Adelaide’s Birth

Adelaide Maria

July 10, 2017

Just six days ago, I experienced my fourth homebirth, and delivered our daughter, Adelaide Maria. Though I experienced only several hours of the intense pain of active labor and pushing, it is still very much in my memory! I can feel myself instinctively shying away from thinking about that pain. Yet, I’d consider this the most perfect, beautiful birth I’ve had. I have asked myself if the birth could have been “more” perfect if it had had, perhaps, no pain. Or is the experience more richly felt, more intensified, more beautiful because of the natural pain involved in bringing our daughter into this world?


It had been over eight years since our last baby was born. We felt a bit like first-time parents again! For some odd reason, we thought that because our last baby was 11 days early, Adelaide of course would be too. She wasn’t due until July 7 but my husband took off work more than a week before the due date. We anticipated an imminent arrival. Our other children, ages 13, 11, and 8 assumed that the baby would be here sometime in June because their parents assumed she would be! I had some Braxton-Hicks contractions but other than losing a bit of my mucus plug on June 27th, I had no impending signs of labor. In spite of our impatience, and the challenging insomnia that plagued my pregnancy, it was a time with my family that I cherish. We played a lot of card games, took walks, and counted the days (hours!) together.

My brother came to visit on July 6. He had assumed our baby would be here by then, too, and was hoping to meet his new niece! My midwife, Patrice, knew I was feeling impatient and frustrated. The weekend before Adelaide was born, she encouraged me to just relax and do something fun! So, huge and uncomfortable as I was, we ended up having a nice visit with my brother and went out to eat the night before she was born.

The morning of her birth, Monday, I had bloody show and intuitively knew that today I was going to have my baby. It was a calm, matter-of-fact certainty. My brother was scheduled to fly out in the afternoon but I told him that he would have to leave for the airport early. My baby was coming! I wonder if my body was waiting for him to leave. It needed to exit “hostess” mode, and get into birthing mode! My husband dropped him off and we coordinated with our friends for dropping off our kids when needed.

I seem to second guess myself when I should call my midwife to come. Our last delivery the midwives made it just an hour before my baby was born. I think I hate to have them come too early, or it to be a false alarm. By late afternoon into early evening, after keeping Patrice updated on my contractions, she told me she was going to start heading over my way. I was grateful for this, as it relieved me of the burden of having to wonder when to ask her to come. I was able to give my full attention to labor.

By 7:15pm my contractions were about six minutes apart, and by 8pm I asked Ryan to bring the kids to our friends’ house. We gathered our children together, and they placed their hands on my belly and prayed over Adelaide and I. That was a very moving moment that I won’t ever forget!

That next hour Ryan and I played some cards while I bounced on my birthing ball and Ryan timed my contractions. I would like to point out that I won the card game, too! By 8:30 I was in my darkened room laboring on my birthing ball, and listening to my music playlist. I was relaxed, and enjoying that it was just my husband and I having this time together. Patrice arrived a little after 9pm. She brings such a peaceful presence! She quietly checked my blood pressure and baby’s heartbeat, then left Ryan and I in our room, while she started paperwork in the dining room. Within 30 minutes of her arriving, however, I think my body knew it could finally start laboring in earnest! The contractions gained in intensity and were every three to four minutes apart. Patrice could tell things were moving along because I started to become more vocal! She reacted to this by quietly starting to prepare my bed for delivery. She also reminded me to rest and relax in between contractions. By 10:00 I was feeling impatient to meet my baby! By 10:15 I was definitely uncomfortable, and asked Patrice to see how dilated I was, hoping that that would give me a morale boost. I was 6cm! Ryan and Patrice said that was good but I was thinking I wanted to be further along, and wondered how much longer this would take. In the back of my mind, though, I did know that I could go from 6cm to fully dilated pretty quickly. I stayed in bed after Patrice checked me, for 20 minutes or so. I started wondering if I was feeling like I had to push but wasn’t sure if it was just wishful thinking. My other midwife, Jennifer, reassured me to just listen to my body, and breathe. I decided to get into the bathtub. I like the bath water hot, and to have Ryan pour it over my belly. This eased the pain but then less than ten minutes after getting into the tub, it became very intense again. I knew it was different, and I felt a bit panicky and definitely “pushy”! I could see the change in my belly, as my body started tightening, straining and pushing. Patrice came in, and told me I needed to decide if I wanted to have the baby in the tub, or get into bed. I realized the baby was coming soon. I got up and flopped myself into bed at 11:05. I was now at 9 ½ cm, just 45 minutes after the first internal check! Once I was in bed, I felt so grateful when Patrice asked someone to get me a pillow, to prop my huge belly up as I turned partially on my side. This is the part of labor where I feel most out of control, as my body takes over the pushing. For that reason, I really appreciate coaching during this stage, encouragement to breathe, and reassurance that everything is okay. By 11:15 my baby was fully crowned, and Adelaide was born at 11:19pm, less than 2 hours after labor started in earnest! Her cord was long enough for me to hold her on my belly. I pushed the placenta out less than ten minutes later, and we cut the cord shortly after that so then I could bring her up to my chest. She could then work on latching on and Ryan and I could work on falling in love with every little part of her! She was perfect! She was so alert right from birth, and had a very strong sucking reflex. She ended up suckling all night long! Ryan picked up our kids early that next morning, to meet their new sister. What a joyous, perfect day that first day was! My pregnancy had been difficult and hard work for our whole family. It was so wonderful to have such a plump, sweet little baby at the end of that long journey!


During the prenatal birthing classes my husband and I had attended with one of our midwives, we were shown a video that really impacted us. A midwife posed a question to the viewer, related to the challenges of birth – especially drug-free, natural births. To paraphrase, she asked: “Can we truly know joy without experiencing suffering?” Ryan and I meditated on this for days. I know my body naturally recoils from pain and suffering. I know pain relief can be good (the blissful feeling of warm bath water during labor, or a well-placed pillow under my straining belly as I push). I know it is good to seek comfort and support. However, I believe there truly is something very freeing about accepting and even embracing the realities and the suffering that comes along with bringing a child into the world. I know that the births where I was able to enter in and accept the pain and “labor” I was experiencing, the more peaceful, joyful, and even easier it was. This seems a bit of a mystery to my husband and I, as we try to put words to how this experience affected us. Ryan was able to be with me, and join with me in my labor experience. We worshipped God together with music during my contractions. We entered into the mystery of the birthing experience. And now, not in spite of the pain but actually because of it and the labor involved, we both had one of the most moving and joyful experiences of our lives. I really don’t think I can adequately put words to such an experience, nor perhaps should I even be trying! I am just so grateful that it is part of my life story.

“But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.” – Luke 2:19