Today is International Homebirth Day! Considering the day, I thought it would a perfect opportunity to share the first installment of our newest princess’s birth story.
Some of my background here. My oldest was born at home (to be real, my in-laws’ home, because we lived in a third floor apartment) almost 8 years ago (enter mind-blown emoji here). I was young, only 20 when she was born, but I’d know I wanted a home birth and water birth since I was 14.
That goes to show the power of our birth stories and testimonies; a lady I babysat for had an incredible homebirth after a traumatic hospital birth and hearing her share her experience, seeing the glory and joy in her eyes, is what set that desire in my own heart. It impacted me and changed how I viewed birth from a really young age.
My second was a planned homebirth but we transferred to the hospital for an induction as I went past 42 weeks. My oldest was born at 42 weeks and was a big baby and I had a lot fear from that experience to deal with, which I honestly believe prevented me from fully entering labor after weeks of prodromal labor. My hospital experience was not fun. Not nearly as traumatic as others but still hard for me. My membranes were forcibly stripped without my consent and it was awful, scary, painful, and very triggering for some abuse from my past. Experiencing that at the hands of a care provider was bad enough that I originally didn’t know if I wanted anymore kids. Especially not in the hospital system.
Now for babygirl #3… There’s so much more from her story that I want to share another time, because this entire pregnancy was marked by the touch of a very good God. But for now, let’s start towards the end of my pregnancy.
While this pregnancy was my best physically, it was my hardest emotionally. The beginning of my pregnancy was tumultuous enough that I didn’t even really process my pregnancy til my second trimester. It was one thing after another week after week, so it only made sense that the end of my pregnancy would be in a pandemic!
As we were preparing our nursery the world went into lockdown and I very nearly had a breakdown. Maybe I had a few ha. Definitely cried a lot. As any pregnant-during-Covid mom could tell you, this has been a rough season. I, at least, already planned to birth at home. My heart has been breaking for the women now not allowed to have support during their births, or having to labor with a mask on (I’d turn into a banshee noo way).
I had such a night and day experience this time around I foolishly believed maybe I’d have a baby that came “on time.” To borrow my words from Gandalf however, babies are never late. Nor are they early. They arrive precisely when they mean to. I had yet to truly have that sink in haha.
As is my usual, my prodromal labor began a few weeks before she came. I’d have contractions all night, pass out from exhaustion, and wake up not in labor. I was used to it, but really over it. We had a few instances where we really thought “this is it!” My squeezes were a minute long and five minutes apart for hours! THIS WAS IT!
It wasn’t. Definitely was not.
At 40 weeks I started doing some herbs and things to encourage my body, my brain knowing “this won’t work if my body isn’t ready” but still delusionally hopefully it would magically work the first time. Definitely got some strong contractions here and there but nothing that kept going.
At 41 weeks I was getting so angry and nervous. My midwife had a client due after me and to my mind it felt like a race. I was scared we’d go at the same time! And with every pregnancy of mine, I watched alllll the women have their babies before me. I was determined to have my baby first for once haha.
My midwife came over for a prenatal and both baby and I were good, we chatted about trying something else the next morning and seeing what happened. My body was working towards the “cliff” I just needed something to push me over the edge haha.
The next morning I took my stuff and decided to lay down and take a nap just in case somehow this time it worked. I had a strange little feeling it might, but I was also jaded enough to not want to believe it might work.
I had a handful of squeezes but I was so used to constant Braxton Hicks at this point that I didn’t think anything of it. One was strong enough to wake me from my nap, but I fell right back asleep. I slept a few hours and got up to go sit with Justin as he worked in his office and noticed that my squeezes were kinda consistent. I didn’t want to buy into that again though, after so many nights of the same thing.
My husband suggested I text my midwife to just give her a heads up, and I told her I didn’t want to time them but she said I should. I did for an hour maybe and she said that her and her assistant would be over to check me out
Now see, I didn’t think I was in labor. I honestly thought they were just coming to check on me. But they showed up with all their equipment in hand and I realized, “oh shoot, this might actually be it, they must think so.” Still, my mind kept telling me it wasn’t real and it would all come to a halt.
My friend Kathy came shortly after, she was going to be filming my birth. Everyone sat and chatted as I rocked on my birth ball, and eventually we went to sit in the front porch. It was a beautiful breezy, sunny day. So I sat in my rocking chair and labored away. (But was it labor?? – me at that time)
I went inside to use the bathroom and came back out to my husband holding a small dog. Um. What??
As everyone waited for me outside a group of these dogs came running up to them, and then ran off. This little one was left behind and my tenderhearted husband didn’t want to leave her outside alone. I labored on the porch as my husband frantically tried calling the APL haha.
We eventually did track down the owner, but that whole story was a hoot. We would deal with a side quest while trying to birth a baby!
We came inside and listened to my playlist and sat and talked during contractions. I still couldn’t believe it was really labor. Because it was too easy.
Here’s the thing. My two previous births got hard quick. It was painful! I’ve known women to have incredible, peaceful, pain-free births – I had not been one of them. That WAS something I had been praying for this time as I prepared for birth. My mother in law even prayed with me for it, my husband did nightly. I read about it, listened to podcasts about, even did a birth class about the fear-tension-pain cycle.
Even though I’d been hoping for that experience, part of me still thought it was impossible. Yet here I was, experiencing squeezes of pressure but not actual pain. I think that’s why I had such a hard time believing this was labor. At one point I went to the bathroom and texted my mother in-law “I know we prayed for easy, but this is almost too easy!” I wanted my water to break or something so I could know this was legit!
Time didn’t seem to exist for me, I looked at the clock shocked that it was already late in the evening. The pressure was beginning to get harder to cope with so Justin and Emma (midwife’s assistant) began to set up the birth pool. Rosie, my midwife, pushed against my knees during contractions, it felt soo good! My birth team as a whole made me feel like I was at a spa during each squeeze, rubbing my shoulders, gently talking me through each one. I was so doted on.
I got into the pool, my twinkle lights on above me giving the room a soft glow. Justin was behind me, Rosie was monitoring the babies heart rate, and it was so peaceful. At one point I began to cry, because this experience was so amazing and I wish my previous two experiences could have been this calm and lovely.
Soon after this Justin’s mom arrived with the girls. I’d asked her to be there for support and I really wanted the girls to be a part, as long as they were comfortable. Bree wanted to cut the umbilical cord, ever since she heard her cousin got to cut her baby brother’s cord at their latest homebirth.
This was my favorite moment. My worship music quietly in the background, surrounded by people who loved me and genuinely cared for me. Having a birth team that is emotionally invested in you and cares makes such a difference.
I stayed in the pool for some time, still peaceful, still not considering these contractions painful. Just intense pressure that needed my focus. My previous births were 14 and then 10 hours long. We were almost ten hours in, so surely this baby would be coming soon!
This was everything I wanted and more. I just couldn’t anticipate the curve ball coming!
Part two can be found here.