I knew even before we stared trying that I wanted a Homebirth this time around. After being a birth photographer for two years at this point, I had fallen in love with the midwife model of care and I was determined to have a healing birth this time. My birth with my first was very chaotic, 40 hours of hard labor, and a botched epidural. I also knew there was no way I could handle another epidural as I have lasting back pain from the last one, so having a Homebirth, and knowing I don’t even have that option was key.
The week leading up to Charlotte’s birth was pretty busy. On Monday we drove to Milwaukee to have lunch with our siblings and niece, and even walked all around the Milwaukee zoo. Tuesday I was determined to bring my toddler beast strawberry picking, solo, at almost 38 weeks pregnant in 90 degree heat. Why did I do that to myself, I don’t know. Wednesday we spent the morning with our friends for an epic play date. So that night I took a shower to help relieve my Braxton Hicks and climbed into bed. I was reading Sam a book when all of a sudden I felt a sudden gush. I jumped up (as fast as a hugely pregnancy women can) and ran to the bathroom. I yelled for Shawn and told him my water “might” be breaking and he said “OK! Should I call my mom?!” We wanted our moms to be here and she had a 3.5 hour drive, but I told him no, let’s wait and make sure it’s actually my water. With Sam they broke my water so I had no idea if this was my water breaking since it was a constant trickle instead of the gush that you see in the movies. I texted my midwife and she told me to try and get some sleep so we all went to bed, it was midnight at this point. I didn’t sleep very well (I never do while pregnant). My water leaking was super annoying so I kept getting up to use the bathroom and alternate sides as my hips were so sore. At 7:30am contractions started. They were mild so I just laid next to my first born and soaked in my “baby” as he slept. I was able to easily get through them and they were still about 10 minutes apart. I texted my midwife, moms, and birth photographers so everyone knew to be on alert. Ingrid (my midwife) called me and told me to try and go back to sleep, so I did. I napped until about 10 when Sam woke up. Ingrid told me my contractions would probably stall when Sam woke up and she was right. We made breakfast and decided to go for a walk. We walked a couple blocks, stopping every 6ish minutes for contractions. At this point they reminded me of when your foot falls asleep and you dare not move because the pins and needles hurt so bad. I don’t like to move at all during contractions. So no rubbing my back or anything, I just like to know you are near with a hand on me. When we got back to the house I bounced on my birth ball but I liked to kneel and hold onto something the best. Sam thought it was super fun to climb on my back while I hugged the birth ball. My contractions were picking up a bit but the were so inconsistent. They would go from 4 minutes to 6, to 2, to 3. This is how my contractions were with Sam so we know now that this is how my body births. I don’t have consistent contractions. Ingrid told me to try laying down again around 1 but it was so painful! I could barely get through them so I texted her back after two of those contractions and said “no laying down!”. She said that was all good news, it means I’m in in active labor. Wahoo! We told the moms to get a move on and they kept asking if the birth pool was up, like if that was up it would mean active labor. I finally yelled at them “stop asking about the damn birth pool and just start driving here!”. By about 3pm I was starting to get in a better rhythm of contractions and was needing to hold onto either the end of the couch or Shawn’s legs. I could still get through them pretty good and was playing with Sam in between contractions. Shawn was timing my contractions ( He wants me to note he is timing my contractions in these photos, not playing on his phone! haha) and they were so all over the place. When we had longer periods in between they would be way more intense. We were texting Ingrid back and forth since she wanted to come when they were consistent and 4 minutes apart. My contractions were just starting to get more intense when both our moms walked in the door at the same time at 5pm. The new people made them dampen for about 20 minutes but then they ramped back up. The birth photographers (they are two sisters so I had two!) walked in around 5:30pm. Ingrid wanted me to try laying down again to which I replied, “um, I don’t really want to do that. Haha” She said she would come to help me through them, I agreed. My mom went and got everyone subs from cousins (all I ever wanted was a cuban sub from cousins) and Shawn apparently decided he suddenly needed to wash all the dishes. I was excited to see everyone and was still smiling and playing with Sam in between contractions.
6pm is when everything started to change. This is when hard labor started to kick in. My midwives (Ingrid and Miranda- an amazing student midwife) showed up and started unloading all their gear. Miranda came over to take my vitals and things were definitely amping up. I was having a harder time getting through them. I needed to hang on to the end of the couch on my hands and knees and was trying to breathe through them. My mom got back with the food and I told them to take it away as the smell was starting to make me really nauseous. I sucked on some frozen strawberries and tried to drink some water. Shawn would help me go to the bathroom and I changed into my robe. I had no idea they were blowing up the pool right next to me. I thought they did that when I went into the bedroom but upon looking at the pictures, realized they started getting it ready as soon as they walked in the door! You truly go to another dimension when in hard labor! Finally Ingrid convinced me to move to the bedroom for, as she calls it, the mountain climber pose. Ugh, it was horrible. I think it works so well because I could no longer clench and fight the contractions. I was laying down with my legs and arms in a way that all I could do was growl through the contractions and let them open my body up. I always told myself I would never say “I can’t do this” because I the only way out of the pain is through. But I did say at one point “I think I’m going to die” to which my mom said “oh your not going to die!” Haha. I wasn’t checked this whole time so we don’t know where I was when I started the “mountain climber” but I am pretty sure I went from a 6 to a 9 in that hour. It was brutal. The contractions at this point would completely take my breath away. That all too familiar birth moan started coming out of my mouth and I remember thinking “is that me?”. Shawn had to constantly remind me to breathe. Having him right next to me with his hand on me at all times was so comforting. He was my constant, even as the waves crashed into me and made me feel like I couldn’t take anymore, he was always right there breathing life back into me. He was my safe place. At one point he was rubbing my leg and told me how calm and nice this has been compared to Sam’s birth. I honestly don’t remember a lot from this point, but I remember shawn telling me to breath over and over again. It was so hard to breath, all I could do was take tiny short breaths. I started asking Ingrid if I could be done with this position and she kept saying “let’s just do one more”. She was good at that, but I fully trusted her, so I kept going.
