As my due date came and went (January 16th 2019) I said Good Bye to Liam and Zeus and thanked my Mom for taking them until I gave birth to Blake. (Just a reminder we did not know if we were having a boy or a girl until birth!) I was feeling anxious and stressed about getting them sent off after labor had began and I worried that the stress could play a negative roll into having baby a reasonable number of days after my due date.
For a little bit of a background, you can read Liam’s Birth Story. However, long story short… I was 9 days over due with Liam when my water broke (he was born on the 10th day) with his meconium in it. I was actually planning a home birth (which I was not very open about, sorry everyone!) in which we did not stay at home. I packed a hospital back in less than 10 minutes and we headed off. The hospital that we checked into let me labor for a total of 36.5 hours. I ended up with every intervention… Pitocin, an epidural and eventually a c-section (and 7 days later an infection… that I wish I had recorded for youtube because that ish would have gone viral…enter barfing emoji here.) It was a very humbling experience. While I will never look at my c-section scar and think it is “beautiful”, I know that it made me a better person and more importantly a better mother. I learned to let go, not feel the need to control everything all the time and go with the flow just a little bit more.
So with all of that to be said, if history played any roll in Blake’s birth, I was honestly worried I would end up with another c-section if I went too far overdue. However, this birth was something that we had all worked for since Liam was born. I spent the 18 months healing my body from a surgical birth, taking supplements, collagen and going to the chiropractor. After an amazing pregnancy that was “easy” I was optimistic that I would have a redemptive birth. However, I was also being opened minded to whatever was going to have to happen.
Side note, I may refer to her as baby and I may refer to her as Blake, because until she was about a minute or so old, we still did not know if we were having a boy or a girl.
Let’s see, where was I… So from January 16th until January 20th, I was Liam and Zeus free. I spent my days sleeping, walking, eating, grocery shopping, foam rolling and going to the chiropractor. As well as taking A LOT of herbs. My midwife had me on a regimen of herbs that in theory would help send me into labor. I was also pumping regularly, which would cause me to have contractions, but they would stop after about 45 minutes to an hour.
On Monday January 21st, I had not gone into labor, I made sure to go to the chiropractor that morning and then I went to see my midwife about about 2pm for her to sweep my membranes. (It was not nearly as painful as I expected!) I was also excited to find out that I was about 2cm dilated. When my water broke with Liam, I was hardly at 1cm, so this was good news!
After my midwife swept my membranes I went home and had dinner and sat down with Netflix and my breast pump. After pumping for about 30 minutes, the contractions continued as they usually did. At the hour mark, my contractions were consistent, so I had Andrew take me back to the chiropractor. He adjusted my sacrum earlier that morning and my midwife thought it had made a difference in allowing baby to drop lower. So we figured, why not go in again. I went back into the chiropractor at about 6pm that evening. I assumed if the contractions were not labor, they would have stopped once I got into the car and was experiencing a little bit of stress, (#traffic.) However, throughout my adjustment and on our way home I was still having contractions. Andrew and I continued about our evening, had a second round of dinner and watched a movie.
At about 9pm, my contractions were only getting stronger and closer together. I told Andrew I thought he should go to sleep, in the event that I was in Labor at least one of us got some sleep! I also text my doula who was our additional birth partner and told her the same thing. Then text my girlfriend Rachel who had wanted to stop by when I went into labor to pray over all of us and said “Okay I think I’m in labor” (it’s been about 5 hours at this point, before the 5 hour mark I was really convinced the contractions were going to go away!) Rachel came by and prayed over myself, my baby bump and for everyone who was going to be involved. She prayed that everything would happen in the right timing, that nothing would go TOO fast, to where I would be in a ton a of pain, but no delay to where I would be questioning if a home birth was the right choice.
After Rachel left (it was probably about 10pm at this point,) I went to lay in bed in hopes that I might get some sleep. Murphys law, this was the one day out of the 5 days that Liam had been gone that I did not sleep in or take a nap! However, at this point the contractions had picked up enough that I was needing to stand or move around while they were happening. I text my mom to let her know I was FINALLY in labor!
I decided it was time to call my midwife to give her a head up that I was in labor, she told me to try and get some rest, which was easier said than done. From about 10pm-4am I labored alone, resting in between the contractions as much as I could. I think at this point they were about a minute long and 6 to 8 or sometimes 10 minutes apart.
