I probably started having some contractions sometime during the afternoon, but I might have had a few the night before. By 4pm I was sending text messages to my friend Deborah, trying to figure out if they were real contractions or Braxton Hicks. I didn’t want to time anything, because I felt like I might get paranoid if I was actually in labor. So it was Friday the 19th of February, which was technically my due date. My midwife had given me some extra time with her special equation using my actual cycle instead of the predetermined pregnancy wheel so her date was February 26th. I told everyone that my due date was March 1st, because I knew I would have a baby by then, and I didn’t want this pregnancy to revolve around a magical, worshiped date.
I was in denial that I was having contractions, and found the entire situation to be rather funny. I say funny, because I think I knew that I was having contractions, and there were several things that kick started the entire process (acupuncture treatment the day before, cleaning my living room floor on my hands and knees after a child puked, and the snow storm) so I shouldn’t have been surprised. I gave Husband a heads up, after Deborah predicted I would be holding my baby within 72 hours. I thought he should start getting prepared for the blessed event. We went through our normal evening routine, but had a few things to get done around the house and Husband had some errands to run. I called Teresa, my acting doula, to tell her about the contractions and some bloody show, but I told her I was getting some loose ends tied up around the house and I wanted everyone to be able to get to bed and sleep as much as possible before things got serious.
When we went to bed that night, Husband clocked the contractions about 10 minutes apart and lasting about 1 minute when I was lying down. I was very restless through the night, because I would wake up with each contraction, trying to breathe through each one. At about 2:30am, I got up to move around to see if the contractions would become greater when standing, and they were closer to 5 minutes apart. I lit candles throughout the house and in our bedroom, hoping to calm my nerves and grow to accept the fact that I was truly in labor. Husband kept cycling through the instrumental soundtracks on the iPod, and he was snoring away except for my demands to dJ through the night. At times I would feel nausea, but my body was going through the bowel purge that has happened with my previous babies. I would get my “nervous stomach” as well when I would glimpse the reality that I was actually in labor, but quickly calmed myself since everything was planned in our home and we weren’t going to be heading to the hospital. The labor progress was surreal but nice.
With Husband enjoying the sleep so soundly (interpret snoring) about 4ish, I decided to take a shower to see if water would help me through the hard contractions that were still 5 minutes apart. I had notified my midwife on Friday evening that I was having contractions, and she was glad to have the update, but at another birth. We had ordered a heated birth tub, but we were waiting for some other moms to give birth. The birth tub guy had called me Friday night with the good news that a tub had become available and he could come and set it up Saturday morning. I again started laughing as I told him that I might have a baby by that time, so to make sure and call before he came to the house. We had another inflatable birth tub at our disposal, but I thought the shower would still make me independent of Husband for another hour or longer and I really don’t like sitting in a bath tub anyway.
After the shower, I moved to the living room to try and distract my mind with music and knitting, but when I was sitting or standing the contractions got closer together and I was annoyed by the discomfort each contraction would bring. By 6am I was so tired I went to rest in our spare bed. I had no contractions when I would lie down with my last baby, and I kept hoping that maybe they would just go away so that I could rest. Contractions went back to 10 minutes apart. I challenged myself to pray while awake, and only breathe through the contractions instead of groaning and wincing…thinking I was getting too worked up about potentially being in labor.
Husband found me in bed at 6:30, and as he snuggled in behind me to rub my back during a contraction POP my water broke. He immediately jumped into action and wanted to call the doula and midwife, but I said we should wait until contractions became closer because I was still unsure how things would progress (this is the point I stalled out with my last baby at the hospital and I was required to have Pitocin. I was fearful of calling people to the home if I would stall out). I moved to the bathroom, and resumed my text messages with Deborah. She was awake and started to coach with little texts and comforted me with prayer from IL. Within one contraction they jumped to 2:30 apart, and Husband called the doula. The next contraction was 2 minutes apart and everything started moving very quickly.
I remembered the post from Emily and that she had been singing, and I had watched the youtube video of the woman in labor, softly singing Psalm 23. I began to sing two different praise songs back to back through contractions and in between. The first was Psalm 5…
Give ear to my words, O Lord, consider my meditation. Hearken unto the voice of my cry, my King and my God, For unto Thee will I pray, My voice shalt Thou hear in the morning, O Lordin the morning, will I direct my prayer unto Thee, and will look up.
The other song was “You Are My Hiding Place”
You always fill my heart with songs of deliverance, whenever I am afraid I will trust in You…Let the weak say I am strong in the strength of the Lord…”
I was able to re-program myself from saying, “No, no, ouch!” to “Yes, yes, this is good, thank you Lord! Please be quick, please be safe. Thank you for your protection and mercy. You have designed me well Father, and my body will do what You have made it to do.”
At 7:06 Deborah said “Relax, breathe deeply, focus. Fully submit to each contraction which is bringing your baby out. No fear! It’s happening for you! You’re saying ‘yes!'” Husband was the switchboard operator taking over the communication and he called Deborah again to talk to her to tell her that the contractions jumped to another energy level at 1:30 min apart. I continued to sing and sway while leaning on the sink. I noticed black specs dropping into the sink and then realized that the wick on my candle was too long. I called to Husband for a scissors to trim the wick, but then realized my insanity and I just blew it out. Deborah was walking him through getting towels put in the dryer to have warm towels when baby would arrive.
