It’s crazy to think that just a little over a week ago, I was 41 weeks pregnant – patiently waiting for our beautiful bundle of joy to arrive. As I sit here and stare into those little eyes, I’m in awe that I created and carried this tiny human in my stomach. When I really think about it, its amazing how powerful we really are as women and giving birth to two precious little girls has unveiled another level of strength I never knew I had. I’ve had 10 days to sit and reflect on this labor & birth experience and couldn’t be more proud of my journey to delivering another healthy baby girl. I’m so excited to be able to share this 2nd home birth experience with you guys and the lessons I’ve learned along the way.
Some of you may know that when we found out I was pregnant this time around, we were living in California. We had just made the move out west at the end of March for a job promotion that I’d received and a few short months later, found out we were expecting baby #2. I’ve gotten a lot of questions regarding why I decided to go back New York/New Jersey for the birth of this baby and ultimately decided to come back for a few key reasons. The first being we had such a great experience with our midwife and her team for Steele’s birth, that going through the process of finding another group of women we felt a strong connection with seemed a little daunting. The second and probably the most important was the fact that all of our family essentially lives on the east coast (more specifically Ryan’s immediate family lives in the NY/NJ area) and we saw the importance of having our support network close to us for the birth of this second baby. They played such an integral role during my first pregnancy and once Steele was born, so we felt more comfortable & supported being closer to them. Additionally, we were renting the house in LA and although we could have made it work for a home birth, I felt more at peace being in our New Jersey home knowing that we had the space to accommodate family and friends without feeling overcrowded. Looking back, I feel extremely confident we made the right decision.
My birth plan was pretty much the same as it was with Steele and to be honest was very simple: I wanted to do everything I could to make sure I labored and birthed at home, I wanted to have the same midwives as Steele’s birth and I wanted the same group of family present to witness this baby entering into the world. The biggest thing for me was to be open-minded and to let go of any expectations that I had. Although I’d been here before, I know that every experience can be different and didn’t want to create expectations for things to play out a certain way, then be disappointed when things weren’t what I expected. Anything I wanted to come into fruition, I vocalized, but then also let go of my attachment to it so no matter what happened, I could keep myself in a good place mentally. I trusted that whatever was supposed to happen with this birth, would happen and ultimately everything would play out exactly how it was supposed to (you’ll see why this was so important later – life lesson for sure!).
When I hit the 40 week mark, I was extremely surprised. I honestly didn’t think I’d make it that far – and I can’t lie, I slightly hung my head for a quick minute knowing that there was a possibility I could go 10 days late, just as I did with Steele! For anyone that has gone past their “estimated due date”, I think you can relate when I say that it becomes more of a mental game than anything. Although physically I was tired & sluggish and my belly felt like it would explode at any moment, playing the waiting game & sitting around twiddling my thumbs while everyone around me stared in anticipation could probably be compared to torture! (lol) And then top it off with friends/family texting everyday asking “is the baby here yet?!”. **insert cringe face here**
***Let me go off on a little tangent for a second. A little piece of advice, if you are a close family member or friend to someone who is pregnant and having a baby soon, do everyone a favor and avoid asking “is the baby here yet?!” 9.999999 times out of 10, labor hasn’t started and the baby hasn’t arrived yet…hence why you haven’t heard anything yet. There’s no way we wouldn’t let you guys know if the baby was born – so there’s really no need to ask….and most likely if you are talking to your pregnant loved one everyday or other day, asking how they are feeling will probably yield the same answer…over & over. The best thing you can do is just continue to send love and positive vibrations and know that once the baby is here, they won’t forget to update you! BUT I DIGRESS….lol***
So I hit the 40 week mark and then it was on like donkey kong….NOT!
My post-40 week progress went something like this:
- Day 1 – I made up my mind not to dwell on the days but focus on spending time with Steele, working on passion projects, writing and making any last minute preps for this baby’s arrival. I needed to keep myself pre-occupied so I wouldn’t think about being past my due date.
