The Home Birth of Obediah Lawson

Tuesday, December 31

Image by Andrea Ahedo in the exact place of birth

Obie was born on my mom’s birthday. October 9th at 8:29 PM. She and my sister had been staying with us for several weeks leading up to that day, helping us with everything under the sun - Cooking, unpacking boxes, painting nearly every surface of our new home, and generally being angels on earth. We had expected Obie’s arrival at least a week or two before that day. Having had early births with my other two babies, watching my due date come and go with this one felt a bit surreal. I knew he was choosing for himself the exact right moment to enter earth-side, but I couldn’t help but feel a little impatient and anxious to “relieve everyone of their stations” and just generally move past the waiting stage.

Two days previous, a trusted friend had come to the house and told me about her own experience of going past her due date. She’d gotten foot zoned in preparation for birth and her baby had been born the next day. After MANY unsuccessful attempts to implement every natural induction method the internet tells you to try, I jumped on her suggestion, texted her foot zoner for an appointment and scheduled it for the afternoon of October 9th. That morning, I came downstairs to everyone bustling around in the kitchen, wished my mom a happy birthday and said, “Maybe we’ll have two birthdays to celebrate today!” The first of the real surges started about 15 minutes later.

I timed them (7 to 15 minutes apart), quietly breathed through each one as their intensity didn’t require much more than that, and visited with a friend who had stopped by to drop off a thoughtful gift. I knew I was in early labor but decided to keep my foot zoning appointment anyway, since I knew that releasing any subconscious stored emotions could only help me in birth. My mom and sister accompanied me on the drive, with my surges still coming fairly quietly and irregularly.

That appointment feels very sacred and personal to me. It was visceral, tear filled and incredibly healing. I felt super connected to Obie throughout all of it. It was also basically an hour long foot massage, so it felt indulgent and delicious during labor. I don’t know if it was because I was super relaxed, or Obie was just giving me a minute, but the surges really slowed during the appointment. I had maybe 3 or 4 during the whole hour, and they only required some breath work to get through. BUT as soon as we got in the car to drive home, things started to get real.

The next four hours, from the car ride to his birth, are a little blurred together in my mind now. I don’t remember the order of things, but rather the feeling of things. There are a few distinct moments that define the birth timeline for me - but the overarching memory I have, is just a feeling of immense power.

First off, I remember that the sensation of birth *did* register as pain for me. I was hoping it wouldn’t. My younger sister’s recent water birth registered as “pressure” for her and I was really aiming for that situation, ha, but alas, the sensation was exactly what I remembered wanting to avoid with my first two (happily epiduraled) births. I don’t remember the pain of it now (amazing how that works!), but I do remember, in the moment, being taken aback at the intensity of it.

When we got home from the appointment, there was no question I was in active labor. My midwife was called and I heard her arrive and begin setting up while I labored in our downstairs bathroom. She briefly came to check on me, and then left me to labor alone, which is what I preferred in the moment. It had just really sunk in that this was solely my experience - nothing was going to take it from me, and it was now time to surrender myself to it. While preparing for home birth, I had read that the surges experienced while sitting on a toilet are some of the most intense and productive that you can have because your body has a subconscious, ingrained “opening” response to being there. Experiencing this mind/body phenomenon was the moment my inhibitions left me. I shed my clothing and labored vocally.

At this point I noticed how hungry I was, so I came out to get some snacking food and a drink. I left the bathroom right as another surge came, so I stood in the hallway while Tyson gave me counter pressure on my hips and I leaned into my sister. She doula-ed me through it - confirming over and over again that everything was unfolding exactly as it was supposed to. That THIS is exactly what should be happening, and that everything was working perfectly. They were the affirmations I needed. When the surge passed, she brought me the cinnamon oat muffins my mom had made, along with some almonds and an electrolyte drink.

I told Tyson that I wanted a fire, so he began to gather wood from our porch and stoke one. My birth playlist played over a speaker in the corner of the room. Everyone bustled around, taking turns giving me counter pressure on my hips, monitoring Everett and Isla, inflating the birth pool and filling it with water. I was only vaguely aware of any of it as I kneeled on the floor with my hips open, belly resting on the ground, and used the couch cushion to support and relax me.

I was still timing my surges and tbh, they never really regulated. They were 5 min, 2 min, 7 min, 1 min, and then back to 5 min apart. At that point, timing them wasn’t necessary, but I held onto it like a lifeline. It felt extremely helpful to have the stopping and starting of the timer to focus on. It allowed me to mentally and physically acknowledge when a surge was complete, so I could rest, even if it was just for a minute.

I remember one of these rests very vividly. For most of the surges, I’d had my head resting on my arms while I leaned into the couch. I was inward, contained, and focused. But for a brief moment between waves, I’d raised my head. It was dark outside, but our back porch light was on and the whole sky was illuminated by it. Giant fluffy snowflakes fell through the air as if they were in slow motion, and time stopped. I breathed, heard the fire crack behind me, felt firmly present in the magic that birth was surrounding me with, and then put my head down as another wave came through me.

