Thursday, April 12th
The day had started out like any other day that week – I was 40 weeks 4 days and eagerly awaiting the arrival of our baby girl. I went to the chiropractor that morning, which I jokingly (maybe only half kidding) tell people that they sent me into labor. Afterwards, I met my husband for lunch. As I drove down to meet him, I noticed some mild cramping in my lower abdomen. I didn’t think too much of it as I had been having a consistent dull achiness in my lower abdomen since earlier in the week so I just thought it might be a variation of the same thing. I didn’t mention anything to Jeremy at lunch as I didn’t want him to worry and wasn’t really sure if it was anything different. After lunch, I made a quick trip to Target and then home. And that’s when I felt like a ton of bricks hit me – I became really tired all of a sudden and so I decided to sweep the floors (couldn’t help it… I just needed to nest!) and then take a nap. I awoke from my nap around 4pm, still feeling crampy, and decided to take a shower while waiting for Jeremy to get home from work. Jeremy got home around 6pm and as we started to cook dinner, I told him I had been having some mild cramps on and off throughout the day, but there wasn’t really a pattern to them. We both agreed I should text our doula, Lauren, to let her know what I had been experiencing. After dinner, we went downstairs into our living room to watch tv, and I noticed the cramping becoming more frequent. So, we started timing them and realized at this point there was somewhat of a pattern. They were about 10 minutes apart and lasting on average 45-50 seconds. Around 11pm we settled into bed for the night, but the cramping was becoming more uncomfortable and so, around 12:30am, I decided to head downstairs to try to relax on the couch without waking Jeremy.
Friday, April 13th
I sat downstairs for a couple hours, headphones in, listening to Enya and trying to breathe and relax in between contractions. I wasn’t really able to fall asleep. I tried sitting on my birthing ball a couple of times to see if it would help, but since I was feeling the contractions mostly in my tailbone I discovered that it actually made it feel worse. Around 2:30am is when things really started to pick up – my contractions were becoming stronger and I now needed to vocalize and vary positions to help cope. Jeremy woke up at this time, got dressed, and we both agreed it would be a good idea to take our dog over to his parent’s house in Monument. Jeremy was gone for about an hour and I continued to work through contractions by breathing, vocalizing and changing positions. When he got back, we attached the Tens unit wires to my back to see if it would provide some relief. We decided to time the contractions again and they were now 5-7 minutes apart and lasting 50-55 seconds. Jeremy headed upstairs to take a shower and started preparing some things for the birth such as putting on extra sheets on our bed and laying out the birth pool. Around 4am, we decided to text Lauren letting her know the status of my labor. Afterwards, we headed upstairs and labored in our bedroom. I decided to take off the Tens unit as I didn’t feel it was helping at this point. Around 5:45am, Jeremy called Lauren and told her she should head over within the next hour and at about 7am, Lauren arrived at our house. We continued to labor in our bedroom, and Lauren applied clary sage oil to my ankles to help promote contractions and relaxation during labor. It was such a strong, lovely, and consistent scent throughout my labor, and it will forever be tied in memory to this moment in my life. I spent my time switching between the “hands and knees” positions and “slow dancing” with Jeremy. I was becoming quite tired, so Lauren suggested I work through a few contractions on the bed. I am so glad I did! I was able to get some rest and found myself falling asleep in between contractions. I then labored a bit more on the floor, but Lauren recognized I had been stuck in the same pattern for about 2 hours and needed to get things moving along. So, upon her suggestion, we headed downstairs. Jeremy and I walked around our living and dining room and would stop when a contraction came on. Around this time our photographer, Jackie, arrived and we continued to labor downstairs for a little while longer.
Lauren then made the comment that my contractions were 4 minutes apart and lasting about 1 minute – it had worked! My labor had progressed, and so, we headed back upstairs to the bedroom. My contractions were becoming more intense and closer together. At times, it seemed like they were one right on top of another. During contractions, Jeremy and Lauren would squeeze my hips and that seemed to help and I could feel my pelvis open up.
I experienced two really intense contractions and could feel the baby shift downward – everyone even commented that my belly looked a lot lower. At that point, Lauren texted our midwife to head over ASAP. Jolene and her nurse, Katie, arrived shortly after around 12:30pm. Jeremy and I worked through several more contractions and then suddenly my water broke (probably around 1:30ish). Soon after, I was able to finally get into the birthing pool – I was so relieved and looking forward to some pain relief. I labored at first on my side in the pool and then ended in a sort of kneeling position with my legs on either side. Suddenly I felt this intense pressure and an innate urge to push – which surprised everyone because I hadn’t mentioned anything and was just responding to my body. Jolene checked me, and although there was a small cervical lip, she felt it was ok to continue pushing.
After a while, my contractions started slowing and I started to feel cold. The temperature of the water had dropped, so Jolene got the pump to the pool and pumped out the cold water, filling it once again with hot water. My labor started to pick up again and I could feel the intensity of the contractions – again it seeming to be one right on top of another. I was becoming increasingly exhausted, and at one point said I couldn’t do it – but everyone was so encouraging, reminding me that I was capable and that I was doing it! Jolene had me reach down and feel her head which gave me so much encouragement to keep going, knowing that she was almost here. Lauren used orange essential oil to boost my energy and peppermint one time when I became nauseous. She also would put a cold washcloth across my forehead in between contractions which felt amazing, and everyone dripped water on my back and then would fan it to help cool me off. I remember, though, feeling so hot in the pool and not wanting the water on my back. Each time I would push, I would squeeze Jeremy’s hands and bear down with all my might. I continued to push a little while longer, but wasn’t making the progress I needed to in the pool and was becoming very tired. Jolene had me get out of the birthing pool (which was SO hard!) and move to a birthing stool.
I eventually got on the bed, onto my right side, pushed a few more times and then suddenly felt a release of pressure and fluid – Jolene exclaimed the baby’s head was out. I was relieved and knew my baby girl would be in my arms soon and that my work would be done. On the next contraction, I gave a couple pushes and felt her shoulders and then the rest of her body come out. At 4:30pm on Friday, April 13th, Henley Noelle Mironas was born. The snow was coming down which was such a change from the previous day’s sunny weather. Jolene held her up for us to see and then she was laid on my chest – what an incredible feeling to finally see and feel the little person that had been growing and moving inside of me for the past several months. Once on my chest, we waited patiently for her to crawl up to my breast to breastfeed – she was able to latch on quickly and began to nurse. After Henley was done nursing, Jolene finished her newborn exam and took her measurements. She surprised us all, weighing 8lb 2oz and measuring 20.25 inches long. After Jolene was done, she put on her first diaper and handed her to Jeremy. Jolene and her nurse, Katie, finished cleaning things up, helped me to the bathroom and then back to our bed, and it was then time for them to go. We were now a family of three and I had successfully given birth naturally at home – although it was one of the hardest things I have ever done, I wouldn’t change it for the world. What an amazing experience bringing our baby girl earth side in the comfort of our own home and intimate space – welcome to the world Miss Henley Noelle!