Eden: Our Birth Story
Disclaimer: If you don’t like skin, blood or placentas - this post probably isn’t for you. But if you don’t mind the beauty of birth and life, read on!
On the morning of Wednesday, April 24, at 4 am, I started having contractions. At first, they felt like stomach cramps. We had eaten Papa John’s pizza the night before, which normally messes with my stomach, so I thought I just had to go to the bathroom. I went back to sleep, but the cramps kept coming so I got up and went to the bathroom to try and make them pass. I got up and saw that I had lost some of my mucus plug and had some bloody show. I knew then that these weren’t stomach cramps. I got so excited cause we had to go into labor naturally before our 42 week date, or we’d have to go to the hospital. I was at 41 weeks that day and was trying not to get anxious about when baby would come. I had been trying everything I could to help labor start – eating tons of pineapples and their cores, sex, labor inducing lemon drop cupcakes, essential oils, evening primrose oil, going on long walks, bouncing on the labor ball, I even got tacos and doused them in ghost pepper salsa and set my face and mouth on fire – it was all futile. The night before though, I had my husband give me a massage with Clary Sage oil - and bam! I went into labor 6 hours later!
That morning I got so excited when I saw the mucus, I went back to bed and snuggled up to my husband and told him “We’re having a baby today!” It was 5am. I told him what was going on, and neither of us could go back to sleep. We decided to get up and go out for breakfast. I was still in early labor, where I could be excited and talk through contractions and laugh through them – I hadn’t gone to Labor Land yet. I didn’t even know what Labor Land was at that point. We did some research to see how soon after bloody show labor would start – and the internet said it could be hours or days. Byron said, “You woke me up at 5am to tell me it could happen in a couple of days?” I assured him that women in my family have fast labors, and I didn’t see it carrying into days. We got up and got dressed and headed out. We ran out of time to have a sit down breakfast since we still weren’t sure if he was going to work or not, so we went to Chick-Fil-A. I got the grilled egg white breakfast sandwich and orange juice, thinking that fried chicken would be bad if I were about to have a baby. On our way out I had to stop and lean against a wall to let a contraction pass. We headed to my chiropractor to make sure I was well adjusted for birth. Dr. Davis assured me my pelvis was perfectly aligned and ready to go – and said things should speed up for me after our visit. After that, we went to my brother in law, Travis’s Starbucks to get some caffeine since we woke up so early. I had a mango dragon fruit refresher and Byron had a marble mocha macchiato.
We went home and took our dog Boone on a long walk around the neighborhood to try and speed things along. My contractions were still 10 minutes apart and only lasting 20-30 seconds. I texted my midwife, Christie, and she got excited and said, “Maybe today is the day!” I laughed at her maybe, cause you know…women in my family have fast labors. A little bit later my best friend Dena came over to hang out with us and help keep me distracted so I could try to go about business as normal. We watched Avengers and I bounced on the birth ball to try to help move baby down. My midwife texted to check on me, and I let her know things had slowed down to 10-15 minutes apart. She assured me that it was normal, and my body was just trying to get things sorted out. She urged me to rest and not exhaust myself trying to speed things along – my body knew what to do.
We decided to lay down and try and rest for a bit. At that point it was around 4:00 in the afternoon. Dena left to go pick up her sister, Britney, and get us dinner. We ordered Tokyo Joes teriyaki bowls online for her to pick up. While they were gone, we went on another long walk around the neighborhood with Boone. They got back around 6:00, and we sat at the table to have dinner. I sat on the birthing ball so I could bounce and try to help move the baby down. My contractions were starting to get longer and stronger, but they were still 6-7 minutes apart. I was to the point where I had to put my head down and breathe and focus my way through them. My midwife asked how my headspace was, and I said I was excited, but I had to work to breathe through them and focus on my body and nothing else. Right before they got there, I told Byron to find the funniest shit he could find on Reddit and show it to me. I had read in Ina May’s book that laughing helps open your sphincters – and once we started it seemed to be working. We spend the next two hours looking at autocorrect parent fails on the internet and laughing together. Around 9:00pm my midwife texted to say she was going to sleep to she could be rested for me. I let her know I was at 6 minutes apart, lasting for close to a minute each. I panicked a little bit cause I thought if things progressed quickly, we’d be S.O.L. She told me that she was available and would help me know when it was time, and to remember the 3-1-1 rule. The contractions were long enough, but we needed them to be closer together and stronger. They had to have a pattern of 3 minutes apart, lasting for 1 minute, for at least one hour – and then she would come over. Dena left around 9:00 to take Britney home and grab some stuff at home before coming back her to sleep before things kicked into gear. Crystal, my photographer came over around 10:00, along with my Mom and sister Kami. I think they were expecting things to be further along than they were. Crystal and I took Boone and walked up and down the hill on our street and the street next to ours. I read that walking up hills helped contractions get stronger, and it definitely worked. We did that for around 30 minutes. Mom and Kami decided to go home to sleep cause she needed rest and it wasn’t progressing as quickly as she thought it would be. (You and me both, Ma.) We got back, and I had all the lights turned off and Clary Sage oil diffusing in the dining room. I told Crystal to go downstairs and take a nap on the couch, and we’d let her know when I started active labor. I decided to go lay down and try to sleep as well. My midwife encouraged me to sleep if possible, stay hydrated and keep snacking on protein rich foods to keep my energy up.
