First I would like to thank my amazing birth team: My husband: Joshua, West Michigan Midwifery/River Birch Midwifery (Jennifer Holshoe, Teresa Cramer, Jenn DeWaard) My friend: Emarie, and my Mom: Caroline. Their love and support through the whole process made me feel safe and free to work through labor in a way that made sense to me.
Early Labor – 6/3/18, 12:00 – 6/4/18, 2:30
Sunday June 3, 12 days before my estimated due date, light contractions started around noon. I tried to ignore them because I thought it could not possibly be the real thing yet. They kept getting stronger and more consistent but I kept working on a shipment I had started that morning. We still went to family dinner like normal and I was walking and talking through them. While at dinner we got texts about a house on fire in our neighborhood. This added to the craziness of the night.
When we got home, we stood outside talking to neighbors about the burned house. (All humans and pets made it out safely) We even walked down to check it out although I was really wanting to get back inside and take a hot shower. I eventually went in and folded some laundry and Josh worked like normal. I texted my friend Emarie who is a doula/midwife’s assistant. She has been following my whole pregnancy with love and support from my first, “could this be a positive test?” I wanted to let her know what was going on incase labor picked up in the night, since she was planning to attend the birth. I also texted my Midwife, Jennifer. She reminded me to stay hydrated, take a bath, and try to sleep. I showered and tried to go to bed around midnight.
Active Labor – 2:30 – 8:45
I couldn’t really sleep too well. I may have gotten a few minutes here or there. Josh kept working until around 2am then went to bed. At about 3:30 I took another shower to try to get comfortable. When that didn’t help I thought It might be time to call the Midwife. I called Jennifer at 3:55am, I still thought It might be too early but I was feeling so uncomfortable and I didn’t want to be alone anymore.
Jennifer said she would get ready and head over. She said we could also start setting up the birth pool. I woke Josh and gave him that job. I was feeling bad that he only got 2 hours of sleep. He went to work on the pool and I frantically tried to get the house in order. I had imagined having so much more done and organized before the birth.
When Jennifer arrived I finished up a few last chores while she and Josh put out birth supplies and finished filling the pool. At this point the timeline gets a little blurry. I think I may have continued to labor in my room and bathroom for about an hour. While I was in there Jen (Student Midwife) and Teresa (CPM) arrived. I was feeling spoiled to have so much support with me. They have such a comforting presence.
I got changed into a sports bra and swim bottoms for the pool. They helped me into the pool, where I stayed for an hour or two as the sun rose. While I was in there Josh texted Emarie and my Mom. They started getting ready to head over. I was getting hot in the pool and wanted to try something else. Emarie and the Midwives helped me out and got the bed ready for me to labor there for a bit. Josh followed me around with water and cold cloths to keep me cool and hydrated. It was crazy how I could think clearly but just could not express anything I needed in words. My team was on top of it though, keeping up with everything they thought I might need.
Transition/Pushing – 8:45 – 9:40
The bed proved to be very uncomfortable, I don’t think I even got through one contraction there. I wanted back in the pool. They helped me back in and I started needing to vocalize through contractions. I threw up then and really thought it would help, but It just made everything more intense. Jennifer checked baby’s heart rate after that and it was too low so I should change positions. This made it come back steady and strong which was a relief, but those seconds in between really had me scared for my baby. I had so many stories in my head of the heart rate dropping and things ending poorly.
I really started to get in my head after that. I was thinking maybe I made a mistake with choosing homebirth, maybe I couldn’t really handle this. It was getting so intense and I knew it had really not been super long. I thought I had hours and hours to go. I thought about having Jennifer check my dilation but I didn’t know if I could handle it if I was only 3 or 4 centimeters. I just kept going with deep breaths, getting through one contraction at a time. This is were Emarie for so helpful in keeping me calm. She kept reminding me to use low tones instead of high pitch. She kept bringing water with a straw between each contraction. She was so calm a reassuring.
At about 8:20 Emarie had to get going because her oldest daughter was having her preschool graduation. Josh let me know he was still right there, with a water bottle and a light back patting. He said my mom was on her way, and I knew all three Midwives were still looking on. I was so thankful to have so many people close.
