I woke up Thursday morning, Jan 23rd, and started having contractions before my feet ever hit the floor.  A winter storm was blowing in that morning.  I had a strong sense that Owen would be joining us that night, I could feel it. I contracted a lot that morning and told Jared to keep his phone close by because I thought today was the day.  I took Graycen to school, picked up coffee for a friend and headed over to her house.  We chatted for a while, I contracted the entire time, a few of them bringing me to my knees.  Our house was getting cleaned (perfect timing!).

I came home and finished up all the laundry and dishes.  I picked Graycen up from school, put her down for a nap and did some yoga as a last minute effort to get him into ideal position.  Around 5pm, I started having more signs of labor, so I gave my doula, Amy, a heads up.  Jared came home a little early from work to wrap up the pipes and bring in some firewood to get ready for a long, cozy night in.  I made a pot of soup, we danced in the kitchen, all the while my contractions were getting stronger.  We spent a nice evening together as a family of 3 for the last time.  I spent a good amount of time reading with Graycen and putting her to bed, as I knew it would be the last time I would be able to enjoy this time with her for a while.  The contractions started picking up even during this time, so Jared had to relieve me.

Jared went upstairs to relax, and I showered.  Around 10:30pm, I let my midwife, Joani, know that I was in pre-labor.  She told me to rest and eat.  Yeah, right.  How on earth does anyone sleep through these contractions?  The contractions kept amping up.  At 12, I talked to Amy and we couldn’t decide if she should come join us or not.  I didn’t want her to come too early, even though something was telling me that she should come right then.  I was having to focus a lot during the contractions, but Jared and I were talking and joking in between.  We talked about it again at 1am, but we were still coping okay and laughing together in between, even though I was groaning through them.  Looking back, now I know that the contractions I was experiencing all day was early labor, and starting at 5 pm, I was in active labor.  It just doesn’t look like textbook labor as far as the clock is concerned!

At 2:00am, the contractions were getting much more serious, and I was really struggling by myself.  I had started to feel nauseated over the last hour.  It didn’t seem like anything Jared attempted to help me with was providing any relief.  Just after 2:10, I threw up and was immediately thrown into transition.  Contractions went from 30-45 seconds long and 7-10 minutes apart, to 60 seconds long every 2-3 minutes.  Just like that.  I skipped the whole 5-1-1 thing, just like I did with Graycen’s labor.  All we could think to do was hip compressions and quadruped positions, but these techniques didn’t provide any relief with the intensity.  In fact, hip compressions seemed to make me more uncomfortable.  Jared just stroked my back while I was on my hands and knees in the shower, with the water flowing onto my lower back.  I stayed there for about 10 minutes and told Jared that it was time for Amy to come.  And Joani.  Right then!  I tried calling Amy, no answer.  I texted her, no response.  Jared kept calling and she finally returned one call.  Turns out, the cell service was not working.  Amy said she would call Joani and let her know to head over.  This was around 2:45,  Amy texted to let us know they were both in route at 2:55.

The shower wasn’t helping much, so, I moved to the tub.  I never really found a position that I felt ‘comfortable’ in, but it just got to the point where I didn’t know what else to do, and I was afraid to move.  I knew things were progressing quickly, and as long as I wasn’t delaying my labor positionally, I resolved to ride it out where I was.  I stayed on my left side in the tub, knees up to my chest as far as the tub would allow.  During the contractions, I pushed my feet into the side of the tub, giving counter-pressure from the opposite side of the tub onto my low back and sacrum.  With each contraction, I moaned, groaned and eventually, yelled.  Quite different from my silent labor with Graycen.  Jared was squatting beside the tub with each arm under my arms, holding my hands and supporting my upper body.  I laid my head in the crook on his left elbow in between contractions.  He was wearing a fleece pull-over and was drenched with sweat.  I wouldn’t allow him to let go of me, so, he was just stuck sweating it out!  Jared was still quite focused on timing my contractions, he said it helped to distract him.  I kept watching the clock, wondering where everyone was…it was taking much longer than it should have.  I told him that I didn’t think I could do this, and that I needed help.  I asked him to pray for me.  He lifted our plea for help to the Lord, to give my body the strength and confidence I needed, that everyone would arrive safely and to bring me peace.  The Lord delivered.  My fear dissolved and I had a peace that we would make it through, I knew that we were not alone.  Just after our prayer, we got a text from Amy that all of them, Joani, Ashley and Amy, had all run off the icy roads, into ditches.

