Our Birth Story

I can’t believe it’s been one full year since we met. I love you so much and I would go through all of the trials of pregnancy/birth/postpartum again and again if I that’s what I had to do to keep you in my life. True to your name, you bring light wherever you go. I thank God for you every day. 
This morning, on your first birthday, you snuggled-up next to me, still asleep. Tears came to my eyes as I recalled the events of this day one year ago. I didn’t even know if you were a boy or a girl yet! I can’t believe how much has changed in this past year. I have grown so much and of course, so have you! The 3 of us are all figuring this out together as we grow. 
I love you Luca Bear! Thank you for being YOU! Happy Birthday!!
It’s been so long since I’ve written anything here… I guess you can say I’ve had my hands full! I kept waiting for a good chunk of time to present itself so that I could write our Birth Story but well, as you moms know, that just isn’t happening. So I’m writing this on my phone with one hand while nursing Luca in the other. Oh, and it’s 3am. I have a feeling that this post will take me a while! (Luca fell asleep, so Mama decided it was best to sleep as well…) Anyway, I’m back and it’s 5:45 am, time for me to get to the good stuff!
* * *
Luca was born on Thursday, November 8th at 1:23 pm. The Tuesday before his grand entrance, I started feeling mild contractions. Now, if you’ve read my blog before you may remember me having a couple bouts of false labor. So when these contractions came on, I was hesitant to believe that this was the real deal. I also had a cold so part of me was hoping it wasn’t the real deal! But these contractions felt different. For one, they hurt more and for two, well they hurt in a way that I didn’t expect. I wish I could describe it better… It was more of a stabbing pain than a dull aching pain. I decided to go to bed early.
The next morning I woke up still feeling congested so I decided to stay in bed; something was telling me I needed my rest. Despite resting, the contractions continued to come every 10 minutes. Then, it was time for me to get ready and have lunch with a close friend. She recently had a baby so I thought it would be fun to tell her what was going on. I had a big delicious burrito and we just chatted and laughed about the possibility of my baby being born on the actual due date. As I drove away, I felt the contractions coming on stronger… I decided to take the scenic route. While driving down the Pacific Coast Highway, I looked over at the serene ocean and the crisp blue sky. I thanked God for this beautiful day and told Him that I surrender the birth to Him. Despite being sick, I trusted that this baby would come in His time and that He would be my strength regardless.
When I got home, I decided to lay down before calling, Becky, my doula. She always said that its best to do the opposite of whatever you were doing before and then see if the contractions continue. They did. The contractions had increased in pain and were about 8 minutes apart at this point. I laid down but they just continued coming. Around 4pm I decided to call Caleb. He was at a work conference all day but he had warned his boss that I had been having contractions that morning. At the beginning of the meeting, Caleb received an award for his 10 years of service to his company and his boss excitedly announced that if they were to see Caleb leave the meeting early it was because I was in labor. So, when I texted him saying I thought he needed to come home because the contractions were getting stronger, he got up to leave and the entire room started cheering!
When Caleb got home, the contractions were increasing to every 5 minutes. It was time to call Becky. She told Caleb and I to go for a walk and see what happens. The walk seemed to speed things up even more and increase the pain. We knew she needed to come over. Caleb was the one to call her. She advised him to pour me a bath, light some candles and put on some relaxing music. (This is reason one why everyone should have a doula!) Caleb followed her advice and when she arrived an hour later (9 pm) I was still in the bath and Caleb was helping me meditate through the contractions. Around 10 pm, Becky told Caleb to go get some rest and she and I went for another walk. Soon the contractions were speeding up to 3 minutes apart… Time to call, Brooke, the midwife. At this point, I’m super excited. I knew that this was the real thing and that I’d get to meet our baby soon. However, starting labor at that time of night is not ideal.
Brooke arrived around midnight to evaluate where I was at. During each contraction I needed to focus but in between contractions I was laughing and quite social with everyone. My doula and I quoted funny lines from American Beauty and the midwife was doing hilarious impersonations of a horrible Peter Gabriel concert she had gone to recently. Things were light hearted and exciting, it was obviously still first stage (see image below). The midwife needed to check my cervix to see how far along I was so that we could make a decision about whether we should try to get the labor moving or if I should try to rest for the remainder of the night. Part of my birth plan was that I didn’t want to hear any numbers regarding how dialated I was (it’s a good thing too, because later I found out that I was only 1 centimeter dialated!!).
I thought this was funny, but it does show the stages of labor well.