- Day 2 & 3 – pretty uneventful – sitting, waiting, waiting, sitting. At this point my mom is in town and we are all just hanging around the house. My mobility outside of the house was limited but I did manage to get to the gym to workout. Ironically I was squatting in the gym that day, which I had done pretty often, and felt a really weird shift, almost like the baby’s head was start to come down the birth canal. The best way I can describe it is feeling like a ballon had been blown up in my vagina (I know, I know – TMI, but very accurate). It was a feeling I never felt before and left me questioning if labor would kick in shortly after. Although labor was nowhere in sight, I consciously paid attention to how my body was feeling and took note of any discomfort to report back to my midwife.
- Day 4 – I met with my midwifes for our weekly appointment. We talked about scheduling a biophysical appointment (which normally happens after you hit 40 weeks to check your health, baby’s healthy and fluid levels – this is imperative, especially with home births to ensure it’s safe to continue on with the pregnancy) and made a plan should we make it past 41 weeks. Talking to my midwifes always brought me such comfort and although I was ready for the pregnancy to be over, my time with them was always enjoyable.
- Day 5 – back to things being uneventful ** reallll tearssss**
- Day 6 – At 40 weeks & 6 days, I decide to venture to the city for my pre-natal yoga class. I figured I might as well get my body moving and hope that a few downward-facing dogs might kickstart labor……NADA! That night we were expecting a few visitors – Ryan’s three cousins came into town for a family emergency and ended up staying with us a few nights. We spent the evening catching up with them and talking about how they all hoped the baby would come before they had to head back home Monday morning. THE PRESSURE!!! It never fails that we have a full house of people when I’ve gone into labor but it was good to have some new energy in our space. Although there was a lot of baby talk, the lightheartedness of it all had me at ease.
- Day 7 (41 Weeks) – I hit 41 weeks on a Saturday and it was business as usual. Ryan’s cousins left midday to handle family matters while the rest of us hung around the house. By the time they had returned, we were ordering dinner sometime around 7PM. I had been having sporadic contractions all day (all week for that matter) but around 8PM they seemed to be getting a little stronger and more consistent, so I started timing them. From 8PM – 10PM my contractions went from 5-6 minutes apart and 45 seconds to a minute long to 3-5 minutes apart. Although I felt like tonight would be the night, I didn’t want to get anyones hopes up and give the green light but at 10PM I decided it was time to give my midwives a heads up. From there, it was go time!!
When I spoke to my midwife (Vicki) for the first time, I walked her through how I was feeling. I could talk through my contractions and was still able to be downstairs with everyone so I told her I give her another update in the next hour to share any progress. Most say that labor is usually shorter for a second time mom so it was important to keep her abreast to any sudden changes in labor. At this point I decided to start alerting all my close friends and family – I text my best friend, Sierra, to let her know she should start making her way to the house soon, called my dad to fill him in and talked to many of my friends to let them know that labor was FINALLY happening.
From 10PM – 11:15PM I sat downstairs with everyone, continuing to breath through my contractions when they came every 3 minutes or so but by 11:20PM, there was too much commotion going on and I needed to escape to a more quiet place. I made my way upstairs to our bedroom and called Vicki back at 11:30PM to touch base. At this point I was still about to talk through the majority of my contractions but with a grimace on my face and a tight grip on any stationary object in my path. She asked if I thought she should come now and I told her not quite yet – I didn’t want them standing around for hours because I told them to come too early. She urged me to call her back immediate if my contractions drastically changed within in the hour and I agreed. When I hung up the phone my contractions when were about 2 minutes apart and as I walked around the room, I almost regretted not telling Vicki to come then. I looked at my phone and replied to one last text from my friends at 11:35PM saying “I’m still here but this will probably be my last text to you guys. My contractions are getting longer & stronger”.
I tried to fight & breathe through the contractions but at this point I was a little in over my head. Ryan had left to go help his mother put Steele to bed so I paced around the room, while my mom looked on in anticipation. Things were happening so fast and my contractions were starting to come quicker than expected. By midnight I told my mom to grab Ryan so he could tell Vicki to come ASAP. I paced around the room, holding onto Ryan, gripping his hands as each contraction came and went. 10 minutes passed and I longed to get my body in the bathtub. Ryan quickly ran the water and I was hoping more than ever the warm bath would give me some relief. I labored in the bathtub for no more than 20 minutes before my midwifes (Vicki, Janice & Judith) arrived. It was a little after 12:30AM. They quickly set up their equipment and all the necessities we bought for the birth. My contractions were causing so much pressure that I either thought I would poop on myself (which was secretly my worst nightmare) or that this baby’s head was starting to come and I needed to push. My midwives didn’t check to see how dilated I was when they arrived, probably because of how quick things were happening, so I decided to check myself. I used two fingers and without question could feel my baby’s head. I let one more round of contractions go by before I finally blurted out “I think I need to push”, to which my midwifes replied “Ok, go ahead”…..and so I did!!
