The Birth of Olive June

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By: Kristie Graybill

Birth has the tendency to unveil your greatest fears and expose areas of strength that you never knew existed. For me, this third baby has freed my soul and changed me in ways I’m not quite able to put into words. But before the days of toddler messes and newborn cuddles cloud my memory, I must put my best foot forward in jotting down the details of this triumphant day. The day our Olive June arrived.

Our home birth story came at the start of a new decade. Quite literally, too, as Olive made her grand entrance earth side twelve days after the new year. A due date babe. A baby born after 29 hours of physical, emotional and spiritual turmoil. 29 hours of facing my physical fears and pleading with God to remove the pain and to offer supernatural strength. Strength I knew I could not muster up in my own doing. 29 hours of trusting the process. Trusting my body to do what it was born to do. After 29 hours, light transcended the darkness and my daughter was in my arms.

This was my third pregnancy in four years. The first two were beautiful, unmedicated hospital births that I was fortunate enough to have no complications pre or postnatally. Both of which I felt supported, heard and validated in all my birthing requests. However, with the switch from healthcare insurance companies, doors opened for our family to pursue my desire for a home birth. To us, our home is sacred. A space we moved into as newlyweds. Our first big purchase together as a married couple. A space that allowed us to begin our family of three and then soon after our party of four. With the plan to move within the year, we could think of no better way but to celebrate the birth of our third child within the walls that already held so much love and memories and togetherness.

While the name we chose for her was a nod to the peaceful olive branch, the labor she and I wrestled through couldn’t be further from this. Right away, contractions were close together and filled with intensity. The birth team gathered shortly after I contacted them and the house soon filled with feelings of anticipation and excitement. A baby was soon being born into the world! Who could think of a better way to spend the weekend?!? The clock ticked and labor progressed, slowly but surely. The birth team patient, kind and plenty encouraging. My husband, my dear husband, working tirelessly to get the hose attached so I could labor in the tub.

The tub was filled and located in the center of our bedroom. A symbol of tranquility. During intense contractions, I wanted to be nowhere else except in the water. Unfortunately, though, the water slowed my labor down drastically and even stopped contractions all together. This prompted my team to encourage me to get moving. Lunges, squats, stairs. Dilation was slow, tumultuous and incredibly painful. My midwife, Deanna Kopf, and her attendant Tina Overton thought the unpredictable labor pattern I was experiencing was due to Olive’s positioning in the womb. Katie Kirkpatrick, my doula and best friend, educated in Spinning Babies and other positioning exercises, thought it best to use asymmetrical movements which would help Olive descend into the pelvis. After laboring for close to 20 hours, the team needed a little rest. The labor gods were kind to both Olive and I as the intensity paused for a few hours and Tyler and I were able to get some rest. Deanna and Tina found a bed in the basement and Katie snoozed on the floor of my daughters’ room.

Around 5:15 am the next day, I texted Deanna for my (and Olive’s) vitals to be checked. Both of which came back normal. While my family and friends were wondering where this baby was and what was the hold up, my team remained calm and assured both Tyler and I that time was the only thing this babe needed to emerge. And more movement and exercise. I pleaded desperately with them to let me just get back into the tub. They heard my request but explained that draining and refilling (since the water was cold and at risk of containing bacteria at this point) would take an hour or more. Katie gave me a peanut ball and I laid on the bed to labor there while the tub refilled. My contractions became incredibly intense and my laboring sounds changed. Both Tyler and Tina were downstairs heating up pots of water on the stove to hurry the tub filling process along. I felt the urge to push powerfully and deeply and Olive’s head appeared! Katie yelled that the head was born and Tyler and Tina hurried upstairs. Three strong pushes later and a midwife’s hand assisting Olive’s shoulders in sliding out, she plopped on my bed. Stunned, I stared at my crying baby. Tyler announced the gender and I slowly repositioned so I could hold her on my chest. All the pain was gone. Never to be felt again. The contractions vanished. The vomiting subsided. The uncontrollable shaking disappeared. Never did I think this moment would emerge but as with all suffering and pain, dawn eventually emerges. A beautiful birth story etched in my memory and never to be physically, emotionally and spiritually felt again.

While, in the moment, I wanted nothing more than relief and for it all to be over, I do not regret a single decision I

made leading up to her entrance into the world. I had to experience the pain of January 11th to gain the joy of January 12th.

Welcome to the world, sweet girl.

 

** A huge heart of gratitude and overwhelming love goes out to my extraordinary team. Katie, Deanna, Tina and Tyler, Olive and I were so blessed to have you by our side every step of the journey.

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