A Birth Story

ilya is 3 days old.
life has slowed down.  as close as it gets to standing still.
it seems as though she has always been a part of us.  it’s been 3
days, but i can’t imagine life without her.
as teenagers my boyfriend tim and i, (who, a few years later would go
on to become my husband) would fantasize about having a household of




lots of boys.  maaaybe one girl.  maybe.  as if we had some sort of


control in deciding.


during the 21 week ultrasound when the male technician said “boys


don’t have labia’s” i remained silent.  then came home and balled and




girl?  we are having a girl?!  that wasn’t in the plan.


18 months earlier i had given birth to our first born.  a son we named
cash.  he was born at 36 1/2 weeks so this time i expected the same


thing to happen.


our babe would come early.


by the time i hit 39 weeks, i felt incredibly overdue.  dragging my


feet as i walked, huffing and puffing when doing stairs.


friday night, 6 days until my official due date i was feeling crampy
but i had been feeling similar for a few weeks.  the cramping woke me


a few times during the night, nothing major.  i still wasn’t convinced


this was it.


saturday during the day i was having mild cramps about every 20-30


minutes.  life continued.


once i put cash to bed saturday night the cramps turned more into
contractions or “rushes” and started getting closer together, about


every 7 minutes.  they remained like that through the night until the


following morning.  i tried to stay ahead of them with my breathing,


as if i were riding a wave.  i could sense the wave coming and i would


take a nice deep inhale, followed by a rich exhale.  if i dozed too


heavily and got woken up by a rush, they felt more painful.  i was


then scrambling, drowning in the wave.  but i also desperately wanted


to sleep.


early sunday morning for about two hours the rushes were consistent
every 3-5 minutes.  i decided to call my midwife beth around 9:30-10am


and told her i thought i was in labour.  she asked us to time how long


the rushes were lasting and she’d call back in a half an hour.  they


were between 50 seconds and one minute 20.  beth said she would get


ready and make her way over to our house.


i was hoping things would move along quickly but i hadn’t even reached
that “sweet spot” yet.  i was still in pajama bottoms and a tank top


when beth arrived to set up.  after speaking with beth we decided to


call our doula carli and let her know where we were at.


carli arrived shortly after beth, and when beth checked me i was only
2-3cms dilated.  gah.  i felt gutted.


i plugged away, breathing through rushes, continuing to stay ahead of


them as best as i could.


carli massaged my legs.  made sure my feet were planted on the ground,


my shoulders were soft, if i was rushing while on the toilet.  i ended


up spending a lot of time there.  my safe place.


it must have been around 11:30am when beth suggested giving tim and i
a bit of privacy.


i could sense their energy.


her and carli both though i was having performance anxiety.  things


weren’t progressing, my waters still hadn’t broke.  so they left.


tim and i laid down to rest, did some kissing in hopes of producing
more oxytocin, but things seemed to slow down even more.  beth called


back maybe around 1ish to see how we were doing.  she said she would


make her way back to the house, check me, check the baby and if things


were still slow she was going to pack up her stuff and go.


right before beth got back i had rush after rush, really strong and
close together.  beth could tell something was different when she


arrived.  she wanted to call the back up midwife but i told her to


hold off, i didn’t want to get psyched out.  i was scared i would


stall again and not progress.  i was known by the midwifes for having


a “quick labour” with my first.  that thought hung over me like a dark


cloud.  the expectation that i had of myself, the perceived


expectation that they had for me.


i felt like i had a reputation to prove.


i got in the birthing pool for a while and had some rushes in there.
i tried to breath and flow.  things seemed to slow down again.


beth and i discussed options.  i was getting more tired and more frustrated.


frustrated with myself that I couldn’t snap my fingers and magically


produce results.


frustrated that i couldn’t relax and allow this labour to be


different, to allow it to be exactly what it needed to be, and in its


own timing.


carli came back around 3:30pm
i tried doing some small pushes during a rush to see if i could get my


waters to break, beths suggestion.




i knew if my waters broke i’d be golden and things would move.


at 4:15pm we agreed and decided to break the waters.  things did start


to move.  it was such sweet relief to feel the waters breaking.  the


warm fluid flowing down my legs.


i had some rushes and beth wanted me to have a few more before getting


into the water.


she gave me the ‘ok’ and i was thrilled.  “i don’t know why everyone


doesn’t give birth in water” i said.


the pool was warm, my spirit energized, my body relieved.  “i can do


this. i can do this” i whispered.


i spent some time on my hands and knees, and then i would sit back on
my bum.  i would alternated between the two.


i talked to ilya a lot while i was in the tub.  how proud of her i was.


i started crying, releasing some of the frustration and pressure i had


been carrying.


i couldn’t wait to meet her.  i was overwhelmed with physical pain


mixed with the thought of cash holding his sister.


in the end, i sat back and had tim directly across from me.  he was my
rock during this labour and i needed his eye contact.  “tim i need


you” i would say.


it wasn’t long before i could start to push.  i trusted my body and


knew when it was time.  beth also trusted that i knew.


transition, “labour land”, pushing, it all kind of hit me at once.
i hit that scary place and looked to beth for reassurance.  the place


of absolute pain, the ring of fire, and having one option, to move


forward into the pain.


i pushed for 15 minutes.


i dug deep.  i got really really determined and pushed like a mad


woman. (with my third pregnancy i researched hypnobirthing and


received hypnosis.  i knew there had to be a gentler way.)


i knew it would soon be over.  i was so loud and it felt really intense.
i pushed and i tried to hold the push once it was over.  it felt like


she was going back up inside.  they reassured me that she hadn’t, that


this was what was suppose to happen.  the ebb and flow so i wouldn’t


tear.  i really didn’t care about tearing, i just wanted her out.


i pushed her head out, i could see her head but the rest of her body


wasn’t sliding out.  i pushed through a few more rushes with just her


head out, under the water, and before i knew it beth had reached up


inside of me.  i was holding on tight to the sides of the birthing tub


as i was being reefed about.  the pain!


i later learned that ilyas shoulder was stuck behind my pelvis, once
beth released her shoulder she slid out into the water, and tim caught




(in the months/years that followed i came to believe that ilyas


shoulder getting stuck was a direct response to my fear of birthing




ilya honey was born at 4:50pm, april 25th 2010, weighing 8lbs 4oz. she
was the second of four home births.


(photos by kat montgomery)


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