I had read that birth was supposed to be a natural, normal process that needed minimal if any intervention in most cases. I had read that having a baby in my own home would empower me to realize that I don't have to be scared of birth and that I can birth my own babies the way that God intended me to; but reading can only get you so far. I'm so thankful to have actually experienced what I read about when I birthed my daughter. You can read more about Claire's birth story (along with more of our initial reasons for choosing midwifery care and homebirthing) at the home page. When we found out were pregnant again, I couldn't imagine laboring or delivering my baby anywhere other than in the comfort of my own home. I prayed that we wouldn't have any complications for this birth that would necessitate a transport to the hospital, and my being in a low-risk category also helped reassure us that we were candidates for birthing at home again. This time we were looking forward to giving birth in our new home we bought just last fall. There would be plenty of room here as opposed to our tiny apartment that Claire was born in!
Claire's birth was long and hard on me physically and emotionally, but I know deep in my heart that there may have been a different outcome for me if I had gone the traditional route of care and birthing. My dream for Claire was to have a peaceful, natural birth without alot of unnecessary interventions or interruptions to our precious first hours and days together. I didn't want to have to fight unnecessary hospital rules and traditions in order to labor and birth the way I wanted to. Homebirthing her afforded all of that and more to me! I'm so grateful that the Lord directed our path to midwifery care and homebirthing- what a difference it has made in our lives. We fully informed ourselves about our choices for childbirth, and midwifery care seemed hands-down to be the best choice for a low-risk pregnant woman like myself. Everything just felt "right" after the birth of our children in our home- we had them close to us, there were no germs to worry about, we didn't have to pack up the baby and go home, I got to rest as much as I wanted, I slept with my baby, made choices for her without a lot of paperwork to go through. We couldn't have been any more comfortable!
Alas, my speech is over, so onto the birth story! Overall, my pregnancy with Wesley was easy and enjoyable. I had my aches and complaints as all pregnant women do, but I was also really happy to be pregnant again. This pregnancy and birth was definitely easier than my firstborn's!
Below: It's the morning of Wesley's birth day and I'm in early labor here.
Below: It's the morning of Wesley's birth day and I'm in early labor here.
I had some light contractions a week prior to his birth and had only gotten to 1 cm by my 40 week appointment. I was getting anxious to have the baby and I was seriously considering trying to jumpstart labor with laxatives (not really a good idea by the way!) but being 40 weeks pregnant does crazy things to a woman's mind! Pictured below are some of our homebirth supplies. Our midwives have a checklist for us, to make sure we have towels, baby outfits, plastic bags, shower curtain liners for under the sheets, and medical supplies like chux pads. We also rented a birth pool from our midwives in case I wanted to use it during labor or for delivery. We had everything ready to go, we just needed to get this labor party started! And a funny side note, I went into labor at 40 weeks and 5 days for both my pregnancies...I wonder if that pattern might continue?!
Wesley was born on Monday July 5th at 4:32 p.m. , but my labor officially started Sunday at 12 a.m. on July 4th. I woke up around midnight to go to the bathroom and I felt like my bladder was going to explode! I felt the same way an hour later, and went again, and then finally by 2 a.m. I realized that it was a contraction! These felt much different from the ones I experienced on and off in the weeks prior to his birth. I had contractions every 5 to 7 minutes at first and they were much more intense, like the ones I remember with Claire. By 4 a.m. they were more erratic and I didn't try to time them. I laid in bed and listened to my headphones (I had recorded my voice reading Scriptures) from about 2 a.m. on, and I dozed in between contractions until about 5:30 in the morning. I decided to get up and see if the contractions would continue or not. All that morning I had on and off contractions, and they stopped altogether by 12 noon on Sunday. I was a little discouraged. I really dislike like the start and stop pattern of early labor!
Around 3 p.m. on Sunday I started contracting again. On average they were ten minutes apart- some got to five minutes apart. They were intense enough that I needed to walk through them or get on hands and knees. We called our midwife Peggy that night around 8 p.m. to let her know we might need her soon. I had a bit of a meltdown after that and I cried because I was scared this labor was going to be as slow and drawn out as Claire’s (even though my labor with her was pretty average for a first time mom, it just felt long). Timothy helped me through this little meltdown and I feel much better for voicing my fears. As with my first labor, I found it difficult to sleep through early labor. Even with light contractions, I could only doze at best.
Sunday night I had a little bit of bloody show and labored with semi-strong contractions from 10 p.m. until morning. It was Monday morning now, and my midwife Peggy came to our house to check on my progress. She checked me and I was barely 4 cm, but thinned a lot. She thought I was on a good start and that it wouldn’t take much to dilate the rest of the way. I had bloody show prior to her arrival which helped to encourage me that this was truly labor!
