full head of dark hair and in my next push the rest was out. I pushed for a total of 40 minutes, some in the bathtub and the rest in bed. They placed the baby right on my chest face down and Clinton and I rejoiced in the new arrival of our child! Clinton said “I’d like to call you by name but I don’t know what you are.” So I lifted Peanut up to inspect and said “It’s a girl, her name’s Felicity!” Then just to make sure I asked “It’s a girl, right?” and Nadine and Clinton moved the umbilical cord out of the way and confirmed it… ha ha! :o)
The next few moments were the most special in the world! Clinton was crying, I was too overjoyed to cry (I didn’t cry at all during my labor)! We listened to the new screams of Felicity Catherine and we laughed together at the sight of our beautiful baby girl! She wasn’t all cleaned up yet, but she was so perfect and warm as she laid on my chest and in not too much time was already looking to nurse. :o) Claire helped me out with the football hold and some breastfeeding tips.
I asked Nadine if there was any tearing and she said that looking carefully at things, she would feel more comfortable if we went to the hospital for suturing there. To keep this part short, I had a third degree tear. There’s no specific reason that can determine why I tore the way I did. The doctor that did my stiches said it happens to 1 in 1000. She was the best OB at that hospital, according to Nadine, and she did things quickly and very well. I was happy that Nadine was honest and wise enough to tell me that we needed to go and get things done at the hospital since it was such a rare and bad tear. It was definitely not expected to do things so backwards- have a home birth, then have to go to the hospital, but it actually made me feel SO grateful for the fact that I had Felicity at home. I was so relaxed and that’s why everything went so quickly. I was comfortable in my bathroom, my bathtub, my bed. I had a great team supporting me. The sunshine, music, focal point, and snacks were all helpful tools to aid in a relaxing and rewarding delivery! The trip to the hospital was the worst part of the day, but the fact that the three of us got to sleep in our bed (a birthing bed :o) our first night as a family was so awesome. I'm still amazed at how great Felicity’s birth was! Praise God!!!"
[Tara and her birth team (minus Clinton): her doula, two midwives, and of course baby Felicity]
What a story!!
As I heard bits and pieces of the story from them, I was so suprised and amazed at how her birth unfolded! For instance, how FAST it all happened!! I swear I couldn't even tell she was in labor (by her voice) when she called me at 9 in the morning, and she was 8CM by 11:30? WHAT!!? I had talked to her during the weeks leading up to her birth, and she was just so at peace about her impending labor. Totally calm and confident, with not a trace of fear or worry in her. And I'm sure that her heart's demeanor contributed to her speedy labor.
She e-mailed me later in the morning letting me know that her midwife was on her way over "just to check on me." What a dream! Your midwife coming to your house just to see how you're doing? So cool.
And obviously, the biggest shocker of all, that she made the decision, while she was in labor, to have this baby at home!! What an absolute privilege to have that kind of flexibility with her midwives. She actually called me about a week before her due date asking me what I thought about homebirth, saying that she and Clinton were considering it, but would probably stick with the hospital. The fact that she had the ability to make that kind of a decision so close to the end of her pregnancy (let alone in the middle of labor!) astounded me.
Just hearing about how encouraging everyone was to her, how each member of her birth team had just the right words at just the right time, was so incredible. I truly believe that everything that was orchestrated together for her birth contributed to her smooth, fast, labor, and her ability to cope with it so well. I could not be more happy for Tara and the beautiful, peaceful birth she was blessed with.
And as for our next birth, someone box me up and ship me to Canada ;)