Given that I had never given birth before, I’m not quite sure how to write a birth story. But it was an amazing unassisted birth and our little guy is so precious, so I had to share. Bear with me.
Tristan Amadeus Elihu was born on December 19th at 5:14am. He weighed 7 pounds, 5.5 ounces, and was 20 1/4 inches long. He also had the largest feet I’ve ever seen on a newborn. Even after feeling him kick me for so long, I wasn’t expecting such massively long feet. This child will be tall.
I spent Thursday December 18th sitting on a yoga ball because it made my legs feel better (I developed hip flexor tendonitis during the last few months of pregnancy which made walking sometimes painful). I was due the following Tuesday, but because this was my first baby I was expecting to go overdue, so bouncing on a yoga ball was not a means for me to induce labor. I had had one or two mild contractions a day since Sunday. Nothing about that day was abnormal, maybe 3-5 contractions but nothing painful or regular. I went to bed around 10pm.
Peter woke me up at 11:50pm, feeling guilty that he had just finished watching the entire 3rd series of Sherlock. As we were talking, I felt a contraction in my back (babe was facing the wrong way, so I was anticipating back labor). I mentioned that I felt it and we continued talking. About 3 minutes later I felt another one, so I pulled out my phone and opened the “time my contractions” app and Peter and I started timing. Yep, 3 minutes apart, lasting a minute each.
I read a Native American Proverb that said “if a woman lies down during labor, the baby will not come out.” That’s enough to scare anyone into being mobile. I got out of bed and walked around the bedroom for an hour. Around 1am I knew this was the real deal, and finally convinced Peter that it was time for him to head out to Walmart to get the last of our needed supplies (thankfully our birthing kit had just arrived that afternoon). We talked on the phone while he was gone and I started getting things ready for the birth and recovery. As he ran around WalMart trying to find graham crackers and coconut water for me to snack on during labor, I was mixing oils for my recovery spray and getting out the first few things we would need from the birthing kit. I called our friend who was going to attend the birth for moral support and let her know, but at this time I was still walking and talking through contractions. She told me to call her back when I felt like I wouldn’t be able to cross the street during a contraction.
Peter got home and we put the big pads on the bed and the new sheet. It took me about 10 minutes because by this time contractions were every two minutes and lasting a minute each. They were strong enough that now I wasn’t able to walk through contractions, they were more comfortable if I squatted and leaned against the bed.
My water broke around 2am and contractions came faster and stronger. I massaged Deep Blue and black pepper essential oils into my back and Peter helped with some counter pressure massage during contractions. I asked him to blow up my yoga ball so I could carry out my original birth plan of laboring in the living room on a yoga ball with my face in a diffuser of Balance essential oil while watching Disney movies. The plug for the ball was missing, so we tried to duct tape it closed. It didn’t work. Plan B: move the diffuser to the bedroom to labor in there. Only problem was the only open outlet was on Peter’s side of the bed. This meant he got a much stronger effect from this oil, and he became *very* relaxed. I tried to lay down and get some rest, but the contractions were so much more painful laying down. No wonder so many women get epidurals! If I had to lay down the whole time I would get one too. It was SO much better to be able to move and walk and plié through contractions.
I, however, was waddling to the bathroom so frequently that I just decided to stay there. A sweet friend from Facebook was messaging me since she had seen our hint that I was in labor. Her mom had been a birth attendant a long time ago and she herself had just had a home birth a few months prior. She texted me all throughout labor. Finally I decided I didn’t want to labor by myself any longer but was now stuck in the bathroom. Peter was so relaxed from the oils that I called for him (somewhat frantically) six times before he stumbled into the hallway, fell into the door and laid down on the floor. Methinks I put too much oil in the diffuser. Anyway, he perked up and found some relaxing music to play on Youtube. He got the towels that we had reserved for birth and laid them under me. When the contractions became so intense and I had trouble relaxing through them, he asked me what I wanted to do for our anniversary, “since obviously I’ll be cooking it this year.”
That was just what I needed, because the next contraction Tristan was born! I had relaxed enough that my body knew what to do and I only pushed once or twice. He came so quickly we were both surprised. Peter jumped up and ran into the kitchen as I yelled “oh my god it’s a baby!” (not really sure what else I was expecting) and Tristan commenced his screaming. He cried for 6 minutes straight. I told Peter “it’s a boy!” and he quickly grabbed his phone and called his family (at 5:20 in the morning) and yelled “I HAVE A SON!” I did a full ICU assessment on him while I admired his little self (and his large feet).
I called our birth attendant friend (oh yeah, I finally forced myself to call her again around 4:30) and she answered with “so boy or girl?”. She arrived around 6:30 and helped get everyone cleaned up, oiled up, and settled. We anointed Tristan with Frankincense on his soft spot and Balance on his feet and along his spine. I used helichrysum and clary calm on my abdomen before doing the “uterus massage” (i.e., pushing your fist around the belly several times every hour to help the uterus go back down to size. Pleasant). Peter’s mom arrived around 7 and after she held Tristan she took Peter out to our favorite coffee spot (and they brought home a big latte for me and a new mug I had been wanting!).
It was a beautiful birth and extra special because it was just me and my husband there. I was calm, focused, and in the moment so much that our friend was laughing at me as just two hours after birth I was taking pictures of Tristan being held by his daddy (the one below is my favorite!) and calmly rescheduling meetings with people (hey, I was expecting to go overdue!). I believe the proverb was right, movement in labor is KEY! Since I only attempted laying down the once, the majority of the labor I was working with gravity, not against it. My labor and delivery with my first baby was an almost unheard of 5 1/2 hours!
Also, I have no idea how women go through labor, delivery, and recovery without essential oils. They are amazing!