A quick and lovely natural home birth story. This post may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase through an affiliate link, we will receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. Thank you for your support!
My sweet girl. How you were a whirlwind.
The pregnancy was not an easy one for us, and it coincided with major life stresses and decisions to be made. We spent a lot of time worrying about how we were going to manage four kids, and what that would look like practically. (You can read more about that here if you’d like.) But we had made it so far, and we were working hard on preparing our hearts and minds for our little one’s arrival.
We were visiting out of town friends when I first felt the usual prelabor signs. Cramps, low back pain, diarrhea. I was about 36 weeks at the time, and given the fact that I don’t usually have my babies early (a blessing, really), I resigned myself to weeks of prodromal labor.
About 39 weeks pregnant.
And so those weeks came. On and off, I would have contractions for a few hours at a time. They weren’t particularly painful. Sometimes crampy, sometimes akin to strong Braxton hicks, sometimes regular, and sometimes sporadic, the only thing I could count on was that they would keep coming back whenever they jolly well pleased.
Earlier in the pregnancy, a friend of mine had gifted me with her Hypnobabies CD set & curriculum. I had always been interested in the program, but never invested in it myself. Since it had been given to me, I decided to try it this time around.
While I wasn’t as diligent in practice as the author encouraged, I did listen to the self-hypnosis tracks about 3 times a week. I also used all that prodromal labor as an opportunity to practice the cues for deep relaxation and self-anesthesia. I wasn’t particularly committed to following the program exactly during labor, but it really did help me learn to relax quickly, and to develop a positive mindset about the whole thing.
Toward the last few weeks of pregnancy, the stretches of contractions began to feel stronger, but as before, still not particularly painful. I would occasionally need to stop and breathe through them. However, they always seemed to go away as soon as I began to wonder if it was finally time.
I had learned how to check my own cervix in previous pregnancies, so I checked myself once or twice a week through the end stretch. I felt the changes- relatively closed and firm at about 38 weeks, gradually moving to what I guessed was 3-4 cm around 39 weeks, then eventually so soft and thin and stretchy that I guessed about 5+ cm by my due date. I didn’t want to get my hopes up though- I could be wrong.
A little prenatal yoga on my due date.
At 40 weeks and 4 days, I had my regular appointment scheduled. I had stronger contractions all that morning, and they felt heavy and low and different than before. I almost cancelled my appointment, but after they slowed down a bit I decided to just go. Upon arrival, I asked my midwife, Jen, to check my cervix for herself to see what was happening.
She made her usual funny grin that informed me I had made significant progress already. She told me I was super soft. “You’re about 5.5 cm,” she said. (Yes! I was right!) She told me if I wanted, she could come after her appointments that evening or the next morning to see if we could get the contractions moving a bit more steadily.
I had really wanted to go into labor on my own this time. I had had the same prodromal labor pattern with my last two, and both times we decided to induce labor at home. This was because my midwife lived an hour away, I was already halfway dilated each time, and we were concerned about the possibility of quick labors and accidentally unassisted births.
I told her that I would think about it and talk to Tim that night. As much as I wanted labor to begin naturally, I also didn’t want to accidentally have my baby by myself. Perhaps there was some wisdom in scheduling an induction- or augmentation, however you want to think of it- given my labor history.
All that afternoon and evening, the contractions continued. They felt much more labor-ish. I gave a heads up to Jen. Maybe tonight would be better? But, predictably, they stopped again after an evening bath.
My big overdue belly.
Tim and I decided to go ahead and confirm a gentle induction the next morning. The wisdom of having skilled attendants present outweighed my desire to let it happen completely on its own. Besides, I thought, I have been laboring on my own- just not all at once!
That night, I had a talk with my baby. “Little one, we’re going to try to get you to come out tomorrow. If you’re ready, we’re ready for you. It would still be really nice if you would start coming on your own though…”
The night was restless. I woke up to pee at 4 am and couldn’t get back to sleep. I had a bowl of cereal, watched a couple good birth videos, then went up to bed and listened to my “easy first stage” Hypnobabies labor guide. It helped to calm my worry and I went back to sleep until almost 8 a.m.
Tuesday morning, November 13th, 2018. 40 weeks and 5 days. It seemed fitting. My son was born at the exact same gestational age, and both of my other girls were born on the 13th of their respective months. But, to my great disappointment, I woke with no contractions.
We had made up our minds, however, to try to make the best of whatever the labor was. I had been very cranky during my third child’s induction, and I was determined to make the experience as pleasant as possible this time.
I stuck homemade freezer cinnamon rolls in the oven for the kids and made myself an egg. Tim went about straightening up and vacuuming. The kids and I turned on the Beatles and danced a bit. I told them they would probably meet their newest sister today!
The best part of the morning? My contractions came back on their own- rather regular, but still not painful. I was pleased- it meant that I was back to my own funny little labor pattern. That gave me peace about whatever we chose to do today to strengthen it.
Jen arrived a little before 9, and I finished up my egg. We went upstairs to the bedroom, where she inserted homeopathic pills vaginally to help kick-start labor. We affectionately call these “voodoo” pills. While there’s not a whole lot of literature proving their efficacy, they seemed to efficiently help my contractions get into a regular and strong pattern in previous labors.
I laid down for about 20 minutes to let the pills dissolve. After that, I came back downstairs to find that my doula, Nicole, had arrived. I sat on the birth ball a bit while the four of us talked. My uterus felt consistently very tight all around.
