Thatcher's Birth Story
“In a gentle way, you can shake the world”- Mahatma Gandhi
On April 28th, 2010 at 12am my journey through labor and birth with Thatcher began gently as I snuggled in bed with Sawyer in my arms and Chase at my back. The night was sleepy and intoxicating as the contractions came purposefully every five minutes through the night. As I slept and rested in between the contractions I had a dream about welcoming a baby boy, little did I know that later on that day, Thatcher’s due date, I would be meeting my son.
The previous few days had brought a growing excitement to meet the baby that inhabited by body and though I had been having regular contractions on and off for weeks, my baby’s arrival seemed far off still. As the contractions began to come in the sleepy hours of that night I felt myself resisting the idea that these would really be the contractions that would lead my child out of my womb.
At 3 am Chase awoke to his alarm, set to wake him to head off for a days work at the Coop. He checked in with me to see how I was doing, I told him I was contracting but nothing too intense and that I just wanted to try to get some more rest, and thus he headed off to work. Snuggled in bed with my daughter, the contractions began to become more intense and by 7am I phoned Chase to tell him that this just might really be my labor, something that he already knew to be true.
As 8am approached I spoke with Chase again and he prepared to buy some last minute food and supplies on his way home to me from work. By 9:30am, Chase was home and making breakfast for Sawyer and I.
As our morning proceeded we carried on with our day in a wonderfully normal way. Every five minutes or so I would sway with my contractions or breath deeply, still not committing to the idea that this was the real thing.
We decided to enjoy the beautiful weather the day was bringing us and prepared for a walk around the neighborhood. Just as we were about to head out the door, the rain came pouring out of the sky as if from nowhere. As the late morning approached I spoke on the phone with friends and we ran errands downtown, pausing only to work through my contractions when necessary. Deciding that a good spicy lunch may be the ticket to keeping my contractions going, we stopped to pick up a huge lunch of Indian food.
As we returned home, the weather stirred enormously outside with thunder and lightening. We all sat and consumed our lunches; I ate at least two full plates of that spicy goodness. After lunch, my contractions were becoming more intense and Chase brought the birth ball downstairs for me to labor on.
At around 1:30 pm, we decided that Sawyer would benefit from a nap and Chase sat down with her to get her to sleep. This proved to be more of a chore than usual, perhaps she felt the excited energy or the thunder was rousing for her, but a short time later I decided that I needed to retreat to the shower to cope with the contractions still washing over me every five minutes or so, With the warm and steamy shower my contractions softened and eventually stopped completely.
Once I was done with my shower, now feeling confident that this would not be the day my child would make their entrance into the breathing world, we all headed upstairs for a nap. With Sawyer sleeping soundly Chase and I enjoyed a romantic nap and free from the sensation of my uterus contracting, I slept for a couple of hours.
At 4pm I awoke with a strong surge in my abdomen, which repeated a few minutes later. These were different, more determined in some way. I woke Chase and told him that it would be a good time to eat and drink because I was feeling things more profoundly now.
As we all headed downstairs for another meal, I began to think that my body was ready to bring my baby out. The contractions became longer and stronger and there was no longer a need to time them, just experience them. I began to sway with Chase, rock on the birth ball and lean into the counter through each contraction. Though these contractions were strong, I found myself tidying the house and returning emails in between them, acts which felt so therapeutic, as thought I was tying up all of the loose ends before I was consumed with my experience.
At around 5 pm, I phoned the midwife to let her know that I was probably in labor and that she should expect another call at some point when I was ready for her to come over. During the middle of the conversation I handed the phone off to Chase to work through a contraction, something that, in hindsight I realize, probably told Rachel more about where I was in labor than I ever could with words.
After making a few more calls to family and support people to give them a heads up, I told Chase I was ready for the tub to get filled.
Now feeling dizzied with the sensations of the contractions coming every few minutes I found myself crouched in front of my couch, moaning through contractions while Chase rubbed my lower back and squeezed my hips. I decided I wanted to retreat to the shower for relief from the intensity of it all. On my way to the shower, I stopped to have a contraction near Chase. He held me and we swayed, allowing all of my weight to hang on his shoulders. Just then I felt the sensation of my baby moving lower into my pelvis and the sensation intensified my discomfort.
