birth :: levi palmer
All the words in this post are from the mama - Courtney. She writes beautifully. I have nothing to add (except photos, which are below her story). Enjoy it when you have several minutes to sit down and relish it! - brooke
The weeks leading up to march 20th were full of anticipation and many of my thoughts surrounded wanting this little one to just stay put. I had spent the last several weeks speaking life and praise over my body and I was finally feeling like I was getting the hang of being pregnant. We were estimated to be at 36weeks and 5days and my body was definitely feeling a little over ready for a baby to come. Baby had grown up under my ribs and the kicks were getting so strong they left a visible bruise on my right ribcage. Driving had started to be a new adventure in figuring out how to sit, drive and breathe simultaneously, the lightening sensations down below would stop me in my tracks at the most random moments and the achy restless nights and slowly swelling feet after working afternoons had the "glow" of pregnancy slowly slipping away. But even with all the new uncomfortable changes I longed for more time because I truthfully couldn't envision what birth would be like. How can you wrap your head around something you've never experienced? I had relentlessly done all the research to prepare myself for this huge unknown. Over the last 2 year's I had become a self taught birth junkie. I read all the books, followed all the midwives on social media I could find, watched video after video of home births to get an idea of what to do, I was speaking affirmations into our world daily and we had scheduled our birth class for that next Saturday as an added layer education to give Eric direction on how he could best support us when the time came. But still in my spirit the next step seemed so incredibly daunting and a little too out of reach so the baby staying put was the only logical option.
I had our first prenatal visit with our doula Brooke the week prior and revealed with an open heart that my only fear surrounding baby's birth was that I had no idea what our baby would be like. We had opted out of any unnecessary testing and scans during our journey which left everything to faith and trust that my body was designed to grow a baby and that our baby was formed and sent from our father in heaven with such great intention. I shared with tears flowing down my face that I had no idea if the “little schmoo” would have ten fingers and ten toes or if there was anything we could be better prepared for upon baby’s arrival. She helped me ease that fear out of my body and make peace with all of the wonderful weeks of informed decisions we had made up until this point. I accepted that I wouldn't have done anything differently in growing this baby and if something needed to be addressed after babys’ arrival we would cross that bridge when the time came with as much research, love and faith as we'd had the entire pregnancy.
Our check up with the midwife on the 19th had zero signs pointing toward labor starting and our home visit was scheduled for the following Friday to make sure all things were prepared for baby's arrival and get the birth pool dropped off and set up. I admittedly had put off purchasing our birth kit pieces for weeks at this point. I found myself getting lost in researching the best pricing for each item instead. There was definitely something holding me back in the finality of this task and the unknown future of these items and it had me avoiding pulling the trigger to just order and get them here. But time was definitely running out and this needed to happen sooner rather than later. Brooke gave word of a traveling birth box that other mothers had put together. It had everything we would need on the supplies list and seemed to find its way to its next home with perfect intent. We located the box and it settled into our living room 5 days prior to baby's arrival. I remember, after getting the box inside I started going through all of the items, and there sitting on the floor I began thinking for the first time we we're finally ready. I whispered to the schmoo you're welcome to come anytime after Friday (which put us past the 37 week threshold).
I had gone shopping the day after the box arrived in our home and waddling through Meijer I had a vivid thought that my water could break at any time.. This was the first time my mind started to think about the baby being born. In that moment I had an urge to pack a bag with a chux pad, a change of clothes and a depends in the car and planned to prepare that bag in the coming week. In hindsight I should have listened immediately to that feeling of needing a car bag packed because it would have proved helpful in the days to come.
As I left for work that afternoon of Wednesday March 20 I called my parents on the drive in. My dad answered the phone with our codewords for when labor was starting asking 'are we Thunder cats go?!' I replied not that I know of and that we were just heading into the office and I had called with a question for them. Shift started and the usual How are you feeling and when are you due again greeted me from many of our loving patients. My answer had become I'm due sometime in April give or take the full moon, my guess was the 20th but we'll see what happens. I even told one patient that this Friday we hit 37 weeks so baby can really come at anytime after that point. As the afternoon unfolded one of our patients who happens to be a local priest asked and offered to speak a blessing over our days to come. We stood there together and he began praying for our sweet baby. For safety and strength in bringing the little one earth-side, for protection and love in the days and years to come. He ended his prayer with hands on my head and my belly and tears welled up in my eyes for the peace I felt flooding over my body.
