Wayne and I conceived our son after attending a Guns N’ Roses concert. I don’t know if it was the Mango White Claws, or Axl Rose’s dance moves, but after seven years of zero luck, we finally did it! The morning we found out, I woke up early and just felt the need to take a pregnancy test. When I saw those little pink lines show up, I was in total disbelief. I remember saying, “Oh my gosh, oh my gosh,” over and over again. Tears weld up in my eyes, as I screamed and immediately ran to wake up Wayne. He was totally in shock. We quickly got dressed and headed to Target to buy every pregnancy test on the shelf. (I swear, by now, I should have stock in pregnancy tests.) After peeing on five at once, there it was – all the proof we needed. We were going to be parents. It was finally our turn. I remember standing in the bathroom recollecting on all of the disappointments. Time after time, seeing the words “Not pregnant” come across that little stick. They all made sense now. This was it. This was our time.
The Birth Plan:
Early on, after a series of events, we made the decision to birth outside of a normal hospital setting. I was really unsure of the direction that Covid was going to take and did not want to risk the potential of birthing alone, like so many women have had to endure in the last two years. We were so blessed to find the California Birth Center in Rocklin, California. They provided us with an exceptional experience from our prenatal care up to birth. Now, we are receiving our postpartum care for myself and our son. The California Birth center and their team of midwives provided excellent education throughout my pregnancy. Not only that, they speak life and confidence into you, to assure you that you CAN successfully have an unmedicated birth.
My vision for my birth was to have Jackson in the bathtub. I had seen so many natural births happen this way, and as a bath lover, I thought this would be the perfect scenario for me. I spent months visualizing my birth and seeking God’s voice for strength and reassurance. For those of you that have an interest in a natural birth; I truly believe that the mind work begins early on in pregnancy. Daily, I would take time for myself to mentally prepare for what was to come.
The Day Of:
The last couple of months of my pregnancy had been very difficult. I experienced severe SPD (Symphysis Pubis Disfunction – who knew that was a thing?!) and walking had become a major struggle for me at this point. If you guys know me, you know that I am a total control freak. The week prior to delivery, I had gone into false labor. I kept thinking, “this is it, this is it.” I experienced contractions in my abdomen and back for about two hours and then they dissipated. The following week at 39 weeks, I had no symptoms. It was a beautiful Wednesday morning and I thought, “This boy is going to stay put for another two weeks.” I carried on with my regular work day and that evening Wayne and I went out to dinner. When we came home that night, we watched the most amazing documentary called, My Love on Netflix. The documentary series showcases various couples that have been married for 60 plus years. Wayne and I got really emotional while watching it and talked about our life and our dreams for our family. It was a beautiful night. When we got in bed, it was about 11:30. I laid down and suddenly heard this, “POOF!” I looked over at Wayne next to me and asked, “Did you just hear that?” He obviously didn’t. I thought maybe my water had broken. I stood up and immediately had to pee. After peeing, I noticed that I had lost my mucus plug. I was elated! I peed again about four times in a matter of fifteen minutes. Contractions started immediately, along with all of the questioning thoughts. “Is this it? Is this real?” I had read about back labor, but had no clue the intensity of what the experience would be like, I just knew that these contractions were different. I left our bedroom and went out into the living room to bounce on my exercise ball. The contractions were coming faster and faster and getting on my hands and knees was the only thing that felt right. I turned on my labor playlist and lit some candles. I wanted to create the most calming experience that I could, if this was true labor. After three hours of contractions timing five minutes apart, Wayne called our midwife. Even then, I asked him, “Do you think this is real!?” The pressure on my back was getting more and more intense…”Breathe Alex, breathe. You CAN do this.”
It’s Go Time:
We headed to the Birth Center at 3 AM. The drive is about 40 minutes from our house. I learned through a series of videos that Moo Breathing could help with the pain. You breathe in and moo out. With the intensity of my contractions elevating, I remembered this technique. Music has always been my source of therapy. My plan was to continue with Jackson’s labor playlist, which included really calming worship music. On the drive, I looked at Wayne and told him, “Beyoncé, I need Beyoncé.” I put on a song called Freedom, and blasted it as loud as I could. Through the song came more contractions and I tried to focus on the lyrics and my breath. “Mooooooo.” We made it to the birth center and our midwives greeted us outside. When we arrived to our birthing room, I got back into all fours position to push through the next contraction. I knew I was dilating and prayed that I would be close to ten… my midwives checked me and I was only at a three. I was devastated. How could I only be at a three? My midwives stated that they were thinking of sending me home to continue to labor there. They had us stay put for another 45 minutes to allow my labor to progress. As the contractions continued, I wanted to try another position. I got into the bathtub. It had been my first time to experience the size of the tub. For those of you reading that don’t know, I am five feet tall on a good day. I didn’t consider the size of the bathtub, prior to labor. As the water filled, another contraction came. I immediately had to get onto all fours to push through the pain. The water was hitting my chin at half way full and I immediately felt claustrophobic. I had to get out of there, as nausea started to kick in. The minute my feet hit the floor, I began to throw up. My beautiful husband got there just in time with a barf bag. I made it the the toilet and continued to puke. “Is this normal?” My husband asked our midwife. “Oh yes, vomiting usually happens at three centimeters, and seven centimeters.” Another contraction was coming. I made it back to the bed to get onto my hands and knees to breathe through it. You know the feeling when you’re working out and you’re pushing through your last squat? You’ve just completed your last one, and now you’ve got to do one more? That was the pain. That was the pressure on my back for the last six hours.
