Friday, June 18, 2010

My Amazing and Beautiful Birth Story

My wonderful midwives, Stephanie (holding baby Una) and Kate

To begin with, I suppose I should revisit the beginning of this pregnancy. I was happy and content to have ten children-- I really thought I was "done." When I found out I was pregnant with another baby, I'm ashamed to say that I was less than thrilled.

I do LOVE babies-- there is nothing better in the world! In reality, it was the pregnancy and birth process that I was most anxious about. With birth #10, I had gone back to the hospital after three beautiful home births-- all because I did not want to deal with the reality and effort that natural birth brings. I had let fear take me back to being a "patient" who wanted to "be delivered" of my babies, instead of the strong, empowered woman that I-- and God-- know that I am.

So, here I was, nine months pregnant with precious baby #11. I have several relatives who were pregnant and due around the same time I was, and they were all looking forward to having their new babies. I, on the other hand, was still dreading the birth process. But I also knew that a natural home birth is what this baby needed, and what I needed to heal my fears and worries.

So God gave me the most amazing, beautiful birth experience I could ever have...

Saturday, June 12

I'd been feeling labor pains off and on during the week, but I woke up on Saturday feeling things were "different". I had lots of irregular, crampy contractions throughout the day. I'd time them-- 5 minutes apart, then ten minutes apart-- and then they'd fade away completely. My emotions were all over the place. I'd get excited and giggly, and then I'd begin to panic. I made mental notes of what still needed to be cleaned, and I slaved away on laundry. Russell blew up the labor pool, and helped me tidy up our bedroom.

The atmosphere at home was chaotic, because my three oldest kids had been gone to Scout Camp, to Girl's Camp, and on a High Adventure hike to Havasupai Falls that week, and they were all finally arriving home at different times on Saturday. I was breathing a sigh of relief that I had not had the baby while they'd been gone-- I'm sure I was literally waiting for them before I'd allow myself to begin laboring.

And now they were all home, safe and sound. There was nothing else to "wait for."

Saturday night, I went to bed feeling slightly defeated. All labor had ceased, and the day was over. I barked a few last instructions to the kids who needed to put away their camping gear, (I had forgotten that a grumpy mom is often a laboring mom...) and headed to bed.

My nightstand, ready to go, with my full water cup, some essential oils, and the Sears' "Birth Book"

Sunday June 13

12:45 am After a few hours of fitful sleep, I woke with a start. I was soaking wet! I jumped out of bed and hobbled to the bathroom. I knew that smell-- AMBIOTIC FLUID. After ten babies, I knew that smell with absolute certainty. I changed and cleaned myself up, and woke Russell. We debated calling the midwife, but in the end we decided that I should, even though the hour was late/early. She told me to stay clean, to sleep if I could, and to call her if contractions progressed.

I stayed up for an hour or two, watching the clock and timing my small contractions anxiously. The contractions stayed ten minutes apart, were very mild, and eventually drifted away to nothing at all. I went to sleep excited, and tried not to worry. It was now do or die-- this baby was coming soon! I looked forward to telling the kids in the morning...

Our ENORMOUS birth pool

6:30am I could no longer sleep and puttered around in my room. I doubled checked the birth supplies, and tidied up the bathroom a bit. I called my parents to tell them the good news. As the kids woke, I excitedly announced that my water had broken in the night, and that the baby should arrive soon. (I'd never had my water spontaneously break until the Transition phase of labor in any of my other births. I guess we all can learn something new!) The kids all rushed around, cleaning, and giggling. They all got themselves and the little kids ready for church, and we gave them instructions on behaving at church, and who needed to pick whom up from classes. (We live directly across the street from our church building, so we knew we weren't sending them off too far.)

8:00am My contractions were gone, doing nothing. I was still leaking fluid, but the contractions were completely gone. I was feeling so discouraged. I had stayed up half the night timing them, and I was sure I'd have a baby in my arms by now!

I called Stephanie, my midwife, to let her know how things were going. I bawled like a baby, and told her how upset I was. She heartily encouraged me to go to church with my family, and get the spiritual renewal I needed. This was the perfect thing! I dried my tears, waddled into the shower, and went to church with all my family. The meeting was so inspiring, and I felt renewed, though still a bit "off." I decided to go home after sacrament meeting to get some more rest.

The rest of the day went by slowly and peacefully, like restful sabbaths should. Russell gave me a priesthood blessing of comfort, and it was beautiful! I was promised that the baby would come soon, but in the Lord's timing, and that I would have a wonderful birth experience. Wow!!! I was also counseled to let things happen as they needed to. My impression was to "Sit back and enjoy the ride!" I felt surrounded by the love of my Father in Heaven and of my husband and children. I was going to have another blessed baby! All was well...

