I’m so excited to share the story of my second child’s birth. But first I should warn you, this is a BIRTH story and includes “body” talk (and a few pictures), so read at your own risk.
My first son was born two days after his guess date and so during this pregnancy, I knew all along that I would go full term. Once I reached 37 weeks (what is generally considered “full term”, although 40 weeks is best for optimal fetal development!) people were continually asking me, “Aren’t you just SO READY to have this baby?!?!” I was feeling excellent and I absolutely love being pregnant, so I would just respond that I was still expecting to wait a little while longer. I wasn’t ready for it to be over yet! My mindset during this pregnancy changed so much from week 1 to week 40. I started off wanting to attempt a natural birth in a hospital setting. I realized after a while though that this was a fear-based decision. I wasn’t sure I could “handle” the intensity of labor and delivery so I wanted to have pain medication available for if (and when) I would cave. 2 Timothy 1:7 says that God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and love. I didn’t want to go into this birth being fearful of anything! I prayed a lot during this pregnancy and also did a ton of research. (Part of the research was for my doula certification that I am working toward and it was very timely for me to be pregnant at the same time!) John had asked me several times if I would consider delivering at home or at least at the birth center. For many healthy women with low-risk pregnancies, a birth center is a wonderful option. We didn’t want to “fight” anybody in the hospital about our decisions of what we felt was best for our baby. I decided to tour New Birth Company in Overland Park because I have so many friends who’ve had wonderful experiences delivering there. After seeing the beautiful rooms and hearing more about their philosophy on natural birth, I was sold! I transferred care around 20 weeks and never looked back.
Fast forward to Monday, October 6th. I had my 40 week appointment with a midwife named Kelly (I was actually only 39 weeks and 4 days) and she asked about my contractions. “Contractions? I haven’t had any yet!”, I said. She proceeded to check my cervix and I was 3cm dilated, 70% effaced, and baby was at a -2 station. Kelly said, “Well, once labor starts I think you’ll go pretty fast!” This was very different from my first birth when I had manageable contractions for about 24 hours but was still only 4cm dilated when I got to the hospital. After my appointment I worked for a few hours and then hung out with Hosea while John went to school like he does every Monday night. I fell asleep thinking about which pumpkin patch to take Hosea to the next day. I knew John would be helping his brother paint a house so I wanted to get out and enjoy the nice October weather with my big boy. I knew this would be one of my last moments of time spent with just him.
After falling asleep Monday night, I woke up at 2:12am with my first contraction. I was so excited that something was happening and I wanted to stay home as long as I could. I drank a full 24oz water bottle and bounced on my birth ball for about an hour. I was sitting out in the living room in the dark and things were quite peaceful. Hosea’s door was open so once I started to vocalize through my contractions I decided to get in the tub and start timing them. The warm water felt amazing and I was able to relax a little better in there. I used an app to time my contractions but they were pretty irregular so I wasn’t very concerned that things were progressing too quickly. They varied in length from 20-60 seconds and I had them as frequently as 2-6 minutes apart. Once in the water though, they were definitely more intense and I was vocalizing quite a bit. I thought I would wake up John and Hosea but they stayed sound asleep! I stayed in the bath for two hours and decided to call the midwife while I was in there. She heard me go through a few contractions while on the phone and suggested I come in because it sounded like I was “pretty far along”. I was hesitant because my contractions were so irregular! Strong, yes, but not consistent. I wanted to stay in a little longer to see if they evened out but I heeded the midwife’s advice and got out to wake up John. He shot out of bed at 5am after a few shakes and then we called my mom to see if she could come over and stay with Hosea. The next contraction made me feel like I needed to push, so John called her back and said, “Nevermind, can you just meet us at the birth center? We’ll bring Hosea with us and give him to you there.” We packed up a bag for him, I got dressed in a skirt, tank top, hoodie, and flip flops and we were on our way!
Hosea was so sweet and disoriented on the way there. He kept saying “WOO! We’re going to see the show!!” I have no idea what he was talking about! I was vocalizing through my contractions pretty loudly in the van at this point, and sitting in the front seat with my seat belt on was very uncomfortable. I remember pounding the window rhythmically with my fist so that I could focus on something. We turned the music up really loud because Hosea kept asking “What’s wrong, mama? What’s WRONG, mama???” He is so in tune with my emotions and I knew from the get-go that he would freak out if he saw me in pain. One of our favorite songs came on the radio and Hosea got so excited and starting singing, “CALLING THE MENCHERS!” (Calling All the Messengers). Here it is so you can jam out too: This is the most amazing song to listen to during labor by the way! One of the lines is very appropriate for birth, “This moment is all that matters, the future is now.” Like, the future is my baby’s childhood, and it is about to start right now! And another from the chorus, “We know that time’s running out. Can’t wait around ’cause the time is now.” Like, BOOK IT to the birth center because the baby is coming!! Once we got there though we realized that it had only been fifteen minutes since we called the midwife and she said it would take her 30 minutes to get there. So, naturally, we pulled through Einstein Bros. (not natural for us at all, I haven’t had a bagel in ages! But it tasted soooo good.) I ate half of it and as we pulled in to the birth center, a nurse came out and helped me walk inside. We arrived at New Birth Company at 6am.
