A homebirth is something that I have dreamed of since my friend Sarah let me attend her homebirth five years ago. It was one of the most beautifully impactful experiences of my life, and I knew that one day I would want it for myself.
Then at at 4:12am on Sunday, May 30th, Jack Levi Martins came to us. A beautiful 8lbs7oz and 21 inches, he was bone at home, like I dreamed. But let me start from the beginning.
Pre-Conception & Pregnancy Preparation
Being almost 35 when we decided to start trying for a baby, I wanted to set myself up the best I could before conception. I went to a nutritionist to make sure all of my levels were balanced and there were no nutritional deficiencies that would make conceiving or carrying a baby more difficult.
I actually had several things that I had to work on for 6 months before she thought it would be good to try for a baby. I saw a pelvic floor therapist. As a chiropractor myself, I was also getting adjusted every week.
When everything seemed good, and I got pregnant, I ended up having a phenomenal pregnancy. I attribute my great pregnancy to
* Moving daily
* Focusing on hope and positivity
* Ultimately, God’s grace on my life
I slept great through the whole pregnancy, I digested great, I was on my feet 10 hours a day adjusting, and still physically felt great (and if I did not, I had Dr. Lindsey Merritt right there to adjust me.
Here are a few other things I did to prepare:
* Attended a birth class
* Took a prenatal breastfeeding class
* Ate so much grass-fed butter, beef heart, and eggs (I hate eggs) to build a strong baby.
* Read so many books on birth and breastfeeding.
* Prayed Numbers 6:24-26 over this baby every day, just like my dad did every day as I was growing up.
“The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.”
I stopped working 2 weeks before Jack was born, which was maybe a week later than I should have because my belly got so big that I could not bend forward without some numbness in my thigh.
I loved maternity leave pre-baby so much! This was a sweet season for us to savor our last little bit of a family of 2.
* I rested
* Went to a friend’s pool
* Went camping
* Took lots of naps
* Drove to Bald Rock at 5am to watch the Super Blood Moon
* Spent time with friends
Labor & Letting Go
I was feeling great and loving life and kept proclaiming that I could be pregnant another month. Leading up to his birth, I did not have any prodromal labor or pre-contractions. I was very happy about this—even though I know, and tell all of my patients, that each contraction before is one less you have to have in labor.
My midwife’s apprentice, Jen, commented at my last midwife appointment that I was going to have to let go and allow this baby to come out of me. I did not agree with her—this baby could stay inside of me forever. Until my final midwife appointment, the baby was very very high, and not really in my pelvis. The baby was definitely not engaged, even by the last appointment.
Looking back at everything I did to prepare mentally and physically, that mindset is the only thing I would have changed. Looking back, that was my Achilles Heel.
I was submitted to the pregnancy process, I was even submitted to the birth process, but I was ultimately afraid of becoming a full-time mom—having another human who relied on me for everything—losing my independence.
I woke up at 5am Friday morning to a few contractions. Not being willing or ready for a baby, I immediately took a bath to stop/slow them down. They passed. I went about my day, walking around some antique stores with a friend as the contractions crept back up.
I was tired, and instead of napping like I normally would, I got a coffee, which always perks me right up. I walked around Target for a couple of hours, strolled through Aldi, stopped at my parents’ place and finally went home.
Again, instead of napping like I normally would, I took another bath to try and slow down the creeping contractions. It kind of worked. That evening, we went to the TR speedway with my parents until we got rained out by a huge thunderstorm. Nothing like watching homemade race cars at 40 weeks pregnant.
Rando and I got home, sitting on our front porch to watch the gorgeous lightning.
I took another bath to try and slow the creeping contractions—and this time it did not work. So I went to bed, hoping they would subside. Most moms tell me when they have their first night of prodromal labor, when they think, “tonight is the night”, that the contractions normally stop around 2am.
But 2am came and went, and the contractions stayed. At 3am, I got out of bed and took yet another bath…again, to no avail.
Other than 6-10 minutes of snoozing, I did not sleep at all that night.