Grumpy me, Monday morning

Monday, June 14
Morning found me grumpy again. Nothing had happened in the night, and now I was no longer leaking fluid. No contractions, either. Had I only imagined it all? The kids were discouraged, too. And I was trying not to get worried. Wasn't there something about starting labor after 24 hours of my water breaking? I was being careful, and staying clean. The baby was moving well. I decided that the tear in the sac must have healed itself.

I kept Stephanie updated and confirmed my appointment for 11:30am that day. We all moped about, trying to stay motivated to clean. I finally got dressed and ready for the day, putting on makeup and doing my hair. Russell and I went to my appointment with Stephanie, where we gently refused the advice to go to the hospital. We were trusting in the Lord's plan for this birth, and we were doing all we could to be careful and follow the promptings of the Holy Ghost. The baby was very low, head pressed firmly on my pelvic bone. (ow!) The baby's heartbeat was wonderful, my blood pressure was perfect, and I was dilated 2cm, with my cervix being 50% effaced. Everything we were doing felt good and right. We knew that the Lord would keep His promises!

By early evening, I was having erratic contractions, ten minutes apart, then three minutes apart, then one hour apart. Every third or fourth one would hurt at a level of a 5 or 6 on a scale of 1 to 10. Then during one of these contractions, I felt a slight gush of my waters again. When I checked myself, I saw that the color was now green, which indicated that mecomium was present in the waters. I felt more urgently than ever that the baby needed to come soon. Mentally, I told myself firmly that I would do whatever it took to birth this baby-- including facing the feared impending labor head on. My baby needed me to be strong, and I could do it!

Russell had a big event that he'd been looking forward to for some time at 6:00 pm, so I told him to go ahead and go. I'd call if things looked like they were going to progress at all. (I was highly doubtful that these irregular pains would do much of anything "real".)

As soon as Russell left, I had one or two contractions at a level 7 or 8. And I was being pretty cranky with the kids. (That should have clicked with me! LOL!) After dinner, I asked the kids to gather with me in living room, where we would have Family Home Evening. I was feeling more and more uncomfortable, and felt like we should just have a short and simple "lesson." So we all gathered in a circle, and I asked each child to pray for me and for the baby, that all would be well, and that the baby would be healthy. Then I also threw in a request that they pray for me to "be strong." I was still not consciously accepting that I was in labor-- after all, there was no regularity to my contractions, and they were not getting closer together. But they were beginning to hurt, and I was starting to want to feel strengthened and confident.

Starting with our lisping 4 year old MacKenna (Grayse didn't want to pray this time), each child pleaded with our Father in Heaven for the safety and strength of both myself and the new baby. By the time Morganne, our eldest and last praying child, finished, the Spirit was overwhelming. A warmth and love seemed to wrap around all of us, and I was finally seeing that I truly in labor. It would not be long now. My oldest children gathered up the little ones, and I retreated into my bedroom with instructions for the littlest kids to go to bed.

I could not find my regular labor music on Russell's computer in our room, so I turned on a video of roses blooming that had some relaxing background music. I was opening myslef up mentally, physically, and spiritually to my birth. That seemed to make things progress even more.

Yeah, I know I said no belly pics... Don't laugh!
In my room, I called Stephanie and let her know that though the contractions were not regular, I was now in pain, and felt that she should come. Then I called Russell, and made it clear that I needed him home-- now!

I could feel that things were moving quickly, and I told the Lord in prayer that I was READY. This birth was in His hands, and I was willing to go the distance. Water was now gushing with each contraction, and I wanted to get in the pool. The contractions were getting closer together, and I was breathing and rocking through each one.

Russell arrived quickly, and filled the pool with warm water. Stephanie and her assistant Kate arrived soon after, and they busied themselves with setting the birth supplies out and getting everything ready. I remember them asking me only a few questions, and I remember being very short in my responses. I did want them to stay in the room with me, and no, I did not mind Stephanie knitting while I labored. I did note that the yarn she was using for the baby hat was pink. I inwardly wondered if it was for me or for someone else. I noted that Kate was sitting on the floor, and I could feel her sweet, gentle influence in the room. But otherwise, I was totally in the labor zone.

Because the pool was so big, I was having a bit of trouble feeling stable in it. Russell offered to suit up and climb in the pool with me, and that felt like the right thing to do. He insisted that he didn't mind, and it ended up being the wisest thing we could have done. (He later told me he felt prompted to do so three times before he mentioned it, and I had been wanting him to offer, but was too much in "lizard brain" to ask. What another testament to the fact that God cares about the details for our well-being!) I was able to lean up against him, and felt so comforted there.

Much sooner than I expected, I needed to vocalize through the contractions. I would move from sitting to all fours, and told Russell to pour water on my back or my belly through the contractions. (I was getting VERY bossy!) He patiently and lovingly did so without complaint. Sometime during all of this, Kate and my daughter Morganne were heating up our two big stockpots with boiling water. The hot water they added to the pool was both too hot, and yet comforting.

