i have been thinking about the way my boys came compared to the thousands of birth stories i've read in the 9 months before their birthday. this is not a typical, relaxation, breathing, visualization, birth story that you may be expecting to read.
I had been having contractions at night for about three weeks on and off. Not the BH kind either. Real, crampy, contractions. But they always fizzled out. I killed them with a protein shake and peanut butter and RASPBERRY jam jelly sandwich some nights. Man, I'm going to miss those. I wanted those guys to stay put as long as possible, but at the same time I trusted that when the contractions didn't stop that they were letting me know it was getting crowded in there.
In my 38th week I was feeling great most of the time. My 22m old, Fynn, could probably take only one nap a day by now, but I always encouraged an afternoon nap due to my heavy belly. We had just gotten home from errands and lunch together. We laid down for our nap that Friday afternoon and I slept very hard. I woke up before he did, of course, to go to the bathroom. When I stood up it was evident that someone's waters had broken. In those first few moments there are so many emotions that take over at once it is like you are on drugs. It is hard to collect yourself after such a message from your body. "Hi, we are about to have some babies tonight." I made the phone calls to husband and midwife and started to gather things to head to our birth location, my midwives cottage. We live in a very remote area with no hospitals nearby. We chose to birth at my midwifes cottage that was about 5 minutes from a hospital if transfer was necessary.
From my previous labour I started to worry that I would not start any contractions and infection would become a worry that, in turn, could start the ball rolling toward intervention. Something I did not want. Those worries were stopped immediately when I felt strong surges while giving Fynn a bath. I must say that he was my best distraction while getting through the first stage of labor.
My husband was at work several hours away, by that I mean four hours away! He immediately headed home. My brother-in-law was four hours away in the opposite direction and he was on his way to stay with Fynn through the night. I wanted to take these hours to get through the first stage of labor peacefully and especially spend time with my sweet baby boy. Fynn had taken me to lunch earlier and I sat and thought of how perfect the day had been. We talked about the babies coming home and practiced holding a stuffed bear. After a bath we were both getting a little anxious about Daddy getting home. It was 9:30pm when I finally saw that excited, perfect smile of my Husband's. I immediately felt another surge, but not a contraction this time. It was the love hormone overwhelming me and I could not believe he and I were about to experience such an amazing miracle together. The same guy that asked if he could kiss me only 4 years ago. Life changing kiss. For some reason this is the memory that came to mind when I saw him.
I felt us unite as a team as we got in the car beaming with excitement. Fynn was perfect entertainment on our 45 minute drive to Ft.Smith. Halfway there I hit active labor. I could feel my body progressing rapidly. I tried my best to relax and let it do it's work. We arrived at the cottage around 10:30pm to find several people working on the gas leak! I had just enough time to go in the cottage, say my good-byes to Fynn, and rest while Adam met my brother-in-law outside to send our baby on his way back home. There he could play with Uncle Drew and have his own bed.
After around 10 minutes my midwife, D, decided to move locations. We got back in the car and drove only a few blocks to settle in at her home. It was so comfortable there. The instant that I walked in I was put at ease from the sudden change. Thank you gas leak! For some reason I wanted to labor in the bathroom. This was the most intense part the whole experience. I could not get into a position that felt right. I was scaring myself and my husband. I was not quiet, I was not calm, I was in transition. D and some helpers were setting up the birthing pool and living room for me. When I opened the bathroom door I saw a huge rock fireplace with a soothing fire going, the pool being filled, the furniture had disappeared. Everything was ready for me. "If only I could be as calm as this room.", I thought.
Here we go. When I got in the tub it was around 11:45pm. I would love to share to all that I felt so much comfort from the pool, but I was way past the point of feeling any comfort. D checked me and quickly said "There is a baby right there." I was in a little shock at how fast this was going. I wanted to rest. I wanted to hit pause for just one minute to gather myself. I remember trying to open my eyes. I would focus on Adam and tell him "I wish I could stay here. I wish I could focus." And then another surge would hit me so hard I would go back into some lost place, fighting the pain and switching positions. I felt like a fish in a bowl swimming away from a net. I was trying my best to escape from pain. Relaxation was my escape but I couldn't get there. K, my midwife's assistant was there at the pool with me. I remember her saying "Beth, blow out." After I did this I started to feel some type of control and that was the moment I first felt the urge to push. I tried my best to do gentle pushes. I didn't feel like my body was ready for delivery. This was probably just me still in shock. I would get through each contraction pushing and telling myself to let go. Not hold back. Trust that it was time.