My friend Kcaarin was going to come and take pictures for me, but I didn’t want to call her too early. The arrival of my birth team marked the stop of my contractions for my third child, and I was very nervous that my labor might stall again. I told her to wait and I would call as soon as I felt like I was having real contractions.
After maybe 30 minutes of talking, I began to feel contractions. They were short, frequent, and very low. Tim sent the kids upstairs to play for a bit. Not much longer after, the contractions began to feel like they wrapped around my whole uterus and back.
“Ahh,” I sighed. “Now these are actually beginning to feel like real contractions.” They were strong and I had to close my eyes and go limp through them. “I love real contractions,” I joked, trying to convince myself of the fact.
I sent Kcaarin a text. These are starting to actually feel like labor. You can come whenever you want, but don’t rush.
I went into the bathroom and came out to feel that the baby felt much lower. I had a couple more contractions leaning over the birth ball. They were much more intense than before.
“Okay, let’s call this labor,” said Jen. She made a mark in her records for 10:58 a.m.
“Hang on, I need to go to the bathroom again,” I said. I went back in and sat on the toilet. I knew it wasn’t a need for the bathroom- I knew that the baby was pushing down on my cervix. I felt a lot of pressure.
“Abi, can I get some vitals on you?” called Jen.
“Uhhh, I locked the door, hang on,” I replied. The contractions were very close and very strong.
“That’s not a good idea!” said Jen.
“Sorry!” I cried. I managed to get up and open the door. “Hang on,” I told Jen. “I think I need my pants off and not on. And I think I need the birth ball.”
Jen helped me out to the playroom, where I kneeled and leaned over the birth ball. I already felt like bearing down, but I didn’t want to say it. I must be crazy. But in hindsight, I knew I was right. It just seemed so fast.
Nicole asked if we should call Kcaarin, and I said yes. Someone did. Soon, she asked if Tim should set up the pool, and I said yes. He began laying out the tarp on the kitchen floor and inflating the pool.
Everything that happened next happened very quickly. Nicole began applying counterpressure on my sacrum and Jen checked our vitals. Jen held the doppler up to my ear so I could hear baby’s heartbeat well. “She is really low!” she exclaimed. I began to moan a bit as I could feel myself starting to push.
“Oh boy, I hope Kcaarin gets here. I’ll feel really bad if I made her miss it,” I said in between contractions.
I could feel my perineum begin to stretch as the baby came down. “We’re not gonna make it to the pool,” I called to Tim. He didn’t hear me.
“Tim! Forget the pool! She’s not gonna make it there,” called Jen.
“Oh, we’re not?!” Tim came in quickly and sat down behind me to catch.
“Yaay, Abi, Kcaarin’s here!” said Nicole. Someone let her in and she got out her camera right away.
After a long moaning pushy contraction I cried, “I’m sorry, Kcaarin! It just went so fast!” Everyone smiled and said it was quite alright.
Jen told me that my water had broken. Jen and Nicole grabbed chux pads and a towel for my knees, and did their best to slide them under me there on the playroom floor. “Oh boy, I’m making a mess,” I groaned.
“Tim!” I said suddenly. “V wanted to see it! Can someone go get her? Just tell her she has to be quiet.” Tim went upstairs to tell our eldest daughter that it was time. She and our youngest (age 5 and 3) came downstairs and sat on stools just behind me to watch the birth of their sister.
At that point, surrounded by my amazing team, I felt so much love and support in a time of my own helplessness. It all happened so fast that I didn’t have time to adjust, or to think about coping well or using my Hypnobabies techniques. I was so grateful to have everyone there, all hands on deck, to help me get through the end.
I felt her head coming, rocking back and forth just a bit. I could hear Tim telling our girls that that was her hair, that was her head, that she was coming. I could hear Nicole quietly affirming me with each contraction, “Good job, Abi. You’ve got it.” I felt that simultaneously awful and wonderful stretch of crowning- and then, her head was out!
I heard my five year old coo, “Awww, baby!” My heart was so happy to hear it.
“Is she okay?” I asked.
“Yeah, her eyes are open and she’s looking around!” affirmed Jen.
“See her little eyes and little nose?” said Tim to the girls.
Finally, the next contraction came and I pushed out her shoulders, and Tim gently pulled her out and into his arms.
I sat down and turned around to receive her.
Photos to follow are courtesy of Kcaarin Pineau Photography, shared with permission.
It was 11:26, just 28 minutes after the contractions actually felt real.
Perhaps I had been laboring on and off for weeks, but the end part happened so fast baby W ended up being born in the doorway between the playroom and living room.
My heart was so cheered and encouraged by how welcoming my children were to our new addition. My three year old spent the end month of the pregnancy referring to the baby as “Sparkle Baby Shirt.” Sure enough, after she was born, she came over to dub the newborn child as such.
While the rest of us went about the business of showering, tidying up, and measuring baby, my eldest spent his time taking pictures of the whole affair.
This is my “I’m sure I look great right now” face. 😉
It had all happened so quickly that it took a little while to process what had happened. Did we really just have a baby? But sure enough, there she was with us.
After 40 + weeks of worry and waiting, the labor was so easy. The baby thing seems like no big deal. While we have had our hard postpartum days and I know that there will be plenty more hard days to come, all our worries seem so insignificant now. It somehow all seems so simple now.
She came as such a beautiful gift.
A reminder that most situations are not really in our control.
A reminder to see the beauty in everything.
A reminder to bend and not break during the storms.
A reminder to grow.
Little baby W was born 7 lbs, 8 oz, 21″ long, and as perfect as could be.
We are so thankful.