I felt the first mild beginnings of labor at 2:00 a.m. on February 12th, exactly Hannah’s due date! Not wanting to get too excited if it wasn’t “for real,” I took a hot bath, drank some water, had a small snack, and tried to sleep. The pains only got stronger so I decided to time them. For about an hour they were under 10 minutes apart, but very irregular. I woke Sam up and asked him to help me time, as they were getting stronger and I needed to concentrate on breathing through them. We were both excited, especially Sam who felt strongly in his heart from the Lord that this was the day we would hold our baby!
At 6:00 a.m. I called my midwife, Dotti, and she said to try and rest some more and to call her back when the contractions were under 5 minutes apart. From 6:00 a.m. until about noon, I labored contentedly with the help of Sam, who was an excellent coach. He helped me find “comfortable” positions during contractions, reminded me to breathe deeply and relax, and massaged my back, hips and belly endlessly. My Mom was also there, faithfully timing each contraction, taking pictures, and praying. The contractions were getting very much stronger and longer and by noon they were consistently 4 minutes apart, with some lasting as long as 2 or 3 minutes! We called Dotti then and she came to our home. Before she checked me, she told me that most likely I was only 4 or 5 cm dilated, because I was walking around, talking easily, eating and generally relaxed…not the signs of a woman in active labor. She was shocked when she checked me, and actually had to check me twice to be sure that what she felt was right…I was already 9 cm dilated! She immediately began setting things up and called the other midwife, Merrie, and her apprentice, Carissa, to come fast. Before Merrie and Carissa got there I was already in transition with very intense contractions. At this point, I was feeling totally consumed by the pains and could no longer get “comfortable.” The contractions were also coming very close together. I threw up after one contraction and the force of my throwing up caused my water to break.
After that, I moved back to the labor pool, which I had been using a bit earlier on. The water helped to ease some of the intensity, but the pains were still so consuming I could hardly think. The midwives barely had time to get all their supplies set up before I was feeling the overwhelming urge to push! They rushed to my side and told me to push when my body felt like pushing. Dotti helped to support me in the pool while Merrie used the Doppler to monitor the baby’s heartbeat. After a few pushing contractions, the midwives grew concerned as the baby’s heartbeat wasn’t what it should’ve been. So, they helped me move from the pool to our bedroom.
The midwives knew we had to get the baby out fast, so they encouraged me to push hard. They kept the contractions coming one on top of the other by massaging me. They gave me oxygen to keep me going. After a little while, I stood up to get into the squatting position. I could feel the baby’s head down very low. I continued to push with all my might and energy. I don’t really remember anything of the surroundings, I kept my eyes closed and could only focus on my baby. I could feel her moving down through my body. I remember putting every ounce of energy and effort into the pushing, panting for air when the pushing urge would subside for a second. Sam was holding me from behind during all of this, a constant and loving support that gave me much strength. During the most intense moments, I heard Sam, my Mom, Dotti, Merrie, and Carissa all yelling out their encouragement to me: “Go! Go! Go! That’s it, Sarah! Push! Push past the pain!” Their shouting gave me what I needed to keep up the effort. I’ve never worked so hard for something in my life. That last push was the most amazing feeling I’ve ever known. Yes, it hurt, but I don’t remember it as pain. I only remember the extreme relief of her head crossing the threshold and her body quickly following. And then my baby girl was on my stomach, wet and warm. All I could do was gasp for breath and say “My baby! My baby!”
The midwives had gotten a slow heartbeat for Hannah during labor because the umbilical cord was wrapped around her neck three times. But she was perfectly healthy, weighing in at 7 lbs 13 oz and 20” long. All in all, the labor lasted 12 hours and the pushing was a very intense 20 minutes.
We are so happy that we decided to do a homebirth. It was such a beautiful experience! I felt content and cared for throughout the whole labor and delivery, surrounded by those who love me. The midwives were also very skilled and sensitive, administering exactly what was needed with precision and care. Most of all, God’s presence, protection, and love were in our home as our family was born. And at the end, there was our beautiful daughter in our arms! She is our Hannah Joy, because God has been gracious to us and she is truly the joy of our lives!