Karina’s Birth Story (And Film at the bottom of the page)
The due date was Monday, July 4th 2011. Wouldn’t that have been a great day to have a baby? Actually, it was pretty hectic that day.
On Wednesday (the 6th) at 5pm, I grudgingly went to an appointment to see Richelle Jolley (midwife) because I hadn’t delivered yet. I am thoroughly convinced that the Lord gives women the last 2 weeks of pregnancy so that the thought of labor doesn’t sound so bad. I was miserable and at the appointment, I expressed all of my emotional and physical complaints. Richelle told me that if I started having regular contractions for a few hours, she’d be happy to come to our house and move things along. I had gotten labor “started” a few times in the past week, but it always fizzled out after a few hours. Richelle believes completely in letting the baby pick it’s own date, but she could see I was so miserable and an emotional mess. So she agreed to strip my membranes. She did it lightly but OUCH!
By 9:30, the contractions were pretty regular and more powerful than a braxton hicks, so I texted Richelle:
S: contractions every 5-8 min for the last 2 hours. they vary in strength. is that normal? at least they are consistent?
R: It is normal for them to vary in strength to a degree. How long is the duration of the contxs?
S: 1-1.5 min
R: Sounds like you are in labor. I will come over
S: You sure? 4th baby but I don’t know what early labor feels like.
R: Well… do you want to have this baby?
S: yes oh yes oh yes more than i can breathe!!!
R: See you soon
She called the other midwives and they all arrived around 10:30 and started setting up. Kiya came so fast that things didn’t really get organized, but it was fun to see them set up. Joel had asked for a birth tub even though I didn’t want a water birth. But he said he thought we could labor together in one, and if he suggests something like that, I don’t turn him down!!
They put pillows in the tub, then a big sheet of plastic and then filled it with water. They spread out plastic and sheets on the couch. As more people arrived (Mom and Dad got home), we chatted in the living room and Richelle told us how she’d met her husband and we shared our story. Eventually, everyone went downstairs to sleep. By the time everyone had arrived and was settled in, it was about 12:30 am. By 1:30, the contractions had completely stopped. Richelle put evening primrose oil on my cervix, but that didn’t start things again. I was feeling discouraged, but before I could voice that, Richelle said we had 3 options. 1) relax and send everyone home and try again another day, 2) figure out what was going on emotionally and spiritually that was preventing the baby from coming (I was dilated to a nice 5), or 3) break the water (And we both really didn’t want to do that).
She talked with me about some things that were going on in my life… stressers and anxieties. I was stumped. I could not figure out what was blocking the birth. But I was pretty wound up. She said she wanted to say a prayer with me and during that prayer, I knew exactly what needed to be done next. I woke up Joel and asked him for a blessing. He’d given me one before, but it was in front of everyone and I knew he must have been a bit nervous to voice it. But this prayer was sweet and exactly what I needed to hear. He switched persons and said “your husband loves you and supports you.” I felt like it was coming straight from my Heavenly Father. After the blessing, my body started sobbing. I can’t say I was crying, but it was as uncontrollable as throwing up would be when you’re sick. My body did it- not me. Then when I had calmed down a bit, we went for a long walk. When we got 2 blocks away, my body just started sobbing again. It sobbed for a good while. It felt so good to release. By the time we got to the park, I was feeling more at peace, and contractions started again. When I’d get one, I’d squat to make it stronger. Joel spent the entire walk trying to be supportive while swatting at a billion mosquitoes. I was completely oblivious to the mosquitoes, but I’m sure we must have been a funny looking pair– him swatting away and me waddling along beside him in a kind of relaxed trance. We got back to the house around 2:30 and we were quiet for awhile till Richelle woke up. I asked her to strip my membranes one more time and she did. After that, they started to turn really strong and Joel called Laurel. Even though I’d had 3 other labors, I’d never really experienced early labor, so I wanted to make sure it was good and strong before the party was woken up again. I got in the tub at 4 am and people started waking up.
I didn’t think I wanted a water birth, but the minute I got in that tub, I knew I wasn’t getting out! It was SO deep (it was actually a trough for animals) and it had groves perfectly positioned for my elbows and knees. Joel was in with me and Laurel would press on my back/hips during every surge. Joel would put counter pressure on my pelvic floor. Early in the tub, I had an especially strong surge and then I said to everyone in the room “excuse me while my body cries for a minutes” and then it sobbed again. I was completely willing to give into that. It did it one more time, and then not again.
By the time everyone had arrived, I told them they could turn up the lights, because I wanted good pictures and video! I know I’m a strange one, but it was so important to me to have this well-documented!
During a surge I felt a POP up by my diaphram and then a gush. That was kind of a fun but disturbing feeling. The next surge after that was really strong and the baby decided to do some cha-cha moves on my cervix. I just about hit the roof! That was not comfortable! They were getting very strong and then I started to feel a little pushy, but not exactly like I had remembered. I stayed in that weird feeling for awhile until Richelle checked me. I was only a 7! I almost gave up (like I could even if I wanted to). But everyone in the room kept encouraging me. I reached so deep inside me to OPEN. Near the end, I couldn’t physically “breathe the baby down.” My body had taken over, and I could barely breathe at all! I tried to slow things down, but the power overwhelmed me and took my breath away.
I didn’t feel her coming down like I had with the other 3. My first clue that she was so close was when I felt the ring of fire, so I reached my hand down to feel what I expected to be a small little head spot. I was shocked to feel the entire head! She stayed there until the next surge when she literally ejected from me! Everyone was so surprised to see a baby shoot out into the water! I moved around and gathered her in my arms. The boys were there and they got to announce if it was a boy or girl. Kayden thought it was a boy, but Koda was very excited to announce it was a girl! 5:56am!
We stayed in the tub for a few more minutes until the placenta delivered (I guess the birth videos I saw never showed that, because that’s when the water turns into a blood pool! That surprised me!) They helped me out of the tub and onto the couch and then they brought her to me.
I asked Joel what happened after I left the tub. I asked him if anyone had thought to offer HIM a towel or anything. He kind of laughed… the party went in the living room with me and he quietly got up and out of the tub and when down to take a shower. Joel was such an amazing support. Besides being loving and totally present with me, he supported my pelvic floor during every surge. This was amazing! I was able to completely release because I didn’t have to hold back to preserve those muscles. I credit him with my ability to be fully continent even immediately after the birth!
So there is the nitty gritty of the birth story. I’d like to post more about my processing the event and how this birth especially empowered me as a mother and a woman.. But that will come later. :o)
Here is our birth film!
As told by the photographer:
Karina was Sarah’s fourth child. Sarah had been extremely unhappy with her first two birth experiences, which she considered invasive and disrespectful. For her third and fourth births she was determined to be more proactive and have the birth experiences she wanted. She decided to birth at home and chose an amazing mid-wife, Richelle, to assist her. For Karina’s birth, Joel talked Sarah into doing a water birth, which turned out to be a really good idea. Richelle supplied a large plastic horse trough, lined with sterile plastic sheeting, to serve as the birthing tub. When the time came Joel climbed in with her, supporting her in every way possible. Between him, her amazing doula Laurel, sisters, mothers, and her little boys, Sarah was surrounded with love and support. When Karina finally arrived, she was so calm from the gentle birth that she hardly cried. The two home births were so empowering for Sarah that they literally changed her life. She has since been an advocate for fearless births, and the empowering potential they have for women.