As I awoke early morning on Fourth of July, six days past my 'expected due date', with stronger Braxton hicks contractions than normal, I knew it meant only one thing...
I was in labor!
I tossed and turned in bed, trying not to wake my fiancé next to me, as I tracked the contractions on my iPhone app 'Full Term'. Two hours later, I woke him up and we started getting our day going: Got my 3 year old son up, made some oatmeal for energy, and alerted my birth team that today was the day. I let them know there was no rush, as I could walk and talk through the surges. They were about 5 minutes apart, and lasted only 30 or so seconds. I also called my mom so she could head over and hangout during early labor, and possibly entertain my son, as my full focus could not be on him at that time unfortunately.
Only an hour passed before I knew that the birth team needed to be there ASAP, as my labor was progressing much faster than it had with my son. My labor with my son was 19 hours from start to finish, and so far this labor was only 3 hours in! This was about 10 a.m.
My fiancé started setting up the birth pool in our basement, where it was nice and cool, just as the doula showed up. Casey (my fiancé) forgot to put the liner in the pool, so he had to dump all the water out and start again. Poor guy. I got in just as the contractions were obviously getting stronger, and my doula started putting pressure on my hips to ease me through each one. I started getting goosebumps and shaking because I was so cold, which in turn, slowed down my contractions a lot. I got out of the pool, got my cozy robe on, and went into my warm bed. By this time, the hot water had run out in our hot water tank and we were boiling big pots of water, but it still wasn't enough to make the water warm enough for me to relax and just work with the surges instead of against them. Casey climbed in bed with me, cuddled me close, kept me warm, and told me I was doing an amazing job...I believed him.
My midwives showed up sometime in between the pool and bed, but I was so focused, that I'm not sure I could tell you when exactly they arrived, but at least they were there!
All my son wanted to do was go swimming in the pool with me, so my mother put him down for a nap (1p.m.) in order for me to focus more on the task at hand. I labored on my bed for the next hour, doing the Miles Circuit, to help my contractions kick back up.
Oh boy, did they!
For a few of the contractions, I really thought to myself, "How much longer can I go through this pain? How much longer will my body stand it?" Because I had no vaginal checks, I had NO CLUE where I was in cervical dilation. After a few more of those intense surges (Where it felt like my hips were being ripped apart.) My doula put pressure on my lower back, which helped so much with the intensity of each contraction..and then...I felt the need to push!
I never had this feeling with my son. In the hospital, once I was checked and at a full 10cm, my legs were put up in stirrups and I was told to start pushing at the next contraction. They counted to 10 as I held my breath and pushed with all my might. This time around, I let my body take the lead and do what it knew it needed to do. I listened to my body closely and pushed when I really felt the need to. POP! my water broke.
(Yes, I had a protective liner on my mattress.)
Next contraction, I pushed again...I couldn't stop it, by body took over, and I let it. I reached down and felt a whole head of hair, which gave me more of a reason to push like hell at the next contraction. As the baby's head came out, I lifted my hips off the bed (from my side-laying position I had been in on my left hip) and rotated them slightly right (again, something my body just felt it needed to do). With the next push, my midwife, who had been silently observing everything, handed my baby to me for some sweet skin-to-skin. Four pushes total!
I wept as I lifted this tiny body onto me, crying out in joy, "our baby is here!!".
I was in such awe of this amazing little human on me, covered from head to toe in thick vernix, that I didn't even think to look at the gender right away!!! As I looked around the room and saw many anxious faces, I lifted my baby up...
"OH HONEY, WE HAVE A BABY GIRL!".
My mother said I looked up at my fiancé with the most loving eyes she has ever seen in her life, and I most definitely believe her. For that one moment, I was in bliss. No longer felt any pain from the birth, or from my miscarriage from last year, just incredibly elated that our Rainbow baby was finally here, healthy, and absolutely adorable.
Joss Avani Mae Bancroft was born on 4th of July, at 3:51 p.m.
She weighed 7 pounds 9 ounces, and was 21 inches long.
Perfect in every way.
We waited quite some time before clamping her cord, to make sure it stopped pulsating and all the blood came back to her instead of staying with the placenta. Then, daddy got to cut it.
We waited a whole 3+ hours for my placenta to come on it's own...it was hard being that patient, but I knew it was for the best. As soon as it was out, my Doula and fiancé made up a wonderful herbal sitz bath for me and baby Joss, and we got to relax in my very own bathtub.
(Yes, that is my daughter's first middle-finger in this picture. Mama's so proud!)
Once out, I got clean clothes on, climbed into a warm, freshly made bed, and was brought Raspberry leaf tea, Arnica, a turkey sandwich, and some chocolates.
Casey went up and woke up our son, Balen, from his nap. I think he is still a little oblivious that she came out of mommy, but he is so excited to be a big brother! Can you tell??
My home birth was magical...to say the very least. If you are thinking about this as an option for you and your family, and are a low-risk pregnancy, I would say PLEASE consider it!
I cannot imagine birthing in a hospital again (unless it was an emergency, naturally).
My experience has been life-changing; I am even more of a homebirth advocate than before!
A HUGE shout-out to my birth team: Dana, Terri, and Amanda, plus my mom and my loving fiancé. I couldn't have had such an incredible experience without you all!!!
Thank you to my mother for snapping a few images while I was in labor, so thankful I have these! I will treasure them forever, even if they are not "professional" :)
Natalie Bee is a Birth Photographer and Doula, a mother of four wildlings, and coffee junkie. She captures the beauty of motherhood and birth through a passionate photojournalist approach.