The Birthday of Naomi Faith Lawrence - A Home Birth Experience
It was Saturday evening when it all began. Vaughn and I headed out to do a little shopping for the nursery and I noticed that my “Braxton hicks” were much stronger than usual, taking me off guard as we walked the aisles of the stores. They usually felt like a superficial tightening sensation around my belly, but tonight they would get deep into my pelvic floor and contract from my pelvis and upwards to my belly. I had heard that this could go on for weeks so I quickly dismissed the thought that this might be my last night out for a while. We finished off the night with a little taco from “Unforked” and headed home. Once we arrived at the house I developed a sudden burst of energy to organize and pay bills while Vaughn fell into unconsciousness on the couch. Looking back, I realize that there must have been something going on in my subconscious, as I unknowingly prepared our house and bank account for my potential “leave of absence”.
Just a few hours later, around 2am Sunday morning, the first sensation of what I thought might be a contraction started to disturb my sleep. I started aching deep in my pelvis and abdomen similar to menstrual cramps. I had really no idea what a true contraction would feel like so I continued to lay in bed, wondering if this could be a sign of early labor. By 5am I had my answer. The aching in my pelvis started to have a rhythm. It would come on like a wave of deep tightness that would build until I felt my insides start to clench up. From everything I had learned, fighting the clench was bad, breathing and releasing your body to go with the clench was good. I could no longer ignore these and each wave seemed to take a little more focus than the one before. Then came this gentle, yet strange sensation of my pelvic bones wanting to widen. The next wave began and my body would no longer let me lie down. I got up on my hands and knees and this time the wave was doing something. It worked with the sensation of my widening pelvis and at that moment I knew something was beginning to take place.
Yes, the waves of tension and inner tightness was uncomfortable, but it was manageable in the right position, with the right frame of mind. Breathe, relax, let everything go and ride the wave. Being born and raised in Hawaii, I have a deep intimacy with the ocean and with every contraction I knew it would only last so long, just like riding a wave.
It was at this point my husband began to notice my absence in bed and came into the spare room where I had retreated to for the last few contractions. With hair in all directions and eyes half opened he asked me, “Do you need me?” My inner independent woman wanted to say a polite, “No, go back to bed.” But I found myself saying “Yes, these are different. Something is going on. I need you.”
Of all the things God has blessed me with, the one that has surpassed all expectations is my loving and devoted husband. He serves me with excellence and truly embraces the calling to love me as Christ loves the church. In just a few short moments I was served with fresh water and a bowl of berries. I could no longer sleep so we decided to set up the bedroom for our birth team in the event that this was truly labor. After blowing up the birth tank for a potential water birth and getting the mattress covered with a drop cloth and old sheets, we decided to call our doula. My contractions were ranging from five to twenty minutes apart and lasting on average thirty seconds long. I asked Vaughn to cancel our help with setting up the nursery who was planning to arrive at 1pm that afternoon. As I walked around the corner I saw Vaughn hit “send” on his phone and begin to weep. It was finally hitting him. We were about to meet our little girl.
Our doula’s advice was to ignore the contractions as best as possible by going for a walk, resting as needed and to call her once contractions were five minutes apart lasting for at least a minute, as that would signal true active labor. This was just “early” labor and it could very well go for quite a while. Vaughn and I busied ourselves with the nursery, washing clothes and setting up bouncers and pack-n- plays. I would stop for a contraction, usually getting on my hands and knees to allow that widening sensation to take place without restriction. By 12pm I was losing steam and I knew I needed to reserve my energy for the long haul. I tried to lie down but each contraction would bring me back to my knees, breathing deep and focusing on opening from within. Vaughn decided it would be good to time the contractions to keep us from guessing on the length and duration. To our surprise contractions were getting closer and seeming to progress in duration. By 2pm we were settling into minute long contractions, nearly five minutes apart. I needed the gentle stroking of Vaughn’s hands to help me take my mind away from the inner desire to fight the clenching and let the wave flow through the body wherever it needed to go. The intensity of each wave was deepening within my pelvis and I began to sense doubt arising within me.
I was preparing my mind for long hours of labor and I was starting to wonder how long my body would be able to endure these deepening contractions. It was time to bring in the help.