In a few contractions I felt the famous "ring of fire" and once again I tried to fight the pain instead of relax. I put my hand down to feel if this was going to actually be possible. Because the way I was feeling it just didn't seem like it. With the next push I supported myself and felt a little better. K was also helping me with this. It make me feel more at ease about tearing. Now I could push with confidence.
At 12:06am baby A's head was born. D asked Adam if he was going to catch him. Adam got into position and I've never seen him so excited and happy. Cheering me on in saying "You are doing it Beth! You are doing it!" in the best strong whisper voice. We waited on the next contraction with a pure joy, a feeling of excitement that I can't put into words. When it came Graham slipped out and Adam pulled him up slowly out of the water onto my chest. We burst in to laughter and tears all in one. He was rubbed like a little puppy to clear his lungs. He let out the most healthy cry. He was beautiful. I was amazed. We gawked over him for a few minutes while K tied yarn to his foot and to his placenta clamp for identification. My contractions lulled for me to bond. I kept praising Jesus saying "Thank you for rest. Thank you for rest." while I fell in love with my new bundle. It was a wonderful bonding time, but not long enough to breast feed like I had hoped. After only 4 or 5 minutes I was overwhelmed with the next surge. Adam took Graham. I had more work to do. It was Nolan's turn.
I remember rolling over on my side in the water with the first contraction thinking " Most women are finished now and I have to keep going." in the most whinny, pitiful voice you can imagine. I felt so sorry for my self for a second. This just cracks me up now! haha. From having the time of rest after Graham was born, I felt gathered. The next contraction I concentrated on what my body was doing. For the first time I could actually feel my baby moving down with each push. I felt the progress with such detail. Nolan was working with my contractions and making his way down fast. Once again I felt the "ring of fire" and knew that the next push he would be making his way to my arms. His head was born and Adam was ready once again, passing Graham off to K. He brought him out of the water with the next contraction at 12:23am. Nolan was so little. He wasn't as perky as Graham. We rubbed him down good and he started to protest with little cat cries. D gave him a few puffs of oxygen to help him out. His eyes were so alert right from the start. He was so captivating I could not take my eyes off his.
I thanked God that I was a woman in that moment. Praise God that he allowed me be a woman so I could experience this euphoric event! I think this is called humbled empowerment. Nolan laid on my chest and I felt like I had just won the world's longest marathon. And had won the world's greatest trophies!
Graham Emmitt Phillips 6lbs 14oz. Nolan Dean Phillips 5lbs 7oz.
My midwife made all the difference in this experience. If you notice her "name" is hardly mentioned in all of this. That is how you know she is wonderful. She believes in birth. She believed in me. She watched over like a guardian. What a wonderful and important occupation. If this was a story about my prenatal and postnatal care then you would get tired of seeing D this and D that. She took such great care of my body. She educated me and encouraged me for 5 months. Then she nursed me and served me after birth. The extensive care that she and K gave me is unmatched by anyone out there. Forever grateful.
In the most intense times of my labor I would hear the Holy Spirit say "Let me help. Let me be here with you." I fought so hard. I fought the pain, the positions, and the Presence of Jesus. It wasn't until I could let go and allow help that my body would progress. It was a very fast labor that was shocking to me. The deliveries, on the other hand, was shocking in a whole different way. I could not believe my capacity to love!
Most of all, I could not have done and of this without my Husband. Every time I would get scared I would open my eyes and see the joy and pride on his face. He had full faith in me every single second of my work. I would see him and want to do better. Something happened in my marriage that night. It made me realize what it means to become one. We created life and then welcomed it into the world. Together.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you,