Jessica is a rooted, matter-of-fact, courageous woman whom I have admired since the day I met her. I met her while she was in labor with her late-“diagnosed” twins! She had just switched midwives so that she could still have an out-of-hospital birth she KNEW she was capable of, even as a first-time mom. That remarkable birth story can be read on this blog. But today I’m sharing the 2021 birth story of her “singleton” baby, Hayley.
What follows is in mama Jessica’s own words.
I think when we think about birth we, as a society, focus on those moments contractions start until the moment that baby comes earthside. Reflecting on my most recent birth I think that makes birth look like a mere moment in time verse the journey of growth that a mother goes through from the moment of conception to the moment of delivery. Birth is a journey of self-discovery of your strength, your courage, and your faith.
I started my journey thinking that I was going to “replicate” the previous birth I had. I am sure there are women out there that think the same thing- same location, same provider means I am going to have the same experience and that works because that previous experience was amazing and we don’t like change! I hear you! I was there! Although you could argue I would have not had the same experience since I had twins the first time and this pregnancy was a singleton but nonetheless that was my thinking!
However, I was faced with a predicament when my values and beliefs did not match with my providers when it came to the newest issue mothers have to deal with, CoVid. I won’t say either of us was right or wrong, it just didn’t match and honestly, it was heartbreaking since I felt that our previous experience was so great. At this point, we are four months out from our estimated arrival time and suddenly I am feeling it weigh heavily on my heart that I can do this, we can do this by ourselves. Over the next month I reached out to our doula to ask what she thought about an unassisted birth, I reached out to Brooke who was present at our first birth, and I reached out to the Lord asking him to lead us down the path that was right for us this time.
We decided to do a 29-week ultrasound to make sure the baby was in a good position and everything looked good before we truly committed to doing a free birth. Everything checked out great. I felt like that was our green light that this was the path we were supposed to take. For the next couple of months, I studied and read and watched births as much as I could. We had decided to have two people at our birth- our doula Heather Dexter and Brooke Collier for photography/support.
I was nervously excited when March came and we were nearing our estimated arrival time. It was a Tuesday night when I woke up with regular contractions and some serious back labor plus loose stools- this was it!! I spent about 4 hours working through contractions and thought I am going to try laying down and try getting a little sleep before it gets too serious. I laid down and everything stopped. This was the story for the next week. Prodromal labor is exhausting emotionally and physically! Talking with my doula, Heather, her biggest concern (and mine too) was that I wasn’t going to realize when true labor started.
The following Wednesday after taking a long, slow walk I lost my mucus plug which was exciting since I felt like I had been in labor for a week with no signs of actual labor starting. This was progress! That night I was trying to picture birth and what it looked like and I realized I was having a hard time picturing what the big kids would do or where they would be. I wanted them there but they didn’t seem interested in the birth and I was afraid of what would happen if they left or if they stayed. I kept praying that I could keep them near and picturing laboring through the night starting when they went to bed and being done by the time they woke up.
It was 6 pm on Thursday, March 25th when we called Heather to tell her that we were sure labor had started. Heather was heading to another birth which sent me into panicked laughter — of course, this would happen! Brooke ended up coming our way when Heather couldn’t be there and giving us support through the first part of laboring. We put the kids down at 8 pm and told Brooke to come about 8:30.
We had the pool up and filled halfway (the hot water ran out), I was working through contractions praying that they stayed strong in fear that everything would stop like they had so many times in the past week. At some point, we all closed our eyes and took a little nap. I want to say it was about 11 or 11:30 when we heard that Heather was on her way.
When she got there I was in the pool and I could feel my emotions starting to bubble. It wasn’t long I was angry the water was too hot and I wanted out. The contractions were coming on hard and fast. I was having a hard time working through them and found that I was thinking “I can’t do this” a lot. I moved from all fours with the exercise ball to the toilet where I started to push, to leaning over the couch holding on to my husband. I was uncomfortable and things were intense.
I am not sure how long I pushed, or how it all transitioned. It is amazing how you almost lose all control, giving it all to God to get you through it. I know I was leaning over my husband who was sitting on the couch when I pushed and felt her head moving to the vaginal canal, pushed again and she crowned, the head came then the body. It was fast. Heather caught her and passed her through my legs to me and it was done.
At this point it was 1:00 am, the bigs in their beds sleeping peacefully and we took our time in the next couple hours enjoying the post-birth high.
It was a simple, intense, and completely normal birth.
If you’re in want of a holistic, Christian birth attendant, I am available to support and photograph a limited number of home births each year. To learn more about the options, go here.
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