Micah’s home birth

It only took me one year to write it up! (third child problems 🙂 )

40 weeks!

I spent a lot of time focusing and envisioning the exact home birth that I wanted. I prayed a lot that God would allow me to have the exact same birth at home as I experienced with Tristan! I focused and prayed that I would have no surprises and would deliver on my cozy bed (instead of the bathroom floor). I am humbled and happy to report that’s EXACTLY what I got.

I spent this pregnancy practicing my hypnobirth breathing techniques (kind of like a swimmer wanting to lengthen his time under water). I knew the deeper and longer I could flow that breath, the more relaxing I would feel during my surge. I also practiced breathing the baby down since I remember specifically thinking during transition with Tristan that I wish I had practiced it more!

So it begins…

At 41 weeks on Sunday evening, June 2nd, I became determined in prayer and began natural attempts to initiate labor. I was inevitably scheduled to go to the hospital in the morning for the dreaded fetal non-stress test and because of my first birthing experience (where I was unexpectedly told I had to stay and be induced despite receiving a 10/10) I was committed to having this baby TONIGHT. I looked at my hypnobirth book for natural ways to spur on labor and thought, “these have stood the test of time… what have I got to lose?” So we put the boys to bed and I tried all of them (pictured below).

After my bath, I decided to do the final step of cleansing my bowels with castor oil. I’ve heard horror stories about the use of castor oil to induce labor, but in those cases the mother had downed the whole bottle! Instead, I used the recommended doses in my hypnobirth book.

I was having mild surges but nothing very significant. I text my midwife just an “FYI but probably nothing” and Blake and I headed to bed around 10pm. I went to my cool, cozy bed wearing the same nightgown I wore delivering Tristan to further the mindset :). I also text some close friends and family saying “pray, just in case” 100% out of excitement rather than actually believing all of my natural inductions methods had worked! But I was still hopeful…

Blake snaps of picture of me smiling after a surge 🙂

Around 11am, I was breathing through mild surges while I let Blake sleep as much as he could. I knew he would need to be well rested if I had a newborn in my arms and two excited big brothers in the morning. I used an app on my phone to track the time between my surges but the intensity and duration/frequency was so inconsistent. The frequency of each surge from 11pm-1:30am ranged anywhere from 2 minutes apart up to 11 minutes apart! And the duration of each surge was an average of about 1 minute, 20 seconds. To determine if it was true labor, I was following the 4-1-1 rule: when contractions come every 4 minutes, each lasting 1 full minute, and have been that way for 1 hour. No such luck yet.

Until… around 2am, something shifted.

My surges started becoming much stronger. Micah decided he was ready to meet us! I woke Blake and text my midwife that she may want to start making her way here. I focused on my breathing techniques and Blake magnified the excitement in the room by reminding me I’ll be holding sweet Micah soon.

Sidenote: It wasn’t until this point that I realized he was coming TONIGHT. I think It’s so interesting how these night-time, hypnobirth-led home births have me so relaxed, in and out of sleep, and basically totally out of touch with reality!

Around 2:30pm my midwife, Michelle, and birthing assistant, Meredith, arrived. It was a calm greeting of whispered hello’s and wide smiles in the dark as we all knew this feeling of anticipation well. Michelle checked my vitals and Meredith started prepping the room (pulling out the chux pads and compression cloths if needed from the birth kit – you don’t need very much to have a baby!). At this point my surges were 2-3 minutes apart and relatively strong. Blake occasionally spoke affirmations to relax even more as I envision my cervix opening up like a flower, softly and delicately. I tell you, there is power in visualization.

Some of the affirmations I wrote up for our very first pregnancy.

Michelle and Meredith waited in the living room, giving me the space I requested to focus on my breathing and affirmations. I even wore earplugs to block out any extra noise as it took an incredible amount of focus to relax my body and allow my cervix to open naturally and slowly. My hypnobirth breathing techniques significantly decreases how strong the surge feels. The deeper the belly breath, the less intense the surge.

Blake sat, watched, and waited. An hour later my surges were incredibly intense and still about 2-3 minutes apart. I was continuing to drink water, empty my bladder (having surges on the toilet occasionally), and even talking some and smiling with Blake in between each one.