I was able to drift off to sleep around 11:00, and at that time active labor started. They were still roughly 10 minutes apart, but they were SO strong and SO painful. I felt my whole mind and body go to Labor Land to breathe through each contraction. I was trying to breathe and relax, like the Bradley Method book suggested. That was hard, but I knew it was helping me progress. I slept in between contractions until 1am, until it became too much to bear. Byron was lying next to me snoring and all I wanted was to kick him, but I let him rest so he could be there for me when I needed him. I got up to use the bathroom, and Byron came in and I was leaning over the sink sobbing cause I was in so much pain. He hugged me, and I wept in his arms, unsure of how I was going to get through the night. We went out to the dining room, and I leaned over the birth ball on my hands and knees, cause my legs were so shaky I could no longer stand on my own. Byron put counter pressure on my hips and grabbed the rebozo to take the weight of my belly off of me. We worked through a few contractions in that position, and then I wanted to be in hot water.
We called Christie to let her know I was 4 minutes and 30 seconds apart, and the pattern was that I was losing 30 seconds to a minute every hour. She got excited that I was in more pain, and that was it. She said to let her know once I hit 3-1-1. I was so discouraged. I wanted her there so badly, and I was afraid to progress too quickly.
I had to go to the bathroom before the shower but didn’t want to be alone, so Byron was with me. I had a bowel movement, and when I stood up, I was so embarrassed. But my sweet husband assured me that it was okay, and there was going to be far worse things he’d see as the day progressed – I was working to birth our child and he was proud of me. I had Byron throw on his swimming trunks and help support me in a hot shower, since my legs weren’t working at that point during contractions. Crystal was doing her job as our photographer and I had her run the contraction timer while we were in the shower. I leaned against the wall as the steaming hot water rushed over my belly with each contraction, as Byron put counter pressure on my hips and helped support my weight to keep me upright. In-between contractions, I turned around to let the water run over my back and so I could lean on my husband. In the shower, the waves started coming on the strongest I had felt yet. It was excruciating pain like I’d never felt before. They were lasting 1.5 – 2 minutes, and were coming on roughly 2 minutes apart, sometimes quicker. We woke Dena up so she could start taking video for us. She came upstairs and I could see the concern and compassion on her face as I worked through contractions – it was obvious how much pain I was in. I didn’t want to get out, but knew I had to save some hot water for the pool. Byron left for some reason I don’t remember, and a contraction came on while I was alone in the bath tub, so I got down on all fours. Another one came on and I yelled at Byron to come get my hips. We went to the bedroom where I got on my knees on the bed and leaned over onto a pillow, with Byron behind me so he could get my hips during contractions. 45 minutes in the shower and 20 minutes in bed and I was finally at 3-1-1. I called Christie right then to let her know, and she was very excited to hear that, and she asked if I felt pressure in my rectum, and I said there was a lot of pressure. She asked if I wanted her to come, and I told her I absolutely wanted her to come and felt like I was progressing quickly. That was at 5:30am. I called my mom after that to let her know that I was progressing quickly, and she might want to head over. We laid down on the bed, Byron behind me so he could manage my hips, and we held hands in-between. I was trying to focus on breathing and relaxing through each wave. I called my sister Mel cause I wanted some comfort from someone who had been where I was. She comforted me and encouraged me to keep my eyes on the prize. She let me know that the pressure and pain were going to get even more intense, and I wasn’t sure how to believe her considering how much pain I was already in. We stayed there and talked to Mel until Christie and my mom got there, which was at the same time at 6:45am.