When the contractions started I really focused on my deep breathing and counting my breaths. I got to a point where I knew how much longer the contractions would last based on how many breaths I had taken. Typically around the 6th breath was the most intense, and by the 10th they were gone. Each breath was roughly a second long, if not less. I kept telling myself “I can do anything for a minute.” It reminded me of when I use to run marathons (26.2 miles) and I would get to mile 23 and tell myself how easy a 3 mile run was. Very early on in my labor did I realize how strong my mind was and how it was going to be a pivotal tool in my VBAC success. As I continued to labor by myself (reminder my husband was still sleeping LOL) I would move between having my contractions on a medicine ball and against the wall. I had watched a spinning babies DVD in which the midwife recommended going up against the wall during a contraction and tilting my pelvis under (thank you yoga) she found that this technique helped baby to drop lower and lower during each contraction.
Finally, around 4am, after being in labor (and awake) for about 12 hours, I decided it was time to wake up Andrew. I told him to get up, take a shower, drink coffee and have breakfast and that I was probably not going to be able to labor much longer without help.
The pain began to get a little more intense as the contractions got stronger, longer and closer together. It took us a little while (maybe an hour which was probably 6-8 contractions) to get the hang of things as a team. I would try and rest between contractions as he applied pressure and massaged my back. I was very thankful that the only time I was in pain was during my contractions (which I continued to breath through) vs Liam’s birth I was in pain the entire time because he was not in a good position and I was having back labor. (Speaking of Liams birth…..poor Andrew had to help me labor through contractions that gave me the runs the whole time LOL, let’s just say I was able to take care of that before he woke up.)
Anyway, I think around 7-8am I text both our doula and our Midwife to let them know I was officially in labor. Our doula came over around 1030am and our midwife shortly after. I also text my mom to let her know that I was turning my phone off and that I would text her after the baby was born. We chose not to tell any other family, I have found it helps to keep the pressure down. However, since she had Liam and Zeus and I had been keeping her update it only made sense. (When Liam was born we did not tell anyone I was in labor until it had been over 24 hours.) By 1030-1100am I was approaching active labor. When my Midwife first checked me, I was at 4cm, this felt like such a huge milestone after Liam’s Birth. My doula made me a green smoothie and some gluten free toast. I was at the point where I did not have much of an appetite but I knew I needed to keep eating.
From roughly 11am to 3pm I was in active labor. My contractions were getting closer together, longer and stronger. While I was able to fully rest in between, I was needing major support during my contractions. While I was continuing to breath through each contraction. Counting my breathing, knowing that the 6th breath would be the most intense and then they would get less intense after that. I was still needing a lot of support physically. At first it started with Andrew or our doula applying pressure to my lower back. We would use Black Pepper Essential Oil or the Deep Blue Massage Blend. It then got to a point where one of them was applying pressure to my lower back and the other was bracing themselves for me to grip onto while I continued to breath. (Let’s just say it’s a good thing they both work out LOL.)
As I was moving around from position to position to labor, my midwife would check the baby’s heart rate. Anytime I was uncomfortable during laboring ie on the toilet, the baby’s heart rate would drop. It was amazing to see the correlation between my comfort and the baby’s heart rate. I ended up being the most comfortable in a side lying position on my bed. I was laying on my left side, breathing through my contractions and resting in between. Our doula was lying next to me holding my hands (aka allowing me to attempt to rip them off of her) while Andrew applied pressure to my back.
I was convinced we were going to have to transport to the hospital. I was in pain during the contractions, but it was never anything deep breathing, self talk and my two birth partners could not get me through. I was convinced I would never get to 10 centimeters. I mean, my water had not even broke yet!
Around 3pm my midwife came in and checked me. She told me that I was at 10 cm and that I could start pushing at my next contraction. I was in disbelief. I couldn’t believe that I had gotten that far. That all of the herbs, collagen, prayers, plans and birth partners had all helped me to get to the point where I could start pushing. I was at a point where not only was a VBAC in sight, but I was most likely going to be able to have my baby at home.
The next contraction started and I began to push. I let out a cry of both pain but also emotion. I was then graciously reminded by one of my midwives (we had two) that I needed to fill my lungs and use them to help push. AKA zip it! LOL
I pushed from about 3pm-420pm on my left side. This position allowed me to rest between contractions (I was almost falling asleep between being so tired and pretty comfortable.) This is also the amazing thing about having a home birth, I was on my own bed, the room was dimly let and everything was very familiar.
