I spent a few hours with a “crunchy” mom yesterday. Her philosophy and strength inspired me! She reminded me that a woman’s strength is unsurpassed! She shed light on the emotions that I experienced surrounding Mattie’s birth, and allowed me to put those emotions into words….9 weeks later.
Joey and I discussed our preferences for pregnancy and labor/delivery in depth! With the blessing of EXPOSURE, we knew we had a lot of CHOICES to make. Let me elaborate; it seems to be the “norm” to discover your pregnancy…basque in the joy, then immediately consult your obstetritian….everyone knows all the things that COULD go wrong!! Our thinking is a little different than that. The journey that our chiropractic lifestyle has led us on, has illuminated many alternatives to this thought pattern. Not that one is right or wrong, they are just different, and we are advocates of EVERY family being informed of their choices 🙂
After confessing our hearts desires, we chose to consult with a midwife (you can read more about that in my blog about our pregnancy). After we decided on our midwife, our birth plan began to take shape. The birthing center is in Marshall, TX (approximately 2 hours from our home in Calhoun, LA). The basic plan was to drive west when we were sure it was the real deal. Yes, we had many eyebrows raised at our decision, but we were confident that our birth was in God’s hands and that His will would be done regardless of our plans!
My guess date was July 16th. The week prior to that Saturday, I began to have contractions….maybe Braxton-Hicks?? They were not very intense and had no regularity to them, but I began to get excited. Then the guess date came and went; I then began to get frustrated. As I commonly admit I am a control freak & I like to have my expectations met! This was not part of the plan!! HAHA! Anyhow, the following week I did not have any signs of labor. Monday morning, the 25th of July, I lost my mucous plug. I began to closely monitor my cervix. All day Monday, no signs of labor. We went to bed with the myriad of pillows. At 11:15pm I woke up with a very intense contraction, nothing like any of the ones before. I immediately felt the need to use the restroom. After I had done my business, I stood up and felt a trickle down my leg. The small puddle on the floor had a little bit of blood in it. By this time I decided to wake Joey up…I think this is it! After Joey came out of his sleep coma, he put his game face on!!! We waited to see if there was another contraction. Sure enough at 11:30 we had another intense contraction. We decided that we should head that way so that we could make the trip before it got “serious.” We loaded the car, headed that way and began waking everyone up!!
Jen, our midwife, suggested checking into a hotel once we got to Marshall to allow us to labor in privacy until it got “serious.” We agreed and proceeded at 90mph with much excitement!! Once we got to Shreveport, we had to stop for me to use the restroom & grab a few snacks. Once back on the road, contractions bumped up to every 6 minutes and the intensity increased. With Jen’s advice, we decided to get checked at the birth center before we made any other plans…..then we passed Jen on the highway 🙂
Once at the birth center (1:20 am), Jen determined I was dilated to a 6 and contractions were around 5 minutes apart. I was still fairly comfortable at this point and decided to get my swim suit on (in case I wanted in the birthing tub later), but I wanted to lay in the bed. I was already pretty tired! I quickly decided that was uncomfortable and got in the tub. During contractions I would lean over the side of the tub while sitting on my knees. In between contractions I would lean back in exhaustion. Sooner than later contractions were coming every 2 minutes (about 3:30 am). Now I’m really tired!! As I was told later, I began pushing about 4:00 am. Jen & Charlotte (midwives) encouraged me to change positions, but I resisted.
In preparation for our birth, I read A LOT about natural pain management techniques, midwife recommendations, Hypnobirthing, successful birth stories, etc. In the midst of my reading, I stumbled on an article that accredited successful, natural, drug-free births to the mother’s support system. I thought it was an interesting angle. Joey and I had discussed how we anticipated to communicate during labor. For example, we had invited our whole family (well immediate family) to the birth, so I had asked him to be the regulator of any stinkin’ thinkin’. If he heard anybody verbally expressing concern, worry or doubt – he had to ask them to go outside. I also asked him to be my cheerleader and encourage me while gently coaching me. Never would I have dreamed of just how supportive and encouraging he would be!!! Joey kneeled beside the tub the entire labor. He whispered sweet motivational words to me and constantly reassured me of how great I was doing. He would share positive points about our progress and again remind me that he was proud of me. He got me cold water, he knows room temperature water is not my favorite! He held the straw for me to sip the water. He dabbed my forehead with cool rags until my mom got there and helped him support me. He would ask if I needed anything at just the right moment. He went home with bruises on his arms from where he let me grip and pull as he supported me during the contractions. He probably is a little shy of his full auditory potential from the level of noise that I put in his ear!!! The list goes on….Joey is responsible for the calm and strength that empowered me to deliver our baby girl without the influence of drugs or surgery, not to mention in a little less than 7 hours!