We made it to the end of shift and I quickly went to do my warm ups and then laid down on the table ready for my weekly adjustment. Eric came and adjusted my hips and mid-back, I turned over. He adjusted my neck and then as he was checking my left leg we both heard a noise that sounded like a huge air bubble ripping up over my abdomen. He and I both stopped in that moment and looked at each other.. I told him I wasn't sure what just happened it felt kind of like a huge gas bubble but was in such a strange place. I sat up to finish the adjustment and a wave of nausea and heat washed over my body. As I stood up I was met with a period like cramp and immediate thought of “woah that's weird”. I grabbed my water bottle and headed to the back office to finish my work. As I walked into that back hallway a feeling that I needed to go to the bathroom rushed in, I rounded the corner to find someone was in there. I stood in the kitchen area waiting for my turn and started feeling like my bladder was betraying me as fluid began to trickle out despite my best efforts to hold it in. I knocked on the door to give another alert I was indeed out here waiting and grabbed my jacket, quickly wrapping it around my waist. It was finally my turn and as I sat down another cramp wave rose across my belly and tiny spots of blood were there as I finished. I gathered myself to get to my locker and grab a pad and before heading to the bathroom again stopped by the x-ray room to inform Eric of what was happening. I opened the x-ray room door to explain that I wasn't entirely sure what was happening but I thought my water may be leaking and I was going to get a pad on and call our midwife.
At 6:41 we stood there outside the back of the office, the cold snowy rain came down on our shoulders and I gave our midwife the update. Adrenaline had kicked in and the chill didn't register as She asked a few questions and calmly explained that I should go home and just try my best to relax. She said It would be a good time to get something to eat and take a nice long shower and we would know more if it was the waters breaking in the coming hours. She mentioned if every time you move or baby moves you feel leaking then likely they've broken but labor may or may not start right away and said to update her in an hour or two on how things were going.
Eric and I stood there for another minute hugging as I tried to wrap my head around what was taking place. We made the decision that I would drive home and do what was suggested and that Eric would stay at the office to finish out shift with his phone on him incase I needed him home. I got in the car waiting to turn out of the parking lot and the baby gave a big move and I felt a small gush. I frantically started trying to find something plastic to sit on to try and not leak all over the carseat. What I found next to me was a Meijer bag and t-shirt and I began to laugh at the irony of where I had the thought to pack that car bag to be prepared for a moment like this.
I called our doula at 7:02 on the way home to give her the news and talked to her through 2 crampy waves that were mounting in their strength. She also said to keep her posted and I got off the phone to focus and finish the drive home. As I walked up the porch steps into home I felt another huge gush of water breaching my line of defense. No time to get shoes or coat off, I dropped my bags at the back door and rushed to the bathroom. In an instant such relief came over me knowing I was home and where I needed to be but as I sat there alone and felt the next rise of birth I said out loud to our dog "my goodness what did I get myself into Elsie, I think we're having this baby .. holy mackerel how am I going to do this." No sooner had the thoughts left my mouth, the remaining waters broke along with the plug in one fell swoop. The next 3 waves seemed to each be stronger and picking up length as time progressed. I managed to catch my breath for a moment and quickly realized this was 'thunder cats go' and I could tell I was not going to be resting into this labor. I prayed for a moment of peace so I could make it out of the bathroom to the back door to get my phone because no one knew I was already wading deep into labor land. I made it to the backdoor and managed to grab my phone and some pads with thought of sitting on the birth ball to gain some control. I downloaded a contraction timer to try and get an idea of what was unfolding and I texted our doula that things were escalating quickly. My first timed contraction was at 7:38 lasting 3 minutes.. I never made it to the birth ball.. the toilet felt like the safest place as my body had started emptying with labor rocking along swiftly. Keeping Brooke in the loop as best I could, it got to the point by 8:03 where it was hard to push the button to start and stop the contraction timer and she thought it wise to call Eric home and I gave her the nod to come over. I called Eric at 8 an hour after I left the office to tell him to get home ASAP. From there, time gets a little hazy. I had been home by myself for an hour and a half when Eric walked in to find me on the toilet moaning through the waves. I was so glad to have him there because I needed his help desperately. Our bathroom is the only room in the house where the heat collects and I was so hot and so thirsty and so incredibly nauseous. I had managed to strip down to a bra but had been unable to move from a leaned back position as any leaning forward intensified the waves rendering my inability to stand without support. I instructed him for water and chux pads and to help me up so I could lay on the cool tile of the bathroom floor instead of directly under the heat vent on the porcelain throne. I made it to the floor and settled into child’s pose. He sat down with me in the hallway with our overly concerned barking Elsie pup and turned off the music that was playing in the background. We always leave music on for our pup when we leave and in the rush of getting inside I had no time to turn anything off. I asked later why he did that and his response was "he felt all the noise was too much for me to focus" Little did Eric know I had been using the music as a distraction humming along through each surge And as I came down off the next wave I heard myself moaning for the first time and then it went to silence and I let him know the music needed to be turned back on IMMEDIATELY. I'm not sure how long we sat like that but at some point He asked if he should let my parents know what was going on. I'm certain the answer that came out was less than graceful and more like a lioness roaring off an unwelcome guest. Our midwife happened to call my phone at 8:23 and thankfully Eric was there to answer. She started listening to my labor sounds and asked Eric several questions that he had no idea about. It was such an out of body experience at this point.. I heard the questions being asked and quickly gave out answers with sound that felt like it was miles away. I explained that yes my plug came out and yes my body had emptied like she said it might. I remember hearing her say something like oh wow ok you should have called me I'll be on my way over now and that was the last thing I recall from the phone conversation. I was pulled back into the waves thinking well dang oops she might not make it.. The whole time I was alone I could barely catch my breath between waves how was I supposed to call anyone. I was pulled into a dream that I had early in pregnancy that no one called our midwife and I delivered our baby on the bathroom floor and my thoughts swirled of this possibility coming true...
