Indie Grace Lukoskie came into this world on 4.1.14 at 3:16 a.m. She is resting on my chest as I reflect on the story of her birth while writing this blog. Without a doubt, giving birth is the most amazing thing I have ever done.
I knew it would be amazing. I had dreamed of it since before I got pregnant. I wanted a beautiful home birth experience, a baby born in water with no complications while surrounded by my husband, mom and wonderful birth team. I prayed for 9 months that everything would go smoothly, that she would be born healthy and that we wouldn’t have to transport to a hospital. God gave me exactly what I wanted.
For anyone who’s been waiting to hear our home birth story, here you go.
At 4 a.m. on March 31, I awoke to a crampy feeling in my lower abdomen. At first I wasn’t sure if it was gas or labor. I had heard early labor felt a lot like starting your period, but I hadn’t had a period in 9 months, so I sort of forgot what it felt like. I tried to use the restroom, but it didn’t stop the cramps, so I drank a huge glass of water and walked around my living room for about an hour. The cramps persisted, so I woke Jereme up and said, “I think I might be in labor.” He responded by rolling over and saying, “then we should both try to get some sleep.” He was right. I went back to sleep to be awakened again in half an hour with the same feeling. That cycle repeated itself every half hour until I finally got out of bed at around 9 a.m.
I was supposed to work from home that day, but there was no way I could concentrate. I ate a big breakfast and went for a long, brisk walk around my neighborhood to see if the cramps would go away, but they persisted still. I was pretty sure I was in labor, but I didn’t want to alert the masses if it wasn’t the real thing, so I decided to work on Indie’s nursery. I spent a few hours unpacking shower gifts and putting clothes into her dresser drawers. I did text my manager at work to let her know I thought I might be in labor.
Around 1:30, I took a break to eat lunch. I had planned to go to Buy Buy Baby after lunch to exchange some gifts, but the cramps (or contractions) had started to get more intense and closer together, so I was reluctant to go out in public. When my contractions were 10 minutes apart, I called my midwife to let her know what was happening and she suggested that Jereme and I go out on a date and have some fun to take my mind off of labor.
“Your contractions could continue at 10 minutes apart for hours,” she said. She didn’t want me to fixate on the time. I thought that was good advice, but I didn’t really feel like going anywhere, so Jereme and I spent some time playing with Oskar in the front yard, instead.
After we came inside from playing with Oskar, I texted my midwife again. I thought maybe I had lost some of my mucus plug. If you’ve never been pregnant or given birth, that’s basically a glob of mucus that blocks the opening of your cervix during pregnancy. You lose it before you go into labor. Some women lose theirs all at once. Others a little at a time over several weeks or months. Before texting my midwife, I had seen some mucus, but it wasn’t tinged with blood, so I wasn’t sure if I had lost the plug or not.
I took a shower and around 7:30 p.m., I called my mom.
“Contractions are 5 minutes apart. Come over,” I said.
Jereme was cooking his famous pasta in the kitchen while I paced the living room listening to Jason Upton’s record, Great River Road.
My mom arrived, and we ate dinner. I texted Lindsay, my dear friend and doula, and suggested she make her way to my house. She arrived after dark and accompanied Jereme, Oskar and I for a walk around the neighborhood. I continued to have contractions about every 5 minutes or so as we walked.
The rest of the night is sort of a blur. I remember walking around the living room a lot. I tried to lie down, but it was too painful. I remember doing squats behind our leather chair while Jereme held my hands. I remember dancing with him through contractions. I remember laboring on my balance ball, getting into lunge positions, breathing deeply and moaning to manage the pain. Moaning really helped. They weren’t kidding when they said women make sexual noises during labor. I’m glad I was in the company of people who didn’t seem to mind.
Lindsay suggested I rub some clary sage oil on my belly to help “move things along.” I was hesitant at first but finally decided that the sooner we have this baby, the sooner these painful feelings would go away so I conceded. As soon as we did that, I transitioned into hard, active labor. Lindsay texted my midwife around 11:30 and let her know. Jereme called her shortly after that and asked her to come over.
