Porter was born on the evening of September 19. His birth was unique, intense, scary and completely normal. Unlike all of my other babies who were born after 41 weeks, Porter arrived one day before his 38th week. My entire pregnancy with him was spent letting go… of ideas …of perceptions …of approval … and ultimately of control.
Letting go of control is essential to birthing our babies but is never easy or without some pain. I’ve heard pregnancy described by one of my dear friends, as a glimpse of what labor will be. During Porter’s pregnancy, I cried. I wavered. I questioned. I searched for answers. And I finally relinquished. And so it was during his birth.
I had a funny feeling about this amazing fourth baby. I knew in advance that this would be a propelling experience for me. Perception-altering and life-changing (again. I say that every time)! After researching all my options, I decided to take the weight and responsibility of my own prenatal care on myself. I checked the things I needed to check, and found a place of peace with this growing life.
Even as I say that, the reality of coming to a place of peace was difficult. I trusted my body, I trusted my baby, I prayed intensely and had confirmation for a safe birth, but I also had intense emotional releases nearly every day. I believe I did a lot of surrendering to my labor, his birth and the mothering of four kids well before those events actually happened.
For the entire week before his birth, (I now know) my body was preparing for his labor. In the moment though, I thought for sure I’d be doing these bouts of practicing for birth for another 3-4 weeks! Talk about disheartening!
But, I tried to ignore the sensations that felt so familiar until I got a strange feeling on Sunday evening. I had finally gotten glimpses of how this birth would happen that weekend. I believe God allowed me some quick looks and hints into his birth: the number 19 stood out to me at a yesterday; I had a vision of birthing him on the floor next to our bed; and I knew my bag of waters would stay intact.
About 3am, I woke up to consistent sensations that were noticeable but not painful. After realizing them, I went back to sleep – resting but still able to notice something was different. About 6am, I finally got up and took a shower. I told Eric he should probably stay home because the sensations were consistent and I just felt different. We kept our normally scheduled chiropractor appointment that morning, picked up some lunch and headed home. I was so tired – I hadn’t been sleeping well and just wanted to lay down. I tucked myself in and fell sound asleep!
Three hours later, I woke up feeling completely rested. And of course, needing to pee (nine months pregnant, remember)!
As soon as I emptied my bladder, birthing this baby became my body’s only priority! All surges pushed close together. I began pacing and concentrating on my breathing. My family kept on with their activities as I wandered in and out of my room. Sometime in this process, I texted my friend who was going to join us. Eric filled the birth pool at some point and my sister-in-law showed up for kid duty.
Those are only very hazy details to me because I was vocalizing, coping and trying my best to relax and release. All I know if this labor felt so strange to me. With my other two vaginal births, my waters released to start labor. I had always assumed that intact membranes felt better than not, but now I wasn’t convinced. (The places my mind goes in labor!)
I wasn’t able to get very comfortable in the birth pool and felt like I needed traction! I got out and started doing all sorts of crazy contortions – squatting, lunging, bending, etc. After researching grand multip (women with many births!) labors, I now know i was laboring very normally but it felt wrong to not have a baby in my pelvis yet!
Finally my bag of waters exploded (like a water ballon under extreme pressure) and I felt my baby move all the way through my pelvis in one surge. The head was immediately on my perineum and the pushing sensations took over. His head was born with a nearly audible “pop” (with no tearing!) and another spray of fluid. And then – with his body still inside – he breathed and cried. It was so incredible to hear. Then, with the next expulsion sensation, his shoulders rotated and his body emerged – right into his daddy’s waiting hands.
As I lowered myself onto the ground, Eric passed him through my legs into my arms. He squawked and squalored for a minute or two and then was completely quiet as we rested together on the floor… next to my bed.
My amazing sister in law had the boys in bed and they couldn’t be roused. So we showed off our precious bundle to her and my nephew before they headed home for the night.
I then used the birth pool for a quick soak and then cuddled with my baby in my own bed. He breastfed and we weighed and measured him – it’s always fun for us to know that information. A few phone calls to family and quick texts to friends and then we slept.
I could say so much about the process of freebirthing and the intensity of claiming all responsibility for my birth experience. But, for now, I will just say that I’m thankful. For the process, the experience, and the dream God placed in my heart for this entire pregnancy and birth.
Our friend was so kind to spontaneously video his birth! Because it isn’t something I want to share with the entire world, I captured some screen shots instead. Enjoy!