I love hearing and reading other women’s birth stories. I feel that birth should always be seen in the most positive of lights and that is partly why I wanted to share my story. I believe every birth is wonderful, no matter how we choose to bring our little ones into the world. This is just my journey. We all have our own unique and beautiful experiences.
Warning- this is very long, personal and somewhat hard to write. It’s challenging to put the feelings and experiences of Temple’s birth into words. But, I want to always remember this day in all its truth. I am so proud of my natural birth and what my body was capable of from pregnancy to postpartum. I mostly wrote this for myself so I can always return to this day – the day I brought Temple into the world.
I want to start with a few thoughts on why I chose a natural birth before diving into my actual birth story. Some of the most common questions I get about having a natural birth are: Why wouldn’t you get the epidural!? Did it hurt? Is that safe?
“Childbirth is primal and instinctual- it’s wild and unpredictable, but in most cases, it is not something that needs to be medically managed, treated, or tamed.”-Mama Natural
I’m not going to list every reason I chose to go the natural route. I also want to reiterate that I hold absolutely no judgement over those who choose a different path. Birth is a judge-free zone! But, for me, I wanted to be completely present during my birth.
We as women were divinely designed to give birth. The hips that some of us hate can actually be your best friend during labor. Remember that our ancestors did this long before epidurals and pitocin were around. Trust me – I did more than my fair share of research. I read lots of books and I just knew that a natural birth was right for me. If a natural birth is something you’re considering, you should take the time to read (especially this one), visit birthing centers, and have candid conversations with the moms in your life about their experiences. Only after all that can you decide what makes you feel the most comfortable.
“The hormones that make us weep during TV commercials work in a finely calibrated balance during birth- interfere with that balance, and you risk stalling labor, stressing the baby, increasing mama’s anxiety, and complicating breastfeeding. Even the pain associated with childbirth is part of the grand plan: it signals mama to change positions so that baby can move toward the brith canal; it tells her when it’s time to push.”- Mama Natural
I choose to view birth as a beautiful gift instead of something to fear. I believe our culture has taught us to see it as this painful, horrible experience when it doesn’t have to be. The main thing we need to remember is that every woman has her own unique perception of what childbirth should be like. Let’s support and not judge each other. Birth is wildly unpredictable and doesn’t always go according to plan.
Truthfully, when I was pregnant and told people I have having a natural birth, I felt judged and often had women telling me I should “get the drugs”. I usually responded that this was what I wanted, and was only interested in positive thoughts. This shut people up quickly. It may sound harsh, but I was sick of everyone telling me how I should have a baby, or trying to fill my head with horror stories. This was MY birth plan, and if you didn’t support it, then you could kindly *SHUT UP.* 🙂
Okay, I’m gonna get off my soap box now. Let’s get to the my birth story…
It all started on Friday, January 19th. I was having contractions throughout the previous day, but they weren’t consistent. It wasn’t until Thursday night that I woke up and lost my mucus plug. If you don’t know what that is now – don’t worry… you will when you get pregnant! (PRO TIP: Do not Google pictures)
When you lose your plug, you can expect to go into labor within 2-3 days, or even sooner. It just depends on the person, so I thought I could still have some time and didn’t know quite what to expect. All I did know is that we’d be meeting our sweet Temple soon.
At this point it was a week past my “due date.” I say this with air quotes because you can’t really know when your baby is coming – it’s all in God’s plan. To be honest, I wasn’t very anxious because my midwives told me that most first time mamas go at least a week over their due dates. I had been walking a ton, eating my 6 dates a day, and drinking my red raspberry leaf tea. All things that are supposed to help induce labor and make for an easier delivery. I figured I’d take all the help I could get!
I was having slight contractions Friday morning, but nothing consistent that signaled “today is the day.” I went to lunch with my mom and sister who were trying to keep me busy so that I wasn’t just sitting and waiting- aka, going crazy! At lunch, one bite of my kale salad went down the wrong tube, and I had a major cough attack in the restaurant. I may or may not have peed my pants a little – ZERO bladder control at this point – but I swear this little coughing fit is what put me into labor!
I got home from lunch with my mom around 1:30pm and we were hanging photos in my new house. Yes, I’m the crazy lady who moved into a new home only 3 weeks before my due date! While working, I noticed my contractions coming on a little stronger, and at a more consistent pace. I quickly pulled up my contraction tracking app on my phone (super helpful by the way) to begin noting how far apart they were and how long each one lasted.