At 4:15am, I had one out-of-this-world intense surge with deep guttural sounds in the bed and my water broke! As the membranes release, I managed to get out, “he’s coming!!!”.

Blake jumped out of bed and ran to Michelle and Meredith and said calmly and excitedly, “It’s go time.”

At 4:19am, as Michelle was getting the monitor to check the baby’s heart rate, I had one VERY powerful surge (as Blake reminded me to focus on breathing him down) and out pops his head! One more surge and his entire body is out.

I had to REALLY focus on my breathing and staying in complete control of my body. The last two surges were so incredibly strong.

The cord was wrapped around his neck and arm, but Michelle gently unwrapped it. Micah was then laid directly on my chest – a feeling straight from heaven. I was an array of pride, excitement, awe, and overwhelming love.

After the “golden hour” of snuggling, he was weighed in at 6.15lbs, 19.5in (the smallest baby of the three). This was also the quickest recovery of all three, and like my previous home birth, not a tear in sight. There wasn’t even any swelling! Maybe one can attribute that to his small size, I’m sure that’s part of it, but I believe breathing the baby slowly down the canal (versus a forceful voluntary “pushing”) allowed me to gently open with Micah, at his pace.  

Oh, how grateful I am that Micah came just a couple hours before the doctors would decide if we should induce!!

The name Micah derived from the Hebrew mīkhāyah meaning “Who is like God”. We chose David as his middle name (which is Hebrew for “beloved”) after a dear family in our church that has selflessly loved and served our family this past year, the Davidson’s. We pray Micah, and our older two boys, will one day give generously their time, money, and devotion to others in the same way.

Micah’s life verse:

…that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. – Ephesians 3:17-19

Hiding behind the fern, happy as a clam the day before my first birthday.

My (Unplanned) Home Birth

In honor of Mother’s Day, I’m adding my birth story’s to the blog. Starting with our sweet, middle son, Tristan. I’m also hoping to inspire mothers during this global pandemic needing inspiration during their unplanned home births. {Using Hypnobirth language}

Just a backstory to catch you up on why we planned for a natural birth…

I decided to go with a Midwife with my second child because of my birth experience with Adon. I was induced (per Doctor’s urgency) at 41 weeks, even though Adon received a 10 out of 10 on the fetal non-stress test. They had their reasons, and I wasn’t educated enough in the subject, so I trusted them. Really determined for a natural birth, it became an extremely painful, unbearable experience as I tried to labor for 8 hours straight…unmedicated… and induced. I was having surges (contractions) every 30 seconds, lasting 3 minutes. I can’t even describe the trauma! Blake was obviously wearing down mentally and emotionally also as my ‘Daddy Doula’ and after checking how far I had progressed after enduring 8 hours unmedicated, the nurse said that I was, “Maybe ½ a centimeter TOTAL(!).” I was going to die. So, at this point I begged for the epidural and although it was heavenly relief, tons of complications and a rush of medical staff followed. Unfortunately, several interventions were necessary and right as they began mentioning the possibility of an emergency C-Section out pops our firstborn, Adon.

September 9th, 2017, when Adon made me a mother at Mercy Hospital in Baltimore City.

This time around, after my first visit to the OB at 6 weeks pregnant, the nurse practitioner asks, “So what date would you like to schedule the induction?” I said thanks, but no thanks.” I think I’ll try something new this time. With my medical insurance, the only other option was the complete other extreme… A birthing center. So, Blake and I decided… let’s give it a go! Lord willing, I’ll be able to use my hypnobirth breathing techniques this time and have the natural birth we planned with Adon (although, I admit, I was totally nervous the entire pregnancy about not having access to pain medication! It really was heavenly relief.).

My mom snapped this of me because I wasn’t even aware of how ridiculous (or amazing?) I looked.
{39 pregnant weeks with Tristan}

That takes us to Thursday evening, July 13th 2017…

Message on my LUNAbar the night I went into labor ❤

4:15pm– Three days shy of 40 weeks, I dropped Blake and Adon off at Crossfit and went to Lakeside Village for a pedicure. I was actually hoping the acupressure would induce labor. Everyone at the salon was worried I would go into labor and I responded each time, “I sure hope I do!” I did. .