Graycen came walking in just before 3am with her blanket and her water, calm and quiet.  Jared told her that I was having the baby, that I was okay, and he asked if she was alright.  She nodded yes.  Jared tried to get Gray to help him hit the contraction timer app, but she hit the wrong button.  I finally told Jared the timing didn’t matter anymore, I was in transition and I needed his full attention!  Graycen found crackers on my bedside table and offered me one, I said no thanks, so she ate it.  I told her that I was going to have the baby and she would meet her baby brother very soon. I let her know I was okay even though I was being loud.  I asked her to bring my water and a straw, she did.  Thankfully, she had been exceptionally inquisitive with Joani at my last visit, and Joani explained the whole birth process.  She demonstrated with a babydoll in a fabric ‘bag of waters’, placenta and umbilical cord and showed how the baby comes out through the pelvis.  Joani then sent us home with natural childbirth books for children.  We read them to her that week, as requested by her, multiple times a day.  She seemed to understand what was happening.

I felt a cool, opening sensation and wondered if I was dilated.  The contractions were starting to calm down a little.  Graycen told us someone was here, she thought it was Amy, we asked her to go open the door.  She wouldn’t open the door…so, I told Jared to run, open the door and run back as fast as he could.  I did not want him to leave my side.  I heard a man’s voice, I was so confused.  Jared came back and reported that Joani’s husband was here and that he didn’t know where everyone else was, he did not see any cars in the driveway. Before too long, Joani came in, breathing heavily and appeared to be very cold.  She told me she was going to check to see where I was.  She spoke the sweetest words I’d ever heard, as she informed me that I was complete!  I lifted praises of joy and relief to the heavens!  I was content to just lie there for a while and rest.  I was in no rush to push, I wanted a break.  I really wanted to take a nap.  Joani started to set everything up.  I was so thankful to have her with us and to be completely dilated.  I thought things would be easy from then on…I was so wrong.  Ashley, her assistant, arrived soon and they started checking on baby’s heart rate.  I remember it being in the 140’s most of the time.  Joani told me to just do what my body was telling me to do.  I love her, she had such a calm and reassuring presence.  Before too long, maybe 3 more contractions, I started feeling a faint urge to push.  When you feel the urge, there is no avoiding it, you just have to push.  I started pushing in the tub, but I wasn’t very serious about pushing baby out even though I was so ready to meet him.  I wasn’t able to get much leverage in the tub, so I moved to the bed.  I started on my hands and knees, but I was too low on the bed and too close to the edge, so I readjusted with my arms on Jared’s shoulders.  I didn’t like this position, so I went to my right side with my knees up.  Jared held my hands and I clung to his arms. The contractions were getting longer, and I was having to push harder.  My progress felt minimal.  I did not want to push!  I knew the strength and effort it would take, but I was hoping he would come out with much less effort.

Ashley was applying warm compresses, and Joani was doing perineal massage, which was not comfortable.  In all honesty, I thought about kicking her a few times.  Joani told me I needed to push longer, and take little breaths and then push again.  I clung to Jared.  Graycen came in a few times to check on me and see how things were going, she came and went as she pleased.  She was hanging out with Joani’s husband, Mark, at the kitchen table.  Reportedly having a nice, early morning play date with playdough.

