You saw the title. Somehow someone is using “labour” and “fun” in the same sentence. For most people, I’m sure this doesn’t seem normal. It isn’t. But then again, I’m not normal either.
As most of you know, Etta is our third birth. I feel so fortunate to have experienced 3 very different births.
Our first was a hospital birth. Read about it here: https://www.facebook.com/notes/kelly-fortier/my-birth-story/10151844418757692/
Second was a home birth with an attendant (before the regulation of midwifery). Read about it here:
Etta’s was a home birth with an amazing regulated midwife, Jem, my beautiful friend Kat, a doula and gentle birth instructor, and a new to me friend who I felt connected to the day I met her, Jayne the photographer/doula. This is obviously aside from my amazing husband, Jay who totally rocked all roles of the Dad, the husband, the coordinator, the dog whisperer, the finder of all things, the plumber (oh the issues he faced!), the support system, the muscle, the encourager, and my number one fan!
So Tuesday, June 4th, labor started just as soon as I stood up from the couch to call the day quits and head to bed. Of course, being the third labour I tried to ignore it.
“Nah, that wasn’t anything, that was just a little…..oh shoot. Again? No…..that wasn’t anything…..doh! Seriously? Nah I’ll just go to bed and it will settle”.
I crawled into bed with our son, Myles and Jay went to cuddle Lennon. Yes. We cosleep and we LOVE IT.
After experiencing multiple contractions in the span of 10 minutes, I finally admitted that maybe there was something to it.
Then the next series of thoughts go through my mind…..
“Jay had an early start today. I should probably not wake him”. “But everyone told me to tell them the moment I feel labour”, “But this still could be super early in it’s progression”, “Does tonight feel like a night to have a baby?”, “Why am I asking all of these questions?!?!”
So what does a girl have to do? Well, I got out my hair straightener and decided that if this is the night, I’m at least going to fix this mop on the top of my head! I got dressed, and yes, I applied a little make up just because I like it. I laugh now because if you see the pictures, I look like I ran a marathon in a rainstorm (as is normal), but in my own mind, my hair was perfectly placed and makeup was soft and perfect. LOL.
More contractions – getting more intense and more frequent.
“Ok. Time to call the midwife. I can’t believe tonight is the night!”
I woke Jay, he called Kat and Jayne and his parents. It’s official.
“Ok baby, you best be coming tonight….I really hope this isn’t a trick!”.
Everyone started arriving. My labour was progressing nicely. For those of you who know me personally, I am a social being. Having 3 people there who I adore, plus Jay, I was in my element. Between contractions, we were laughing, telling stories, even joking about the pretty lights I’d see when I closed my eyes, an effect from the LED ring light that Jayne had set up in the room.
I remember saying “When I close my eyes, I have pretty “O’s to look at….they are so pretty and distracting”. I’m pretty sure Kat responded with “O’s, for OPENING”. We all laughed.
Kat, Jem and Jay all took turns rubbing my back and squeezing my pelvis during contractions. They all knew when I was entering one because I’d stop talking….and when it eased, I’d get back into the conversation.
I remember thinking to myself “Kelly, you should probably be focusing more….this may take awhile if you aren’t in the zone”.
With Myles, I was in the zone. I went into GSD mode early on and rocked that birth. It was a textbook labour.
This birth was so different! Afterwards I was chatting with Jem, and she also thought my labour was going to last for days on the account of my chattiness. She expressed it much nicer than I just did, but I’m cool with putting it more bluntly! Haha!
I literally thought during contractions “Oh boy. This is intense. I wonder how much more intense it will go….I still have so far to go”.
Kat asked me at one point “Kelly, what’s on your mind?” And without hesitation, I replied “The word that keeps running through my brain is “surrender”. I am so focused on letting this birth happen and not trying to change it. Just surrender”. Ok, I probably didn’t say that exact phrase….but something like that.
I wanted to let go of any unnecessary tension in my hands, my face, my legs. I wanted 100% focus to where the work needed to be done. I am amazed at Jayne’s photography skills because she captured these images I had in my head, on camera! How bizarre is that?!?!
Just as I was thinking that, the next contraction my body started to push. I couldn’t believe it! We were in the final stage and in my previous births, this phase only took about 10-15 minutes. Baby was going to be here any minute!
This is where things got a little different for me. I was SO proud of myself where I kept control of my breath all the way along. I didn’t escalate at all, maintained my deep breaths, maintained control. This was another reason why I couldn’t believe we were almost done.
So as my body was pushing and I relaxed (yes, this IS possible!), I felt an intense amount of pressure. Something I hadn’t experienced before. It felt different. So naturally, I had to feel what was going on.
When I reached down, I felt a sack of water protruding out. This concerned me in the moment because we thought my water broke.
Insert panic mode for myself. I remember asking in between intense contractions – “What is this?!?! I think it is my water bag!” I’m not even sure what I managed to utter. But Jem understood and reassured it me it was the baby’s head. She couldn’t see, as it was dark and I was turned from her.
At this point I was thinking “If this is her head, something is wrong!”. I felt so much pressure, it felt like a balloon was trying to come out, but kept bouncing back in. It was sending pain down my legs, and OH so uncomfortable.
It only took Jem a second to confirm it was indeed, that my water hadn’t fully broke. On the next contraction, I asked her to break it. It was so uncomfortable, and for those of you reading who have had a baby, birth is ALREADY uncomfortable.
The bag broke, her head came out, and my contractions stopped. Her little hand was by her face which added an extra circumference…which also added MORE discomfort. I had to bear down and help her little body out.
BAM! as you pull that little baby up to the water’s surface and take a look at that little face for the fist time – it’s like a love bomb! Instant relief, all of the pain and discomfort magically goes away, that HUGE rush you experience after delivering a baby – it was FULL ON!
Like Myle’s birth, I completely forgot that we didn’t know the gender yet and didn’t even think to look. During the last stage, we woke our little girl, Lennon up so she could experience the baby’s birth. We planned ahead of time that she would be the one to reveal the gender.
“It’s a girl, Mama!”, she exclaimed! Well that was enough to bring us all to tears. She and Myles had been predicting a girl throughout my pregnancy. We were overjoyed!
Having Lennon at the birth provided her with so much. I will probably write about that in more detail someday. It is an experience she will carry with her forever.
Little Etta Mae made her way to Earthside and forever in our hearts. We can’t imagine life without her! She is now almost 2 weeks old as I write this and she has been such a pleasure.
I’m forever grateful to my birth team, and my amazing husband. I feel so blessed, lucky, and happy to have had this wonderful experience. I was so supported, respected, informed, but most of all heard, and LOVED!
Please feel free to check out our birth video, also done by Jayne. Her work is simply incredible. I have these photos and memories to cherish for a lifetime!
Click here: https://vimeo.com/341342897
My greatest desire is for women to experience birth in this positive light. Regardless of HOW you birth, feeling empowered, loved, and in control are things can, and should exist. I wish to add to the positive experiences, and help others experience their own by mentoring, guiding and referring to some of the most amazing people I know.
Thank you for reading.
Love, Dr. Kelly