The Birth of Jonah Austin

I left this world to birth our son. My water broke at noon the day before he was born. I didn’t know if he’d come that day or several days later, and I wasn’t feeling any movement or contractions, so my husband, Joe, and I ate lunch at the park in the rain while my waters poured out of me onto a towel – our last outing before we became a family of three. Around 8:00 pm, I wondered if what I was feeling was contractions. It went from an innocent, “Is this a contraction?” to full on, hands-and-knees, active labor where I was barely verbal. Joe and my sister, Carly, were by my side the entire time, encouraging my guttural moans and holding me close. When our birth doula arrived, she was steady and confident, supporting me in my desire to labor in the water (bathtub, shower, then birth tub) and helping Joe.  

I labored into the night, wailing and moaning. I had 7 hours of excruciating surges ahead of me, but I didn’t know that. All I knew was that my body was leading the way. I resisted a lot, I let go of a ton, I stood in my own way and then swiftly had to get out of it with pure will and strength from somewhere down deep. I was taken to a veiled land of primal instinct and desperate determination. I could hear people and sometimes see them but only through a fog. My sister said that when she looked into my eyes, I wasn’t there. The me she knew was suspended elsewhere for this time, and the me with the strength and instinct of an animal came alive. You could say I was more “me” than ever — completely naked of any ego, insecurity, self consciousness – entirely raw. Stripped down to my essence and meeting my greatest challenge and my most soul-fulfilling joy, experiencing one of the most rewarding and body-wrenching things a human body can – the death of a maiden and the birth of a mother and her child. I was swept away by the waves and intensity, giving myself up to both the unknown and the primal knowing. 

About four hours into labor, my midwives arrived after hearing how close and intense the contractions were, encouraging me to say YES to the surges, helping me see them as pure life force moving within me. After a couple hours laboring in the birth tub, the urge to push came on strongly, and I followed it. The pushing was primal, all encompassing, satisfying, a purging. I could feel Jonah’s head pulse into my hand, his wet hair soft in my fingers. After 30 minutes, Jonah shot out (head and body at once!) in the birth tub in our bedroom after “just” 7 hours of sudden and intense active labor that went from zero to 100 within minutes. I was in shock. My first words to him were, “Hi. I’m your mama,” and everything else faded into the background. 

I knew I wanted Joe, Carly, and our birth doula, Kailtin, to be present at the birth, and after working with pregnant and postpartum women and diving into women’s sexuality and the birth world for many years, I knew I wanted to birth in the comfort and security of my own home. I wanted autonomy. I wanted to be surrounded by people who trusted me, my body, and our baby. I wanted to feel revered, respected, in charge, powerful. I wanted to be celebrated by people who treasured birth as the rite of passage it is and who would encourage me to go to great depths to find the strength and release to bring our baby to the world, who would hold the space for me to go there and return safely. It was important to me to be able to labor and birth where and how my body wanted, undisturbed and without intervention, to have control over our environment and what happened afterward (the ability to decide about certain tests, vaccines, cord cutting, breastfeeding, time alone as a family, skin-to-skin contact), and to allow for the regulation of baby’s and my nervous system, thus creating an environment of safety and calm for his emergence into the world. I also planned to remain home in the weeks after birth in our postpartum cave, and this allowed us to peacefully transition into rest and recovery mode. I did this because birth and postpartum recovery matter for a woman’s lifelong health and baby’s wellbeing.

When I interviewed my midwives initially, I knew we were meant to be together. I left their office feeling energetic, excited, and understood. Their care was unmatched, and their trust and faith in me and my body from day 1 was beautiful. They put me and Joe at ease throughout the entire pregnancy, provided information and assurance, laughed and cried with us, believed in us, watched over me during birth, and lifted baby Jonah onto me in the birth tub when the position my body chose to birth in wasn’t conducive to my catching him. They sewed up my tear with care and communication. They tucked us into bed and helped initiate breastfeeding. They did Jonah’s newborn exam on our bed next to me and came back many times to check on us all during postpartum home visits. Even though I had left the verbal plane of where everyone was for most of my laboring journey, I could hear their voices throughout and remember snippets of the encouraging words and suggestions they offered. They also served as amazing resources after the birth in helping me piece together parts of my story. Hearing their version of my birth was also fascinating and healing. 

Beyond the more cognitive parts of what I remember from my birth, I remember the feelings in my bones — utter ecstasy, excruciating pain (I’ll personally choose to use that word), doubt, confidence, courage, and the comfort of knowing we were safe. My birth showed me what I was capable of, and being able to see that healed so many of my old wounds.

One piece I love about my home birth is that I get to relive these incredible moments every day as I walk down my hallway, lie in my bed, take a shower. I can always look around and garner strength from the memory of what my body and mind did, of what I’m capable of as a human being and a woman. There have been so many days and nights since then that I’ve mustered up more strength from those memories than I knew was available in me. I can always look to the spot in my room where the birth tub was, close my eyes and remember his tiny body against mine for the first time, and relish in the memory of the night baby Jonah and I were born into a new world.

Join the Motherhood Pages Newsletter!

Sign up to receive a weekly email with our most recent writings sent directly to your inbox!

We don’t spam!

Recommended Posts