While checking my cervix the midwife decided to stretch me to 3 centimeters…. Um, OUCH. Then she told me that I had two choices, we could either get creative and start doing some things to jump start labor (like nipple stimulation with a breast pump, making out with Caleb, etc) or I could try to sleep so that I’d be nice and rested for the impending labor ahead, she recommended that I try to rest because it was so late (about 12:30am) and I was recovering from a cold. The number one reason for a home birther to transfer to a hospital is exhaustion so I really knew that rest was important. The only problem was… Well, I was SO EXCITED!!! I was so pumped to meet our baby, I knew that there was no way I’d be getting sleep. Plus, the contractions were still coming strong. So, our midwife suggested a “medicated sleep.” This would involve receiving 2 liters of IV fluid, a small amount of intramuscular morphine, and some IV Benadryl. I was concerned that the morphine could get to the baby but they reassured me that I would only receive a small amount and it would get diluted with IV fluid so if the baby did get any of it, it would incredibly minimal. I looked over at Caleb and said,”I really don’t want to risk transfer…” He said,”Lets do it.”

The fluids took a loooong time to get into my system. As we waited, we laughed and talked about music. I’ll never forget our midwife’s silliness in that moment. It helped me relax and eased everyone’s tension. Then I started to get sad… What if this stopped the labor? Brooke shook her head and said, “This train is going, we’re just preparing you for the journey.” Then she explained that often a medicated sleep will jump start labor upon waking. She recommended that when I wake up, to try my best to stay in bed and continue to rest as much as possible. Throughout the night I continued to feel contractions despite the medication but I was able to sleep somewhat.

Birth Day 11/8/2013
Then, I awoke at 6:30 am. I was still feeling strong contractions and I was SO EXCITED! I woke up Caleb and told him the good news. He calmly encouraged me to try to rest some more. I agreed even though it was a total buzz kill. Ha! So finally around 8:00, I told him I really couldn’t stay in bed anymore. He offered to make me breakfast in bed and of course I agreed to that. Then, at 9:30, my water broke. Now things were really heating up! Caleb called Becky and told her that not only had my water broken but that I was having really strong contractions now. She advised Caleb to get me into the shower, as water helps with the pain. Becky arrived at 10 am and immediately she could tell the mood had changed. There would be no joking around now. The contractions were so strong that I needed each break in between them to focus and center myself. With each contraction I found myself screaming in pain. I didn’t imagine myself being loud during labor and boy was I wrong! At one point, our next-door neighbors called Caleb to see if I was ok! Apparently we should have warned them that we were doing a home birth!

Becky was amazing. She told me how strong I was, she provided different strategies for easing my pain, and she comforted Caleb as he supported me. Quickly my contractions became three minutes apart and it was time to call the midwife, Andy, who was on call that day. While we waited, I begged them to fill up the birth pool so that I could get in. Unfortunately, we needed Andy’s approval to do that.

Becky was a God-send. She brought the birth ball into the shower and it helped so much.

By the time she got to our home, I was hitting a phase referred to as “Transition.” This is a laboring woman’s darkest hour. I called for Caleb who was getting our birth kit ready for Andy’s arrival. He rushed in and I told him with tears in my eyes that I wasn’t sure I could do this. He held my hand and stroked my forehead while reminding me that we knew this moment of doubt would come but that I am so strong and I could do it for myself and the baby. He said he believed in me and was so proud of me. Next, Caleb knelt down next to me and prayed over me. I felt a sense of peace and needed a moment to gather myself.