5pm– The surges start mildly during the pedicure.

6pm– After the pedi, I started walking around to different shops, purchased slippers that I needed for labor at Bed Bath & Beyond (which I would never use). In the store, and even at check-out, I had a few surges that required me to stop and focus (about 20 min apart). Folks were concerned that saw me, and because of all the false labor surges I had with Adon I said, “Oh, don’t worry. This baby isn’t coming today.”

6:30pm– I picked up B and A at Crossfit, surges were 15-20 minutes apart and coming pretty regularly. I stayed on my feet around the house, tidied up, ate a big taco dinner, and the surges kept coming… I still fully believed they were just “pre-labor warm-ups”. No baby tonight!

8:30pm– We put Adon to bed and I took a shower.

Labor prayer from ‘In His Hands’ home birth kit.

9:30pm– The surges were 10 minutes apart at this point and still very bearable. I wasn’t able to talk during them, but focusing on the hypnobirth breathing I had practiced throughout pregnancy kept the sensations mild. They were actually more exciting than painful. I decided to call my Midwife and fill her in just as a precaution and she said, “It’s hard to tell at this point. The baby could come tonight… or in a week! Eat a full dinner, take a bath, and go to bed. You’ll need lots of rest if he does come tonight.” She said to give her a call if/when the surges are 5 minutes apart (I thought this definitely wouldn’t be the case.) She said I would leave for the Birth Center if/when they were 3 minutes apart.

10:30pm– Blake packed up the car just in case (I thought it was a silly idea) and we went to bed.

Laboring all along…

11pm-3am– I labored in bed having 3-4 surges every hour and falling asleep for 10-15 minute cat naps in between each one. I focused mostly on my hypnobirth relaxation techniques such as the breathing methods I had practiced throughout pregnancy, as well as affirmations and scripture:

  • “Riding the wave” with each surge
  • Imagining my cervix as a flower opening perfectly in its own time
  • Women have been doing this for all of time and there are sisters in this with me even right now· Release your jaw, relax your mind
  • You can do ANYTHING for one minute· Each strong surge is bringing you closer to your baby
  • Matthew 11:28 – Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
  • Hebrews 13:5 – Never will I leave you; Never will I forsake you.
Daddy Doula’s list of affirmations

Unbeknownst to me, I was successfully “opening up” with each strong surge. I remembered the importance of staying hydrated and emptying my bladder often during each “rest” period. Adon came to bed with us twice and Blake had to take him back to his room each time. Blake slept next to me as I labored in our quiet, cool, dark room in my comfy nightgown. It was exactly the setting my body needed to focus.

Side bar: Reflecting later, it’s fascinating how a woman’s primal instincts kick in during labor. I had all these plans for Blake to use the massage techniques and gentle caressing we had practiced. I even wrote out a whole script on what he was to say in each moment/scenario, and in the end, all my body desired was to be left completely alone, completely untouched, and without a soul in the world to know that I was in labor. Just me and God.

As the night went on, the pressure of each surge grew more and more intense.

3:30pm– As the intensity of each surge grew and the closeness between each one shortened, I woke Blake to start tracking the length of each surge because I was losing the ability to track the time that had passed before the next one began. Adon was currently in bed with us again, so Blake succumbed and let him stay. I had the shakes for a bit but zero restless legs discomfort (which was horrifying in my first labor and completely distracted me from any ability to relax). I’m not sure if I didn’t experience it this time because I wasn’t induced? Or if it was because I had taken a large dose of Cal-Mag supplement right before bed. Maybe both? Either way, I was so thankful.

3:30-4am– Blake (half asleep) started tracking my surges as coming every 5.5 to 5 minutes, lasting at least 1 minute. I had to yell at him to wake him up most unkindly, only a couple of times. After 4 VERY intense surges that included deep, loud, guttural groans sounding like the mooing of a cow (that I’m shocked didn’t wake Adon) my membranes release (water breaks)! It was instant relief! But only for a moment… It was at this point that I realized I was actually in labor and about to have this baby.