At 420pm (thank you Doula for that time stamp) my water broke while I was pushing! It was crazy, like a scene straight from a movie where the water shot everywhere. I was getting delirious at this point because I was all worried Andrew missed my water shooting across our bedroom. (Nope, he was behind me with his hands on my back and saw the whole thing.)
I pushed for another 2 hours, but my labor started to stall. Our doula was timing my contractions on her watch and when they were suppose to be happening… they were not. My midwives were asking me the last time that I peed and I said I had no idea. They ended up putting a catheter in me, my bladder was so full that it had been keeping Blake from being able to come out.
After my bladder was empty we were back in business. They gave me a shot of B12 (I was like where was this 4 hours ago LMAO) and we moved to a chair in our bedroom.
Our Doula sat on the chair and held me in a squatting position. (Legit I was butt naked, and she had her arms hooked under my armpits.) Andrew squatted in front of us (he eventually sat on one of those white leather poofs we have from the living room.. not joking, this is home birth at its finest, lol.) and his knees balanced by knees. I remember looking at the small clock in my room, it was about 630pm and I told myself, I am having this baby by 7pm! We seriously looked like a group yoga pose, if one of us moved, we all would have ended up on the ground.
Behind Andrew stood my midwife with basically a rubber a water ski handle that her and I played tug of war with. After one or two pushes using this method Blake’s head started to appear. Our other midwife quickly moved to the floor to watch and was ready to catch Blake. I was at the point where they said I could push even if I wasn’t having contractions. I was like okay sweet and bared down one last time and pushed Blake out! I definitely wished we had moved to this position sooner, however I know that everything happens at the perfect time.
At 650pm after 26.5 hours of labor, Blake entered the world face down on the rug in my bedroom. She was tangled in her cord (which is totally normal) and explained why I felt like she didn’t move as much as Liam did. We also STILL did not know if we had just birthed a son or a daughter. Our doula who was still holding me up yelling “turn her around” (because she had been sure for 9 months that we were having a girl.) It took a moment or so (which felt wayyyyy longer than it actually was) for her to start crying. The midwife gently rubbed her back and after what felt like 10 years she let out her first cry. (This is also very normal..)
We were on cloud 9! However, things were not over yet. After Blake and I got comfortable in bed, it was time to wait for the placenta. A little more time than the midwifes liked had passed and so they gave me a small pill of (I think it was Pitocin) to help expel the placenta. In just a few minutes, Blake’s placenta was out, the midwives looked it over to make sure that there was no placenta left inside of me. They also checked for any tearing, while I had a couple small tears, they decided stitching me up would actually poke MORE holes in me! I ended up just applying a little lavender essential oil with coconut oil and it healed in a couple of days.
Andrew was able to cut the cord, this was not something he had been able to do with Liam because of my c-section.
They gave Blake her first check up, they do most of the same things a hospital does! APGAR, weight, length, check for tongue tie and any abnormalities etc.
The midwives were getting ready to head home, however they could not leave until I peed. However every time I got up to go to the bathroom I would turn white and was never able to go!
They ended up having to put another catheter in me, this was probably more painful than the 26.5 hours of labor/birth I just experienced. My bladder was so full that the bed pan they were using overflowed. (I’m guessing if you have made it this far in my birth story that is not TMI!) At this point I did start taking ibuprofen to manage inflammation. I was so inflamed from giving birth (duh) that it I was not able to pee. (Also, let’s get real… this is what modern medicine was made for.)
After emptying my bladder the midwives gave us all hugs and packed up and headed home. My main midwife actually lives a little over a mile from our house and said to call at anytime if something came up. (I think it was about 10pm at this point.)
Andrew and I stayed up for a couple more hours reminiscing on what we had all just witnessed.
I asked our doula to stay the night just in case we needed anything and we faced time’d our parents to let them know they now had a granddaughter. I put Blake in her Dock a Tot in between Andrew and I and we all went to sleep.
A few hours later, I woke up not feeling well. I walked into the bathroom and could not pee… again. I went into the other bedroom and woke up our doula, we called my midwife and she came over to put in yet ANOTHER catheter. I was so swollen that she had to ice me down there in order to put it in! I did continue to take ibuprofen regularly to manage inflammation until I was able to pee without any trouble.
Thank you so much for taking the time to read my birth story! If you would like to connect more about home birth or VBAC, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or send me a DM on Instagram!