Arica's Birth Story: Constance

"I will never forget the day I finally saw the word "pregnant" on that pregnancy test window.  Following four years of trying, I finally had a little heart beating inside of me.  To top it all off, it was my birthday, and here I was with my prayers answered, every wish on every candle and every falling star finally coming true.  My husband, Trent, and I cried so many tears of joy! 

"My heart had always been set on a homebirth.  My mom had me at home, so it was always something that I had desired to do myself.  We immediately decided to contact a midwife.  Having heard so many wonderful things about Alex and having read through every page and blog entry on her website, our hearts were set on her before we even met her. 

"My entire pregnancy was beautiful, easy, and joyful.  Fast forward nine months to July 2nd; I was 40 weeks and 5 days pregnant.  Having enjoyed every bit of my pregnancy, I was constantly saying "I wouldn't mind being pregnant forever!" However, here we were facing one final week before I would have to be induced at 42 weeks and I was a little afraid that I might actually never go into labor on my own. I asked Alex to sweep my membranes to see if we could get things kick-started.  Nothing happened that day, and nothing happened that night.  Alex told me to go to bed early, just in case anything happened through the night or by the next morning.  

"July 3rd, at 1:40 a.m., I woke up for my usual midnight restroom break.  When I got to the restroom, I noticed that I was feeling crampy.  I went back to bed and tried to fall back to sleep, but to no avail.  The cramping was a little painful and my adrenaline kicked in as I realized I was in the early stages of labor.  I got out of bed and started pacing in the darkness of my room.  Around 2:00 a.m. I decided that it was time to wake up Trent.  
"Babe." 
He popped up in bed, "yeah?!" 
"I'm having legit contractions right now.  I think we're in labor." 
He began asking questions: Are you okay? What do we need to do? Should we call Alex? How do they feel? 

"I informed him that the contractions were not lasting very long, so we needed to wait it out for the time being.  After sitting up with me for a bit, he suggested that he would be more help later if he could get a bit more sleep, and said that I should try and sleep more too.  I told him that I had tried going to sleep again but it didn't work, but that he could go back to sleep because there wasn't really anything he could do to help me at the moment.  In the meantime, I paced back and forth in the bedroom, practiced my relaxed breathing, and timed contractions on the pregnancy app on my phone.  After a while, I grabbed my exercise ball and sat on it with my head laying on the edge of my bed.  There I rocked my hips back and forth, back and forth.  It gave some relief to my body.  My contractions were all over the place.  They would last 15 to 20 seconds and rest a minute or two, then last 50 to 65 seconds and rest for 5 to 6 minutes.  There was no pattern and it began to be a little frustrating.

"Trent woke up again around 4:00 a.m. and immediately checked on me, his pregnant wife who was rocking on my exercise ball with my head buried in the mattress.  He asked again if we should call Alex.  I showed him the contraction timer and let him know that it was not within the 4-1-1 guideline to indicate active labor yet.  He let the dogs outside, and we moved into the kitchen where I paced back and forth on the cold tile and occasionally leaned on the counter and rocked my hips.  Trent unpacked the birth pool and aired it up in the bedroom.  

"For three hours there was no change, no pattern to the contractions.  Trent watched me pace around the kitchen, dining, and living room.  He would walk with me, rub my back, and run his fingers through my hair to help me relax.  I pulled up and began playing the laboring playlist that I had created back in the beginning of my pregnancy.  I also jotted a few words down in the journal I had started the day I took my pregnancy test.  It was full of little notes to Constance.  

"At 7:00 a.m. the pressure and pain jumped up a notch.  While the timer showed no difference, the change in intensity gave me hope that I wasn't stuck in one place.  Each contraction brought along cramping in my upper thighs and lower back.  I remember telling Trent that the pain in my back was not going away between my contractions.  He began to squeeze my hips when a contraction would come.  This almost took the pain away completely.  I was so thankful! 