They prepared to get me out of the bathtub and into the bathroom so Andy could check my progress. That didn’t go so well. After they turned the water off and wrapped me in a towel (while still laying in the bathtub) I closed my eyes and refused to move. This began the phase they call “plateau,” my contractions did slow somewhat, but never stopped completely. Inside my mind I was contemplating my options… Go to the hospital and get an epidural? No, that would require moving and the thought of lying down, stuck in a hospital bed was not appealing…. Lay here and hope the contractions stop? Um, not gonna happen. I realized in that moment that I was either going to facilitate this process or I was going to hinder it. I wanted to meet my baby. I opened my eyes and got up.

Transition, my darkest hour.

Then the contractions started coming like no other. But they were different this time, there was another sensation…. Pushing! My body was wanting to push! I got to our bed and Andy checked my progress. It’s about noon at this point. Andy knew my birth plan so she didn’t tell me my progress but she pulled Caleb aside and asked if he would like to know. I was fully dialated!! Caleb said that I would definitely want to know that! When Andy told me the news I was SO relieved. I’ve heard stories of women getting stuck at 8 or 9 centimeters and then needing transfer. I said, “Oh thank God!! My body wants to push!” She said, “Go for it!” It felt so much better to be doing something now!! The pain was still there but I didn’t care, I just wanted to hold our baby. They put me in the birth pool and the pain subsided exponentially.

Becky helping me get through each contraction. The pool was such a relief!

Throughout this whole time, Candace, the nurse who assisted Andy, was checking the baby’s heart rate during the contractions. When I was in the pool, they noticed that the baby’s heart rate would slow. After 30 minutes, Andy asked me to get out of the pool because they wanted me to get in different positions so that the baby would rotate. So, I moved to our bed and Caleb helped me get into different positions so that the baby would rotate. Caleb went behind me and supported me as I held my legs and tried to push effectively. Andy coached me to try to direct all of my energy downward. So, instead of yelling out like an amazon woman, apparently it’s more effective to not yell but to put chin to chest and focus on pushing that energy down. After about an hour and a half of pushing, our baby moved into a favorable position. Then Andy realized that I hadn’t urinated in over two hours, I was supposed to be going every hour. They also needed to heat up the water in the pool to prepare for baby. Unfortunately, our water heater was out of hot water! Candace grabbed my friend Amanda from our spare bedroom. Amanda was there to watch our dogs but now she had a greater task. Amanda was asked to boil pots of water on the stove and then pour them into the pool.

We had the birth pool set up in our bedroom. Here’s Amanda pouring hot water into the pool and Andy next to her checking the temperature.

I went to the bathroom and attempted to urinate. Instead, I had a huge contraction and began to feel an intense burning sensation. I remembered hearing the term “ring of fire” from our birth class and I knew what it meant… This baby was coming, now! That’s when I freaked out. “Andy!! Andy!! Where’s Andy??!! I need Andy!!” Andy came in and I told her the baby was coming and begged her to let me go back into the pool. She took her flashlight and saw that the baby was indeed crowning. She looked me in the eye, her eyes were smiling. “I want you to reach down and touch your baby’s head,” She said. I did and it was so surreal! Then another started coming, “I need to get in the pool!!” I screamed. After the contraction Andy said calmly that I had progressed more in the last 5 minutes being on the toilet than I had for the whole previous hour. She asked me to give her two more contractions and then we’d move to the pool. I had a moment of sanity and said, “Sorry, I kinda freaked out for a second there.” Everyone laughed and said I had no need to apologize.

Then the two contractions came… I could swear that the baby’s head was already out of me! They told me I could go to the pool and I waddled faster than you’ve ever seen a pregnant chick waddle! Caleb said he had to hold In his laughter because I looked so ridiculous! I truly thought the baby’s head was out of me! So anyway, I get in the pool and I remember thinking, “I’m giving this next contraction all I’ve got. I’m going to meet our baby now!” So I did. But… He didn’t come. Then the next one started building and right when it peaked, I pushed with all my might. His head was out! Then another came immediately and I pushed again, I felt his entire body slide out of me. Andy quickly passed the baby under my legs and to Caleb who was by my head. Caleb grabbed the baby and put him on my chest. I will never ever forget that moment.

