Jack's Birth Story
From the moment my son was born, I've continuously had vivid flash backs of his entry into this world. Initially, I didn't have the desire to share our story because it felt so deeply personal, but after sitting with it for a year, as we prepare to celebrate my son Jack's first birthday, I feel compelled to share our story.
I know I personally read hundreds of birth stories through both of my pregnancies. Hearing other women's experiences, was so inspiring for me and helped me immensely in my preparation for birth.
I always dreamed of a home birth, and was unable to experience that with my daughter's birth, as it did not go according to my plan. Something I have had to work on to let it be the way it was meant to be. She has been, and always will be my little fighter.
Before conceiving Jack, we suffered two miscarriages, one at 8 weeks and the other at 16. During each of those pregnancies, I would dream about Jack and his speedy birth. I saw him. I felt him.
After my second loss, I felt devastated, and confused and decided I needed time to heal.
About four months later, just after my cousin's wedding, I found out I was pregnant. As anyone who has suffered any loss knows, those first three months are LONG and filled with anxiety, but for some reason I had this sense of calm. When we finally made it to that 20 week appointment, we took our envelope home and discovered we were having a boy. It was my Jack. He'd finally come to me.
Initially, I had decided I would give birth in the hospital. Since I was still healing from my birth experience with Jude, I felt that was where I would have the least amount of anxiety. Then COVID hit, and everything changed. For some reason, I had this deep knowing that I was to give birth at home, safely with my midwives. My husband and I made the decision to have a home birth, and I went to work to prepare.
We re-opened all of our birth books, practiced breathing exercises, non-focused awareness (you know the old ice cube in the hand trick) and gathered the things on the home birth list. I had also started listening to a podcast called The Free Birth Society, and I mean, I was listening to several episodes a day. Finally, I reached one with a meditation/visualization segment about connecting with your inner wise woman. It resonated with me and I did this practice everyday, including into the first hours of my labour. I wrote down my birth exactly as I saw it in my dreams, and to my surprise that's pretty much how it played out.
My daughter was born 4 days early with a 17 hour labour, so my husband and I thought Jack would be early too. But my due date (Mother's Day) came and went, and then another week passed. I was so ready to meet my boy, but I kept trying to remind myself that he would come when he was ready.
On May 18th I went to the midwives' office and decided to get a sweep to see if that might move things along. (During this final stage of pregnancy, I had an immune system reaction which caused an incredibly itchy rash on my belly and that started to spread to my legs and arms.) I was ready to have my baby.
That night, I was sitting on my birth ball, and for some reason felt compelled to have a small glass of wine. This was actually in my birth plan to have a glass of wine in early labour to help me relax. I didn't know I was in early labour at the time, but I decided to indulge. That night we went to bed around 10:00 pm, and I woke up about 20 minutes later with what felt like the start of contractions. I woke my husband and we called the midwife. My husband had been timing the contractions and right off the bat they were 1-2 minutes apart, so my midwife decided to come over and see what was happening. She never left.
The contractions came on quick and strong right away, but I was determined to keep upright and moving. My friend had given me her TENS machine and I am so grateful because I swear this little machine helped me get through the first and second stages of labour. We had our playlist going, and I kept constant eye on my birth affirmations to help stay focused on my goal. I went from the bath to the shower and back again. The warm water felt incredible. I started getting the urge to push so strongly, I couldn't stop it, and I started to feel like I couldn't do it. I wanted to give up (ah, transition). My midwife, decided to break my water, and when she said there was no meconium (there was with my daughter, and this is an automatic trip to the hospital) I felt this huge sigh of relief and from that moment on I was determined to give birth in my bedroom.
They say when you're in that moment of transition, the veil is so thin between you and the spiritual world. This was absolutely my experience. Through my meditation practice, I often saw and felt my grandmother and as I entered that transitional state, I felt her so strongly floating above me holding my hand, as if I'd left my body. I know this may seem like too much for some, but I share these deeply personal experiences, in hopes that you too may find this magic.
What felt like moments after my water broke, my body was pushing my baby out. My sweet Jack Lucas Portwood (named after his great grandfather and his father) was born in our bed at 3:48 am on May 19th, 2020 and placed right onto my chest.
When we were ready, my daughter (who had woken up just as Jack was being born) was able to crawl into bed with us and meet her little brother. It was the most magical moment of my life and I will never forget it.
I must thank my midwives, from birth partnership for their support through all of my pregnancies, losses and births. I feel strongly that I could not have achieved my dream home birth without their support. As well as my husband, who was by my side, the entire time. He acted as my doula, my support, my best friend. I could not have gone through this experience without him. Watching him cut the cord after tirelessly helping me through labour, was incredible. Lastly, to my mother who crawled into bed with Jude when she woke up, and helped us all so much in those early days. Thank you for being there for all of us <3
Thank you for listening to my story. I hope that it inspires you or touches you on some level. Wherever you are in your motherhood journey, or whatever your dream birth may look like, I wish you an empowered experience.