Sunday, December 28, 2014

Our Second Unassisted Childbirth Story

I've had a few friends ask me to tell our birth story, and I figured it can't hurt to document this event for our new baby's sake, so here goes.

First of all, I don't feel like this Unassisted Childbirth (UC) was as exciting or eventful as the first one we did (you can read that story here), but it was still an amazing, beautiful day, despite how smoothly it went. ;) I also don't feel the need to justify or explain my decision to UC (like I did the last time), because I believe it is the best thing for our family, and that is all that matters.  If you're curious why or how we came to decide to have a UC, read my previous post.  It was quite the scandalous decision! 

This time around, we were able to hire a home birth midwife to do my prenatal care. I wanted to make sure baby and I were healthy before going into a UC, and having a midwife watch me during pregnancy was part of that. She herself has fourteen children, and a few of them she birthed unassisted. When we met for the first time, I was upfront with her, and told her I only wanted her care before and after the birth, but I did not want her at my birth. I feel so strongly about that being an intimate family affair, without strangers in the room. She was totally cool with that idea (which surprise me a little, but I was thankful!). She met with me monthly, and gave me shining pregnancy stars the whole way, so I felt confident that baby and I were going into this birth with nothing to be concerned about.

There was confusion about my due date all along, but it fell somewhere between December 13th and December 20th (we thought). For the sake of my sanity, I chose to believe I was due on the 20th. If I thought I should birth on the 13th, and kept being pregnant after that, surely I'd go insane. Looking back, I'm so glad I had the 20th in my head, because he came on the 19th. After looking at a few different indicators of baby at birth, my midwife is sure he was *maybe* 39 weeks gestation, but definitely not full-term. Can I just tell you how happy I am that he came when he did, and didn't cook longer???  He was 10lb, 9 oz (my biggest baby by 2oz), and if he'd stayed in another week (or longer), and gained the typical 1/2 lb per week that babies gain at the end, he would have been over 11lb. I'm glad he wasn't bigger, because being pregnant with heavy babies is painful.  I've never had issues delivering them, but there's that possibility too. 

On Thursday night, the 18th of December, I took Sadie to her dance rehearsal. She was scheduled to perform her hip hop routine at the High School girls basketball half time on Friday night. We got home at 8:45, and I laid down with Sloan to snuggle him to sleep. At about 9:00, I felt (heard?) a tiny "pop" in my belly. I didn't think anything of it until I stood up to get out of bed a few minutes later. And liquid came out. I wondered if I'd just peed on myself, or if this could be my water breaking? It wasn't a lot of liquid, but I also don't usually wet myself, so I wasn't sure. I went to snuggle Sadie to sleep, and after getting up from the bed with her, I had a big gush of water.

I told Mark I was pretty sure my water had broken. He was excited with me, and was super helpful getting me towels to put between my legs, because it just kept gushing and gushing! Eventually it stopped, and the contractions took over.

I'd had prodromal (false) labor for at least three months leading up to this birth. Knowing what four weeks of prodromal labor did when I had Wyatt (prepared my body, did lots of work before the birth, and allowed me to have a short, five hour labor), I was sure this labor was going to be quick! So, at about 9:45, I called my midwife to let her know my water had just broken. She lives three hours away, and wanted to come up and wait at her friend's house until my birth was over, then come and check on me and the baby. I didn't know at the time, that when I called her, she had just gotten home from being in my city all day, doing prenatal visits with other mamas. She had woken up at 4am, and got home at 9 pm. She had just made a plate of food for dinner, and asked me if I thought it would be ok if she ate dinner before turning around and driving back to my city. Poor thing!!!  (I told her not to rush. After all, I didn't want her at the birth, and didn't care too much when she came to check on us after). She didn't tell me all of this until after the birth, but how gracious and kind was she?!? It ended up taking her 4.5 hours to make the drive back, because it was a super foggy night, and there was a main bridge out that required her to take a detour. She got to her friend's house at 2something am, and went to sleep.Yikes!

