I am sitting here looking at such a precious baby girl and thanking God for being so incredibly good to us, not only in giving us such a wonderful gift but also in bringing her into our lives in such an amazing way!
When I found out I was pregnant, my husband Tim and I both felt that we wanted to have another home birth. We had our son Clayton at home and loved the experience (you can read that story here), so we knew that, Lord willing, we would have it no other way for the birth of this child.
As my due date approached, we had a little bit of a unique mindset. Unlike so many who are just dying for their baby to come as early as possible, we actually weren’t in a hurry for her to get here just yet. We had a lot on our to-do list, and our 39 week prenatal visit found us still not nearly ready for the arrival of the baby. But that weekend we made some real progress and finally got a place set up for the baby. There was still plenty on list (and a cousin’s wedding that we were hoping to make – on my due date!) so we still weren’t in a hurry, but we breathed a huge sigh of relief and started to feel that this baby was actually coming soon!
On Thursday (2 days before my due date and said cousin’s wedding), I noticed I was having fairly consistent contractions. I didn’t think too much of them at first since I had had about 8 hours of “false labor” with my son that fizzled and didn’t resume for 5 days. So I went about my day, kind of just trying to take it easy and keep them in check. My husband was going out with some of the guys from the wedding that evening and had also mentioned that he still had a lot of work he was hoping to finish up Friday morning before I had the baby. I also had been working on a project for my blog that I was so close to finishing and was hoping to complete before little Calaiya arrived. Not to mention the wedding on Saturday. So with all this on my mind, I just kind of ignored them and figured they would go away……
Well the contractions stuck around all day and when my husband came home we headed for bed. I knew they would either peter out in the night or they would gain intensity and this would be it. Either way, I knew I should try to get some sleep. The first hour or so I think I probably got intermittent sleep, but the contractions were definitely waking me up. Around 1:00 or so I was pretty awake with gradually increasing contractions, but I just stayed in bed resting. After lying in bed not sleeping for about an hour and a half, I decided to just get up and finish my project. It seemed that this baby was going to be coming sooner versus later, and since I definitely didn’t want to have her on Saturday when everyone would be at the wedding, I figured I should just embrace that I would be having her on Friday. Plus I was pretty excited that her birthday would be 8-8. I just liked that.
So about 2:30 in the morning I decided to get up and finish the one last step I still had left on my project. I just knew this had been a goal for me to finish it, and I felt that if I just got up and got it done that I would be able to let that go and focus my mind on the birth. So that’s what I did. I got my laptop and sat down to finish the project. A half hour later, it was done and my mind could go to birth-mode. Yet I knew my body needed as much rest as possible for the work ahead, so I tried again to get some sleep.
I probably got 5 minutes here and there, but that was about it. The contractions were slowly but steadily increasing in intensity, and around 4:30 I gave up on sleeping and started to think it was time to get the birth pool ready.
Soon after, my husband woke up and we started getting things set up. Now came the next challenging question – when to have the midwives come out. I had been reading so many birth stories of 2nd babies who came really quickly that I was a bit worried that things would intensify too quickly and we wouldn’t be ready. I was coping just fine and I could tell from the intensity of the contractions that I was probably in active labor but still towards the beginning…..but, once again, I just didn’t know how quickly things would progress.
As the wee morning hours arrived I texted my midwife updates but held off actually saying I needed her till around 6:30 a.m. We also called my husband’s mother and asked her to come over and watch Clayton when he woke up.
My husband and I decided to go for a walk to get things going (I had noticed that whenever I lay down or sat down, things slowed down but when I stood up or walked they sped up), so we walked down the street and back as the sun was rising on a beautiful morning. What a peaceful and exciting time as we embraced the fact that our baby would be here soon J
We soon got back to the house and people started to show up. Tim’s mom was here to watch Clayton, and then the midwives arrived as well as my sister-in-law Toni who was going to video the birth. I was pretty calm at this point, stopping to breathe through contractions but otherwise carrying on normal conversations. I’d been wanting to get in the pool, so once they checked the baby out, that’s what I did.
The pool felt great, but I could tell that it was slowing things down. (I don’t think it was really the water as much as the fact that I wasn’t standing and walking.) So I decided to enjoy the relaxing water for about half an hour and then to get back out and get to work.
My midwife doesn’t make a habit of checking progress during labor – mainly because things can change so quickly and also because it can be discouraging. But we decided that it would be a good idea to find out where I was because it was really hard to tell. I knew the contractions were getting fairly intense, but I still just felt so level-headed and alert in between them. She checked and declared me almost completely effaced and about 7-8 centimeters.
Okay, so I was pretty far along……and about to enter transition. I was pretty tired at this point – having hardly slept all night – but with the news that things were definitely moving along, I decided I wanted to help keep things going as opposed to resting and allowing them to slow down. So Tim and I went for another walk down the block and back.
This walk was pretty interesting because we took our son Clayton with us. I hadn’t ever thought that I’d want him around at all during labor. I’d read stories where people had their kids around and I thought, “no way, I want to be able to concentrate and that would be so distracting!” But it was actually so sweet and fun to have him there – since I wasn’t actually responsible for watching him. Anyhow, we walked around the block and Clayton walked with us. I would slow WAY down every time a contraction hit – wow, they were definitely getting pretty intense, but I was still managing them well.
