It’s been 12 weeks & 2 days since Judah was born in October. I’ve had a few requests to share his birth story and I think I’m finally ready to do so. Having a baby is one of those very personal, vulnerable, beautiful moments in life that you want to share with the world while holding it inside all at the same time. I’ve chosen to share it and I’m equally excited and nervous. This is as honest as I get.
Judah’s estimated due date was October 16th. At 40 weeks, 5 days, and a few late night false alarms, I was dying to meet him! All of that “enjoy the last weeks of baby-free life” is complete BS in my book. I was ready to be a mom (and to sleep comfortably)!
As I previously shared, at 37 weeks, I switched from my OB & hospital plan to a midwife and birth center. So I didn’t do much “natural birth prep” other than watching a few documentaries and YouTube videos on breathing techniques. I knew my body would tell me what to do, but like all things in life, having a baby was nothing like I had expected. It wasn’t as dramatic as the movies portray it, but significantly more intense than the documentaries I had watched.
Around 4am on the 21st of October, I woke up feeling crampy. I thought they were contractions, but I wasn’t sure and my water hadn’t broken so I didn’t want to get my hopes up. I used a contraction counter on my phone to track them for an hour then gave my midwife a call to let her know what was going on. She said it sounded like the real thing – keep tracking them and try to get to sleep.
I was too excited to sleep. Soon I would meet the tiny creature that had been growing inside of me all these months. As the contractions intensified, I decided to take a bath. When the water got cold, I forced myself to eat in preparation for the marathon ahead, got my last minute things together and watched Clueless while napping in 5 minute intervals between contractions. I had forgotten how much I loved that movie.
Around noon, I was no longer able to walk around through the contractions. My midwife wanted me at the Birth Center by 3:30, but I knew that was too late. We hid a key for my grandpa to let Keyshia out and left the house at 12:30. I laughed when John asked if we could be home in time for the Season Premier of The Walking Dead that night. By the time we got there at 1, my labor had progressed. The contractions were strong and I was 5cm dialated. Within an hour or so, I was at 10cm. The labor was more intense than I imagined it would be. John started “live tweeting” and updating our families via text.
The Birth Center is very much like a house. It’s small, comfortable, cozy, free of crazy amounts of medical equipment and meant to put you at ease. It’s also recommended that you don’t have your entire family waiting in the “living room”. Informing our families that it would only be me, John, a midwife, birth assistant and doula didn’t go over well at first, so I was okay with the text updates. Eventually though, the transition contractions came. I hadn’t planned for bleeding. It came. It scared me. With a couple of “F” bombs, I made John aware that I needed him more than our family needed updates. I then proceeded to accidentally bite him. The texting stopped.
I had prepared for the pushing to be the hardest part. However, transition contractions kicked my ass. I labored standing up. I labored on the toilet. I labored while hanging off of a towel rack. I labored while hugging John. I labored while staring at dolphin stickers on the wall and laughing inside about a story I heard where a couple wanted to deliver their baby in the ocean surrounded by dolphins. That didn’t work out for them in case you were wondering. I labored everywhere but the tub that I had planned on laboring in. My mind and body separated. I blankly stared at John while humming loudly between primal sounds I didn’t mean to make. The vibration of my voice helped the pain. Our friend (and doula-in-training), Christa made it. She played with my hair. At one point I told John I couldn’t do it. I was lying to him. I was lying to myself. God created my body to do this. I listened to “sounds of the sea”. I pretended my body was the ocean. The contractions were the waves. Giselle taught me to do this in a documentary. Pushing was a relief.
My midwife was there to supervise, but per my plan, she let my body guide me. I was finally in the tub, on my knees, leaning over the side. I pushed when my body told me to, not when instructed. Judah pushed his feet against my insides, eager to meet me as well. I hugged John between contractions. He made me drink 2L of coconut water. I couldn’t have done it without him. I was terrified of shitting in the bath tub. I never did. My water finally broke.
After 2 hours of pushing on my knees, slowly preparing my body for what was to come, I sat down in the bath. John sat behind me. My eyes were closed. Judah was coming. John asked if I saw him. I opened my eyes. I pulled my baby from the water. He cried. John cried. I didn’t. We sat as a family for the first time in a draining bath tub. I’ll never forget the way I felt.
It was painful. It was beautiful. It was primal. It was intense. It was perfect. I knew when I saw him, it would be love, but I didn’t expect this much love. I knew the pain and intensity would lessen, but it was completely gone. The very instincts that had pushed me through the most intense of the transition contractions were going to teach me to be a mom better than any book could. My life would change. It did. I would be better because of him. I am. I would love John even more. I do. I didn’t cry that night. I may now.
On October 21st at 5:30pm, just 4.5 hours after making it to Labor of Love Birth Center, Judah made his entry into the world via water birth. He was 6lbs,14oz and 20 inches long. His feet and hands were blue. He was tiny. He was perfect. He gave my life meaning the way John did on our wedding day. Three and a half hours later, we were home in time to watch The Walking Dead. I wouldn’t change a thing.
Judah is no longer the tiny newborn that I saw come out of the water, still thriving on the food source that had had nourished him over 40 weeks. He is now a baby. A perfectly beautiful baby with his own personality. Today that beautiful baby became a little boy. He learned how to take off his velcro cloth diaper. We found him wide awake, in his crib, wearing nothing but a smile, poopy diaper in hand. It was hilarious. It was a milestone. He’s still perfect.
The photos are courtesy of Christa Porto, our beautiful doula-in-training friend that was there to welcome Judah to the world and was kind enough to grab my camera.