Londyn Beth was born March 12, 2016 at 5:22pm, weighing 7lbs. 11oz. (exactly the same as Jameson) and was 20 1/4inches in length. Londyn came 7 days late and we were all anxiously awaiting her arrival. We had a beautiful water birth at our home in Lubbock, Texas with Grandma Robertson visiting to witness the birth. It was perfect, she is perfect and once again I’m reminded of the beauty, the sacredness and the miracle of birth. Here’s how the story went...
Londyn was a surprise pregnancy but a welcome surprise from God. I took a pregnancy test intentionally after my husband, Paul, had left for work. It was positive. My first response went from surprise to excitement to tears of joy and then tears of fear. This would be my 3rd pregnancy in 3 years. With a 10 month old son still breastfeeding, a 2 year old, and a 5 year old I felt overwhelmed and doubted my ability to mother another child just yet. I kept it to myself all day as I pondered the results. Even when Paul got home I didn’t tell him until after the kids had gone to bed (this is surprising I could keep it a secret with him home). I wondered what his response would be. He was excited and shocked. Once we talked it over I felt much more at peace about the pregnancy. We discussed the incredible blessing it is to be parents and, of course, would gladly welcome all the children God had planned for us to raise. We were very excited that an out-of-hospital birth would be an option this time, out of my 3 previous pregnancies we’ve had 1 homebirth. I longed to have my baby in our own home without restricitons. With some intricate planning from God we were able to have a home birth, like Paul and I so hoped.
At 40 weeks and 3 days, on a Tuesday, I had my midwife, Alex, come to strip my membranes for the first time. I was so tired of being pregnant and wanted to attempt this to help get labor started. Mom had been visiting for 2 weeks waiting to witness Londyn’s birth and I knew everyday mom was here and I was still pregnant was one less day she’d be here after I had the baby and really needed her help. After stripping my membranes Alex told me she wasn’t 100% sure it’d work. I was dilated only to 2cm and 30% effaced and baby’s head was at a -2 position (still fairly high) she said if baby was really ready it’d work. I was crampy, had a few contractions come and go but nothing that convinced me labor was beginning. We gave it the typical 24 hours but nothing happened. I was disappointed of course but having mom there as my friend and helper all day kept my mind off labor, or the lack thereof. I really didn’t want to try anything harsh to get labor going so I declined castor oil, and tried not to wear myself out with too much walking.
For the days to come I did squats and other exercises to get Londyn to move further down and push on my cervix to help it open up. Saturday rolled around (I was now exactly 41 weeks) and we attempted stripping my membranes again at 12:30pm. This time Alex was confident it would work, by the time she finished I was dilated to 6cm and 70% effaced and Londyn had moved down (my squats worked!), Alex even felt her ear while stripping my membranes. Alex said, “I think it’s going to work this time. I bet I’ll go home for lunch and be back in a couple hours.” She was right, this time it had jump started labor.
I began contracting 45 minutes later. The contractions were neither consistent, nor intense so I was hesitant to get my hopes up. Mom had taken our other three kids to lunch and I called her to bring them home since this was probably real labor and we’d get them to a babysitters. Like my previous births I was nervous contractions would stop and didn’t want to call Alex, get everyone here and then have it be false. So I kept putting the phone call off telling Paul, “Let’s just time them for a little longer and see if they regulate.” But based on our last 2 births that happened so quickly and without a doctor/midwife present, my husband, Paul, insisted I call Alex and he was right to do so. I gave Alex a call and told her contractions were about 4-6 minutes apart, lasting 55 seconds and mild. She said she’d be on her way (it was about 1:30 by this time). Paul and I went for a walk to keep contractions going and when we got back everyone was here setting up (about 2:00pm now). We had Alex, her assistant Sarah (a registered nurse) and another registered nurse, Elise, who mostly there to observe (this was her first time witnessing a homebirth), as well as Mom. I was impressed at their quickness to get to the house and start setting up, I was also relieved to know that this time around we’d have all our support team here and ready for the birth. I knew then that this birth would be much more relaxing and calm than our last few experiences.
