My 5 Hour birth story is here. What’s crazy is I started writing this post before we even had our son because I knew I would want to share. I truly can’t say I “knew what to expect” outside of what I learned in our childbirth classes and had seen from the Instagram accounts I chose to follow and stay close to regarding natural unmedicated births, but even that knowledge was helpful and allowed my husband and I to stay confident on what our journey and experience would be.
- Out of Hospital Birth at a Birth Center
- Birth Center: Kindred Space LA
- Last minute decision to have a Doula
- Labor and Birth Desires: Unmedicated and we believed for under 8-12 hours of labor
Our level of confidence in relation to what our experience would be was a non negotiable and because we were on one accord, with each other, but also with God I know that is what led to the pregnancy I had, as well as the birth and now postpartum experience that I’m having. Since we had already been together for a while, our desire to birth outside of the hospital had been something we had both wanted so to now be on the other side of that expectation and have it have gone how it did, it’s just evidence that God will give you the desires of your heart even when people project or try to tell you otherwise. Of course everything is subject to change, but we just knew, we would get everything we wanted and then some, and we did. I had been mentally preparing for this moment for 2 years prior outside of us wanting an out of hospital birth, but timing is everything and it all came to pass in 2022.
That said let’s get into my 5 hour birth story.
Maveryck’s 5 Hour Birth Story
Pregnancy, as I had prayed for, was quite perfect and while nothing is actually perfect, I really didn’t experience any issues at all. My husband and I are active people, both of us former athletes and one thing that I’ve loved about us as a couple is we’ve always been in agreement and on one accord as far as what we had hoped my pregnancy journey would be like. Outside of having fibroids which run in my family, nothing out of the ordinary was of concern.
Though we were confident in our future birth story, we weren’t met with that same confidence from others that may have inquired about how we hoped to or planned to have babies and while it’s not about things being accepted by others, it’s interesting the way the conversation occurs and changes when you communicate confidently about what is going to happen. No, we didn’t owe anyone an explanation and it wasn’t something that needed to be discussed, but from my husbands perspective, he wanted to have a different conversation around birth as a whole and hoped and believed that our story would be that conversation. I, in full agreement with that, as the birthing person, wanted not only our birth story to be one of a kind as a black woman, but to have a birth that didn’t traumatize me or make me question my future of having more kids.
Additionally, the experience of midwifery, is just so different than a hospital birth. As a healthy low risk individual, which is a requirement for out of hospital births, even with a few fibroids, 5 to be exact, I knew that birthing outside of the hospital was best for our family and for my mental health. Since I’ve had the opportunity and was in a position to do so, I would absolutely do it all over again when the time comes. I’m going to do my best to not make this TOO long, so we’ll go back to my birthday and those last couple of weeks as everything else was pretty normal prior to.
Week 37 Leading Up To Our Birth Story
37 weeks and full term. Every Thursday was another week closer so leading up to my 32nd birthday, I had just hit 37 weeks and would close out my birthday by hitting 38 weeks. I was feeling great, we were taking longer walks, all the things we had been doing since the beginning. I had that end of pregnancy burst of energy that some mamas talk about. I was told it was a sign that we were getting closer. I was doing my makeup, doing all of the things I could to feel as good as possible and keep my confidence and energy up as we got closer to the end. I didn’t want to lead with a “the end is hard mindset” because I feel like that would have changed everything for me mentally so I took the experience as it came. We went out to dinner for my birthday, I got to wear the mini dress I bought when I wasn’t sure about my baby shower dress and it was perfect even in the cold weather.
I had been wearing heels and even made it to a few events to close things out because I knew I would be doing a lot of chilling upon his arrival.
Thanks to a supportive manager and a midwives note, I was blessed to go out on maternity leave early and even if that wasn’t going to be the case, I was definitely going to use PTO to make it happen. My midwives had requested that I stop working after Thanksgiving and really wanted me to just focus on myself and relaxing and at the time I of course didn’t know how pivotal and instrumental this would be to my birth story, but I’m glad it all went down the way it did and that there were no issues making it happen.
On November 22nd, I went to a childhood girl friends baby shower while 38 weeks pregnant and very round, but still felt so good. I did my makeup, wore my heels and had a great time, but I started to feel my first cramping and contractions that night and while I was familiar with Braxton Hicks, which I had been experiencing for a good while in advance of that day, I knew it was no longer that. There wasn’t enough of a pattern at all to be concerned about as far as labor was concerned and though I started to track them, I wasn’t too worried.
I had a midwife appointment that Wednesday November 23rd, it ended up being my last, and I was told that it was totally normal to have cramping, that it was a good sign and not only that, it wasn’t uncommon for it to happen at night. That Thursday, I was set to hit 39 weeks so smoothly progressing along and ultimately feeling confident in my soon to be birth story and what was to come. Let me quickly talk about my experience with midwives.
