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After having two hospital births with epidurals and drugs, I was interested in a different experience. I wanted a natural water birth and felt that I would be more comfortable in my own space, in my home. I researched and prayed and knew that this was the way our baby would be brought into the world. I went online and searched for midwifes and doulas in our area. I chose Cathy Larsen for my midwife with Liz Stika as her assistant and Vanessa Kerr as my doula. With my husband Tommy and these three powerful women, I had a pretty amazing birth team.
About two weeks before my due date, I started having a few contractions here and there. I had my play lists ready, my swimming suit top purchased, my house cleaned, and a veggie tray ready to munch on. I was prepared for my labor party. On Thursday March 29th, Cathy came to our house for an appointment. I was already fifty percent effaced and dilated two centimeters. I knew that we were going to meet our precious baby soon and I was so excited to finally find out if we were going to have a boy or a girl!
At 4:20 the next morning, I started having consistent contractions. They were painful, but manageable. Tommy and I were making jokes in between contractions and after an hour, I sent a text to both Cathy and Vanessa letting them know that I was in labor. They both said to wait an hour to make sure it was the real deal and check back with them. I took a long shower and the hot water felt so good during each contraction. Tommy was timing my contractions and was so helpful during each one. He was saying positive things, rubbing my back, and holding my hand. At 6:20 a.m. I sent both Cathy and Vanessa another text asking them to come over. The contractions were getting very painful. Cathy said to text her when Vanessa got there and that Liz would be there shortly.
Around 7 a.m. I started feeling really negative. (I hate this part of my story) I was crying to Tommy and saying things like, "What was I thinking?" and "I can't do this!" He looked me right in the eyes and said "Yes you can!" He was so calm and helpful. At this point I didn't realize how far I had progressed and was picturing myself having these hard contractions for five or more hours. At 8 a.m. I asked Tommy to start getting the pool ready. He got it out and started setting it up, but then my son and daughter woke up. He left the room to help them get ready. My son was going to school and my daughter was going to my sister's house. I didn't want them to hear me in pain or worry about me. Luckily at that same time he had to leave the room Vanessa had arrived. She got her things set up and started helping me through my contractions. I remember thinking that it was way more intense than I thought it was going to be. Vanessa was having me smell some essential oils but they made me feel nauseated. I felt bad that my "party" wasn't going as planned. I didn't even want to listen to my music and eating was out of the question! During my contractions, Vanessa would give me a cool washcloth to rest my head on while I would stand with my head against my bedroom mirror. She would remind me to go low with my sounds while she pressed my hips together. Around 8:20 a.m. Liz arrived. I was so thankful to see her! She asked if she could check me. She was very gentle and soft spoken. She said I was fully dilated. I was so relieved that I was further along than I thought. I put my swimsuit top on and Liz listened to the baby’s heartbeat. Tommy quickly put the plastic sheet on our bed and finished putting the pool together and filled it up with hot water. I felt like I needed to use the restroom and headed in there with Liz and Vanessa close behind. I kept having contractions and sitting down was not comfortable during them. I said that I felt like I could push the baby out, so Liz quickly grabbed some bed pads and placed them under me. I really didn’t want to have my baby on the bathroom floor so after a contraction they moved me to my bed. Liz had me kneel with my chest and arms on a birthing ball. The pool was set up, but the water was too hot to get in. I was frustrated that I was on my bed and not in the pool. Cathy arrived just as my water broke and she checked to see if I was ready to deliver and I was. She told me I could finally get in the pool. It was hard to move but with assistance I got into the pool. I could feel my baby moving farther down and I felt the urge to push. I was told to listen to my body and push when I felt like it. I was amazed at how my body knew what to do naturally. Not knowing the sex of the baby helped me through hardest part when the head started to come out. I kept thinking, I'm about to meet my son or daughter!!!" My team was so helpful and encouraging. I pushed and pushed and the head came out and then with the next contraction the body came out too! Liz caught and placed our little baby on my chest. Cathy grabbed a warm towel out of the dryer and put it over the baby. I was in shock at how fast it all happened.
Tommy announced that we had a baby BOY! I was so happy and started crying. I was overcome with a whirlwind of emotions. I did it! I wanted to see what our amazing bodies were capable of doing and I did it! It was one of the most fulfilling and sacred experiences I have ever had.
Vander Oakley McGary was born at 9:04 a.m. He weighed nine and a half pounds and was twenty one and a half inches long. Vander was very calm, and barely cried. He immediately started sucking his fingers. He was perfect! Heavenly Father has said that with Him anything is possible. I felt His love and his angels around me that day. My home birth experience was hard and it sure hurt, but I wouldn’t want it any other way.
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