Christie walked in our bedroom and I felt a rush of relief come over my mind and body. She came in and asked how I was doing and sat down on the floor next to me with her iPad to ask me some questions. She asked about my contractions, bowel movements, when and what the last thing I ate was, and other things I don’t remember. She then checked my blood pressure, temperature and the baby’s heartbeat. She asked if I wanted her to check my cervix to see how far along I was. I told her I’d love to know if all of this would be ending soon, so yes please. I went to the bathroom to empty my bladder first, and in there my water broke. Christie checked me and let me know that I was 8cm dilated. I was so thankful, but also kind of scared cause I knew Transition was approaching and that would be the hardest stage of labor. She told me that when she walked in and saw the way I was laboring, she thought I would only be around a 4. I told her I was just trying to relax my body and breathe through the waves and stay calm. I got up and went out to the dining room where everyone else was gathered. I leaned over the table with my hands for support, with Byron behind me getting my hips. I felt water coming out of me, and I said, “Either that’s my waters or I’m peeing myself – but I can’t control it.” Christie said that was my waters and quickly grabbed a chux pad to put under me on the carpet.
I was finally able to get into the pool. The hot water felt SO good and I was so relieved to be in water again. It helped take some of the pressure I felt from the contractions away. Byron sat behind me on the birth ball and supported my arms and held my hands. As I entered Transition and the contractions got longer and stronger, I found that I didn’t want to be touched. Byron was trying to be loving and caress and kiss my face and whatnot, and I just found it irritating. I just wanted him to hold my hands, be there and encourage me, and that’s it. The contractions were the strongest they’d been the whole time. They were getting unbearable, and I had to dig so deep within myself to get through them. I tried to remember to breath low and slow and keep my voice low – even though I wanted to scream. I had my birth playlist playing on the Bluetooth speaker, and Reckless Love by Cory Asbury came on. I listed and sang the words quietly to myself and wept as I thought about our baby I would meet soon, as I labored in a pool in her nursery. “Before I spoke a word, You were singing over me. You have been so, so good to me. Before I took a breath, You breathed Your life in me. You have been so, so kind to me. Oh the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God. Oh it chases me down, fights till I’m found, leaves the 99. I couldn’t earn it, and I don’t deserve it, still you give yourself away, oh the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God.” I had to lean so hard into Jesus. I talked to Him so much the next few hours. Asking Him over and over for His help, telling Him that I needed Him to lend me His strength, asking Him to be with me and hold me hand. And I felt Him with me the whole time. I flipped around and got on my knees and leaned my head and arms on the edge of the pool.
Shortly after that I felt the urge to push. Hollywood makes it seem like you need to be told when and when not to push. That is the biggest hogwash ever, cause your body takes over and knows what to do. Your body pushes for you, and you have to support your body’s movements with your breath and strength, or it is wasted energy and pain. If I didn’t push, my body did on its own. I just had to push down with all my strength and breathe the baby down. I stayed on my knees for a good while, until Christie had me flip over onto my side. As soon as I flipped a contraction came on that was twice as intense as the last ones. I pushed through the pain and tried to stay calm. Christie asked if she could touch me to feel for the baby’s head and support my perineum. I said yes. With each contraction she asked if she could keep her hand there to support me. It meant so much to me that she asked my permission before she ever touched me, every single time. I turned again and sat on my butt with my legs out straight. With each contraction, I held my legs back and pushed with all my strength and breath. I was instructed to try and not let any sound come out of my mouth, but to push all the wind down and out my bottom. I noticed how much more effective my pushing was when I did that, as opposed to when I lost my breath and started grunting and yelling. I tried to do that with every contraction, but it was so hard to not let sound out. Each contraction had at least 2-3 pushes, and I wanted to badly just to have 5 – 10 minutes to breath, relax and get back to a good headspace.
