The Birth of Alexa Faith
Many of you know that 3 years ago I gave birth to my son in a successful home water birth—but one that left me quite affected as a woman, a mom and as a doula. By the pure grace of God—and lots of talking things out with those who I felt safe with, I learned a lot about myself and about birth in general.
God grew me in many ways---and really helped me understand that I can fully support and believe in homebirth and natural childbirth—but that does not mean it will always be beautiful, perfect or the best option for everyone. I also learned as a doula that a woman can do all the RIGHT things to prepare for birth—be ready emotionally, spiritually and physically—and that does not guarantee a wonderful birth experience. I think that was the most shattering realization of all..we are taught that if there is knowledge, no fear, active physical participation, etc… that birth will be a wonderful and empowering experience. But that’s not always true… unfortunately I have not found the formula to why that is –why someone does no preparation and experiences a wonderful birth and why others do everything possible and end up with a birth that is less than wonderful. For myself—I know the lord has used my birth experience to minister to others, to be compassionate in an area that is hard to understand, to be a better birth and postpartum doula and to grow me as a mom and woman. That said…I still cant help but wonder how my relationship with my son could have been different if my birth and immediate postpartum had been more positive..and so preparing for another birth was quite hard for me.
BUT---after a very rough pregnancy and a LOT of spiritual growth with many tears…I delivered our baby girl at home in water on May 4th in the most amazing healing birth. Alexa Faith (Lexi) was born at 10:33pm into my hands and then her daddies. She weighed 8lbs, 1oz, 20.5 inches long. This experience allowed me to finally see what people on the “other” side of birth speak of when they speak of amazing, incredible, empowering, etc, etc… I had seen birth like this countless times as a doula so I knew it existed…but I had begun to think that even though it happened to others…that maybe it was not meant to happen to me. Well thank goodness we serve a powerful God who wants BEST for us…and he blessed me with being able to experience this. The following is my birth story. The story of the journey that I traveled to feel redemptive in the end.
Sunday April 18, 2010—I woke up this morning feeling “off.” We went out to Breakfast at Joe’s Coffee Shop and by the time we got home I was feeling awful. I finally realized that I was having horrible menstrual cramps—it had been so long since I had felt anything like this, I didn’t even recognize it at the time and it really surprised me! I had been having so many Braxton hicks for so many months—this new sensation really threw me off…and made me feel awful. After about an hour of this I went into my bathroom, got into a knee/chest position and just cried. I just felt like emotionally I was so tired. So I decided to lay down for a few hours and try to rest—and see if this cramping let up.
I got up a few hours later, wanted food so Shea left to get it. As soon as he left I went to the bathroom and much to my surprise, saw that I had bloody show—eeekk!! My first thought was –“what is that doing there?” My next thought was—"aaagghh, this means I will be having a baby soon" and I got so excited!! The crampiness was still there—and my back was really hurting. We spent the day preparing for birth to start any time---aired up the pool, got the hose attachments, called family, etc… I knew I was not IN labor but was fully expecting it to start soon—I mean most women go into labor about 72 hours or less after having bloody show in my experience. Well of course NOT me…I always gotta break the odds! Over the next few days I did homeopathic remedies to get her in a good position and had some chiro work done, in which we found out she was well engaged. Shea’s mom scheduled her flight for Monday April 26th—a full week before my due date and before I thought we would need her. At first this stressed me out—but then I quickly realized that the Lord knew the timing of this all—so if she was coming a week early, there was a reason for it. We spent the next 2 weeks enjoying our family time, Austin got showered with attention from his Nana and Shea and I got a few nights out…it really was wonderful. ( minus the part of me waking every morning wondering if THIS would finally be the day!)
Tuesday, May 4th 2010—my Due date!
I woke up with a start at 6:03 am. First thing I thought was, “wow—I actually slept through the whole night without interruption from insomnia or Austin! “My next thought was, “Oh wow…those bad menstrual cramps from 2 weeks ago are back. “ I got up went to the bathroom and realized that the cramps really hurt. I got on the bed in knee chest/position ( again!) and all of sudden realized that these cramps were coming and going…like contractions!! Aagghh—these are real contractions…YES!!! Waited for about 30 minutes to determine they were staying around and then began making my calls/texts. I knew in my gut this was really it. Contractions were about 4-8 minutes apart lasting about 45 seconds. They were also very different than I remembered them being from my last birth—these were very low, rarely hitting above my pubic bone.
Called Shea at work and Kim. I knew this was a bad time of day for anyone to try to get to me…so I prayed that the lord would keep things calm and slow until it was a better time for my team to travel to me. I got up, and began to go about the day…all the while feeling such excitement. Once Shea got home, I really relaxed knowing he was there. My MIL did a fabulous job of just tending to Austin, tidying the house and doing things so that I would just relax…this was such a priceless gift to me who is a complete freak about things being clean and tidy before I give birth!
