This was my 4th birth, my 3rd intended home birth, and I knew it may be my last. I wanted this birth to be documented. I have very little photographic evidence of my other births. This was mostly from lack of knowledge that a birth photographer exists, so we used our own camera. It was very difficult to find a photographer willing to capture an unassisted home birth. But, I found Tammy. Through pictures, I was excited to show that babies know when they want to come earth side, and that mothers and babies know what to do. Trust in your body, your baby – and all will be well.
Contractions had been happening off and on at about 37wks, but I wasn’t too worried about them, as I wanted to enjoy my pregnancy for as long as PiP would allow me to. And all of my other pregnancies went 40+. I would go about my day as normal, taking care of my 3 babes and such, stopping to breathe through them and relax as much as I could, when I could. For about a week, my waters were trickling, but again, I was not worried, as this had happened in my previous birth with my daughter. I just rested and stayed hydrated and walked a lot to see if he would come.
On the 15th, I wasn’t leaking anymore, so I felt really good about that, and at that point I was 39wks. Matt was sick and then Corbin got sick, and I had a few placentas that I still needed to encapsulate for my clients, so I really wanted PiP to wait until I mentally gave him the All Clear Sign.
At night is when I give birth, and at night is when I would get tons of contractions, but they would taper off come morning. I didn’t feel like it was time, as he was still really high up- all of my others, they dropped, and I knew it would be soon when they arrived after that happened.
June 23rd, we watched our nightly show on Netflix, as usual and Tammy called. I reported with saying, ‘Same ole stuff. Mild contractions here and there but nothing I can’t breathe through. I don’t think this is it. I will call you if I think it will happen tonight. We’ll have plenty of time’.
She said she could hear it in my voice that she thought these contractions were the real thing, but I really didn’t believe that to be true. She asked if I wanted her to come over but I said, ‘No, we’re just going to go to bed- it isn’t going to happen tonight.’ Silly me, I should of known that my denial was my pre-labor! That is so me. She asked if she could come by anyway and I said, “Sure, I have a couch you could sleep on, but nothing will probably happen tonight, maybe tomorrow.”
I hung up the phone and about 30min later and asked Matt to set up the birth pool- that this was it and I was glad Tammy was already on her way. I was both hot and cold. And I was irritated. All I wanted to do was go to sleep but I just couldn’t get into any comfortable position, between the contractions and my big high belly, I was just mad that PiP thought now was a good time.
About an hour after I hung up with Tammy, she arrived at my house, it was midnight.
‘Hurry up Matt!’, I said.
The contractions I was having felt different than others I have felt before, as I didn’t feel like they were working. He was so high up in my ribs and with each contraction, I couldn’t relax and didn’t feel like anything was working. I tried turning my doula self on and talking myself into relaxing and being patient for the pool to fill up- but I just wouldn’t listen to myself. I was so tired from my long day and mad at myself for staying up to watch TV instead of going to bed.
Finally I was able to get into the birth pool and it was nice and warm.
I was really enjoying floating around in the water with each contraction and drifting in and out of consciousness. It was about 2am and I was getting really irritable by now. I was really cold and just wanted to cuddle up in my bed and be alone. It felt like everyone was bothering me and I just wanted to talk to my baby and go to sleep!! I practically jumped out of the pool and wobbled/ran down the hall to my room, stripped my shirt off and wrapped up in a towel and jumped into my bed.
My little one, B, who was 2, was sleeping in my bed and we cuddled up together. Matt came in and asked what I was doing. I said I was wet and cold and tired and just wanted to be left alone. So he left and I heard him talking to Tammy about shutting down for the night. He said that they should take a nap now and blah blah, as I drifted to sleep, cuddling my B.
I wish I had some pictures of this moment, as I will always recall it, so vividly in my head- my sweet doula- helping me through labor.
At about 3am, I awoke suddenly. Matt is snoring loudly in the bed, and my little B is holding me tight, nursing away as she sleeps soundly. I am having the most intense contractions now- and each little suckle she takes, only makes them that much stronger. Breathe. I think of these last moments I will share with my little one, just us two. I breathe. She suckles, and I relax into the next contraction. This happens for about an hour and then it gets so strong that I can’t stand it anymore.
Matt doesn’t notice when I try to kick him awake. I get out of bed, thinking maybe I would like a shower, and start heaving so hard that I start leaking fluid again and puking on the floor. I always throw up during transition, so I knew that this is where I was in my birthing process. Matt wakes up to me being extremely loud and I say, ‘Help, I need to have the baby now’. He helps me back into the kitchen and we stop along the way for contractions.
Tammy was awake and snapping pictures again. I lay on the living room floor, whining that I really want to get into my birth pool again but I know that it is too cold. The whole time, I say I don’t want to do this anymore and that I am really, really tired. I keep saying that I want to get into the pool but its too cold. They convince me to give it a try and so I do. Looking back, as a doula, I feel silly for me- like I should have known what to do.
I get back into the water and it really isn’t as cold as I thought it would be, being 4 ½ hours later. Matt starts taking water out and warming it on the stove, it was so lovely to feel it on my body, every time he poured in a pot. It is around 5am now. I threw up again. I kept floating all over the pool trying to get into a comfy position. The sun was coming up and I was angry at it- I wanted it to be dark. My two oldest were awake by now and my daughter, S, who was 4, was such a great doula. She would whisper in my ear that I was doing great and hug my neck. My son, 7, looked annoyed and tired, laying on the couch, awaiting the arrival of his baby brother.
By 6am, I kept saying to Matt, that I couldn’t do it. That he was stuck. He was so high up in my ribs, and with every contraction, he did not feel like he was moving down. I felt like I was broken. I felt defeated.
I gave out a big scream and beared down with a huge contraction and felt a gush of water come out and then with the next contraction, I reached down and felt his head. The excitement that I felt was indescribable. He did come down. He was going to come out!
I wanted to slow the labor down now at this point. I knew that I would see him soon and was no longer ready to be done with my pregnancy. My last labor and birth.
Squatting and reaching down again, I felt his head. It was such a comforting feeling being able to touch my baby for the first time. This memory is etched in my brain from my last 3 labors, cupping the crown of their little heads in the palm of my hand, as they make their way into the world.
I flip over, because I wanted pictures of him being born. I bear down again and his head starts to come. About 3 more waves and out is his head- so much excitement around, and I want to wait awhile longer to push the rest of him out, but my body has different plans. I give another push and he falls out in one swift motion as I catch him.
Tammy calls out that he is in the caul and I notice his nuchal cord. After about a minute, I bring him up into the world, out of the water. I recall yelling at Matt to not touch him, being a mama bear guarding her cub -as he wanted to remove the cord from his neck. I yell to go get B, as I notice she isn’t there to see her baby brother.
I recall S repeatedly saying that her baby brother was here. He was here. My beautiful son, untouched by anyone- no doctors, no medicines.
I lay him to my chest and we unwrap the cord from under his leg and arm and then around his neck. The caul fell off when I had picked him up from the water. He begins to nurse and I work on the placenta contractions. All the while, Tammy is taking pictures. I lay him back into the warm water, swaying him back and forth, looking into his eyes and talking to him- just soaking up his perfection- and Tammy asks, ‘So what is PiP’s name?’ And Matt and I reply, ‘Jathon. Jathon Danger’ And he smiles. We all laugh. Jathon is here.