*This post was originally posted on my personal blog, Hannah’s Heartstrings.*
It has been just over a week since I brought this little person into the world. One amazing, nerve wrecking, magical week of learning about each other and figuring out our little trio.
Birth was, by far, the most incredible thing I have ever experienced. I did not know my body was capable of such intense power. To be able to watch my body perform the way it did, and to work with it to bring my baby out was something I honestly can’t wait to experience again. And being able to do it all within the comfort of my home, with the most fabulous, loving birth team over, was a dream come true.
It started on Thursday morning at 2am. My water started breaking, though not as I had anticipated. I expected it to come out like a fire hose but instead it was just small gushes. Still, I was thrilled. Kyle got up, we changed the sheets, I texted my midwife Nicole, and attempted to sleep some more.
I had a few small contractions here and there, but nothing significant happened until Friday at around 7 pm. Those hours of waiting for my body to kick in were long, disappointing, and not at all what I expected. I figured it would be like all the stories I’d heard…your water breaks, you go into labor, you have a baby. Bam. Done. But no. My body had other plans. Apparently I needed a full 40+ hours for my hormones to build up enough to set my labor into action. I kept Nicole aware of what was going on, and we were prepared to start having me take some herbs and stuff and set things in motion if something didn’t happen soon. Thankfully, those real, purposeful contractions started coming around 7pm on Friday night.
By early Saturday morning, it was very clear that I was in labor. My doula, Kimby, and her helper, Meredith, came over at 7am and we began our day together. Early labor was actually quite fun. We joked and talked around contractions, and Kimby made me feel like I was in a spa. She diffused essential oils, massaged my back and feet, and just made me feel so loved and calm. We did a few different things to help with the baby’s position, since she was concernedhe might have a hand up. Between that and massaging the labor pressure points on my ankles, but the afternoon, I was kicking into high gear.
I was so thankful to be able to do a lot of laboring in the birthing pool. It was so comforting and really took a lot of pressure off my belly. We did the pool all the way up until I was ready to push. I had hoped to give birth in the pool, but since we knew my baby was large and had a big head, Nicole felt it would be best to birth in a different position.
I was not paying very good attention to the clock, so my remembrance of the time of events is a little sketchy. I think it was about 7ish when Nicole arrived and I was in hard labor. I began to feel like pushing so they brought me out of the tub and onto the couch. She had me lay on my back to give baby enough space to get under my pubic bone. With his big head and my small pelvis, this proved to be rather hard. His progress was very slow and I was getting very tired.
I pushed for nearly three hours. The whole time, Nicole massaged my vaginal opening and perineum with olive oil, stretching me in preparation for my baby’s head to come through. This was a lifesaver. I cannot begin to express how thankful I am that she did this! Also after coming out of the pool, my legs were incredibly sore from kneeling so long and supporting myself during contractions, so the girls massaged me with arnica oil. Oh so amazing!
The pushing got really intense and his head rocked back and forth for quite a while. All of a sudden his heart rate dipped and Nicole told me to stop pushing and just breathe. I was focusing so hard on the pushing that I wasn’t getting enough oxygen to him. So they worked hard with me to get me to focus on taking long deep breaths and not be so intense with pushing. That was the hardest part! My body took over several times and pushed completely on its own. But the breathing turned out be just was we needed. His heart rate came back up and we kept going.
Nicole ran outside to get her oxygen tank and to call another midwife to come assist, since it was looking like my baby was stuck and they were going to have to reposition me. His head was so big and taking so long to come down that they were getting concerned. But just then, his head started crowning! Kimby told Meredith to run outside and get Nicole as fast as she could. He was coming out!!
The most incredible thing to me was that I did not even feel him come out. My eyes were closed most of the time due to being quite exhausted. I opened them just at the moment his head came out, and saw the explosion of water hit everyone. They told me to push hard and keep pushing. I gave it every last ounce of energy I had and out he came! The next moment I opened my eyes, Nicole was wrangling my slippery baby up onto my belly.
And so, Titus Howard Fellows was born at 11:40pm on Saturday, February 13, 2016.
He took just a few moments to breathe, so we kept rubbing him and talking to him, and soon he was howling his head off. Those first moments of holding him were utterly miraculous.
He turned out to be a pretty big baby, just like Nicole had predicted. He weighed 9 pounds, 4 ounces, was 22 inches long, and his head (drum roll please) was 15 inches in circumference! But thanks to Nicole’s perineal massaging and stretching, I only got one tiny little tear that didn’t even warrant a stitch. Yay!
There are a few things I’d like to talk about that I have found truly fascinating concerning my home birth experience.
My birth team was amazing. Seriously. Their support and love throughout the whole ordeal was incomparable. I have never felt more cared for in my whole life. I was not just another patient in a bed. I wasn’t just another birth. I was important to them. They poured themselves out into me with their loving touch, encouraging words, and strengthening prayers. I could not have done it without them.
My husband was amazing. My sweet, calm spirited, low key, loving man was such a huge help during the hardest part of my labor. He helped massage me, held my hands through the hardest contractions, and encouraged me through every push. When I was so tired, he told me again and again to open my eyes and smile at him. He kept me grounded.
Nicole saved me from a myriad of medical complications. I will never be able to thank her enough for what she did for me. By helping me work with my body to bring my baby out, I was spared a birthing horror story. Had I gone to a hospital, I would have been subjected to a multitude of medical procedures. Because my labor was so long in coming, a hospital would have induced me. Because he was so big, they would have most likely done a c-section, or at the very least, an episiotomy. If I had by some chance been allowed to birth without any of those things, I would have tore far worse, because no doctor or nurse would have taken the time to massage and stretch me like Nicole did.
Don’t get me wrong…I am glad that the medical community is there for emergencies, and if something had taken a turn for the worst, Nicole would not have hesitated to get me to the nearest hospital. But working with Nicole allowed me to treat my birth as the most natural experience of my life and to bring my baby calmly and lovingly into this world.
Diet and water intake are really important. My diet has gone through many changes over the years, but it has always remained the healthiest possible. I was vegan through the first half of my pregnancy but after that, felt like I was lacking in nutrients, so I added meat and grains back into my life. I remained sugar free and gluten free, and have been loving it.
As a step to help my seizure issues, I increased my water intake last March and began drinking at least 80-120 ounces of water a day. This made a huge difference in my existing issues, and then when I got pregnant in May, the benefits were phenomenal.
I attribute a great portion of my birthing success to my diet and water intake. Avoiding sugar especially helped, since sugar heightens your pain sensitivities…even fruit in excess can be a problem! A good, healthy, balanced food lifestyle with plenty of good clean water is the best thing you can do do for your body and your baby.
Home birth may not be for everyone, but I praise God every day that I was able to have this beautiful experience! And I could not be more thrilled to have this tiny little person in my arms at last.