Noah Bennett –
Being a surprise pregnancy, I should have known a lot more surprises and unknown things were headed my way with the delivery of my first son, Noah. Once the initial shock of “oh my god, we’re pregnant” wore off, my husband (fiancé at the time) and I quickly set off to devour whatever information we could on childbirth. We spent countless evenings watching documentaries, reading books and talking to people, determined to give our son the best start in this world. The more we learned and the more research we did, the quicker we realized a home birth was the way to go for us.
Being a current student studying holistic health coaching and nutrition, I had been meticulous about what was going into my body – balanced meals, organic everything, not even a single Advil, so why would I choose to have body altering drugs present at that very last moment of union between us?! I want the very best for myself and my son -- there was no way any of the hospital drama, atmosphere and medical model was coming anywhere near us! As soon as that decision was made, we knew we had to have Jen. Nick’s aunt had used a midwife for all five of her births and Jen for her last daughter. We heard wonderful reviews and it didn’t hurt that Jen was the only midwife in the area practicing publicly. Jen was the rock for me during this pregnancy. Every little question I had, as stupid as it was, was happily answered with all the current research and holistic methodology behind it. This became even more important as my ‘due date’ came and went. Friends who had gotten pregnant after me were already holding their babies (because they were induced!) and my anxiousness was growing with each passing day. When was he going to get here??
Finally on Wednesday, February 2nd after coming home from a wonderful date with my husband, I found the bloody show and light contractions started soon after! Yes!!! I thought, FINALLY this thing is gonna happen!! I excitedly called Jen and she said just to hang-out and start being more aware of my body, it could be tonight or it could be three days from now… (not what I wanted to hear!)
Well that entire night I had contractions about 60 mins apart. They were the most intense contractions I had up to that point but they just didn’t seem to be progressing anywhere. The next morning, I woke up disappointed realizing that my contractions had stopped. Throughout the next two days (which seemed like the longest days of my life), my contractions would come and go, sometimes picking up only to slow back down again. My parents were very nervous about the home birth to begin with (my mom had 6 C-sections) so they quickly got a hotel room to hang nearby.
I must have ate 6 pineapples, taken a whole bottle of Evening Primrose Oil and did every yoga posture I had read about to speed things along. I wanted to meet my son. I wanted to hold my precious baby in my arms and this delayed labor thing was not what I had pictured! It was both mental and physical torture those last days! Jen knew this and made a house call Friday morning. Not only was her mental and emotional support so helpful, but the internal exam was as well. Although I know that dilation and effacement really mean nothing in terms of when a baby is going to come, it was comforting to know I was already 4 cm and SOMETHING was happening!!
Finally, Friday night, around 10:00 p.m. my contractions got serious. I didn’t really know what to expect, but I know I wasn’t expecting such serious back pain. My husband was wonderful and we laid in bed for hours just being with each other and the contractions. By 4:00 am they were getting to be so serious I couldn’t concentrate on anything else and begged him to call Jen and tell her to come. Deep down in my soul I knew I NEEDED a woman to be with me. I love Nick dearly, but he is not the same as having a woman next to you.
When Jen arrived she found me pacing the living room, stopping to lean against the wall and sway my hips with each contraction. The back pain was becoming very difficult to withstand and I soon realized I was having back labor as well. My contractions started to be more frequent and intensity grew…it was time to set the pool up. After this point, it’s safe to say that I lost all track of time. I don’t know what time anything occurred, I don’t know who was where or what was going on around me. I always read in birth stories that it’s like you’re in another dimension or that you are in some deep, meditative trance within yourself and I never really understood it until that point. Nothing else mattered. Nothing else even for a second seeped into my consciousness; I was with myself and my baby, that’s it.
Around maybe 10:00am (??) I told Jen I felt pressure and that I didn’t want to do this anymore. I knew this was the sign of transition and that pushing should be following shortly…. Not the case with Noah. My back labor was so strong and intense that it kept me from opening up and relaxing like I wanted to. Such intense pain instinctually causes you to tense up, almost build a wall up against the next wave of pain that you know is on its way. After this point, Jen’s assistant, Heather showed up and let me tell you, that woman was my SAVIOR! With such intense back labor and Heather being a massage therapist, there was not more than 15 minutes that this amazing woman wasn’t on my back, kneading away on exactly the exact spot I needed her to. There were times I didn’t even need to tell her, it’s almost like she knew exactly where she needed to be and I couldn’t have been more thankful.
During the next hours, my contractions seemed relentless, one directly on top of the other. It seemed like I had no relief at all for what felt like hours. My position changed begrudgingly because it seemed I had spent hours on all fours or kneeling against the couch…I didn’t want to move incase another contraction started and I wasn’t braced and ready! The room went from light to dark and I knew that night was approaching. Jen and Heather suggested the pool again to help with pain and once I was in, the water was such a relief. Someone was constantly pouring water over my back and I knelt against the side of the pool, clutching Nick for support. I finally had enough. I had reached a breaking point. I called out to Jen and Heather, begging them to take me to the hospital; I just couldn’t take the pain anymore. (This very much surprised me because I NEVER thought I would have uttered those words, but I guess you’ll do crazy things while experiencing serious pain, huh?) Jen said before even considering taking me to the hospital, she’d have to check me. Any woman in labor knows, the last thing you want is for someone to be digging around down there checking you internally. This alone was enough to convince me to keep trying.
The back pain didn’t let up though and finally Heather remembered the use of sterile water to help in situations just like this. Jen had some on hand and together we all decided I would take four injections of sterile water into my back to help ease the pain. Apparently, sterile water mimics an epidural for a brief period of time and although it would be painful for a minute, I welcomed any relief from the back labor. Minutes after the water was injected under my skin, I was able to relax enough to progress into the pushing stage. It was time to end this labor and hold my beautiful son.
Once I knew I could push, I was a woman on a mission! I wanted so badly to be lying in my bed, snuggled up with my baby, husband and puppy…warm and comfortable. The sounds that came out of me during this stage of labor were unlike any sounds I had ever heard. It was primal and I was somewhere in the realm that all women before me who had birthed a child naturally had been; a realm with no time, a realm of no space. It was beautiful.
I pushed with every ounce of strength in my body, even when, after 20 hours, I shouldn’t of had any strength. It’s amazing how you just find it. It’s just there, as if it had been waiting patiently for you the entire time. Once I knew his head was almost out, I gathered up everything I had left and my son arrived, perfectly underwater at 7:05 pm. That moment has forever changed my life and given me strength as I woman that I never knew I had. Every ounce of pain, every tear, every bead of sweat was forgotten the second I held him in my arms. He was here and he was perfect. We were in the comfort of my home: no bright lights, no loud noises, no one whisking him away from me to cut a cord, weigh him or anything like that. We were on our time and our time stood still at that moment.
Noah Bennett was 8 lbs 2 oz and 21 inches long. He was so alert that entire night and nursed within the first few hours of birth. We were in our home with only the best people around us and for that evening, our home was a little cocoon of love.