Damon’s Birth Story: Home Water Birth
Name: Amy Botha
Baby Name: Damon Botha
Weight: 7 lb 2 oz
Gestation: 40 weeks 2 days
Time of Birth: 5:39am
Location of Birth: Coronado, CA (home)
I was 2 days past due and my water broke at 7pm. Our midwife Brooke of Mother to Mother Midwifery came over at 9pm and left by 10pm with so much support and guidance through early labor.
Early labor transitioned to hard labor in 15 minutes after she left! I labored in a hot bath tub through a few contractions about 3 mins apart. I realized quickly that I couldn’t stay in the bath for long because it hurt my knees and wrists being on all fours in the hard tub. Our doula Loni (@love_warrior_birth) came over at about 11:30 and helped me out of the tub to kneeling against the bed.
My husband Tyler was with me the whole time but he was running around preparing everything for the midwives and for me. He set up the birth pool in our room. I got in and the warm water was such a relief. A consistent pain was in my hip flexor where the tendons just felt like ropes tied in knots and pulling tight. Loni guided me through each contraction as, what I felt was ‘obnoxiously’ asking after each one where ‘I was’ in the whole process. I did get mad at Tyler but I really couldn’t do anything about expressing it because I was in hard labor. Our dog was in his kennel and he was whining during one of my contractions. Tyler was downstairs getting the hose to fill the pool. I was so worried about Beluga and couldn’t understand why Tyler wasn’t tending to him too. After that contraction, he put him downstairs and I just wanted Tyler near me the rest of the time.
I felt confused because the labor was so intense, so quickly that I didn’t know if I had many hours ahead of me like this and wasn’t sure if I could get through. I was so aware when my water broke and I was preparing mentally for labor to begin. There were so many things that I could never have prepared for that surprised me. One was that my water didn’t stop leaking out of me and it felt like so much coming out for hours, until I got in the pool. My mental state really started to go inward and I could not really ‘see’ anything in the room when I got in the bathtub right after Brooke left. So when I got in the pool, I focused on one contraction at a time. Once I got used to the warm water, Loni pouring warm water over my sacrum was the consistent and only relief throughout labor. 💧
Our other midwives, Kayti and Sunshine arrived around 3am. At that point I was in well into my inward focus through the pain. Another surprise was that I knew then that I could have never imagined what the contractions would feel like, and the pelvis opening would feel like. I knew I was grateful to have these feelings, even going through the hard labor. It felt like this was supposed to happen. I could only labor on all fours, facing forward, from the beginning. I tried other positions but the pain changed to sharp and excruciating and I went back to all fours. I was holding the hard plastic handle on the side of the tub with both my hands. I was throwing my face into the handle and my hands. I squeezed and bent that handle so much that I thought it was going to come off. Tyler’s head was right by mine and he was talking to me and helping me get through each contraction. In the next days my face was so bruised and red! I didn’t really notice what I was doing because my mind was in that amazing place of inward focus through pain.
Tyler called our friend that we wanted to come and take pictures and take care of Beluga too. Tammy came at around 4:15 when I was just starting to push. I felt how Damon was working with me to come out! Kayti was such a wonderful and gentle ‘coach’ through every second and helping Tyler be my main support through each contraction and rest. I was never told how much I was dilated or where I was (even though I was persistent in asking!) because the baby was coming and they allowed me to be in tune with my body and Damon to know what was happening. The transition contractions were just incredibly intense and like nothing I could imagine. I was then pushing for about 20 contractions. It surprised me how many contractions I had to push for, although Kayti said that I ‘made progress’ each contraction and that it was very fast. For some reason in my mind, I thought it would be much faster after the transition. Maybe I just wanted it to be!! The other surprise was that I was hurting in the front of my vagina, where I had a slight tear. That pain was stinging and not like the other deep pressure of my bones moving and Damon coming through. The tear felt like sharp pain where it wasn’t supposed to happen. But it was ok! And normal. Sunshine kept checking Damon’s heartbeat and the pressure of her touching my stomach with the stethoscope was not pleasant! I told them I knew baby was fine. I felt him being ok and working with me. It was the first time I really felt a connection to him, in more ways than physical! His heartbeat was always great and well over 100. Damon came to us at 5:39am. Kayti caught him but Tyler also brought him up out of the water. I wanted to reach down and bring him up, but I could not let go of that handle! Tyler instinctively unwrapped the cord from his neck and his first cry came when he was on my chest. I couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful birth and baby! The natural high we had will lift my spirits for the rest of my life!
I stayed in the tub for a bit and was just indescribably elated. My placenta came about 10 minutes after birth and I really didn’t even feel it was a contraction. Maybe it was but I don’t remember! I was so happy! Kayti was so happy with my placenta and how it was broken for Damon to come out. Those first moments were just so magical. It felt so good to lean back and be able to hold our baby in the water. Tyler then took him and I was able to get out of the tub and onto our bed. Tyler got to cut the cord. Damon shortly after that, suckled on my breast and took to it pretty well for the first time. He was 7 lbs 2 oz and 22 inches and healthy! Kayti then stitched me up right there on the bed. I had frozen sitz pads ready to wear after stitches and birth. It felt so good to be in bed with Damon and Tyler. Our other doula Stephanie came over with warm foods and drinks for me. Stephanie and Loni were very supportive in the weeks after birth in so many ways and things they did for me. Our midwives, Kayti and Sunshine came to see us 3 times in the first week after birth to check on me and baby Damon. We had such great support and love! Damon is a shining testament to how he came into this world because he so happy, patient, alert and sweet.
I learned throughout pregnancy, labor and birth that I really am empowered by understanding information about these all new experiences for me and baby. I wanted to intellectually process all the physical and emotional feelings that I was having and that helped me deal with the difficulties of labor and life after! I thought I was more easy going, I guess, about parenting but I realized and accepted that it’s ok to be curious, questioning and informed. I think it brings out more of the caring nature in me to accept this.