Monday morning was hard for me. I had been awake and with only a little sleep for over 24 hours at that point, and I was getting scared that I would progress slowly and be tired by the time delivery came. By 10 a.m. on Monday morning, my parents had come over to see how I was doing. The contractions were still at a semi-strong stage and I seemed to scare Claire a bit with some of my vocalizing. My parents ended up taking Claire to their house for the day. Timothy and I were relieved that Claire was in good hands and that we could focus on birthing this baby. I really wanted to labor alone for as long as possible and we decided to call Peggy back to our house only when we felt we were getting closer to delivering.
It was really hard to send Claire away. After she left, I had another little meltdown, and Timothy prayed me through it. My emotions were really raw at that point, they were all over the place. Peggy had prayed with me before she left as well, and I thought it was so cool how my health care provider could pray with me and for me!
I knew my attitude had to change in order to progress in labor and that I didn't need to despair about having a long labor. Through prayer and support I started to just focus on resting and staying happy. Around 1 p.m. on Monday I started to realize that I needed to rest and so I tried to sit as still as possible and just breathe and totally relax my body through the contractions. Prior to that I had been walking a lot and doing chores. It was time to just relax now. Claire had been gone for a while and I suggested to Timothy that we watch a movie, because I needed to take my mind off of being in labor.
I wanted to watch a comedy, to help me laugh and relax. We watched Pink Panther, and I was able to sit really still while breathing deeply to help me get through the contractions. Sitting there watching movies and totally relaxing my body really did the trick for me. My contractions started to get closer together and more intense. We got through about half of the movie Cheaper by the Dozen before I got really restless and needed to move around more. I don’t remember what time it was but the contractions had started to be more like five minutes apart by this time. Timothy started to fix himself a sandwich in the kitchen and I started to walk around the kitchen table and moan and vocalize through the contractions. I couldn’t believe that Timothy had the gall to eat while I was in the midst of active labor (but I was nice and didn’t say anything). I had been eating and drinking as I wanted all throughout labor, but by this point I had lost my appetite- so I knew I was getting close to the end!
By the time I walked around the table quite a bit, they started to be 3 minutes apart, then 2 minutes apart and consistently remained there. Timothy would follow me around the table and hold me as I vocalized. I beat on the table a couple of times and talked really loud, saying “Ooooh" and “Ahhh” a lot, trying to stay positive and relaxed. I was kind of "happy yelling" through them now. Timothy would make me laugh between the contractions and I couldn’t believe I still had a sense of humor at this point. He was getting so excited that I could deliver soon that it was making me excited too!!! They just got more and more intense, and I got louder and louder through each one. At one point I said to Timothy, “Call the midwives- NOW!” and he took my advice. Our other midwife Kim came about a half hour later and she seemed delighted to see me vocalizing a lot. She called Peggy right away to say that she didn’t think it would be long and that she should come right away.
I moved into the bedroom so that they could check the baby and monitor me. This is where it starts to get fuzzy to me- time was moving fast, then slow, and I really don’t know how long I was in the bedroom. I can't even remember how many centimeters I was at that point! I just knew they were getting super intense and hard to get through. I know that Peggy arrived soon and that right after she got there I was getting frantic because of the intensity of the contractions. I didn’t think I could handle too many more contractions like that. Kim did just what she did when I labored with Claire- when another contraction started to come, she had me breathe with her while looking into her eyes and holding her hands. It helped a little. Peggy, Kim, and Timothy took turns helping me breathe through the contractions. Whenever Timothy helped me though, I would squeeze his hands super hard and bend them backward as hard as I could. I guess I really wanted him to feel some of my pain! When Peggy and Kim helped me through them, I made sure not to squeeze their hands as hard, but I would really let Timothy have it!
I’m not sure what all they were doing in the bedroom when I rested between contractions (they were probably getting the birth supplies ready) I was so focused and so just riding the waves of the contractions, I really didn’t comprehend what they were doing. All I wanted was someone to be in front of me through the contraction. It felt like someone was there going through it with me when they stood in front of me and helped me through them. Previously I had wanted to be alone with Timothy through early labor, but at this point, I wanted and needed support, and the three of them really gave that to me. Peggy checked me a little later and said that I was 9 cm with just a lip left. A little later they asked if I felt like pushing. Peggy helped me out by pushing the lip back when I had more contractions.
The transition stage was ending, and I got more and more distracted from the contractions when I found out that I had just a lip left. I bent over our bed with my knees on the floor and started to just gently push a little- and my water broke! There was no relief as there had been with Claire, probably because I didn’t have forewaters. I was surprised it had broken with so little pushing. I was extremely happy about it, because I knew the baby would be coming out soon. I remember pushing a little bit with the contractions in this position, but I didn’t feel comfortable there and I asked for the birth stool. I sat on it and didn’t feel comfortable there at first until the contractions hit again and I started pushing with intensity.