It was time to check my dilation again. Laying on my back was the last thing I wanted to do. When my midwife checked me, another contraction came. I was now at a seven. Praise the LORD, I was progressing. I knew then, we weren’t going back home without this baby in our arms. What a surreal feeling. As the contractions continued to progress, my amazing midwife did all that she could to alleviate the back pain. She used essential oils and the smell and light massage was incredibly calming. I was getting tired. Another contraction came. “Breathe through it, Alex. You’re really strong. Focus on your breath. This is BIG.” I wanted to crawl out of my skin. My fight, or flight response had kicked in and I wanted to fly. My midwife had been checking our son’s heart rate and positioning throughout the labor process. Jackson was in perfect position throughout my pregnancy. Now, he had moved sunny side up. “Okay Alex, we are going to have to switch your positioning to get the baby to move back into position.” I switched between my right and left sides to rotate Jackson with Wayne wrapped around my neck. After an hour, we were able to flip him back into position.
“I think I have to poop? Am I pooping?” I kept asking. “Moooooooo.” The contractions continued and were very intense; I didn’t know if I was going to be able to do this. I was whispering in Wayne’s ear, “I can’t do this, take me to the hospital.” My midwives told me the closer and closer I got, these thoughts would enter into my brain. “I have to poop. Am I peeing? Moooooooo.” I started to get angry. I’ve always been someone who could control my thoughts. In this scenario, I couldn’t. I couldn’t think away the pain. “Pretend you’re on the Peloton, Alex. Pretend you’re on a massive incline and you’ve got twenty minutes to go. Remember what you always say to yourself – you can do anything in twenty minutes. You can do anything in an hour,” I thought. Another contraction was coming. Now, they were back to back with barely any relief. At this point, it had been seven hours of back labor. My back and hip muscles were so fatigued, that once it came time to push, I would need to get into an alternate position to successfully deliver our boy. “Can I get on the toilet, please?” The midwives brought me a birthing chair to try. Due to my size, the birthing chair was very close to the ground and very uncomfortable. “I just need the toilet!” I got onto the toilet, wrapped my hand around the grab bars and placed my feet onto the squatty potty. Wayne, my mom, and my birthing team were surrounding me. I was exhausted and pretty out of it. It was time to push.
Now, I don’t know about you, but I thought once getting to ten centimeters of dilation, your contractions stop and now you push. Well… that’s not how it works, folks! I continued to contract on the toilet and pushed with every contraction. “He’s crowning. Would you like to feel him?” Nope. I just wanted him here. “You’ve got this babe, keep pushing.” My moos have now escalated to intense growls. I pushed out his head. I looked at my team and asked them if I could take a break. They all laughed and said yes. I looked at my husband in the eyes. I started to see the emotion come over his face. We just ran a marathon together and the finish line was within sight. This was it. We were about to meet our son. I took a deep breath. Wayne looked at me and said, “You can do this. Finish it.” I pushed and growled. He was here. Jackson Reign Jensen was now in my arms. I sobbed with joy. “My baby boy! My beautiful baby boy. Oh, thank you Jesus. Thank you, Jesus.” Wayne and I cried together as we welcomed our son into the world on the morning of his 37th birthday. May 26, 2022. 8 AM on the dot, six pounds and fifteen ounces of pure joy. God is good.
The After Birth:
I held Jackson in my arms as my birth team guided me to the bathroom floor. They placed a yoga mat down and let me know it was time to birth my placenta. I’ve heard from others that there can be complications with this, and I was fearful of what could be coming next. I focused on my son. But my body and mind were so tired, that I felt like I wasn’t present. My placenta pushed out successfully, as I felt a large volume of blood creep up my back. My midwives placed my placenta next to me in a bowl on the floor. The Birth Center encourages leaving the cord in tact for a while following delivery. This organ that provided nutrients to our son for nine months is his greatest asset. I laid on the floor for about forty minutes. It was now time to move into bed to try to latch. I handed our baby over to Wayne and got into the shower – I felt incredibly weak and light headed. Suddenly, I lost my hearing. “You doing okay, Alex? You’re turning white on me.” My midwife held me up as I worked to navigate over to the bed. She examined me and found that I could have a potential clot within my cervix. “Okay, Alex. We are going to have to go into your cervix to remove the clot.” This is what I had heard and read about. As she entered, I started having another contraction. I mentally went into another place when she removed the clot. The pain of this was more than I can describe.
After safely removing the clot and stitching me up, (I had a small tear. I truly believe the toilet saved me from additional tearing.) It was now time to practice latching. Due to the blood loss, I was unable to mentally participate with my son to successfully latch. Even now, I get emotional about this. Jackson and I are still working to latch – which we will connect on in another post! My amazing husband stepped in at this point, and latched our baby to his nipple. I know it sounds crazy, but he wanted to provide him comfort, so that I could sleep. After a couple hours of rest and getting a good meal into my system, we were ready to head home with our beautiful boy.
What I learned the most throughout my entire pregnancy and labor experience, is that life doesn’t always go as planned. As an avid planner, I am quickly learning that motherhood is totally out of my control. I am learning to let go and allow Jesus to guide me through this process. After seven years of trying, we are now parents. The zen experience I intended to have, ended up being on the toilet with a squatty potty! But God always shows up. It may not look the way we think. But he always, always shows up and His perfect vision is absolutely beautiful, worthy and enough.
Remember always – YOU ARE WORTHY.