My husband and I found out we were pregnant after our first anniversary. We lost our first baby at seven weeks due to an ectopic pregnancy. Three months later we were pregnant again and ultrasound showed the baby was in my uterus! We were so thrilled. I really wanted to make this time special for us and I searched for classes for us to join in order to prepare for the birth of our baby. My cousin had told me about the birth of her three children and I was quite intrigued. She had three home births and the last was an underwater birth. She told me it was the best experience she's ever had!
Soon after that I spoke with a friend of mine in church who also had her children at home and she recommended that I look into the Bradley method. It was a three-month course that really prepares and educates you in the birth process. This was exactly what I was looking for! We learned more than I can believe and were so prepared for the birth of our baby. They teach you about nutrition and exercise to prepare for labor. They stress natural breathing and relaxation to handle the pain. They emphasize the husband as coach and his role is very important during the labor and birth.
I had no intentions of having a home birth. I was most comfortable with the thought of having the baby in the hospital. I decided to have the baby naturally without medication. As my husband and I learned more and more, the idea of a home birth became more appealing. We prayed about it and felt a peace from God, so we decided to have the baby at home with a midwife.
There are many positions one can be in during labor and our midwife suggested setting up different areas in our home where I could go to feel most comfortable. The shower, bathtub, a birthing stool, a heated birthing tub, and the bed were areas that I could go anytime during labor. I could also choose to walk around the house and the neighborhood. I had selected a birth team to attend the birth (my mom, sister, mother-in-law, best friend, and midwife).
We had a meeting and gave each member of our birth team a birth plan that my husband and I had prepared with the help of the Bradley classes. Everyone had a job and it guided each person through the birth process. This would help them be prepared and know what each of their roles was going to be during the birth. It also helped them to know what to expect during labor.
My labor started Friday morning with slight crampy feelings every ten minutes. This continued throughout the day and by the evening they were getting stronger. My belly felt like a bowling ball! Through each contraction I would close my eyes and focus on deep, slow breathing and relaxing my body. Relaxation is the key to working with your body during a contraction instead of against it.
By 10 PM, I called the midwife and she came over. She checked my dilation and she said I was 80-percent effaced (the flattening of the cervix), but I had no dilation. I was so upset! I had contractions for 12 hours and I had not dilated at all! She said to try to get as much rest as possible. I cried and thought, "I can't do this! If these contractions aren't getting me anywhere, what are the real contractions going to feel like!?" I called my mom and a friend and they assured me that I was going to be fine. I decided to take a hot bath. It felt so good and the warm water helped relax me.
During the night I would wake up with each contraction and breathe and relax, breathe and relax. It was so hard and I was praying with each contraction, "Please, Lord, open my uterus in the name of Jesus!" Let me tell you by 3 AM I was done! I got up in the middle of the contraction and went to the bathroom. I couldn't take it anymore! Just then I felt like pushing and I remembered that this was the transition phase of labor where you feel like you can't do it any more, you get really shaky, and you have a strong urge to push. I grabbed the phone and called the midwife. After getting off the phone, my husband came in the bathroom and asked if I needed anything. I told him to start a bath and get me ice chips. He knew I was in the serious part of labor and did what I asked. When the midwife came, she checked me and I was dilated to five centimeters! Hallelujah!
My husband got the stopwatch and began timing the contractions while I was in the tub. They were lasting a minute and a half and coming every four minutes. What really helped me during those contractions was having him count out the seconds by 10. My contractions would peak at about 60 seconds and by his count I knew all I had to do was make it to 60 and then the pain would start to go down.
By 4 AM the midwife called the birth team to come over and we moved into the birthing tub. It was heated to 100 degrees and felt so good. I began having the urge to push with each contraction and the Bradley class taught me to take three deep breaths and on the third, push. This times it perfectly to push during the peak of the contraction.
I was amazed at how my body just naturally knew what to do and led me through the process. My husband got into the tub and we both got to feel the baby's head when it crowned. It was invigorating to push and by 5 AM with all the people I loved and cared about there with us, in a room filled with love and peace, my husband caught our baby and announced the sex to all in the room, "It's a boy!" There wasn't a dry eye in the place, and as he handed me our child I held him to my chest and I will never forget how soft and supple his skin was...like silk. Then he opened his eyes and let out a little cry and I held him, praising God for this miracle, and spoke to him as he stopped crying and looked up at me.
Levi was born on May 14, 2005 at seven pounds, seven ounces, and was 20½ inches long. I am now seven months pregnant with our second child and we plan on having another underwater birth at home with the same midwife. It was the best experience of our lives and we want to encourage each mother-to-be to spend time educating and preparing for the birth of your child, know your options, and choose the birth that you want to have!