It was an ordinary Wednesday, besides the fact that I was 5 days over my due date and incredibly eager to go into labor. I did notice I felt a little more pressure in my pelvis that day but I didn’t get my hopes up and went about my day per usual. We decided to have a home birth with this baby since having our first daughter at the birth center went so well. We also decided to have one of our best friends and photographer, Sharon, photograph the labor and birth. She lives 4 hours away so she came down 3 days before my due date to stay with us until I went into labor just to make sure she wouldn’t miss any of the action. My husband, Jason, left to go to work at 2:30pm and Sharon retreated to her room to take a nap just in case something happened that night. I wasn’t holding my breath.
I straightened up the house a bit then felt like resting on the couch with my 2 year old, Nora. Around 5:00pm I started getting braxton hicks contractions, like I always did, but noticed my back was hurting a little with each one. I had a flashback to the 12 hours of back labor I experienced with my first, and that definitely got my attention. I sat up and started loosely timing them. Every 15 minutes…Ok, but I’m still not convinced this “is it” so I get up and really start moving around and organizing/cleaning the house…they persist. Sharon comes downstairs from her nap and I tell her, “I think it’s happening!” I continued timing them. 15 mins, 10 mins, 9 mins, they are jumping around these numbers but all under 15 minutes apart. I called Jason around 6:00pm and told him to come on home cause we are definitely having this baby. I called my midwife to fill her in and she told me to call her again when things really amp up. After I got off the phone with both of them, it really hit me. I’m in labor! I go into crazy cleaning mode now cause how is a girl supposed to focus on laboring in a dirty house?
He got home around 6:30pm and there was excitement in the air. Luckily I started a hearty crock pot soup, zuppa toscana, earlier that day so we were able to eat a nice big dinner to have plenty of energy for the night. While we ate I could feel the contractions already getting stronger but still pretty mild. After we ate, I took a shower and put on my “labor clothes” while Jason started filling up the birth pool and Sharon got a crockpot of water and grated ginger going for perineal compress if needed.
Jason, Nora, and I had a little playtime on the bed in the birth room while the tub filled up, knowing that would be the last time we were a family of 3. Contractions were steady coming but between them we were all laughing and talking. Nora went to bed around 8 which began the more focused labor. I started to lose the ability to talk through my contractions and had to lean on the counter, swirl my hips, and do deep breathing to get through the now 5-6 minute apart contractions. I kept envisioning a galaxy swirling which kept me focused while Jason applied counter pressure to my lower back during each one to help offset the discomfort.
By 9:00pm I called the midwife, GeorgAnna, to let her know my contractions were gaining momentum and I could no longer talk through them. At that point I had been laboring around the house, mostly in the living room and dining room. I wanted to move around as much as I could in early labor before settling into the tub which I imagined wouldn’t be for several more hours.
GeorgAnna arrived around 9:40pm and by 10:00pm, I requested she check my dilation just to gauge how far I had progressed in 4 hours. I was at 4cm. Feeling a little discouraged that I wasn’t further along, I decided to go ahead and get into the tub to at least ease some of the back pain. Lucky me, I experienced back labor…again. Jason got in there with me so he could continue to support me through the contractions. The position that felt the best was on my knees hanging on to the side of the tub. Right after we got in, the birth assistant arrived.
Each contraction was a little more intense than the last and I could tell this labor was progressing much quicker than my first. I never really got the chance to build up my tolerance to them because each one was building on the last. The point came where I couldn’t have Jason assist me anymore, no more touching me. I had to let my body take over and nothing from the outside would be able to help me. I assume I was only in there for an hour, maybe around 11:00pm, before I began to shake. I suddenly felt unstable and weak. I told GeorgAnna I was feeling really shaky and she tells me I’m in transition. Yes! Things are really picking up. Even though I didn’t like that feeling, I knew I was getting closer and closer to meeting our second daughter. I began to envision my muscles in my belly working to bring her down and with each breath I focused on releasing any tension in my pelvis. I could feel the pressure of her head as she got lower and lower.
Breathing through contractions then turned into a low breathy moan as the surges reached their peak. While breathing through one, I felt a strong pressure and, pop, my water breaks. When the contraction is over, I sigh, “my water broke,” to let everyone know since I was in the pool and it wasn’t obvious. The very next contraction I get that familiar feeling and uncontrollable urge to push. What? Already?! She’s coming now? I couldn’t believe it.
I pushed and reached my hand down to feel a little sliver of her head. I smiled through the entire next contraction as I slowly pushed her head out, feeling her head with my hand the whole way. Sure, I felt the pain of pushing a human head out of me, but it was a moment that I can’t really put into words. It was a turning point, it was excitement, it was accomplishment, it was pure love in the form of energy surging through my body that only a smile could surface. I voiced once her head was out and GeorgAnna, Jason, and Sharon all let me know that our daughters eyes were open and she was looking all around!
In the time before the next contraction, I could feel baby girl turn her body to get into the optimal position for her body to come out easily. That was a feeling I’ll never forget. Birth is freaking amazing. With the next contraction I pushed her body out. Jason was behind me still this entire time. He caught her as she came out, then GeorgAnna said, “pick up your baby” as Jason fed her back through my legs. I picked her up and the rest was a blur of laughing and crying and kissing and telling her how beautiful she was. Our second daughter, Hazel Forrest, was born at 11:58pm on December 16th in her room. We all experienced a lifetime within 6 hours.
This labor and birth was more than I ever imagined it would be. Having the freedom to labor how I wanted in the comfort of my own home, surrounded by people I love, each telling me how strong I was, all of us so excited to meet Hazel. It was everything a woman should experience when bringing a new life into the world and I will thank the universe every day for allowing me to experience a perfect birth.