Born on March 30, 2018
9 lb 4 oz
21” in length
I woke up shortly before 1 AM on Thursday, March 29 with a contraction that I knew meant we would be meeting our baby soon. I know labor is a marathon and I needed rest, so I tried to go back to sleep. Several spaced out contractions later, our 2 year old came in to climb into bed with us. I told Matt we would probably be welcoming our baby earth side sooner rather than later, and we went back to sleep. Just like with my first born, I woke to a contraction in the early hours of the morning and struggled going back to sleep, wondering when things would pick up and how different labor would be this time around. Turns out, it was very different.
By 5 AM, the contractions hadn’t picked up much. I gave up trying to sleep and decided to shower. Matt thought it would be a good idea to let the midwife team and birth photographer know I was having labor contractions, so I sent out a text before getting in the shower. When I got up to shower, the contractions really spaced out. By the time I was drying my hair, I wondered if I was really in labor or not. I let our birth team know that things really died down and that I would keep them updated in case labor took off again. Disheartened, I climbed back into bed and drifted off to sleep.
Several hours later, I woke and truly thought the night had been a false alarm. Matt decided to work from home just in case, and my mom and I entertained our two year old. Contractions continued, but they were very sporadic. I would have two or three strong ones that were about 15 minutes apart, and then nothing again for a little while. We spent the afternoon watching movies while I rested and tried to use things like our yoga ball to get things going. Throughout pregnancy, our baby was mostly in an OP position despite efforts to encourage baby to rotate to OA. Knowing baby was most likely posterior and that this position may contribute to a longer, more difficult labor, I also tried asymmetrical positions and Rebozo with the help of our friend to encourage baby to get into a better position for birth.
By the end of the day, I definitely felt frustrated and ready to meet our baby. An entire day had gone by while I experienced mild labor contractions that never established a regular pattern or increased in intensity. I started to wonder how much longer I would be in this state. That evening, we decided that I should try some nipple stimulation to get things going. Sure enough, by about 8:30 PM, contractions took on a regular pattern. Our daughter had been put to bed, so Matt and I decided we would try to get some sleep as well. After lying down for a bit, however, the contractions started getting stronger and I was unable to sleep. We took out the already inflated birth pool and Matt and our photographer began to fill it for me. As the pool was filled, I continued to rest in bed. By this time, the contractions had gotten strong enough that I was using vocalization to work through them, something that worked really well for me throughout my first labor.
I climbed into the pool once there was enough water for me to sit in. It was wonderful to be in the warm water. Just like with my first labor, being in the water helped me to relax and eased the intensity of the contractions. Matt sat with me on the outside of the pool and held my hands. We labored this way for a couple hours at least, but my contractions never seemed to get closer together than 7-10 minutes apart, and though I had to work through them, they never got super intense. When I would get out to use the bathroom though, they seemed much stronger and I would have two to three close together.
Our midwife, Christine (CPM, LM), and her assistant, Betsy (who had trained with Christine for several years and has experience catching babies), arrived around 10:30 and came in to check the baby’s heart tones. Matt helped fill them in on how labor was progressing. A while after that, since the contractions seemed to pick up when I was out of the birth pool, we decided it was time for me to try laboring out of the water. It was after this decision that I began experiencing back labor. With each contraction, a very intense sensation would envelope my lower back and hips. Contractions continued to get closer together and stronger in intensity as long as I was moving. Any time I lay down or sat down, they would begin to space out again. I began to realize that any time I got up to go to the bathroom meant I would have at least a handful of intense contractions close together, and I started to dread that. Matt continued to work with me through the contractions, holding me or my hands and vocalizing with me to remind me to keep my voice low.