I thought to move from our main bathroom, into our master bathroom. Everyone had been called and they were on their way, but my thinking brain took over for a moment and I thought I should be closer to our bed in case it would be suggested that I get into bed to push. Husband and I moved between contractions, and when I got into our bathroom, I realized it was too cold and the lighting was too bright. I said we have to move back, and Husband said, OK let’s go. I said, WAIT! Here comes another one! I can feel pressure! I need to push! Husband got back on the phone with Deborah (I believe) because she suggested that we get a pillow and lean over the tub. This was helpful since I was a great idea since I had the feeling like I might puke (ta da! transition!) and this not knowing how far along I had dilated or how long I had been in labor, or knowing what time it was just allowed me to continue to ride the contractions and welcome each one as progress. Deborah told Husband to get my vocals under control! I was escalating with “ahhhAHHHH” and she told me to say “ooooohhhhh” in lower tones.
I was alone again in the bathroom, and felt as though this baby would come before anyone arrived, so I needed to just see if I could touch what I was feeling. I checked myself, and I could feel a head, and I might have panicked for a brief moment, but I called to Husband that the baby was coming, and I felt her decent during that next contraction. I continued to pray and try to relax my muscles, and I had an immediate need for water. I took several long gulps of water, and then Jake left the bathroom to let in the midwife. I yelled for all of them to come immediately as the contraction built again, and the baby was there! I briefly heard a bag rip open and then gloves going on hands. The second midwife came in and I felt that fetal ejection reflex that Emily had experienced and that I had been reading about…and Cosette only touched my back gently, and very quietly said, “Guide the baby out gently” and without even one of those “traditional pushes” she said to Kari “Head is out.”
I became extremely shocked at this point and kept saying, “You are kidding me! The head is out?!! What? That can’t be possible!!” I asked Cosette what I was supposed to do next as I thought she might want me to be in a different position or do something with my body, or start to push…she said “You will just wait for another contraction and….” I interrupted her and said “I have another one right NOW!” I had a brief moment when I tensed and I felt my muscles clench and the baby start to retract, but as I could feel what was happening, I relaxed again and the contraction, literally, just slid the baby right out. The next moment she was put on the towels on the floor between my legs, and I could barely stop shaking with so much excitement. I was in complete shock and elation that this baby had come so quickly, so peacefully with NO INTERVENTIONS! and was quietly starting to take her first breathes while still allowed to be attached to me through the cord.
I was a bit dramatic, but overcome with emotions. I covered my mouth and realized I could be startling this beautiful baby before me. I then realized that even though I was shaking, I should pick the baby up, but to look first to see what we had. She was a girl, and I just grabbed her fresh body and pulled her into my chest and started to cry. She was so perfect and I pulled her right into my neck as her body relaxed on my chest. The warm towels arrived in Husband’s arms as he poked his head into our very crowded bathroom. My doula arrived after the birth, and she poked her head in as well with tears in her eyes saying, “You did it!!”
At our follow up appointment, Cosette explained how I was doing things with my body and riding each contraction during the brief moment she saw. I can’t remember thinking to do anything, but I wasn’t commanded or forced to be in any position. I just did whatever made things easier on my body, and the baby was telling me through the movement I felt from her coming down. I was so excited to hear that Cosette did not manipulate her head or body at all, because once baby’s head came out, her shoulders rotated and her head followed that rotation. Cosette said that her role was to have her hands cupped behind baby’s head and merely catch her as the shoulders and body slid out. Cosette’s mantra of “how truly safe birth is when we don’t muck it up with intervention EVEN in the home setting” was truly carried out in my home with my birth.
Elisa means “God is my oath” and I truly believe that the free expression of prayer, communion, and worship with my God during labor was the absolute key to this beautiful and perfect birth. God granted me every desire of my heart to be healed through the trauma of Fiona’s birth, to be healed of the septic blood infection at week 35, to be allowed to birth in my home with no intervention and to have a perfectly healthy baby, all the glory is to Him! As a true Father, He wants the best outcome for His children, and this story is only possible through every detail that He orchestrated.
Since February 20th is my sister’s birthday, we were getting some strong suggestions to name the baby girl Elisabeth, using Sarah’s middle name. The strongest point she made was that Elisabeth would be a very strong name, following the Biblical King James spelling of Elisabeth the mother of John the Baptist and nodding my head to Elizabeth Bennet of Pride and Prejudice. Although compelling, Husband and I didn’t feel that Elisabeth was the appropriate name. We went through our own short list, and then I told Husband to stare at the family tree. Eliza is a grandmother on Husband’s mother’s father’s mother’s side-that would be 5 generations from our daughter. Rose is also a family name coming from my father’s mother’s father’s mother. We had the name… but we changed the spelling to reflect the connection that Auntie Doodie will have with her niece being her birthday sister.