Charlie’s Birth Story

She’s here! She’s here!  Our beautiful Charlotte Reece was born January 2 at 2:21 pm weighing 7lbs 15oz and 20 inches long.  Based on how big my belly was, I was sure she was at least an 8lb baby, but she was just right!  Our sweet Norah is down for a nap and Charlie is snuggled up asleep as well.  As I look at my two beautiful daughters, I am overwhelmed with how blessed Chris and I are. We have joked since we were 20 years old about our two beautiful daughters we were told Chris would give me, and they are here!!! We are SO in love!

I thought while the girls are sleeping, I could start to write about our home birth experience.  I am not exaggerating when I say it was one of the most incredible experiences of my life!  When Chris and I found out we were expecting baby #2, I knew that a home birth was the way I wanted to go.  I really struggled with Norah’s birth experience.  There were no actual complications, just a really, really long labor (30 hours) and an awesome staff who did only what they were trained to do.  Hospitals are not my jam, and I could not relax while I was there.  Any time I would tell the doctors and nurses what my body was telling me to do, they would have me do something different.  I just knew that if I could get comfortable and do what my body was telling me, labor would be so easy… And Charlie’s birth proved this for me:)

I started looking for midwives right away, like the day I found out I was pregnant. Chris wasn’t sold on a home birth at this point but the more we researched and the more I stressed to Chris how badly I wanted a home birth, he decided we should do it!  We met with our midwife and decided home birth was going to happen!  Her values and beliefs aligned with ours and I felt confirmation that this was the way we were to go. The whole experience seeing a midwife vs. a Dr. was so different.  They give you so much responsibility and ownership in the whole process.  You check your protein levels, eat a stricter diet, take different vitamins and nutritional supplements, and there was such an emphasis placed on our health and making a healthier lifestyle than what was stressed with our first experience.   Everything was so natural, warm and comfortable.  All my checkups were done in a big cozy bed and I just felt so taken care of.  Also, prayer was a big aspect of the whole process as both of our midwives were believers.

There were many times when I would ask my doctor or nurse a question and they wouldn’t have an answer or, after researching, I would discover many of the answers they gave me were false.  It wasn’t that I was being lied to, I was just being given the only information that they knew. Our midwives gave us nutrition classes, birthing classes, vaccine classes, pre and post-natal classes and most of the information  stemmed from the Bible and Biblical principles.  This was especially cool to me.  Not only were they coming from a holistic, natural point of view, but they used lots of scripture to explain why they did things and why certain practices were so efficient.

It wasn’t until about a month before we had Charlie that we decided to do a water birth.  The last 2 months of my pregnancy I had crazy back pain and Michelle and Rebecca thought that the water would be really good for me.  I’m so glad they suggested we do a water birth!   A few months before we were due, Michelle got an exciting opportunity to go to Haiti, but in order to do so she would need to leave a week before my due date.  We talked about what we  might do and we decided she should go to Haiti and we would naturally encourage labor the day before she left.  At first I struggled with the thought of encouraging labor in any way because I wanted to do things “all natural” and this seemed to contradict this, but everything worked out just right!

Monday morning, December 31st, I went to see our midwife and found out I was dilated at a 4, 95% effaced and Charlie was at station 0.  This was great news!  The plan was to go again wednesday night to see how I was doing before Thursday, the morning we would encourage labor, but due to snow we decided we would just see them the next morning!   I could hardly sleep Wednesday night knowing we would meet our sweet Charlie the next day!!!!

So, Thursday morning, Chris and I woke up early and made my labor encouraging milkshake which consisted of castor oil, chocolate ice cream and chocolate syrup.  For those of you who have never eaten castor oil, you’re not missing out on anything:)  That stuff is funky!  However, castor oil helps you dilate in a fast and effective manner. I had read horror stories about the fun bathroom times that castor oil would give me, but I did not experience this.  I probably would have been sicker just eating at a salad bar:) I had a little bit of this concoction at 6:30, 7:30 and 8:30. Chris started juicing me a bunch of delicious fresh juices to drink during labor and I snacked away on crackers and sprite. At 9:30 I started taking Caulophyllum Thalictroides, a holistic herb which helps bring on contractions.

