On March 16th before I went to sleep I set my alarm for 7:55 am, because my mom had decided to take the next day off and treat me to some pampering. That night, though, I laid in bed thinking: ‘Anaya, tomorrow would be a pretty good day to decide to come.’ To be honest every day after March 8th (her due date), I laid in bed thinking that. LOL! To be even more honest, that thought was running through my head at night at least two weeks prior to her due date, too! I’ve been ready for her to make her debut for some time now! Anyway, on March 17th my alarm went off at 7:55 am. I got up from the couch & there it was… that familiar trickle of water that indicated a birth would be happening today. (Side Note: Glen was snoring the night before, which is why I was on the couch. If I fall asleep before him I’m fine, but I wasn’t really sleeping anyway so I made my way downstairs the night before.)
Many people think of March 17th and associate it with St. Patrick’s Day. I think of March 17th and associate it with a woman I never got to know as well as I would’ve liked to, but who gifted me with one of my greatest treasures in life: my momma! March 17th is my grandmother’s birthday. On March 17, 2017 she would’ve been 92 years old. Rather than getting a mani pedi, I got to celebrate by bringing her great granddaughter into the world. Anaya shares her birthday with her great grandmother. As impatient and anxious as I was getting, there was literally no better day in March for my sweet baby girl to be born. The perfection of the day does not end there.
So, my water broke. I made my way upstairs to tell Glen. I could tell he finally believed I was in labor. LOL! We had a couple of false alarms before that, but the actual breakage of the water was a solid signal for him. He had a meeting he was getting ready for at 8am. I told him to keep it, but cancel any plans he had after that. While he was in his meeting, I called my mom to cancel our plans. I could tell she was emotionally excited that this was the day. It’s funny because when we first told her the projected due date she said, “wouldn’t it be funny if she came on your grandma’s birthday?” Other things my mom spoke out into the universe for the Lord to hear: “You know Theo & Uriah were both born on Fridays;” & “I hope she comes during the day!” I’m pretty sure my mom has a direct line to the Lord, y’all! LOL!
After I called my mom, I called our doula to let her know what was up. At that point, the contractions hadn’t really started. I’d say contractions began at about 8:30 am. They were averaging 5 minutes apart, but they weren’t the really intense kind yet. They were pretty manageable. After I hung up from my doula, I paged the midwife. She called back within 2-3 minutes and I just let her know my water broke & answered other questions she had. It wasn’t really time for her to come yet, so she said to page her again later. This piece of instruction left me a little uneasy, but thank God for our doula because she was there a little after 10 am ready to help us get through the day!
After hanging up from my midwife, I got in the shower. I knew the boys would be waking up soon & I wanted to maintain as much normalcy to the start of their day as possible. I got myself together, and they were up soon thereafter. As we were all sitting at the table eating breakfast, I decided this would be a good time to tell them their sister was expected to arrive today. They were super excited, except for the part when their poppa & I tried to explain that they would probably see mom in moments of discomfort/pain but it just meant that sister was closer to arriving. Here’s a clip of that conversation:
The rest of the day was kind of a waiting game. I’m not going to lie, I was expecting it to go quick and that she’d be here by noon. LOL! However, when noontime came I figured I better not put a time on her arrival. I can’t say that I was really watching the clock, but I will say by ignoring the clock it made things go a lot smoother. Eventually, I let Glen & Chan (our doula) monitor the app that we used to keep track of my contractions and I was completely free to be in tune with my body. The entire home birth experience was exactly what I desired it to be and more.
My affirmations had been up for some time now, so it was nice to be able to walk around and encounter those reminders as I was breathing through contractions. My “Anaya” playlist was playing in the background. Let me tell ya! That playlist was exactly what I needed it to be when I needed it to be. I’m not even sure that last sentence made sense, but praise and worship through song has always been my way of encountering the Holy Spirit. The presence of the Lord filled my home on Friday, March 17th like I don’t know that I’ve experienced it before. That scripture in Isaiah 40 that talks about the Lord renewing my strength… let’s just say He did that ALL day long!!! The affirmations hanging, the lyrics of the worship songs in the playlist, the best husband in the entire world, the doula sent straight from above, the momma who loves me well, the sons who I can’t get enough of, the photographer who is the biggest sweetheart & a like-minded midwife with her team of angels were exactly who needed to fill my home on Friday. I praised God through and in between contractions with complete abandonment IN MY HOME!
