by Kristen, USA
Honor's birth was different yet similar to my other births. My pregnancy with her was very different than my other pregnancies – so much harder in many ways. It was physically challenging and emotionally challenging. It also provided a lot of room for me to grow, and hopefully more opportunity for me to help others. Like my entire pregnancy, her birth was a new experience for me.
I had Braxton-hicks contractions that got regular every evening for about a week and a half leading up to her birth. That was a bit different for me, and caused a little anxiety as I wondered “is this it?” each evening.
I kept myself calm thinking about a lesson from our childbirth course. We learned to ask “what do I want to do right now?” I would always decide on the next thing to do and eventually bedtime would arrive and the next morning would dawn with no baby. It was not hard physically but it was trying emotionally.
When it truly was time for Honor to be born I had no clue it was coming, really. All my other children began their journeys here by a slow build-up of Braxton-hicks contractions to real ones, sometimes with a bloody show. I always knew things were coming later. But this time was different. We spent the day following our summertime routine and that evening I had a chiropractor's appointment. I went to that and my chiropractor did some accupressure to help get labor going. I stopped by the grocery store on the way home to get groceries for the coming week, still not suspecting anything was to happen that night.
Scott and Cassidy were just getting supper served when I got home, so the family sat down to eat. After supper the kids did their evening chores and we got Galen ready for bed. I don't remember if Scott read the older children a story that night or not, but it was just around the time they were going to bed that I started to notice that my Braxton-hicks had a sharper edge to them than they had earlier.
I'd downloaded an application for my phone that timed contractions, so I started using that. The contractions were coming regularly about every 5-6 minutes apart and lasting around 40 seconds. They definitely had a little edge to them.
After keeping track of them for an hour I mentioned to Scott that they were coming regularly. I went to the bathroom and upon wiping found a bit of mucous tinged with blood. I told Scott about that and shared that I thought that things may be picking up. He took me seriously, sending out a couple of text messages to work that he probably wouldn't be there the next morning!
I called our midwife's apprentice, Katy, around 8:30 and left a message with her that the contractions were pretty regular but mild, so we were going to try and go to sleep. We went to bed shortly after and tried to sleep. I may have drifted off here and there, but didn't really sleep. Katy called back around 9:30 and I said we were still trying to sleep. She said she'd get everything ready and probably go lie down herself. After this point I don't know what time things happened, really – but things got quite similar to Galen's birth.
It didn't take long for me to realize that I couldn't lie down through the contractions. I told Scott I wanted to go back downstairs and get into the tub. We'd set the tub up a couple of days before and I was glad it was ready. I got in the tub while Scott called Katy back, letting her know that things were picking up and that I was starting to shiver. This was really similar to Galen's birth, too – the birth hormone rush causes me to shiver even though I'm not cold.
Scott turned on the Gladiator soundtrack, one of my favorites, then sat outside the tub. I really did like having him there, as he had been during Galen's birth. Between the contractions I would sort of rock or sway in the tub. I was on my knees but low with my bottom resting on my feet. When a contraction came I'd lift my body up and put my arms around Scott, leaning my weight on him. I still tended to rock a bit back and forth. Scott's hair is longer right now and he likes to pull it back in a short ponytail. I liked wrapping my hands around it during a contraction. I don't think I ever pulled it and Scott says I didn't so I will trust him 🙂
Scott helped me keep my breathing on track. Once things picked up, they REALLY picked up. I remember saying that I seem to “go from 0 to 60” in between some of my contractions. They started coming on so fast that I felt a little overwhelmed and just looked to Scott's breathing to help me breath. In the short break between contractions I gave him kisses on the cheek because it just felt right! I also asked for water several times because I got really thirsty.
Katy arrived around 12:15am – I know this only because of looking at the labor record! By this point things were really intense. She checked the baby's heartbeat one time and it sounded good. Then I had a contraction where I felt like I was truly losing control and I just said “help me” over and over several times. Scott was right there breathing with me and even though it felt overwhelming I was able to get through it. That was probably most of my transition right there!
I was at this point actively feeling with my own fingers – not measuring dilation but just feeling to see if I could feel the baby's head inside me. I felt between several contractions and after the big one where I asked for help I could feel the bag of waters bulging inside of me. It has taken me five births to come to this level of wanting to be so consious during labor, and of not feeling intimidated by my own body. I felt Galen's head just before he came down the birth canal and that memory was so precious and awesome that I wanted it with this baby, too.
I felt the bag of waters and then another contraction started. I felt the water bag break and Honor's head started down.
The stretching was intense and it felt like it took a long time for her head to be born. I was sort of expecting that the rest of her would just fly out, as happened with Galen, but that was not the case. I reached down and felt her head, just rubbing it as I waited for the next contraction to start. I knew her chest would take work to push out, like Brennan's had. When the next contraction began I pushed her chest and with a lot of work, out she came!
I brought her up right away. Katy said the cord was around her neck and tried to pull it over her head. It was pretty tight, and at that point I could see that it was also looped around her body. I knew that it would have to be unwound from her body, so I leaned back so Scott and Katy would be able to get her unwound.
I think in hindsight this is the one thing I might change about her birth – I wish a bit that I had just unwound it. I was able to move back quickly so that Scott and Katy could work on it. My thoughts were very clear and I definitely thought to myself that it needed to be unlooped from her body. They got it done quickly but I think that “what if” will always stay in the back of my mind – “what if I had just unwound it from her body myself?”
Honor seemed pretty unfazed by the whole thing, and started to breath and pink up right away. As soon as she was unwound Katy and Scott handed her right back to me.
I began talking to her and cuddling her right away, so happy to finally meet my baby. As I said, her pregnancy was very hard and I worried quite a bit about how I'd feel after her birth. Thankfully I had a rush of adoration upon holding her and feel very strongly bonded with her now, despite ambivalence and struggle during pregnancy.
Honor arrived at 12:32am, just a few hours after I had an inkling that she was on the way! After a bit in the tub Katy asked me if I felt the need to push again. I tried once and got nothing, but after another contraction or two the placenta came out. Scott cut the cord shortly after.
While I'd been pushing Honor out, Allie, our midwife's newest student had arrived. Just after Honor was born our midwife's backup midwife, Robin arrived (our midwife was enroute to Haiti to work at a midwifery clinic there for a month!) At this point the house was quite busy! Katy asked me if I wanted to get out of the tub and I did, so she and Allie helped me out of the tub while Scott held Honor.
I got settled on the couch and Scott went upstairs and got Cassidy, Asher, and Brennan to come meet baby Honor (Galen stayed asleep). I'm not sure if the kids were sleeping during the birth or not – I was moaning through contractions and let out what Scott calls a “primal yell” when Honor's head was born – so they could have been awake. If they were, they didn't come downstairs 😉 They were delighted to meet Honor after she was born.
The midwives got our bedroom ready for us while I went to the bathroom and Scott had some cuddle time with Honor. Then it was finally time to go upstairs, get settled, and snuggle with our newest little one. Welcome to the world, sweet Honor Rebekah.