Finally after what seemed like an eternity, my body started pushing on its own. I told Shawn to call for Ingrid as she was starting to fill up the pool. She asked me if she could check me to make sure I was complete and I agreed. I told her early on in my pregnancy that I didn’t want checks as they made me sad when I wasn’t as far with Sam. But I knew I was near the end so I agreed. Guess what, I was a 9! Shawn and I both smiled so big! We had been through a traumatic labor with Sam so this was so amazing to be here already! We made our way to the pool but we had run out of hot water so my MIL had all of our sauce pans on the stove and was boiling water as fast as she could. The warm water felt so nice and I was finally able to hold onto something again. I was only able to labor in that position for a few contractions though since Ingrid wanted to me to sit back to get rid of the small lip that was left of my cervix. My body had started pushing all on it own. I had never felt that with Sam. I definitely felt the “ring of fire” this time. It was so much pressure and I remember thinking to myself “I don’t think she is ever going to come out.” I could feel her head right there but then she went back in. There is a picture of my midwife telling us that baby went back in and it looks like my mom was about to pounce on her. Being a birth worker, I know this happens so I wasn’t phased by it. I honestly had no idea that the sun had gone down and that there was no lights on! My midwife had to use a flashlight just to see baby. Had I know I would have told them to turn a light on but I was off in my own world. I could hear Sam to my right just jabbering away. Our moms had been alternating watching him and now were ready to watch their granddaughter being born. Shawn was to my left as he had been with Sam’s birth. Finally I felt her head come out and I wanted to feel her head but everyone thought I was trying to pull her out so they grabbed my arms and told me I wasn’t done yet. As if I didn’t know that. Trust me, I knew her shoulders were not out yet! Then I was able to reach down and catch my own baby. My daughter. She was perfect and tiny and covered in vernix. I called it her birthday cake frosting as she decided to come just 3 hours before my own birthday! I gave birth to her on the 29th of June on the eve of my 29th birthday! She arrived at 9:09pm.
The feeling of relief after birthing a baby is something you can’t describe. It was amazing to hold my baby. Charlotte grabbed onto daddy’s hand right away and even was opening her eyes. Sam kept trying to get into the pool. At one point he touched the water with his hands and instantly regretted it. Oh toddlers. Charlotte’s color and scores were all perfect so once her chord had stopped pulsing (which I finally got to see an amazing spiral chord!!) Shawn cut the chord and soon after the placenta was delivered. Shawn took Charlotte, and the midwives helped me out of the pool. At this point another midwife arrived. They always have one for the baby and one for the mom. The midwives helped me to the bathroom and Shawn sat in amazement as I was laughing and talking. After Sam’s birth it took days for the haze of the botched epidural for me to “come to” and I almost passed out while tying to go to the bathroom, so this was amazing! I was then tucked into my own comfy bed with my new tiny baby! She looked so much like Sam when he was born. They gave me a heating pad to keep her warm and we did skin to skin. She latched right on and did great breastfeeding from the start. She had a shallow latch due to being so small but we worked on that over the next few weeks. My Midwife’s checked me out and said that I had a small tear that would heal on its own so no stitches! Wahoo! I had tore in four places with Sam so I was so excited! I truly think it’s because I wasn’t told to push, I was left to just let me body do what it needed to do. They examined the placenta and showed our moms. I knew they would be fascinated by the whole midwife experience. They weight Charlotte and checked her all out. She weighed just 6lbs 5oz.
I finally devoured my sub, and was left to hold my sweet baby girl. Around midnight the Midwife’s left and the grandmas went to sleep downstairs. We all went to sleep in our own bed as a new family of four.
In the morning Sam went to a water park with his grandparents and we got to snuggle Charlotte. Ingrid and Miranda came back for her appointments at 3 days old and 2 weeks old so we didn’t need to take her out for any appointments until 6 weeks. This birth was an incredibly healing experience. I was left to labor how I wished and I caught my own baby. Everything was so calm and beautiful. I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect birth. My labor was 13.5 hours long with only 3 hours of hard labor. I was only in the birth pool for 15 minutes before my baby was in my arms. I am so glad my moms got to see this!
That was Grandma's apple.