My Midwives + Midwifery Care Positively Altered My Birth Story
My midwives were so great throughout the entire process; they felt like second moms and really cared and loved on me and baby Maveryck before he arrived. Mentally, I couldn’t have asked for a better experience. From inquiring about my diet and activity, to checking in on how I was mentally, to the gentle way they touched and felt around on my belly it was almost surreal. As a first time mama, as a black mama, there was this supernatural peace every time I went for a visit. Being able to spend an hour with them, no rushing, sitting outside in their garden or the different spaces the birth center had really changed the way I viewed pregnancy and what I deserved as a birthing person.
The gentle and loving care continued during labor, at birth and postpartum. I will say we all assumed I would go beyond 40 weeks, possibly 41, but Mav clearly had his own plans. That said, let me get back on track.
Week 39 + 4 days
My husband and I were still getting regular walks in, 3 and 4 miles and though I was walking a bit slower, I was still feeling so good. I started writing this at 2:33 am on Sunday November 27th while experiencing cramping and tracking it just to be sure.
Sunday morning, still November 27th, when I got out of bed that morning at around 7:45 am, I realized, and thankfully I had on a panty liner, I had what’s called a bloody show and lost my mucus plug which is a good thing. So I reached out to my doula and midwives, sent a photo and they confirmed and then it became a literal waiting game for contractions to come and become more consistent. Losing your mucus plug doesn’t mean you’ll give birth right away and we certainly didn’t think that would be the case for me. I had plans to go to church because our ministry is celebrating 50 years so I did my makeup, got dressed and put on heels, though my doula asked me not to, and enjoyed a wonderful service. The Word that went fourth was so good and always on time. After church, I really wanted ice cream and something to eat so my husband and I went to this ice cream spot called Handel’s in Manhattan Beach, got milkshakes and then went to get pizza from Blaze.
It was all good, we got home, watched some Sunday football and around 5 something, I started to have contractions. They weren’t extreme at first and looking back on it now, I was most likely in early labor at the time. While they were weren’t extreme, they were strong enough to the point it no longer felt good to sit down so I started walking around, moving through them; I text my doula and told her what was going on, we talked on the phone for a bit, I let her know they were getting closer together and long enough to be considered contractions, but still the pattern and timing was kind of all over the place. She encouraged me to breathe through them and just do what I could to rest.
I decided that I was going to take a shower and lay down and by around 7:30pm I was laying on the couch as comfortable as I was going to be before things picked up.
Labor and Birth
The contractions were intense on the front end but faded out on the back end, so my plan was to go to sleep. My husband was still watching football, but suggested I get in our bed instead of staying on the couch and once I did that, things changed almost instantly. I went from comfortable, on the verge of going to sleep to absolutely uncomfortable, unable to lay down and most of all unable to sleep. If my contractions between 5 – 8:30 pm were considered early labor, the way I felt starting at 9:00 pm, had to be active labor or transition, I don’t even know, but I was going through it.
I went from our bed, to my yoga ball, to the couch where I was squatting and laying my head on the cushions, back to our shower, then turned that shower into a bath; at one point I was sitting on the toilet fully clothed, just trying to ride the waves that were coming. The strength of each contraction and the fact that they were back to back with no breaks was really intense and becoming increasingly frustrating for me because I couldn’t “get a break”. I spoke to my doula again before attempting to lay down and rest, AGAIN, and I just don’t think, not even my husband, really understood how far along I was. Since I wasn’t at a hospital, it wasn’t like I could check to see how dilated I was or anything, it was purely all feeling. I attempted to lay down again and by now it’s like 10:30 or something and I’ve been laboring through these back to back, non stop waves and all of a sudden, I need to throw up.
I’m always grateful that I know my body when it comes to throwing up because I immediately went to the bathroom and while all of it didn’t make it into the toilet, most of it did and that was important to me considering it was one more thing added into the mix. My throw up was like a mauve color and it looked like it had a tiny bit of blood in it, but I was trying not to worry because I had bbq chicken pizza earlier; it just didn’t look like that, so in my mind I was like “am I throwing up my insides?” I never found out by the way. Anyway, at that point, my dog was like “what the heck is happening” between my moaning and groaning and breathing through each wave, my husband text our group chat with our midwives and told them the situation. It’s totally not uncommon for women to throw up during labor, so it wasn’t really alarming to them that it had occurred. We got that all cleaned up and at this point I’m telling my husband “I don’t know” meaning I don’t know if I have it in me to endure this longer than what I’ve already been enduring. Realistically speaking though, I wasn’t going to be getting into a car going anywhere because I couldn’t even get comfortable while at home, so there was no way I would even be remotely comfortable in a car, but I was open to pain relief and strongly considered the hospital at that point.
