It has been over a year and a half since Axel was born, and I have wanted to get this written out for some time. As I contemplate this impending second birth and how the story will unfold, it is a comfort to look back with such fondness to our first home birth experience.
So, here is the story of the home birth of Axel River.
It started with a video by Rikki Lake when I was about 12 weeks pregnant. Ram and I looked at each other, and he said, "Well, I guess we're having a home birth". I was surprised by his enthusiasm, since it was stronger than my own, but I didn't see any alternative. We found our midwives, Claudia and Jen, and we were in it.
What came about over the next months was a realization in my heart that I was meant to do this. I was meant to carry this baby in my womb. My body was designed and perfectly formed to do the work of nurturing and forming the child inside. So, naturally, this meant that I was perfectly equipped to give birth to him as well. I came to the strong opinion that no doctor or nurse, or anyone for that matter, could tell me what and how I needed to labor and deliver this child that I alone had been carrying and bonding with. We were a team, and we were made to do this together.
I knew from the beginning that God was telling me that He would guide me. That He had created my body so perfectly for giving birth to this child, and that He would help me get through it. I didn't need medication, or constant monitoring. I especially didn't need to be in a hospital. Rather, I needed to be in the most comfortable environment I could create, my own home. I believe with all of my heart that being here, in my nest, was the key to having such a beautiful and peaceful experience.
At 42 weeks, 1 day gestation, I was extremely anxious about getting this baby out, yet, still, no signs. I had spent the day in the rain, digging out old concrete from the yard. I was walking, and yes, I was doing the other things too. My midwives were really putting the pressure on me to get the show on the road. Much longer, and the baby could be in danger, which would have meant a trip to the hospital. So, after attempts at herbal remedies, pressure point and other stimulation, as well as acupuncture, I was down to my last option: CASTOR OIL! I was fearful, to say the least. I had been advised by nearly everyone except my midwives not to do it. But, when I had spent the last 9 months preparing to be at home, I was willing to try it.
So, at 42 weeks, 2 days we went on a morning walk as one last ditch effort. Nothing. I was at a loss. So, at half past noon, I made that castor oil shake. Several huge scoops of chocolate ice cream, a couple of dollops of peanut butter, a little milk and 3 ounces of castor oil! I drank it down. That walk was the last walk we would ever take, just the two of us...
Two hours after I finished that shake, labor began. Maybe two cramps and then labor, hard labor. Ram called the midwives to let them know something was happening. They said one them would be by in an hour or two to check in and see my progress. Ram called my mom to tell her I was in early labor. I said, "I don't think this is early labor". I sure hoped it wasn't. I couldn't imagine that real labor was harder than that. The only thing that helped me handle the pain was squeezing Ram finger or his thigh. The few times he couldn't be in the room during a contraction, I felt like I was going to lose it. When Jen got to our house to check me, she was surprised to see that I was laboring hard. Upon a check, she determined that I was dilated to 6. Good news for me. That meant I could get in the tub as soon as it was ready. I did just that, and stayed there for the next several hours.
The tub was like a miracle for me. The water was so soothing. I was able to float through my contractions. I had found my "roar" as they call it, and was making my noise of choice while floating in the tub. This was it. I was having a baby. I was in my baby's bedroom. I was doing it.
Much of what happened for those hours is a blur. I know our family was there in the living room. I know I ate frozen cubes of juice and chocolate pudding. I know the midwives had me get out of the tub and try some other positions and places, but all I wanted was that tub. As I floated there, Ram sat in front of me, calm as he always is. He wore his t shirt that reads, "This too, will pass" I stared at that shirt as I moaned. Just as the pain seemed to have taken all I could give, I had the strong urge to push. I was told to check my cervix to feel if there was any lip around the baby's head. What an amazing feeling! To feel my child's head moving downward through me. It gave me such a peace to feel his head right there. There was no lip. I was ready to push.
It took a while for me to figure out the pushing thing. Claudia would guide me and show me where to focus my efforts. From my vantage point, I could see the baby's head moving down with each push. Finally, after about 90 minutes of pushing, a tiny little baby slid out into the water, still in the unbroken sack (en caul). Claudia broke open the sack and handed the baby to me. He was a little gurgly, but crying. I called the family in to see. Photos were taken, everyone was so excited. I yelled out, "I still don't know if it's a girl or a boy". It took me a moment to get my bearings and turn the baby a bit to see that it was a boy! We all cheered! What a moment. I had my child in my arms. My husband was next to me with tears streaming down his cheeks. I was good. I was great. I had just faced serious pain and gone through it with the ones I loved most, my husband and my new little boy. We were a team, a team of three. We did it, I did it. I knew I could. Though I had my moments of doubt and others sure had theirs, I followed my heart and my convictions. God created me for this, and He lead us through it together. I wouldn't change that for anything.