Oh, how grateful I am to be able to write not just one, but a second homebirth story. My first homebirth, which you can read all about here, was a beautiful and peaceful, yet rather long story. I had an easy pregnancy, despite sciatica pain during my last month, and practiced self-hypnosis with the Hypnobabies Home Study Program. I was so thankful I had self-hypnosis to help me through that marathon birth. I never felt pain, just intense pressure, but was utterly exhausted by the end.
This second pregnancy was not nearly as easy for me mentally, emotionally, or physically. You can read more about my first trimester here. I felt pretty good physically during my second trimester, but had a few emotionally challenging times during those months that required a lot of inner strength to stay positive and stress-free for the sake of my sanity and the baby’s health. Then I had pretty intense lower back, hip, and pelvic pain during my entire third trimester. Thankfully prenatal massage and chiropractic care brought on great relief, but didn’t make it go away entirely.
Even though I still had a positive experience with my first home birth, I was definitely less confident this second time around. I was mostly worried it would be just as long, but I wouldn’t be as mentally prepared as the last time. I wasn’t able to study Hypnobabies nearly as much as I should have because my 2.5 year old son, L, at the time had a month-long nap strike after we returned from vacation, which made it much more difficult to find the time to mentally prepare. I just kept praying for strength to trust that my body and mind knew exactly what to do and that God would not give me anything I could not handle.
The night before my second birth began, I broke down in tears to my husband expressing all my fears about the upcoming birth. By the end of our talk, I felt much more at peace and remembered I had a similar experience the week before my first birth. The next morning, I was supposed to have my 38 week visit with my midwife’s assistant, who was also at my first homebirth and would be taking over for my main midwife while she was on vacation for the month. She was also pregnant in her first trimester, but was not sure if her nausea was from that or a stomach virus, so she wanted to wait another day to come over, just in case. My girlfriend Meghan called and we ended up discussing details of both our homebirth stories which again led me to be much more at peace with what my upcoming birth would bring.
After I hung up the phone, I put L down for his nap, ate some lunch, and decided to lay down on the couch to rest. I looked up restaurants in town to make a reservation for that weekend for one last date night with Matt and continued reading a book on healthy baby sleep habits, determined to get better sleep this time around! All of a sudden, around 2pm, I realized my Braxton Hicks contractions were no more as they required my full attention. I felt a stretching-burning sensation wrap around my back, which I knew full well from last birth was an actual pressure wave (PW – Hypnobabies term for the word “contraction”). They lasted about 30 seconds and were about 15 minutes apart. Around 3pm, my son awoke from his nap and I decided I should text my midwife and Matt to let them both know something was happening. Knowing my last birth’s history, I told them both it was probably nothing but prodromal labor, and I was fully convinced I would be feeling these sensations for the next two weeks. She told me to keep her posted if they lasted 60 seconds and got closer together.
I downloaded a contraction timer app on my phone to keep better track, and played with my son in his room. Each PW continued to require my full attention, and I even needed to change my breathing through them. Still, I was convinced it was nothing. Shortly after 4pm, Matt called to say he was on his way home and asked if I was still planning on going to my prenatal yoga class. I told him I wanted to, but it probably wasn’t the smartest idea to drive by myself since I had to close my eyes and focus during PWs. I was in complete denial that I was actually in my birthing time. He said he would shovel snow off the deck and turn up the hot tub when he got home in case I wanted to relax in it, and would take care of our son so I could rest or do whatever I felt I needed to do. My midwife also checked in around the same time, so I sent her a screenshot of the times on my phone app. PWs were about 60 seconds long and 5 minutes apart. I told her I still didn’t think I needed her to come over, since we both knew how long my last labor was, it still may be awhile. She reminded me that my body had already passed a baby through it’s bones, so it would probably go faster this time. I was still in complete denial.
I laid down in bed and began listening to my Hypnobabies birthing affirmations. During this time, around 6:15pm, my other midwife called to check in. She lived almost an hour away and wanted to gauge how much time she had to give herself to drive here before the baby was born. I told her my PWs had slowed down to about 8 minutes apart, but during the less than 10 minutes I was on the phone with her, I had two about 4 minutes apart, and I had to stop talking to her and breath through them. She mentioned this and asked if I had any bloody show, which I had not seen any yet. Once I hung up with her, I decided to go to the bathroom and there it was, bloody show! I told Matt, and asked him to text the midwife to let her know it was actually happening and to come over. I was finally admitting to myself I was going to birth my baby!
Then I moved back to the bedroom, sat on my birth ball listening to Hypnobabies’ “Easy First Stage” track on my iPod, while Matt and L helped set up the birth pool. He tried several times to get a hold of Meghan who was planning to come help during the birth but there was no answer. He said he was calling one last time, and then he would call his mother to come help with our son, but thankfully she picked up the last call with the feeling I was maybe in labor! My midwife arrived, we made some small talk in between PWs about 3 minutes apart and getting things ready, while Matt put L down for bed. My son really wanted me to say prayers with him before bed, so we all prayed together, while I was breathing through PWs. I was so thankful he insisted on that! While Matt read him books in bed, I went and laid down in my bed to rest. My PWs seemed to slow down again so after he was done putting L to bed, I called Matt in to lay down with me for a little bit.