Laboring on the toilet helped a lot with my first labor, so I decided to try that again. Unfortunately, this time around I really struggled to find a comfortable position to labor in due to the back labor. Christine continued to monitor baby’s heart tones intermittently. I began to feel hot and then cold, hiccupping (just once) after contractions, and feeling like I couldn’t go on much longer. In my first labor, these were all signs of transition for me. Shortly before 3, Christine came in to ask to do an exam. She knew I did not want any this time around, but another mother’s water had broken, and it was not her first labor either. I consented but requested that Christine did not tell me how dilated I was, which in hindsight, I am very thankful for. Thinking I was going through transition, I felt fairly confident she would find me far enough along. However, after the exam, Christine felt she had enough time to go attend the other mother’s birth and make it back in time. Matt and I continued to labor together. At this point I was requesting counter pressure on my back and hips to help me through the contractions.
Since we had not slept much, Matt wanted me to try to sleep. When we got in bed, the contractions spaced out quite a bit again but when they did occur, they were too intense for me to be able to sleep. I would drift off only to be woken by the sensation that a contraction was coming on. Lying down and working through them was almost unbearable. At this point, they did not ease up and I told Matt sleep was not going to happen. I am not sure what time it was, but I was starting to struggle to work through the contractions. I was kneeling on our bed trying to lean on our headboard while Matt provided counter pressure. The back pain was so intense and the counter pressure only helped so much. I felt like I couldn’t take any more and was starting to wonder if I would make it. When I was ready to give in, the next two contractions I felt the urge to push at the end. Tears of relief streamed down my face. I had made it through first stage.
Second stage went much faster this time around. Matt let Betsy know that I was feeling the urge to push. My mom came into the room to help as well. As Betsy gathered everything necessary for birth, I worked through the contractions, the urge to push growing stronger. I continued to breathe through the contractions and was still experiencing intense back pain. Before long, I grunted through the contractions, barely able to resist the urge to push. With another contraction, without consciously choosing to do so, I began pushing rather than breathing through the contraction. Though normally baby’s heart tones would be monitored every other contraction during second stage, we were having trouble finding the heart tones and when we did, they were not reassuring. I am forever thankful to Betsy for her continued calm demeanor, encouraging me to allow my body time to stretch and motivating me to push my baby out. I began pushing kneeling on the floor with my arms and head resting on our bed. It was around this time that my water broke. Betsy suggested a side lying position knowing I wanted perineum support and thinking it may help improve baby’s heart tones. I was able to stand up, but could go no further. I felt an incredible amount of pressure between my legs. I could not figure out how to climb up into the bed. My mom and Matt were standing to either side of me, allowing me to lean on them as I pushed. Before long, it was made known that baby’s head was visible. With Betsy’s encouragement and support, I continued to push and work to birth my baby as quickly and safely as I could.
I could feel baby’s head crowning and I knew it wouldn’t be long now. At this point, I couldn’t stop pushing. The urge never let up. The next thing I knew, I felt baby’s head emerge, followed by the shoulders and finally the feeling of baby’s feet leaving my body. I couldn’t believe how quickly my baby was birthed this time. Betsy brought our baby up to my arms. I was so enraptured by our baby’s beautiful face that I had forgotten we didn’t even know the gender. It wasn’t until Matt announced that we had a boy that I remembered gender was a minor detail we had been missing. Due to Emmett being gaspy immediately after birth, Betsy administered some breaths to our little boy which cleared the gasping right up. It was not long after his birth that we were sitting in bed with him snuggled to my chest as he nursed for the first time. Though we didn’t learn his weight until later, I had birthed a 9 lb 4 oz baby very quickly resulting in a second degree tear along the scar tissue from the tear with my first. About an hour after he was born, we cut the cord and I was able to deliver my placenta standing.
Shortly after we cut the cord, I heard the familiar pattering of toddler feet as our daughter woke and joined us in our room. I loved birthing at home and having our daughter there so soon after the birth to welcome her brother into this world. We were able to snuggle in bed as a family, spending time getting to know our new addition. Once my daughter was with us, we sang happy birthday to our son and enjoyed a cupcake as a family in celebration of his birth. Emmett’s birth was incredibly intense and so vastly different from what I experienced with my first, but it was beyond rewarding to meet our son for the first time in the comfort of our own home and supported by such an amazing birth team.
If the written story wasn't enough for you, check out Emmett's birth video below!