Amy arrived and got her camera set up.  Owen’s heart rate was starting to drop a little, I remember hearing 120 and then lower the next time.  Joani told me it was time for Owen to come out.  Amy supported my elevated foot and I had some more leverage to push against.  One more long, hard push and Owen came out.  Joani immediately placed him on my stomach, his cord didn’t reach all the way to my chest until a few minutes later and I hugged him to my chest.  Wet, soft and squirming with swollen eyes and wide mouth.  New life.  I felt instant joy, unbelief, gratefulness and awe.  Somehow, I felt surprised that I pushed him out and was holding him.  Graycen ran in as soon as she heard Owen’s first cry, she looked very excited and curious.  After his cord stopped pulsing, Jared cut it.   We spent the next couple of hours laying in bed, adjusting, letting our bodies regulate and initiate nursing.  Joani then handed Owen over to Jared for some skin to skin while I got into the tub for an herbal bath.  Owen joined me.  This was such a sweet time.  I submerged all but his face in the water, and he instantly relaxed and fell asleep.  Everyone left Jared and I alone with him to soak it all in.  He looked so peaceful.  We had a new baby.  We had a son.  We did it.  Praise the Lord!

We learned that Joani’s car slid down our driveway and got high-centered on the curb.  Ashley’s car plowed through a stop sign and ended up in a ditch further down the road.  Amy had been off-roading in various yards in the neighborhood leading up to our road.  They all had to hike to our house.  It is a miracle that they all made it relatively safely, and before Owen was born.   The birth team was stranded at our house afterwards due to the icy roads and Joani’s disabled car.  I was so thankful they were stranded with us.  When it was time for us to just rest, they brought us food in bed, fed Graycen snacks, and eventually got her to take a nap.  While Owen and Jared napped, I just laid there, replaying his birth and giving thanks to God for how perfectly it all played out.  Thanking Him for our perfect son and that God had led us to plan a home birth.  We would not have made it to a hospital if we had tried to go.  In fact, we later learned than EMS was not dispatching to our area due to icy roads.  So very thankful that God kept us all safe and healthy.  And, how special that Graycen was able to be with us to welcome Owen into the world, and that God had prepared her for that experience!  What a precious thing for us to celebrate as a family.

– Abby (Canyon Lake)

It was a beautiful October morning, my labor started the night before while my husband, my family and I were walking along the river walk. I wasn’t sure if I was in labor at first, but when my contractions didn’t go away after I kept walking, I knew it was the real thing. I was 10 days past my due date so I was more then ready to meet this baby. When we got home we decided we should get some sleep while I was still in early labor. For having contractions through out the night, I slept decently well.

The next morning we made some phone calls to let Joani and family know I was in labor. We watched Friends and hung out going through the contractions. Around 11:30 I decided I was ready to go to the Birth Center. We got all our stuff together and made the drive to New Braunfels.Joani and Ashley met us at the Birth Center and it finally seemed real. We were actually at the place our baby would be born and the labor was really moving along. My contractions were kind of inconsistent through out the whole labor, but were really long. I labored on a birthing ball for a while and as the contractions got more intense it felt better to stand and lean on my husband or on the bed while he rubbed my back.

After awhile Joani wanted to check me, which made me nervous in case I wasn’t very far along. I was pleasantly surprised when she said I was 7 to 8 centimeters. I remember laying there saying how happy I was I was that far along! After that it seemed like things starting going fast. Joani said I could get in the shower or in the tub if I wanted. I was going to get in the shower, but never made it. I started feeling a lot of pressure, so Joani suggested I go sit on the toilet. I remember thinking maybe when my water breaks all of this pressure will feel better; well that was not the case! My water broke, I pushed a few times then we decided I should move to the birth stool and try pushing there.It all seems like a big blur when I think back to it; it was like an out of body experience. I pushed for a half an hour and we finally got to meet our son, Simon.

It was the most amazing feeling when Joani handed him to me. I couldn’t believe he was finally here and in my arms. I was in love with him instantly. We loved having Joani as our midwife and were so pleased with our experience. She answered all of my first time pregnancy questions and took time to get to know us. If we live here for our next baby we will want her to be our midwife.

– Heidi (San Antonio)