I started to feel like I was going to pass out. I kept it to myself for a while, but every time I closed my eyes it looked like an old black staticky television screen. I was running out of wind so fast. I could tell my pushing was getting less effective cause I was running out of steam. Every time Christie would ask me if I had one more push or could make one last just a little longer, I just couldn’t. I had no energy left. I yelled “I can’t do this!” and started sobbing. And that was met with a resounding, YOU ARE DOING THIS. I was feeling so defeated in that moment. My sister Kami showed up a few minutes later on her lunch break with a strawberry lemonade refresher from Starbucks for me. I downed that drink so fast and it was just what I needed to keep going. I realized that my blood sugar had been completely depleted. The water and cheese stick I was being fed weren’t enough to help my body keep going. That drink kicked me back into gear and I was ready to get baby out. Christie kept telling me that she could see that baby’s head and she had a ton of dark hair. She asked if I wanted to feel, and with the next contraction I reached down and felt my baby’s head. I could feel her head right there, but I couldn’t get her out. I wanted to be like “Stop lying to me and telling me I’m doing a good job, cause she’s still not here and I’ve been pushing for hours.” I was in such a bad headspace and had to keep re-centering myself. After a couple of hours in the pool, Christie had me get out so we could try something different. I didn’t want to get out, cause every time I moved a new contraction came on stronger. I was scared to move and getting out was hard. I stalled through two more contractions before I found the strength inside of myself to stand up and get out.
We went to the bathroom cause Christie wanted me to try and empty my bladder cause that would help me have more room to get baby down. It felt so good to sit on the toilet, and we stayed there as I worked through probably 3-4 contractions. I could feel her head come out and go back in each time, and it was so discouraging. After each contraction passed, Christie checked the baby’s heartrate to make sure she wasn’t in distress. We got up and moved to the bedroom as they worked fast to get chux pads on the floor and the bed covered with shower liners and a new sheet. It felt so good to stand up, but once a contraction hit I said, “oh shit” and stumbled over to Byron to hold me up. When it passed, Byron sat on the end of our bed and I squatted down in front of him as he held me up since my legs were basically useless. I could feel so much pressure, and both of us knew this would be the position that would bring our baby earth side. I pushed a couple of times and could feel her head moving down and crowning. I could hear my mom and other people on my birth team telling me that I could do it, that I had to do it, that I was so close to meeting my baby, that all the pain would be ending soon, and it would be the greatest relief of my life. I finally managed to push her head out, and the ring of fire sensation was unbearable. I could feel myself being torn apart and it burned and stung like nothing I’ve ever felt before. There was so much pressure and I could barely hold myself up – Byron had to use all his strength and his arms and legs to keep my butt off the ground since her head was out. Christie checked her neck for a cord, and then told me that her hand was by her face and we had to get her arm and other shoulder out, and then she would be here. I waited another minute for the next contraction to come and with that I let out a roar from so deep within my gut to bring my baby earth side.
Then, after 31 long, hard, arduous, painful, exhausting, exhilarating hours, 12 HARD hours of active labor, and 2 hours of pushing – our daughter, Eden Amalie King, was finally born at 11:14 AM on April 25, 2019. Christie handed her to me, and I fell apart. She was big, beautiful, blue and red, covered in blood and vernix. She was so cheesy and had so much birthday frosting on her back and arms! All I could do was cry and say, “you’re here, baby!” and look at my mom standing in the doorway and say, “I DID IT!”, and she look at me and say, “Yes you did, baby. You did it.” I was so relieved and so proud of myself. I thought it was never going to end, and she was finally in my arms. Two years of praying for a child and trying to get pregnant and getting discouraged and trying to not give up hope. Then 9 months of waiting and watching and feeling her grow. All of it culminated in this moment of time where heaven met earth and God gave us the most good and perfect gift He had for us.
I was bleeding a lot, so Christie had to give me a shot of Pitocin in my thigh to stop the bleeding and help the placenta be delivered faster. She told me to give her one last push to deliver the placenta and I looked down as it was coming out. It was this big gush and felt so good to get out. And then she showed me the veins and structure of it, where it attached to the umbilical cord – how typically they connect in the middle, but the cord on mine was on the edge of the placenta. She showed me the side that was attached to me on the inside, and I was so cool. I couldn’t believe that my body grew that huge organ to nourish and sustain my baby’s life in the womb.
