My husband Andy and I decided to start trying for a second baby right around our son’s first birthday. It took about 8-9 months to be successful, but we were blessed with a second pregnancy. Immediately we wanted to do things different than our first. We were so much more knowledgeable this time around; about pregnancy, birth, and the whole process. The birth of our first son, Riley, left an emotional wound on me; I longed for a healing, natural birth process. We chose to seek care at an amazing birth center in town, and chose to have a home birth with great midwifes with us. Here’s a link to my first birth story- http://birthwithoutfearblog.com/2013/02/22/a-bwf-admins-hospital-induction-and-nicu-story/
I had been having Braxton Hicks contractions on and off for weeks. I had my 39 week appointment with our midwife at the birth center and she stripped my membranes. She also checked me and was able to stretch me from 4cm to 5cm. I then had henna art done on my belly at the birth center with a few other Mamas. I had contractions that started while I was having my henna done, and they continued to get closer together for the next few hours, but definitely manageable. We were timing the contractions for a few hours that evening, and I decided to get in the shower and they tapered out and stopped. This happened a few more times over the next couple days, and they’d just fade out and go away.
Starting on Sunday (January 26) I was having pretty decent contractions ranging about 10-15 min. apart. They never really tapered out. They were just enough to either keep me awake or wake me up if I drifted off to sleep. And as you know the last few weeks of pregnancy are so comfortable, and you get so much sleep to begin with… ha! Not like you don’t get up to pee 18 times a night, or toss and turn all night…to say I was exhausted is pretty accurate. I dozed on and off Sunday night & Monday morning. My 2 year old son wasn’t feeling very well so we sat and snuggled in the morning and watched a movie together.
I texted my midwife, Jenn, and asked her to strip my membranes again just to see if it would help things along. I tried to nap during the morning but kept getting woken up by different things. My midwife got back to me and said she would be happy to meet me at the birth center or come over to do another stretch and sweep. We choose to meet at the birth center so I could get some herbs to see if that would help me progress. I have no issues going “overdue” but I will admit I was nervous because I was induced with my first because I was “post dates”… you guys… I was 40 weeks when they set up my induction. That’s not “post dates.” I was induced at 40+5 and it was not a good experience. The last thing I wanted was to end up in a similar situation if I hit 42 weeks and had to transfer care to a hospital. I was definitely holding on to some fears, one of which not completely trusting my body to do what it knows how to do.
I met Jenn at the birth center in the afternoon and she did a thorough sweep. The contractions I had been having throughout the night and that day were stronger within the hour. I had made a doctor appointment for our 2 year old for after my midwife appointment. We aren’t anti doctor, but we treat everything with essential oils. With this baby coming at any time I wanted to make sure nothing was contagious, and to see what we were dealing with, so we could treat Riley accurately.
My husband and I met at home, and I started timing contractions. They were about 8 minutes apart, and somewhat painful but manageable. We all loaded up and brought Riley (our son) to the doctor all the while timing contractions. My husband did admit that he felt better with me coming along so if things picked up crazy fast, we’d already be at the hospital where his doctor office is, if we needed to be. I hated that idea of being at the hospital if we didn’t *need* to be, but agreed it was better than being home alone and things happening too fast for me.
The contractions continued and a couple times I needed to stop talking or stop walking to get through them. Thankfully the doctor was very fast (the one time I’m thankful we only get a few minutes with doctors), and we were in and out of there with the diagnosis of an ear infection caught early. I couldn’t get out of that hospital fast enough! We had to laugh that I was having to stop and breathe through contractions at a hospital, trying to get to the car. Who’s that lady in labor LEAVING the hospital? That would be ME! I don’t care to be there unless there is a need for me to be there for the baby or myself.
We stopped for a couple things on the way home and my mother in law, Linda, Ri, and I stayed in the car timing contractions. They got pretty intense in the car since I wasn’t able to move around to help with them. They were averaging about a minute to minute and a half long and about 6 minutes apart. I was definitely getting relief between contractions and they were still manageable.
