Finally (only 10 months later), here is the story of Asher Evan's arrival! I want to remember this story forever.
Contractions wake me up from sleeping and after a few unsuccessful hours of trying to sleep, I told Peter. I'm pretty sure I said "we're gonna have a baby today!" 8:30am
I asked Peter to make me breakfast so we got up and he made eggs and toast for us; stayed at home laboring all mid-day for about 10 hours *gasp*. We attempted to watch a Harry Potter movie in between contractions while I bounced on a birthing ball, we went on a really hot walk around the neighborhood, I took a hot bath (which I had to get out of because it slowed my contractions wayyyyy down), and we did laps around the kitchen to try to progress labor. Peter even went to our favorite Thai place and got some food to-go for lunch (pork pad woon-sen for me and sushi for him; I'm all about remembering the details!)
The contractions got really intense so I asked my doula Cassie to head over. All the while I am trying to keep track of them on my phone and I keep forgetting to log them. It was about 1.5min contractions every 4 min. 4pm
Cassie arrives and I am ready to leave for the birth center right then and there so we take the most uncomfortable 20min car ride ever to the birth center! We arrive and the midwife checks me-- 5cm dilated! Woop woop! This momma was so thankful. But-- had to progress lots more. There was only one room open because, surprisingly, another baby was just born in the other room (only 2 rooms are at the center)! So Peter and I walked laps around the darkened, quiet birth center with our doula. I just remember how peaceful it was... and how safe I felt. At some point shortly thereafter, I headed into the shower with just Peter and sat on a birthing ball and let the warm water hit my back for about 20-30 minutes. After that, I tried some different laboring positions. This is where patience came in hand. I was so thankful I had watched all of those YouTube birth videos and read a ton about natural childbirth.
Patience. Is. Key.
I was first at the edge of the bed and then got on the bed hunched over the pillows with Peter next to my face, holding and rubbing my arms (I didn't like him to talk, but just to be fully present with me). He encouraged me so much and I am incredibly thankful for that! It was all such a mind game... it's amazing how much of the battle was inside of my head to keep it together. I also had scripture on notecards that I used at some point. I just had to take one contraction at a time. That's it. One wave at a time. Nothing else.
"I can make it through *this* wave."
After this point, I lose track of time. I remember being nauseas a lot and Cassie would have me inhale peppermint essential oil that she brought and it helped. My sweet midwife Mary checked me at some point (for the second and last time!) and said there was a little lip of my cervix that wasn't moving to the side so I needed to keep progressing.
So we walked.
More laps around the center. During these walks, I would have contractions, lean on Peter, and Cassie would talk me through each one. I don't know of a time in my life that I have ever been this focused in this much pain. I knew I could do it, but this was HARD. My self-control was definitely getting a workout. I kept asking when I could get in the birthing tub (they wanted me to wait a while before I got in because it can slow labor). Finally, when I felt "pushy", and was in the transition phase of labor, I got into the tub. My body literally was pushing *ALL ON ITS OWN*... a feeling I can't describe except to say that I literally had no control over it. So amazing.
At this point, it was dark and far into the evening. Since I was in transition, I had lost all sense of modesty and threw my dress off and got into that tub! I immediately had a huge sense of relief as I sat into the water. I leaned over the side and breathed deep. Peter rubbing my arms and being my comfort. The room was quiet and everyone was waiting with anticipation for baby boy's arrival. Things seemed to get clearer for me. I remember thinking that they must have been so bored waiting for me to birth my baby (HA! Right!) Mary, my midwife, had her hand actually in me trying to pull over the lip of the cervix (sorry if that's TMI!) It was being really stubborn. As I was in the water, my contractions slowed. Mary asked me to get out of the tub and continue walking and to *try* to not push (which is basically impossible) because she wanted me to save my energy for when my pushes would actually be useful after the cervix moved over. You should have seen the disbelief/horror/fear on my face!!! I did NOT want to do that! But I did. I did everything single thing they asked.
"Yes, whatever you say. Let's get this baby out." So we walked. Big, wide steps. Come on sweet boy, please come out. I felt really really pushy at this point and my contractions were FIERCE and the urge to push was literally uncontrollable. I leaned onto Peter and dug down deep, moaning, squatting, and leaning into my heels with each breath and made sure to relax as much as I could. Cassie rubbed my back and reminded me how to relax (breath, relax, low and open). Time stood still.