My husband, wasn’t going to let me quit, so he didn’t really respond to those requests and instead continued to tell me I was doing great. From 9 – 12 am it’s just my husband and I doing this all on our own. Once it was a little after 12 am, I’m pretty sure I spoke to my doula again, and she suggested I maybe take a Benadryl to help me rest, but I was still super uncomfortable, didn’t have any and didn’t want to send my husband to the store when I definitely needed him. It took everything in me to not cry; I was frustrated because none of the things had worked. I did the comb method, which is when you hold a comb with the picks tip down into your hand as a way to counter the pain of a contraction when it comes through. I continued to move around, I laid down with all the pillows possible, I squatted, I sat, I walked around, the only thing that helped while I waited outside of taking a shower or bath was leaning and holding onto the top of our shower because it allowed me to lean down and let my belly hang, but also felt similar to a stretch so that was about as much relief as I was getting in that moment.
The only reason I didn’t cry is because I needed to maintain focus and not let myself get too far gone as far as my mindset was concerned. One thing that I learned while preparing for a natural unmedicated birth was, the moment I start to let fear in, things become all out of whack. The pain increases, the experience is no longer one that I’m “in control of” so I had to thug it out even though I was ready to let it all go. At around 12:09 am my doula lets me know that another doula, who actually did our childbirth classes was coming to make me comfortable, but she wouldn’t be to me until around 1 am. I had already been in active labor for 4 hours so another hour wasn’t the end of the world, but I was happy to check the clock at about 1:09 am and hear my husband say that she made it. The original plan when she arrived was to make me comfortable, so we were going to do a vaginal steam, but once she walked in I was laying on our bathroom floor and in my mind, I just knew that wasn’t going to happen. I don’t know what prompted me to lay on the floor, but again I was just so tired and annoyed that I didn’t get any actual rest, that I was willing to try anything to find a moment of sleep. Mind you, at this point, I’m not aware that I’m going to have my baby in an hour and twenty minutes; these contractions could have gone on for a while and had it, I don’t know what I would have done.
I thought I needed to throw up again so as I’m leaning over the toilet still dealing with these wild back to back contractions, my husband puts a pillow under my knees to give me some additional comfort. Almost instantly, my water breaks and it’s a huge gush and I remember announcing that it broke, but also repeating “Thank you God, Thank you Jesus” a ton of times because the relief that I felt once it broke was what I needed all night. Most of the time, a lot of the time actually, when a woman’s water breaks things intensify, but since it was already intense for me I was happy to finally get breaks in between my contractions. On top of that the moment my water broke, I felt the baby’s head engage into my pelvis so I knew it was closer to go time. Since my water breaking was so messy it only made sense that we got me back into the shower which was where I felt most calm anyway and that is where I continued to labor until Maveryck arrived.
So at this point I was completely naked, which wasn’t my original plan had I been at the birth center. I had planned on wearing at least a sports bra or some sort of bra top, but being at home and being in such a vulnerable position I quickly let all of that go. At this point it’s my mother in law, my husband, our doula and myself and I am literally roaring through each wave that comes. My shower turned back into a bath, and I sat down because being submerged in water really eased my discomfort. There was so much pressure in my lower half that it actually caused me to poop, which was super annoying, but thankfully it wasn’t a lot and thankfully my husband loves the ish out of me, ba dum tss, to get gloves and a trash bag to get it out of the water. From there, we drain the water and refill it so it can be clean, all while I’m still having contractions being tracked by him and our doula.
Each contraction was longer and I could feel my body bringing my baby down on its own which is quite an experience. I’ve heard and read about women experiencing that so to have felt it was wild, but also super cool. I’m somehow supernaturally calm during the breaks, talking in my normal voice and tone, but during each contraction I’m literally roaring so loud. The lights are off all throughout the house, which helped me stay calm, the only light was from this bluetooth speaker that we have that changes colors.
I continued to labor while sitting until I realized that gravity was working against me and making me work harder with my pushing and bearing down. I knew getting him out would take much longer if I stayed in that position. I thought I would try laying on my side and thankfully with longer breaks in between each contraction, which was great for me considering what I had experienced earlier, I was trying to figure out my most comfortable position while also trying to figure out which would provide the most progress. One thing we learned in our childbirth classes that was helpful was to change positions. Do what makes you most comfortable, that ultimately shapes your birth story. My husband was reminding me to breath because it’s so easy to let all of that go while in the midst of such intense feelings, especially unmedicated.
At this point my body was doing the hard work pushing on it’s own and bringing Mav down. Since I was sitting, every time I felt like he was getting closer to crowning, he would kind of go back in. My husband kept checking and letting me know that he wasn’t crowning yet and that both encouraged me and slightly frustrated me because the pressure was so intense that I couldn’t understand why he wasn’t crowning though I could literally feel him so close to the exit.