Our midwives arrived at 10am and I felt great!   The ladies came in with all their gear and were all set up by 10:30. They were studs!  Here’s where the fun begins!!!

Getting  the tub all ready!

They put the tub in the dining room and set up shop in our bedroom which was so very cool.  Basically our bedroom was turned into a birthing/ recovery room.  I got all nestled in bed and felt so comfortable.  They went ahead and checked me and I was dilated to an 8 and stretched to a 9!!! A 9 and I was experiencing 0 pain!!!  An 8 is usually when you hit transition and is considered the most painful/hardest stage of labor, yet I had no discomfort or pain at all?! I was still 95% effaced and Charlie was moving on down!  They then decided to break my water.  I had also heard horror stories about this, but I have to say it actually felt awesome!  After this, I started having contractions right away… Man, they were good! I guess I wasn’t expecting things to go so fast, but I didn’t mind.

I labored on the couch for a while, walked around the house, and just hung out with everyone through the my contractions.  Chris, my mom, Michelle, Rebecca and I just sat around in our living room, visiting like any other day.  It was so cool and relaxing.  I was in active labor but I felt so comfortable.  There was no fear, no discomfort, just peace and relaxation.  There were no IV’s, no beeping machines, no chords, no hospital bedding, no unnecessary checks, no hospital smells,  no other patients for my nurses or doctor to tend to, no fall risk bracelets or big red bulky socks:)… Just my super handsome hubby, our sweet little Norah, my awesome mom and our midwives. Our midwives laughed at me a lot and told me that I was the most positive person they had ever seen in labor.  I was just so very excited to be having this experience and so excited to meet our Charlie!

After about 30 minutes, I decided to get into the pool which felt AMAZING!!! I just hung over the side and rested through each contraction.  They were coming on stronger and stronger and lasting longer and longer, but still not super uncomfortable.  One of the big differences between a midwife and Dr.’s and nurses is the way they take care of you through the labor and birth process.  You are their only patient, they have no other agenda, and their goal is to make you as comfortable as possible while waiting for that beautiful babe to arrive. Rebecca rubbed my back through my contractions in the pool & whispered words of encouragement, while my mom rubbed my arms and played with my hair.  I like to be touched, but even more so during labor.  It’s hard to describe what the water did for my contractions but the ladies told me to ride my contractions out.  I rocked and floated through each contraction and it was like I just melted through them. Once my contractions were lasting about 1.5 minutes, they decided to check me again.  I was dilated at a 9 and they wanted to help me get to a 10 with gentle ease. Midwives have all kinds of cool tricks up their sleeves:)

They had me go back to my bed and during contractions I gently pushed while they pushed on the thicker part of my cervix that was dilating slower.  This was the most difficult part of the whole process, but totally worth it. After doing this about 3 or 4 times, I was adamant that I needed to use the loo… like now!  They knew what was happening but they let me get up and go to the bathroom anyway.  That’s when I realized I didn’t need to use the ladies room, just have a baby!  I told them I felt like I needed to squat, so I left the bathroom and came out and squatted on a C stool, an awesome stool used to help you deliver in a squatting position.  I squatted, pushed once and the ladies suggested I hop back in the pool.  Again, the water felt INCREDIBLE! I laid back and the ladies told me to push on my next contraction.  I bared down and there was Charlie’s head! I had no idea she would be here a push later!

While I was pushing, they were putting hot oil compresses that had been soaking in oils in a crockpot on my lady bits, massaging me softly and asking me if it hurt anywhere.  They had me push very slowly through my first contractions which made them seem to disappear, like not hurt at all. Chris was by my side, holding my hand and was just so awesome the whole time.  I was anticipating lots of pain and being in the tub for a long time, but I was way wrong. Chris did an incredible job at being there for me, for Norah, and making sure everyone was taken care of.  Our midwives ensured that I was comfortable during the whole labor process. Surprisingly, I only felt very little pain and when I told them when and where I was experiencing discomfort, they just supported me so that I wasn’t hurting or stretching in a way that could cause me to hurt or tear.  The infamous “ring of fire” that I had heard so much about was nothing like I had imagined.  There were also some other things they did to help this part move along smoothly, like instead of administering pitocin to speed up contractions, they have your husband twerk your nerps to help produce natural oxytocin.  Funny and effective:D  One more push and there she was! It was the most incredible feelings!  I felt the most insane rush of adrenaline and a feeling of joy that I can’t even describe! Norah had napped through my whole labor but woke up as I began pushing.  My mom was holding her across from the pool so they could watch and when Charlie came out of the water, Norah held out her hands and yelled, “my baby!” It was SO cool.  I felt like I had just climbed Mt. Everest!

