There are moments in life that will remain with you forever. One minute you are moving through time in your usual ways and then before you know it, you are completely swept up in the magic. Erin's birth was one of these sweet moments of magic.
"In order to share with you how much Gabi means to me and my family, I feel as if I need to share some of my birth story with you.
Years before getting pregnant, I heard about this crazy idea, a new phenomenon, or at least I thought: natural birth. I was recently graduated from college, having moved in with my longtime partner, Chris, and was unemployed. What better way to spend my time then applying for jobs online while watching Netflix? I came across a documentary that spiked my interest in this taboo topic. I remember telling Chris when he got home from work that evening that I would one day give birth naturally when the time came. He looked at my stunned, while laughing out loud and shaking his head in disbelief, saying that will never happen. His reaction wasn’t wrong or out of the ordinary. How could he imagine me giving birth naturally if all we had ever witnessed ourselves were hospital births, facilitated by labor inducing drugs and other medical concoctions and devices, many of these leading to c-sections. Now don’t get me wrong; I think the hospital is a wonderful place to bring a baby into the world. We have hospitals for a reason; the life-saving technology and safe assurance that can be provided to a laboring Mother and her family can bring a lot of comfort. However, I quickly realized that a hospital would not be the place where I wanted to bring my first child into the world. After much research and exploration, the care of midwives seemed like the best fit for me and my someday growing family. I was infatuated with the idea of a woman-centered, mother and baby focused model of care, one that our ancestors knew so well.
Fast forward three years and we began trying to get pregnant. Obviously, it worked.
I did so many things to prepare for pregnancy, labor, and childbirth. I read countless books, watched a variety of documentaries, hired a doula, and attended a birth class geared toward women and their partners with the goal of birthing naturally. To prepare even further, I had bags and bags packed of every little thing I thought I may possibly want or need, from food and drinks to candles and heating pads. I made a binder filled with pages of affirmations, labor and birth positions, and pictures of all the things I held near and dear to my heart. Taped on my work desk was my favorite Ina May Gaskin quote that I would read each day: “Remember this, for it is as true as true gets: Your body is not a lemon. You are not a machine. The Creator is not a careless mechanic. Human female bodies have the same potential to give birth as well as aardvarks, lions, rhinoceri, elephants, moose, and water buffalo. Even if it has not been your habit throughout your life so far, I recommend that you learn to think positively about your body.”
I would soon learn that I was more than over-prepared.
Friday I stayed home from work. I was four days past my due date and I felt like I deserved the day off. I spent the day bouncing around on an exercise ball, walking, tailor sitting on the floor, squatting, and anything else I could think of to help me get closer to meeting my baby. My husband got home around 2:00pm and we immediately went for a long walk up and down a very large hill near our home. I could tell my body was starting to experience the slightest contractions. Later, we went for another walk, this time up and down the stairs and around the track at a local high school stadium. By the time we got home, I told my husband that I would be having our baby THIS weekend. I spent the rest of my evening walking laps throughout my home. I was bound and determined to keep these contractions coming.
Excited, but knowing that rest was going to be so important for all of us, we went to bed just after midnight. I awoke around 2:20 am. The contractions had reached the point to where I could no longer sleep. When I got out of bed I felt a small gush; my water broke! Very quickly, within minutes of my water breaking, I was experiencing contractions every two minutes, lasting for one minute each. Quite surprised and not quite believing my progress, my labor was happening much faster than I had anticipated.
Our midwife suggested that we meet at the birth center at 6:00 am. I quietly responded, “It will be too late.” My birth team took my reply seriously and with much support and wit suggested that we leave now since a home birth was not what we planned.
My eyes were closed for the majority of the drive. I remember opening them at certain points along the way to make sure we were getting closer to the birth center. Our baby was coming. Chris called my parents to tell them is was time to leave now. Roughly five miles before we reached the birth center, I felt an intense need to push. I opened my eyes, looking out the window to see we were still driving on the bridge when I let out a huge moan. This happened twice more as we were driving. I remember thinking to myself: I cannot have our baby in the car!
When we pulled up to the birth center, the doors were open and our birth assistant, Gabi, was waiting. Chris put the car in park and helped me exit my side of the car. Upon exiting, I had another feeling of urgency to push. Up the curb and through the doors of the birth center, Gabi greeted us and informed me that the tub was ready. The birthing room was perfect. It was clean and clear of any clutter, the lights were off, and the tub was filled with warm water awaiting my entrance. I immediately got into the tub and went to a squatting position on my knees. Gabi encouraged me to lie back in the water and submerge my back and belly for relief. As soon as I laid back, I experienced another contraction and found myself right back on my knees. Chris was in front of me holding my hands as I rode out each contraction. Gabi told me to try not to push; we were waiting for our midwife to arrive.
I was so worried my parents would not make the birth, but within minutes of us arriving, they walked in. My Dad stood near the back of the room to allow Gabi her space to work and my Mom sat next to Chris. I was so relieved that they had made it. I looked up into Chris’s eyes and we shared the biggest smile. I knew this was it; it was time to meet our baby.
My body did all of the work. I experienced three pushes and I exclaimed, “Her head broke through!” My parents and Gabi ran over. Gabi swiped the neck of the baby to check for an umbilical cord and there she was. My jaw dropped, she was so small and had a head full of hair. Gabi placed her in my arms. I was in such shock! I swear my jaw hung open for minutes; I wasn’t able to speak at all.
Allow me to introduce our daughter, Erin Lynn (her sex was a surprise to everyone, but us).
Our midwife arrived roughly 15 minutes after the birth.
The three of us were home two and a half hours after Erin’s birth. Erin held onto my finger the entire car ride home. My daughter’s birth is my greatest achievement. It was exhilarating! I remember thinking to myself I can’t wait to do this again. Experiencing my body bringing another human being into the world was so phenomenal.
I am forever changed!
I am so thankful for the peaceful presence of my birth team during my labor and birth, especially Gabi. Gabi worked so hard to make sure that I felt safe and supported. Each time I think back to that day, I am reminded with tear-filled eyes of my wonderful experience. Gabi's presence was calming; she was confident and held space for me in such a sacred time. We had never met Gabi prior to our daughter's birth, but she will forever hold a special place in our hearts! I look forward to and hope to experience another birth with her someday!"