Duncan’s Birth Story

I stir in my sleep and look over to the window. “Dark outside,” I thought, “must still be very early.” I am so uncomfortable, and I know I’m going to have to get up to pee for the hundredth time tonight. We are past our “due date” by three days, and we’ve been experiencing prodromal labor for almost three weeks. I am exhausted. I do my little shimmy-scoot to try and get out of the bed- just imagine a sea turtle that gets stuck on their back. As soon as my feet hit the floor, something feels different. Very different. 

I let the dogs outside, and walk to the bathroom. I notice that it is 6:15 am. By the time I sit down on the toilet, I’m already messaging my doula, “…This is it.” By 6:40, the pressure waves are coming at 3 minutes apart. I walk into the bedroom and wake Lane. “This is it, we are having a baby. Right now.” He shoots out of the bed like a Jack in the Box, it’s almost comedic. And by this point I’m already moving to the tub, taking one wave at a time. My doula and midwife are on their way. 

We only recently decided to have a homebirth. Prior to this, we were under the care of another Midwifery that focused on hospital births.  They were wonderful, and through our pregnancy treated us with such care- both physically and emotionally. There have been two times in the last couple of weeks that we were all (Julie, my doula included) so sure I was going to have this baby. I would labor for hours, pacing the house. Lane, Julie, and I watching one of the older Batmans, with Danny DeVito until two or three in the middle of the night. But just as I would near transition, and there was movement to get the hospital bags loaded in the car- everything would stop. In hindsight- I see why this happened. We have a lot of trauma associated with hospitals, and especially the thought of having another baby in one. My body would shut down each time, as the subconscious fear and anxiety would rise from within. We found an amazing homebirth midwife, who agreed to take us on. After this decision was made, in the last week of our pregnancy journey- everything felt right. Home was our safe place. Home was exactly where we needed to welcome our beautiful boy. 

There’s nothing like a homebirth. It’s pure magic. There are no fluorescent lights. No machines. No strangers. While our neighbors were loading their cars and driving to their workplaces, I was in our bathtub, in our home, in our neighborhood, bringing our boy earthside. It was intimate. I was surrounded by people that we had built relationships with, people that knew our hurt, who wanted us to have a healing experience, people that we will always consider family now. 

I labor for just over two hours. It is intense. As each birthing wave comes, I breathe hard and slow. I’m grateful to have taken Julie’s Hypnobabies class. I have used the information from those classes through both of our previous “practice” labors. It makes me feel more confident in myself, more trusting of my body in allowing it to navigate this process. There is sweat dripping from my hair, my forehead. Lane is there. He never leaves my side. I don’t know if I can do this. But each time our eyes lock he reassures me.  I hold his hand so tight, my knuckles are white, skin stretched thin. There is a wildness about birth. There is no controlling the natural birth process. This is hard for me- to let go. I don’t feel ready. I am scared. I find myself trying to back up, or sidestep this process. As each wave comes my mind is screaming, “No! Not yet! I can’t do this!” My verbal screams mimic this, but with no words. Julie senses my uncertainty. She kneels down in front of me and locks her eyes with mine. She says I have to stop running from this process. I must lean into it. It is time. I close my eyes. At first, this is not what I want to hear. I want someone to save me. I want this to be over. I realize in that same thought- the only way out, is through. 

I take a deep breath and relax my body. I whisper in my mind, “Alright Duncan, let’s do this.” Within a few short minutes, and in one big push, Duncan is here.

I’m standing as he falls into this world. 8:27 AM. Carrie, our midwife, steps into the tub and catches our boy. I think she might be part ninja, part hero. I sit down in the tub and she lays Duncan on my chest. I only see him now. I can’t describe the conversations that took place, or the order of events for a while. I swear I think the world stopped- At least my world has. Duncan is perfect. He cries immediately. Ten fingers, ten toes. In this moment I feel the strongest duality of emotions. As I hold our boy, I think of the moment I held our firstborn. It’s as if both memory and present are overlaid in my mind. I would give anything to hold them both right now. There’s room for both. I close my eyes, I am crying. I look at Lane, who I know is traveling through the same memories I am. This moment is raw. 

Duncan’s hands are huge. I don’t know why this stands out to me. Maybe it’s the laughter from our people, as we all take notice. I remember Lane saying, “The boy was born a brawler.” To this day, when I think of this, I smile and giggle within. He is 8 lbs, 11 oz, his birthday 9/19/19- a Palindrome Baby. He is made of stardust and wishes and magical things. 

My favorite part of having a Homebirth was actually after the birth itself. The quality of care from our Midwives and Doula was unmatched. Our experience was filled with love, respect, and gentleness. After I had Duncan, birthed the placenta, and Lane cut the cord, he took Duncan and held him for a while in our rocker. I was able to walk to the shower, clean up a bit, then snuggle up in our bed. I did not “feel” like I had just given birth. I didn’t feel groggy or drugged. I was sore, but not unmanageable. Adrenaline was still pulsing through my body, so I had the shakes. But aside from those few reminders that I just PUSHED A HUMAN OUT OF MY BODY, I felt completely normal. I did have to have a few stitches, mostly from the unnecessary episiotomy that I received from our first birth. My birth team took care of this while I laid in the bed, and we chatted about homebirth and life. The stitching was uncomfortable, but in comparison the the mountain I just climbed- it was nothing. As they finished, Lane came back in the bedroom holding our little guy. He handed him over and we took some time together as a family. Our birth team tucked us into the bed, and gave us some privacy. Lane took this photo of me, and tells me still to this day it’s his favorite one. 

One of our assistant midwives comes in the room and asks if I want to see my placenta. By this point, I’ve become a complete pregnancy and birth junkie. I want to know all the things. So, of course my answer is yes! She brings it in, lays out the tray on the bed and begins telling me all about my placenta. Apparently while carrying Duncan, my placenta grew a secondary lobe that also attached to the wall. This added to the fact that the umbilical cord kept pulsing even after I had birthed the placenta was so rare. The female body is absolutely fascinating

I’m so glad I had Lane snap this photo of Duncan and I surrounded by these amazing women. These women journeyed with us. They laughed with us. They listened. They cared for us in ways that would be impossible to experience in any other setting. They loved on us. They loved our boys. This is homebirth- curled up into bed with your baby and your people, soaking in new life. 

When I think back to Duncan’s birth, it was one of the most beautiful, life changing, and healing moments of my life. I have never felt so strong or so human. This birth was a point of healing for me in many ways. It was a continuation of a bigger story, one full of love and heartbreak, and strength. It has now been a year since I saw Duncan’s face for the first time. And even now in the quiet moments, I feel that same awe- the world stopping around me and there’s only Duncan. But now the picture is a little different, because I see them both. They are both here with me, in the quiet, both of my boys.

This story was originally published at Journey With Me.

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