Maisy Grace Birth Story:
“Wrong will be right, when Aslan comes in sight,
At the sound of his roar, sorrows will be no more,
When he bares his teeth, winter meets its death,
And when he shakes his mane, we shall have spring again.”
― C.S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
March 20, the first day of spring is when I met sweet Maisy Grace. She didn’t come when I had planned or like I had planned, thank goodness. Because how she came and when she came was exactly, precisely the way she was supposed to come.
My birth story begins weeks before Maisy Grace was born, and if you’d like to read about the time leading up to her arrival, you can find Maisy Grace’s birth journal here. I would encourage you to start there for the real story because the real story in all of this was learning to trust in Something other than myself, or rather, Someone. Had Maisy Grace come when I was “ready”, well I’m not sure I would have learned anything at all and I certainly would not be any better off. I have a feeling Maisy Grace is just getting started in helping me learn a few things.
For this birth, we had planned to be at home and were hoping to have a water birth. We hired the same doula we had for Emma Jean’s birth, Julie Byers, and she hooked us up with a midwife, Carrie LaChapelle. I have lots of thoughts on homebirth, the culture of birth here in America, on using a doula, on the importance of having a team of support people who you can trust to help you have the birth you desire and on other parts of natural birthing. However, this isn’t a forum or a discussion on all of that, it is a story of a sweet baby coming into my life so let me just get on with that and perhaps all of those thoughts can be shared on my blog at another time.
My last entry in her journal is from Wednesday, March 19, when I was 41 weeks and 2 days, where I share that I took a couple of ounces of castor oil to help things get moving. Without going into too much detail on that (you’re welcome), things did get moving. The castor oil effect really wasn’t that awful, and total it only lasted for about 5 hours. Honestly, late that afternoon, I was wondering if I should take more of it or wait until another day to do it again. I was just certain it hadn’t been enough. But both Carrie and Julie told me just to wait and see as it sometimes doesn’t get things started until later. (Spoiler alert: the castor oil definitely did help get things moving as you will soon read. Just wanted to say that for women who are “overdue” and really want to avoid a hospital induction, I would give this a try if it comes to it. Also, I did take evening primrose oil and I believe between that and the castor oil, my body definitely responded in a positive way.)
Around 7pm, I did start having some pressure waves (Hypnobabies’ term for contractions). I didn’t get excited; I didn’t really think anything of it because at this point in my pregnancy I was having pressure waves pretty regularly every evening. I went on a late walk with my dogs, not too far, but I wanted to test and see if walking would stop the pressure waves. When I got back from my walk I bounced on my birth ball for about 2 hours, still having pressure waves. After that, I rested on the couch, watching TV till about 11pm and yes, still having pressure waves. But I would not let myself get excited. I probably told Charlie three times, “I’m having pressure waves BUT DON’T BE EXCITED!” I think deep down that if I let myself get my hopes up, my body’s response would be to shut down and stop the birthing time. Looking back, I see how silly that was because truly, babies come when they are ready, despite your feelings on the matter. But again, at this point in pregnancy, I was thinking all sorts of silly things like, “Will I be pregnant forever?” and “Oh my goodness, I’m going to be the first woman to be pregnant forever.”
So I went to bed at 11pm, and I fell asleep to a Hynpbabies CD still having those pressure waves. At 12:15pm, I woke up. I was still having pressure waves, but I was having a little bit of denial. I snuck out of the bedroom and went into our media room to walk and bounce. I emerged thirty minutes later (12:45) to tell my husband that I thought I was in my birthing time, and I just wanted to let him know. At this point, I decided I should text Carrie and Julie just to let them know that I thought I was in my birthing time but was certain it was still early. Here’s the text:
“Ok, so I’m going to say it…I think, I’m pretty sure, I’m in my birthing time. It’s early on, but starting around 8pm, I noticed things were feeling different. I had walked the dogs and the pressure waves did not leave. I sat on my birth ball until 10, then one more hour in my comfy chair until 11pm and I went to sleep listening to Hypnobabies and still having some waves, now I’m up and still having them. I’m going to do Hynpobabies for a bit and then have Charlie call you. I really believe she is coming.”
The tone of that text isn’t rushed, it isn’t panicky, if anything, it is casual and reads just like an fyi. I sat my phone down, went to my bedroom and turned on my Hypnobabies Easy First Birth Stage CD and began walking around the room, swaying. It wasn’t long, maybe 10 minutes, when I began to realize that I was further along than I thought and in my mind, I was behind. It was like my body knew where I was but I hadn’t gotten there with my mind yet so I was playing catch up. It’s a strange feeling to explain, but all I can say is that it was a very intense birthing time. About fifteen minutes after I sent that text, I told Charlie that he should probably call Carrie and Julie and tell them to be on their way. Again, I told him matter of factly, not with a worried tone or a “they need to speed” attitude. Because things had progressed so quickly, I wasn’t really sure where I was in my birthing time, I just knew that it was getting more and more intense.
