*As soon as I became pregnant with our first child in December 2016, I immediately knew that I wanted to have a natural birth. This really isn’t something that I had planned in advance, or felt strongly about beforehand, but I just had a strong urge with that first pregnancy that the least amount of intervention, unless needed, would be best for me and my family, and I definitely knew that I didn’t want to give birth in a traditional hospital setting. However, I am not a “hippie” and am a very risk adverse person, so at that time home birth was just not even on my radar, which is why I thought a good compromise would be the birthing center (then part of GHS) “just in case” something were to go wrong. That first childbirth experience at the birthing center was great and incredibly empowering, but we left just hours after having our daughter because I wanted to be in my in own environment to recover, not to mention I never again wanted to experience having to be in a moving vehicle while having a contraction. Because of all of this, I knew immediately that for our second child we would do a home birth and luckily my husband, Jon, was very supportive of this.*
That brings me to March of 2019 when I became pregnant with our second child. No questions asked, as soon as I got a positive pregnancy test, I contacted Julie to be our doula again, and called Carrie with Hatched so that she could be our home birth midwife. Another thing I knew that I wanted to do differently this time around was to be more present during my labor time. With our first, I remember only bits and pieces, but mainly I remember that I did lots of yelling, lots of cussing, and lots of thinking that I wouldn’t have the energy or strength to actually push baby out. To help me focus on the goal of being more present, we decided to take Julie’s Hypnobabies class. We took the class several months before my December due date, so when we hit the two months before, I started the Hypnobabies maintenance schedule of listening to a hypnosis daily or having Jon read one to me, along with listening to my Joyful Birth Affirmations.
Our first daughter was two days early, so I had myself convinced that this baby would also be early. So much so that I had my mom come down from New York to stay with us starting almost 2 weeks before my due date to help take care of our two year old. Also, because my due date was the week before Christmas, I was adamant that I would NOT be having a Christmas baby. In hindsight, focusing so much energy on baby arriving early actually put more stress on me, which didn’t help and I think caused the reverse effect.
The week before my due date, I started to listen to the “Come Out Baby” hypnosis script. I also started going to the chiropractor to stimulate the pressure points, and I was doing acupuncture on those same points. But nothing was working to encourage labor to start, again fueling my anxiety. I was having “bloody show” for a few days and more contractions, so I figured the big day would happen at any minute.
Of course, my due date came and went, and Julie knew that I wanted baby born before Christmas, so after my due date, she had texted me and said that we could try a few things to get things moving. I kept feeling like baby’s hand was trying to push the way out, so Julie suggested that we try the Miles Circuit to reposition baby in case her hand was in the way. I did that, with high hopes, but nothing happened that day either. Eventually Julie tossed out the idea of drinking the dreaded castor oil cocktail to start labor. I always said I wanted baby to come on her own time, but at this point, I was so desperate and anxious that I said let’s try it.
On the morning of December 21st, I drank the cocktail at 8:15am and let both Julie and Carrie know so that they could begin their countdown. It really wasn’t as bad as I had built it up to be, and Julie said I could chase it with a mimosa, so that made it worth it! Julie warned me that likely nothing would happen in the first few hours, but that eventually I might have diarrhea and then contractions would start. family went out to breakfast and I tried to go about my day as usual.
I knew that if nothing started 6 hours after taking the cocktail that I would have to do a straight shot of castor oil, which I definitely did not want to do. That would of been 2:15pm, so I was watching the clock tick away trying to listen to any tiny change in my body. Sadly, 2:15pm came and I texted Julie that nothing was progressing and that I would be taking the castor oil shot. But then! Literally the second I hit send to Julie, I had to run to the bathroom for what felt like would be an emergency. Sure enough, at the very last minute things started to happen. From here, everything went so fast! Thank god Julie knew this could be a quick labor, so she jumped in her car as soon as I texted her that I had gone to the bathroom and that contractions immediately started after.