In what seemed like no time at all, I started losing control. I was in full "animal" mode, and told everyone present that I wanted the pains to STOP! I was rocking, crawling around in the water. I was vocalizing deeply and loudly. I was surprised that no one told me I was in transition, or smile or exchange knowing looks. They just quietly told me that it wouldn't be long now. Inwardly, I was thinking a million things:

"This can't be it, yet."
"Look, everyone is quiet. Is this really happening?"
"No one is asking me if I need to push."
"Don't they need to check me?"
"This hurts. Isn't anyone going to tell me what to do?"
"Should I change position?"

But there was such, peace, such calm. No one said a word. Finally, I turned my heart and thoughts back to God and tried to listen to my own body. I remember saying, "Body, what do you need me to do?" And somehow, thoughts came into my mind. I tried to push down all the feelings of self-doubt, and accepted that I was having this baby. I let myself feel the baby's head filling my birth canal, and yet I didn't panic!

I started praying out loud. I remember telling the Lord that I trusted Him and His plans for this birth. I told Him that I trusted my body.

I felt the baby move down even more, and I suddenly wanted to be sitting in the cradle of Russell's arms. In past births, I fought against feeling anything. But all of a sudden, I was feeling everything. I remember squeaking out "baby!" and "head!" I could not believe how peaceful I was able to feel even though the pain was overwhelming. I could feel God smile.

And then, the midwife was there, softly telling me to open, to loosen, to let go. And instead of fighting against the pain, I felt myself embracing it, working WITH it, letting it do its work. My mind was now fixed on her soft words. I was giving birth in a truer way than I ever had before. Never had I "pushed" this way. I was not gripping my ankles, I was not straining. I was opening, and my body was releasing my precious baby into the water.

Stephanie gently told me to touch my baby's head, and I reached down. It was oh, so soft, and small! There was lots of hair.

I fought the urge to be impatient that only the head was out, and I turned my mind to more of Stephanie's calm words:

"It's coming."
"There's a little hand by the head!"
"Now the shoulders..."

And I'm not sure if I said it, or just thought it, but I was saying:

"I'm having this baby!"
"Oh, my goodness, I'm having this baby!!!"

I saw the baby in the water, and I was being told to reach down and lift up my baby.

Time stood still.

I remember laughing, and feeling triumphant. And then I was gazing at a placid little soul in my arms, ( Oh, my goodness-- it's a GIRL!!!) rubbing her back, touching her ears, noticing a knot in the cord. (Her eyes-- whose eyes did she have? Poor thing, I think she has my nose.)

The Pink Hat, made by Stephanie during labor. (Baby came before she could finish it!)

She was here, she was perfect, and we had done it, together; Russell, the baby, the Lord, the midwives, and I.

It was an amazing and beautiful birth. God truly does keep all of His promises.

I felt Him smile.


  1. You were right; that IS an amazing birth story. You brought tears to my eyes and a lump to my throat as I read it. I love reading your blog. I haven't ever really felt like I've known a lot of my family, being so far apart in age and in distance, and it has been really wonderful to get to see your heart through what you write. I love you!

  2. Wow... Such a GREAT story! I feel so inspired, touched, and feel the love of God through your story. You are an AMAZING woman! GREAT JOB!

  3. Have I told you that I love you latley? I do! That was so beautiful and reminded me of my last two births. I too brought Isabella up out of the birth waters. And my water broke "out of the blue" with no progression with Bryant. You made me remember so much, thank you. I am so proud of you. You are beautiful.

  4. Hi, my name is Amy, I'm a LDS, homeschooling, homebirthing mother to 4. I read your birth story after Stephanie posted it (she's my midwife too) and I just wanted to tell you how much I enjoyed reading your birth story and how beautiful your little girl is! Also to tell you that you are my hero for holding FHE during labor. Congratulation!

  5. Totally bawling!!!! Thanks for sharing!!! You're amazing and wonderful and brilliant and truly a saint of a woman!!!

    Love yer guts!!!

  6. Thank you Rachel, your story was beautiful and moving. So many situations can be applied to this experience. I guess I am having my own "labor pains" and need to trust in the Lord, wait upon Him, and be patient in the Lord. She is so beautiful and precious. What marvel Una is. She has quite the marvel of a mother (and father :)).

  7. I love your birth story and your honesty! Beautiful!

  8. Beautiful story Rachel. I identify with so much of it...about four weeks before labor I had a major crisis of homebirth-anticipating the labor and what I knew that last part would be like. Una looks so beautiful!

  9. How beautiful. You are so inspiring. Una is beautiful.

  10. Wow, you are one strong woman! You really are amazing.

  11. Wow Rachel; how beautifully you have shared this experience with words. I am so very happy that your birth went so well. I was praying for you and felt I could relate to the ambivalence, as I had all those same feelings last August when I was expecting our 10th child, Michael Ray. Praise God~ He DOES keep His promises! :)

  12. Today it has been two years since our Eryn came into our lives, and I love going back and reading all your sweet comments again. THANK YOU for rejoicing with me when we had our sweet #11, two years ago today!



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