I want to share the incredible story of how one of my very best friends gave birth, at home in a tub, to her precious daughter.
Here is Bethany's story.
If there is anything in life you could ask for that could be beyond perfect and beyond anything you ever imagined, what would it be?
For me to answer that question for you was that I would be able to have a perfect pregnancy and delivery, especially the delivery! When my husband and I found out we were expecting our first child we were shocked, excited, scared, but happy beyond belief. I was very blessed with and perfect pregnancy, no morning sickness, no scares, literally nothing to worry about. I believe that devotion to prayer helped with that and believing in myself, as well taking care of my body made that happen.
I will tell you that I was petrified about delivering a baby. Not just because it will be painful but because this baby will be pushed through a hole in my body that is naturally tiny to being stretched out larger than I even WANT to imagine! With lots of research on home water births, while only taking in certain information and praying consistently, I was totally at peace knowing that having a peaceful, perfect home water birth delivery was going to be the way God planned it and will be perfect for baby girl and I – of course for my husband but really, he only had a small part in this.
Our baby girl, Abigail Grace was due to arrive on October 5, 2012. About 3 weeks prior to her due date, until her actual birth-day, I had been going in and out of labour. This is known as false labour. They were real contractions, with real pain, yet they would just start and stop and never progress more than a couple of hours.
October 14: I felt like very much not like myself. Sure the end of pregnancy can have you left feeling quite uncomfortable, not sleeping well, not moving as quickly and just simply tired and possibly a little cranky. That Sunday, I was feeling all of these, but times 10! I really liked to keep myself distracted and moving to help baby make her way out. So, that evening my husband and I went over to our best friend’s house (Amy and Calvin) to hang out for a bit. WE ALL KNEW THIS BABY WAS COMING!!!
October 15: I woke up a few times throughout the night feeling what felt like period cramps but really bad. I was able to fall back asleep and when 6:30am rolled around I was kept awake more so because I was thinking “this could be it” and decided to time my contractions by 7:22am. At this point, they were about 20 minutes apart, lasting around 30-60 seconds and consistent. I told my husband that today was the day. He went to work at for 9am but made sure he kept his phone at hand “just in case”. I phoned my mom and let her know and then Skyped with my sister who lives in Guatemala. By this time at 10:30am I was still having action happening “down there”.
My mom had agreed to come to my house for 2pm to hang out with me during my contractions. Within minutes before she arrived my contractions went from being “okay, I can easily handle this” to “holy crap, my vagina is going to fall apart!” I was very surprised at how much it from one end of the spectrum to the other. I was happy to have my mom with me at this point. I finally made myself rest and allow my body to do its thing.
I tried to have a nap around 3:30 but my contractions quickly went from being 20 minutes apart to 7-12 minutes apart. As I was about to drift off, I suddenly felt “the wave” coming and could no longer just sit through a contraction like it was nothing. My body made itself do something I didn’t want to feel ever again but quickly realized that its action time! All at once I had to stand up, I felt like I was going to poo myself, puke, and cry because I was feeling a little overwhelmed – just from that. I could feel myself panic a little and I was so glad my mom was right there to remind me to breath slow and deep. This contraction lasted about 2-3 minutes.
The day that both my husband and I had anticipated for months, was finally here and he finally believed me when he saw me. Chris came home around 4pm from work. It was finally real and still feeling a little surreal.
I always imagined myself to be the type of woman while in labour to be calm and collected, wanting massages and really being looked after. I had planned to have my best friend Amy as my “friend-doula”, a photographer, my mother, Chris and my two midwives with me. Turns out I am a calm and collect labourer, but in no way did I want anyone to be near me, look at me, touch me, or talk to me. I was a whole other woman and I was determined. I, however, needed to make a choice. I could only handle having so many people in the room with me, so only my two midwives, mom and hubby were present during the birth.
I decided to labour in my bed as my contractions were getting worse. I wanted to feel as comfortable as possible and who wouldn’t feel comfortable in their bed, right? It got to the point that I stopped timing my contractions and realized I needed to phone my midwives like NOW (4:30pm). They had me wait a little longer and then phone back, because my contractions were still only around 10 minutes apart. I called back at 5:45 and had my husband get the birthing pool filled with water.
At 6:15 my lovely midwife arrived. Nikki is the most British, loving, compassionate, real woman and midwife I have ever known. She is so passionate about babies and birthing that it made me even more excited for all of this than I already was. She knew me so well during my labour and helped me to not be afraid and just own it. She however was surprised to see that my contractions were in fact 2-5 minutes apart from the time I phoned her to when she arrived at my house. She could see how intense my contractions were by how tight and red my belly became. I kept expecting it to feel worse, but according to my midwife, I was having heavy and intense labour and have a very high pain tolerance. Who knew?
Nikki warned me that she needed to check my dilation. Two days prior to this I was only 2 cm dilated and had been for about 2 weeks. I was dreading this moment because now every movement I made would bring on a contraction. I was 6cm dilated.
I then decided to move to the living room where the pool was set up, I had calming worship music playing in the background and gentle lighting. I used my workout/birthing ball to help release some tension from my lower back and Nikki offered to massage my back. As annoyed as I was being touched by anyone, the massage really helped.
By 8pm the pool was finally at the right temperature for me to get in. WOW was there ever a huge difference in how my contractions felt now being in water. Every birth should feel this way! Now I was ready to get things going.
I suddenly felt the need to push with every contraction, but my midwife warned me that if I kept pushing then she’d have to check my dilation because I was only 6cm. Within 20 minutes I went from being 6cm to 10cm. During that 20 minute time frame my water broke in the birthing tub at 8:35pm. And finally, I was able to really push.
Approximately 1.5 hours of pushing, the moment finally arrived of being able to feel my baby’s head force its way out of my body. It was such a scary yet an exhilarating moment. I was so exhausted by this point and swollen from pushing that I could barely keep my eyes open. I just listened quietly in between as people spoke and focused hard when my body spoke. I remember opening my eyes for a brief second and my husband was right in my line of vision, totally present and strong as he cheered me on telling me “keep going, I can see her!” as his fists were raised in the air. I move my hands down so I could feel her head. Part of me wanted to peel my skin away from her to make it easier for her to come out. My midwife then checked me to see how things were going in that area and noticed that she could feel the baby’s cord. To my surprise, hearing that did not frighten me. I believe that God gave me such peace that Abigail will be perfectly safe during this delivery that I was not worried. However, as a precaution, Nikki asked me to stand up. Now how I remembered this moment was not quite the way it actually went with what I said according to the home video. As Nikki asked me to stand up, I remember saying, “no I am OKAY sitting here” when in fact I really said “OH SHIT!” No control folks, no control.
Chris and my second midwife grab my arms and help me up.
“PUSH!!!” my midwives say, so I do it and then again. I never thought of how hard it actually is to push while standing up. It’s hard! I gave it one last “go” and suddenly the pressure was eased and suddenly could hear the sweet cries of my new born baby. My body felt so light, yet so weak. I had just given birth to a perfectly healthy 8lb 15oz. baby girl! While everyone else was surprised by her size, I just so desperately wanted to hold her.
My husband and I got to feel HER. Her skin, her hair, her tiny little micro-human sized body together, as parents. We were both crying and laughing and completely on cloud nine with our precious little baby Abigail Grace.
I literally got the most perfect delivery and it was even better than what I had imagined.