Contractions were 3 minutes apart and had a definite "bite" so I called the midwife. She said she'd be on her way. After I hung up with the midwife I called a person who I'm now happy to call friend but at the time was my birth photographer: Pranee. To spare you nine kinds of detail, I'll just tell you real quick how Pranee and I came to know one another. Early on in my relationship with my homebirth midwife I asked her if she could recommend a photographer to shoot the birth. I have seen some amazingly beautiful photographs of births - pictures that just capture the beauty and miracle that birth is. Because we felt confident that this would be our last (of course we've said those words before ~ sigh;) I really wanted to document the whole thing because it's kind of like a wedding - there's so much planning and forethought and then BAM - it happens and you can't remember a thing. Photography gives you a chance to re-live things and I really wanted to be able to do that. Anyhow, my midwife said she knew someone who lived in my neighborhood who did photography and I should look up her site. Well, I'd like to first of all state that when she said she lived in my neighborhood I thought she meant general vacinity but sister meant IN MY NEIGHBORHOOD...ON MY STREET....THREE DOORS DOWN. I mean honestly, if that's not the Lord I just don't know what is. I looked up her site and automatically loved everything I saw so I messaged her right away and the rest is history. She ended up shooting our maternity shots, the birth and the newborn shots. She has 4 kids and now we have weekly play dates in the big pool parking lot next to my house - so thankful for her!!! I digress...
So - we called the midwife, called the photographer and then called my friend Jennifer who lives super close by. Jennifer was desperate to see a baby being born and had mentioned that to me on multiple occasions leading up to my due date but I really wanted to keep it intimate and have a super special experience between Tim and I so I really didn't plan on her being part of the actual birth. I asked Jennifer to come over though, because she adores my kids and they adore her and most importantly she KNOWS them...she knows how to handle them and what to do with them...she doesn't get stressed out and she's super nurturing. In the event that one of them were to wake up during my labor/deliver, I knew she'd rush right in and handle it and they'd willingly go with her. Tim and I discussed that very night, however, that if all went smoothly and the kids stayed in their beds - she could watch the baby be born but the time before and after we'd like to keep as intimate as possible.
After our calls were made, I threw my robe on and had Tim do a few last minute things though right now I can't remember exactly what and we headed back downstairs where he promptly grabbed a beer and had a seat in the rocker. True story. Maybe he had some jitters he needed to work out? I dunno....
I had all these dreams of looking put together for my labor but in the end once calls were made, I couldn't have cared less how little makeup I had on and how messy my hair was...I was just excited that it was time. Finally!
Pranee got straight to work when she arrived capturing some of the "easy going" beginning parts of my labor. The midwife arrived at 11:30 PM
As with my other births - it wasn't "easy" for long. I was trying to remind myself to relax my body and muscles with each contraction. It's kind of like riding a bike - it ALL comes back to you even if it's been a while.
With my last three births, I've found it comforting to rock back and forth from foot to foot. I can't really describe why, but it helps and so I do it. Pacing seems to comfort me as well.
While I was laboring I wasn't super aware of all that was happening around me. When I got my birth records a from the midwife a few weeks post partum, I was amazed at how much she documented. How much she was able to tell just from my behavior and breathing is nothing short of amazing. I love these next couple of pictures because you can tell how intently she's watching and although I didn't notice it that night, like I said...she documented every detail!
Proof that Tim was just chillin' in the rocking chair. Ha ha.
Pretty quickly things picked up and I started feeling more of the labor in my back, which I hadn't really experienced since my labor with Kennedy.
Around 12:30 things really started picking up - breathing deeper and needing to lean over in an attempt to release the pain in my back with each contraction.
At 12:55 the midwives began to fill the bathtub - they told me that it may relieve some of the discomfort in my back and my plan was to deliver in the tub so I was anxious to see if it would provide some comfort. Because I was induced with Avery water birth wasn't an option and Grey's labor went so quickly it wasn't an option then either.