I continued moving, swaying and listening to my cd in my room. Carrie arrived at some point and was busy doing what she needed to do. Charlie had begun filling the pool, and I remember asking her if it was too early to get in (I didn’t want the water to slow me down). She told me as soon as it was ready, I could get in. And that told me that I was moving right along. So I continued pacing and when pressure waves came hard, I would get on the bed on all fours and breathe my “peace” cue into them. Then I would get down, walk around the bed and wait for the next one to come. I asked Carrie two more times about the water being ready and on the third time I remember her saying, “It may not be ready in time.” At that moment, I was able to let go of the water birth and accept that this birth would not be in the water. It was only a brief moment of disappointment because let’s be honest, my brain didn’t have time to deal with disappointment but I’m glad she told me when she did because it helped me re-set mentally, and before I knew it, I was on the bed and no longer wanting to get down.
My pressure waves were coming quickly, and I remember saying, “I feel pushey.” And here is where it got really good for me. Wait…what? Yes, you read that right. The pushing stage was the best part of this birth for me. When I got there:
- I knew where I was; I was having the urge to push so that told me Maisy Grace was almost here
- I was able to catch up and really focus on breathing Maisy Grace out; I was no longer playing catch up, I didn’t have to guess if this was it, with each “aaaahh” or “peace” or breath, I was able to focus on the moment and that felt really good
- I knew Julie was there. At the very beginning of this stage, I remember smelling Julie come in. She has this wonderful, natural smell about her, and I distinctly remember being on all fours on the bed with my chest down (child’s pose) and eyes closed, and all of a sudden, I took a deep breath and knew that Julie was in the room. And sure enough, within seconds, she was on the bed holding my hands, helping me breathe, slowing me down and reminding me exactly why I love her to be a part of my births.
Thankfully, weeks before this, Julie had talked to me about how second time moms tend to bear down and really explode their babies out, but how it is important during that phase that I slow myself down, breathe and listen to Carrie so Maisy Grace can peacefully enter the world. I am SO thankful we had that conversation. Sure enough, I began to bear down and really forcefully push, but Julie and Carrie both helped in reminding me to breathe and ‘aahh’ Maisy Grace out. And it made for a really, wonderful ending to a birth that had seemed overwhelmingly rapid.
It felt like 15 minutes of breathing Maisy Grace out but it may have been longer. There was definitely an intense pressure and as I felt last time, the burning, but when your mind is focused on what you are truly doing, breathing out a life into this world that will forever be a part of you, the intensity fades, the pressure is irrelevant and all that matters is that in mere minutes, you will know that life.
Maisy Grace came into the world at 2:45am that Thursday. She came out beautifully, my water had broken in the early part of the pushing stage and there had been a very small amount of meconium (something I learned later). Carrie had not been concerned, and she was right not to be because Maisy Grace was perfectly healthy. She was 9lbs 15 oz and 22 inches long, and no, I did not tear. Not tearing can be accredited to God’s grace of course, but also the position in which I gave birth, the hundreds (thousands?) of kegels I did before my birth, and the skill of my midwife helping Maisy Grace enter the world (ie…her helping me breathe her out, helping with massaging and oils, and giving Maisy Grace a little tug in the right direction as she was a little “sticky” when she got to her shoulders…something I learned later as well).
We let the cord pulse for several minutes until it was done, Charlie cut it like the professional that he is. Then I was able to birth my placenta, which if I’m totally honest, may have felt better than anything else. I don’t know why but it really felt amazing when it was out.
Then Carrie checked me, determined all was well, and here’s the best part of all: I leaned back in my own bed, against my own pillows, with my sweet little baby and my husband and we had an hour or longer snuggle session in our own room, in our home.
Julie and Carrie were there for a while and then said goodbyes somewhere around 5 or 6; I was resting when they left, Maisy Grace still on my chest, and I remember asking Charlie if I was dreaming because after all the waiting, it was hard to wrap my mind around the fact that she was finally here.
And I lied earlier, because this was truly the best part: Emma Jean (our 22 month old) slept through the whole thing, woke up the next morning, had breakfast with her dad and then came toddling into our room to discover that she was a big sister. There’s just something so special about going to bed an only child and waking up to a forever friend. I will never forget those first moments of them meeting each other that way, in our home, in our room, just us, together.