My Body Given Up for You: Christine's Redemptive Home Birth After Trauma and Loss
The birth of my daughter four years ago left me with much trauma. It was my first ever birth and although I chose a birth center with a midwife, I had no idea what to expect. I carried that trauma throughout this second pregnancy and allowed myself to embrace the fears and unknowns that developed as a result. I spent the next nine months attempting to mentally accept my fear of pain and to surrender to labor no matter what happened.
I prepared for my son's birth in ways I never prepared for my daughter's. First, it would be at our small apartment and that meant creating the space needed to feel safe to labor. There was lots of preparing to be done. Second, my sister Maria would be my doula. She's always been a huge
support to me especially after I had my daughter. This time I knew I wanted her at my son's birth. My midwife was the same one my sister used and upon my first meeting with her I knew she was right for me. Last, I knew I needed to find security in my husband. I needed to nurture
our relationship and really find my anchor in him leading up to the birth. I wanted to rely solely on his masculine presence and safety. This was going to be a very busy pregnancy and I wanted to be ready this time.
When I went into labor I had been having contractions on and off for the whole week prior. It was a Saturday night and I was having them consistently, but they were simply a little bit uncomfortable, nothing I couldn't handle. I could tell they were different though, so my husband and I made sure to go to bed early just in case.
I woke up irregularly throughout that night until about 3:30 in the morning, when I decided to go downstairs to monitor the contractions and let my husband rest more. I texted a picture of the contraction timings to my midwife, but I made sure she knew they were very irregular.
After laboring for two hours I decided I needed David's support so I woke him up and he joined me downstairs. Our daughter remained asleep. We turned on some quiet, warming music and I labored on the edge of our sofa draped in a thick sweater and two heating blankets. I was freezing as I labored and I wanted to do nothing else but sit there because any other movement quickly caused me to have a contraction. David sat by me, and with each surge he placed his head in the curve of my neck, rubbed my lower back, rocked me, and spoke quietly by my ear, speaking of things I could picture. After a little time, David suggested I contact my sister. I'm glad he did, because we realized how much I needed her support soon after when my contractions developed a very noticeable pattern.
When Maria arrived we sent an updated contraction pattern to my midwife and she said she'd come in an hour. We felt that would work just fine, lucky for us she lived only a couple minutes away so timing was never a concern.
As my contractions increased in intensity we taped on some tens unit pads to help. While it was a bit of a hassle, it helped so much. The distraction alone was enough at that point. My contractions however were short in duration and very sharp so we attempted to try homeopathics to make them deeper and longer. After taking it, Maria asked if I'd be willing to stand up for the next contraction. I groaned about that, but I knew it was necessary.
Upon standing with the next contraction, I felt an immediate and sharp shift in my pubic area, I stiffened and began to yell higher. David and Maria urged me to relax and so I threw my arms around my husband and hung all my weight on him. I stuck out my hips and rocked them
vigorously. It was an incredible pain, but somehow through absolute force of will, I embraced it and my body did what it needed to help me overcome it, every single time. After a few of those we contacted my midwife and told her to come right away. Things were ramping up quickly. It took everything I had to allow my body to relax right and even then I had moments of loud moaning, tense muscles, and jaw clenching.
The midwife arrived while I continued to labor and at this point I instinctively had to strip completely. I was running on total instinct with everything I did and only after a little while I felt drawn to labor kneeling on our sofa, except after one contraction there, I decided I wanted to kneel on the floor facing the sofa instead. It was incredible tuning into my instincts because I didn't have that with my daughter's birth. I craved that instinct this time and it never
let me down.
My contractions in this position were frequent and difficult. David knelt by me the entire time giving me safety and security while I tried to keep my moans low, but it was difficult. It was beginning to get down to pushing time and my body was forcing me to push a lot.
My water broke which was startling. Maria saw my eyes were shut no matter whether I had a surge or not, so she encouraged me to open my eyes after one and to tell her the first color I saw. I saw blue. I'm so glad for this, because it brought me back into myself and I was able to focus better on relaxing into the pain, especially since my body was starting to push. It also made me aware of the entire experience and unlike with my daughter, I remember this experience in its entirety.
I did my best to try to take it slowly to allow time for stretching and this is where my Catholic faith played the biggest role. Between gasps for breath, I repeated, "This is my body given up for you, do this in memory of me" over and over again. I even started crying at the thought of what Jesus did for us and that this was the least I could do for Him. This carried me. Through all the grief, trauma, and pain in my past, it carried me.
Then in the fog, I heard David speaking about getting to meet our boy and I anchored myself again and spoke about the boy I wanted so desperately to meet, too. Our rainbow baby boy. My body began to push and I held onto all of that. I breathed as deeply as I could and while roaring, pushed his head out. I waited and rested while his head was out! I'd always wanted to experience rest while baby was partly out and that was the moment. The midwife asked David if he wanted to see, but David said no, he wanted to see our son's face when I got to see it.
With the next contraction I pushed involuntarily again, but my body stopped so I gave it another moment. One more contraction, many deep breaths in and out later and with a loud splash his body came at 8:42 a.m., about 5 hours of labor. I immediately cried out, "That was so incredible!" And everyone laughed with me.
He cried out right away and my midwife laid my son on the ground between my legs so I could pick him up. I picked up my boy and thanked God for him many times.
My daughter slept through the entire experience and woke up to her baby brother.
This birth was healing in so many ways. It was everything I’d prayed for and more. Not only did God redeem my past trauma, but he helped me to surrender fully to Him in His entirety.
Christine and David Carter are parents of two littles. She and her husband experienced secondary infertility for 3 years after the birth of their daughter and a miscarriage in 2020. After surgery for endometriosis and PCOS in January of 2022, they found out they were successfully pregnant 3 months later and prayed hard for this healthy labor and baby.