My contractions continually stayed at about 6-10 minutes apart all day long. The only time they really slowed down was when I rested for awhile around noon. I never really felt antsy or frustrated, because although the contractions were coming consistently, I felt like I could continue on with life and wanted to just keep my mind in this very open place. I finally made the decision that if things had not changed significantly by about 3pm, Shea would drive me over to have a chiropractic adjustment to help make sure baby was in a good position and to help relieve my back discomfort. The back pain was not near as bad as it had been in my first birth, but still was uncomfortable. I should also note these contractions continued to be very low throughout the day—all the pain and discomfort was focused in about a 6 inch area and that was it.
3pm—By the time we left for the adjustment by Cindy, contractions were about every 8-10 minutes but had significantly increased in intensity. I was still walking around, talking, etc… but I had to stop all that I was doing when they came and really was breathing trough them. This also was when I realized that if I didn’t get in a straight up position when the contraction hit, my body would kind of get stuck in whatever position I was in. It was quite weird—but if I was sitting on the ball or leaning over the something, if I didn’t get up before the contraction was full force, I would literally be paralyzed in that position and it hurt soo much worse! So sitting in the car on the way to Cindy’s office was less than fun—thank goodness it was only about an 18 minute drive!! ( yes I had it timed out cause I made myself think that I only had to get through about 2.5 contractions for the entire ride there!) I remember standing in Cindy’s office ad when she came out and saw me working through a contraction, she said “ That was not what I was expecting to see if these were just early labor contractions. You really are having to work through these!” I am not sure if I said it out loud or only thought it, but I did say “ yes---they sure don’t feel like early labor contractions and I am having to work HARD through them!” Cindy adjusted me, said baby felt really low and it appeared my contractions were all in my cervix. This was a good thing because this meant they were doing all cervical work—which is definitely what we wanted even if it did feel really uncomfy! I asked Cindy what she thought…but was unprepared for her answer. She said she was worried that I had been laboring all day and was looking tired. She encouraged me to go home, eat a good meal—and then talk with Kim about what I could do to get some sleep. She said she was worried it was gonna be a long night and that there was the chance baby may not come until morning so I needed to rest up and be prepared for that. When we left there…I felt discouraged. Although I knew her words were true and were even likely considering these contractions all day had been pretty light and easy going---I just did not want to imagine that I had another 10-18 hours of labor ahead of me. And honestly in my gut I didnt think that was true…but I also was not sure if I trusted myself to make that assessment. This was the first time all day I doubted myself…but after about 30 minutes I quickly let that go!!
By the time we got home—and within about 25 minutes, I realized my contractions had changed to a consistent pattern of 4-6 minutes apart. I drank some milkshake, took a heaping dosage of calcium and spent a little time alone in my room. I really felt the Lord speak to me about the fact that I was still in my doula brain and needed to have someone else really spend some time with me, watching me labor to get a more accurate assessment of where I was. I think I was doubting my ability to make the call of how quickly thing were moving because I was comparing it all to Austin’s birth—and I labored like THIS for over 24 hours with him…but at the same time, something inside of me made me feel that things were really moving along and this was DIFFERENT than his. So I called Gina to come over and spend an hour with me. Gina lived close so didn’t feel it was too much inconvenience—I trusted her opinion and knew she KNEW me well enough to help me make the right call.
6pm—Gina arrived and we immediately went for a walk while Shea went and got dinner. I instantly felt calmed by her arrival because all I could think was “ aahh, good….now someone else can make the call on if I am really moving along!!” It just relieved a lot of pressure from me. I did not want to call anyone too early ( again my doula mindset not letting go) but at the same time, Kim was concerned I was maybe gonna wait too long to call anyone and I really didn’t want to do that either!! During our walk my contractions went to 4 minutes apart and were stronger. As we were walking down the street, I stopped to work through a hard contraction by leaning over Gina. A woman pulling out of her driveway stopped and yelled to ask if things were ok and if she needed to call someone! I instantly began laughing at the irony of this—poor lady would probably die if she knew I was walking purposely to strength contractions so I could give birth to my baby down the street from her house!! Needless to say, this ended our walk for a bit—we went back to the house and I ate a little dinner—pei wei spicy chicken salad!
7pm—Gina and I go in my room for some time alone and to talk about where I was really at. I tell her I really want this baby before tomorrow because I don’t want her born on Cinco de Mayo!! We did some “assessing” and Gina said she thought it would be good to call my birth team and maybe have them head towards us in an hour. We called Lynsey so she could come right away as we wanted her to be there early on. I texted everyone else and then we headed back out for another walk.
