James Tucker Roberson was born on a Sunday morning, February 5th, at 7:40am. He weighed in at 9lbs 5.5oz and measured 21in long. My labor and delivery was right at 8hrs long. It was in the quiet of the night and in the privacy and comfort of our home, just like I’d always hoped it would be.
Our story begins a little before my husband, Austin, and I got married. I never had to be sold on the idea of having a natural birth or even a home birth, I just always knew that’s how I wanted to bring my baby into this world. Child birth is a healthy, natural process, not a medical procedure. And as long as my baby and I had a healthy pregnancy, I was bound and determined to allow my body to do what it was designed to do. Acknowledging that it isn’t a widely popular practice, though, I decided to warn/prepare my soon-to-be husband before we got married. I did a lot of research to answer the questions I thought he would have, and even found a midwife (Toni Kimpel) in our area so it wouldn’t automatically be out of the question. Needless to say Austin was not a fan of the idea but we discussed it and then put it aside. Now, fast forward to April of 2011.. Austin and I had been married six months, and without using any birth control or prevention, still were not pregnant yet. We’d had a false alarm in January which is when my first meeting with Toni took place. I was getting a little worried that maybe we would have trouble conceiving since I had never been on birth control and wasn’t pregnant after six months. We decided to use a fertility chart and write dates down on the calendar and see if we had any success that way. Sure enough, by May 2011 we had a positive test! I had my first “real” appointment with Toni at 9 weeks. Since I’ve never had a hospital birth or even spoken to an OB-GYN, I don’t have a whole lot to compare my prenatal experience to, but I can say I really enjoyed the prenatal care I received from Toni. I never had to wait for my appointment, she was always available for any questions I might have and I was never rushed or told when my appointment was over. She took great care in making sure that I was comfortable and confident every step of the way. At 17 weeks we found out our baby was a BOY! Austin was ridiculously excited and I’m sure could be heard shouting from across the building. We decided to name him James Tucker Roberson. James is a family name on Austin’s dad’s side of the family, it is also Austin’s first name. Loving the tradition and history of the name I gladly agreed on it. Our baby is the fourth generation James. Tucker is a name we both happened to like and instantly agreed on. (Good thing we had a boy because we never did end up agreeing on a girls name!) Toni encouraged us to take Bradley classes which teaches natural, husband coached child birth. I enrolled in a 12 week class with Lou Blinn and really enjoyed the classes and Lou as a teacher. We learned a lot about child birth in general along with ways to relax and help your body labor. By about 32 weeks pregnant I was done with being pregnant, I was totally over it and ready to just have my baby here! But Toni assured me that when my body and my baby were ready then he’d be here, and I knew she was right. My weight gain in my last trimester was a bit of a concern so Toni put me on a conservative diet and really encouraged me to make healthy choices. That’s another thing that is so great about Toni, she is always so encouraging and never uses intimidation like so many doctors do. She really made me feel more like a mother than a patient. Anyway, at my 38 week appointment some red flags were raised.. My urine, blood pressure and weight were all showing signs of preeclamsia. Concerned, Toni put me on a strict diet and sent me to the health food store for cranberry water and evening primrose oil. The cranberry water (yuck!) to help shed excess water weight that was causing swelling and the evening primrose oil to help soften my cervix. This was Wednesday, February 1st. She said if things didn’t look better by my 39 week appointment then she was sending me in. This news absolutely broke my heart but holding on to the little bit of hope we still had left for a natural home birth, I stuck to my diet, drank nasty cran water like it was going out of style and took the evening primrose oil as instructed, one pill orally three times daily and three pills vaginally at night. I don’t remember much about the next few days, only that I did my best not to stress over the possibility of having a hospital birth. On the evening of Saturday, February 4th I was exhausted, like every other night for the past two months. Austin and I fell asleep at about 8pm that night. At 11pm I woke up with some cramping that felt much like menstrual cramps, and then the start of contractions. I’d already had two “false alarms” the two Sundays prior so I didn’t really take these cramps seriously. I ate a snack, drank some water, pottied and went back to bed. I had contractions over the next hour which weren’t intense, just enough to keep me from falling back asleep. I woke Austin up at 12, midnight, and told him I was having contractions again but that I wasn’t sure if this was the real deal or not. He got up with me, drew me a bath and got his phone to time the contractions. The whole time I really didn’t think I was in real labor because the contractions were so easy. They followed the same time pattern as the two previous false alarms. Nevertheless, Austin called Toni at 1:42am to tell her the happenings. She asked if I thought she needed to come and I told her not yet, I wanted to wait a little longer incase this wasn’t the real thing. (She lives in Brenham and us in Normangee so I would have hated for her to drive over an hour for afalse alarm) I got out of the bath and started walking back and forth in our living room. The contractions were steady but manageable. I texted her at 2:34am to tell her I had been having some loose BM and a lot of pressure between my legs, that I was having two or three mini contractions between the big ones and that they were becoming slightly more intense with each one. She said she’d head our way if we wanted her to and I agreed that’d probably be a good idea. She gave us an ETA of 4:03am. At 2:48am I lost my mucus plug! Holy cow!! This was it, this was the real deal! We were so excited, there was no resting after that. I walked a little and rocked a little, talking Austin’s ear off the whole time. I just knew any minute now my contractions were going to get painful and I’d have to concentrate, but for now they were really manageable and felt mostly like cramping and pressure. Austin started blowing up the birthing pool by mouth, which was laboring in and of itself. (Who would have thought it required an electric pump?! Oops! That was my fault..) I remember telling Austin “I hope I’m at least at 3cm when she checks me but I’m not going to get disappointed if I’m not.” Toni arrived around 4am-ish and checked me at 4:10am, I was 90% effaced and at 4-5cm! Eek! I have to admit, I was a little proud. I was half way there and still in a pretty pleasant mood. Toni got busy setting everything up. She got the bedroom ready incase I decided to birth in there, she had the birthing stool and then of course we had the birthing pool. My contractions were getting longer and closer together at this point but I was still pretty comfortable. Since we never did find an adaptor for our sink to be able to use the water hose to fill the pool, Austin was having to fill it with my gumbo pot. He did a great job! 