It seems silly to post Selah’s birth story, now that she is almost 9 months old, but…better late than never! Several of my pregnant friends have been asking about her birth, and wondering just why I am so passionate about natural childbirth and the Bradley Method. So, instead of talking forever and ever about my favorite subject, I will simply point them to this article!

FYI, I tried to keep this story fairly non-graphic, but it is a birth story. So, only continue reading if you enjoy that sort of thing!

Selah Sofia Heneise, born 7-8-07

My due date was July 2nd, but Ryan really hoped that the baby (we didn’t know Selah’s gender until birth!) would arrive on 7-7-07! So, on Saturday the 7th, I was very busy and active. We went shopping, and then took Emma swimming in the pool. I walked back and forth in the pool, and felt a lot of practice contractions. Throughout the last few months, I had experienced quite a few practice contractions, but that night they became stronger, and it was difficult to get comfortable for sleep.

At 2 or 3 in the morning, I gave up trying to sleep, and started to walk around the living room. I walked laps around the coffee table, and then I would rest on the couch between contractions. Of course, I did not realize, or admit to myself, that I was actually in labor at that point. I crouched on my hands and knees on the couch, propped up with pillows, and rocked my hips and back to stay comfortable. I finally decided to wake Ryan up around 6:00, and then we called Grandma and Grandpa to pick Emma up. (When they got a phone call from us that early on a Sunday morning, they knew the baby was coming, so they were at our house in just moments!)

I still did not think I was actually in labor. But, after Emma was gone and we were able to focus and time the contractions, we realized they were close to 5 minutes apart. Ryan called the midwife at 8:00, and she recommended that I try to lay on my left side in the Bradley relaxation position. It felt so much better to be rocking on my hands and knees, but I got on my side and tried to completely relax through the next few contractions. I must have relaxed fairly well, because I had some very strong contractions, and in less than an hour, I was very surprised to find my water breaking. (I wasn’t really prepared to have this happen at home, in my bed.) Ryan became very busy finding towels, doing laundry, and calling the midwife back!

The next two hours were a complete blur…Ryan was literally racing back and forth between the microwave (to heat a rice sock for my back), the bed (to massage my back with the rice sock), the washing machine, and the car (to start packing up to go). As the contractions came closer together, he would only have about 2 minutes to do all of those things before I would be yelling for him to come back for the next contraction! It didn’t take long to realize that things were moving quickly, and we called the midwife back to tell her we were ready to meet her at the birth center.

We arrived at the birth center at 11:45. The midwife checked me, and I was already dilated to 6 centimeters. (This may sound pretty astonishing for a first-time birther, but it is actually quite typical if you read the Bradley books.) I remember having some terrible contractions in the exam room, and having a difficult time walking to the birthing room. But, once we got to my cozy birth room, I was so happy! I sat on an exercise ball and rested my head on the bathtub while they started to fill it up. Then, I got into the warm water. There was no time for relaxing, though. I got into the hands and knees position, and rocked in the water through the contractions. I also blew bubbles and made horse sounds with my lips (something I read about in Ina May’s book Spiritual Midwifery).

Less than 20 minutes later, the midwife checked me while I was in the tub, and I was completely dilated, and she could feel the baby’s head! Turns out, I was going through the “transition” period of labor while in the exam room and walking to the birth room…that’s why it was so awful! But, the hardest part was already over. I could start pushing, and pushing in the tub felt wonderful.

I got out of the tub and went to the bathroom, but then I really felt like the baby was coming out! I went to the bed, and got into a great squatting position with Ryan behind me. He had his arms around me, and I was able to rest up against him between pushing. (Later, he said that he was really in pain, with his arms and legs completely numb from being stuck in that position. I really think he was probably in more pain that I was at that point!)

Earlier, when I was preparing for labor, I felt scared about the moment when the baby’s head would come out. I heard that it could be a strong burning sensation. In my Bradley class, we talked about the “Ring of Fire”, and our instructor even played the Johnny Cash song! So, in advance, I had coached Ryan on just what to say at that moment. He did it perfectly…the moment arrived, and he reminded me to think about what was going on down there. It diverted my attention away from the burn, and made me think about how amazing it was, and how close I was to meeting my baby!

A couple of strong pushes to get the head out, and before I knew it, she was here! In fact, Ryan and I both remember seeing her feet inside of me, actually pushing her own way down as I was pushing her out. To this day, she does things her own way! I didn’t waste any time, and I didn’t wait for anyone to give her to me. I reached down, pushed the cord away, told everyone that she was a girl, and pulled her up to my chest! I think I was just a little bit eager and excited! We started nursing immediately, and then she happily nursed away for most of the day. She was only separated from me for a moment to get weighed, checked over, and bathed, but all of that happened right at the foot of the bed.

I love thinking about every moment of that day! It was so difficult to relax through the contractions (and some of them, I just could not relax through), but making low noises and keeping all of my muscles loose really helped her to come quickly and easily. My friends think that I’m crazy, but I really am looking forward to giving birth again!

Next…I will post about the Bradley Method. I did a lot of preparation for birth throughout my pregnancy, so I will share my experiences and best tips!