Bethan Isabella's birth story
Born to Micah & Lydia
The Birth of Our Firstborn, Bethan Isabella
I started the day feeling pretty normal, no thought that I would go in labor today. It was a beautiful summer day and I went to my parents house to weed the garden my husband and I have there and check on our family honeybees. As I weeded I felt that something was maybe a bit different but I had been having crampy Braxton hicks for over a month now and so I dismissed it as the usual feeling. Heading home late afternoon with a crop of spinach and kale from our garden, I was thinking about my plans to freeze the spinach for smoothies and decided I’d do them the next day. When Micah, my husband, got home, I started on dinner and we had shrimp, grits and greens, our last meal together before our baby girl was born. Micah left to mow our church lawn with a friend from church and I went to bed to read. When I got up to go to the bathroom a little while later, I noticed some bloody mucus, and my heart jumped. This is it! My labor is going to start soon! I texted Dorothy, our midwife and went back to bed, not expecting to have a real contraction within a few minutes of having the bloody show. I timed that contraction, and thought; ‘Okay, that definitely was not a Braxton hicks.’ I had a few more and more bloody show, and texted Dorothy again, informing her of my contractions. My husband called and told me he had plans to be at the church a bit longer.
“Um, okay.” I said. “I just started having contractions.”
“I’m on my way home!” Micah replied urgently.
I laughed at his excitement. “It’s okay, honey, there’s no rush.”
Famous last words. Good thing Micah didn’t listen to me, because things started picking up. By the time he got home I was having to breath through contractions and needing his counter pressure on my back. Quickly he got stuff set up (we actually already had the pool inflated from testing out the space a few days earlier). My contractions came every four minutes, lasting over a minute for an hour, so Micah called Dorothy and my mom and sister to come. Dorothy came and checked baby, took my blood pressure, and asked some questions. I started using my birth ball during contractions, and drank a protein shake. Dorothy, my mom, sister, and our dog Rowdy hung out with us as I had contractions that were close together but not unbearable. Eventually I got into the birth tub, and Micah turned on my labor playlist. The other two birth assistants, Violet and Rachel came at some point while I was in the pool. It was a relaxing and beautiful few hours, but my contractions started to space out to about 7 minutes apart. I was barely able to keep my eyes open between surges and Micah told me a couple times to keep my face out of the water. The contractions were definitely more painful, especially in my back, and I was exhausted. I had been doing a lot of position changes and getting up to go to the bathroom a lot, and Dorothy checked baby every half hour. She was doing great through the labor. Dorothy suggested that Micah and I lay down for a while to sleep in our bed, because the contractions had spaced out. My uterus needed a break. So I got out of the pool and got dry clothes on. We were able to doze but each contraction was so painful in bed, and I had to get on all fours each time for them to be bearable.
The next morning, 6/25/22
I got up around 8:30-9 and felt a bit rested so I ate some breakfast. I was still having contractions that were intense but not super close together. Micah got up a bit later and we took a walk outside around the pond. I had a couple while we were outside. I was starting to cry a little bit with each contraction. My mom and sister came back again close to noon and Dorothy came again to check baby. During the afternoon and into evening we did all sorts of position changes; side lying release, laying down with the peanut ball between my legs, Dorothy used a rebozo to shake my pelvis, and I laid on my back which was the worst for contractions, but it was helpful for getting baby to put pressure where there still was some cervix left. Doing all these position changes really helped get things moving, my contractions became very close together, about 2-3 minutes apart and some of them lasted 3 minutes. I was starting to get very weepy, it was so intense and overwhelming. There was one thing I noticed as contractions got stronger which I though was very odd. At first during a contraction my mind was filled with all sorts of white things, not anything I could describe, they were just white. As they intensified, I went from seeing purple objects to red when contractions were the most intense. When things started turning red I was having thoughts of throwing in the towel and just going to the hospital for a c section or something. I never voiced these thoughts as far as I know, because I knew that is not what I