On the morning of Sunday, August 21st I woke up at 3:30am with what felt like either period cramps or an upset stomach. We had gotten chipotle tacos after doing pictures the previous night so I thought that maybe they weren't sitting well. (Come to find out that it definitely wasn't the tacos.)
From about 3:30-7 I started to realize the cramping was coming in regular waves. When John got up I expressed this to him and he encouraged me to text our doula Elle. I explained to her what I was feeling and she said that it could be early labor and to let her know if things progressed. Honestly, I was in denial and figured they were Braxton hicks. I thought, "I'm a first time mom, there's no way I'm going into labor at 38 weeks. Most go past their due dates and labor for up to 24 hours."
Between 7:30-9:30 things gradually started to move forward. The waves required more of my attention to breathe through and relax my body. I asked John to blow up the birth ball so I could lean over it and sway. From there, it really started to pick up and we both decided that this was definitely labor. But going back to my thoughts, we both figured we'd have plenty of time? John started to get our bags ready, feed/walk the dog and let Denise know that I probably wouldn't be at the barn later.
By that point, things were getting pretty intense and John suggested I get into the shower. I got in and it felt so good to feel the warm water go down my back and belly. I continued to sway but my voice gradually got louder. The only way I could get through the waves was to roar them out.
John, realized things were moving pretty quick and called the doula. She asked how far apart the contractions were so we timed one... 2 minutes and 40 seconds. Her immediate reply was, "Well, we're having a baby today!" Things got more intense, I started to feel a lot of downward pressure and my roaring got louder.
I vividly remember hearing Elle's words as I was in the shower... "You're doing great mama. Your body is doing exactly what it needs to do. Keep breathing." She told John that nothing was wrong, everything I was doing was perfectly normal and I was okay.. but we needed to get moving to the hospital. Elle then texted our midwife that we were on our way.
John helped me get out of the shower and get dressed because at this point my mind and body were in another world riding the waves and not fully aware. As soon as we put my pants on another wave came and I felt a gush of water between my legs. My hand went down and I roared out, "my water just broke!" The water was clear so John grabbed a towel and we made our way out to the car. Needing to stop another time before I got in to ride another wave.
The drive to the hospital was honestly a blur for me. My primal brain kicked in, I was roaring through and all I felt was my body trying to push the baby out. John, all I can say is you were so strong staying focused on the drive while I roared out that my body had started to push.
He drove 100 down the highway and when we were a few miles away from the hospital (it's a solid 30 minutes from where we live) we pulled up next to a police officer. John rolled down his window to get his attention and yelled out, "my wife is having a baby, can you get us to the hospital?" The cop nodded and drove us the rest of the way.
When we pulled up to the hospital at about 11:12am, my midwife was thankfully there to meet us. I'll always remember her opening the door, smiling at me and saying, "hi Sarah, how are you doing?" To which I had smiled back and said I was doing so good. They brought out a wheelchair and John helped me get out of the car and reverse kneel onto the chair.
By that point, my hand was at my perineum and I could feel his head starting to emerge. I roared out that I could feel his head and that my body continuing to push. They quickly wheeled us into the building, up the elevator and down the hall to the delivery room while I continued to roar and ride the waves.
Once we got into the room, I got onto the bed and kneeled over the headboard with one hand gripping the bed and one hand at my perineum. John right in front of me, my midwife Lindsey at my side and my doula Elle right alongside her. At the next wave I felt his head start to emerge but it slowly went back inside, giving me a brief moment to breathe. At the next wave and in one push his head and body came out. I was in such shock that Lindsey said, "You can grab your baby Sarah!" As I reached down and pulled him to my chest, his legs opened and I saw that it was a boy. Words can't begin to explain the emotion that overcame me and at 11:28am, Charlie Paul Cheatham joined us earth-side.
I kept Charlie at my chest while we left the cord attached for about 20 minutes until it stopped pulsing. John did the honor of cutting the cord and then held Charlie while I delivered the placenta. I had a very small tear that didn't require stitches so we all settled down to soak in everything that had happened.
Was Charlie's birth how I pictured it would go? Absolutely not, but it was exactly what I wanted. I had a fully natural birth with no medication, iv's or intervention. I listened to my body, gave in fully to the experience and let my primal brain take over to birth our son. It forever will be the most incredible and empowering of my entire life.