Three generations bring in a fourth

Guest post by Ashley Sowards
Ashley and her son, Sage. Photo by Ashley's grandmother.

I woke up to a crampy feeling in my hips at three in the morning. There was a definite start and end to the contractions, and lying down was no help at all. I woke my mom up. I told her I wasn’t sure, but that I was having to breathe through them a little bit. She came downstairs and brewed a pot of coffee and I walked around a bit. I timed them with my cell phone and we watched the clock. They were only about 20-30 seconds apart, but they were happening every two minutes.

I called my midwife. She kept me on the phone through two contractions so she could time them and listen to how I was handling them. She said that this was definitely labor, it wasn’t going to go away, but she was worried that I would get too worn out. She suggested I brew some “sleepy time” tea and try to get some rest. I brewed the tea, my mom and I turned on the tele to some show about a guy who was really into wolves or something. The tea didn’t help, I couldn’t sleep, and I started to really have to pause and breathe through what we now knew were contractions.

Then I vomited. The contractions got stronger. I vomited some more.

We called the midwife back (my mom had to call her as I was throwing up and saying “gross”). She called back in a little bit and talked to me through two more contractions. After hearing my heavy panting she said she was packing her bags and would be over in about an hour.

After throwing up I felt a bit sweaty and gross, so I decided I should shower. While getting undressed to shower I had my bloody show, to which I responded “gross” and threw up a couple more times. My mom sat on the toilet while I showered. The hot water felt good during contractions, but I was feeling everything right inside my hips. The shower head didn’t reach that far unfortunately. I managed to shampoo/condition my hair and wash my body between contractions. During contractions I would sway back and forth with my hips, but toward the end of the shower I was mashing my face up against the shower wall and kind of humming.

The contractions didn’t hurt. They were definitely a curious sensation, and I was so excited about them that I was really calm the entire time.

The contractions didn’t hurt. They were definitely a curious sensation, and I was so excited about them that I was really calm the entire time. At the point that I started moaning I asked my mom to call my Pillows (grandma). She hardly had time to say “Labor. Bring doughnuts,” because my contractions were getting heavier and closer together. I knew from Ina May that moaning meant heavier labor. I made sure to keep my lips loose and my voice low. After getting out of the shower things really sped up. We went downstairs and I asked my mom to hold my hips through each contraction.

At around six (I think) my Pillows showed up. Somehow my yoga ball ended up back in my room and I got on my hands and knees, threw my upper body on top of the ball, and rocked front to back. That felt really good. I asked my Pillows to put my hair up because it was in my face. We made small talk between contractions. I felt really good.

My midwife showed up around 6:30 and saw me deeply moaning and swaying. She got a little worried and said that a bath might help me out. (I later found out that she was panicked and frantically set up her supplies while I was in the tub). I squatted in the tub, but it didn’t feel right. I tried to lay back in the tub but that felt horrible. I shot up while I was lying down and scrambled to get to where I was sitting on my feet. (We think this is when my water might have broken, we have no idea). Again, it didn’t hurt — it just felt not right. Being upright helped. I said I was done and we went downstairs. My midwife checked me and I was 6cm dilated and fully effaced. This was around 7.

I labored standing upright with my hands on the back of a couch while my mom grabbed my hips and my Pillows blew in my face to remind me to breath. This was SUPER helpful; I was remembering to keep my voice low, but not really to breathe deeply. My Pillows said at this point I was “purring.” I was still pretty calm and enjoying myself. My biggest complaint was that I couldn’t find a comfortable resting position for in between contractions. We put my yoga ball on my bed so I could stand up and sway front to back easier. This felt fantastic!

Around 7:30-7:45-ish I felt a bit pushy: I looked over at my midwife and said “I’m feeling a bit pushy…” I had another contraction and said “I’m going to go ahead and push.” She calmly asked me if I could pant through my push feelings so she could check me again. Fully dilated and ready to go.

So with just me, my mom, my Pillows (three generations) and my midwife, I started pushing. My mom had to act as the birthing assistant because the one I chose was not there yet. I continued standing upright, I was feeling a little tight at the top of my perineum, so my midwife put a warm washcloth there, and rubbed me with olive oil. My legs started to get a bit shaky between contractions. I climbed onto the bed and layed down on my left side, holding my right knee all the way up by my ear. I felt myself opening up and was ecstatic! In between two pushes I asked my Pillows if she would grab my hand mirror out of the drawers in my bathroom. I wanted to see. I needed to see this.

I looked in the mirror and saw the head and smiled. My midwife was holding the top of my perineum and quickly sloshing me in olive oil. I pushed again and looked down and the head had doubled in size! I pushed again and WOOSH! Sage was born! All of him, all at once! Head and shoulders knees and toes! I pulled him to my chest and cooed “Oh hello!” This happened at 7:56AM. 8 days overdue, and only 5 hours of labor, that was it. Ten minutes of pushing, that was it — seven pounds, eight ounces, and twenty inches of a born-at-home baby!

Comments on Three generations bring in a fourth

  1. What an awesome birth story! I love that your mother and “pillows” were there with you. My grandmother has passed on but I look forward to sharing that moment with my mother, knowing it is the same thing she went through to bring me into the world.

    I am not pregnant but sincerely hope I have such a wonderful birth when we do decide to get pregnant. And I love the idea of an at-home birth but it scares the begeesus outta me at the same time.

  2. I’m about three weeks away from my due date and starting to get nervous about labor. Your story is SO encouraging!!! Thank you for sharing!! And congratulations, Baby Sage is adorable!!

  3. wow….What an amazing birth story! Well done mummy…and grandma …and great grandma, what a team event! Thats beautiful being altogether…I think it definitley helps having the right support with you at that crucial moment. I had a really good birth with my partner and mum there, and am due in November with my second….and not scared at all as positivity is the way to go. Thanks for sharing…LOVE the name by the way. Sage is my second name!! xx

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