Birth. It's one of the hardest, most wonderful things that we as mothers get to endure. Whether it's an all natural labor with candles lit and a room full of family, a peaceful, pain-free birth thanks to an epidural, a scheduled caesarian, or any variation of the sort, there is something undeniably profound about a mother bringing a life into this world. This is my story.
Though there is a LOT of back-story leading up to the unconventional way we as a couple decided to bring Evie into this world, I think I'll spare you most of it. I can get carried away and share more than what's necessary. :o)
I attempted to have an unmedicated birth with my second daughter, Ada, after dabbling in some research on the benefits of going "au natural." I saw a midwife at our local clinic, who I hoped would help facilitate my wishes, or at the very least, not look at me like I'm crazy. When the day came (seven days "late"), I found myself overwhelmed by the pain of labor. I arrived at the hospital ready to drag the anesthetist by the scrubs to my room, if I had to. The odds of me getting through without that epidural only diminished, as I found out that my midwife wasn't available, and only wanted to be called in if things were "real." I'm not sure exactly what that meant ("real?" "no, I'm faking it." I digress), but I buckled immediately afterward. I patiently waited (not) for the anesthesiologist to numb be up. Unfortunately, as he administered the epidural, I felt terrifying waves of shock and electricity through the right side of my body. I started to panic. I was bent over my belly, hyperventilating, with my back exposed to a giant needle. Not a good combo. I passed out. Then, it worked. The pain slowly started to fade away, and I was SO relieved. Several hours later, after a few naps, my midwife showed up, checked me for dilation, and told me I could push. I woke up Luke, and within a few minutes Ada Claire was born. What a joyous day it is--the day you hold your baby in your arms for the first time.
Fast forward a couple years, when Luke and I decided to have another baby. We tried for about nine months and were able to get pregnant. I was SO excited! I was also astonished at how good I felt, too! I thought,
"This must be a boy. This pregnancy is a breeze!" Then, just like that, I miscarried. Again. For the third time. I was so, so lost. So broken. So...sad. Every time I saw a baby or a pregnant woman, or, really just about anything, inside, I wept. It wasn't an easy decision to try again; to risk losing another child. But I began to feel that the only way my heart would heal, was to hold another baby in my arms.
Three months after my third miscarriage, I became pregnant again. I was scared. The WHOLE time I was pregnant. I was also very, very ill. There were days when I would eat probably about 1,000 calories in a two day stretch. Sometimes, less. I didn't trust my body. I didn't trust that I would hold my baby in nine months. I didn't trust.
I began to look for a care provider in my area. Not a midwife within 25 miles. Finally, I found a clinic down in Golden Valley, who had a contract with the hospital in Maple Grove. Maple Grove was the only hospital anywhere near me to allow a midwife attended waterbirth. So my options were limited. I got my care through about the 15th week of pregnancy there, but didn't feel any sort of connection with the midwives. Perhaps it was premature, but I began to search for other options.
I kept feeling this nagging desire to give birth at home. But no. That's crazy! I couldn't possibly give birth at home. Could I?
I'm very, very fortunate to have an amazing, strong, and courageous friend who brought all three of her children into this world at home. She showed me that it it's not impossible, it's not crazy, and it's not wrong to have your baby at home. She did that all without uttering a word of persuasion. She lived that truth. She inspires me every day.
So, leaning into this very tentative desire, I began to call homebirth midwives. BAM. Just like that, I found the one. After interviewing her, I felt so confident. My husband felt confident. We loved her! And with her help, we would have the privilege to bring our baby into OUR world. Our home.
Fast forward again, through months of sickness, excitement, constant research, Evie's "due date" came and went. Then another week. Then another half a week. We were all anxious to meet her. And because homebirths are safest for low-risk pregnancies, as time went by past our due date, our options started to narrow. After trying every natural labor inducing method known to man, we were lucky enough to fall upon one that worked. It's called cotton root tincture. We committed to it, and it worked.
Saturday night, the 25th of February, I began laboring. It was mild to begin with, then gradually got more intense. (Boy do I have a better appreciation for that word NOW!) We called the midwife back to our house, and as I suspect now, she was probably giggling inside, thinking "she called me WAY too soon, poor dear." But because this was my first natural labor, and my third baby, I had no idea of knowing when to call. So I did what she told me, which was to call her whenever I thought I needed her. She gladly came right away.
Things continued to progress, and I began to cling to Luke to get me through contractions. He was my rock. He didn't say probably two words the entire time I was in labor, but I felt his encouragement, his confidence in me, and his love.