I texted Jenn an update and she was ready to come whenever I was ready for her. I was definitely in denial that this was real labor. I had never experienced natural labor before, being induced the first time around. And with the contractions tapering off every time, I was very nervous about calling in the birth team and it not being the real deal. I told her once we got home I’d walk around, get on the ball, etc. and if they continued I’d want her there.
We got home and they continued. I texted my mom that I wasn’t sure if it was real labor or not but I wanted her with me. She was playing volleyball and knew I was having contractions before her game and had someone in charge of watching her phone. They called timeout as soon as I texted and she was on her way. I decided after we put Ri to sleep that I was ready for the birth team, but still wasn’t feeling confident that it was the real deal. And I told Jenn that.
I also was talking with one of the other BWF admins and one of my best friends, Bri, and she was keeping the rest of the BWF team updated for me. Bri told them I called in the birth team, and I also let them know I wasn’t positive it was for real. They all reassured me that it was going to be awesome, and it would be okay either way! Our amazing midwife, Jenn, assistant/ midwife apprentice, Cindy, My mother in law, my parents, and our birth photographer, Dori, all came over. We got the tub inflated in the living room and candles downstairs and ready.
We got Ri through his bedtime routine and asleep thanks to his Mimi (my Mom), with lots of extra hugs and kisses from Me. I was in early labor but the contractions didn’t seem to be getting much stronger or closer together. I continued to bounce on the ball, sway with my husband and take the herb tincture to try to encourage contractions. I even watched my favorite birth video for inspiration – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pSyCal8fqig
About 11:30pm, Jenn asked if I wanted to be checked, and I did. So we went upstairs to find that I was about the same that I was earlier in the day at the birth center, 5-6cm. She really encouraged me to rest, and I felt like I actually could. So we decided to send everyone home about midnight. Jenn left the birth supplies all here at the house laid out ready to go, and that really gave me a boost of confidence that it was going to happen…soon!
I was able to sleep between contractions and they continued but didn’t get much stronger. At about 2:30am I woke up uncomfortable and itchy, so I decided to hop in the shower and just let the warm water soothe me. I got out of the shower and out of nowhere the “real” contractions hit me. Oh my goodness. They went from hurting a little (I’ve downgraded the earlier contractions to hurting “a little” since these HURT a LOT) and I wasn’t handling them as well. I was having to moan through them, and kept saying “Oh my Gosh, these are real” to my husband, Andy.
They were about 8 minutes apart at first, so we just decided to stay upstairs in bed and time them for a while. We made it about an hour before I demanded that everyone be called. At 4am Andy texted Jenn with my phone, and I texted my Mom. Neither responded right away and I started to get nervous so I grunted during a contraction that he needed to CALL EVERYONE not just text when everyone is sleeping. Andy called Jenn and she immediately responded that she was on her way. Immediate relief! This was go time, and I was sure of it. My parents headed back over too.
My Mom woke up my Dad and said it was time to come back over, and he asked if he had time to shower. Obviously not understanding it really was go time this time! ha! She forgot to tell him that she could hear me in the background when Andy called and knew they needed to get here fast. Every contraction I’d start up on the bed and end up on the floor. They were intense. Andy asked if I wanted to try squatting through one and I about screamed that hurt so bad. I kept ending up on all fours on the floor each time.
I decided I needed to get downstairs fast if I was going to make it down there. My mother in law had been awake for a while because I was getting louder and louder with each contraction. She had come out of Noah’s room where she’s staying and made her way into the hallway bathroom when I jetted past her. I knew I only had a minute or two to get downstairs. I wanted to get to the living room. She knew it was go time when I couldn’t even stop in the hall when she asked me if I was okay. I had grabbed a pillow and was on the move.
Our downstairs has a formal dining room that we’ve turned into a playroom. We have an open floor plan that goes in a circle around the stairs. You can turn right when you come down the stairs, and that brings you through the hall into the dining room and living room. Or you can turn left down the stairs and go through the playroom into the kitchen, dining room and living room. I hardly ever go through the playroom to the living room, but for some reason I turned and went into the playroom. I’m glad I did because it’s the only carpeted area in the downstairs. I made it almost to the kitchen and a contraction hit me hard. I hit the ground on all fours moaning into the pillow I brought downstairs with me. This is when I lost all track of time and people around me.