As I stepped into the shower I told Chase that it was time to call the midwife. As I rocked on all fours in the corner of the shower with the warm water on my back, I could hear Sawyer running around the living room and Chase talking with Rachel. Chase walked into the bathroom every few minutes to silently check on me while he was filling the birth tub. He asked if I wanted Sawyer to be brought to the neighbor’s house for a bit, and I said no, that as longs as I was in my own little world in the bathroom, nothing was distracting me. As I moaned rhythmically through these contractions I heard the midwife arrive (at about 5:30pm). Shortly after, the water in the shower began to get a bit cooler than I liked and so I made my way into my bath robe and back out to the living room where I knelt on all fours against the couch during my contractions. I began moaning loudly and rocking through each contraction while Chase continued to provide counter pressure to my back.
Now Rachel, the student midwife and doula arrived at our house also silently. While Rachel Fox-Tierney worked at a determined but not rushed pace to set up all of our supplies for the birth and finish filling the tub, Rachel Hansen checked with the baby by listening to his heart rate with her doppler while I labored unbothered. As I felt more and more disoriented by the sensations of each contraction, now coming stronger, longer and closer together than they had, I started to get the feeling that I wanted to start pushing. I asked the midwife to come and check me because I felt like the baby was moving down. The midwife responded that if I felt that way, then that was all she needed to know unless I felt like I wanted to be checked (At my prenatal visits I expressed my desire not to be checked unless necessary as well as a desire to be left to my instincts during labor with little interruption from anyone outside of Chase and I). As another contraction rolled through my body, I retreated back into my own experience. I told Chase that I wanted to get into the tub as soon as possible, which he relayed to the midwives. Rachel then told me that I could get into the tub any time I wanted to. As I made my way over to the tub, I felt another contraction approaching and paused at the side of the birth pool. During this contraction I felt my body begin to give a push and my legs began to shake slightly. With a small grunt I felt gravity pull my baby downward and with the close of that contraction I melted into the water.
The first contraction in the pool was a completely different sensation than the contractions outside of the water and I moved onto all fours with Chase massaging my back. With the next contraction I moved into a kneeling position at the side of the tub while Chase squatted on the outside to support me. I began to push downward and reached down to feel my progress. As I pushed, I felt my bag of waters bulging a few inches inside my body and felt confident that my body was telling me to do just what I needed to do. As the contraction came to an end I looked up and could see Sawyer standing patiently at the side of the tub with her arms splashing the water inside. With the next contraction I began pushing more vigorously, confident that my baby was coming soon. The feeling of moving my baby downward was very strong and I knew that it would be hard work. I closed my eyes and turned inward with each contraction and soon during one push I felt my membranes rupture and felt the fluid of my bag of waters escape from my body. It was then that I could feel the efforts of my pushes really counted, with each push my baby moved down and began to stay down instead of gently dancing back upward after each push. I could feel his head just inside my body and with one long and strong push I felt his head come out. Feeling his little head and ears and face was amazing and Chase reached down to feel his baby as well. Sawyer eagerly peaked into the tub and with the help of one of our midwives, caught a glimpse of her baby brother. As the next contraction approached I exclaimed, “it’s not going to come out!” to which my midwives gently suggested that I move into a more favorable position. Then, with one leg in a lunge and my body still under the water I gave one more giant push. As I felt my baby moving out of my body I reached down and grasping under his armpits, pulled my baby out and up to my chest. Seeing that the umbilical cord was wrapped around Thatcher’s neck twice, Chase and the midwives gentle looped it off and then gently rubbed his back. Seconds later, Thatcher let out a vigorous scream letting us all know he was happy and healthy. Just then, Sawyer asked to join us in the tub and a mere minute after her brother was born she was standing in the tub next to him. She excitedly dunked herself under the water and popped out like a little seal. Chase moved around the tub and held us all in his arms and we shared our first moment as a new family. Sawyer kissed her brother affectionately and we all basked in the joy and sweetness of that gentle, earth shaking moment