Remember that friend of mine? She was there, too. Though I didn't know what her role would be in this whole experience, I wanted to have her there. She quickly found her purpose, and she did everything with such grace. She cooked for us, she cleaned, she did so many "behind the scenes" kinds of things, that I still don't probably know all of them. I told you I was lucky.
After laboring for about seven hours, throwing back cotton root tincture and apple juice the whole time, and a quick stint in the birthing tub, I begged our midwife to let me get back in the tub. She was hesistant, only because she didn't want my labor to stall. Neither of us knew how quickly my labor was going to turn the corner. It was time.
I wasn't in that tub 3 minutes before my body completely took over. My body seamlessly did what it knew to do. I began pushing, involuntarily, even before I felt the urge to push. At the time, it was just Luke and I together. My midwife was downstairs for a few moments, recording my blood pressure. I tried to call to my her to tell her that I was starting to push. I couldn't find a break between bearing down to call to her. Luke finally figured out what was going on and yelled down for her. Though there were a lot of things happening around me in preparation for the baby, I wasn't aware of many. I was in my own little world. My profound, intense little world.
Alright, here's where it gets graphic. If you're not prepared to read this part of birth, please feel free to skip ahead. :o)
Luke got in the water with me. He wrapped his body around mine and held me from behind.
I was overcome with pain, intensity, and sensation. I could feel EVERYTHING. And I reached that point that so many women who have chosen this kind of birth can relate to. That point where you want to crawl out of your skin. I exclaimed, "I don't want to. I'm not going to do this. No. I won't." My team encouraged me. "You ARE doing this. Your baby is going to be here so soon. You're going to hold your baby soon." As I pushed, the vivid sensation was so shocking. I felt Evie descending. "My butt hurts! Oh my God, my butt hurts! It's going to be totally ruined!" Apparently, this was funny to everyone but me. Haha. Then my water broke. A mild feeling of a relief followed by the rush of my baby's head crowning out of my body. Without a single conscious effort, Evie was born like a freight train. My wonderful midwife provided me with a moment of quiet after an intense few minutes of yelling. She said "Cati, your baby is here, lift her out of the water." Or something like that. I needed that. I needed something to wake me from my intense little world.
I reached down and brought my little baby girl up onto my chest, with Luke there behind me. I could feel the gentle sobs coming from his chest. I think everyone was crying. All I saw was Evie. This little girl with a head full of brown hair. She let out a lusty cry and continued on that way for minutes. I held her there, crying too.
The next part is sort of a blur. My midwife skillfully advised me to get out of the birthing tub and into the bed, watching me carefully because of my naturally low blood pressure. We moved to my girls' bedroom, where the midwives examined the baby, close to me. I was starting to feel fuzzy even then, come to think of it. I felt very weak. Delivering the placenta was tiring. I wanted to lay down and stay that way.
Then, I was asked to use the bathroom. I wasn't looking forward to it, but I knew it was necessary to urinate after birth. Apparently, I was urged to use a bedpan. I refused. So, Luke escorted me to the bathroom, bearing some of my weight for me. When I got to the bathroom and sat down on the toilet, I started to feel really, really not right. My ears started to ring and I felt sick to my stomach. I began to pass out. Luke yelled for the midwife and she ran in there and instructed Luke to hold my feet up above my head. The last thing I remember was her resting my head back on the back of the toilet.
Then I woke up. I had been dreaming so peacefully and was actually kind of annoyed at whomever was waving those nasty smelling salts in front of my face. Haha. I was on the floor of my little bathroom, surrounded by people looking down at me, with an oxygen mask on my face. The cool air and the cool floor felt really good. Then I saw Luke's face. He was still holding my feet up, petting them with a somewhat terrified look on his face. Something like, "Don't EVER do that to me again."
I lay there for a while, not wanting to get up. Eventually, I felt good enough to move back to the bed. I was SO thankful that the baby was with my friend downstairs. I was comforted that Evie was there, snuggling with her as I worked through my little ordeal.
Then, seamlessly, my team cleaned up everything, assured I was in good shape, and quietly left. It was just me and Luke, and our new baby girl.
It has taken a few weeks to process all of this. It was a whirlwind. It was wonderful, painful, intense, joyous, amazing, and profound.
Though the births of my first two girls was no less profound, I do feel more strongly about this birth. I feel stronger, more confident in myself, and I feel a sense of victory. And, I trust.
You may call me a rebel.
I call myself "mother."