River's Birth Story

It has taken me 3 months to tackle this post, not because I don't want to talk about it, but because it takes time to process the whole experience. Nathan and I chose to have a home birth which is what I always knew I wanted to do. I met my midwife when I was 12 weeks along and I knew instantly that she would take amazing care of us not only physically but spiritually. I had also asked my mother in law to be our "house mom" which is someone who can help in any way possible so that your husband doesn't have to leave your side. Half of the trick in having a home birth is having an amazing team. My midwife had been coaching me for months and Nathan and I took an amazing Bradley Methods class from a teacher who catered to home births. We had so much support and felt confident going in to the experience.

    It was 3am the morning of Oct 14 when I started to feel contractions. They were definitely different than anything I had been feeling before.  I happened to be off that day (So thankful for that detail) and got to relax and see if they were going to progress. Nathan, his mom, and I took a walk around the neighborhood and it was an amazingly beautiful fall day. The colors were perfect and I collected some leaves to keep (I just knew she was going to be born by the end of the day). It was time for Nathan to go to work and I told him to go ahead because my contractions were so random and very far apart. I had let my midwife know earlier that day and I was instructed to try and go about the day as normal. I tried to take a nap but every 15-20 minutes the contractions would painfully wake me out of my sleep so I texted some family and friends to keep them posted. 

    I went upstairs to hang out with my mother in law and sister and law who were making a "birthday cake" for River to pass the time. Fun random fact: Rainbow chip icing which is my favorite but had been discontinued was back on the shelf that day! Anyways, my mother in law could see how intense the contractions were already getting. She said "I think you should call Nathan and have him come home early". The crazy timing of this life event was that Nathan had just started a new job and was still in his 90 day "probation" period in which he was instructed that if a work day was missed he could lose the job at the end of the 90 days. We were trying to be so careful about him leaving and save it for when it was very necessary. "I think I'll try to wait a little longer" I told Kim. "I really think you need him here, even if its just for the emotional support" she responded. At this point the contractions were a little closer together and getting slightly more consistent but still too random. Right when I was about to call him to tell him to come home I get a call from Nathan. "They are sending me home early. I am on my way!". I was so relieved. 

    Nathan called our midwife and updated her while I tried to sit in the warm bathtub for awhile. The bathroom kind of cracked me up. My MIL and husband made it feel like a spa. There was a fruit tray in there along with my essential oil diffuser and candle light. The contractions had started to get so intense that I asked Nathan to call Anita our midwife even though they were still sporadic. The minute Anita showed up a wave of relief came over me and I was immediately more at peace. She went to check me not thinking I would be too far along and I was already at 7cm! “We are having this baby tonight” she gently said with a smile. She had me get in to my birthing clothes.

    From that point on, everything became so intense. The pain, the contractions, the frequency….everything. The thing about not having any pain medications during the entire process is you become insanely in tune with your body and the rest of the world becomes dead to you. I was so focused on the process, Nathan helping support me, and my midwife occasionally giving me instructions to change positions that I had no idea who else was even in the room (which turns out later was my MIL who was taking the pictures and my sister in law who I had not idea had even come in). Every so often Anita and her helper Midwife Katie would check River’s heartbeat (which was always strong and happy) and have me try a different position. Nathan was my rock and kept pushing on my pelvis for pain relief (which was extremely exhausting for him) giving me water, and encouraging me. I don't think I have ever loved him more than in that process. He was incredibly strong, supportive, and loving the whole time and I felt so taken care of by him. After some more time went by I was getting pretty exhausted. I was so exhausted that after every intense and painful contraction, I was falling asleep for a few seconds. The waiting to push part felt like it took forever although later while debriefing with Anita she mentioned that it was a normal amount of time. 

    It was finally time to push and I was so relieved! She started to progress nicely and finally the head was starting to show. “Look at all of her hair!” Anita said in an encouraging tone. “Reach down and feel her head! You are doing so good Courtney!”. I reached down and was encouraged by the progress. After a little more time went by it was discovered that River had a “nuchal hand” or her hand was up by her face causing the fit to be tighter needing more stretching and the process to take a bit longer. 

    After some time went by Anita could tell I was wearing down again. Now the next part of this story is my favorite part and also why I feel so blessed to have found a midwife that cared for us spiritually and not just physically. As you read this story I don’t quite know where you stand with God but I can assure you that out of the six people in the room and my father in law and friend Amy that were just outside of the room listening, this part of the story is confirmed by everyone. Right as I started to get tired again, my MIL got up to go out of the room and pray for me with my FIL. Anita, who was still in the room tending to me had a sense come over her and knew why my MIL had left the room even though she didn't say why she was leaving the room. A minute or so later Anita could see my exhaustion and that River wasn’t progressing as quickly (although again her heart beat was strong and in a great range) and my pushes were getting weaker. So Anita in that moment felt the need to pray over me. Anita prays out loud “Lord help Courtney and give her the strength…” and I felt a strong rush of energy and gave a huge push. I could feel River progress and as Anita was excitedly encouraging me thinking I was going to rest until the next push, I had enough energy for another strong push and River came right out! We laughed later because it happened so unexpectedly that Anita yelled out “Woah, ok I got her!” even though she had her the whole time. That whole moment will never leave my mind because I am so grateful that God chose that time in my life to so obviously remind me of his presence and complete faithfulness.   

    River was here and I couldn’t believe how beautiful she was as Anita placed her on my stomach (her cord was too short for my chest) and I waited to push out the placenta. Pushing out the placenta is the easiest joke after birthing your baby. River was born at 3:47am weighing 7lbs 8oz. Nathan cut the cord and I got to breast feed River before Anita helped me to the shower. While I was in the shower, Nathan got to hold her for the first time. I swear I heard the phrase “She’s so magical” from Nathan for the next few days about a thousand times. Before our midwives left there was a lot of checks for both me and River and then a lot of adrenaline and us all talking about the whole experience. Of course River also got her first Chiropractic adjustment from me as soon as possible. After we were all set we climbed in to our own bed with River on my chest and Anita and Katie left at about 6:30am to let us sleep. 

River is 4 months old now and we still can’t get over how much fuller our lives are with her in it. There are some very sleepy days but there are mostly “my heart loves you so much it could explode” days. We are definitely learning it takes a village and man are we thankful for that village. Thank you everyone who has sent us gifts, cards, prayers and encouragement. We really appreciate all of you and are thankful you are on this journey with us!