I’m beyond grateful for the safe (and fast!) arrival of Saralyn Hope – our 4th child born at home in our little bungalow outside Cleveland, Ohio.
In case you're curious, you can find out why I chose to have a home birth here. You can also check out my previous birth stories for more background:
Okay, on to the real story:
The pregnancy had started with a marathon (I’d been training for months when we found out we were expecting and was thrilled to be able to continue training & finish the marathon ). However, by the final weeks, I could hardly go for a walk without tons of Braxton Hicks contractions. They came fast and furious all the time, and made me wonder if I’d be able to distinguish real labor from all of this preamble.
I needn’t have worried. The real thing makes itself obvious.
It was around 2 am on Friday morning March 29th when I woke up to a fairly strong contraction and realized they kept coming about every 5 minutes or so. I got up to use the restroom and felt something wet on my leg before I sat down. It certainly wasn’t a gush of water breaking, but I was also pretty sure I hadn’t peed myself, so I wondered if I’d sprung a small leak – or if the water beneath her head had broken and her head had sealed the rest. (We’d had an ultrasound the evening before due to a slight last-minute concern that she could be breach. Everything was fine & the head was engaged with a little bit of water right below it.)
My husband woke up sometime around here and I told him this was probably it. Assuming this was just the beginning of a rather long process, I tried to stay in bed and at least sleep in between them. This proved quite difficult. The contractions were already quite uncomfortable, and it took concentration to breathe through them without getting out of bed for each one. Unfortunately, Tim couldn’t really get back to sleep either so we both tried (rather unsuccessfully) to rest for the next two hours.
4:00ish I gave up trying to sleep and got up, laboring quietly and enjoying being able to walk or sway through contractions. At this point, I knew this was the real thing and texted my midwives an update, but I figured it was still going to be awhile.
5:00ish Tim started asking me if I wanted the birth pool set up, but once again figuring we were still at the beginning of a long process, I said he could wait.
5:30ish I remembered the kids would be up around 7 and would need help getting ready for school, so maybe we should go ahead & get the tub ready before then. Water also was starting to sound good, so I figured I’d jump in the shower while Tim started setting up the tub.
The shower felt great, and by the time I got out, things felt like they were picking up.
6:11am I texted my midwife, “things are definitely getting more active…. I’ll try to time some [contractions].” I sat down to blow my hair and try to time some contractions. Wow, they were coming fast. 3 minutes apart, but still less than a minute long.
6:26am More texts “So they’re about 3 minutes apart but still less than a minute long.”
6:27am “I am feeling pressure down low during some of them"
At this point, I honestly wasn’t sure what to think. Did the pressure mean the baby was already descending? Was I already that close to pushing? But it seemed way too soon to me, so I figured I probably still had awhile??? My uncertainty shows in my texts to R.
Thankfully both midwives know me quite well and informed me they’d be on their way shortly. (Hindsight: very good call on their parts).
6:45 am I hear our two oldest Clayton & Calaiya waking up downstairs. I walk to the top of the stairs to happily inform them “the baby is coming!” Soon, however, I have to stop and fully concentrate during a contraction. I also realize I need to start vocalizing through them. Okay, it’s getting intense.
The next 20 minutes or so is a bit of mayhem. My husband is still running around trying to finish setting up the birth pool & start getting it filled. Our kids keep coming upstairs every few minutes, excited about anything and everything. Tim keeps shooing them downstairs.
The contractions are starting to get crazy intense. I’m getting louder and can’t find a comfortable position for them. Tim tries to help me through them – in between filling the pool and shooing the kids – and frantically texting the midwives and his mom (who’s supposed to come watch the kids) “are you almost here!!??”
Mucus plug. Bloody show.
Both of these don’t normally happen for me until I’m pushing. Come to think of it, I’m feeling a bit pushy. But no one is here, so I’m certainly not ready to go there yet. So I’m not sure what to do with these contractions. I keep breathing and moaning and checking to make sure a head’s not coming out yet.
7:15am Both midwives arrive as well as Tim’s mom. I notice they’re here and breathe a sigh of relief. The contractions have a mind of their own at this point, but now I’m ready to work with them.
A couple contractions later came the undeniable need to push. I reached down and could feel her head start to crown – incredible.
At this point I had been sitting on the toilet and slightly panicked about where to go. I was confused why R & C weren’t telling me to get off but they later told me they could’ve made it work if I’d stayed. (They are amazing about letting a laboring mama do what she needs to do & only intervening as necessary.)
Anyhow, I certainly didn’t want to birth this baby on the toilet, so I made my way to the bathroom floor (that’s as far as I could get). I felt again as the head crowned – surprisingly, no ring of fire – just an intense awareness of what was happening. This was the first time I’d guided the baby’s head out with my own hands, and it was incredible!
Being on hands and knees, I needed some help actually catching the baby, though, and as she was born, C grabbed her and had to perform a few maneuvers to untangle her from the cord, which was wrapped around her about one and a half times. She handed her through under my legs and I picked her up and sat down.
7:22am. Saralyn is here. I cannot believe it!
We had no time for the water birth, and I was absolutely okay with that. I could’ve used the water during some of those crazy intense contractions, but all in all it was over with so fast all I could do was feel relieved and blessed!
We marvel for a moment and Tim soon makes his way downstairs to tell his mom and the kids. “She’s here,” he says.
They don’t believe him. “You’re joking!”
“Nope, she’s here. Want to come see her?”
How precious it was for Clayton and Calaiya to come see her before he had to go to school.
Then came all of the afterbirth activities – which all told seemed to last longer than the labor itself J As usual with a home birth, Saralyn was right with us the whole time, and we got to enjoy her and take everything at a leisurely pace. I was thankful to discover I hadn’t torn at all – the gentle guiding and counterpressure were enough to keep everything in tact.
Later, everyone kept asking my husband if he was freaking out about the possibility of having to deliver the baby himself. He says he was too busy running around to even seriously consider the possibility. Thankfully everyone arrived on time, and this (hopefully) final birth experience was everything I could’ve hoped for – and more.
Praise the Lord! He is always good, but sometimes He gives an extra special blessing.
Meet Saralyn Hope: