oh gracious where do i begin? let me first start by saying that the experience of giving birth in the birth center was perfect! i was surrounded by amazingly supportive people, and without them i definitely would not have been able to accomplish what i did. thank you ann, my sweet midwife and her team at gentle beginnings.
you can read HERE about why i chose to deliver at the birth center without pain meds.
thank you to my dear friend arden for taking such great photos!
so what did i learn from harper’s natural birth?
i learned that i can do it! i did it by God’s good grace. but i did it! i feel so proud of myself, and it feels good to say that because most times i fail to use the words “proud of myself.” i got to experience others’ sacrificial love and support…my husband, mom, audrey, and arden never left my side. what a humbling experience it was.
the day was beautiful and sunshiney. this made it nice to walk and labor some outdoors. i think it was somewhere in the 60′s during the day and dropped down into the 30′s late that night. i was really hoping i could keep my sense of humor throughout the whole thing. i pictured myself being this funny girl who would crack jokes most of the time. i think this photo above might have been the last time i smiled that day. i’m pretty sure it was only 1:00 PM here. needless to say i was not the funny-in-labor girl. nope. however, i did repeat “oowwww” ,”Jesus” , “Lord”, and “Ann.” for much of the time and most present thought that that was pretty funny.
now on to the good stuff…oh man the pain was intense. i think i would like to make up a new word for pain that would describe the contractions. you see, my sweet harper had her little head turned crooked, they call this Asynclitic. “Asynclitism refers to the position of a baby in the uterus such that the head is tilted to the side, causing the fetal head to no longer be in line with the birth canal.” OUCH! is the appropriate definition of that term. my labor started approximately at 5:00 AM on the 13th of november after some slight contractions throughout the night. i called my sweet mama the night before the 13th and asked her to come so that she could be there for harper’s birth. throughout my labor she was there brushing my hair out of my face, holding my hand and praying for me the whole time, she never left my side. i text my doula, audrey, around 6 AM on the 13th and asked her to come to my house so she could begin her awesome doula-ism. she came ready to massage my hands and feet and help me through the pain. she never left my side the whole day morning until night. she was awesome! jim went ahead to his leadership meeting that morning knowing it would be a long day. by the time he walked in the door at 10:00 AM the contractions were already quite painful. i remember i was sitting on the edge of our bed, he walked in, knelt down before me and got right to work. he helped me through that contraction and never left my side. i didn’t have much time to really get used to the idea of pain due to the contractions becoming intense so quickly. i had my eyes closed almost the whole labor, i suppose this was my way of focusing and relaxing through the contractions. i stayed in a state of complete calmness by bowing my head, closing my eyes and resting the entire labor. around 1:00 PM arden came to photograph the labor and birth. we were in harper’s nursery at that time to help get me excited about meeting our baby girl. arden walked in and got right to documenting every step of the way. i remember being outside while the others were loading the car to get ready to go to the birth center and arden was there offering her shoulder helping me through the contraction. she too, never left my side.
zoe got in on the action.
once we got to the birth center i was sure i was close to giving birth. i mean i was in so much pain and convinced i was close to the transition stage of labor because my contractions were as close as 3 minutes apart and crazy intense. i immediately got in the tub and oh how nice that was. my midwife, ann walked in and sat on a stool near the tub and said “hi heather, this is the day the Lord has made.” how sweet that was! audrey told me that everyone in the room welled up in tears, and all i could muster up was, “i hope so.” a bit later ann checked me and much to my surprise i was only a 3! what the heck?! that was just wrong. i was almost devastated at the news but the show must go on, so i climbed back into the warm water and continued the race. laboring in the tub offered a great relief to me. it was really good for me to get in and out because had i not the warm water wouldn’t have been as much help because i would have gotten used to it. all the while at the birth center the team encouraged me to get in and out of the water and change positions so that my labor would progress. this was bittersweet for me because each time i moved the contractions got more and more painful, but it did in fact help labor along. just when i thought the contractions couldn’t get any worse i would move positions and sure enough they did!
there was a point in the labor when the contractions got to be so bad that i almost couldn’t help but to push, i think this was the point that my midwife learned of harper’s asynclitic position. my body was having to work harder each contraction to help get my cervix to dilate. PAINFUL! my sweet husband jim was in the tub with me for 6 hours helping me through the pain. much to my surprise i didn’t say one cuss word the whole labor! i’m not a cusser but good grief that kind of pain could cause you to do anything! however at one time someone told me to get out of the tub and try to go potty and i replied “hell no.” hell is not really a cuss word because it’s in the bible. ha! but alas i submitted and got out to go potty. while walking there my water broke mid contraction. good thing i listened. as things go of course the contractions got even more intense. but in the good words of audrey the doula “your pain has purpose.” indeed it did.
at one point while in the tub ann’s assistant came in and told me to make a motor boat sound during the contractions. i never thought it could be so hard to make a simple sound but i had to seriously focus in order to do this. the buzzing noise sent a vibration through my body and helped me to focus and relax a little more. but let me tell you i was seriously motor boating it up in that tub! i recall it was about this point in the labor that i felt like God had abandoned me. i was praying my little heart out and felt sad that it had been so long and the contractions were so painful. i cried out to Him, and that’s when i felt Him say that i had been faithful to my calling and that he would finish the good work he had begun in me.
stay tuned for part 3 of harper’s birth story!
one of the hardest things about this experience was feeling like it wasn’t going to end. isn’t that the way we feel during our suffering? we feel that the pain will not end. and there are moments that we feel like God is not near because we are blinded by our pain. God was so near…my faith, endurance, and trust was being so stretched that i didn’t realize he was the one working.