I like to think that I’m pretty in-tune with my body and although the regular contractions just started, they were getting stronger fairly quickly and shortening in length. I called my husband, Caleb, and told him to head home from work – I knew this baby was coming today!
My birth center has a “411 rule” – wait for the contractions to be 4 minutes apart, lasting 1 minute each for at least 1 hour before coming in. We already had all our birth bags packed and ready to go at this point (find out what we packed here). I called the on-call number for Origins, my birth center, and told one of the midwives about my contractions. She thought I still had a lot of time and that I didn’t need to head there quite yet. I didn’t listen…we decided to head that way (around 3:00 pm). I felt more comfortable heading there early before my contractions got really intense- I did not want to be stuck in Dallas traffic while in active labor! Again, this is my first baby so I had no idea what to expect. I was just intuitively listening to my body and leaving at this time is what felt right.
We arrived at my birth center around 4:30 pm and my favorite midwife was on call! There are three midwives at Origins and I absolutely LOVE all of them, but Gina was the first midwife we ever met with and our personalities just clicked! I had prayed for weeks that she would be the midwife when we delivered. She had actually just finished delivering another baby when we arrived.
Although my contractions weren’t to “the 411” point quite yet, she wanted to check my cervix to see how I was progressing. I was shocked to find out I was already dilated to a 5 and about 70% effaced. I was technically in active labor! She gave me the option of staying at the birthing center to continue laboring there OR to go somewhere close by to walk around and labor on my own for a bit. You might think, why the hell would you go labor somewhere else when you were in active labor?! Well, my midwives told me the most common reason that women end up transferring from the natural birthing center to the hospital once labor has started is because they get in their own heads. They start going a little stir crazy and feel like something must be wrong. Labor can last awhile, so they don’t want you camped out at the birth center until you’re really ready.
I know myself and I love walking around so I chose to leave the birth center and head to Southlake Town Square to walk around outside and labor for a bit. It’s honestly hilarious to look back at the scene I must’ve been causing. Just imagine the most popular shopping and dining area in a city on a Friday afternoon- it was packed! Then there is me, giant pregnant lady, walking around and stopping every few minutes to breath through a contraction. I’m sure people were walking by and thinking- someone get her to a hospital!! But – regardless of how crazy I looked – I’m SO glad I decided to take that walk. Yes, it was really tough and I definitely started to feel the pain and pressure, but the time went by much faster than it would’ve if I was in the birthing room.
After about an hour, I told Caleb and my doula that I was getting very uncomfortable and felt like it was time to head back. The drive back felt SO long – there was a ton of Friday evening traffic, so a drive that would usually take 15 minutes took 30. Let me tell you, laboring in a car is NOT ideal. This was probably the most uncomfortable part of my whole labor. I wanted to honk and scream at everyone, but I couldn’t because at this point I was super nauseous. Not sure if y’all are aware of this – I certainly wasn’t until my birthing classes – but it’s normal to throw up during labor. This usually happens during your “transition” – the final phase before active labor begins. Luckily, I managed to hold it together in the car and threw up RIGHT when we got back to the birthing center. It wasn’t as bad as it sounds though – especially given it counts as 3 big contractions according to my midwife! At that point, I told her to bring on more!
Once we got all settled into our room, my midwife checked my cervix again. I was now dilated to a 7 and almost completely effaced. She was so impressed that I labored that long before heading back! This got me so excited and somewhat emotional because I knew that Temple was going to come tonight and I was going to meet my baby girl! My midwife, Gina, asked if I wanted to labor in the bath for a bit. I think I literally said “hell ya!” I have always loved baths and take them nightly, so I was ready to get off my feet and soak in the tub. They say water lessens the intensity of contractions and I totally agree – my contractions didn’t feel nearly as intense in the tub as they did out of it.
At this point I was having 1-minute contractions every 4 minutes. This is pretty much how it went until I was ready to push. Some people mistakenly think that you push the whole time, which just isn’t the case. You are just breathing through each contraction as your cervix continues to dilate. The actual pushing doesn’t start until you’re a full 10 cm dilated and 100% effaced. By that time, your uterus is ready for the delivery.