wanted really, and I knew it was too late for an intervention, I was in active labor and my baby would come soon. I had expressed feeling pushy, so I got back in the tub and Dorothy checked me at 5:40 and I was 5 cm dilated but 100% effaced. I was a little discouraged that I had labored so long and was only 5 cm, but Dorothy assured me it was good progress, and she suggested holding back my cervix while I had a few contractions to speed things along. I agreed and it was so so painful! I know it was good and helpful, but it was the worst pain I had ever experienced, and I couldn’t keep myself from screaming (which I thought I’d never do!). My poor husband was distraught as I had several contractions with Dorothy holding back my cervix, I could feel his pain as he watched me in pain. Eventually I didn’t think I could take it any more so I asked Dorothy to stop. This was when I started to become delirious, according to Micah, but of course I didn’t think I was, I was just exhausted. Apparently I started speaking gibberish to him. It’s funny the things that happen during labor that you have no notion of. After being in the pool for several hours, I started to get so cold. I got up to go to the bathroom and had a horrible contraction while I was shivering uncontrollably. I decided I didn’t want to get back in the pool, it was too unbearable to be cold and contracting at the same time. Micah got me into the shower and the hot water felt amazing! I put on dry clothes again and laid in bed. I remember Micah talking to me about having Dorothy hold back my cervix again, which she had suggested doing once more (because she knew how close I was, and I was just ready to be done). He reminded me that it would be best for our baby and for me, because I was so tired the sooner we got things moving the sooner I could actually rest. At first I just whimpered at the thought, it had been so intense and painful I was afraid I would pass out if I did it again. But I knew Micah was right so I agreed after a little while. I laid on my back on our bed, and pushed my foot against Dorothy’s shoulder as she held the cervix back. Each urge to push was both elating and terrifying. I knew I was close now because Dorothy was so encouraging and she told me when she could feel baby moving and the cervix shifting out of the way.
After I pushed on my back for a few minutes I sobbed; “Can I change positions?” The surges were so painful on my back.
Dorothy and Micah helped me move to the birth stool, and this was when I really started to feel progress. I pushed with all my strength and Dorothy, Micah, mom, my sister, Violet, and Rachel all encouraged me so much as I neared the end of this labor.
“There’s the head, and so much hair!” Dorothy said. “Do you want to feel your baby’s head?”
I reached down and touched the soft, furry head of my sweet baby girl. That moment was so wonderful. Our daughter was almost here!
As I pushed her head out the rest of the way, Dorothy did such an awesome job helping me to ease it out.
“Blow, blow, blow!” She reminded me as she applied counter pressure on baby’s head.
It was so hard not to push with all my might as the urge was so strong, but I panted to keep from using all my strength so I wouldn’t tear. Her head was born, and with the next push the rest of her came sliding out. I felt her warm, wet, squishy body in my arms and praised God.
“Oh my gosh!” I said, looking down into her little face as her eyes looked right back at me. “Thank you Lord!”
She needed some stimulation to breath, and when she did it was the most beautiful sound. She was so calm and peaceful and she looked right into our faces. Micah and I kissed and Micah announced her name.
“Bethan Isabella Johnson.”
She was born Sunday morning at 4:12, 6/26/22.
A few minutes later I delivered the placenta and with it came a huge gush of blood, which completely filled the placenta pan. Dorothy, Violet and Rachel immediately sprang into action to slow my bleeding, and I was given Pitocin and Misoprostol and Violet rubbed my uterus to help it contract. I was somewhat unconcerned, I just held my little Bethan and said “ouch!” As Violet rubbed my now squishy stomach. They did a fantastic job of managing my bleeding, and though I lost a lot of blood I really didn’t suffer any adverse affects except feeling weak and lightheaded when I walked. It was a 30 hour labor, and the hardest thing I have ever done, but my little daughter Bethan was worth every second of it. My husband was the best support I could have asked for, he was with me the entire time and attended so selflessly to my needs. I am so thankful we had our baby with Genesis Midwifery, and our hope is to have all of our babies with Dorothy attending.
When a woman is giving birth, she has sorrow because her hour has come, but when she has delivered the baby, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world.