From this point, I was not aware of time or space, my “head was in my bottom” for sure at this time, I was just visualizing the baby being born and pushing with the contractions while resting in between. What seemed like a minute later- the midwives told me to feel Wesley's head coming down. I briefly tried to feel, but started pushing again, as if I didn’t have time to do it. What seemed like 2 minutes later, they said he was crowning and I didn’t believe them. They held the mirror there briefly and I could see his hair, but that just made me push even faster and stronger. I looked up immediately and pushed and yelled like a momma bear! I felt incredibly strong right then, even though I knew I was tired. I heard them say, "one more push" and his little body slithered out! This amazing little person was caught by Peggy and Kim- they untangled his cord and gave him to me within half a minute. I saw him come out and cry as soon as he hit their hands. The whole delivery didn’t seem short or long to me, I was lost in my own space, but in reality it was about 12 minutes from when my water broke. This whole birth had been a day and a half of early labor, about 4 to 6 hours of active labor, and 12 minutes of pushing.
Needless to say, I felt RELIEF! We were so happy, we were crying! I sat on the birth stool awhile, just holding him. I felt great believe it or not!!!! I just gazed into Wesley's eyes and marveled at what had just happened (they didn't even have to suction him!) After the cord stopped pulsing and Timothy cut it, I raised myself up with help and got on the bed and delivered the placenta. I definitely felt contractions for the placenta and it came out much easier than it did with Claire. My blood pressure never got below 90 after the delivery, I only fainted a little once when I tried to get up and go to the bathroom a couple of hours later. Praise the Lord that I didn’t faint right after the birth like I had last time with Claire. I had a 2nd degree tear, but not as bad as last time and it was easier to stitch.
After the placenta was delivered, Wesley latched on within a half hour. He did an assisted newborn breast crawl- I put him in on my chest, and he latched on to my left one all by himself. He raised his little head and did it! (I had seen videos of babies doing this by instinct.) He ate from both sides within the first hour and was such a content, peaceful little boy. I felt more strength and had a faster recovery those first few days than I had with Claire. Breastfeeding also went well, and the baby’s first night was good. His second night he ate constantly, which was extremely tiring, but it helped to bring my milk in. Claire stayed overnight with her grandparents for the first two nights, and then came back with us.
The picture below was taken within the first couple of hours after the birth. Wesley was born at 4:32 pm on July 5th and weighed 9 pounds 8 ounces and was 21 inches long. His head measurement was 14 inches. The cord had been wrapped around his neck once and his body two times, but wasn’t too tight to alarm the midwives. My parents were on their way with Claire and arrived not too long after he was born. The midwives were doing the newborn exam when they arrived. Our hearts just swelled with love and gratitude for this new little life! I will never forget those first few days of loving on him and cuddling with him, and being amazed about this new little baby, his birth, his life, and the plan God has for him!
In the picture below (just a few hours after the birth), from left to right, Kim Pekin and Peggy Franklin, my two midwives. Both are Certified Professional Midwives and are dear friends and mentors to me as well.
Below, Peggy does the newborn exam with Claire watching. They also came to our house for the 2 day checkup, and they also provide the 2 week and 6 week exams for the baby.
This is the next day July 6th. You can't see Wesley that well because he's eating :)
As a post script of sorts, I report that the recovery has been faster and easier for me this time (PTL!) aside from two bouts with Mastitis, I've been feeling great! We have had a great babymoon, and we are just so in love with our little guy! I decided to have the placenta encapsulated and the lady who did if for me surprised me by keeping part of Wesley's cord for me. I didn't know she was going to do that, or that it was a normal tradition when encapsulating the placenta. I love how she turned it into the shape of a heart. I know you're probably thinking, "She ate her placenta!?" The benefits are supposed to include increased energy, less bleeding, and help for the "baby blues." It's definitely nothing new, people have done it all over the world. The hormones in the placenta are supposed to help replenish the ones lost after the birth in the mom. The placenta caps definitely seemed to help my bleeding because it stopped at 4 weeks and with Claire I bled or 8 weeks. I feel there have been some benefits to it, for me at least!
I give glory to God for all of His wonderful blessings, and for such a good labor and delivery and beautiful baby boy. I'll end with one of my favorite Scriptures that I read during my pregnancies with Claire and Wesley:
"Yet you have brought me safely from my mother's womb and led me to trust you when I was a nursing infant. I was thrust upon you at my birth, you have been my God from the moment I was born."
Psalm 22: 9-10 NLT