“Don’t measure your energy level against the challenges ahead – the issue is not your strength but mine, which is limitless.” ~Jesus Calling
It never ceased to amaze me how totally different my two pregnancies were so it makes sense that the birth of my babies would also be different. My daughter was a bit early so I think I half expected this baby to be early too. That, coupled with some extreme end-of-pregnancy discomfort, made me more impatient than I care to admit at the end. I had also started feeling some changes happening a couple of weeks before Linken made his journey earth-side. About a week before he came, I had a solid 3 hours of steady contractions in the middle of the night and thought “this is it!” But then around 2 am, someone must have ordered a cease-and-desist because things totally stopped. My honest first thought at that point? “Crap, now I have to go to work…”
10 very long days later, it finally happened…
It was around midnight when I began having surges that were difficult to sleep through. Nothing severe, just uncomfortable enough to prevent me from getting a solid rest. I called my midwife, Tavniah, to give her a heads up. She was about an hour away and our plan was to let her know ASAP since this was baby #2 and things could move faster. I did some pacing, some coloring and some cat napping in the early hours of that morning. I sent a text to my friend and doula, Erica, so she would know when she woke that it was baby day. When my husband, Kevin, got up I told him we needed to change our plans for the day, it was time to have a baby instead. Our daughter, Charlie, was pretty geared up for a farm tour we were planning on attending that day, so Kevin took her out to run some errands and get her out of the house for a bit.
Those couple of hours of being totally alone in my house (not something that happens often!) sticks out in my mind as one of the most peaceful moments I have had in years. The sun was shining, but not too bright, just enough to cast a dusky glow on the spring green in the back yard. The birds were singing and the breeze was blowing these awesome wind chimes I have hanging. I was able to surrender and just lay there breathing, praying, and talking to my baby.
Tavniah had arrived to check on me early afternoon and since things were holding pretty steady, she left to run some errands. We later sent Charlie to her grandmas to nap for the afternoon, as things were gradually starting to get more intense. I had originally hoped to have her there for the delivery and am now glad she was gone. I think it was probably around 3 or 4 pm when I noticed things really picking up, and I had to give more attention to the surges. Erica and Tavniah had both arrived to stay somewhere during this time.
The order and timeframe of things gets fuzzy for me…
What I do know is that things started happening FAST. One of the things I remember with Charlie’s birth was my ability to settle into each different phase and get myself into a rhythm. As the next phase would come, I would adjust and settle in. This time the changes happened too fast and it was all I could do to keep breathing and stay focused on moving things down…Down…Down. It was like a chant in my mind with every exhale.
I spent a lot of time at the foot of my bed, using the edge of the mattress to push into the top of my uterus during the surges. It helped with the pressure. I remember taking a bath. That felt SO nice but was hard to get comfortable. Erica had me try sitting on my Squatty Potty and that was hard for me as it seemed to make things so much more intense and open. I heard myself say this out loud to her and may have then actually laughed out loud as I said it…realizing that this was exactly what I wanted to happen, to be open.
I remember my husband’s strong arms around me holding me up during several intense surges. I remember him resting his hand on my back just letting me know he was there. I remember being back on the Squatty Potty with Erica supporting me for a time. I remember getting SO tired all of the sudden and wanting to sleep. Which is how I ended up in a child’s pose of sorts on my bed for awhile. Apparently baby didn’t want me to rest, because this is where I was when my water broke and things started getting intense in a whole new way. This was around 7:30 p.m.
Feelings I still can’t properly articulate…
“Baby is not liking this position, you have to move,” Tavniah said. She and Erica helped me stand and move to the foot of the bed. The urge to push started creeping in and I can really remember having a hard time mentally making the switch from breath to pushing. I had been SO tired during my first birth at this point that I don’t really remember a lot of the feelings and sensations. I was VERY away of every sensation in my body at this time and everything about this birth was so strong and so intense. It was not frightening so much as it was overwhelming. I think I felt a bit out of control of it all. Erica was amazing at helping me reconnect, talking and touching me to get me to redirect breath, feel the sensations and then actually push. It felt like this went on for hours. I found out after it was around 20 minutes.
The atmosphere in the room changed…
Tavniah suddenly had me changing positions often. Something I did NOT want to do and it took a lot of effort for me. She started checking baby’s heart rate more frequently and at one point I think I heard her say something like “I think we are going to have to go to the hospital, baby’s heart rate is dropping too low.”
I heard “hospital” and thought “oh hell no, I’ll move wherever you want me to!” And move I did. With nearly every contraction I was changing positions, trying to find one baby agreed with. Kevin in the meantime had called 911 and Tavniah kept saying “baby has to come out now, baby has to come now.” She told me that she was sorry, we can’t wait for contractions, that I had to push and push hard. I couldn’t even hear the heartbeat on the Doppler at this point and focused all my strength and energy on pushing. I prayed. I pushed.
“…the issue is not your strength but mine, which is limitless.”
I remember 3 things that had to have happened in 60 seconds or less…I heard sirens, I heard the door, I heard the gloriously loud cries of my baby. I couldn’t even tell you what position I was in when he was born, but I remember looking over at him and thinking “Thank you God!”
I saw the paramedics at the bedroom door and they had a brief conversation with Kevin and Tavniah, then left. We had not found out the sex of the baby, but I had had a feeling. I remember asking around this point “is it a boy?” Erica heard me and took my hand and placed it on his little bum and told me to “feel this.” and I felt the confirmation of my intuition. “I knew it was you, my little Linken.”
I learned later…
…that there was a fantastic lightning storm going on during all of this. Seemed fitting.
I learned I had pushed him out from pretty much the top of the birth canal to totally out of my body in something like 6-8 minutes. I have the broken blood vessels in my eyes to prove it. I am thankful for so many things…my faith, my birth team…but also for squats. Mamas, please do all the squats!
I learned that what had happened was something completely unpredictable. His cord was being compressed somewhere with the pushing, and his heart rate was dropping down into the scary range of 40 bpm. Not being 100% sure what was happening at the time, the paramedics were called so they would then be there to transport if needed. Fortunately he came out hollering and tested 100% on oxygen levels. It was something that if in a hospital situation, he would have likely been suctioned out with a vacuum. I appreciated the ego boost from Tavniah when she said that she didn’t think that would have been any faster than how quickly I pushed him out. Mamas…do all the squats!
Tavniah later asked me if I felt any trauma from the birth and the way things happened. It took me several days to process the events but I knew enough at the time to say no. I truly didn’t. What I felt was empowered, supported, loved and strengthened by my birth team and I am forever grateful.