The moment Brooke arrived sent such a sense of calm over my spirit. Her familiar scent of essential oils wafted into the land I had traveled far away to and I recall thinking ok good she'll know what to do.. now I'm safe. Eric and Brooke started talking and bits and pieces of their conversation reached my brain but not enough to weigh in with words. I listened to them around me and felt so disconnected from reality, it wasn't until Brooke gave a hip squeeze that my physical body met my mind with words and I roared out her name. I remember her asking if I was feeling pushy and her reply something along the lines of ok yes you are just go ahead and listen to your body. Another roar came out of me from so deep inside there was an out of control feeling in my thoughts as my body led the way past this point.
Having been on the bathroom floor the entire time Brooke had asked at one point don't your knees hurt? Im pretty sure the words "I don't care about my knees!" danced forcefully off my tongue back at her. She asked is this where you want to have your baby..and was met with my silence.. She asked again Where do you want to have your baby we need to make that decision here soon and I all I could think was I don't know... where is a good place? Isn't here a good place? Why don't you just tell me where to go..
Yolanda made it inside around 9pm and started preparing for baby's arrival.. Unbeknownst to me the birth box was brought into our bedroom and her supplies were being unpacked. I slowly began to crawl my way into the bedroom from the suggestion of the bed as a more comfy place to greet our little one. On hands and knees on our stripped down bed I was feeling pushy but couldn't get the grounding I needed from squishing over a pile of pillows. Yolanda listened to heart tones at 930 and found I was 8cm as I tried hard to surrender over those falling pillows... I started shivering.. I verbalized that I was so cold so they covered me with a blanket. One more wave and I was grasping for something anything sturdy to hold onto. I started migrating to the head of our bed and I kneeled up and said this doesn't feel right to which Yolanda replied no place will feel right at this point, but I desperately wanted to move. I moved onto my knees beside the bed. Resting my head on the mattress between surges.. Baby had started to move down and the talk happening around me was focused on looking for olive oil. I thought this funny because Eric said we didn't have any and I was too disconnected to bring words to my mouth to say otherwise. Next few waves brought a head..to which I reached down and felt.. all squished and wrinkled making its way earth-side. At some point there was an offer of a mirror to see my baby coming out.. This got the response from me "no there's no time for a mirror" At this point the calm serene births I had viewed hundreds of times and meditated on throughout pregnancy, scenes that I had hoped my birth would be like were so far from my reality the only thing that felt right was a tapestry of swears that still lingers somewhere over our room ;)
Midwife notes show 9:48 crowning with good scalp color and my next move was this primal need to lift my right leg.. Brooke said at one point she was holding my leg and then placed it on Yolanda's shoulder to capture the moment our baby made the debut into daddy’s hands at 9:59pm.
Whew! Time to take a breath and pause. Even now, reading his story, his hurried entrance that night makes my heart race. The anticipation and adrenaline is still so palpable. It's taken 4 months to reveal our birthday journey completely and I continue to be in awe of what a marvelous design our bodies posess. Our creator has placed such an innate primal power deep inside us birthing women. Power that beckons us to disconnect and surrender, to dig deep and trust becoming fully open. I am so incredibly thankful and blessed to have been fully supported by an amazimg team. To have felt safe and empowered to access a side of me I didn't even know existed.
In a whirlwind of 3 hours almost to the minute of waters breaking we peeked under the towel to find out our little Main man Levi had made his entrance into our world all 7lbs 10oz and 19.5 inches of him. My cheeky guess of the 20th give or take a full moon was true albeit a completely different month and moon!