This is a birth story, with pictures and descriptions of an actual, live birth. While I have not posted any graphic pictures, please do not continue to read if you are sensitive or easily offended by these types of pictures or descriptions. This was a beautiful and amazing moment for our family and we have chosen to share this with the people in our lives. The process of birth is an amazing testament to God and His creation. We are excited to share our journey. Thanks for your support!
Back in January, I found out that I was expecting our second child. Our shock and excitement quickly turned to crazy all-day sickness and illness, but we pressed forward with our plans to have a positive, intervention-free homebirth.
|Our announcement to share with our friends!|
Shortly after I got my positive test, we hired our midwife, Salli. Hiring Salli was such a peaceful process for us. She was well-known and respected in our area, and I had not heard a single negative thing about her from anyone. The local natural birth/natural parenting community had nothing but high praises for her and her practice, and when we met with her, she was able to answer any questions and concerns we had. If I had any doubts about homebirth, they were immediately gone quickly after making a choice about our midwife. Over the next nine months, I got to establish an amazing relationship with her and with her apprentice, Shara.
Visits with Salli were so much different than visiting with an OB/GYN. At each appointment I met Salli at the birth center in New Braunfels. Salli would check my blood pressure, pulse, urine, and then check the baby using a doppler or fetoscope to hear the heartbeat, and using her hands to feel the baby's position. She would measure my fundal height and ask questions about movement, how I was feeling (physically and emotionally), if I had any weird symptoms and ask about my diet and supplements. When I was able to eat, I tried to adhere to the Brewer Diet, and all my many supplements (prenatals, chlorophyll and various tinctures and herbs for overall pregnancy health.) The rest of the visit we would just simply chat -- about anything and everything. Salli also had an extensive library of books dealing with natural birth, breastfeeding, the issues surrounding maternity care and I read as many as I could, and that also provided a lot of discussion. I looked forward to every single visit!
Fast forward to early September. As my due date approached, I found myself feeling anxious. We were facing a move to South Dakota and my husband was scheduled to report by the end of September. I found myself stressed and worried that he would have to leave before our child would arrive.
|40 weeks and 1 day, feeling very huge and uncomfortable, but feeling pretty!|
My EDD of September 11th came and went without much notice. That next Thursday at my midwife appointment, she checked me and we found that I was very, VERY soft, almost completely effaced and dilated to between a 5-6. The water sac was "bulging" so we knew that the past two weeks of prodormal labor were doing something and labor was on it's way.
On Sunday September 16th I stayed home from worship services. I had the unfortunate experience of getting food poisoning the day before and while I felt like the puking and other fun stuff was over, I was very tired and slightly dehydrated, so I opted to stay home and rest.
Around 4pm, I began feeling a lot of pressure against my cervix and bottom. I wasn't have contractions but as I told my mom "I feel like I need to poop!!" She told me I should call Salli and see what she thought.
I texted Salli and explained what was going on. She said "I think I need to come over and check things out." She arrived at 5:15 and checked me. I was contracting regularly, but they weren't "hurting", and I was between 6-7 cm and even softer than I was before. She said "You are in labor, so let's get things set up and watch you and see what happens."
My husband, Salli and her assistant Holly began setting up the birth tub and taking my vitals. Around 5:30pm I had my first contraction that I felt. My husband and I began to time them and they were lasting about sixty seconds. Shortly after we began to time them, they began to hurt. I got on my knees and leaned over the coffee table and rocked my hips, moaning softly during contractions. They intensified quickly, and I had Philip text our photographer and my parents telling them they needed to get here soon.
Around 6pm I really wanted to be in the birth tub. The water looked so nice and I was beginning to struggle through the contractions on the floor.
|Such a comfy pool. Seriously, being there was great!|
The pool wasn't quite full enough but Salli suggested I go ahead and get in. I immediately felt relief. I completely understand the term "natural birther's epidural" when it comes to being in water. It felt so good. During a contraction I could just let my body float and move so freely in the water. I alternated between laying on my back and floating, and being on my knees, leaning over the edge of the pool. During a contraction I moaned, roared and made sounds I did not know I could make. (And I have a sore throat to prove it.)
|Support from Philip while leaning over the pool.|
|Leaning against the side, letting the rest of my body float.|
|Gathering strength from my mom.|
|Andrew, enjoying his trains.|
|Philip, Andrew and my dad helping me relax in between contractions.|
At 7:30 I was frustrated that my membranes were still intact. Salli asked if I wanted her to break my water and I said "Yes, I'm ready to have this baby." JohnDavid had other plans and while Salli got ready to break my water, I had a strong contraction, pushed and the sac popped on its own! Immediately I began to feel my baby descend and feel the infamous ring of fire. I had not felt that as strongly with Andrew and it scared me, but I also knew that it meant my baby was almost here.
Philip switched places and got ready to "catch". I pushed and roared with just about every bit of energy I had left and I felt the head come out. I reached down to feel the head and as soon as I touched the head, I knew it was a boy...with A FULL head of hair!
I wanted to finishing pushing him out, but I didn't have the energy so I waited for the next contraction. That's when Salli discovered the cord was around his neck. Her and Shara quickly had me switch to my hands and knees, and she was able to release the cord and I felt him slide out. Philip reached down in the water and grabbed him, and loudly shouted "It's a boy! JohnDavid is here!"
Shara and Salli helped my lean back against the tub and JohnDavid McKinley Graves was placed on my chest for the first time. He wasn't crying, and was a little bit purple, and looking around. Salli told me to talk to him and he immediately began to turn pink and wiggle around. He never did really cry, but instead just looked at me and "talked". He was very calm and peaceful. We sat there staring at each other for about five to ten minutes. I was just in awe.
|New mommy bliss!|
|Very proud daddy|
|I'm pretty sure we were laughing about the adorable pouty faces JohnDavid was making.|
|Surrounded by my loving boys!|
|Philip cutting the cord right after Salli clamped it.|
Once the cord was cut, he went to his daddy and I climbed out of the pool and climbed into bed.
|Snuggled safely into daddy's arms.|
After JohnDavid nursed a bit, Salli did the newborn exam. He was 9lbs, 2-3oz (the scale wouldn't ever be still) and 21 3/4 inches long. Such a chunk! At this point I was even more amazed that I hadn't torn, oh the power of water and listening to your body! Andrew had been physically pulled from my body as soon as his head emerged, and I'm convinced that is what caused my 2nd degree tear with him, even though he was almost a pound smaller than JohnDavid.
|JohnDavid McKinley Graves|
Philip took JohnDavid for some skin-to-skin and bonding time with Andrew while I showered. The shower felt so nice. Salli had prepared an herbal rinse in a peri-bottle and it would help with healing, swelling and the small tear.
After my shower, I ate and drank a bit more, nursed JohnDavid again and he settled down to sleep. Salli left, and everyone went to bed.
It was perfect. I couldn't get over the differences in Andrew's birth and JohnDavid's birth, and neither could Philip. All he could do was keep saying "This is so much better. This is so much better!!" The decision on where and how to birth is personal to each family but as for us, we will definitely have babies at home from now on (as long as it's a healthy, normal pregnancy!)
We are now a family of four, five if you include our beautiful doggy Bella. Bella and I are now officially outnumbered by the boys, but I think we will be okay.