This was my first pregnancy. I knew I wanted a home birth. I knew I didn't want to be in a hospital with doctors and nurses rushing around, poking and monitoring and intervening. I just wanted to be left alone with my thoughts, with some patient, kind people that could reassure me and let my body do what it needed to do and let Carsyn come when she was ready. And that's what happened. I experienced every second of it with full awareness and on my terms.
It was a typical summer day in Las Vegas, July 15th, the first day of my maternity leave and the day my mom was flying in from Albuquerque. I planned my maternity leave and the arrival of my mother on the hopes that Carsyn would be born on her due date, the 17th. Turns out, it was perfect timing. The two days prior, I was ailed with back pain, constant heart burn, fatigue, overall uncomfortableness, spotting and painless contractions. Tiffanie, my midwife, said they were all good signs. Early Wednesday, I picked up my mom from the airport, while experiencing some random, mild contractions that became more regular and intense as the day wore on. By 5 pm, I was able to track and time the contractions. I notified Tiffanie and told her I would contact her again when the contractions were three to four minutes apart and about a minute long. I started to draw more into myself, just focusing on what my body was doing and breathing through the sensations.
Around 7 pm, which seemed like only minutes later, I text Tiffanie again and told her I was having a hard time finding any relief. (I read some pregnancy books and watched a few birth education videos and felt well prepared for this event, but you can't know how it is going to feel and after experiencing it, I still can't explain it to anyone.) Tiffanie suggested I draw a bath, have a glass of wine and try to get some sleep. My mom and my husband were the only people with me and they mostly sat by silently, waiting for an opportunity to help. I didn't want to be asked questions or touched. I just wanted to be, but knowing they were there was comforting. By 10:30 pm, I text Tiffanie again and told her my contractions were 3-4 minutes apart and 50-60 seconds long. Shortly after, Tiffanie arrived at my home with two students. I was on the floor in the living room sitting on my exercise ball. My mom was on the couch, closest to the front door, and my husband, Matt, was sitting in this portable chair closest to me. Everyone else just sat down and got comfortable. I was kind of confused. I don't know what I expected. I guess they were pretty sure it was going to be a long night. After some time, I was in the kitchen, leaning on the counter when Tiffanie started rubbing my back.
She offered to check to see how far along I was. I was 6 cm dilated and about 80% effaced. I was so happy thinking this was going quickly and should be over in no time. I should have been so lucky, it was only Midnight. Tiffanie suggested I try laying on my side in bed with my top leg bent and my bottom leg straight. The intensity of this position was excruciating. I couldn't do it for long. Throughout the night, I moved around in various positions: hovering over the counter, sitting on the edge of the couch, sitting on the toilet, side lying, but the most relief came from hugging my exercise ball. The coolness on my face and the soft, firmness pressing against my body was some small piece of paradise.
A few times, I told Tiffanie I wasn't going to make it and that I couldn't take it any longer. She reassured me that I could do this and I was almost there. Everyone was napping on and off throughout the night, while I focused on my breathing and tried to find relief. I had lost track of time, until I noticed the sunlight trickle into my bedroom window. I remember sitting upright, rocking back and forth on my bed, stewing with a sort of jealously that they could sleep, while I wrenched in agony.
Sometime later, I asked Tiffanie, “What am I waiting for?” She said, “An urge to bear down.” I didn't feel it. She checked me again. She said I was at 9 cm. WHAT!?! All this time and I wasn't even fully dilated. I was seriously irritated. She told me I could try pushing with contractions while I sat on the toilet. Nothing seemed to be happening. She told me to try pushing while laying on my back. They put down a shower curtain with absorbent pads on top of it on the bedroom floor. I didn't feel anything. She checked me again. She said there was cervix left and I needed to try side lying again. Ugh! The torture! I couldn't do it anymore. I went back to the toilet.
She told me not to push, but I felt the urge! She told me to wait. Every contraction produced a stronger urge to push. I have to push! I went back to the floor. I was on my back, with Matt on my left side and my mom on my right side, holding my legs up to my chest. Sweet relief. With every contraction, I took a deep breath, grabbed my thighs and pulled them in close as I pushed as hard as I could for as long as I could.
After two hours, Carsyn appeared with an arm next to her head that popped out like a sling shot. I didn't see it, I just heard about it. Tiffanie laid her on my stomach and I just looked at her. I wasn't sure what to think or how to feel. I was just amazed at how huge she was and I thought 'this gigantic baby was inside my body?' They rubbed her and wiped her with towels and I just stared at her, my head in a fog. About half an hour later, Matt cut the cord. We waited for the placenta. Tiffanie told me to tell my body I didn't need it anymore and to let it go. She opted to give me a shot of Pitocin. I tried to get up, some clots came out and then the placenta followed with what seemed like a river of blood and other fluids. I was fitted in my diaper and placed into my bed, exhausted and sore, snuggled up with my sweet, little bub...so we could get to know each other. Carsyn Jade Burke was born at 10:32 AM on Thursday, July 16, 2015. She was 9 lbs, 8 oz, 21 inches long with a 14 inch head and 15 inch chest.