Charlotte was our unexpected baby. She was the result of assuming I wouldn’t be ovulating for another week. Whoops! My pregnancy with her was quite a bit rougher, partially due to the fact that this was my second pregnancy, and partially due to the fact that I never lost all the weight I gained with Ellie.
Even with the discomforts, my care was WONDERFUL. Jesse and I decided that we were going to plan a home birth. I found a home birth midwife around 11 weeks, and I knew that I was in good hands. (Side note – I will probably be blogging more about home birth, but if you have any specific questions or concerns, feel free to let me know!) I also established back up care with an OBGYN in case we needed to transfer to a hospital.
My midwife and I went into this birth thinking of it as a first time labor, since my body had never gone into labor on it’s own. She gave me lots of tools to help ensure that I would not need to be induced. I took raspberry leaf supplements to tone my uterus; I took borage oil orally starting at 36 weeks; I ate four dates a day from 32 weeks and upped it to six the last four weeks. As my due date approached, I had her check my cervix, even though it does not necessarily tell you anything about when you will go into labor. She and her assistant swept my membranes several times (where the midwife runs her finger between the bag of waters and the wall of the cervix) to help stimulate the production of labor hormones.
The day after my due date, I started having some pretty consistent contractions. Thinking this might be it, we had Ellie stay with my parents that night. Of course, it turned out to be prodromal labor (a bit different from Braxton Hicks contractions), and everything stopped by 10 pm. The next day, I woke up around 5 to more contractions. I timed them on my own, and by 6, I woke Jesse up and told him I was having contractions more frequently; I thought this really could be it.
He got the guest bed set up in our playroom, since I wouldn’t be climbing stairs for a few days post birth, then blew up the birth tub. We ate, I moved around, then I got sleepy, and we both laid in the guest bed for a while. My contractions slowed down a LOT during this time, and I found myself very weepy and missing Ellie. After texting with my parents and my midwife, we decided to go get her. Maybe seeing her was what my body needed to help get things moving again.
We stopped at Target on the way to get her and hung out at my parents’ house for a bit. Sure enough, every time I hugged or held Ellie (which, being a very active toddler, she was not much interested in), my contractions were more powerful. We went back home to have Ellie take her nap, and my parents came over a bit later with dinner.
Meanwhile, I was texting with my midwife, asking about what all I could do to help encourage labor. She suggested several things: pumping, taking herbal tinctures, and breaking my water. Remembering how intense things got when my water broke last time, I was wary of trying that, thinking I’d end up laboring for hours with overwhelming contractions. I had her bring over the tinctures around 7 pm, and pumped occasionally for 15 minutes at a time.
Shortly after Ellie went to bed, things started to get more intense. Finally, around midnight, I texted my midwife to tell her that my contractions were close to 4 minutes apart consistently. She sent over her assistant to sit with me and keep her informed. I felt so good when the assistant arrived. Her presence was so peaceful and reassuring. She measured me and told me I was making good progress. Jesse and my dad filled up the tub around that time too. My midwife arrived close to 2, and I got in the tub shortly after that.
My contractions were definitely intense, but I was handling them so well. I would close my eyes, moan, and relax as much as I could. In between contractions, I had these great bursts of energy and joy. The birth tub was awesome. The warm water felt so good, although the contractions were getting closer together. After an hour in the tub, my midwife had me get out to switch things up. She had me squat for a couple of contractions, which I hated. I hated any contractions on the toilet or in a seated or squat position. She mentioned again that she could break my waters. I was really nervous, but Jesse encouraged me to give it a try.
I had to sit on the birth stool to have her break my waters, which suuuuuucked. Those contractions hurt so badly. She broke my water around 6:30 or so in the morning. Then she had me go back to the bed to labor there, since that was where I was most comfortable. Less than five minutes after she broke my waters, I started feeling pushy. She had me breathe through a couple of contractions to really allow my cervix to dilate. I was starting to feel like I had to fight my body a bit. It was SUCH a relief when she told me that if my body wanted me to push to let it.
I pushed SO HARD. My midwife and her assistant were super impressed with how well I pushed. They kept saying things like “You keep pushing like that, and we’ll have a baby in no time!” My mom and Jesse had been supporting me all through labor, and now they were on either side of me, holding my hands as I pushed. At one point, I pulled on my mom’s hand so hard that I essentially made her punch Jesse in the face. Whoops! I pushed for probably 15-20 minutes, and Charlotte made her way into the world around 7:12 am!
Those moments immediately after the birth were incredible. I couldn’t believe I had done it. I gave birth at home. Charlotte was here! She was placed on my chest right away. She just stayed there as my birth team put blankets and towels on us to help wipe off the blood. About ten minutes later, after the cord stopped pulsing, Jesse cut the cord. My midwife checked Charlotte for tongue and lip ties and snipped both very quickly. Then she was placed on my breast, and we started nursing. My midwife told me I only had one microtear, despite the fact that Charlotte was a whopping 9 lbs – almost 1.5 lbs heavier than Ellie had been! I think that it was because my labor was so much less violent than Ellie’s.
Within a few hours after the birth, my dad had brought us breakfast, I had showered, the midwives had cleaned up, started laundry, and left, and it was just Jesse, Charlotte, and me. Our home birth experience was incredible, and I will do it again in a heart beat.