After a week of early labor symptoms, I began to feel a bit discouraged that my baby did not want to come yet. I was very adamant that I wanted to let him come when he was ready, but my body was getting tired and all of the strength I had tried to build up for my labor was beginning to dwindle. On Monday, September 24th, I decided to take a bath to ease my mind of the tension of waiting to go into labor. As I got into the tub, I grabbed one of the flower soaps that my Hypnobirthing teacher had given us as a gift. Pulling each petal I thought of a fear I had about the birth, such as losing strength, losing my focus, and not being able to handle the pain. I let go of each petal one by one and watched them dissolve around me, releasing the fear I had brought to mind.
The only thing that mattered was that moment, the moment I saw captured in so many birth blogs and photographs, the moment where a mother sees her baby for the very first time. The looks of relief, pride, and unconditional love on all of these mothers faces gave me so much to look forward to as I planned my first home birth.
The next evening, I felt my baby had dropped lower into the pelvis. 2 strangers told me that I “looked ready”.
All Tuesday night, I would experience a mildly uncomfortable surge after going to the bathroom, but nothing that stopped me from sleeping. At 5:15 Wednesday morning, I had a surge that kept me awake, and I felt that today would be the day. I sat down to some breakfast and began timing my surges, they were 30 seconds long and 3-4 minutes apart. I called my Midwife and she said to call back when they were 45 seconds long. I sent alerts to my doula and birth photographer just in case. Since my first labor was so long (though I had the epidural for most of it) I figured I was in early labor and probably had a good amount of time until I would meet my baby. My husband was still asleep so I woke him up and told him to start inflating the pool just in case. I took a shower to see if my surges would calm down, but they got a bit stronger, so I changed it to a bath, thinking the warm water might slow things down if I wasn’t in active labor. Again, the surges got stronger, and were now 45 seconds long, so I called my midwife back.
This was somewhere around 7, maybe a bit later, to be honest time was not something I was aware of that morning as I hear most laboring women experience! I decided to lay on my birth ball and listen to my Rainbow Relaxation, which didn’t really seem to help take my mind off of what was happening around me as my husband worked on filling the pool and I realized my toddler was still in bed. After awhile, I really began breathing heavily through surges and had to brace myself against the wall as I walked to our bedroom. I lay down on the bed and tried to ignore how hot it was in our room while the pool was filling. I wondered if I was in transition based on how warm I was and the intensity of my surges but thought, no, it’s way too early for that. At some point my husband got our son up and fed, and I think he came in to say hi to me as I was breathing heavily on the bed. We had called my mom to come and watch him but she lives an hour and a half away so I wasn’t expecting her until closer to 9.
Around 8, I had a surge that really shook me and without doing anything consciously, I began moaning. I knew I needed to keep my body relaxed and my hands open so I spread my fingers on the bed and let my jaw hang open. The reality that I was alone in this room began to hit me, and I felt a little afraid for the first time all morning. But after another one of these surges, I heard the bedroom door open and the familiar and calming voice of my doula and very good friend, Katie, surrounded me. She sat on the bed next to me and spoke calming and affirming phrases, “Good, deep in, deep out.” I felt better knowing that she was there with me, and after another few minutes, Karen, the assistant nurse and midwife showed up. I remember her walking in the room and saying “You’re not kidding!” as she heard me moaning through another powerful surge.
I lay like this for a bit, and then had one surge that also brought tremendous pressure and the feeling of my son’s head coming down into the birth canal. “He’s coming down!” I remember moaning. “Do you want to get in the pool?” “Am I able to?” I wasn’t sure if the pool was filled enough or warm enough, all I knew was that my baby was coming NOW!
Karen and Katie helped me get in the water and I began pushing with my hands spread against the bed to help ground me. Jody, the photographer wasn’t there yet, so I handed katie my phone to take pictures and asked for my husband. After a few minutes, I felt a flash and knew that Jody was there.
With each new surge, I suddenly felt primal, and animalistic. I was moaning and roaring in a way that almost made me wonder who this woman was in my body. It was the most visceral, naked thing I had ever done, but I knew that this was what was needed to guide my baby out. Katie kept saying things like “Good, strong.” and Karen would periodically peer down to check our progress. Tim was rubbing my shoulder but I barely felt him or heard anyone, I felt both so aware of and outside of myself at the same time, like I felt every single nerve twitching as he descended but was almost unaware that it was me moaning and roaring. As his head came down, Karen realized that he was hitting the bottom of the pool, so she had me lean back on my heels. After one surge that nearly split me in two, his head came all the way out. I tried to get him out with the next surge, but he wasn’t coming, and Karen then had me lean to the back of the pool. His head was out to his ears, with one shoulder out, and I heard Karen say that his eyes were open. He was almost here, I was almost done. One more surge and I would meet my baby, I would have that moment. Karen said that she was going to push down on his shoulder to allow his body to come out, we just needed this one last surge.
This last surge felt like it took forever to come, and as I kept breathing deeply in and out, it felt like 10 minutes went by. Finally, I felt that familiar pain, and breathed all of my strength down, roaring and yelping as my baby slid out of me. At 8:42 I pulled him to my chest and began bawling, such relief and exhilaration that I had been anticipating, and it was all for this tiny little person that I held against my chest. He was perfect.
My older son came into the room then and met his new brother. His first reaction was to hand him a Thomas train.
The pool was colder than we needed it to be, so we got out right away and I delivered the placenta on the bed while my baby snuggled on my chest. The midwife, Christina, came shortly after, and my mom came a bit after her. The rest of the morning was kind of a blur, as B got weighed and his footprints taken, he latched on to my breast with no problems, and I managed to get by with nothing but a few scratches that didn’t need stitching.
I am still, 10 days later, on a bit of a high. There was nothing like the feeling of that birth and we are so in love with our little man.
Thanks from the bottom of my heart to our amazing birth team and my mom for helping us out all day!
Here is the video of B being born, lots of moaning and shots of him crowning for those who need warning!