After she finished stitching and cleaning me up, we got to snuggle up with our babe and breastfeed. She latched for the first time on my right side. It was such a perfect moment. My babe was here, and now I get to be her mama and nourish her with my body out here in the world. We got to have some alone time for just the three of us as a new family of 3 while they cleaned up the house from what had just taken place. Christie came back in to weigh baby and she was 10lbs 13oz. I was shocked. I was expecting a big baby, but not almost 11 pounds of baby. I said, “Well she’s a payback baby, isn’t she!”, since I was 10lbs 14oz when I was born. Except I was baby #5, not the first one – so that’s a bit different. I could not believe how big and squishy she was! My mom took Eden for a little while because Christie wanted me to try to pee cause a full bladder could make me bleed more. I sat on the toilet with the peri bottle, and Christie sat on the floor next to me. It took me around 15 minutes to be able to pee. She said its cause my body was still in the “What the F just happened?!” mode. We were talking and she mentioned how she’s never seen Byron so quiet and reserved and shell shocked. I said I am pretty sure I scared him with all that ordeal, and being a dad is probably just hitting him now that she’s here and its more real for him. (One of the beauties of home birth is we had spent hours upon hours getting to know each other during our prenatal visits, so I had no strangers at my birth and felt completely secure and trusted her so much). Its amazing how vulnerable and intimate the whole day was, and the whole time I felt completely secure with being in the care of my midwife. Even as I sat there peeing with her right there, she celebrated with me when I was finally able to and it wasn’t weird at all. I was so damn proud of myself and what I had accomplished and endured – and I was so thankful she was there. Midwife means “with woman”, and I’ve seen that so much in who she is and the way she cared for me not only on delivery day, but since then in my postpartum journey.
I put on a snazzy adult diaper and made my way back to bed where there was an amazing roast beef sandwich waiting for me. I had been wanting a cold roast beef sandwich since I got pregnant and hadn’t been able to have one cause of the no cold meat rule – and it was like my victory sandwich and I was SO excited. Christie got the rest of baby’s measurements and she was 23.5 inches long and her head was 15 inches around. I loved being able to soak up my new baby with no one else in the room except me, baby and Christie. Byron came back in after he finished eating, and after that things moved really quickly it felt like, and 2 hours after Eden was born we were alone in our house with our brand new baby. We were exhausted, high off of the adrenaline rush of birth, emotional, completely enamored with our girl, and we snuggled up as she took her 4 hour recovery nap. I should have slept, but I couldn’t put her down. I couldn’t stop staring at her, and we wanted to tell everyone in our world that our girl was finally here. It was the hardest day of my life. The hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. The most painful thing I could have never even begun to imagine what the pain would be life. But once she was out, the pain was gone, and the rest of the world faded into her beautiful face. It was hard, so, so hard. But it was also the most empowering thing I have ever done. The most powerful I have ever felt. The strongest I have ever been. I couldn’t and still can’t believe that I delivered an almost 11 pound baby naturally at home with no drugs or pain management. And I truly believe that had I been at a hospital, I would not have had a successful natural birth. Not with how long it took me to progress, how long my active labor and pushing stages were. I would have probably been told my pelvis was too small and my baby was too big, and thrown into a surgery I ultimately didn’t need – at the very least the pressure to medicate would have been too much and I probably would have given in with the amount of pain I was in.
BUT I FREAKING DID IT. I HAD AN ALL NATURAL HOME BIRTH. It was the birth I was dreaming of. It is the greatest feeling in the world knowing I did it. Nothing stopped me. And I had a birth team and midwife that believed in me and pushed me forward toward the goal the whole time, not allowing me to give up on myself. I needed every person there in their own unique way and couldn’t have done it without them. Having no strangers at my birth and being surrounded by people that love me and that I love so dearly was the most comforting thing in the world. Birth is the most intimate, vulnerable, scary thing a woman can do – and I felt safe, secure, comfortable, at ease, and empowered the whole time to birth my baby. Its like that verse in the Bible that talks about Jesus and His journey to the cross. Hebrews 12:2 – “looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” It was by no means the pain that Jesus endured for us, but it was the most painful thing I could have possibly imagined. I kept reminding myself that day that the pain I felt now was nothing compared to the joy that was coming. For the joy set before me – meeting our baby girl, I was able to endure a day and a half of hellishly painful labor and a hard, physically traumatic birth. And I did it with the strength and grace of my Jesus inside of me. My daughter was born on April 25th, but I was also born as a mom – a day I will never forget for the rest of my life. The best, hardest day of my entire life. Our girl is our greatest good and perfect gift from above. She is our treasure. Our prayers answered. Our dream girl.
Birth is transformative. Birth is raw, real and intense. Birth is primal. Birth is hard and at the same time seamless and intuitive. Birth is beautiful and messy. Birth changes you. Birth is the most incredible, empowering thing I’ve ever done.