Currently, I’m still pregnant and have passed right by the official due date. We are waiting patiently. I started writing out my birth story, starting from even before I got pregnant. I don’t journal, so doing this is my way of putting into words all the beautiful moments and memories of this special time. Enjoy.
I’ll start this birth story from the very, very beginning. Nathan and I got engaged. Whenever the subject of babies and childbirth came up, Nathan would very delicately request that I consider having children naturally. I never thought about it much before, but not having drugs when pushing a huge baby through of a very small hole scared the mess out of me. But he felt women are robbed of the beautiful experience of their children’s births when their bodies are numb. Being slightly anti-institutional, Nathan is very skeptical and hesitant towards drugs. So, when it came to drugs being used for comfort and convenience in something as sacred as giving birth, he thought it wasn’t worth the monetary cost or risks involved. Also, he had the influence of his mother who birthed all four of her children without epidurals. I thought on this a good bit throughout our engagement. Until he mentioned all this to me, I never imagined birth anywhere else other than in a hospital with an epidural and many doctors, nurses, and equipment around. Then I wondered, what did people do before hospitals and drugs? Of course, for centuries they had babies naturally. I realized, after lots of thought, prayer, and research, that the idea of birthing children naturally really resonates with my soul. It also lines up with how I view God and my body that He created.
In addition to having strange ideas about birth, we decided to go the nonconventional route with birth control. So, once we were married, Nathan and I started using “NFP” – natural family planning. This method taught us so much about my body, how it works, and the rhythms that God placed in a woman. I absolutely love not being on the pill. It feels so free and liberating. Because our birth control method wasn’t 99.9% accurate, it taught me to trust God with our future and the growth of our family. I loved getting to know how my body operates. Within our first year of marriage, Nathan and I watched “The Business of Being Born”, a documentary that explores the contemporary experience of childbirth in the US. It shines light into the reality of a hospital birth and compares various childbirth methods including midwives, natural births, home-births, epidurals, and Cesarean sections. The film criticizes the American health care system’s emphasis on drugs and costly interventions and its view of childbirth as a medical emergency rather than a natural occurrence. This documentary really opened my eyes to a whole world of new information, and it sparked an interest for a home-birth.
Nathan and I then moved to Maryland so that he could start his Master’s degree at St. John’s College. While there, I became slightly obsessed with researching and reading blogs about pregnancy, birth, and natural living in general. This is when I grew very interested in a new way of eating that included whole, natural, traditionally prepared food. I also discovered that I was infected with a growing case of “baby fever.”
While in Maryland, I worked many long shifts at Starbucks at one of the busiest stores in the area. My co-workers were mostly female, and my once-very-regular menstrual cycle got thrown off. We became a little lazy with our natural birth control method, and in June of 2010, we found out I was pregnant. I took a test at work that day during one of my breaks. When I brought it home to show Nathan, he thought it was a joke. He was shocked. I was thrilled! We knew, right away, that we both wanted a home-birth.
The first few months of pregnancy were not what I had expected, and perhaps not the experience of most mothers. First of all, I never got sick (except I hated guacamole all of a sudden) – I never had a chance to get sick. Once I found out I was pregnant, I started working even more hours at Starbucks during a very stressful, transitional time for my store. I logged in over-time week after week, and all I did was work, work, work! Praise God that I didn’t get morning sickness because it was my income that helped Nathan and me survive while he was in school. Right after finding out about this baby, I grew desperate for advice and wisdom from other women. I contacted a friend from Texas – Jen – and asked her a million questions about birth. She introduced me to The Bradley Method. Also known as “husband-coached childbirth,” The Bradley Method is a method of natural childbirth created by Dr. Robert A. Bradley. Teachers of the method believe that – with adequate preparation, education, and the support from a loving coach (Nathan, in my case) – most women can give birth naturally without drugs or surgery. There are classes offered all around the country, but, unfortunately, there were none close enough for us to attend. The classes teach nutrition, relaxation, and natural breathing as pain management along with active participation of the husband as the coach. Instead of classes, I ordered a couple of books online, and they became our teachers. I continued to read blogs about pregnancy and birth, and I loved reading birth stories. My interest in healthy eating and living gained new heights as I focused my attention on pregnancy. I would make special teas to drink and eat lots of eggs. Nathan and I spent a good bit of our time together taking walks around our neighborhood, talking about our upcoming move to Missouri. I started looking for Missouri midwives online, but had no luck. I was very excited about the idea of having a home-birth, but also somewhat freaked out. I remember laying in bed at night thinking, and clinching my legs together with a cringe as I imagined what birthing a child might be like. It’s amazing how God gives us nine months to prepare for birth, because now I don’t look at it that way at all. At this point, I am ready! Bring it on!