I also called Carrie and told her that I thought labor would be starting soon, but because I was so calm and talking through my contractions still, she wasn’t going to plan on coming until Julie arrived and scoped out the scene. Thankfully she called Julie right after I spoke to her who did recommend that the midwife team mobilize since my first labor was somewhat quick once everything started. By this time, and almost immediately once they started, my contractions were anywhere from 1-3 minutes apart. I knew that this was really close together, but part of me didn’t want to believe it could really already almost be time to meet baby.
While I was waiting for everyone to get there, Jon began to fill up the home birth tub since I was planning on doing a water birth. My contractions started while our 2 year old was taking her nap and she woke up just in time for her to inquire about why there was a giant blow up tub in Mommy and Daddy’s room, give her a kiss goodbye, then my mom took her to my mother in law’s house for the night (Side note: we chose to not have her at the birth because at the end of my pregnancy she was very attached to me and we were worried that she would be a distraction and not able to understand exactly what was happening, without getting upset).
The next thing I knew, Jen from Hatched was coming in and assisting with getting everything set up. At 2:50pm, about 30 minutes after everything started, I realized that my water broke. I thought it was urine, but when it kept happening, I knew that this was definitely it. From there is when the contractions started to really pick up. By the time Julie arrived at 3pm, the contractions were getting much stronger and I could no longer talk through them. Julie laughed and said I was such a mom now because of cussing, I kept saying “oh my gosh” and “holy cow”.
I tried to listen to my Hypnobabies tracks, but I found them somewhat distracting when I had a contraction. But I definitely do think the tracks I had been listening to in the two months leading up to go time made me much more present, and to be honest, I thought the contractions were much more manageable. I remember every bit of this birth and what was happening around me during a contraction, which was not the case with our first. Also at 3pm, I had been texting with a close friend and I sent her a text that labor had started and I would let her know once we had a baby. I didn’t think it would be just an hour and a half later though!
At 3:40pm, once the whole team was there, is when I got in the tub, and boy did it feel good. The contractions got slower and less intense and I remember being scared that things would stall, but Carrie and Julie reassured me that this is normal for right when you get in the warm water. During this lull in the contractions, I made sure to remind my husband that the snacks that we had downstairs needed to be put out in case anyone on the birth team was hungry. Everyone got a good laugh from that, but even in labor I like to make sure we are offering food and beverage to our guests!
But soon enough contractions really picked back up again and I really felt the urge to push, which everyone encouraged that I do if my body was saying so. This is when I began to push with each contraction, and I still felt very much present. I was holding Jon’s hands through the entire process and each time I pushed, I knew I had to make sure we were both holding on tight. At 4:23pm is when I felt a really sharp pain, and I know I asked “What was THAT?!”. Everyone said that baby’s head was out, but I remember thinking that it was much more painful than my first natural birth. I was later told that baby came out with her hand up on her cheek and Carrie had to slyly push her hand back. Not the most pleasant feeling, but I’m glad I didn’t push her out that way entirely. Two minutes later, at 4:25pm, Emilia Grace joined us earth side with one big push.
I held on to her and was kissing her in the tub, while I waited for the cord to stop pulsing in order for Jon to clamp it. I shouted to everyone how she looked like she was a preemie baby because she was so small, and I was told that she actually was NOT a tiny baby (It just feels that way when your used to holding/carrying a 32 pound toddler). Our first daughter was born at 7lbs 5.8oz and people said that she was a big baby for someone of my size and stature. Then along comes Emilia and says “hold my beer”, weighing in at a healthy 8lb 4oz. (with no tearing!)
When we got out of the tub, the birth team took care of me while Emilia did skin to skin with dad, and then we were able to get in bed as a family, I nursed her for the first time, and we enjoyed our special time with her. The best part about this whole process, besides it all happening in the comfort of our own home, is that my mom got back right in time with a sub tray from Publix which I got to eat in bed and Jon was able to watch the second half of the Buffalo Bills football game! Our family could not be more complete.