The Birth Center
Once inside, the midwife asked which room I wanted (they have three beautiful rooms to choose from) but I didn’t care. We settled in one and when she checked me I was 9cm dilated and 100% effaced! I was in total shock that I’d gone through the bulk of labor and TRANSITION all by myself!! Whitney (the midwife) suggested I sit on the toilet. This was actually a comfortable position for me to labor in once they put blocks under my feet. It was more of a squat this way and I had been working so hard on my squats at prenatal yoga every week! Squatting opens up your pelvis 28% more than any other position so it is PERFECT for birth. Contractions just kept getting more frequent and more intense and I remember looking at John and asking, “Where’s Ginny?? (my doula)”. Before he could answer, she walked in and I breathed a sigh of relief. I felt pretty in control but needed her reinforcement. This is when my water broke and Whitney checked me again on the toilet. She suggested I sit backward on the toilet to get that last little lip of cervix to move. She asked if I wanted her to move it herself but when I hesitated to respond she said, “No problem! I’ll let it move aside on its own.” It was like she read my mind! Being backward on the toilet allowed for me to rest my head on my forearms, John could press on my lower back, and Ginny was by my side, rubbing my forehead/eyebrows, offering encouragement and sips of a smoothie. At this point I felt like I needed to stand up so I got up and wrapped my arms around John’s neck. I was swaying back and forth and I think I remember John making a joke about slow dancing… Then I squatted involuntarily and felt the urge to push!
Whitney, Ginny, and John helped me move to the bed but once I laid down I got nervous about pushing on my back (the WORST possible position to push in!). Ginny noticed my fear and somehow we ended up rolling me onto my side a little bit. I was instructed to pull my knees back and push when I felt the urge. I pushed once and it was the most painful thing I’d ever felt in my life! I felt like I was being ripped in half and so I stopped. There was a split second where I got scared because I knew there was no other way to get the baby out at this point! This was something I HAD to do. I didn’t want to push again but on the next contraction, my midwife (who had been so calm and collected the whole time) was very firm with me and said, “Abigail! You have GOT to push your baby out!” This was exactly what I needed to hear so I pushed for a second time and the baby’s head was out! I pushed a third time, and baby’s body followed suit. I’ve never felt so much relief in my life! Everyone had told me that in a natural birth, pushing comes as such a relief after the contractions… this was obviously not my experience. I would’ve sustained hours of more contractions if given the choice!
The baby was placed on my chest and I was in complete amazement! Whitney said, “Okay mom, is it a girl or a boy?!” I was totally not thinking about gender at that point but looked down, moved the cord aside, and announced “It’s a boy!” I would not have been disappointed with a girl but I was SO THRILLED to have another boy! John cut the cord, they dried the baby off some, and then he nursed right away.
I’ve never felt stronger, happier, or more empowered in my life. I smile and cry every time I think about it. I am so proud of myself for staying calm throughout the whole process and for how I handled the contractions. I credit prenatal yoga for teaching me how to be aware of my breath and visualize oxygen moving through my body and my cervix opening up. I can’t believe I was 9cm upon arrival at the birth center and I can’t believe I was only there for an hour before delivering! I’m amazed that it all started around 2am and ended around 7am… only 5 hours start to finish!
Moses Gabriel Carr was born at 7:03am weighing 8 lbs even and with a length of 21 inches. He is perfect ❤
I got stitched up (I tore a little because of the episiotomy from my first birth), cleaned up and then the staff baked a peach cobbler and brought it in singing Happy Birthday! Then I was given bacon and waffles and was encouraged to take an herbal bath with the baby. John’s parents and grandma came to visit and then my mom and dad came in so Hosea could meet his brother. Hosea was a little nervous at first but warmed up quickly and wanted to hold him (but was a little more excited about his toy car that we got him “from the baby”). After our visitors left, we were discharged from the birth center and home by 3pm. I am still in shock that I went to bed Monday night pregnant, and woke up Tuesday morning with a baby in my arms 🙂
[Moses is Hebrew and means “drawn up from the water” or “deliverer”. I thought it would’ve been neat to have a water birth but we didn’t even have time to turn the water on! Our prayer is that our Moses can be instrumental in delivering people from oppression. Gabriel is my younger brother’s name and means “messenger of God”.]
I will never have another hospital birth if I can help it. I feel so blessed by the care I received at the birth center. I loved not having an IV, people weren’t messing with me the whole time, no one was strapping fetal monitors to me or telling me what to do, and no one was telling me I’d be better off getting an epidural. I was always encouraged to trust my maternal instincts. A nurse came to visit us at home after 24 hours to take off Moses’ cord clamp and check in on us. Then we went in for appointments at 3 days and 2 weeks postpartum to check on things like breastfeeding and signs of postpartum depression. I truly feel like I will be chasing this “high” for a long time! What an experience.
This is the view from my herbal bath 🙂 Beautiful right?! This is the room where I delivered him!
Here are some more photos:
My doula (Ginny) and a picture of Moses’ long and healthy cord!