🙂 Toni checked me again at 5:35am and I was at 7cm! I was anxious to get in the pool and Toni said if I wanted to enjoy it I better get in now. Austin got it at just the right temp and I got in at 5:40am. Now, its common knowledge that if you get in the tub/pool before your water has broke then you wont know if/when it does. Well buddy, Im here to tell you I know the exact moment my water broke! I was in the birthing pool for about 20 minutes when I felt something drop and pop. It took me completely by surprise and I shouted out “Something just happened!”. From 6am on the contractions got stronger, and I dont mean stronger like they were before, I mean stronger like you’ll never believe unless you’ve been there and done that. I felt like I had no control over my body and it really scared me at first. There was nothing I could do to make it hurt less. Relaxing was out of the question. Austin was on the couch next to the pool and I leaned on him with every contraction, trying my best to relax my bottom half. By 6:15am I was begging for meds, Tylenol, Anything! But Toni calmly said nothing would work by this point and that I needed to relax and focus on one contraction at a time. She gave me this herbal stuff called Smooth Transitions that was supposed to take the edge off but you couldnt prove it by me.. Andrea, another midwife and Toni’s assistant, arrived somewhere around 6:30am-ish. I labored mostly on my hands and knees while in the pool, leaning on Austin with every contraction. Looking back now it was really amazing what my body was doing. I could actually feel my cervix opening with every contraction. I knew and recognized everything that my body was doing, everything that we had learned in class was happening and I was experiencing it. That is something I know I wouldnt have gotten to experience in a hospital. At 6:55am Toni suggested that I change positions and try sitting through a few contractions. This wasnt very comfortable though because I had tremendous back pain and the sitting just made my back feel like it was on fire. Toni asked if she could check me again which would require me to make my way to the bedroom. I had three contractions from the pool to the bedroom, they were back to back. Toni checked me at 7:05am and I was 10cm and she said I was ready to push. What?! Push?! I didnt feel the urge to push like I had heard so many women talk about. I was getting really worn out by this time, running on only 2hrs of sleep. I didnt want to push without the urge but I didnt want to continue sitting in pain either. Making my way back to the pool was out of the question. The birth stool was brought into the bedroom (the baby’s bedroom, by the way) and I tried to situate myself on it best I could with my husband behind me on the edge of the bed. I started pushing but didnt feel like I was making any progress. By 7:15 my baby’s heart rate had dropped to 119 and things got a little more serious. Toni instructed me that I needed good long pushes and slow deep breathing in between each one. Between every contraction Andrea checked the baby’s heart rate again. At 7:20am Andrea gave me oxygen and everyone was reminding me to breath slow and deep. Because of the burning feeling in my back I was more or less laying half way on my husband and half way on the stool. I was pushing as long and as hard as I could when I finally felt my body kick in and push too. It was amazing! From then on I pushed until my body kicked in and then held it for as long as I could to help my body do its job. Everytime my body kicked in to push Toni would say “Good, good! Keep going!” Those were pretty much the magic words I needed each time to continue on. At 7:36am my baby’s head was visible! I remember hearing Austin ask if he had a lot of hair. Andrea asked if Austin wanted to see the baby through the mirror but I was tired and cranky and told her “No, just get him out!” (Sorry Andrea..) At 7:40am my baby’s head was crowning, and then he was born. I didnt feel the “ring of fire” that i’ve heard women talk about but I did feel my baby’s head and shoulders come out which was a priceless moment. I was in shock and awe! She put my beautiful baby boy on my belly and I just couldnt believe that something so precious and perfect just came out of me. The feeling is truly indescribable. I could hear Austin lightly crying behind me. He declined when she asked him if he wanted to cut the cord, I was still halfway laying on him and the baby laying on me.. Toni cut the cord at 7:43am. My baby was officially here. WOW! I had a little trouble delivering the placenta. My body either didnt contract again or I was so tired and worn out I couldnt feel it. Toni gave me another herb thing to encourage a contraction and I tried some nipple stimulation but still nothing. Somewhere in the middle of all of it the placenta began to come out I guess, Andrea had me stand and cough a few times to help deliver it. My placenta was delivered at 8:05am and my labor and delivery was finally DONE! I got in the bed and held my baby and nursed and rested for a little while. He was on a heating pad on my belly. I remember shaking a lot and Toni telling me it was all the hormones. I felt a little unsteady holding my baby but I didnt want to let him go either. Austin took me in the bathroom for me to shower at about 9am. By 9:15 I was back in bed with the heating pad and my baby, nursing him. What a wonderful feeling. He was so soft and squishy and beautiful! I had heard a lot of stories about seeing your baby for the first time, but I dont feel like It was really the first time. I looked at his face and I felt like I had known that little face forever, like I would have known him anywhere. Ah, it was just one of those moments you’ll remember for a lifetime. He scored a 9 on his APGAR and Toni said judging by his “maturity rating” that I was probably at 41 weeks gestation.
All in all, my labor and delivery was pretty perfect. I had a great birth team and couldn’t have asked for a better coach. I love our story. This experience is truly something I will never forget.