Feeling his delicate body, his warmth, his smooth skin… I burst into tears. We all did. Then, Caleb said with alarm, “The cord’s around the neck!” Candace said calmly, “It’s ok,” and gently lifted the cord around the baby’s head. Then I realized I didn’t know who I was holding yet. “Caleb tell us the gender!” I said between exasperated breaths (but delightedly). Caleb lifted up a little leg and announced, “It’s a boy!!” I felt a huge wave of relief and began sobbing with joy. I would have loved having a little girl but we couldn’t choose a girl name for the life of us! I held our baby tight and said, “Oh Luca! I love you so much… I never want to let you go!” Caleb was crying and stroking Luca’s back. It was a perfect moment.

We finally meet Luca.

Immediately after the birth, we moved to our bed and I held Luca close to my chest. Becky helped Luca and I with nursing for the first time. This facilitated the contracting of my uterus so that I could birth the placenta. Birthing the placenta was a piece of cake after having Luca! Then, we waited until the cord stopped pulsing and Caleb cut the cord.

Caleb Cutting the Cord

Then it was time for me to take a shower. While Candace and Becky assisted me, Andy asked Caleb to lay with Luca, skin to skin.

Luca and Daddy bonding time.

Next, Luca needed to be measured.

Caleb weighing Luca.

The birth team helped clean up and chatted with us for a bit. We laughed and recounted funny moments during the labor, like my freak out moment. Amanda made us waffles and bacon. Becky stayed around to help with nursing or whatever questions we had. There was electricity in the air, everyone seemed to feel so honored to have been a part of Luca’s birth day. I felt so supported and cared for. I am so thankful for South Coast Midwifery!

South Coast Midwifery Rules!
Our AMAZING birth team. Andy (bottom left), Amanda (bottom right), Candace (top right), Caleb (only dude there), Becky (top left)

Praise God that everything went so well! We are truly blessed.

A prayer we created for the birth. Caleb wrote it out and had hung it on the wall of our bedroom.

Thank you God for our precious Luca Hart… “Soldier of the Light.”

Luca Hart Snyder

** It’s almost a year later and this has always remained one of the top posts on my blog. It was so special to read through this story again. It almost makes me think that I want to do it again soon… almost. 😉 Thanks for reading and for enjoying this significant part of my life story.**


22 thoughts on “Our Birth Story

  1. Oh Jaclyn, what a beautiful story! Congratulations girl and I laughed at your freak out moment. I remember having that with Miles, so crazy how primal you can get during the birth process. What a beautiful experience and of course, little Luca is so incredibly precious. Congratulations!


  2. Reblogged this on Kinda Crunchy and commented:

    Celebrating 200 Posts! Here’s is Number 4 on the Most Popular List. Of course, this is the post that is most dear to my heart. It’s the bridge between womanhood to motherhood and is what has made this blog what it is today: a place of support for all moms, myself included. Thank you for loving our birth story!


  3. My absolute favorite part: By the time she got to our home, I was hitting a phase referred to as “Transition.” This is a laboring woman’s darkest hour. I called for Caleb who was getting our birth kit ready for Andy’s arrival. He rushed in and I told him with tears in my eyes that I wasn’t sure I could do this. He held my hand and stroked my forehead while reminding me that we knew this moment of doubt would come but that I am so strong and I could do it for myself and the baby. He said he believed in me and was so proud of me. Next, Caleb knelt down next to me and prayed over me. I felt a sense of peace and needed a moment to gather myself.

    I am able to see your weakness and your strength at the same time. God gave you an amazing man to intercede for you and to remind you of your identity.

    Thank you Jesus, for sweet little Luca! Love the three of you!


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