With the first push it was clear that I probably could have started pushing 3 or 4 contractions back. I could feel the head moving down the birth canal and although it didn’t feel like the “ring of fire” when I pushed Steele’s head down & out, the feeling was definitely intense to say the least. I pushed for the second time and the head was halfway out. I could hear Ryan still talking to me “you’re doing great babe, keeping breathing, I can feel the head, you’re awesome”. He was holding our babies head in his hands and with the 3rd push, the head was completely out. I was almost there! I took one more big breath and with everything I had (because I wanted this to be over so bad) I pushed for the fourth and final time & our baby made it’s way into the world, into daddies hands! Before we could even see anything, Ryan shouted out “It’s a girl, I feel it” and we all laughed and soaked in every single second of that moment. Time of birth – 12:49AM. Welcome to the world Sage Story Wisdom – that was one hell of a quick rollercoaster!
Remember I told you guys that it was important for me to let go of my expectations and attachments to this birth?! Well I’m glad I did because the only people who were actually able to experience this miracle were me, Ryan, my mom and our midwives. Ryan’s brother, who was basically my doula for Steele’s birth, had run to the store to get coconut water and a few things we needed. He got back to the house just minutes after the baby was born and was shocked that he had missed it. My best friend (& her daughter Emma) didn’t get to the house until 5/10 minutes after I was done with labor and Ryan’s mom was in the next room putting Steele to sleep. I also expressed wanting Steele to see the birth but in the end, I’m glad things played out the way they did. The intensity of this birth came much faster than with Steele and I’m glad Steele didn’t have to see me in pain. She was able to see the baby before she finally went to bed for the night, which was perfect in the end. Everything happens for a reason, right?!
It’s amazing how much relief you get once your baby is actually born. I felt flushed with new life and an overwhelming wave of energy & excitement. I was on cloud 9 yet still trying to wrap my head around the fact that I just gave birth to my SECOND child. Unbelievable! For the first 20/30 minutes after birth, we were mesmerized. I held our little one on my chest while our midwives checked the baby. I talked to them about how I was feeling while we waited for the placenta to be delivered. Once the full birth was complete (baby & placenta), we slowly made our way out of the tub and into the bed. It wasn’t until maybe almost an hour after she was born that I finally checked to confirm the gender — it was a GIRL! Our midwives left the room to let us all have time together as a family and we did nothing but laugh and cry in sheer excitement for this new life.
Once my midwives were back, they had Ryan cut the umbilical cord and proceeded with checking both me and the baby. For the baby, they listened to her lungs and her heartbeat, checked her movement and dexterity in her hands & feet, checked her private areas, etc. They also weighed and measured her – she was 8lbs 9oz and was 20.5 inches long. For my check up, they took my blood pressure, checked to see if there is any tearing and checked my belly & the size/placement of my uterus. Vicki also gave us an informational on the placenta, describing all of it’s parts and how it all works (she later took the placenta home to encapsulate into pills, which I now take). Protocol is for them to make sure I pee and eat before they leave (which included drinking this horrific tasting herbal tea that helps with cramping, which apparently women experience 10 fold after your second labor/birth). They probably stayed for about 3 hours post-birth, leaving a little before 4AM. For those that have asked, my post-natal care consisted of me talking to my midwives pretty much every day for the first week + two in-home follow up visits on day 2 and day 5.
I couldn’t have imagined that this experience would have gone the way it did. I’m honored that our little baby girl chose us and am thrilled to be embarking on a new journey with my family. For all those who have called, text, emailed, DM’d me – we are so appreciative of all the love we’ve received. Again, thank you for letting me share my story with you guys! It’s a very personal part of my life but I hope it has encouraged those reading to be open minded about new experiences and for us as women to listen to our bodies. I’m no expert on pregnancy/labor/birth but if you all have any questions about my experience that I haven’t addressed, I’m happy to share 🙂
Love & light to you all!