I have started writing this post many times, and many times have erased the thoughts I have splattered on the screen. I guess it’s difficult to sit down and write out your birth story…to pick the parts that matter and leave some of the details that don’t matter. So, I will attempt it once again and use the photos as my guide to sharing one of the best days of my life with you.
I started having contractions around my due date that were incredibly irregular. I felt so ready to meet my little boy and not be swollen and pregnant anymore. The contractions continued for a few days until one afternoon 3 days after my due date.
I called my midwife, Sonya, to let her know what was going on, and she said just to keep an eye on things and see if/how things progressed. It was about 4:30 in the afternoon at that stage, and the rest of the night I paid close attention to every twang. After a few hours, things were getting a little stronger but still irregular. I moaned through each contraction to keep myself calm and relaxed (and laughed a little when hubby said from the other room “What are you doing?”). We kept calling Sonya to update her and see if this was really it. I remember doubting that it was, because the contractions were so irregular, but at 10 pm that night, there was blood in my underwear (something Sonya told us to watch for). We gathered our things and slowly made our way to Sonya’s house where I would have the home water birth I wanted.
The car ride wasn’t as bad as I thought. Neither were the contractions. They were definitely manageable, even as they continued to gain strength.
When we arrived at Sonya’s house, I walked in the room I was to birth in and immediately knew this was going to be the birth I wanted. The room was dark with candles lit everywhere and twinkle lights. Everyone was calm, yet I could feel the excitement in the air.
My student midwife, Stephanie, checking baby’s heartbeat in the middle of a contraction.
Hubby reminding me not to tense my shoulders during a contraction (something I asked him to do).
After a few hours, I knew I must be approaching transition, because I was beyond ready to get in the birthing pool and I started to feel the urge to push. Sonya said that was great but to hold off until my body pushed on its own.
Let me take a quick intermission and tell you that I was determined not to be two things throughout my labor: A screaming angry woman and a woman begging for an epidural. I knew I could do this, and I knew I could stay sane in the midst of it.
Anyway, I put off asking to get in the pool as long as I could stand it and finally asked. It was a massive pool, and Jorga (the midwife’s daughter and a dear friend to me) and Stephanie (the student midwife) had been boiling water to fill it with for the whole time we’d been there. Sonya gave me the go ahead as soon as they had it filled, which was only a little while later.
Getting into the pool felt amazing.
Me and hubby during a contraction. This was pretty much the setup for the rest of the birth.
In between contractions
Soon after entering the water, my body started pushing. Now, before this moment, I thought pushing would involve a voluntary bearing down that I would enjoy knowing it meant progress. Boy, was I wrong. For me, pushing was a completely involuntary thing that my body did, and I just had to ride the wave.
A short break between contractions. Sonya checking baby’s heartbeat.
My contractions never did get regular, so I would have 3 or 4 big pushing contractions and then a longer break, 3 or 4 more and so on.
In between pushing contractions.
I could feel the baby coming down, and I knew the time would come soon. That didn’t stop me from thinking, “How much longer?” Many women speak of birth being like a mountain you climb, and pushing was the part of this journey where I could see the top but everything ached and all I wanted to do was let go.
At one stage, I heard Sonya calmly say to Pamela (the 2nd midwife) that I might need to get out of the pool because I was bleeding. I could only see a slight bit of bleeding, and Sonya was calm, so I wasn’t worried. I knew somehow that I wouldn’t need to move. Looking back now, I know that things could’ve become serious very fast. The bleed was fairly massive, but it ended up being a tear and not a hemmorhage. (I will spare you the photos of the bleed). We found out later that Cody had his hand on his cheek and at the last minute brought it down which caused the tearing.
I don’t know how much longer it was after that, but it felt like an eternity. I was sweating, exhausted, shaking from weakness, and irritable (but only in my head). I was ready to meet my son and have the stage called “pushing” over with.
And then, suddenly, Sonya said, “Samantha, reach down and pick up your baby.” I looked down into the water and saw my sweet boy floating peacefully. I will never forget that moment.
I used to think that love at first sight was a fluke…but after seeing my son for the first time and falling head over heels, I know it is a truth that every parent has experienced.
I looked over at my husband after Cody was out of the water and saw the look of love and emotion on his face. We both cried tears of joy and knew our lives would never be the same.
(Sorry I don’t have photos from this part. Someone took photos, but they got lost in the shuffle…so so sad about that).