The second trimester began with a move to central Missouri. That move really tested my patience, and I finally reached the tired, exhausted part of pregnancy. I remember one moment when we, with Taylor and Adrienne’s help, were moving our stuff out of our Maryland apartment, and Adrienne and I sat down in some uncomfortable chairs just to rest a minute. Before we knew it, we were sound asleep, lost in our dreams, sitting upright in those hard chairs! I also suffered from a headache just about every day during this week. But thankfully, that was the worst I ever felt during this pregnancy. Once we finally settled into our farmhouse, I started feeling so great! I spent my time doing what I love the most: making a home. My days consisted of cooking and inventing in my “lab” (the kitchen!), walking hills outside in the beautiful fall weather, and taking extremely long baths. Man, I took so many baths! Soon after we moved in, I contacted a midwife we had found online, and we met with her. We fell in love with Kelly right away, and decided she would be our midwife. I spent this second trimester putting into practice all the research that I had done concerning pregnancy. This included eating tons of protein, drinking raw milk and raspberry leaf tea, doing my kegels and squats, being diligent with yoga and stretching, and phasing out toxic chemicals in our home by making homemade bath/body and cleaning products. One concern during this time was the fact that I wasn’t gaining enough weight. We still don’t know for sure, but this may be due to the fact that I have a thyroid disease, which makes losing or gaining weight difficult at any given time. So I spent my time stuffing my face with lots of food and complaining how full I felt afterwards. Food was no longer enjoyable; eating became a chore.
I took a turn for the better during the last few months of pregnancy. I started feeling even better! I had so much energy! This is, also, when all the holiday festivities happened. We were surrounded by friends and family and celebrating Thanksgiving and Christmas. We were showered with so much love and many gifts during baby showers. Having never had one ultrasound, we didn’t (and still don’t) know the sex of the baby, so lots of gifts have been green and yellow – great colors, we think! We enjoyed a few snow storms, and spent much of our time inside. Our house is old, and old means cold, so I took to wearing socks at all times. I stopped taking walks outside because of the cold weather, but I continued and even increased my yoga-ing. AND I also continued taking baths, all the time. Strangely enough, during my third trimester, I felt in the best shape of my life! The weight gain problem became less of an issue. For one, I bought a new scale and realized the old one was a bit off. And feeding my face finally paid off – the numbers slowly started going up. I still didn’t gain the “recommended amount,” but I decided to accept that I was treating my body right and living well, and to stop focusing so much on numbers. Towards the end, I actually began liking food again, so that made things easier, too. I nested like a crazy woman during this time. Adrienne and I started taking a quilting class, so I spent my time quilting, which is very relaxing. I also made many homemade, toxic-free baby products. As I neared the forty week mark, I became more and more excited and confident about giving birth.
The due date came and went, and that’s where I find myself now. Today, I’m five days past the due date, – better known as “guess date” – and I am trying to be patient, but I can hardly wait to meet my first-born! It’s amazing how much my confidence has grown over these nine months. Like I said before, when we first found out about the pregnancy, I cringed at the thought of it and crossed my legs! Now, I am completely ready and willing to take this on. From time to time, I discover remaining bits of fear and anxiety – I think about the pain and “what could go wrong.” But every time I have thoughts like these, I am reminded of how good God is, and how I need to completely trust in Him. This experience has taught me so much about my faith in and (good) fear of God. He is the number one reason I decided to have a natural home-birth. So to God: I trust in You in all this. You are in complete control, and my prayer is You are enjoyed and glorified through the whole birth experience. I want You to shine! To those of you who have been keeping track of us during this whole pregnancy and praying fervently for us: thank you. I cannot express how powerful it is to know so many people think and pray for you during times like this. I feel so, immensely blessed by you. And to my little mouse: I want to meet you! Don’t rush. Come on your own time. I don’t think my mind can even comprehend what life with you will be like, and I absolutely cannot wait! Also, you’re going to love your father. He is the most amazing, incredible man on this earth.
To be continued…