Back at our house, Mark and I started getting things ready for the birth. He got the birthing pool out, and set it up. I got all my herbs and homeopathy out that I might need after the birth. We lit candles, and put Norah Jones radio on Pandora. It was such a sweet ambiance. I decided to set up the pool in the living room, instead of where we'd planned in our bedroom. I'm so glad we did set it up in the living room, because I had the twinkle lights from the Christmas tree, and my wall of family photos to look at while I was laboring. I relished family memories through the years as I looked at our wall.

Here's a picture of my amazing husband filling up the birthing pool, one bucket at a time.

At about midnight, I realized my contractions had slowed down, and they were far enough apart that maybe I could rest (ha!). So, we got into bed and took a nap. Well, Mark did. I get too excited to really sleep, and well, there are those contractions every few minutes waking me up, but I at least got some rest. Mark wakes up at about 5:00 for work, and had been up for 19 hours, so I'm glad he got at least a little sleep. At 2:00, the contractions picked up, so I woke Mark up, and we went back out to the birthing pool. I labored in there until about 5:00, then decided to try to get some sleep (I was really tired!). I kept thinking how surprised I was that it was taking so long! It was supposed to go fast, right?!?? After all that prodromal labor I'd had?!?!

We slept until about 6:20, and then got back up to get in the pool. Wyatt woke up soon after that, then Sloan a few minutes later. As soon as they saw the pool, they asked, "Is baby brother coming today???!!" The looks on their faces were priceless!

While we hung out, the boys listened to Mommy's moans as each contraction came. At about 7 or 8, we told them they could go wake up Sadie. They ran in and told her that Mommy was in labor. She ran out, just as excited as them. We hung out awhile more, until they started getting bored. The boys went in their rooms and played, asking Mark to come play with them. My super awesome husband (and amazing Daddy to my kids) was balancing playing trains and Imaginext with his boys, filling my pool with warm water, bringing me water to drink, making sure I was comfortable, mediating conflicts between the kids, cleaning the kitchen...I could go on. He was doing this all on less than four hours of sleep in the last day and a half. How'd I get so lucky to have such an amazing man? I seriously love him.

Sadie, my little Mini Mommy, wouldn't leave my side. She asked me every few minutes if I needed anything. She brought me sips of water. She took pictures, and was our videographer. She was a superstar!!  I'm loving having an almost-eight-year-old around! What a luxury!!  She even got everything ready for the baby: A couple towels to dry him off, a swaddling blanket and cloth diaper (she picked the blue floral print one...because, he is, after all, a boy!), baby wipes, etc. She also kept asking if she could cut his umbilical cord when he came out. I just love how much she wanted to be a part of his birth.

I kept laboring.

For hours.

As each hour passed, I started to feel more and more discouraged. This was supposed to be quick!!  Why was I still pregnant?!?!  My longest labor was Sadie's, which was sixteen hours. My boys' labors were five and seven hours long. I was already past twelve hours!(And ended up going for five more hours!)

Fear started to creep in. And, if you read my other UC story, you know what fear in childbirth does--it makes more pain!  And that is NOT what I wanted! I was fighting it the whole time. It was a total mental challenge.  I was telling myself that "my body was created to do this", and that it was opening, and getting ready to bring this baby out in a way that has been done successfully for centuries. I'll be honest though, there was something in the back of my mind that kept getting me worried. And as a result, I had more pain than I wanted, or expected. I think part of it was that, because it wasn't my first UC, I didn't spend nearly as much time researching and reading up on it. My head wasn't in the game. I had been there, done that, and knew how it all worked, but didn't do the work I'd done previously to let go of my fears. I also knew, by the amount of pain I was in during pregnancy, that this baby was huge. I told quite a few people, "I think he's going to be an eleven pounder."  Maybe I shouldn't have said that so much, because I think part of me wondered if I'd have problems getting him out if he was that big. I'd never had any problems getting my two 10lb, 7oz boys out. I'd never pushed for more than ten minutes! I really think God gave me some birthing hips (and I'm thankful for that), that allows them to come out pretty easily! But in the back of my mind, I still wondered...

And then my labor was taking "FOR-E-VER"!

