The Birth of Porter
Porter’s birth story started months prior to April 19, 2019. I planned, prayed and prepared for his labor with everything in me. We planned to have a natural, unmedicated birth at a local birthing center in Nashville called Baby and Company. I desired to have a water birth, something I had dreamed of having for years prior. We loved our midwives and the birthing center was such a peaceful place to bring a little one into the world.
Birth is like a marathon. You do not just show up to a race without ever training, there is always upfront work and long hours of preparation for the race to be successful. I view birth in the same way. I knew I had to train my mind because doing this without drugs requires an insanely strong mindset and also an empowering and renewed view of the female body.
During my pregnancy, I filled my mind with POSITIVE birth stories, ones that reminded me that fear had no place at our birth. I listened to the Birth Hour Podcast and The Birthful Podcast, both of which I highly recommend. I read some excellent books such as Ina May’s Guide to Natural Childbirth, Birth Without Fear and The Mama Natural Pregnancy Book (HIGHLY recommend) and a few others that really encouraged me and helped me to have a strong mindset going into labor and delivery. I also prayed very specifically to the Lord about how I desired our birth to be, and talked with other moms who had good birth experiences. When the time came for Porter to arrive I was confident I had given the birth preparation my all and I was ready for it.
On the night of April 18, 2019 my best friend Jade was in town and staying the night with us. It was her last night with us and we joked about how fun it would be if she was here for when Porter was born. I brewed a huge batch of red raspberry leaf tea and we did an at-home workout to help get things going. I was still six days out from our due date, but I was SO ready to meet my little man, and I wouldn't complain if my bestie was there to meet him too.
That night I woke up at 1am with contractions. I had Braxton Hicks contractions since 25 weeks, so I thought it was false labor or more Braxton Hicks and tried to go back to sleep. I noticed they were very consistent and getting stronger so I got Craig up to start timing them. I was extremely uncomfortable and knew this wasn’t just Braxton Hicks anymore. I felt the urge to stand in between contracts and would drop to my hands and knees during a contraction. I had this rhythm going on, and as we timed them they got closer together and stronger. At 3am we called our midwife and doula to give them a heads up that we thought this was the real deal and they told us to wait at home as long as we could. I labored at home till 6am and at that point, they were about 4 minutes apart. Hoping to beat Nashville morning traffic, we decided to head to the birthing center.
The car ride was around 40 minutes and I remember feeling SO nauseous. I just wanted to throw up to feel better, it was so uncomfortable. I only had a few contractions in the car and they started to space back out after we arrived to Baby and Company. It is typically normal to see things slow down when you arrive to your place for delivery, and that's why it is advised to labor at home as long as you can because that is the most natural and comfortable place to be.
When we arrived our midwife checked me and I was only 4 cm dilated. I remember feeling pretty discouraged because I thought I would have been further along. Our birth photographer Jordana and our doula Sarah were there and I remember at this point being so present and just chatting with them while drinking homemade bone broth that Sarah had brought me. Looking back, that was the calm before the storm because, after that, things started to move very quickly.
Around 7am my contractions started to get more intense. I was still standing and swaying and would drop to my knees during a contraction. I remember at one point during this time feeling so overcome with emotions and just started sobbing on Craig. It felt like an insane hormonal rush, but also “this sucks and is getting really hard” type of cry. We moved into the birthing showers and it was then that I think my body started to go into active labor. I couldn't get comfortable at ALL! Nothing felt good and it got really mentally challenging. I tried the toilet, shower floor, leaning against the shower wall and nothing felt right for me in that space. I never once asked for an epidural or even thought about quitting or wanting to quit, but this moment, in particular, was one of those times where I had to dig DEEP into myself to find strength. The strength is always there if you dig and somehow I found it and got through the next contraction and then found it again for the next and so on.
