As our midwife shimmied his shoulders out, she had Manbeast take hold of our babybeast and place him on my chest. At last, our baby boy was here!
Joy. Happy tears. Relief in every possible way.
Giving birth to our firstborn son was the hardest thing I’ve done in my entire life. It was a marathon that required all of me physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.
And I, a relatively soft spoken, calm natured person made primitive sounds that I’ve never heard come out of me. Like never before, I entered into a state of being that was almost animalistic.
Welcome to my natural birth story – The hardest and most rewarding journey I’ve been on.
I looked at the clock and it was 9pm on a Thursday evening. We had about a half hour left at choir rehearsal. I had been having plenty of braxton hicks contractions for a couple weeks by then, but that night my back seemed to be hurting in a new way. When I got home, I poured a bowl of cereal and Beast and I sat down to watch an episode of The Office. What felt like braxton hicks contractions were now accompanied by some mild cramping. Hmm…I thought. I told Cody and we decided to go to bed and just see if things progressed before assuming that this was labor.
All through the night I slept in between regular contractions that were about 10 minutes apart. They were mild and manageable, but as the hours ticked by and they continued, I knew that this was very likely early labor. I was a bit surprised because my due date was still 9 days away. And I think I was still in a state of ‘this is surreal’ and ‘is this actually happening?’
We called our midwife around 7am and she said it sounded like early labor. She told us to make our way to the birth center when the contractions were 3-5 minutes apart, lasting 1 minute long, for around 1 hour. So we continued to labor at home.
My sense of time was lost. The contractions were growing in intensity and I felt that the most important thing I could do was rest as much as possible so as to conserve energy for a labor that could potentially last a long time. Although Beast and I had practiced many labor positions from our birthing classes and the books we read, all I desired to do was lie down in bed on my side and breathe.
Surrender to the process is what I kept remembering from our training. Don’t fight against the pain because what I’m feeling are just muscles contracting. Trust my body and let it do what it needs to do. Nothing is wrong. So I breathed in and out deeply and slowly. Using a scarf, Beast applied counter pressure to my lower abdomen and hips. Soft music played in the background. Cody fed me pieces of pineapple and grapes and water through a straw. He spoke words of encouragement over me, prayed scriptures, and helped me relax.
Somewhere around the late morning the intensity of the contractions increased. I remember the first contraction of that stronger magnitude sending me into a slight panic. I grasped tightly to our bed’s comforter and my feet began to move wildly back and forth. I struggled a bit to fully surrender to this pain, but I just told myself that it would pass. It would not last forever. And moaning helped. I moaned and moaned and moaned.
The stronger contractions continued for a few more hours. They were interspersed with some contractions that were lighter, thankfully. My eyes remained shut and my perception of anything but this process was minimal. Beast faithfully timed the contractions, looking for the window of time when we would need to go to the birth center.
It was around 3pm when he contacted our midwife again. My contractions were still about 6-7 minutes apart, but some were lasting closer to 2 minutes. We had been at this standstill for quite some time. My water had yet to break too. Our midwife said that I may be having false labor and suggested we go ahead and come in to get checked. I couldn’t comprehend that this could possibly be false labor. It felt too real. And to think I had gone through all of this for nothing felt awful.
We packed up the car, loaded me inside and made our way to the Allen Birthing Center. Once we arrived, our midwife checked me promptly. We were overjoyed when we heard that I was already 9cm and 100% effaced. We were surprised that I’d made that much progress at home! I began to get excited that quite soon we would be meeting our precious boy. Little did I know….I still had 4 hours to go.
I got in the warm tub and continued laboring. My midwife told me that at some point soon, I may feel the urge to push. At the time, pushing sounded like the last thing I wanted to do. Pushing would mean that babybeast would actually be close to exiting and while this is the whole point of labor, it sounded terrifying in the moment. ‘How the hell is he gonna get out without destroying me?’, I thought…just keepin’ it real y’all
And then the urge to push came. Suddenly labor had shifted from the surrender and relax through the contractions mode to actively push and engage in this process with all your strength, breath, and energy! I wasn’t good at pushing initially, but with a little coaching I got better. And very soon, the primitive sounds of laboring came forth.
I contracted and pushed for a while in the tub. My water finally broke. Then I moved to the toilet to push (hey, our bodies naturally want to push stuff out on the toilet!). My final pushing position was on the bed. The midwife and birth attendant faithfully checked our baby’s heart rate with the doppler and any time there was a sign of distress they had me change positions and this stabilized his heart. I pushed and pushed and pushed. It was exhausting and painful, but I kept thinking of the many women I personally know that had done what I was doing. If they did it, I can do it.
As I reclined in the bed, the birth attendant and Beast helped me pull up my legs in a horizontal squat like position for each push. The midwife continued to encourage me that we were so close. I could feel him coming near that last exit point and the burning sensation was just like I had read about – a ring of fire. We struggled at this point for several contractions. I just couldn’t quite get him over my pubic bone. My midwife eventually said that if he didn’t come out soon, she would need to give me an episiotomy (something they rarely do). My breathing became somewhat uneven and shallow near this time so the birth attendant placed an oxygen mask on me. These last few moments were perhaps the first time I felt a bit of fear. Would I be able to get him out? Is his heart ok? Am I ok? I knew that the midwife and attendant were taking very good care of both of us, but this sudden need to get him out and get me oxygen startled me.
I don’t remember exactly how many more pushes I gave, but shortly after the moment of fear, babybeast made his way into the world. The rush of relief was wonderful. The pressure and pain subsided and as Cody placed him on my chest, we cried with joy and relief. We did it. I did it. And all of us were well.
Our baby boy came out weighing 7lb 8oz and 21 inches long at 8:14pm. He was smushy and swollen and pink just as a newborn should be. After a few pats to the soles of his feet, a loud and vigorous cry resounded and continued for a few minutes. He had been through quite the process himself! After delivering the placenta and cleaning up a bit, family made their way upstairs to our room. As soon as I saw my mom, a sudden rush of even more tears overwhelmed me. I’m not sure why that happened, but I think something about seeing my mother and now holding my son as a new mother struck me in a special way. It was a beautiful moment. After visiting for a few minutes, they made their way home as we would be leaving the birth center within a few hours ourselves.
Manbeast was my constant support throughout the process. He demonstrated such calmness and really became the best partner throughout the pregnancy, labor and delivery. And God kept me from fearing – not that I never struggled with fear before or during labor – but He gave me a quiet confidence and strength that told me I could do this.
That evening is crystal clear in some ways, yet somehow blurry too. I remember so much of it, yet it still feels like a memory in which I think ‘did I really give birth to this tiny human laying in my arms?’ – still quite surreal. Some days I look at him and think, ‘how did he come out of me?’
He came forth not without great effort and stamina. He came with my surrender. He came with my breath. He came with purposeful pain – great pain. And the Lord, our Father, brought him forth. God the Father created his life, sustained him in the womb, and used me to bring him into our world.
Babybeast, our precious little cub, we prayed for you for what seemed like forever and now you are here. You are so loved and we look forward to the days ahead.