At 6am, I reached out to my doula, Julie Byers, and informed her of the situation. She recommended I take a couple of Benadryl (ironically, the ONLY medication we have in our house) and really try to sleep. Again, no sleep.
She recommended I go through the Miles Circuit, which is much easier said than done. But that helped contractions slow down—wahoo! Julie came over at 1pm “to get eyes on me” and just suggested I keep resting; it was still possible that all of this was prodromal and they could stop.
Dr. Ashley Felak came over to my house to adjust me because she is absolutely amazing! This actually increased the contractions again. I tried some more positional changes (the rotisserie—which is much easier said than done), took yet another bath, and was instructed to get back in bed to force rest.
I was laying on the floor with Rando from 7-8pm and we watched a couple of episodes of The Office. I actually didn’t watch anything. I would contract, and then fall into a twilight sleep, and then contract, and twilight sleep.
At 9pm Rando suggested we fill up the birth tub since it is softer than our bathtub. Julie arrived around 9:45 and now, I was in full-on labor.
More than anything, I was tired. So so so tired.
The pain was nothing compared to the exhaustion.
All the while, we are all just having a party in my bedroom.
Birth: “Have mercy on me, your beloved”
One of the books that massively influenced my birth was Ina May Gaskin’s Guide to Childbirth. I have seen her speak a few times, and I am just so impressed with her wisdom about birth, and the capacity of the birthing mother.
Ina May gives such great tips in her book of different positions to switch into to use gravity and your biomechanics to help with the birth process. She also suggests using deep-pitched sounds to help ground you and bring the baby down, as opposed to higher-pitched sounds that tighten your body up.
So in addition to being on my hands and knees for about 95% of my contractions, I was consciously making the loudest, deepest-pitched sounds I could to bring this baby down, because the baby was still very very high. Actually, until 30 minutes before he was born, I never felt him “low in my pelvis” the way you hear most moms describe the position of the baby from 37 weeks on.
So I was working through each contraction on my hands and knees, and making the deepest, most primal sounds I possibly could, and I was running out of steam—fast! I was so tired.
To even use the word ‘tired’ is a gross understatement. I contemplated asking if my midwife had forceps to just pull my baby out. I kept praying for the Fetal Ejection Reflex that I have heard about so often.
I also repented over and over for any pride I held in my heart for feeling like I would have the quickest birth because I was a well-adjusted mama. I even had the fleeting thought that if someone offered my cocaine at that moment, and promised it would give me 2 hours of renewed energy, that I would take it in a heartbeat.
I was utterly exhausted and I did not think I could continue on. But everyone around DID think I could continue. And they encouraged me constantly and reminded me that I WAS doing it.
Throughout it all, I kept hearing, “You are doing a great job!” “That was a great push!” “I can tell that you are bringing that baby down!”
I had affirmations around the area I was birthing, and one that I repeated often was, “Son of David, have mercy on me your beloved.” I knew the rest and strength I needed to continue would have to be a gift from God.
I do not know how anyone could have a natural birth without a team rooting for them.
If I had been in a hospital and someone had offered me an epidural to take a nap, I would have said “yes” in a heartbeat.
I had no more faith in my body’s ability to do it. But THEY did.
And that faith was what carried me through.
And ultimately I DID do it.
I pushed for what I think was about 2 hours. It felt like an eternity. My doula gave me counter pressure on my SI (sacroiliac) joints with every contraction. At the very end, we started doing tug-of-war; she had a piece of woven fabric, and was pulling up on it while I pulled down as hard as I could with every contraction. To say that Julie was the MVP of my birth would be yet another understatement.
About 90 minutes into pushing, Julie suggested that I try “purple pushing.” Picture a little kid holding their breath and bearing down with everything they have until they turn purple in the face because you said they could not be a dinosaur when they grow up. It’s definitely a unique approach.
But. That. Was. The. Only. Thing. That. Worked. I promise, I would still be in that birth tub pushing if it was not for that suggestion. The only time I felt him actually engage in my pelvis was when I started the purple pushing. It was intense and used way more energy, but it was super productive. A game-changer.
You know how most pregnant women say those last few weeks they feel the baby’s head so low that they have to waddle, and they feel the baby might just fall out. I never had that feeling until I started the purple pushing. He had been so high.
Then, I really felt his head descend with purple pushing. After about thirty minutes, the baby was out.
I did not have any ultrasounds, and we decided not to find out the gender, so pulling the baby up from the water was my first chance to find out if this little person was a “Jack” or a “Lucy.” But I was too tired to care, I didn’t have the energy to check. All I wanted was to hold my baby and be done.
After about five minutes, while everyone was waiting with bated breath, I pulled the baby away to see that he was a “Jack.”
The Next Moments With a Newborn
Worship was the most grounding thing for me in my labor. So I curated a 16-hour playlist over several months that was filled with very significant songs that I knew my soul could cling to during this process. Around the time I started the purple pushing, Vineyard’s “Resting Place” started playing (this is my favorite song of all time). And Jack was finally born to “Beautiful” by United Pursuit.
After we acknowledged and celebrated the birth of our boy, one of the midwife apprentices asked me when I wanted to cut the cord. I definitely wanted to delay as long as possible, so that everyone would stop talking to me. Even when it had stopped pulsing, I still asked for more time; I just could not interact anymore.
I had gone into post-birth shock where your whole body shakes, and I asked if they could make the water warmer.
They kindly said, “No, you have to get out of the tub.” After a few more minutes they urged me to get out of the tub so I could birth the placenta. Encouraged by the cold water, and the warm towel waiting for me on the other side, I got out of the tub and onto the covered bed.
Everyone was cool as a cucumber. Little did I know they were worried about my blood loss.
My midwife then had to break out her stern voice to encourage me to give one last little push to expel the placenta. I literally had nothing left in me. I could not force my body to even pretend cough.
After several minutes, I gave the slightest push, and that was all that was needed. Placenta…along with a lot of blood. Again, cool as a cucumber, my midwife got a shot of Pitocin ready, and told me what she was going to give me.
That woke me up! I know that Pitocin after birth is rare, and used only when blood loss is an issue. I just kept asking her, “are you sure? But wait, are you sure?” I could not believe that I needed an intervention.
She gave me a moment to process it, and gave me a shot of Pitocin. (The most medical procedure I have had in over a decade.) Thankfully, because the dosage was adjusted for me, it stopped the bleeding without causing intense post-labor contractions.
The birth team cleaned everything up beautifully within an hour, and tucked the three of us into bed. Cleaned, drained, and packed up the tub, cleaned up all of their equipment, all towels and chux pads, changed our bedding to give us a fresh bed to nest into, and they even did laundry. You would have never known a baby had just been born in our bedroom.
SERIOUSLY, If these women decide to not continue with midwifery, they could open a cleaning company.
After cleaning everything up, they gave us some family time to just settle into bed with our new little baby. It was glorious! Jack pooped on Rando’s while they were doing skin-to-skin. It was hilarious! And he immediately latched the first time trying. It was an answer to prayer!
After about an hour, they came back in the room and did Jack’s newborn exam. One of my favorite memories was Paislie’s face when they weighed him. I don’t think anyone was expecting me to have an 8lb 7oz baby. I literally prayed that I would have an 8 ½ lb baby. And I ate so much grass-fed butter through pregnancy to help the process. Rando loves to say, “Jack, brought to you by butter.”
And then they tucked us all into bed, and left us to our new life as a family of three.
In the weeks and months since, Jack’s birth, I’d say that the best way to succeed, is to set yourself up for success. Before conception. Throughout pregnancy and going through labor and delivery.
Get a birth team that supports you and your desires. What I loved about having a homebirth was how everyones’ goal was for me to have the most physiologically natural birth, without pressure or fear.
Moms continue to need support and care throughout the postpartum period, as hormones shift and late-night feedings wear you out.
I’m so grateful that my recovery and healing have been amazing, with the support of continued chiropractic and other natural options.
This story was originally published at Upstate Specific Chiropractic where you can learn more about Dr. Megan’s work.