As good as it may feel to soak, you don’t want to be in the bath too long, so after an hour (and a little more vomiting) my midwife had me change positions, giving me some peppermint oil to help with the nausea. Next, I sat on the birth ball. I mentioned that I used a doula, who I absolutely love. She has known me my whole life and has had a major influence on my holistic lifestyle. I kind of assumed she would be the one to help me through each contraction, but my husband was who I really leaned on. I honestly didn’t want anyone else touching me and I needed him near me the whole time. He would hold my hands during contractions or rub my shoulders. He was absolutely amazing, I couldn’t have asked for a better teammate during the birth.
At this point it was around 8:00pm and I labored on the birth ball for another hour or so. I want to mention that the people in the room were Caleb, my doula, my midwife, her assistant and the photographer. But, my midwife really stayed out of our way unless she was checking the baby’s heartbeat. It sounds crazy, but I remember the midwives telling me in an earlier appointment that during labor they don’t do much until it’s time to push. They said the less they have to do, the better the birth for the mama and baby. Physically there isn’t much anyone can do for you other than be by your side in whatever capacity you need and want them. For me, I just wanted Caleb to hold my hand and help me through the contractions.
It was about 9:00pm when my midwife said it was close to push time. She checked me and I was dilated to a 9, but my water still hadn’t broken. Some women’s waters break naturally, and some don’t – just depends on the person! This was honestly the only thing that I really struggled with during labor. My body was getting to that point where it naturally NEEDED to push, but my water was still intact. We walked the stairs for about 30 minutes in hopes of it breaking on its own, but it wouldn’t. At this point Gina had me get in the bath (where I wanted to deliver Temple), and she broke my water. This did not hurt at all – I didn’t feel a thing…except relief!
Now it was past 10:00 pm and time to push! I was in the tub seated with my legs straight out and Caleb was behind me rubbing my shoulders and praying over me. This was such a beautiful moment. The process of pushing is unbelievable, feeling every bit of your baby come out slowly is CRAZY! It’s completely exhausting because you’ve already been laboring, but now you have to use every ounce of your energy during each push. My midwife was amazing in coaching me through this part. She would tell me to listen to my body and when I felt the urge to push to go for it and give it my all! I moaned…a lot! It’s not just something from the movies, ladies. Birth is such an intense thing that every bit of your body is working, and there’s NO way you’re going to stay quiet. It only took about 15 minutes of pushing before Temple’s head was out. Her shoulder was a bit stuck so I had to quickly turn to my hands and knees in the tub so they could pull her out. She was here – just like that! Our lives were forever changed the moment we saw her. I don’t know how to put into words the love that instantly floods over you. It was the most beautiful moment finally locking eyes with her. I just held her while in the bath and Caleb and I stared at her and cried together. I couldn’t believe she was finally here!
My birth was such a spiritual experience. We still talk about how you could feel God in that room with us. I thought I loved Caleb with my whole heart but after going through this natural birth and having a child, I have a new, deeper love and trust. We’ve created this beautiful baby girl and nothing else matters. That moment you see your child is an absolute miracle and blessing.
After about 20 minutes of soaking up all the cuddles with her it was time to deliver my placenta which I was able to do from the bed while holding Temple. It wasn’t bad at all and you have your baby in your arms and your body is flooded with the hormone Oxytocin (known as the love hormone) so are filled with so much joy. We stayed at the birth center for about 4 more hours and then we were sent home. People are always in shock when I tell them how quickly we came home! But, mama and baby were both doing great so why should we sleep there when we can go sleep in the comfort of our own home!
The best day of my life is when Temple Lane Lavey was born. January 19th at 10:40pm. 7 pounds 10 ounces and 21 inches long.
I hope my birth story helps others become more open minded when it comes to natural birthing. It was the most challenging thing my mind and body will ever do, but it was also the most beautiful day of my life. I can do ANYTHING and I am so proud of myself. I’ve always been pretty comfortable in my own skin, but after having Temple I actually see myself more beautifully than ever before. My body is far from perfect and my breasts are so different post-breastfeeding, but I’m so proud to be a woman, and the fact that I brought Temple into this world is truly amazing. I will never be the same and I wouldn’t change a thing. I am woman, hear me roar! Bringing Temple into this world without medication ensured I could listen to what my body was telling me at every stage, making for a smoother, faster experience. It was so empowering and rewarding, and something I could never, ever forget.
To all the Mamas, Soon-To-Be Mamas and Hopeful Mamas, you are amazing! No birth is the same but the end result makes everything absolutely worth it!
Below is my birth video which I went back and forth on sharing, but I’m SO proud of myself and this video captures every step so perfectly. I promise, you don’t see anything graphic!!