Asher was born in a birthing center called Birthing Your Way on Main Street in Lehi. I had decided soon after we found out I was pregnant that I may want to deliver with a midwife this time around. I had already had the hospital+epidural experience with Olivia and the hospital+natural experience with Berlin (remember I got a little too cocky and waited too long to ask for the epi and then the nurse anesthetist was a big idiot who couldn't get it in?) Anyways...I really liked the recovery after having Berlin without the numbness, and was blessed with that forgetfulness that women have after experiencing the pain of pregnancy and childbirth, and really wanted to try doing it COMPLETELY natural this time. I thought it would be an amazing experience to add to my life and I've never been big on too much medical intervention when it isn't necessary. That's reason number one. Reason number two is that our insurance is really only an emergency insurance (that tends to happen when you own your own business), and if we were to deliver at a hospital, we'd end up paying at least $9,000 out of pocket (for the same treatment we got with Berlin). And that is WITH the discount we'd get for paying cash up front. The midwife ended up costing under $3,000 including home visits, birthing kit, and all of Asher's tests. So we took that extra baby money and went to Disneyland :)
Jack and I watched The Business of Being Born while I was pregnant and we loved it. I loved the idea of taking control of my own experience and not being told what I needed while in labor. I love the idea of women going into it with their eyes wide open and educating themselves instead of just following what other women do or what their doctor is used to doing. I'm not against getting an epidural for pain management (obviously, since I got one with Olivia and had a great experience) and I won't go into what I am against because I don't want to offend anyone and I respect others to make their own educated decisions about their own and their baby's well-being. This time around the thought of very little intervention appealed to me though. Also, I wanted a more personal experience with my care provider. Both Olivia and Berlin were delivered by a stranger because our doctor did not come in for either delivery.
Anyways, those are my reasons. Here is the story:
I had my 37 week appointment on Thursday and asked them to check me. I'll be honest, I feel like people were a little smug every time I told them I'd deliver early, like they didn't expect it to happen a third time. So I was pretty pleased with my little self when I asked to be checked and the midwife found that I was dilated to a 2 and 90% effaced. I believe her words were "Oh! I can feel her head very well, she's so low!" So I left very happy because I was excited to meet our girl and to NOT be pregnant anymore. Also because "I told you so." Friday I knew she was coming. I just felt different all day. We walked around Target for a while, I had some Raspberry leaf tea in a smoothie (cause the straight tea tastes like weed water) and after the girls were both snoozing in bed, Jack and I wrapped some Christmas presents. My contractions started getting closer and closer together and weren't letting up, though they weren't painful. I told Jack to text the midwife and tell her that the baby was coming that night if she wanted to take a nap or something. I think Jack was a little skeptical. You wait for something for 8 months and when the moment is suddenly here it can be hard to believe (even on the third kid!) And I also the contractions weren't very intense. He texted her though and I got to the point where I had to sit and rest because they were coming on stronger, Jack then gave me a very comforting and encouraging priesthood blessing. At 11pm we texted her again and told her to leave for the birthing center. We gathered some last-minute things and left also. Our sweet neighbor had come over to sit at the house with our girls until Jack's mom could get there to spend the night with them.
It was snowing but the roads were clear and as we drove down Main Street we could see the lights on in the upstairs windows of the birth center and the Christmas lights shining pleasantly in the dark night. I liked it. We pulled in and saw the young intern booking it across the parking lot to go help with my delivery. Jack helped me out and held onto me to make sure I didn't slip. The birthing suite is upstairs in a renovated pioneer house. The stairs are steep and every time I'd go in for an appointment my entire pregnancy I'd think about walking up those stairs on the night I was in labor. It wasn't as intense as I'd imagined thank goodness. I hurried up in the interlude between contractions and then rested on the couch at the top as another one hit and before going into the birth suite. Jack got our bags, plugged my phone in, and turned on my birth playlist. The room was ready and my two favorite midwives and the intern were waiting and smiling. They helped me get comfortable on the bed and then checked me. I was dilated to a 7 already, phew! They filled up the big jetted tub with warm water and I stripped down to a tank top and bra and sat in the water. It really helped relax me and soothed my back. Jack sat on the edge and I laid my head on his leg. "I can do this no problem!" I thought. "I'm already at a 7 and these contractions aren't anything I can't handle!" Well, that went on for a while and then I started to get a little concerned because I usually have very fast labors and I felt like I should feel the need to push at that point. I got out to see if my water had broken and couldn't tell because of the water from the tub. The intern checked to see if it had broken and she said it felt like it had and that I was dilated further. So we waited some more. I started to get frustrated. The midwife suggested I lay on the bed and rest so we did that for a while. I think I even dozed off a couple of times. The contractions spaced apart a bit and didn't hurt much at this point. I had stalled for about two hours. I started to cry out of frustration. I didn't know what to do. I didn't know what my body was telling me or how to proceed. I had Jack go get the other midwife to check my water. She said I was still dilated to a 7. There had been no change in the three hours we had been there. She then told me that my water had not broken, but the only way she was able to tell was because she was checking during a contraction and it had cause the baby to move a little so she could feel the sack a little. The reason the intern hadn't caught it was because our baby was so low that the sack was literally tight against her head.