When we got back my midwives and Toni were talking in our living room, and we went in and just hung out for awhile. I was still surprisingly alert in between contractions, even laughing and occasionally joining in the conversation. But as each contraction hit I’d really have to stop and concentrate – they really were quite intense. Ironically, though, I felt weird when everyone stopped talking during my contraction so I told them to just keep on talking through them…..for some reason that felt more natural…..
I started to lose track of time somewhere around here but I think it was around 10:00 when I said maybe I was starting to get a little bit of a pushing inkling, and we all headed upstairs where the birth pool was set up. I had thought maybe I felt a little pushy but then I really didn’t and was starting to get confused…..I’d been in the “transition” part of labor for awhile and was experiencing really intense contractions. It felt like this stage should be about done and I should be pushing. But if I tried to push a little during a contraction it just didn’t feel right at all. So I started to wonder why…..
We waited awhile, contractions staying intense, until I asked her to check me again – wondering if maybe I had a cervical lip or something else that was keeping me from becoming complete. So she checked and yes – I had a cervical lip, and the baby’s head was a little bit off center. She pushed back the lip during a contraction – ouch! – and the baby’s head moved into a better position. But the lip returned.
So I continued to labor, trying to get rid of that lip. I got back in the pool for a little, which again felt great. But I just had a sense that if I really wanted things to happen sooner versus later I was going to have to get a little uncomfortable.
I hadn’t thought much about this before, but my midwife reminded me that sometimes a less comfortable position is more productive to labor. That made sense as I thought about it….moving too much during a contraction (which is what I was doing) could mean I was moving away from what my body needed to do……kind of escaping the pain but also escaping the progress. She recommended sitting on the toilet, and I just knew that’s what I needed to do.
Well, kind of – remember sitting down was causing me to slow down. So I decided to stand until a contraction hit and then force myself to just sit on that toilet and embrace the pain and the fact that my body was doing what it needed to do. So I did it – and I could tell it was working. I could feel things changing in my body, and I could tell real progress was being made.
Things start to get pretty fuzzy around here. I labored for awhile, embracing the intensity, until I knew I needed a break. I also could feel the bag of water right there. My midwife said that once it broke things would probably move pretty quickly. I knew I could ask her to break it for me, but I also knew that it was better to just leave it alone and let it break naturally. And since there was no real urgency – the baby’s heart rate was good every time they checked – I decided to just be patient. (Easier said than done but I’m glad I did….)
This whole time I kept wondering if I needed to push. But whenever I tried to push it just didn’t really feel right. I kept wondering if I was doing something wrong, but in hindsight, no, my body just wasn’t ready to push yet.
At some point I was trying some small pushes and suddenly heard a whoosh! “What was that?” I asked. Hearing “that was your water” never sounded better J
I knew I wanted to get back in the pool. Not only had I wanted to try a water birth, but I also just needed a bit of relief at this point and felt the water would help. So I got in the water and immediately my body was bearing down. Ah, this is pushing, I thought. It felt totally different than when I was trying to push prematurely. My body was bearing down almost on its own. My involvement seemed like more of an afterthought.
I don’t really know how long I pushed but it wasn’t that many contractions. I could feel her head about half a finger’s length away at first and then closer. I soon found myself on all fours in the tub and bearing down intensely. Soon she was coming and the right of fire was so intense I’m pretty sure I was complaining all through it “It hurts! It hurts!” Not my finest moment. Haha.
With Clayton I remember being confused about when to blow through the ring of fire and when to push, but this time around I understood. The goal is to try to push the baby’s head through gradually to avoid tearing. So I stopped actively pushing and waited a moment. Then my midwife told me to give her a nudge, so I pushed a little and her head was out!
The midwives were a little worried about either a cord being around her neck or that she had shoulder dystocia, but I wasn’t aware of this at all…..I was just waiting for the next contraction so I could push her out. Turns out, neither of these were a problem. She just had a short cord.
The next contraction arrived, and I pushed my sweet little darling out. I soon hear “Linda, she’s coming through your legs. Pick her up.” My husband says it was absolutely amazing seeing the baby float under the water to me. (He also says he had a moment of panic that the baby would drown before remembering it was fine) I picked her up and put her on my chest. Ah, what a relief! We had done it! She was here!
Come to find out, she had a short cord, just like Clayton did. The midwives were amazed, as this isn’t normally genetic or anything – just a crazy coincidence I guess. Looking back, this was the probably the reason that it took so long to get past the lip and for the water to break. The baby and my body had to work to completely untwist and stretch the cord so that she could come out.
It’s so amazing after a home birth to be able to rest and recover with your baby in your own bed! I was just counting my blessings – a perfectly healthy baby, absolutely no tearing, and I could already tell that the recovery was going to be easier since I didn’t push nearly as long as I had with Clayton.
After plenty of bonding time they finally weighed and checked the baby. She was 7 lb 4 oz and 19 ½ inches long. And such a sweet little thing!
I praise God for another incredible delivery. It was so different than Clayton’s, but both were wonderful in their unique ways. I loved laboring, delivering, and recovering in the comfort of my home and am so thankful that everything worked out so well! The only thing I would’ve changed is that I would’ve trusted more that my body knew when to push and I wouldn’t have stressed about whether or not I should be pushing before then.
Later that evening (after a much-needed nap) Clayton met his little sister for the first time. He held her and gave her a kiss and just looked so proud and in awe.
We are so thankful for our sweet Calaiya, for another wonderful birth experience, and for the great support we received during the birth! To God be the glory!