Our Second Baby’s Homebirth Story
Phew…it’s been a long time coming! I wrote down M’s birth story within the first few weeks of her life, but kept it in my drafts for two reasons. One: I really wanted to wait to compare my memory with the notes from my midwives! I finally got the chance to sit down and do that! 2. I have gone back and forth about sharing our personal life and personal details this year. It’s a fine line and something I’ve really struggled with. I’ve erred on the side of sharing less, however, I heard something recently that was the kick I needed to finish this and just post it: the more educated you are on birth, the less afraid you will be of it, and the less interventions you will have. I 100% agree. I also heard someone say that your first birth experience should not be your first experience with birth. Love that. I’ve heard from so many people on Instagram and in real life that Ruth’s home-birth story played a role in their birth plans and stories! What a blessing to me! Couldn’t ask for more! So here it goes!…
At 39 weeks and some change, I started having contractions overnight – a Saturday into Sunday morning. They were not frequent or very strong, so I wasn’t sure if labor was quickly approaching or just your run-of-the-mill contractions. I had planned on staying home from church that Sunday anyways, and was glad I did. Jonathan took Ruth and it gave me the opportunity to lay down and rest! Throughout the morning I was texting my mom trying to decide if she should start making the drive to Bartlesville from Texas. My biggest fears were that she would either miss the labor and birth, or that she would start the drive & it would end up being a false alarm. After a few hours, we decided I would feel better to just have her here instead of worrying, and she planned to leave around noon.
After Ruth’s birth, which started around 6:30/7PM and lasted through the entire night, I was terrified of another overnight labor. Sunday all day I was thinking we were “running out of time” because I wanted to be in active labor earlier in the day! Thankfully, by 4PM, my contractions were consistent enough that I knew this was for real, so we had a few extra hours of daylight on the front end!
We monitored the spacing of my contractions through the early evening and I felt like I was able to manage them really well. I was still moving around, had the tens unit on my back (which I had for labor with Ruth and knew would be essential), and was breathing through each one. I did a lot of standing, swaying, leaning over the couch, and supporting my belly. I also laid over the ball and had Jonathan do counter pressure on my hips/back. (My full list of comfort measures can be found here!) This time around, I was focused on “letting go”. I had an awareness of either my pelvic floor or cervix and felt that I was able to release any tension I was holding through each contraction instead of fighting it. It was also a very visual thing for me. I was imagining my cervix opening, similar to the balloon demonstration I saw when I was preparing for labor with Ruth!
When Grace (our midwife) arrived just before 8PM, I still got the sense I was still in the early stages of labor because I was able to breathe through my contractions without verbalizing. But they were definitely stronger and longer. She checked me and I was at 5cm, 80-90% effaced. I was encouraged, but just trying to take them one at a time.
One of the things about labor is that you’re never in a comfortable position, and yet it takes a lot of energy and mental + physical effort to move. I think I stood over the side of the couch for several hours and was starting to wear out, so Grace and Marlita suggested I lay down to rest. At the time I didn’t realize how beneficial that would be. As I rested, I ended up being as close to asleep as one can be while still in labor! My contractions slowed to about 5 minutes apart which worried me tremendously because I thought I would lose any progress I had made. After about an hour, they asked if I wanted to get up and shower which was also incredibly beneficial. Not only was it a source of relief, but my contractions picked back up. I could have stayed in the shower longer, but got out and laid down to rest once more while they filled the birth tub. By 11PM, moments before getting in it, I started feeling “pushy” – an answered prayer!
At one of my earlier midwife appointments, Grace asked me if there was anything specific I wanted for this birth experience. After how intense and involved Ruth’s birth was, I knew I wanted to be able to listen to my body more this time around. I wanted to be able to feel where I was at throughout labor and surrender to let my body do what it needed to do. There is nothing else like this – you’re in your own body, controlling some aspects of it and completely out of control in other aspects. I was able to surrender enough that I got to the point of feeling that uncontrollable need to push which was exciting and reassuring.
This was also the moment that I said, “Jonathan this is the point at which I tell you I’m not having any more of your children”. Hah! Cue transition! Between feeling my body involuntarily push and making that (untrue) statement, I knew that was a sign we were getting closer to meeting our second daughter.
I got in the tub sitting first and remember thinking there was no way she would come out the way I was – I felt like I was too upright. I pushed there for a while but ended up getting on my knees and leaning over the side of the tub. This was a great position for me, as I could use the brick on the fireplace for resistance as I pushed. It seemed like the baby was so close and yet not close at all. Grace recommended putting one leg up to the side, and then switching after a while. I could feel that the baby was about two knuckles away, but each time I pushed through a contraction, it felt like she just got sucked back up to where she was and there was no progress. At this point we were probably coming up on an hour or so in the tub.
We thought I might be arching my back a little bit as I pushed, so I sat back down, but this time I was a little more angled. We grabbed the rebozo for Jonathan to do tug-of-war with me, which, ironically, was the same thing I was doing for Ruth’s delivery. It was only about 5-10 minutes after sitting back down until the baby started to crown, and within a few more contractions I experienced the “fetal ejection reflex” – absolutely WILD! Baby girl was born soon after midnight and the sheer joy and relief was overwhelming.
Check out my home birth essentials list here!
I was so much more emotional giving birth this time than I was with Ruth. It was as close to a free birth/unassisted birth as one could get while still having a team and midwife monitoring everything and available as needed. They were again, so caring and so incredible to work with. It blows me away how they can be prepared for anything, resourceful, and completely calm throughout.
One of the biggest struggles in those first few weeks postpartum was feeling like I was two different moms to my babies. I got to be loving, gentle, and comforting to my newborn, but had to be on alert, stern yet giving grace, and the source of entertainment for my firstborn. It was hard, but slowly became more familiar and normal. This transition has also been easier than the transition from 0-1. I know it’s different for everyone but I think just having a baby for the first time, figuring out how to be a mom, breastfeeding, and not knowing what you don’t know was more of a hurdle for me. We are still in a really easy stage right now. M is not mobile and still sleeps quite a bit. Ruth absolutely ADORES her sister. She has been nothing but loving and affectionate…truly the best big sister.
Just like my birth experiences, my love for them is so different. This was the “beautiful homebirth” that I always heard people talk about but never understood. Ruth’s had been so painful, so intense…it took me months to fully recover. And within two weeks of this one I was excited to do it again. Such a redeeming experience that I pray (Lord willing) we will get to do again!
I put together my minimal baby registry must-have’s one year after having Ruth and just updated it after baby #2! Linked here!
And of course few of our newborn photos from the incredible Ginnifer Heinrichs.
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