Contractions slowly got more intense but weren’t getting closer together. This was different because in the past when I’ve started labor it has been text book: mild contractions to more intense and closer together, it’s also gone quickly. These were a bit irregular and I felt that they weren’t’ intensifying very quickly. Paul gave me a Priesthood blessing, my gratitude for a husband worthy of that power is deep. In the blessing he said my body would be able to do what my body was built for and that my mind would be strong, he also blessed that our baby would be health and strong. Those words and my faith gave me peace.
Although I really disliked standing while contracting, each time I sat on the exercise ball contractions would slow, so Paul and I walked around the house and backyard. It was the most beautiful day with the sun shining, birds chirping and perfect weather. We walked back and forth in the backyard, talking about where we could plant our garden and what yard improvements to make this spring. Each time I felt a contraction coming Paul would talk me through it as I leaned against his chest and breathed. Alex offered to give me black and blue cohosh to help get contractions consistent as well as Clary Sage oil to rub on my stomach and inhale. Every few contractions Alex would check baby’s heart rate. Londyn was handling contractions like a champ. About 2 hours into labor I was frustrated that this wasn’t going faster, I didn’t feel like contractions were very intense yet and I thought they should be by this time, based on my previous experiences. At one point Alex was sitting in front of me as I rocked on our exercise ball frustrated that contractions weren’t intensifying as quickly as they had with my other births and she said, “Amelia, this is what normal labor is like for most other women and your just used to it going fast.” It made me laugh, but she was right, I tried to refocus my frustration into more positive thoughts.
Alex and Elise put some Clary Sage oil on my hands and put pressure in between my thumb and index finger, a pressure point that is supposed to help encourage the bags of water to break. Although Paul and I were laboring together well Alex began rubbing my back, the touch was different and felt so good. It was also great to have her encouraging me with different phrases than Paul had used. I let my mind listen. I think having a woman’s voice was calming and encouraging. About 20 minutes (4:45pm) later while in the backyard my water broke during a contraction. At that point my body began to shake uncontrollably and I knew I was transitioning. This is when it gets hard. I was ready to get in the tub.
The tub felt so good! Our water heater had been wacky and although I would’ve like warmer water I knew I wouldn’t be in the tub long. I lay over the side of the tub and hugged Paul, cried and did my best to get through the roughest contractions yet. I listened to Alex’s encouraging words and her reminders to let my pelvis open up, relax and let baby descend. My body continued to shake but I didn’t try to hold the shakes back, I let my body relax. It’s incredible to feel all that’s going on during labor and birth. To feel my body do what it knows, what it was built to do. I love giving birth, I love being present and fully aware of what’s going on and also in full control. It really is so incredible! At this point I had another very intense contraction, about 5 seconds into the contraction I felt baby coming! Londyn, like Jameson and Grace (my previous 2 births), didn’t crown nor did we have any visual of her before this point. I could feel her head moving down. It was amazing! I was so much more aware this time instead of frantic and concerned about the lack of a medical provider being there. “She’s coming.” I told everyone as I moved to the back of the tub in preparation to catch Londyn myself. I reached down to feel her head coming out, as I kept my hand on her head I had a short time to take a deep breath and with the rest of the contraction her body slid out. “Catch her Amelia.” Alex said to me as I looked down and grabbed Londyn from the water and placed her on my chest.
She was here! And she was perfect! She let out an immediate cry as I held her on my chest and stroked her sweet tiny body. Labor was quick, approximately 4 hours from start to finish and the actual birth was just like Jameson’s and Grace’s, ending very quickly with just one contraction (she was fully born within 10 seconds), without pushing and no “ring of fire” burning.
But with all the similarities, Londyn’s birth was also very different. I was so much more aware, I was calmer, I loved the help of my support group rubbing my back and giving me holistic options to help with labor which I’d never had before, I had supporters laughing in between contractions with me and making sure I drank my water and kept my body strong.
I’m so thankful the Lord blessed us with a successful home birth. He also blessed me with an able body to do go through such an incredible and empowering journey. I almost feel addicted to giving birth, it makes me feel so able and then I get to have this brand new life in my arms to care for, love and cherish for all eternity.