It was a typical Friday morning for me. I usually work half-days on Fridays, so I was looking forward to a leisurely afternoon, checking in with Bethany (our midwife), spending some quality time with my husband Mel and our toddler before the baby arrived, and making sure everything was prepped for our home birth.
The night before, I woke up several times feeling a little crampy but nothing crazy so I didn’t think twice about it. Same at work. I left work about 12:15 and headed home. My coworkers were having a little girls weekend in the mountains and I (along with another friend and coworker who had a new baby) thought about driving up Saturday morning to hang out with them – I thought it might be a good distraction for me. So I told my friend I would text her and let her know how I was doing to see if we could ride up together in the morning. I would be 39 weeks the next day.
At about 2:45, my family headed over to the birth center to do our quick check in with Bethany. I told her I had a few cramps that day but as I said before, nothing crazy or that different from the Braxton hicks I had been noticing for a couple weeks prior. When we left there about 4:00, I told Mel we should stop by Community Tap and get some bubbly for our toast after the baby was born. While we were inside, I had what I think might have been my first early labor contraction.
Now, my labor with my daughter had lasted almost two full days, so I definitely did not want to jump the gun and say I was in labor. Like ever. Even if this labor was half the time, I figured
those early contractions would last all night.
We got home and I moved through several more contractions, still thinking it could be another week before I had a baby. 🤣 Finally I texted Julie, our doula, and let her know that things
seemed to be ramping up a little and I took her advice and got in the bath with a glass of wine to see if that calmed down the contractions at all. Mel was in the bathroom during a contraction that I was still denying was a contraction, and he said “well that is 100% a contraction if you are having to breathe through it like that.” I guess he knew better than me! 😆
I got out of the bath as things were not slowing down. I texted Julie again, asking if this was a “take a Benadryl and try to sleep” situation. We got our daughter down to sleep (with me
hanging over the side of the crib having a contraction while trying to sing Jesus Loves Me) and tried turning on the TV to see if I could rest and watch something to distract me. I was still
grossly in denial at this point, thinking this would at least last all night and telling Mel “I just hope it’s not as long as last time.”
The TV distraction didn’t work and I decided to turn on some birth affirmations to help me work through the contractions. I had to move around, on the birth ball, standing and swaying, or on all fours moving my hips back and forth. Laying down made the contractions so intense and almost unbearable. I started having to vocalize through them now, just breathing didn’t seem to be enough. Mel was there to remind me to breathe and keep my noises low pitched. None of that high pitched panicky stuff. I was desperately trying to relax my body with each contraction, but they were intensifying significantly with each one.
Mel was back and forth with Bethany and Julie, discussing next steps. I’m not sure why but I remember telling Mel that we needed to move into the bedroom. I think it was my body’s way of telling me to get where the birth pool would be. Although that didn’t even get close to blown up!
We turned on the diffuser with some lavender and turned on our birth playlist. Mel called Julie again who I think heard me working through a contraction over the phone and she said she was leaving right then. Bethany too. I felt some relief knowing they were on their way.
This is the point when that birthing instinct took over and it felt like I was in my own world. Those contractions were so much more intense than the ones with my previous birth! I could feel how effective they were at moving the baby down quickly. I was standing at the end of our bed and with each contraction I could feel this baby moving down the birth canal. I don’t remember much at all from my previous birth (I think because I was so fatigued and delirious) so this was almost like a brand new sensation. I told Mel that I didn’t think we were going to have time for the birth pool 😆 My water broke and I swear 3 minutes later that baby was coming right out! I birthed him standing up and caught him in my own hands, Mel standing behind me providing counter pressure on my back (and much needed moral support).
My nurse brain took over then and I started yelling commands at Mel to get a towel and the suction bulb 😂 There he was, little Charlie, entering into the world fast and furious, absolutely nothing like his big sister, who slept soundly through the whole thing by the way!
Julie arrived within 3-5 minutes after that and Bethany and Katrice right behind. They did all their birth worker magic and we toasted to Charlie and his crazy birth! Even though they didn’t make it to the actual birth (mostly due to my stubbornness), these women gave me all the confidence I needed to believe that my body knew exactly what it was doing and that I was able to have a different experience with this birth. They have supported me so selflessly through the postpartum period as well, which lets be honest, I need that more than I needed support during birth! Get yourself a Bethany and a Julie and a Katrice!
We are so happy to have another precious little gift in our home. Charlie has a fourth generation name and was born on his grandfather’s birthday (he’s the second generation) which was also very special. Birthing my babies naturally has been the two most empowering and beautiful experiences of my life, and I’m so grateful to have had the amazing support of a loving husband and birth team through it all.
[Doula note: I actually texted Mel and asked if I could come. He called and said that Caroline didn’t want to jinx it. But I could hear her in the background and promised Mel I would just sit on the couch and not mess with her groove if it was too early. I hung up the phone and told my husband she sounded ready to have a baby. He kissed me good-bye and said, “Don’t speed.” I sped.]