Vaughn and I were doing well, but at this point I needed someone to reassure us, specifically me, that my body could do what it was created to do. We called our doula and she was on her way. For the next hour it took an increasing amount of mental focus. I could no longer make full sentences and had to have absolute silence during the contractions. The only noise allowed was the faint instrumental music I had prepared for this very moment. Waves of contractions seem to come closer and longer. Vaughn and I had practiced many hours of relaxation together and now here we were doing it for real, finding out what really worked and what didn’t. I needed every word of encouragement, every “I love you” and every stroke of his hand on my arms and legs. I loved his light touch as it would take my mind away from that deep clenching inside me and reassure me that he was right there for me. At nearly 3pm things began to take a shift. A wave settled in like none I had yet experienced. I was not prepared and like a rookie surfer I took the fall. I fumbled off my hands and knees, arms flailing, and I threw myself on to Vaughn in desperation. “Oh God!” I said and hit the floor with my head landing in Vaughn’s lap. Vaughn responded in all perfection. “You can do this Jen” and started praying over me. Cheryl, our doula walked in at that very moment and it was as if I went into a complete fog. I could no longer keep my eyes open and I was having deep urges to start pushing into my pelvis. Cheryl quickly assessed my behavior and could tell that labor had progressed rapidly since our conversation on the phone. She comforted me that all was going well and took a brief look at my back for a sign of dilation. Then I heard the words, “Jen, you are fully dilated.” It was the most relieving and yet terrifying news. Cheryl asked me to feel inside my pelvis and tell me what I felt. Within just a few inches of the outside world, I could feel the tip of Naomi’s head. This was unbelievable and a shock to both Vaughn and I.
The urge to push was undeniable and thankfully now I had the confidence to do so. Cheryl and Vaughn began the feat of filling the water birth tank and managed to do it in lightning speed, just under twenty minutes. Meanwhile they did an amazing job of coaching me through a series of deep pushes. The pressure on my inner pelvis was astonishing. Naomi’s head felt like a small cantaloupe pressing from the inside out. The pushes were coming at such speed making it difficult to recover. I was grateful for every moment of rest between each push when I would feel the cantaloupe slide back up to where it came from. I whispered to Vaughn, “Pray for it to slow down”. I knew my pelvis was going to open; I just had wanted more time to get used to the idea and to get acquainted with these new sensations.
I longed to get into the water and see if everything I had read about water births was true. The moment I entered the water I was relieved. It was the first time I could take a contraction without fighting gravity and my body thanked me for it. As soon as I could take in the relief of the water, the water did exactly what I had read it would...it expedited labor even more! Water has the ability to produce higher levels of relaxation accompanied by higher levels of oxytocin. Clearly it was working because Naomi began to crown within just a few minutes. Things were moving at a pace again that was beyond what I could handle and I prayed silently to myself that God would again slow it down.
It was here that I felt an inner peace come over me and the Holy Spirit take me to a place in my mind and body that I had never been before.
I had to trust in the process and literally ride the wave. At this point my body was doing the work and all I had to do was trust that it knew what to do. The pushes were deep and uncontrollable. The sensations of stretching to allow Naomi’s head to emerge were intense and I mentally had to fight off any thought of tearing. I knew it would only hold me back so I focused on exhaling through my mouth, trying to relax as best as I possibly could. Another push came and without knowing it would be the last push, Naomi’s head emerged followed quickly by her body. Vaughn caught her in the water and brought her up to the surface to lay on my chest. We did it. I couldn’t believe it. Naomi Faith Lawrence made the most gentle cooing noises and began to open her eyes. Vaughn knelt beside the birth tank weeping softly. I held my baby and thanked God for fulfilling His promise to us.
Vaughn quickly got into the birth tank to hold me and his new baby girl. My midwife who had arrived in the midst of the deep pushing began to rub my feet and praise God for such a beautiful birth. I heard the music playing softly in the background. My mind was slowly coming back to me.
I had a beautiful baby in my arms and my body was not just intact, but now fully relaxed. Naomi had arrived and we were able to welcome her into this world at home, surrounded by people who loved us.
The ladies guided me out of the birth tank and into our bed. In almost no time at all they had cleaned, started laundry and served us food and drink while we snuggled with our beautiful Naomi. I felt like a queen. Soon everyone was gone and it was just the three of us. No lights, no beeping machines, no interruptions. I sat amazed not only at how the day had evolved, but by the faithfulness of our God to answer our prayers for a homebirth. I can now say I have a new understanding of natural childbirth and although it was difficult at times, I would never trade the experience. It was uniquely mine to have and a memory I will look back on for years to come with incredible awe and joy.
Thank you God for your peace in the midst of the deep sea of contractions. Thank you Vaughn for your undivided attention and devotion to me and the process of natural birth. Thank you birth team for your servant hearts and unparalleled service. I cannot say it enough... I am truly blessed.
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