The Birth of Samuel
Pregnancy has never been easy on my body and this time around was no exception. I spent my first trimester and half of the second trimester battling morning sickness and insomnia. Then for much of the second trimester I was struggling with severe migraines and began having pelvic pain. The third trimester was the most comfortable time in the pregnancy, though it wasn’t completely smooth sailing either. The baby was measuring a bit bigger than average all the way through, so I hoped our baby would come a little bit early.
Tuesday, February 15th started just like any other weekday. I got up at 6 to start getting the kids ready for school. I had experienced some steady contractions for the previous four evenings but nothing had come of it. This is why when I was contracting the morning of the 15th I didn’t think too much about it. I got the kids off to school that morning, then went to the gym. I did four miles on the stationary bike and did some weight machines. The whole time I was at the gym I continued to have contractions, but they were mild enough I could work through them.
My next errand that day was to drive to Marion and deliver Girl Scout cookies. I dropped them off with several people including Chris’ grandparents. When I was at their house his grandpa Andy asked, “Is this your delivery day?”
I told him, “I don’t know, I mean it could be,” thinking he was referring to the baby’s arrival.
He chuckled and said, “Oh, I meant cookie delivery.” We all got a good laugh.
I returned home around lunchtime and ate. I was tired so after that I took a nap. The contractions continued once I woke up but again, they weren’t very strong. I folded some laundry and then started reading a book. Around 4 pm I began to notice a change in my contractions. They were getting harder to distract myself from, so I began timing them. They were about 4-6 minutes apart. The next time I went to the bathroom there was a small amount of bleeding. That was new.
Don got off work at 5 and I spoke with him on the phone. I let him know I wasn’t sure but thought I might be in early labor. I contacted my midwife and my doula to let them know what was going on as well. Don, my mom, and our daughters arrived home about 6. I spoke with Mom and she left to get an overnight bag and dinner.
Through the next couple hours the contractions continued to pick up strength and get closer together. I got to where I had to work a bit to get through them. By 9 pm my doula and my midwives had arrived. They and my husband worked to get fresh sheets on the bed and set up the birthing tub. My mom had to make several trips to the store to buy things we thought we had but didn’t, such as an air pump to blow up the tub.
Finally my birthing space was all set and ready. The lights were dim and I had twinkle lights between the tub and the liner. We had quiet music playing. I put on a sports bra and was helped into the tub. As with my other labors and births, the water was my zone. From time to time the midwife listened to the baby’s heartbeat with her doppler and it was always strong.
Labor was getting more intense. I felt the contractions in my pubic bone but also in my sacrum. This was very different than when I had the girls. I’d never had the labor hit me in both places like that. As things progressed I also noticed the round ligaments in front of my hips felt like rubber bands that were stretched almost to breaking. Each contraction I would massage them to make that sensation more bearable.
Most of my tub labor I was sitting, slightly reclined, with my legs out, knees straight. I tried a few contractions kneeling forward in the tub. These increased my discomfort to a level I could barely handle. My husband and midwives worked together to do hip presses and sacral pressure during those to make it tolerable. I got up out of the tub to go to the toilet and my water broke as I stood up. We tried a few contractions on the toilet as well, but it didn’t relieve my pain the way it had with my other labors. I did a couple contractions standing, leaning on my husband for support. I was not managing well out of the water.
I went back to the birthing tub and camped out there. Before I knew it one of the midwives mentioned that it might be time to wake the children. I was a little surprised because I didn’t necessarily think I was that close to giving birth yet. Abigale and Aurora came in ushered by my Mom, rubbing the sleep from their eyes. They curled up next to their Grandma on my bed and waited for baby.
At some point after this my soft moans became more intense. I let out a couple of screams but my doula and midwives helped me refocus my energy. I remember noticing some pressure on my tailbone that was lower and new. The midwife listened to the heartbeat and baby had moved way down low.
Around this time my midwife gently checked my dilation. She let me know I was 9 ½ cm. I could push. I found this very strange because I didn’t feel any urge to push. With my girls I’d always been hit with an overwhelming need to push but so far, with this baby, nothing.
Within a few minutes my midwife encouraged me to push. I wasn’t sure I was being effective, particularly without that physiologic urge to bear down. She assured me I was moving the baby well. Three contractions after I started trying to push, the baby’s head was out. A moment later I pushed hard yet again and my midwife’s hands swept into the water, pulling the baby to my chest. It was 12:23 am on Wednesday, February 16.
Everything felt sore down there but I experienced the most incredible sensation of relief. I clutched the baby to chest, exclaiming, “Thank you Jesus!” To the baby I said, “We are so glad you’re here! I’ve been waiting to meet you for so long!” Typical to most waterbirth babies, this little guy was was so calm at birth. It was as if the baby was simply taking their time waking up to the world around them.
I pulled the child off my chest and looked; it was a boy. Samuel Becker had arrived. Although I never had anything to confirm my suspicions before that moment, I’d been convinced the whole time this was a boy. (I can only imagine my shock if I’d birthed a girl.) I could tell by the weight of him in my hands he was smaller than I had anticipated.
Samuel had arrived. I held him up where my mom and my girls could see and asked, “Aurora, is it a girl or a boy?”
Aurora looked at me, looking puzzled, and said, “I don’t know!”
I clued her in, saying, “Well, if it doesn’t look like a girl then it’s a boy.”
“It’s a boy!” she cried out joyfully.
A few minutes later the midwives helped me into bed and I birthed my placenta. They commented on the insanely long cord and the bigger than average placenta. Being a midwife and not just a new mom, I was impressed with myself for growing them like that. Haha!
The midwives got me cleaned up and helped me to the bathroom. When I got back to bed the baby was handed back to me. Skin to skin, I nursed him. He ended up pooping on my chest but I didn’t even notice until I gave him the midwife to weigh and measure. Haha!
Samuel was 7lb 10 oz and 20 inches long. His face was bruised from his swift descent and birth. Everything checked out perfectly on his newborn exam and he came back to me to nurse.
Our dog Caramel, who had been crying in the kennel as I gave birth, got to come in and see us briefly. She put her front paws up on the bed and tried to bathe the new baby. I think she felt relieved to see that I was okay, as well.
The midwives and doula got our room cleaned up, tub put away, dirty linens in the washer. I relaxed in bed and fed my son. My mom put the girls back to bed, then got me some yogurt and fed it to me.
By 3 am all was tidied and Don got into bed next to me. The birthworkers headed home and my mom went to bed in the other room. We snuggled in and went to sleep, the three of us comfortable in our own bed.
Our homebirth was perfect. I cannot imagine Samuel’s life beginning in a more beautiful, peaceful way than here where we live. Had we not birthed at home, his sisters and grandma would have had to miss out. Instead, he was born surrounded by family and trusted birth workers. I was able to labor the way I desired—unhampered by medical equipment or unnecessary interventions.
I’m immensely grateful to God for our son. I’m immensely grateful for the opportunity to birth him in this way. I’m immensely happy that the Lord saw fit to bless me beyond my wildest dreams with this family—Nevaeh, Abigale, Aurora, Samuel, and Don. He brought beauty from the ashes of my former life, truly and fully.
(DISCLAIMER: Homebirth is not the right fit for every woman/baby/labor, but it was the right fit for us this time. The baby and I were considered healthy aka “low risk”, which made homebirthing a viable, safe choice for us.)
All photos taken by Kendra Leftwich of First Cry Photography and Doula Services. Visit her page: https://www.firstcryphotodoula.com/