7:30 pm--As we are walking, I realize that I am really having to work hard through contractions but still talking, joking , etc… I mention that I am feeling some pressure down low and keep on going. Gina quickly says “ we are heading back to the house.” I remember kinda giggling and asking why and she said “ your contractions are now coming 2-3 minutes apart and your feeling pressure low---we don’t have a birth team here yet and I don’t think you really want a UC birth…so we are going back to relax for a bit!” I think this is when it really hit me…wow, I might actually be having a baby soon! I knew Gina was not one to panic or worry –and she did not seem worried, but she seemed serious…which I knew was a good sign!! When we got back to the house I asked about getting in the pool—Gina said she would call Kim about it. Kim said it was fine—and that if things slowed, I could always get back out. In my mind I thought “ well if they are letting me get in the pool that must mean we are gonna have a baby sometime soon!” (And by soon I was thinking the next 6-8 hrs… maybe. )
I labored on the ball in my room while they began to fill the birth pool. I called to make arrangements for Austin to stay at Jessica’s until after the baby arrived—I got very emotional on the phone with him because he sounded so grown up. Lynsey arrived around 8:15pm.
My birth play list had been playing in the background but at this moment the words from Mercy Me began to sing out :
I put my hope in You,
I lay my life in palm of your hand,
I'm constantly drawn to You Lord,
In ways I cannot comprehend.
It's the Creator calling the created,
The Maker beckoning the made,
The bride finding what she's always waited for ,
When we find ourselves that day. ( In You—Mercy Me)
And I instantly began to cry. I was so overwhelmed with Gods presence—and the power in birth. I began thinking through the fact that my labor was actually really progressing along, the day had been wonderful
( not awful and agonizing) and in a few hours I would finally meet the daughter I had waited so long for. It was such a priceless moment in time.
I took Lynsey back to Lexi’s room to see it and that’s when my contractions finally really stopped me in my tracks, and I said “I need to get in the pool now!” I had Gina call Kim to make sure it was ok to get in—and she said yes. ( I later found out that this was when she decided she needed to increase her driving speed to get to me quicker!) I went into the bathroom, changed my clothes and read through a few of my scriptures—I remember specifically reading these words “Bring me back to a state of deep rest in you Lord, and please take away all distractions so that I can hear your waves of comfort rush over me. I have made it this far Lord, take me the rest of the way. Be with me now—overcame any evil thoughts—you have complete control over me. Renew my strength with very breath you give me. Spirit fall on me like the rain. Come down from the heavens and hold my hand. I worship you right now with all my heart, strength, soul and mind. Direct my thoughts and show me the way to birth my child.” ( Taken from Christ Centered Childbirth—Kelly Townsend)
9pm -ish—I got into the pool and it felt so great!! The contractions instantly began to feel so much more intense and I began to drift into a fog. At one point before things became really intense and foggy I looked out over my room and just watched as all the people I loved and trusted began to assemble around me to carry me through the next part of this journey. ( everyone arrived between 9-9:15) Another moment frozen in time--- Shea was sitting next to me holding my hands, my MIL was on my bed, Gina was in one corner, Laura on the end of the bed. Lynsey was close to me looking through her camera lens. Cindy and Kim were setting things up in the bathroom and then sat down and just looked upon me. I could hear Lexi Gumm working in the kitchen. All was right…she could come now.
9:30pm—This is when the fog really began to set in. I told everyone that I felt like I was having to work myself out of the fog in-between contractions. Like I could see the room around me, but during contractions it all faded to a background and I had to work to refocus when each contraction was over—it was a surreal feeling. Not scary or anything—almost very peaceful.
9:40pm—I said to the room “ this sucks!!” This was the point that I realized I needed someone next to me to help me get through each contraction. But by the time the contraction came, I could not verbalize this and was so wishing someone could read my mind. Most of the time Shea was next to me—but he finally got up to do something and everyone else got distracted…and as the contraction started I felt I couldn’t get ahead of it on my own. As soon as they realized I needed help, everyone began speaking to me. I can remember Cindy saying “relax into it” and I tried to get back on top of it. ( this was also about the time that Delilah texted to say her client had delivered and she was on her way to me--yay!)
Around 9:50 I ate some fruit just to appease my midwives ( they were worried about me not having food for energy so I ate like 3 strawberries)—later I would wonder how I got these down at this point in labor!! I also asked Laura to read me my scriptures/affirmations –I knew I really couldn’t focus on them but felt strongly that I wanted them read out to me and to fill the room. I remember beginning to hear her read them to me “For God has not given us a spirit of fear; but of power, and of love and of a sound mind. Timothy 1:7” But then her voice began to fade and all I could hear was this loud roar in my body.