I would never forget these moments. Ever.
We came back into the room and I tried to sit on the toilet and then the birthing chair, anything to get that cervix to move out of the way! Finally, I laid on the bed and my midwife asked me to lean to one side and then the other so that the pressure would be somewhat relieved from baby boy (he was sitting really low for a while at this point). My body kept pushing on its own and with each contraction I really got behind them and gave it everything I had. This was incredibly hard!!! Mary just calmly encouraged me to keep going, almost in a whisper. She was so amazing and I thanked God that I was here at this birth center with those I trusted most and doing what I knew my body was designed to do. My doula was right by my shoulder recording it as well (ask me if you want to see the video, it's decent I promise!!) I kept feeling him come out a bit and then in between contractions he would go right back up. I was getting a little anxious at this point and felt fear creep into my mind and I started to have visions of going to the ER needing a c-section. But I knew that was a ridiculous lie motivated by fear so I got angry and pushed even harder. Peter was on the bed with me encouraging me how close he was to coming out but with each push I got more and more exhausted. I remember feeling like it was ages in between contractions and I was wishing that each one would hurry up and be quicker so I could push my baby out. But apparently, after watching the video and talking to Cassie, they definitely were right on top of each other. Not much resting... I couldn't believe it. I truly feel like the Lord slowed down time for me in those moments. It was wild.
Time literally stood still for me. A moment seemed like eternity. After pushing on and off for about 4 hours and maybe 1 hour of HARD pushing, Mary said she had to do a little cut if he didn't come out during the next contraction... I gave it everything I had during that next push but I was just so tired and his head was so big. So a quick, little, painless cut and that's all he needed.
There he was!! Screaming and absolutely perfect.
August 7, 2016
2:13am I can clearly remember thinking how strong and sweet of a cry he had and I was so relieved to finally meet my baby. My first reaction was surprise and delight at how well he was screaming and that he looked so "clean"... no blood or white vernix on him hardly at all. He was perfect. He was immediately placed onto my chest and I couldn't believe that I had just given birth to a new human being. 21 hours of labor. Numerous hours of pushing on and off. What an amazing miracle. The fact that I was on no drugs helped me and him bond immediately and my love for him in that moment that much greater.
Peter was right by my side on the bed with me the whole time just watching me and baby boy in awe. I am so thankful for that memory. I honestly was just shocked at all that had just happened. Mary had to put in a few stitches but I hardly noticed because I was too focused on my brand new babe. It was such a joyful, peaceful time in the room just with my new babe, midwife, doula, husband, nurse, and midwife assistant. Smiles all around and a huge sense of relief!! I felt amazing... and that I could do anything in the world.
"Did I actually just birth this baby?" Mary my midwife weighed Asher (8 lbs 0 oz) and did some other measurements. Cassie my doula went out and bought me and Peter breakfast and then we slept a few hours with Asher in bed with us. It was so surreal. After we rested for three hours, Asher nursed for the first time (was so awkward and hurt like crap... my breastfeeding journey is another story to be told in a different blog post!), I got up, tried to pee, got dressed and we headed home after stopping for some lunch. We were in our own home just 9 hours after Asher was born and I was so thankful to be in the comfort of our bed with our new baby boy so shortly after his birth! It was an incredibly beautiful experience and yet the hardest thing I have ever done... and I would do it all over again.
NOTE: I honestly could not have done it without the support of my husband, doula, and the birth center staff. We were an awesome team and they helped keep me calm the whole time. Having a birth at the birth center was also the best decision I could have ever made. It was so peaceful. A natural birth definitely is something that I advocate for but also know that not everyone is able to have a natural birth for one reason or another. I experienced something SO BEAUTIFUL that I wish every woman could experience for herself as well (and the husband too!! it was amazing for Peter to do this WITH me and also be prepped), but more importantly is just to make a TRULY INFORMED DECISION about what you are going to do as you birth your own baby. Get advice from both sides (doctors & midwives). I literally pushed through the FEARI had by leaning on Jesus and asking God to fully prepare me. It's all in your mind. Don't let society/culture/others tell you what is best. EDUCATE yourself. Research everything. Watch videos (this was SO helpful for me to kick the fear aside!!) THEN decide. My first choice was a hospital birth until I actually started to educate myself. So ladies, I encourage you to do the same and do whatever you KNOW is best for your sweet baby.