Taking Life One Step At A Time

Taking Life One Step At  A Time

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Jesse's Birth Part III

I have been asked to write Jesse's birth story. I'm glad to do so in the hopes that it encourages other women out there to think outside the box a bit when it comes to pregnancy and labor and children.

Jesse's Birth Part 1
Jesse's Birth Part II

{Warning: this blog entry shares candidly about the birth process. Don't read it if that makes you nervous.}

My water broke at 12:30am on Jesse's due date. (I've delivered three of my five babies on their due dates! Isn't that odd?!) I tried to get some sleep knowing that I had a marathon ahead of me. But really, who can sleep well when they know their baby is on the way? An hour later my contractions started. I had been having contractions for WEEKS. Sometimes they were really intense. I can't say these were any worse than what I'd already experienced in pre-labor, but at least I knew they were for real. Around 8am the contractions had gotten to about 8 minutes apart and were lasting close to a minute. I called our midwife, Leah, knowing she had a 45 minute drive and that the tub would arrive with her. We then sent the kids over to my parents house so they wouldn't be traumatized by the experience. After all, we want to have grandchildren some day!

At 9am Leah and her two assistants arrived at our doorstep. They set up the tub and made sure everything was ready for the birth. At which time, my contractions completely stopped. Josh and I tried so many things to get them going again, but we just couldn't seem to get regular, hard contractions to surface. We walked around the block (several times), I trudged my heavy body up and down flights of stairs again and again. I tried resting. I tried rocking. I tried the birthing ball. I ate lunch. Nothing was working.

Around 2pm, we were frustrated and also somewhat concerned since my water had broken 14 hours before. I really had no desire to go to the hospital, but knew that if this continued for a full 24 hours, a hospital birth was likely going to be our only option. While walking the block, Leah had given me some herbs to try. First, she gave me blue cohosh. It was just 3 tiny pills that I dissolved under my tongue. We tried a couple rounds of that, but it didn't advance labor. But THEN, she suggested we try two other things. First, she gave me some black cohosh pills and she instructed Josh to try some nipple stimulation. I don't know if it was one or the other or both, but something sure worked. Within just a few minutes (literally about 10 minutes!) I was in transition. I went from zero contractions to "this baby is coming NOW" contractions. (Which I am so thankful for, because there was talk of me drinking some castor oil. Blech!)

Since the tub was already set up and ready in our room, Josh headed downstairs to get Leah and we promplty got me into the tub. The warm water felt heavenly - for about a minute before my contractions began again. It seemed I could barely catch my breath between them, but then again, that's how it's supposed to be. I tried several positions: sitting, squatting, hands and knees. I was most comfortable squatting near the edge of the tub holding onto Leah's arms as she steadied me so I could lean back. But with each contraction the most important thing was for Josh's hand to be pressing on my back. I've had back labor twice before and got to experience it once again with Jesse.

I can say that although I pushed for longer than I typically do, everything felt more natural. I wasn't flat on my back with people holding up my legs, yelling at me to push. Instead, I had the midwives gently encouraging me, telling me that I was doing things just right. When the pain was overwhelming, they assured me that the end was in sight and that I would be able to get through it. Josh was lovingly providing counterpressure for my back and no one fussed when I wanted to move about. Thankfully, Josh thought to close the bedroom windows so our neighbors wouldn't freak out when they heard my loud moans and groans. (I've heard of people having silent births, but I just don't know how you do that when you're going without meds!)

At the very end, I got onto my hands and knees in the tub. My legs were cramping from squatting and I needed a new position. I could tell that Jesse was ready to arrive, so I pushed continuously - even after the contraction ended. There really wasn't any time between pushing out his head and the rest of him. He just came all at once! Josh was able to help catch him and I was able to hold him immediately. He didn't cry immediately, but there was no fear. His color was good and he was not tangled in the cord. I think the water birth was actually easier on him. He came out very relaxed! Once I had held Jesse for a couple of minutes, the midwives and Josh helped me (while I was still holding slippery little Jesse) out of the tub and onto the bed. I was able to nurse him immediately as they helped Josh cut the cord and I delivered the placenta. I had no tearing and much less bleeding than normal.

Josh then took Jesse and washed him off. The midwives checked him over thoroughly. They cleaned the room, gave us care instructions and helped get some food and drink into me. And then they were gone. The kids came over with Nana and Grandpa just 3 hours after Jesse was born. You couldn't tell that I had just given birth in that room!

And once everyone left, Josh and I were able to care for our sweet little one on our own. No nurses coming and going throughout the night, no loud beeping machines, no bright lights. Just a quiet household where two parents were getting to know their newest child.

I have to say that without a husband willing to really be there for his wife, a homebirth wouldn't be a wonderful thing. Josh was incredible during that first week. (He's incredible all the time, but I was amazed with his patience and care after Jesse's birth.) He set up a cot in our room so that he was right there if I needed him and so that Jesse and I could share the bed. For the first 24 hours, he was required to be at my side any time I needed to get out of bed. He changed the icky meconium diapers and brought me food and drink any time I was hungry or thirsty. He did the laundry, washed the dishes, kept the house clean, fielded phone calls and visitors and never once complained. Without him at my side, I wouldn't have considered this birth a success.

Our sweet boy was born at 4:14pm. He was healthy, alert and quiet. Would I say that 16 hours of labor was worth it? You bet! How about laboring with no meds? Absolutely. It was difficult, but in retrospect, I can most definitely say that this has been the most positive birth experience for me. I've had an epidural, I've labored for more than 24 hours, I've had back labor, labor with no meds, an emergency C-section, a VBAC and now a home birth. Out of all of those, this was hands down the best.

And look at the sweet little man I now have to show for it!

James 1:17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.


  1. What a beautiful experience. Thanks for sharing it Ali.

  2. This is a beautiful story, Ali... I've never had a "normal" hospital experience (always used a midwife, twice at home) but I would still highly recommend a home-birth or a birth center with a qualified midwife over any other option out there. Thanks for sharing the thought process behind deciding to allow more children as well. even though having more children means that the child-rearing season of life threatens to go on forever... =) What a wonderful thing to which we can dedicate the best years of our life! A Godly heritage, children who grow to love and serve Him... This is success in the truest meaning of the word. You and Josh are blessed! We love you!

  3. I am so glad you had such a wonderful experience! And glad to hear your husband took care of you as well as mine did :) When you write about Josh I often think he and Steve must be quite similar in a lot of ways!