"At 8:55 a.m. I called Alex. How exciting and overwhelming to finally tell my midwife that labor had begun! We discussed the timing and pressure, and she told me that this was all great and to let her know when they started getting closer to lasting 60 seconds.  I was still a little frustrated that they were not lasting longer than 20 seconds.  Would I be in labor all day long or even into the next day? Trent decided to help me take my mind off of things by pulling out Skip Bo and making me some toast.  We played Skip Bo in between each surge, and I tried eating the toast but I felt a little nauseous.  

"At one point I began crying.  Trent asked me if it was from the pain.  "No." I said, "This is just extremely overwhelming!" 

"I couldn't believe that, after all of this waiting, this day was finally here.  We were going to meet our baby soon.  I was overcome with so many emotions!  A few minutes later, the song "We Dance" by Steffany Gretzinger began to play and we both began to cry.  "We get to see our baby today." Trent said to me.  He was laying on the floor with his face underneath mine, as I was on my hands and knees rocking my hips.  In that moment every feeling of failure, during years of infertility, and of fear, during a couple of scary moments in our pregnancy, came rushing to the surface.  That song was my solace during many of those dark moments because I knew God would fulfill His promise to me, and here I was finally preparing to give birth to that promise.  I was reminded that He placed this desire in my heart to be a mother.  

"Contractions began to intensify more.  At 10:25 a.m., Alex texted me to see how I was doing and if there were any changes.  I texted her back that contractions were hurting and were getting closer to a minute long, but still no consistent pattern.  She immediately called me. 
"Are they taking your breath away?" 
"Yes" I muttered as a contraction began. "I'm having one now." 
"Breathe through it, this is your body bringing her down." she reminded me.     

"She told me that she would start getting her stuff together to head my way and that I should call Kayla (my doula) and get her there.  I contacted both Kayla and Amber (my photographer) and let them know it was time to head over. 

"At 11:27 a.m. my body kicked into high gear.  Contractions finally hit a pattern, lasting 50 to 60 seconds and coming every 2 to 3 minutes.  I discovered that I am a bit of a loud birther as my body took over and I began to verbally express each contraction.  Alex arrived around 11:45 and we moved to the bedroom to get checked.  While checking me, Alex started to smile. 
"Wow. You are incredible. Let me check one more time to be sure. Yep, you're at 9.5cm."  She turned to Trent, "We need to get that pool filled up now!" 

"Everything after that was sort of a blur.  Alex got on the phone with the birth team to let them know that if they didn't get there immediately, they might miss the birth!  Trent began rushing to get water into the birth tub.  Amber helped Alex get the bed ready.  Meanwhile, I bore through each contraction, knowing that I was almost at the end of this stage. I was fixing to see my baby's face.  Kayla and Elyse (the birth assistant) made it to the house at some point in the midst of this.  I spent most of this time leaning on Trent through contractions.  

"Around 12:30 p.m. the pool was ready and we climbed in.  The warm water felt amazing.  I positioned myself on my knees, held on to the edge of the pool, and rocked in between contractions.  Alex reminded me to relax and breathe in the resting periods.  She asked if I felt like I needed to push with my contractions and I did. With the next contraction, I followed my body's cues and pushed.  I could feel my baby moving closer to the birthing canal.  My water had not yet broken, and it added extra pressure.  Alex told me that I would feel a little pop when it broke. 

"As my baby got closer with each push, fear began to set in.  For the first time during my entire labor, I thought to myself "I can't do this. There's no way this baby is fixing to come out of me. She's too big." Alex read the fear on my face.  She looked me in the eye and told me "This isn't scary, it's just something new that you haven't experienced before. You can do this!" Immediately my courage came rushing back! 

"It is true what they say.  The moment when you want to quit is the moment right before your baby comes.  A few more pushes and I felt my water break.  Within seconds, baby Constance's head was out.  I immediately felt so much relief, gave one more push for her shoulders, and out she came. 

"Trent and I were in such awe that we both sat there staring down at her in the water, unable to move.  I reached down and pulled my beautiful little girl up to my chest.  I looked up at Trent, who was crying the happiest tears, and all I could do was smile. 

"At 1:21 p.m., Constance took her first breath of air.     

"Our little girl was finally here, and she was perfect."  ~Arica D.