 Charlie’s Apgar score was a 9 and after 5 minutes, a 10. She was, is, absolutely beautiful! After cuddling and nursing in the water for a while, Chris cut the chord and I delivered my placenta which was also very different from the hospital.  They took their time and it came out pain free. We headed back to our bedroom to to check on Charlie’s vitals and I snuggled up and got all warm and watched as they weighed and measured our precious new babe.  It was so cozy.  Chris and I just kept smiling at each other and saying how awesomeness thankful we were for this experience! There was no stress, no fear, no anxiety, no discomfort…just so much peace and joy.   From the time my contractions started until we met sweet Charlie was right around 3 hours!

Proud, beardless, and might I add, very studly Daddy!

About 10 minutes after I was all cuddled in bed, I had to use the restroom.  I got a little scared because this was more painful than birth itself with Norah.  In fact, it hurt to sit down or go to the bathroom for 8 weeks after having Norah… However, I was surprised when I had absolutely 0 pain, tenderness or sensitivity! Praise the Lord! Had it not been for sweet little Charlie laying in my bed and my cute little jelly sack of a belly,  I didn’t feel like I had just had a baby at all!  I have had no pain or tenderness in my nether regions whatsoever since having Charlie!   Another thing I’m praising the Lord for is no back pain!  I had really bad back pain where I received the epidural with Norah that lasted almost a year after having her.  That was so frustrating and was a constant reminder of the frustration and discouragement I felt. I begged the staff not to give it to me with Norah, but they felt it was necessary to slow down my contractions. I know now that it wasn’t, and am so thankful to have learned so many natural interventions.

Weighing sweet Charlie

While I was resting, the ladies put together a basket full of diapers, wipes, gauze and goldenseal (used to help dry and protect the umbilical cord), arnica oil and olive oil (natural and great moisturizer), thermometer, stethoscope, q-tips, baby blankets and anything else we might need for little Charlie.  This way, we had everything we needed easily accessible and ready for us to change Charlie and do our vitals.  Since we weren’t in the hospital, they taught us how to check both Charlie and I’s respiration rate, pulse, temperature, and other important vitals.  I have to admit, it was pretty fun playing Dr. with Chris;)  Another awesome thing the ladies did was take notes the entire time.  They noted when my contractions were and what they were like, all the important transitions and different things we said and did and different stages of labor. I thought that was neat that we get to have those kind of things recored.

Big sister Norah holding her little sister for the first time!

Charlie’s right ear had this cute little pointed tip, but after  few minutes it was gone:)

Charlie’s first bath in our kitchen sink:)

Getting those sweet little footprints

Fun fact: did you know that vernix, the protective covering of the baby’s skin, has lots of antimicrobial properties protecting baby from infections and is uber moisturizing for both momma and baby.

I am so thankful we got to have this experience.  I contribute this first to God’s faithfulness.  I believe the comfort I experienced in our home along with the comfort Michelle and Rebecca brought with their natural techniques played a huge role in this experience as well.    Michelle and Rebecca, along with Chris and my mom, were so encouraging and empowering and made me feel that, not only was I able to have a natural delivery, but that my body was created to do so.  The best way I can describe our experience is that it was supernatural.  Not only was it easy, but it was FUN! Thank you so much to everyone who encouraged us and prayed for us during our whole pregnancy and through this process.  Chris and I are so grateful for all of the encouragers in our lives!  Charlie is such a blessing and we are so excited to watch Norah grow into her new role as a big sister!   Chris and I understand that everybody’s circumstances are different and home birth might not be the experience for everybody, but we would highly recommend at least researching home birth, and your natural birthing options if you are interested.