I went back into the birthing suite and started laboring on my hands and knees and my water broke at around 7:45am. It wasn’t as dramatic as I pictured— it honestly just felt like I couldn’t stop peeing on myself. They don’t do continuous monitoring or checking at Baby & Co (which I loved, it felt peaceful to be able to do my own thing). But at this point, my doula called in my midwife and she confirmed that I had meconium in my water. In most cases, meconium is harmless. It is when the baby passes a bowel movement and the potential danger is that it could be inhaled as they are being delivered, causing respiratory issues. At Baby & Co they will transfer you to a hospital if there are signs of meconium to take extra precaution in case there is respiratory distress of the baby. I knew this could have been a possibility, but we honestly NEVER planned for a transfer. I didn't even pack a toothbrush or PJs because we were planning to go home a few hours post-birth.
When she told me we were transferring to Vanderbilt I was insanely calm and didn’t question anything. Looking back, that was totally the Lord’s peace. Even Craig told me later how surprised and proud of me he was for how calm I stayed, knowing this wasn’t what we wanted or planned for at all. I said goodbye to my waterbirth at that moment, but I knew God’s plan was better than mine.
I had to labor at Baby and Company until there was a room for us at Vanderbilt. This in-between time continued to get more challenging. I started throwing up and knew from our birthing class that this is a sign of the transition stage of labor (most intense part). I remember crying some more because the thought of getting in the car sounded like the worst thing in the world to me. Thankfully the drive was three minutes away and our midwife was in the back seat coaching me through some intense contractions. I stayed SO focused and everything felt blurry and like a dream. I was so in the zone and also very inside myself. At one point my doula told me I could make more noises, but that wasn't how I coped, I was actually pretty quiet and intense.
We got to Vanderbilt around 9:45am and I was wheeled up to triage. There was still no room opened up for us yet so I continued to labor on the tiny triage bed with my midwife, doula, Craig and our birth photographer in this tiny room. I was on my knees holding onto the back of the bed. I was SO in the zone at this point and I started to feel intense pressure and my body started to push… in triage!!! My midwife demanded we get a room because ready or not, baby Porter was coming! A room opened up and they wheeled me down to labor and delivery. I was still on all fours on this tiny bed and I wouldn't move. They covered me up with a blanket and down the hall we went.
Everything happened so quickly once we got to Vanderbilt that they didn't even hook me up to monitors or have time to put IVs in (not complaining about that one!) . Once we were in our room I was full-on pushing. At this point, I flipped to my back which felt most comfortable and the contractions spaced out as my body was getting ready to push this baby out. Once I was on my back I pushed for about 20 minutes. I loved the pushing part because I felt very in control of what I was doing and it was so empowering. It also was a pain I felt like I was working with and not against. I was moving life into this world! Once he started to crown, his entire body came out in one push. Porter Timothy Goldman literally came roaring into this world, which I now know is totally his personality! Porter was born at 10:36am on Good Friday. What a beautiful picture of Good Friday. Pain and challenge that produced LIFE. It was worth it all and I would do it all over again for that little babe.
Our first few moments were not what I wanted or expected. I was in complete shock of how fast everything had happened and the fact that I had just pushed a human out of my body. I was also in a lot of pain from tearing. Craig and Porter had a sweeter first few bonding moments than I did, as I passed Porter off to him because I felt like holding him was too much at that moment. I honestly needed a minute to recover, ha! It was a rocky first half hour as I found myself wishing for an epidural so I could enjoy my baby which is comical, POST birth..
After I got all fixed up, I was able to do skin-to-skin with him and really get eyes on my baby for the first time. Goodness, y'all. It is a glimpse of heaven on earth when you see your baby for the first time. I couldn’t believe how handsome he was! I honestly prepared myself for an ugly baby (just being real) and he literally was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. He had so much dark hair and the squishiest face. The moment his eyes met mine I was completely undone. That was MY baby. I made that tiny human. Praise be to God.
Our birth story was just what the Lord knew we needed. We needed to be transferred to ensure Porter was okay, and while he was completely fine, I think there was control in my heart that needed to be surrendered through that process. I saw the Lord so tangibly help me through labor, and I also met parts of myself through that process that I didn’t know existed. Bringing life into the world is probably the coolest thing I will ever do. April 19, 2019 was the day that Porter Goldman was born, but in so many ways the day I was too.