At 9:56 I began grunting through contractions and really tried to hide it thinking surely I was not ready to push yet. But by 10:07, I finally said “ok—I think I am pushing” even though that was quite apparent to everyone else in the room!! I should also state here that my plan had been to have a cervical check as soon as the midwives got there and then whenever I wanted to, to get a better idea of where things were at. I am someone who needs to know where dilation is at so I can wrap my mind around what we need to do and what we are facing. So I knew my birth team was wondering why I had not asked to be checked. And when I finally began to verbally ask, I suddenly felt this peace come over me and a voice inside my head said —“its clear I am progressing and I will be checked when I really need to be. I don’t need to know where I am at to know that I am going to have a baby really soon. All is good.” So I never asked!
10:11pm--It was clear I was pushing so Kim checked to make sure I was ready---yes, I was completely dilated and could finally push my baby out! My water finally broke and this began the 20 minutes I now call the “20 minutes of Hell!” Up until this point I had felt in control and like it was not THAT bad. But the next 20 minutes are really what I consider my labor and birth. The moment my water broke she came flying down the birth canal and I instantly felt her head. I had to use all the strength I had to push with my contractions. Kim could hear the panic in my voice and came over to me—I grabbed her neck with both hands and held on—she spoke to me in such a calming voice and told me to tell her what I was feeling. I calmed enough to utter some words and thought to myself” I cant birth this baby without hanging on to her. She will help me do this. She felt like my life line to get to the finish. ( Shea had moved to my legs to catch the baby once she began to come out.) At one point I said “ how the hell do women just breathe their babies out?” And everyone began laughing!! Really though—pushing was the most intense and hardest thing I had to do.
During the next few moments of pushing, I could hear Kari Jobe singing out in the background
So loving and so true,
So powerful in all you do…
I know that you are for me,
I know that you are for me,
I know that you will never forsake me in my weakness,
I know that you have come down,
Even if to write upon my heart,
To remind me who you are.”
Because my contractions were never higher than my pubic bone, there was not much force pushing her down---it had to be all me. Before each push I had to literally gather all my strength and push from my ribs down—I remember feeling it in every nerve of my abdomen. She finally crowned—all the way down to her ears. At one point I began crying out the name of “Jesus.” Not because I was yelling it as a curse—but because I was crying out for help. I was in a lot of pain and she was not coming without a lot of effort on my part and I wanted this over quickly!!
10:31pm-- Her head was born into my hands. I held the back of her head with my hands and waited. I felt lots of hair and asked “does she have lots of hair?” They said she did---and we continued to wait. I kept saying “why is she not coming? I need her out now!! I am afraid I am going to sit on her head!” Kim reassured me again that things were fine and we needed to just wait. For 2 full minutes I sat with her head out in my hands as we waited for another contraction. Kim checked for a cord and assured everyone that everything was fine—she had plenty of room to get out and we just needed to wait. Another moment that is so instilled in my mind—I am holding her head in my left hand, while holding myself up off the bottom of the pool with the other. These words are singing through the room
“And I can feel your presence here with me,
Suddenly I'm lost within your beauty,
Caught up in the wonder of your touch,
Here in this moment I surrender to your love…
You are holy,
And I fall down on my knees. ( Here with Me-Mercy Me)
In the next moment, my little girl finally slipped into the world into her daddies hands and then onto my chest—it was 10:33pm. One and half hours after I entered the birth pool, 30 minutes from when I began to feel the urge to push and 12 minutes after my water broke and she began to crown. Her sweet vibrant cry filled the room and I looked at her and just cried. My little girl was finally here born in a victorious labor and birth!! That’s how I felt…victorious! Yes it hurt like heck and I would never forget those 20 minutes of hell—but I felt such victory over it all. I had conquered it—it had not conquered me.
My immediate postpartum time was equally as amazing—no massive hemorrhage, was able to bond with my baby right away and even got my coveted herbal bath…just so different than my last birth. We did have some nursing issues---but I have just come to realize that that’s how the lord likes to grow me as a PP doula and BF educator…I learn soo much through my own BF struggles and then am able to help my clients so much more!
The past weeks have been bliss for our family ( ok-- aside from the lack of sleep, juggling a toddler and other normal PP stuff!) I was not sure if I was gonna feel so great about the birth—I mean I knew it was awesome, but I think that first night I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop. Waiting for something to go wrong or change this “high” I was on. But after staring at her for those first few hours ( when I should have been sleeping) I finally let my walls down and just absolutely fell in love with her and the birth that brought her to me. Its been like that even since and I am sooo very thankful!
Photos used by permission from Lynsey Stone's website: