John and I went to meet Sarah for our 41 week visit at 1:15pm. With a contraction here or there we proceeded with a membrane sweep. Sarah sent us off for an ultrasound to check on the baby incase labor did not progress. Having the ultrasound, we would know all was well and I could continue patiently waiting for our baby and my body to be ready. By the time we got to the hospital at 2:15pm for the ultrasound my contractions found some consistency coming every 10 minutes. The ultrasound was fun to see our full grown baby! Last ultrasound we had was at 24 weeks. Baby looked great and scored an 8/8 on postdate tests.

I continued contractions throughout the hour long ultrasound and when we were headed home they became every 3-5 minutes. After experiencing consistent contractions for an hour I texted Sarah… It was time!! John had gone to the gym at 4pm for kids class, but he left and returned home by 5:30pm since it was time to have this baby. While John was gone, his mom came ready for a late night. Sarah being an hour away arrived around 6pm.

I was content and focused on each contraction. Unable to talk through it, I was just breathing and watching the minute pass. I spent most of early labor on the yoga ball. Felt best to keep my hips open, rock side to side, and even bounce between contractions. We watched episode after episode of Impractical Jokers, which kept me entertained between contractions. When Sarah arrived her first priority was to get an IV started so I could have a round of antibiotics for Strep B. Unfortunately, my little veins were not cooperating after not having much water to drink throughout the day. A few failed attempts, she sent me to take a warm shower and drink some electro lights. Not sure how long I spent in there, but I had been so cold the hot shower felt great. John turned the dryer on too with my towel and clothes so it got toasty in the bathroom and I had warm clothes to put on after. I went back to laboring on the yoga ball and shortly after, Theresa the assistant midwife came. Sarah and Theresa worked on getting an IV in. Again, some failed attempts, but then finally they were able to get one in my right wrist. They gave me the dose of antibiotics as I continued to labor on the yoga ball.

They encouraged me to eat something- had some crackers and oatmeal. I continued to stay present and take each contraction as it came. Everything just seemed to perfectly, slowly progress. My contractions continued to build stronger. I labored in different positions in an effort to manage the pain. I was down on the yoga mat trying all fours and Childs Pose. I paced around. Leaned on the bed from a standing position. Took a second shower. Ate a little more. I felt best laboring with the support of John seated on the yoga ball leaning into him or standing and swaying leaning into him. He was amazing support throughout. John made sure I was drinking water and as comfortable as I could be moving through each contraction.

As I labored Sarah, Theresa, and my mother in-law were just around. They were there if I needed them, but did not bother me. We switched from episodes of Impractical Jokers to funny movies… I know Daddy’s Home and Step Brothers were two of three or four. Contractions began to pick up intensity around 10 or 11pm. After some hard contractions in the shower, Sarah encouraged me to try laying down to get some rest between contractions. John and I laid together drifting off to sleep between contractions; one about every five minutes. These felt way more intense laying down, but I was trying to get the rest that Sarah wanted me to. After enough of that, I got up and went back to pacing around. Sarah and Theresa had alternated taking a nap so they would both be well rested for birth time.

Around 1am my contractions began giving me the urge to bear down. This urge was uncontrollable and my body just naturally began that process. At about 2am they checked my dilation and decided to break my water. Then, from about 2:30am on I began pushing. I was very tired at this point, but was doing my best to forget that and continue with my present mindset. I took each contraction as it came and did not worry about what was to come.

This stage of labor was HARD and draining and a little bit scary. Sarah and Theresa had me labor on the bed in different positions. First propped up on my back. Then laying down. Then we tried propping one hip at a time with a pillow underneath. Then I got on all fours. They asked if I wanted to try squatting, but I just didn’t have the energy to do so. If you had asked me before labor, I would have said laying on my back would have been the last place I wanted to push, but Sarah said that was the position I made the most progress in so I did it. She was very active in assisting me by giving me counter pressure down so I knew where to push into. Each contraction was about 5 minutes apart and I found it challenging to use the entire contraction. They would encourage me to use the whole minute, taking about four breaths. I would get three done and had a hard time giving that fourth one the effort I needed to. I did my very best.

Eventually, I could feel the baby’s head coming down and out during my contractions, and then slip back in when the contraction was over.

They reassured me this is exactly what is supposed to happen. I couldn’t help but feel a little discouraged each time I felt the baby slip back in. Sarah mentioned at some point that 2 hours of pushing was not unheard of for a first time mom which made me feel better about the process that was happening.

John was really supportive during each contraction by giving me encouragement and helping pull my leg back. Then between contractions he made sure I had water and fed me a few grapes. I noticed he began to leave the room between contractions… in the moment I recognized this and figured he was doing what he needed to cope. I’m so glad his mom was there to support him during this time. She was great at reassuring him things were going as they were supposed to and helping him stay strong. It felt really good to have all positive support during this challenging piece of labor.

Sarah and Theresa gave me an “earthy drink” that was to help bring my contractions closer together. They became about every three minutes apart shortly after. At around 4:30am I noticed the time on the iPad and took note of how I felt and how they said I was progressing. I thought to myself “I am going to have this baby baby by 5am”. I dug deep and gave the rest of the contractions all I had left. Theresa suggested I pull on a sheet to bring my upper body up off the bed- curled toward my pelvis- and give my pushes more effort. It did the trick. They were really pleased with my effort and I was finally almost there.

A few more pushes and I could see the baby’s whole head was out. Next contraction, the rest of the baby came. Sarah put the baby right up on my chest and John and I embraced our sweet baby. It felt like at least a minute went by before we asked if it was a boy or girl… a girl! I knew it all along. As we held and welcomed our baby girl, Sarah and Theresa took care of me. They delivered the placenta, checked me out, and made sure my bleeding was under control.

I felt in awe of the whole process. In awe of the work my body and mind just did. In awe of the baby girl that we made. Sarah cut the cord and then John took her from my chest. With two girl names in mind, we sat there with her for a little bit before we both agreed her name was Kollyns. Sarah then weighed and measured her. John took this time to share a picture of her and I and the news- 5:03am, 6lbs 15oz, and 21” long- via text with all of our family members.

We stayed in bed soaking in our new baby girl while Sarah and Theresa cleaned up. This time went by so quick. By 8am everyone had left and it was just the three of us- John, Kollyns, and myself- in bed resting and bonding.

Throughout the day I thought back to what I had just done. It honestly was not as bad as people make it out to be. There is discomfort. There is exhaustion. There is mental challenge. But nothing that is unbearable or impossible. I felt so proud of what I had done. I naturally brought our baby into the world as my body was intended to do so. My body knew what to do every step of the way. I let my body do it’s part and left my mind to follow the lead. I was extremely present and did not think about the unknown next stage. I trusted my body 100%. I trusted our midwife. And I trusted that I had it in me to birth our baby. I think “awe”, is the best word to describe how I felt. I really couldn’t believe I had done it. I couldn’t believe what the body is capable of. I couldn’t believe how the body worked on its own, with very little help from the mind. I couldn’t believe the physical work the entire body does. It was the hardest work my body has ever done. And I never once felt like I couldn’t do it again. We will most definitely have more babies. And will most definitely strive for home births. A positive mindset and perspective during pregnancy, birth, and now postpartum has played a big role in how I have felt physically and mentally. Being pregnant after a miscarriage, I found myself reminded that there are women out there that would do anything to experience pregnancy. I was lucky enough to “get” to be pregnant. I took good care of myself through diet, exercise, and self love because it ultimately wasn’t me I was caring for. I had to do my absolute best for our baby. I got to give birth naturally at home and I am forever grateful that John and I explored that option together deciding it was best for us. And now I “get” to care for this sweet girl Kollyns. Newborns are tiring and draining and constant. But the time is ticking away and I know I’ll want this time back. This time of cuddles, deep love, and slow days. Just as I was during every other stage- pregnancy, labor, and birth- I am present now. Soaking it all up before it is gone. I love you so much, Kollyns Anne McKay. Thank you for choosing me. Thank you for making me Mom.