Our sweet, gentle baby who is practically her father’s girl-twin turns nine months old today, and in celebration of that grueling exciting Monday of her birth, it’s about time I share her birth story with all of you. I don’t know about you, but I love reading a good birth story. I generally end up wiping happy tears from my cheeks by the last paragraph. We chose a homebirth for our first, something that’s taboo and hard to come by here in Costa Rica.
Ten days before my due date of October thirteenth, the hubs and I headed to our quaint little bilingual church, where I bebopped through worship, hoping it might help the baby move downward, an inch or so closer to being in my arms. Lunch following the service was spent around our square dining table with friends and family, one of whom brought along a special gift: a book for filling in important milestones in baby’s first year. Looking back, I’m sure he had no idea that we’d hold a pen to scrawl in those pages the very next day.
That same Sunday evening, after I managed to coerce husband to bed early for snuggles, I began to feel the slightest cramping in my abdomen. We thought nothing of it, since baby was going to be born in a couple of weeks. Insert giggles. I fell asleep for a time, waking up around midnight due to cramping. Still thinking Braxton Hicks contractions could possibly be the culprit, I walked around the apartment in the dark, waiting for the annoying pains to subside. They didn’t. Husband got up with me and Googled signs of real labor vs. Braxton Hicks, and we began to wonder if this really was the real deal. After all, movement and a change of position are generally said to take away false labor contractions, and no matter how I marched, kicked, & yoga’d through our tiny second-floor home, it wasn’t going away. So we went back to bed, determined to get some zzz’s whether the baby was coming or not. Praise God, I did manage to sleep on and off until 3 a.m., when the contractions increased in frequency and I began shivering hard.
We called our midwife, who lived in the mountains two hours away. She assured us that I was indeed in labor, and that she’d be on her way once things sped up a little more. Around 7a.m. we let her know it was “time” and I had a bowl of oatmeal. Mrs. Midwife began her long drive, and sent the doula over, who thankfully lived a little closer. Ms. Doula was an amazing help. This little lady massaged my back for a good part of 2.5 hours as I sat at the kitchen table gulping down juice and swaying back and forth, the only position I found mildly comfortable at the time. Her potions bag included peppermint essential oil, which was helpful to curb the urge to hurl, which happened twice, and lavender for calming my nerves. I swayed and swayed reading over Scripture notecards I’d penned as Husband and the doula prepared the birth scene around me while worship tunes filled the sunlit room.
At long last, Mrs. Midwife arrived on the scene around 9 a.m., toting along an inflatable birthing pool. As it filled, she declared me at 7cm dilation, which surprised me, since I wasn’t in too much pain. I stepped into the tub, anticipating huge relief from the warm water. It was relaxing, but I hate to break it to you that it didn’t reduce the pain. I stayed in the little pool set up in our living room for hours, mostly on my knees holding on to Husband’s strong arms . I can’t say I wasn’t grumpy as the contractions surged on, but I was much more polite than I’d expected. Maybe Husband would say differently? I only remember shouting for juice and water, and a cool washcloth to refresh my sweaty face. As the two hours of pushing pressed on, large pots of rosemary water boiled on the stove. At some point my water broke, but I only know this because Mrs. Midwife told me so. I never felt a thing…besides those whomping contractions. Ouch!
Our sweet baby took her time coming to meet us, as I spent a long, very painful 45 minutes getting through crowning to birth. She was born in the water “super-girl” style, as Husband calls it, with one tiny hand touching her face at 1:20 p.m. No wonder that took seemingly forever! Mrs. Midwife gently placed our girl on my chest, and my husband and I gazed at the tiny princess God had blessed us with. I may remember saying something regarding a little purple alien, but that’s probably inappropriate to mention. We revealed our name choice for a sweet girl (we’d chosen not to know the gender) and she was whisked away by Ms. Doula for a wipe-down as I was placed on the birthing stool and cleaned up. Summerbeth weighed in at 7 lbs & was declared healthy. I spent the rest of the afternoon chugging gallons of coconut water, hot cocoa, tea, and juice. Our pastors visited in the evening to pray with us, the birth assistants gathered their articles and said “Toodaloo” and there we were…a family of three!
Natural post-partum recovery tricks, tips, and recipes coming soon.
I’d love to hear about your birth stories. Please add your links in the comments.