Last week, I was honored to attend a beautiful water birth at our local birth center. Instead of sharing my own story of how Declan's story unfolded, Rebekah has so graciously and eloquently agreed to share her own story...
"Valor Declan’s birth story is one woven by many answered prayers. I can’t type one sentence further without first acknowledging that God’s tender love, grace, and peace were so very present in every moment of our experience. Valor (or Declan, as we call him) is our 3rd and final baby. Knowing this would be our last birth experience, I had prayed for several things to happen according to my heart’s desires, and God honored each one of them.
The first of these answered prayers was getting connected to the wonderful Lydia Stuemke as our birth photographer. Never having had a photographed birth, I asked God to provide a good deal for one. Within days of inquiring on a Facebook group for a reasonably priced professional, Lydia contacted me with a deal that fit what I had prayed for! It felt too good to be true!
We planned on doing a home birth with this baby, but something within me didn’t feel complete peace about it. I was interested in going to the new birth center in town, but they hadn’t received their license to open yet. Then, just 3 months before my due date, the Birth Center opened its doors! I dropped in on a whim and was given a tour, and on the spot I knew that this was the place to birth our child. God was definitely directing us where to go with this one. Now, my first two pregnancies went well beyond their due date, with both of them ending by inductions (one in the hospital, one at home). I longed to know what it would be like to experience spontaneous labor. Yet again God poured out His generous grace on me, and that’s where the rest of the story begins…
My due date was January 2nd. Dreading the thought of potentially being pregnant past 42 weeks as I had with my last baby, I was doing everything I could to get this baby to come soon…acupressure, long walks, herbal teas, consuming vast amounts of dates, pleading with God, etc. The Sunday before Declan’s birth, my husband Andrew and I went on a date to the woods and hiked for what felt like five miles (but was probably just one or two). That night I thought I was getting sick with an intestinal bug, but this felt different than any other “virus” I’d experienced before. I was fine the next day. On Monday night, as I bounced on the birthing ball while playing cards with my family, I felt frequent Braxton-Hicks contractions, as I had been for days, but with no increasing intensity. I secretly hoped this meant that labor would be coming soon, but tried not to obsess over it (which was not easy!).
At 12:30 am Tuesday January 3rd, I awoke from sleep to a contraction and noticed that my low back was aching. I got up and went to the bathroom and started timing the next few contractions. They were consistently less than three minutes apart. I was hesitant to believe this was active labor, even though I knew the sensations were valid, but decided to contact Lydia (nearly an hour away from us), who immediately set out in our direction. Between contractions I felt completely fine, but with each one, my low back and legs ached. I woke up Andrew and we began to get ready. Andrew called Amie Hernandez, our midwife at the birth center, who encouraged us to wait 30 minutes before leaving the house since I could still talk and move during the contractions. So we waited, and by a little after 1:00 am I was undoubtedly in real labor. Somewhere in that time frame, I had also notified my doula, one of my best friends, Samantha Schoenecke, who then headed out to meet us at the birth center. We woke up my mom and dad, who were staying with us to help out, and my mom got ready and hopped in the minivan. We left as soon as Lydia greeted us at our door. At 2:00 am we were on our way to the birth center, with soft piano music playing (Dollar Tree cds for the win!) to help me relax.
We arrived at the birth center around 2:20 am, and were greeted softly by Amie and the staff. They had already prepped our selected birthing room #3 and had the tub filled with hot water just waiting for me. I labored a few minutes up against the bed and tub while everyone got things ready around me. It was so quiet and peaceful; I could hardly tell there was movement going on in the background. Shortly after we arrived I decided to climb into the water, which felt wonderful on my belly and body. Contractions came swiftly now, and I was getting more focused. Another midwife named Amy did a Doppler check on Declan, which proved to be a little more difficult as he had dropped down much lower in my abdomen. Between contractions we all chatted and joked, and then I became more inwardly focused.