So, Mattie Elizabeth was born at 5:55 am on Tuesday, July 26th; the same day as her Aunt Shelby only 15 years prior 🙂 The moment was magical!! Seriously, the most amazing emotion-filled time of my entire life! As I mentioned, I began to push about 4:00 am. It seemed like every contraction brought her a little closer to my arms! After pushing for a while, and me declining the midwives recommendations to change positions, they sternly but sweetly encouraged me that I really needed to change positions. I went from leaning over the tub on my knees to a more supine position with my back against the tub. The next contraction Charlotte asked me to push really hard. Contraction came, I pushed and Mattie came flying out!! Charlotte immediately put her on my chest. It all happened so quick I was still waiting for the next contraction when I realized our litle miracle was in my arms!! Tears filled my eyes and the sensation of Joey’s touch on my shoulders became more apparent. When I looked up, entering the “real world,” leaving the contraction – to – contraction world, I saw the most beautiful sight! Our entire family GLOWING at us!! Each person had the most amazing smile on their face. There were tears, flashes from cameras, crying, laughing, but most of all the feeling of love was simply palpable! I truely feel like each person that shared that wonderful moment with us made an imprint of love on Mattie that will never fade!
A few minutes later, Jen & Charlotte wanted me to move to the bed so they could help me deliver the placenta. I carried my PERFECT bundle of love to the bed. They continued to care for me while I began soaking up Mattie’s every little inch! Within about 15 minutes of her delivery, Mattie began to nurse and did so for the following 45 minutes. I was filled with pride and amazement of her God-given ability to know exactly what to do and the perfection with which she did it. After Mattie was satisfied, Joey put her in his arms and my heart filled with love yet again! The sight of him holding her and the fresh emotions of how awesome he is combined to flood my heart with undescribeable joy!
I was given an herbal bath to help begin the healing my body needed. Shortly afterwards, Mattie had her newborn exam. She passed with flying colors of course 🙂 She weighed 8 lbs 12 oz and measured 22.25 inches long. We covered her precious little body with her first touch of clothing and then began to share her. While the family stared at her and passed her around, I grabbed a bite to eat and then we started to load the car. It was so heart-warming to see all the men being so careful with her as they buckled her in her seat. After I fixed the buckle-job that they did (shoulder straps around her waist!!), we headed home at 9:30 am. Mattie and I both slept the whole way home. We made it safely home and then continued to sleep. All has been wonderfully blissful ever since!
Everyone asks how bad it hurt, so I’ll try to put that into words. It was painful, really painful, BUT I was also amazed at how comfortable I was. That doesn’t make any sense, I know….I am just in awe of how my body had this wonderful plan and knew exactly what to do. I remember a lot of noises; as the men would report, very loud noises. I am convinced that those noises somehow evacuated the pain from my mind. In my experience, I think the pain was worse than I expected, but I handled it better than I expected. With all that said, once I held her in my arms, any pain that I had was gone. Overall, I would say it is something that any woman who is willing to COMMIT to a drug-free, surgery-free deliver in their MIND can accomplish.
Today I read an article in Pathways Magazine where Ima May Gaskin, the godmother of midwifery, quoted a Japanese obstetrician. He said, a woman is in her full power while giving birth; it is a “mystic beauty.” I have often looked at birth photography, during labor or following delivery, and appreciated the glow and beauty in the mother’s eyes. I now have felt that “mystic beauty.” It is a feeling I will always cherish!
I would like to conclude with a THANK YOU to our birth team, especially Joey; our photographer, Awesome Aunt Amy; and all of our family for supporting us during our pregnancy, labor and delivery! Mattie and I could not have done it without each of you!
With love and appreciation,
Dr. Taryn Lowery