And it was painful. More than I want to admit. Looking back, I wonder if the contractions hurt more because my water broke first.  I've been told that is the case, so perhaps that was factoring in. 

But the pain, I believe, was a direct result of my fear. Gah!  I was trying so hard to fight it mentally. It was such a challenge.

Sometime around noon, I got in the zone. The zone where mothers check out, and just get into labor mode. No talking, just focusing on getting through each contraction. It was Transition. I don't know how long it lasted, but it felt like it took longer than any of my other births. It was tiring, and hard. Even though my birth with Sadie was 16 hours, I got an epidural after nine hours. Sadie's labor may have had a long transition stage, but since I wasn't feeling it, it didn't matter.

This time, I'm feeling it.

I just kept praying for God to make my body push soon. I knew I didn't want to push before my body took over and did it voluntarily. Doing that would likely cause me to tear, and I didn't want that. I tore really badly with Sadie (because I had to push when the midwife told me to, not when my body felt like it, since I'd had the epidural). I hadn't torn with Sloan (even though he was a 10 1/2 lb baby) because I let me body take over. I knew this was important to wait for, even though I just wanted it all to end. Mark told me tonight that he walked into the laundry room and prayed to God to let this end soon. He was also having some fear about, "why is this taking so long!?"  As he walked back into the living room, I yelled, "I'm pushing!"  We had both been praying for the same thing, at the same time, and thank God, it happened!! 

I pushed for what seemed to me like a long time. Looking back on the video, it was only about fifteen minutes, but it felt long to me. It took all my strength to get his head past my bones. I could feel it very distinctly, pushing on the bones, but I just couldn't get it past. It turns out, he actually has a large head (which none of my other kids have had--they've all been pretty average). Once his head was out, it was only a couple more contractions, and his whole body was out. Once I felt him come out, I had such a feeling of relief! I turned around, and grabbed my baby, and held him to my chest. I told him, "I'm your mama!", and rubbed him until he started to breathe on his own and give a cry. My kids and Mark were at the poolside the whole time (when I started pushing, they all ran in), cheering me on, and giving me a play-by-play as he was coming out. Here's us, right after he came out.

A few minutes later, Mark called the midwife and told her we were done. She arrived about 30 minutes later, and helped me deliver the placenta. She checked baby and me, helped us clean up, weighed and measured him, and went on her way!

It was a beautiful birth, despite the challenges of working through my fear and pain. I'm so glad we were at home. I'm so glad my kids got to be a significant part of their brother's birth. I'm so glad everything went smoothly. I'm glad I didn't tear, too!

Sadie did end up cutting the cord. Here's a picture of that exciting moment.

It took us an entire pregnancy, and four days after birth to pick a name, but his name is Adler Jackson Pursell. Jackson is after my late father. 

He was born at 1:42pm on 12/19/14.

He weighed 10 lb, 9 oz, and was 22 1/4" long.

Here are a few pictures of special moments we've had with him during his first few days on earth:

(I told Sadie she could "babysit" him while Mark and I snuggled Wyatt and Sloan to sleep. I left her in the living room with him. When I came out a few minutes later, I found them in bed like this. How precious is that?!?! What a good little babysitter I have, huh? I'm going to be so spoiled with all this help this time around!)

Here's the sweet cherub:

Thanks for reading!



  1. Love it, Sarah! Love how you live your ideals to the max and God blesses you! Thanks for all the detail, just what I was hopping to hear at some point. Yay! (I totally related to the part about not being as prepared since I'd "been there, done that". Annea was much harder than Eliana, when I expected them to just get easier and easier.) He's adorable, what great pics!

  2. Congratulations, Sarah and family! Your story is so beautiful, and I'm glad you could write it down to share with your son when he's older. You have a very special family. God's blessings to you are you raise your family in the "nurture and admonition of the Lord."

  3. Just got your birth announcement in the mail and wanted to congratulate you!! I haven't been reading blogs much over the past couple of years and didn't realize I could have read all about it weeks ago!! Hope you're enjoying this beautiful time :)

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  5. So beautiful! Inspired by your mama power!!