After some time, I wanted to go to the bathroom to empty my bladder to help keep everything moving along. Once on the toilet, my PWs picked up in time and consistency. I hung my arms over Matt’s shoulders so I could better relax my pelvic floor while sitting on the toilet. I remembered being in that exact place during my first birth when my water finally broke and my body began to push, so I wanted to stay there for awhile. Matt innocently asked if I wanted to go lay down again since it seemed to be less intense in that position, and my midwife and I both exclaimed, “No!” And she explained that intensity was good and we wanted to keep the birth progressing at that pace.
During this time, the other midwife arrived around 8:30pm and Meghan arrived around 9pm, after needing to shovel her car out of the snow. She tried to help calm my son who was laying in bed crying out for me, “Mama, lay down 5 minutes!”, but he would only tolerate Matt, and I didn’t have 5 minutes to spare, so they took turns being with me in the bathroom.
The birth pool was finally full enough with warm water for me to get in so I walked to the bedroom trying to explain to Matt where my one specific hair clip and bra was that I wanted to wear while in the pool. I had almost everything laid out in preparation but not those items yet! I had one more PW while they helped me get undressed, and then I got into the pool which felt so good. I had another PW in the water and realized my body had started pushing! I was so surprised. I had no idea I was that far along already, I thought I had to go though transformation (transition) still! This is how manageable everything was up to that point. My midwife agreed that my body was probably ready to push and I would be feeling my bag of waters bulging soon, and once it broke, the pressure would be much less intense. I was so excited! In between PWs I kept telling everyone how nice it was to be so present and not utterly exhausted this time. I could actually feel the sensations of my baby moving down and out. It was amazing.
Finally my water broke and the excitement in the room grew even more, knowing the baby would join us any minute. I was so relieved when it finally happened because a lot of the pressure then disappeared. My midwife noticed some vernix, the waxy substance that coats newborn babies skin, floating in the water noting that the baby maybe had more vernix than my last since he was coming two weeks earlier.
I laid with my back against the side of the pool, with my left hand in my husbands and my right hand in Meghan’s, not squeezing at all, rather using their beautiful positive energies to help me relax every muscle in my body. My body was shaking in between contractions, which my midwife told us was my hormones simply trying to help me relax my muscles, so it reminded me to take a deep breath and go “limp and loose” like Hypnobabies teaches, but since I wasn’t in deep hypnosis during this birth it didn’t happen as naturally. I let go of all tension in my body and the shaking would stop and the baby descended a little further. While I was pushing, Matt was going in between our bedroom and our sons bedroom, tending to him as he continued to call out for me this entire time. I contemplated just having him come in to our bedroom to watch, but I wasn’t sure if it would make it worse or not, because he really was just exhausted and wanted me to lay down with him. Later, Matt said he wondered the same thing, but he didn’t want to cause any stress for me by having him in the room if he didn’t really want to be there. I joked afterwards that we were both yelling out together.
Once my baby’s head emerged, everyone almost cheered with excitement. It all was happening rather quickly and seamlessly, and just so calmly. My body knew exactly what to do without any interventions and it truly was a natural, normal, healthy life experience. I definitely felt the “ring of fire” much more this time without the deep hypnosis, but I just tried not to focus on it, knowing it would only last a moment and my baby would be here. It was incredible to then feel the baby start to turn to come completely out. My midwife asked if I wanted to get my hands ready to catch my baby, but I wanted Matt to experience it this time since he wasn’t literally holding me up like last time.
One more push and our baby was earthside! Matt caught our baby while our midwife gently unwrapped the cord that was loosely around the baby’s neck, not cause for any concern. Then he and I brought our baby to my chest while Matt moved behind me. The midwives and Meghan were all surprised how much they thought the baby resembled my son, but I immediately saw all the differences, especially the nose!
I’m pretty sure I said, “Hi Baby!”, and immediately asked for someone to please go get our son from his room since he was still awake and calling out for me. Matt brought him to our room and then I put the baby on my legs so we all together could see if it was a boy or girl, and a boy it was! We all were shocked. Everyone thought it was a girl but God knew a baby boy, a little brother for our son, was exactly what our family needed at this time! Big brother immediately asked to go back to bed and he fell fast asleep knowing all was right in his world.
I asked what time it was when he was born and was shocked to hear it was only 10:07pm, just 8 hours from the first time I felt pressure waves begin! I really wanted an 8 hour birth or shorter this time, and God provided. Once the cord stopped pulsing, Matt cut it and then took off his shirt so he could hold our baby boy skin-to-skin against his chest while I got in an upright half-squatting position to better birth the placenta, which came out about 20 minutes after birth. I was then assisted out of the tub and into a robe and moved to the bed for lots and lots of snuggles.
The midwives did all the routine newborn checks and everything was perfect. Even being two weeks early, he was surprisingly bigger than his brother! He was 19 3/4″ long and weighed 7lbs 4oz.
We called and/or Facetimed with our parents, waking some, to share the good news. Everyone was shocked he came two weeks early. My parents were still out of town on vacation and Matt’s mom was coming down with a really bad cold, so unfortunately it was several days before they got to finally meet him! The weather also turned bad so we were holed up on our own for the first couple of days postpartum, which wouldn’t have been so bad had Matt not thrown out his back the very next day, leaving us both in pretty rough shape, especially when trying to care for a very active toddler too!
I decided to have my placenta encapsulated this time, as well as tinctured, and also had an art print made from it as a keepsake. It was something I came across during my first pregnancy, but ended up just burying my sons placenta under a tulip tree a friend gave us to plant. So far I have had good results. Maybe one day I’ll write about it here. For now, thank you for reading my second son’s birth story!