At 1:08 I entered the bath tub and of course each contraction still hurt but as far as my back labor - it gave me the most relief. Although these next few pictures don't show more than if I was wearing a bikini - consider this your forewarning of lots of bare pregnant belly ahead! =) *After I finalized the post, I went back and deleted lots of pictures which was so hard to do but I think it best I keep them for myself. After all - the internet is forever and I want to maintain some sense of modesty here.
Pranee did such an amazing job capturing the beauty despite the intensity of the hours that night. I'm so thankful to have these photographs. I've shared a good deal of them because I just love them so much.
The majority of my labor was just Tim and I...it's exactly what I desired and I'm so thankful. The midwives were nearby of course, monitoring the baby and I regularly but largely they allowed me to labor as I felt comfortable.
Close to 2, things seemed as though they were changing but I didn't feel the same things I did with my others. That evening it baffled me and even annoyed me in some ways - I was ready, but I wasn't and it was unnerving. In hindsight I think the main reason for that feeling was that my water wasn't broken. With my other labors my water was broken early on and when it was "go time" I knew it. With this labor, it seemed "go time" but I couldn't seem to make it happen if that makes any sense. I have no medical basis for my new found enlightening but I just wonder if that's what it was.
The midwives encouraged me to change positions - several times actually but I just struggled with it. I seemed to always gravitate back to being submerged in the water - laying back against the tub. All the other ways I tried to position myself just seemed utterly uncomfortable.
At 2:46 I had a wave of nausea that ended as you might suspect and again about 10 minutes later. At this juncture I was sweating, shaking, and beginning to get weary.
You ladies who've delivered before know of what I speak. It's that moment where you are teetering on the line between "I can do this" and "omgosh I cannot take another second please just let it be over"! This fan - God love her little fan she broke out to deliver a breath of heaven. Ha - It was so incredibly needed.
Around 2:55'ish I told the midwife that I needed something to happen and I told her that with the next contraction I planned to give it all I had and if we didn't have a baby I wanted to move to the bed to see if I could grasp more control.
We had been listening to hymns while I labored and I remember the song: "Oh, How I Need You" came on as the lyrics "I need you...oh I need you...every hour I need you" were sung they just sunk right into my soul and the Lord gave me the little pep talk I needed to push through. Literally.
I was out of breath, in pain, amazed, exhausted, thankful and overwhelmed with the whole thing.
I was so overwhelmed with things in fact that I forgot momentarily that we didn't know what we had - a boy or a girl. Ha! Someone said something to cue me into making the announcement and so I took a look.
A boy!!! So much joy - the Lord gave us the desires of our hearts and I was SOOOOO happy.
We wrapped him in a towel and kept him nice and warm by continually pouring tub water over him. The midwives kept listening to ensure he sounded good and was doing well.
"Tim...we got our boy!"
A smooch from the man who helped me make this perfect little creature.
Checking the cord for pulsing:
Ahhh...all is right with the world.
Oh yeah...and Jennifer got to see him be born. Here she is getting a good look at him.
After these sweet moments, Daddy got some alone time with him before I had to get back to work for a bit and before the official baby exam. We named him Micah Lee after both of our fathers. Micah also means gift from God and that he is.
I realize that sometimes things don't turn out as we wish and I realize that home birth may be viewed as risky or even foolish by some but for me it was all I wanted it to be...peaceful and perfect. I'm thankful to have had the opportunity to deliver in this way and to have had the birth experience we had. I'm also humbled and in awe of the ladies who coached and assisted us throughout this entire journey. I only wish that I could share their names. Hopefully one day other women will be able to do so...I hope and pray that the legislature eventually allows that. Until then they will continue to do what they love and what they feel called to do and for me and others who will reap the benefit of that I'm forever grateful.
Again - all photo credit goes to Pranee Loffer of Beauty for Ashes Photography
Here is the little sneak peak she posted on her social media platforms. So beautiful!