After a pregnancy filled with anticipation and excitement, we are so thrilled to share that Abigail Nahanni Lang, our little miracle babe, was born on Saturday, October 21st at home in Inglewood! It’s almost Saturday and hard to believe that it’s been a week already – time has been both flying by and standing still – and we are so in love with this little one! Before too much time passed, I wanted to share her birth story; every birth story is an amazing one when there’s a healthy mama and babe on the other side, and I’m so grateful for that outcome with our little Abby. (Note: nothing graphic in terms of pictures but definitely detail and lots of photos ahead as this is a way for me to journey this huge moment in our lives, as well!) 🙂
It all started Friday night, when, after working out but struggling to do so, I came home and felt slow – heavy, tired, and like I just didn’t want to leave the house. The options for my evening were prenatal yoga or a likely last movie date with Mikey, and while both sounded so good, I told my yoga teacher I wouldn’t be there and told Mikey I didn’t want to go out. They both were so understanding but it seemed odd to me that I just wanted to stay put. I then started feeling anxious and nervous – not quite fearful, but apprehensive for sure – and I started reaching out to friends via text and Instagram, just to hear their birth stories and connect with questions. I was met with lots of positive affirmation and encouragement but couldn’t shake a scared feeling, which was new for me in my pregnancy as I had been reinforcing the truth that this is what my body was made to do and, when the time came, I could and would do it. The curiosity I’d felt for so long was turning to nerves, but my friends’ affirmations and the knowledge that I could do helped me remain confident at my core. After a few episodes of “Suits” on Netflix, we called it a night around 12:30 am, much later than usual for us as I think I was delaying going to bed because of this feeling.
It wasn’t 1:30 am when I started feeling what I knew were contractions. I was curious as to if I’d know when they started coming, but there was no denying the feeling that these were more than cramps. They weren’t painful, but I definitely couldn’t sleep through them, so I got up and started walking around, laying on the couch, and breathing through the contractions, which were about 5 – 9 minutes apart from the start. I knew I had lots of time to go, so I was hoping not to wake Mikey up – better one of us be rested! – but he eventually realized I wasn’t in the bed around 3:30 am and got up, suddenly wide awake. He started cleaning everything (which I really appreciated! It was so interesting how he swung into action in his own way) and eventually started timing my contractions when I knew they were getting closer – I didn’t want to be discouraged knowing the time apart if we had ages to go. Just like on long hikes, I hate knowing how much farther we have to go when it starts getting tough; I like to get in the zone and only check in when I know progress has been made. My contractions were about 20 – 30 seconds and I started cluing into what that looked like – just a few concentrated breaths and then it was gone – and we carried on like this, me saying “Okay!” when it started and “Okay!” when it stopped and Mikey just recording info without relaying the specifics to me.
As dawn approached, we decided to call our doula, Allison, at 6 am. She showered, got her gear together, and was at our house around 7 am. She really helped as the contractions were now building in intensity and duration, by reminding me not to just to breathe out but to think about the quality of my breath – big, open mouth breathing, more like a “ho” sound, to keep me relaxed and the baby moving downward. I was really getting in the zone and stayed on the steps, because any time I took a step or two my contractions would kick right back in, which, despite not getting much relief, was good. So slowly up and down our steep stairs on 8 Ave I climbed, stopping to breathe and “ho” it out, feeling myself become more instinctual and less practiced as each contraction passed.
I also labored a bit on the toilet to open up my hips and change up my position towards the end, which wasn’t comfortable but I knew was working. It was a bright, clean space and I hung out there alone and did my thing, with my water being passed to me several times but having avoided much touch throughout the process – I felt very supported but wanted to labor independently.
I knew Mikey would call the midwives when it was time, so he made the call at some point when he and Allison decided my contractions were long enough (they had sure been close enough! Just not that 60 second mark in length) and they arrived around 11:00 am. They set up, and once they set up, checked me on the bed. “Bonnie, you have no cervix. It’s time to push!” I wasn’t shocked or confident about this – I hadn’t thought about my dilation at all, because, again, I work better to persevere through something physical when I don’t have all the facts – and around 11:45 am I began to push. Although I never anticipated I’d be on the bed for labor, we ended up trying a few times on my sides and returned to my back, where, amid vibrant laughs and words of support from Mikey, I pushed, relaxed, pushed, and relaxed.
Mikey was helping me take sips of water, Allison was snapping pictures, Helen (my midwife, along with Deb taking charts in the kitchen) was helping to direct my focus, and Mikey was so full of life the whole time!
I could hear Mikey’s excitement when the head was coming, but it felt like I wasn’t making true progress. I was hoping it was more of a “two steps forward, one step back” kind of thing, and eventually they said, “Feel her now!” and that head was RIGHT THERE, almost out! With another push the head was out and she let out a big cry, body still waiting to be free! Every time I didn’t think I had one more push in me I pushed once more before relaxing, and after 45 minutes of this back and forth dance, little Abigail Nahanni was born.
It was surreal, and being able to birth at home was such a huge blessing that felt both natural and unique at the same time. Here are a few scenes from the home birth:
(7 lbs, 13 ounces and healthy as can be!)
FaceTiming family (much later in the day! Mikey took this one)
Celebrating with Allison with our post-birth victory treat: Reese’s PB cups – awesome idea, Mikey! 🙂
A placenta on the kitchen counter with snack food. I loved that!
Abigail means “father’s joy” and Nahanni means “running free” in the Dene language, and is also the name of the river we were planning to kayak this summer when we thought we couldn’t have kids… But God had other plans, and one day we’ll raft the Nahanni with our miracle Abby – even better than we could have planned.
I approached my pregnancy with both curiosity and confidence, knowing that so much was out of my hands but also that, through proper nutrition (to the best of my ability and without stressing!), fitness/movement, breath and mindset work, and extra care like having a good team (in the BirthPartnership Midwives, our doula Allison, chripractic care from Dr. Travis Cox along the way, BirthFit programming, and Mikey!) that there was much I could do to make this the best experience possible. I wasn’t modifying my training during pregnancy – I was training for birth! – in all these different aspects. And birth was largely the same process. Although it wasn’t without its own slightly scary moments (I ended up tearing in two places, perhaps due to aggressive pushing, or who knows, really!, and lost about 750 ml of blood), it was full of joy in the midst of pain – I wasn’t laboring in vain! And the beautiful moments really stand out – like hearing Mikey’s laugh, Allison’s breathing cues, Helen saying “You’ve got this, Bonnie” with quiet confidence, and Mikey praying for me to stop bleeding – at which point I instantly did! No need for the IV they were prepping after God answered that prayer. He was so in the midst of little Abby’s conception, pregnancy and birth!
And now, the adventure begins… Thanks for all your love and support along the way! Praise God for a great birth experience filled with curiosity and confidence – just how I’ll try to keep approaching each adventure that comes our way as a family of three.
Live well & be well!
Bonnie, Mikey & Abigail Nahanni