She broke my water and I got back into the tub. Only a couple of minutes later the REAL contractions hit. I had gone straight into transition and the pain was excruciating. I'm sure it was that bad with Berlin but the memory had faded into something I was sure I could handle again and the reality of it was that I was really struggling. I had my elbows planted on the inside ridges of the tub and I had to lift my body up every time one hit because I couldn't stand the pressure of sitting, even in the water. I couldn't even make noise because the pain took my breath away, along with every thought and sense.. except feeling. I couldn't even think straight. All I could to do cope was close my eyes and try to focus on sucking in air and blowing it out. My midwives suggested I get on my knees so I wouldn't have to prop up on my elbows to keep from touching the bottom of the tub. I managed to turn over and rest my forearms on the side of the tub. Jack was trying to soothe me by rubbing different parts of my back but I had to ask everyone not to touch me because it took away from the focus that was the only thing getting me through the indescribable pain. My saving grace was that this went more quickly in my mind than in actuality. What felt like 20 minutes because of the adrenaline pulsing through me was actually about an hour, and then I was so relieved to feel the urge to push. I wasn't able to move, and my own words flashed through my mind, "I will definitely not be giving birth in the tub." I didn't like the thought of what might be soaking in during the birthing process, with everything coming out. But I realized I would not be able to stand to make it back to the bed and the desire to have it all be over with won out, along with the realization that the light at the end of the tunnel was there. I pushed and it was difficult. There was no doctor trying to stretch things and pull her out, it was just me. The midwife warned me not to go too fast, but I was DONE. It was a terrifying thing, pushing until I was on fire and then having to push even more into the pain and past the point of resistance instead of stop. And then she was out. Jack says the midwives scooped her forward where I could see her, and I quickly reached into the water and picked her up. She took a deep breath as I held her against my chest and sat back on my feet, and she and I cried together. I was so relieved and so proud. Jack cried too. The experience the way he tells it is way more amazing than my story, I should have had him write this. In the chaos of her appearing Jack had looked at the clock. He marked her entry into the world at 3:58am. I laid back against the side of the tub and held our sweet girl. She cried for a couple more minutes and then raised her head up and looked right into my eyes. Like she was making sure she was in the right place and with the right person. She was and we both knew it immediately.
After a few more minutes we realized that my placenta was having trouble detaching. I don't know if I wasn't contracting enough or what, but the longer it took the more I bled. It wasn't an alarming amount, but I was sitting in a tub of water, which was now completely red and suddenly I was aware of my surroundings and felt like I was in a horror movie. I think Jack saw me come to that realization because he quickly scooped me out of the tub and everyone got me situated on the bed. The midwives determined that I needed a shot of pitocin to help get the placenta out. I won't go into all the details, but basically it had come apart and even after I was able to deliver it, there were still pieces in me that needed to be gotten out. Let's just say if you imagine having a terrible gaping wound and then having someone dig ferociously at it, you will not begin to imagine the pain of getting everything out. It was so hard because I thought I was done with the pain and then I had this to go through. But Asher Grace was here and healthy and Jack was holding onto me the entire time. I could not have reached the other side of this delivery without him. He was all that kept me from being dragged down by the immense job I had to do that night. He was my life raft. Asher latched on and nursed terrifically and we put a diaper on her and weighed her. 8 pounds, 3 ounces, 21 inches long. Our biggest baby and thank goodness she came early. The midwives made sure Asher and I were both doing well and told me to rest and sleep as long as I wanted, but what I wanted was to be home. I got dressed and made it down to the car. Our girls were already awake when we made it home at 6:30am and they met their baby sister for the first time while Jack's mom recorded everything. They kissed he head and held her tiny hands and sang her songs. Then their grandma took them to her house and I slept in my own bed only just over an hour and a half after giving birth, while Asher lay in her bassinet beside me. We had total privacy, peace and restful quiet.
The recovery has been amazing. I didn't tear at all and the only difficulty I had was getting my strength back. Because of the blood loss from the placenta ordeal I was easily tired and light headed for several days and Jack had to keep an eye on me in the shower and help me up and down the stairs. We spent two glorious days with just the three of us while our two older girls stayed at my amazing sister-in-law's house and we soaked in every moment with our brand new little person. As these days and weeks pass I'm more and more grateful for the way I brought Asher into the world. It tested me physically and emotionally and I'm so glad we have the experience to remember together. More important than the experience was the outcome though. She is healthy and perfect and both Jack and I feel so bonded to her and thankful to be stewards over her little spirit.
Last bump shot before leaving the house. 37 weeks and 4 days pregnant.
Settling in at the Birth Center
Meeting Asher for the first time...in the tub :)
Resting before we head home. Mine is the face of someone who just realized how grateful she is not to have been a pioneer.
Meeting their baby sister for the first time
Waking up next to her for the first time. Her hair is still slimy :)