I must admit the birth of my boys in the hospital was not a bad experience. I chose to have a home birth this time because I didn’t want to feel rushed and I like the idea of experiencing such a miraculous moment in the warmth of my home. Hospitals can be very sterile environments and don’t necessarily make me, personally, feel relaxed. Being in our home just made the whole thing feel so good. I could look out the window and see the wind blowing through the trees, I could hear birds chirping & the rays of the sun filled our living room. It was just a nice comfortable & familiar feeling. In fact, I feel a little more anxious in hospitals. Also, the nurses are on shifts, and depending what time you get into the hospital you could see 2-3 different teams just as you got used to the ones you like. I still remember Charmin from Theo’s birth. I remember feeling so abandoned when she had to go home. The nurses that followed her weren’t bad, but I had grown so attached to her that I did not want her to go. With this home birth, we literally picked our team and they were there the entire time. Not only that, but they were all like-minded in faith and process. Furthermore, after all was said and done we went upstairs to go to sleep! We didn’t have nurses in/out through the evening we just had a baby without a sleep schedule. Haha! It was great!
I think when we told people we were having a home birth, among their greatest concerns was how the boys would handle witnessing it. I really enjoyed being able to have the boys there. The decision to have them there came from the fact they’ve watched their sister grow inside of me for 41+ weeks. I didn’t want to just all of a sudden show up with her without them getting to somewhat understand the whole process. I know it could’ve been described to them, but how much more powerful (or deep) is one’s understanding if they can experience it themselves. My mom took them to the park at one point to get them out of the house so they didn’t go stir crazy. I will say I was a little caught off guard by both of their reactions. We called mom to come back prior to the time it seemed like it would be time to push. As you can probably imagine, things were even more intense than what the boys saw before they left. When they first got back, they both were poolside next to me seeing what was happening. In between contractions, I did what I could to look at them and smile just to reassure them I was ok. Eventually, Theo excused himself to his room because he didn’t like hearing me in so much distress and what he equated to pain. Uriah was poolside the entire time reassuring me that I was ok… “Mommy, you’re ok!” is what he kept saying. I cannot even begin to tell you how proud I am of my boys. I’m impressed with Theo for knowing his limitations and removing himself from a situation that made him uncomfortable. I knew he was mature for his age, but I don’t know that I knew he was that mature. I’m impressed with Uriah for being such a great source of encouragement during what was the most intense part of the labor. Hearing his voice saying those three words repeatedly gave me so much willpower.
When the midwife arrived at about 4pm, I was only 7cm dilated. This was a fact she didn’t share with me at that time. In retrospect, I’m glad I didn’t ask & I’m glad she didn’t tell me. At that point in the labor I know I would’ve felt so defeated. By the time she arrived I felt like I was ready to push! My midwife, her assistants & my doula kept telling me to listen to my body… to basically “operate” (my word) according to how my body seemed to be telling me to move. So I did just that. At some point they could see the baby crowning. This meant it was “go time!” One instruction they told me that I never heard in the hospital was to “feel your baby” and to “move your baby.” Haha! I still don’t know if I understood what they meant by move your baby, but feeling Anaya as she was coming out was HUGE!!! Being able to feel her made it so much more real that she was coming. It made the pushing so much more intentional and manageable. Between feeling her & hearing Uriah say, “You’re ok, mommy!” I got a pretty big dose of adrenaline. The plan was for Glen to catch Anaya, but the midwife had to intervene to reposition Anaya as she came out. Anaya Zai Henry took her first breath at 5:02 pm. A breath that represented so much more than life itself. It represented God’s promises in our life.