When she arrived I was still laboring in the living room. She listened to the heartbeat and assured me all sounded good. At some point after that, I moved to the bathroom and labored on the toilet. I’m not sure when it happened. I just remember thinking I really needed to poop. Little did I know I was moving into transition, the shortest and most painful stage of labor, right before you start pushing. This is the point when most women start to really doubt their ability to keep going. I was definitely one of those women. I remember telling Jereme I didn’t want any more kids. Of course that was a totally false, in-the-moment statement.
Lindsay, my mom and Jereme all held my hands while I labored on the toilet. Lindsay prayed over me. I felt like I needed to push, and there were times when my body actually pushed during contractions without me even trying. Jereme filled up the birth pool while I waited, very impatiently. I longed to get into the water. I had heard throughout my pregnancy that being in warm water felt really good. I thought that if I could just get into the water, maybe the pain would subside a little.
Lindsay suggested I try walking around again. Sitting down had gotten to be pretty unbearable, so I agreed. I stood up from the toilet and that was the first sight of blood I encountered since labor started. I knew we’d be meeting our daughter very soon.
After Jereme and I walked around for a little while, I was told the birth pool was ready.
I got into the water and pushed for 26 minutes and she was out. My water didn’t break until I was in the pool, pushing. In fact, her head was almost born in the sac. She came out crying almost immediately. She was beautiful.
This is me, making my “O” face…
…as in, “O MY GOD I JUST HAD A FREAKING BABY! IN MY BATHROOM! THAT WAS AWESOME! I CAN’T BELIEVE IT!”
I remember being really concerned that I was tearing, while pushing. That whole “ring of fire” thing is no joke … but I didn’t tear at all.
She was 7 lbs. 6 oz. and 19.25 inches long at birth. Her head circumference was 14 inches. I’m not sure if that’s big, but her mom and dad both have big heads, so it probably is.
I prayed for an April baby because April is a significant month for me. My mom’s birthday is 4.4.41 (similar to Indie’s — 4.1.14) and I had a miscarriage last April. Perhaps, subconsciously I thought an April miracle would bring some sort of closure to the grief I had experienced then.
I believe the time she was born (3:16 a.m.) is significant too. It may even be a sign from God.
Observe, a well-known verse from the Old Testament about the curse of Eve:
Genesis 3:16 — To the woman he said, “I will make your pains in childbearing very severe; with painful labor you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.” (NIV)
And, the most famous verse in the New Testament, which brings hope to humanity:
John 3:16 — For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (NIV)
He is the Alpha and the Omega, and I know our little girl belongs to Him.
Indie Grace Lukoskie. Independent of this world by the Grace of God. (That actually wasn’t planned when we picked out her name.)
She didn’t nurse right away. In fact, nursing was a challenge for me and sometimes continues to be. My milk didn’t come in as fast as I thought it would, and the stress I felt seemed to prolong it further. We actually had to get some donor breastmilk from Lindsay for a few days. After my first chiropractic adjustment, postpartum, it finally came in. It was strange though. I had labored so well that no one expected me to be the one to have problems breastfeeding. Just one of the many struggles Jereme and I will have to overcome as parents, I’m sure.
I had spent so much time preparing, mentally and physically, for the birth itself, that I didn’t anticipate how difficult that first week postpartum would be. I think a lot of first-time moms do that. We mistakenly fool ourselves into thinking that once we have the baby, it’s over. That’s it. We did it. When in fact, it’s just the beginning of a long and tiring, yet extremely rewarding journey called parenthood.
Would I do it again? Absolutely. In fact, I can’t wait to do it again. But in the interest of our sanity, we’ll be waiting at least 2 years for that.
For now, I’m soaking up every moment with this sweet little angel before I have to go back to work in 3 weeks.