Nearing Completion (Transition period)…

4am– As my membranes release in bed, I’m in shock and start to freak out a bit as my wonderful husband jumps right into go-mode as my “birthing companion”. Blake calmly says, “Everything’s okay. This is great… Tristan is coming! Go to the bathroom and take off your wet gown.” Blake then carries Adon to his bed yet again, strips the wet sheets off of our bed, and puts Knox in his crate. I undress from my wet nightgown and sit on the toilet (which is actually a very common birth position because it’s naturally relaxing). I use the bathroom and lose the uterine seal (mucus plug). Blake calls our friend Lindy to come over (who had very thoughtfully offered just a few days prior to come over and stay with Adon in case Tristan happens to come at night – a prospect I hadn’t considered) and then he calls our Midwife to tell her my surges are 4-5 minutes apart and my water broke. The Midwife asks if I want to go ahead and come into the birth center or wait until they’re 3 minutes apart… we decide to leave now.

But all of a sudden, I feel the urge to start breathing the baby down (pushing)! I tell Blake to call back our Midwife and tell her she “HAS TO COME HERE! I’ll never make it to the car!” The very idea of getting dressed seemed more impossible than any other task I had ever faced. Although Blake didn’t believe that the baby could possibly be coming now, he [very intelligently] didn’t mention his doubts and calls her back. As our Midwife is on her way to the birthing center, she receives Blake’s call and pulls over to make sure she has “home birth” supplies in her car (which she typically doesn’t carry if it was a birth-center planned labor), by God’s grace she does. Only with help from Blake, I was able to move from the toilet to the bathroom floor on all 4’s in “polar bear position” to begin breathing the baby down.

The hard, cold, tile floor was actually very soothing as I near completion. Loud yells were coming out of me that I couldn’t control as my body took over guiding Tristan down the birth path. I experienced extremely intense sensations – incomparable to the surges I had just experienced in bed. I remember wishing I had practiced more hypnobirth breathing methods specifically for breathing the baby down.

Blake’s running around the house to get all the birth supplies that were packed away in the car, giving directions on the phone to the Midwife, and letting Lindy in and explaining to her what’s going on… all while I pitifully scream for him to come back for every surge. At this point, I desperately needed him next to me to survive each surge by applying hard counter-pressure with his fist on my sacrum, against the baby’s head. I remember thinking as he applied the pressure, “I’m so glad he is strong or I would literally not make it!”.

4:33am– I have a total of about 3-4 incredibly intense surges after getting on the floor and then the Midwife arrives!

4:35am– One severely powerful surge later I managed to yell, “Here he comes!”. Out pops half of Tristan’s body! Blake and Tristan lock eyes as Blake receives him. A special bond that’s already undeniable and I’m sure will last a lifetime.

4:39am– I give an intentional push (at the guidance of my Midwife since I wasn’t feeling a surge approach) and Tristan’s full body is out. He’s instantly placed on my chest and Blake cuts the cord once it has stopped pulsating.

After my Midwife and birthing assistant drew me a warm bath, I moved to the bed for bonding (the absolute ultimate high). We nestled close with dad for the golden hour. This brand new babe moved closer and closer to my breast on his own accord, and eventually began suckling. An hour later he weighed in at 7lbs 11oz, measuring 20 inches.

The recovery this time around included zero tearing, no need for any of the “healing supplies” I had purchased. The enjoyment and comfort of home with my new family of four right after delivery was irreplaceable and felt like the only place in the world I belonged.

I was amazed. I was amazed at what God created the female body to endure and what a miraculous gift it was to experience this in its full, natural form. Like all women, for all of time. I never thought I’d get the opportunity for a natural birth, much less a home birth (in fact, I was in denial for 90% of the experience because it felt so natural!), but what a humble reminder that we can make our plans but the Lord establishes our steps (Proverbs 16:9).

Motherhood is the one thing in all the world which most truly exemplifies the God-given virtues of creating and sacrificing. Though it carries the woman close to the brink of death, motherhood also leads her into the very realm of the foundations of life and makes her co-partner with the Creator in bestowing upon eternal spirits mortal life.”

David O McKay