Rowan is my second baby but in many ways I felt like a first time mom leading up to his birth. I was induced with my first son, Finn, due to my water leaking and I ended up with a very long labor and an epidural. I still had an overall positive experience but was really hoping Rowan’s birth would go differently.
Rowan was due November 22 but I was feeling fine with no signs of labor in sight. I was paranoid about going into labor on Thanksgiving so, of course, as I climbed out of bed on November 26th, Thanksgiving morning, my water broke. It is just kept leaking…way more than with Finn. I texted my doula, Julie, and started getting worried I was going down the same path I did with Finn’s birth because I had no contractions. We had a little Thanksgiving lunch just me, Michael, and Finn, thanks to Covid, and then we went on a long walk. After the walk I laid down with Finn and had the tiniest contractions. Looking back, they were basically nothing, ha! That afternoon we went on another long walk. I went ahead and had Finn go stay at my parent’s house that night. I continued to have tiny contractions but they didn’t increase in intensity all night.
After talking with Julie, I decided early the next morning to take the midwife cocktail to try and get things going since it had been 24 hours since I started leaking fluid. Michael anxiously went to CVS and bought all their castor oil. (I don’t want to know what the cashier was thinking.) Just like Julie said, a couple hours later my contractions started to get stronger, but I was still worried it wasn’t anything real so I didn’t want Julie to come over yet.
Around 2, Julie came by [Doula note: I conveniently showed up in their neighborhood and insisted on stopping by] and had me do some crazy positions since we could feel Rowan on my right side and my pubic bone was hurting. I remember sitting on the bed, standing for contractions and desperately needing my hips squeezed by her and Michael.
By that evening, I was starting to zone out and not wanting to talk. I told Julie I felt so sleepy but I wasn’t tired. I remember hearing her say something to Michael about getting ready to head to the hospital. Thankfully she said this because I feel like I would have wanted to just stay in my zone and not leave the house. Contractions were a lot but I was really savoring the breaks in between.
The car ride went fast and all I could think about was get me out of here and into that tub. I remember being asked if I wanted a wheelchair and thought these people are out of their minds thinking I could sit down at this point. I also remember the walk to the midwife room took forever and I kept having to stop for contractions. Whoever designed the hospital obvious hadn’t thought through how long you would have to walk in active labor. I knew Sam was on call and was excited to have her. With my first birth, I had been on Pitocin for 17 hours and when I got checked it was super painful and I was only 2cm, so getting checked was something I was really nervous about. She checked me (and it didn’t hurt, yay!). I was 8cm which was literally the best news I could have gotten. I remember crying tears of joy.
Unfortunately, Rowan’s heartbeat kept dropping during contractions so I had to keep the monitor on and couldn’t get in the tub. Disappointing, but I was very distracted by intense contractions and so I headed to the shower. I remember at one point saying, “How will I know when to push??” and being told your body will let you know. Next contraction, out of my control, my body bore down and I made a different sound at the end of the contraction. They were totally spot on that my body would know what to do. This was around 7:30 and I was hoping it would be over soon. This became the most intense part of my birth.
I pushed in a million different positions, hanging all my weight off Michael, and it was physically the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I remember at one point looking at Julie and being like “What is going on, I can’t do this, why isn’t he coming out!?!” The pressure was SOOOO intense and I honestly felt like my butt was exploding! I was having a hard time moving because his head was so low. I remember thinking if I want this to be over I am going to have to lean into this and literally push through the intensity. Finally, at 10:39, Rowan was born! He was sunny side up with a brow presentation and a nuchal cord. His crazy position explained why pushing was so challenging. I was on a high and could not stop talking. I remember at 2am Michael being like you’ve got to go to sleep! I have never been so proud of myself! Having a natural birth was the hardest, most rewarding thing I’ve ever done. Rowan has been the absolute sweetest addition to our family.
*Brow presentation is the least common of all fetal presentations and is unlikely to birth vaginally. Rowan crowned occiput posterior but you can see from the head molding that he was a brow presentation for quite some time! Apologies for the blurry pics…I’m a doula; not a photographer.