After being on my butt for a bit longer I realized that was not going to get him out so I switched to being on my knees, my poor knees, they have finally recovered from birth and labor, but once I switched to being on my knees I knew he would come down. Maveryck was anterior which means that instead of his spine being to my spine, his spine was to my stomach which can sometimes make pushing longer and harder, but he had to come out there was no other option. Additionally, I wasn’t going to let that change my desire for my birth story, he was going to be born regardless of position and I was confident in that.
Since we were at our house and not at the birth center there were a lot of things that were needed that we weren’t “prepared” for. Lots of towels, a tarp which was to keep blood and basically my insides (a little dramatic, but not) from getting everywhere. At this point I had two wash cloths under my knees and I was continuing to roar through contractions as my body pushed on its own with me pushing as well to add some extra assistance. My husband ran downstairs to my car to get the tarp out and while doing so, I had one of my last or second to last major contractions; my body was bringing baby down. I finally felt him crowning and instead of taking a break after that contraction and push, I pushed right after really hard; probably the hardest I had pushed on my own all night; it made me scream so loud, but I had to do it because that threshold between crowning and getting a baby’s head past your vaginal opening is crazy. I was holding my perineum which provided me some comfort because the idea of tearing, while not my focus, with such strong pressure from of his head being so close to coming out was just too intense to not hold onto it.
The ring of fire is a real thing and having him so close to exiting, my internal mood was “I’m getting his head out right now, I don’t have an extra push in me.” That extra hard push definitely got his head out and all I remember was feeling how much hair he had and feeling like “wow I’m so close to being done” which gave me a second wind. Since he was anterior, he was face down when he came out meaning his face was facing the wall, but I had never been so relieved and so proud to be so close to the end.
One of our midwives had finally arrived, my husband was face timing his best friend and next thing you know I’m back on my butt, with our baby’s head out and our midwife, basically reaches her fingers in and the rest of him comes out. I don’t even remember if I felt his body or shoulders and if I did it was nothing compared to pushing his head out. He cried instantly when he came out and that made me and my husband cry; I remember saying “I did it! ” over and over again and just being so proud of myself for getting through the whole process in such a quick manner unmedicated.
From 9:00 pm – 2:23 am when he was born, 5 hours and 23 minutes of active labor led me to having our baby in the comfort of our home, unmedicated and completely in awe of what my body could do. Every time I walk into my bathroom or take a shower, the memory is present and it makes me realize how strong I am and how I knew I could do it, even when I had moments of wanting to let go. I’m so grateful that this is our birth story and even in moments where it felt impossible, I was able to power through and do it the way I knew I could and ultimately desired.
Once he was out and I held him instantly, his soft, squishy skin, I just could not believe in that moment I was someone’s mama in real life. Looking back on our birth story and knowing it all happened like this is a dream even though things had their tough moments. Trusting God during pregnancy and during birth is like trusting him with other things in life, but it is also so different at the same time.
One thing that I love and appreciate about midwifery so much is the care and gentleness they take with you. From the tub to our bedroom we waited a little bit before I pushed out my placenta. It was actually much quicker than I expected and I don’t know why, but I thought it would be more painful after it came out, but thankfully it wasn’t. I was able to spend that first hour with him uninterrupted, we didn’t cut the cord or rush anything which I also appreciate in midwifery and out of hospital births. There is no rush. Once that time had passed we did the usual, weighed him, eventually cut his cord, and I went to the bathroom for the first time after birth which was an experience.
It was like a true Jesus moment, our doula that ended up being with me, washed my feet and wiped my legs off since they had blood on them and just really made me feel cared for in such a vulnerable moment. As to not drag this out even further, after all of that was done at around 5am everyone left and we entered into a new phase of life known as parenthood and after 3 weeks in, it’s been great. There are some moments that are hard, for me, but otherwise, it’s definitely been better than I could have imagined and I would do it all over again. I look forward to having another child knowing I was able to do it this way the first time around.
Those 5 hours were hard, but so worth it. I have learned a lot about myself with our birth story, I notice things differently about the world and certain interactions and I’m looking forward to life on this side of things. I lived a full life without kids, but I’m looking forward to a full life with kids.
If you’re a mama to be, just know you can have the desires of your heart as far as your birth story is concerned. There is no right or wrong way; I truly believe outside of other factors including health history and the like you should advocate for what it is you want. Unmedicated isn’t for everyone, but if you desire to do it, just know that you can. Trust your body and trust God to allow all things to function and operate the way they are intended and your birth story and birth experience will be beautiful and for you.
Thanks for reading my 5 hour birth story.
If you’re pregnant or if you’ve recently had a baby would you share your story?
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