Andy had been studying up on counter pressure. All of my pain was in the front so any counter pressure on my back wasn’t helping. When he’d squeeze my hips it felt okay so I let him keep on that. Whenever Andy or anyone would jump in and put pressure on my back, or stop squeezing too early I told them “NO!”. I was very vocal but not with words, lots of moaning. I tried as hard as I could to keep my tones low and I was so nervous about waking my son up who was sleeping in his room at the top of the stairs.
I kept shoving my head into the pillow and yelling. I was definitely “roaring” this baby out! At one point I asked for more pillows and I was brought a plethora of pillows. I felt like I needed my belly supported but I couldn’t communicate anything besides a yes or no. Shoving pillows under myself seemed to help a tiny bit. I couldn’t be in any position than on all fours with my butt in the air. I kept thinking I was working against gravity with my butt up and head down but any other position ended in me in the same way.
I wanted in the tub so bad. Everyone was working as hard and as fast as they could to get it filled up! I asked if I could get in, and it was nowhere near ready for me, with only a couple inches of water in the bottom. Somewhere around this time someone let Dori know it was go time and for her to make her way back. Thankfully she only lives about 5 minutes away.
Between every contraction Andy was up running around trying to help get the tub filled, trying to give me water, doing a lot. My Mom kept asking me if I wanted anything or if she could put oils on me. I think I finally told her yes at one point and she put a blend on my ankles. I wasn’t getting a break between many contractions in a row to communicate anything. I remember telling Jenn I was shaky and she told me I was in transition. I definitely was. I also remember telling her that I needed to pee, and her telling me we could go to the bathroom but I was going to have contractions between there and here… and me thinking “F$%K THAT”! Another contraction hit and that was the end of that thought.
She heard me grunting and asked me if I was pushing, I wasn’t trying, but my body was doing it on its own. They started shoving pads under me because my water hadn’t broken and Jenn and Andy were just trying to save what carpet they could because everyone thought the baby was coming right there. I wanted in the tub so bad! I asked again about the tub and they said it wasn’t full, but I could get in. I had such a beautiful birth space set up in the living room. The pool, candles, affirmation cards everywhere, fireplace, etc… And I was laboring looking at a toy vacuum and a shelf full of ball pit balls and puzzles! Not quite my ideal birth space!
How I mustered the energy to get up is crazy and beyond me. With the help of Andy with one arm and my Mom with my other they hoisted me up and we headed towards the tub. We were only about 20 feet away but it seemed so far. I made it about 2 feet into the kitchen and started to go down again with another contraction. My body was pushing while I was walking! Andy told me later on he about threw me over his shoulder and fireman carried me into the tub. That was the golden mile, and for months I talked about how bad I wanted that water birth. We were making it there one way or another. But I did it. Determination took over and with help we made it to the tub with Jenn right behind helping guide me.
I got one leg over into the tub just as Andy and Jenn got my shorts off. I knew I was pushing while all this was happening and everything was so natural. My body was doing everything on its own! As I got one leg over and then slithered the rest of my body into the tub, Jenn got my attention. She firmly told me that there wasn’t the ideal amount of water in the pool, and if I felt this baby coming I needed to get my butt down as far as possible so he doesn’t breathe too early being half in and half out of the water.
It was so weird to go from almost out of body feeling to completely in tune with her and what she was saying to me, and then back to birth land. I tried to sit leaning with my back against the pool, but my body wanted to be nowhere but on all fours. My Mom was right at my side outside the pool with a washcloth with ginger oil available to me, and her support. Andy followed me into the pool, and with the both of us in the water it helped the water level a lot. As my Mother in law and Dad kept filling the pool with Andy’s brewing pots (10 gallon pot and 5 gallon pot) as fast as the water would flow.
I thought I felt a leak, and thought my water was leaking, but wasn’t sure. Turns out the bag of water had started to come out, still intact. Andy described it like looking like I had a little fish tail hanging out. My body started pushing, and I felt his head come out. The bag of water stayed intact until Noah’s head was out. (I think In-Caul births are totally RAD and I was stoked my bag of water stayed strong until this point).