By now the birth pool was filled and I was ready to get in. I climbed over the side and felt the warm water soothe me. It didn’t take any intensity away, but made the bearing of it easier. I remember briefly tuning into Isla as she walked around the room saying, “I’m so excited! The baby is coming!” over and over again. She wanted to catch the baby and kept asking when she could get in the pool. Tyson continued to dutifully stoke the fire as it was the one desire I had expressed. But soon I just wanted him near me and when I could speak, I told him to stay close. He climbed in the pool and kept counter pressure on my hips. Water was boiled in pots and poured into the pool to keep the temperature up. The warmth swirled around my legs and belly and brought a great amount of comfort between surges.

It had been four hours. My midwife came to the pool, checked my vitals and after seeing that I was eating another muffin, went back into the kitchen assuming I was nowhere near transition. (She shared that women don’t typically have an interest in food at that point - ha)

This photo cracks me up since it looks like I'm completely bored-scrolling on my phone when I was actually just coming up briefly to track another surge.

Suddenly everything changed, and I was in new territory. I’d never experienced sensation this far into labor before. The intensity heightened as my body began the process of moving my son down. I managed to call out “I’m pushing!” before completely tuning everything out around me. I changed. I got loud. I raised up. I felt as if I filled the whole room. Tyson later told me he had been speaking affirmations during this time. I couldn’t hear any of them. My body was acting independently of me - bearing down without any directive on my part. I was not pushing, I was surrendering to the consuming force that was already built into me and working flawlessly on its own. I did not roar as a reaction to pain. My body roared as an assistance to the process.

It's so strange to look at this picture and see that I was normal sized - when in that moment, my being felt so MASSIVE.

I felt him emerge, so I reached down and rubbed his little head beneath the water. I could vaguely hear everyone around me in the dark, trying to gauge if his head had appeared yet. My body rested for a moment and all was quiet. Then with one more powerful surge and a final assisting roar, he glided into the water. I lifted him to my chest and felt relief wash over me. I’d done it. We’d done it. Me and this boy. I had given birth and in turn, was also birthed. As a new mother. A new woman. A creator. And a witness to my own power.

For several weeks after, these final moments of birth completely consumed my thoughts. I was in awe, processing and reeling from the experience of it. It was hands down, one of the most impactful moments of my life. I have since learned that the sensation I experienced is called The Fetal Ejection Reflex. The internet says this about it: 

“The fetal ejection reflex can occur spontaneously, when the mother has experienced a completely undisturbed labor. She feels completely safe and supported, has privacy and is not disturbed by noise and bright lights. The mother may move into an upright or leaning forward positioning as a series of intense and involuntary contractions occur, moving the baby out of the uterus in three or four expulsive efforts. The baby is born quickly and easily, without voluntary pushing from the mother.”

I will forever be grateful for the privilege of experiencing such a moment. For birthing on my own terms. For being able to ask for and receive a safe, supportive, and undisturbed environment to bring myself and my baby through to the other side. And for my body giving me the gift of knowing its power so intimately. I do not take it for granted. Birth was healing - physically, emotionally, and spiritually. It was transcendent. It was empowering. It required everything I had to give, and then gave it back to me 10 fold. Not only by giving me my dream baby, but by wholly returning me to myself. Our family room will forever be sacred ground.

We love you, beautiful boy. Thanks for doing that with me.


Haleigh Foreverts said...

All the goosebumps! It’s like I was reading my own birth story. All the same emotions and physical bodily processes. It’s truly so magical. How amazing are our bodies?! Way to go mama. You rock!! Thank you for sharing this sacredness!

Taylor said...

This was so beautiful to read 😭 Congrats mama!!

Anonymous said...

You know how you go through life and you will always remember your firsts!?!?!? Well, you my friend were my first. First ever blog discovered. You were the first person I become interested in knowing that wasn't famous. Before blogs, I would get people magazine, or on occasion OK magazine. I would find style through the famous people. Then I found you. & was super excited to know that style and creativity is right here in front of me. Free on the internet. & the first post I read... was The Birth of Everett Stone. You will never know how much that post impacted me. I sat there crying... I sat there wondering why I couldn't get pregnant. Why IVF was not working. Why can't I have this beautiful story happen to me. Your blog post made me so badly want to experience birth. Experience love like no other. I can happily say years later through multiple miscarriages, failed IVF cycles... I am a momma. A momma to three cherubs. The day I gave birth I thought of you. I thought of your son. As I go into 2020 I am scheduled for another transfer of a frozen embryo. I will forever remember this post. Thank you for sharing all your birth stories. If God finds me deserving of another child I hope that I have the strength to trust my body and experience the magic that this story has portrayed. Bless you and your family this coming year. oxo

Justine said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Justine said...

This is so so gorgeous. My third labor and birth was very similar, my only regret that I didn’t push for it to happen at home. Even still, in the hospital, I ‘sat back’ in my body and let it do it’s thing, and it was the most amazing thing. Birth is so freaking amazing. Our bodies are so freaking amazing.

Unknown said...

Just beautiful.

Who is G? said...

I love all of this and can relate. I was able to birth 4 of my 5 at home and my 1 in hospital was still unmedicated. It's so amazing and I think birth is so powerful! I hope every mother appreciates her experience no matter how it looks though. I only wish I had done one in water. I labored in water, but never birthed and have heard amazing things about doing it that way when possible.

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