“A week ago I was able to have an awesome HBAC with my new daughter! Reading all of the wonderfully supportive comments on my first birth story that you published was almost like a virtual blessingway that close to the end of my pregnancy. My birth experience this time was all that I wanted it to be. I wish that all women could have a great supportive birth team around them like I was blessed with.” – Allie
On Friday May 4th, at 42 weeks and one day pregnant I woke up still feeling like I had another week to go. I spent the day babysitting and then we had dinner at my parent’s house that evening. We got home around 8 in the evening and I started the bedtime routine with our nearly 3 year old son, Jake.
Right at 9pm my husband, Paul, was tucking Jake and I into our bed, and just as he shut off the light and closed the door I felt a pop and instantly knew that my water had broken. I yelled for Paul to bring towels and I made a dash for the bathroom. I called our midwife to let her know what was going on but told her that I felt like it would be a while since I was having no other signs of action. I would just call her back when I needed her. I also called my mom and doula and gave them the same heads up.
Jake was wound up from me yelling and jumping up from bed so quickly that I decided to give him a little while to settle back down while I started laundry and picked up his toys that were all over the house. When I went to lay back down with him I was really uncomfortable. I decided that Daddy was going to have to do bedtime, so I got up to get him and before I got to the bedroom door the first contraction hit. It was not some nice, easy, warm up contraction either, it was POWERFUL and had some real pressure behind it, and I had to sink down to my knees to get through it.
My first thought was that I was just being dramatic and that I was scared from my first traumatic birth experience, and it probably only felt so strong because I wasn’t relaxing into it. So I stayed there on the floor of my bedroom to wait for the next one. I was going to be sure to relax and just let it wash over me and surely it wouldn’t be as bad as the first one. But 2 minutes later I got another and it was every bit as strong as the first. And the next 6 were all the same and all about 2 minutes apart. I decided that it was time to call the birth team back and ask them to come.
My doula had suggested that I get in the shower because that might help me relax and might even slow the contractions down a bit and I thought that sounded like a great idea. So I got into the shower while Paul was putting Jake to bed.
The heat felt nice but I couldn’t stand up through the contractions I had to just sit in the tub and let the water spray on me. I was still very uncomfortable and I had to hold myself up with my arms or I felt unsteady and out of control. Paul peeked in on me and I just started screaming there was so much going on with my body and I wasn’t sure how to deal with it. I started to doubt myself and thought “Holy Cow, there is no way I can handle this for hours and hours.” I heard my phone ringing but couldn’t move my arms get it so I told him to grab it. It was our midwife calling to check in. Paul put her on speaker phone and after hearing me screaming, she just told me in her “midwife voice” that this baby was coming faster than we thought it would and that it was ok. She told Paul to get some towels and blankets close to me. She asked me if I could feel the head and I checked and said I wasn’t sure (now I know that yes, I was absolutely feeling the head starting to come down). I just closed my eyes and let her voice guide me through the sensations that were happening and listened to her constant encouragements. Right about then my mom showed up and was quickly by my side. I asked our midwife how far away she was and she told me not to worry about that and just to stay in the moment and to just take a deep breath and blow everything away. I felt so much better then, not so alone and I was able to stop screaming and bring my sounds down to the low tones that I knew were better. I was able to stop fighting what my body was trying to do now and just let the process happen.
I asked our midwife if I could get into the birth tub and thankfully and she said yes. Sinking down into the deep warm water felt really nice. She asked me again if I could feel the head and I said I thought so but part of me was still in denial a little. How could this all be happening so fast?!?
Then there was a knock at the door and our doula/birth assistant walked in and I immediately asked her if she knew what a head felt like and if she could check for me. She said yes and grabbed a glove and told us that the head was only a fingertip in. I couldn’t believe it, I hadn’t even really TRIED to push yet and my body had worked my little one down that far already on its own! It still seemed so incredible to me that this was moving at such a rapid pace. I had a couple more contractions and reached down to feel a little head starting to come out. I told Paul to get the camera – I knew I would be sad later if we didn’t end up with any photos. My mom was still sitting next to me and I kept asking her for my water in between contractions because my throat felt raw from the crazy sounds that were coming out of it.
I heard the midwife – still on speaker phone – say she was here and Paul moved to let her in. I was so glad to see her; I had never even considered the possibility of needing to be prepared for an unassisted birth. She quickly came over and checked baby’s heart beat, which was just perfect, and then she started to set up the rest of the room.
Reaching down and feeling the progress of your baby’s head as it becomes more and more visible is something really amazing. My doula kept remind me to let my shoulders relax and she had me try a couple of different positions. I was really feeling a lot of pressure in the back of my hips during contractions and I didn’t like that at all. They calmly told me that once baby’s head got past that area that I wouldn’t feel that sensation any more so I pushed a couple of times and sure enough they were right, my hips stopped hurting. But then my legs started to go numb, which I also didn’t care for, but at least I knew it would be over sooner than later.
I really wanted it to be sooner… so I pushed with my contractions and a few minutes later I felt SWEET RELIEF and heard my midwife say that the head was out! My doula asked if I wanted to feel baby’s entire head and I said no because I felt like I really needed my arms to hold myself up. With the next contraction and a little push our baby came out of my belly and into the world at 12:13a.m. I looked down and saw little arms and legs moving around in the water and then the midwife handed baby up to me. Words can’t even describe how amazing it was to hold my brand new, still covered in birth fluids, baby on my chest!
Paul asked what I had given us and I checked to find that we had a baby girl! I just got to hold her and rub her back and watch her change colors. No one took her away from me, no one tried to make a pin cushion out of her or roughly suction her nose and throat, and it was so peaceful.
I asked my mom to go get Jake. I knew he had really wanted to watch the birth but he actually slept through the whole thing in the next room! He was so sleepy he wasn’t really interested in her right then, he just wanted to go back to sleep. Shortly after that I birthed the placenta and handed baby off to her daddy after he cut her cord so I could get out of the birth tub.
They helped me out of the tub and checked me over while feeding me strawberries. Once they got me squared away they put baby and I into a nice warm herbal bath. Paul came in and the three of us had some alone time. We chose a name for our sweet little girl, Amelia. We had not even begun to talk about middle names so that part would have to wait a few days.
While in the bath Amelia nursed for the first time and it came just as easily for her as it had for her older brother.
We soaked for a while and then it was time to get out and do her newborn check. Miss Amelia was 8 pounds 15 oz and 21.5 inches long. I needed a few stitches and oddly was more afraid of that than I was of giving birth, but my wonderful midwife and doula team talked me all the way through that process too.
It has been one week since her arrival and I am still riding the high of giving birth naturally, at home, the way I always wanted to. It is incredible what a difference giving birth in a loving, supported environment makes!!! I can’t even come up with words to thank my birth team; they knew exactly what to say to help me through every step of the way and that made all the difference.
I feel like this labor took off exactly where my son’s birth started to go awry. Almost like this was me getting a second chance to finish something that I started 3 years ago. This was a second chance that I so badly needed, even though I have done a lot of healing since Jake’s birth, I feel like I got a piece of myself back that I had been missing for a long time. I feel whole, and powerful and proud of myself. I love myself again, and I haven’t really felt that way since my first birth. More importantly I feel like I can be the mom that I want to be to my babies because there is nothing holding me back anymore!