Jenn told me to stop for a second and I was able to (and needed to breathe for a second too). She checked for his cord, and told Andy to feel Noah’s head. Then told me one more push. I gladly pushed again (I was thinking “Oh My God, the pain is almost over!”). After a second his shoulders came out and then the flop of the rest of his little body. Andy guided him to me as I rolled over brought him immediately to my chest. Only about 8-10 minutes in the pool and 2-3 pushes! Barley made it in the pool, but we did it!! We had our water birth! Noah was born at 5:39am- the same exact time of day as his older brother!
The emotions hit immediately. I remember saying “He’s so tiny!!” (but he’s not tiny, just tiny compared to my other baby, my 2 year old!) I remember saying “I can’t believe I did it,” and asking everyone if I was just dreaming. Andy and I sat in the pool with our baby Noah for a while, without any interruptions or intervention. AMAZING. Just gazing and falling in love with our little perfect boy. We stayed in the pool for a while just bonding with each other and waiting on the placenta. Once the placenta was birthed, we all got out of the pool since it was cooling off quickly and we needed to get Noah warmed up.
Andy got out of the pool first, and took off his shirt so he could be skin to skin with Noah. He got settled on the couch with Noah and I was helped out of the pool after a few minutes of catching my breath and reality. I was helped into dry clothes and settled onto the couch myself.
We decided to do a more ceremonial version of cutting the cord, with cord burning. I had seen it in one of my very favorite birth videos I watched countless times during my pregnancy for inspiration. We did some research and Jenn was totally on board with it. That was awesome! We started the cord burning at 7:11 am. Which is rad, his cord was totally intact from 5:39 until 7:11. Delayed cord clamping FOR SURE! Everyone that was involved in the birth got to take a turn with a candle, since it’s about a 10-15 min process, all while Noah nursed away. (For cord burning information check out http://www.cordburning.com). It took about 15 minutes to complete.
When we were trying to conceive, there were 2 possible dates to choose from. Since I was “post dates” (ha) with Riley, we figured I’d go late with Noah as well, so we stuck with the later date to be safe, and that also gave us more time. Noah was born without vernix, and his skin was cracking. And my placenta had a few spots on it, telling us he was later on than the 40 weeks we thought. Turns out he was about 41 weeks 3 days gestation.
Noah was then measured and weighed. He was not only born at the same time as his older brother, he weighed the exact same! 8lbs 10oz! Riley woke up somewhere around this time, and came downstairs to meet his brother. How he slept through all that I have NO idea. Especially because Dori (photographer) told me that she could hear me as she was walking up the driveway to our house. But the timing couldn’t have been more perfect. He woke up and met his baby brother, gave him some kisses and so far the transition to not an only child any longer has been going pretty good.
Being at home was … amazing. To have zero interventions and to be able to hold and KEEP my baby after he was born… so healing. Riley was taken from me at birth for NO reason and that has been very hard to recover from.
My midwife, Jenn, was just completely amazing and so was her apprentice, Cindy. All my care at Heritage Birth Center was amazing my entire pregnancy. I felt so comfortable and at home with everyone there. I’m so thankful we had an amazing photographer there for labor and birth to capture such an amazing, emotional filled moment. To be left in peace to just bond with and love on our sweet baby boy is priceless.
We hunkered down at home for the next couple days and took it easy, not leaving the house until we went to go see Dori for newborn photos on Friday. Being in the comfort of your own home without anywhere to go – again is priceless. Having wonderful midwives come to you, amazing.
I can’t say enough good things about our experience. It was not easy. It was very hard, it hurt, and it was fast! From first REAL hard contraction to birth was 2hrs 40 min. I would do it all over again right now, that’s how amazing that experience was. I owe so much thanks to my birth team! Jenn and Cindy from Heritage Birth Center as well as Kristen and Lena who I saw during my pregnancy, My amazing husband, Andy, my parents, Jeff & Cheryl, my Mother in Law Linda, and our photographer, Dori! I could just kiss you all.