I started to feel like pushing with the next contraction but held back because I didn’t think it could really be time yet. When It subsided I asked to be checked, though I was still so nervous for the answer. Jennifer said I was complete! She said a could push whenever I was ready. What a huge relief! I was nervous for the next part but glad to be near the end.
With my first push I heard my mom come in. She had bought breakfast for the birth team. I kind of tuned everything out then and started working with each contraction. Jennifer was applying counter pressure while Josh and the other midwives offered water in between. Jennifer kept saying I could push more, or change positions so I knew the pushes were not being effective. I flipped over from hands and knees to more reclined against the pool. I could tell right away that this was a lot more effective. It really started to become more of a mind game here. Trying to push into pain was harder mentally than it was physically.
I have been trying not to use the word pain because it is so different to feel uncomfortable because everything is going right than because everything is going wrong. That is what makes it so different than any other pain.
As he moved down the ring of fire made itself very clear. Jennifer reminded me to breathe through it and let everything stretch. I really wanted to just power him out and be done but I tried to listen to her and go slow. I reached down hoping to feel some progress. His head was right there! It felt so pointed but I knew from my birth research that this was exactly how it was supposed to feel. That gave me some motivation to keep going. With each surg he got a little closer and a the ring of fire a little more intense. Then Jennifer said, “Feel your baby’s ear!” I looked down and sure enough, about half his head was out a a tiny perfect ear had emerged. I was so relieved I started crying a little. He was almost here, and he had at least one perfect little ear!
Arrival – 6/4/18, 9:40 am
I don’t think Josh was looking, afraid of what he might see. With the next push Jennifer announced “Full crown! One last push and you will meet your baby!” This time between seemed like an eternity. Contractions had stopped as soon as his head was out. I saw Teresa check her watch, maybe it was just for, “time of birth,” or maybe they were getting concerned. They didn’t let on that anything was wrong, but I started to feel really anxious for that next contraction. It finally did come, and so did he.
Jennifer scooped him right out of the water to my chest! He was whimpering and coughing, but not screaming. The midwives got ready if they needed to intervene but didn’t feel the need to jump into action as he was doing pretty well clearing his airways himself. He was so squished and purple, but they said he looked great.
Josh was hugging my shoulders and we were both crying. Partially for relief, partially just the joy of having him here and seeing that he was well. I could hear my mom’s happy cries in the background too. We asked her to come around and see him, and we all just soaked in the moment. He stayed on my chest while we waited for the cord to stop pulsing. He had a pretty short cord so I couldn’t hold him up as high as I would have liked. When It stopped pulsing they got the clamps in place for it to be cut. They offered for Josh to cut the cord but he gets a bit nauseous with medical stuff, so we asked if my mom wanted to do it. She did, and it was pretty quick, two little snips.
Someone took him so I could deliver the placenta. That was pretty quick, maybe 10 minutes. The midwives took it to be encapsulated, and then helped me out of the pool to my bed, where I tried to nurse him for the first time. Once they saw things were going well, they left us to snuggle while they had some breakfast.
Nursing was pretty tough, because I had never held that small of a baby before. I wasn’t really comfortable maneuvering him. The midwives suggested that I may need to pump and offer him the milk first to get him started, so they set up my pump to have it ready if need be. They gave us at least a hour for bonding before examining us. When they did come back in they saw that everyone was healthy and doing well. Ezra was just very small: 5lbs 11oz and 20 inches long. He was 11 days early so they are not too concerned about him being small.
In the next few hours we took a good nap, worked on breastfeeding and visitors trickled in. All the grandparents were able to see him the first day. It was so precious to celebrate the joy of a new family member with them. Emarie was able to stop back over about an hour after he arrived. She was bummed to have missed the actual birth but thrilled to see everyone recovering well.
So that is the story of our little Ezra Paul joining us earthside. We are Praising God for the gift of life. His grace is sufficient to get us through hard things.
Ezra is such a sweety. Newborn parenting has been a bit stressful but we are hanging in there with lots of help from family and friends. We are all enjoying the baby snuggles and trying to remember to enjoy every life stage as it comes, because it does go so quickly.
Thank you all for your love and support, I have been so grateful to have a community that did not discourage our decision for home birth 🙂