When I started out with my third baby our lives were in the middle of huge changes. Moving states, starting/changing jobs, new babysitters, and more. Getting pregnant and having a baby seemed like a huge challenge I couldn’t possibly undertake. I won’t even give any energy to explain how a “surprise” pregnancy can happen. It just does. It does often.
This was my choice to create her and so it was my responsibility to nurture and care for her. I took my prenatal, drank lots of water, and stayed moderately active. Other than that I think my mind refused to acknowledge that I really, truly had to give birth to this child.
With this sort of denial I convinced my husband I would have a natural home birth at my parents house, thirty minutes from the nearest town, alone with him and my mom. I was confident in my ability and confident that as an ex-EMT he could handle any surprises. This would be my third natural home birth so I wasn’t a newbie by any means.
Denial is the best way to begin labor
Luckily, my husband was not in denial and made sure we had a back up plan. We actually called a retired midwife (who delivered my brother years ago) to see if she would provide back up if necessary.
With my others, I did some hypnobirthing and other preparations to prepare me for birth. With this one, I told myself that she could just as well stay in forever. Or at least until I was ready to have her.
About a week before she was due I headed up to Idaho with plenty of luggage for the next two weeks. She was due February 1st, I was determined to keep her in there until that day.
Ready, Set –
I drank raspberry tea with my second and that really works to create contractions so I made sure to do no such thing with this baby. That is, until the night of the 30th and I figured I should maybe start priming my body. I’m not going to say that’s what put me into labor, but I mean I went into labor hours later.
Anyway, shortly before midnight I crawled in bed with my two older girls. I had some practice labor before so it wasn’t concerning me. I laid and played a few levels of a game on my phone, a glutton for punishment as ever. By the time I put my phone away my contractions were getting a little regular. I managed to fall asleep and so my partially conscious brain knew I wasn’t in labor.
Sometime after midnight my younger girl woke me up and I realized my contractions were much harder. After we all settled down again I realized I wasn’t going to be able to get to sleep. I got up and wandered around the dark house. I used the bathroom and realized I didn’t want to wear any clothing. This is a sure sign of labor for me.
I called my husband and said he could get on his way. He was a four hour drive away so if my contractions stopped in an hour, he could go home and only have driven for 2 hours. If they kept on longer then he better keep on coming.
Eventually, I got in the tub and it was bliss. In hindsight, I would have stayed there and labored by myself and had the baby that way. So if I have any word of advice in this whole thing is – if you get in a tub and it feels amazing DON’T get out until you either have the baby or it’s 2 hours later and nothing has happened.
But my parents convinced me to get out because I didn’t want to have the baby without my husband, right? Well, I had decided that I was going to have this baby at 5:00 because surely he would be there by then. On his way up he called the midwife and had her head there too. She was an hour away. The poor midwife, taken out of retirement and woken at three in the morning. Bless her and her husband.
My sister was the real MVP
Meanwhile I was laboring by myself. I know I was yelling and ranting a lot. My sister says I said I was never having another baby again. I also know that I refused to let anyone touch me (except my sister) or check me to see how I was laboring.
My dad kept saying I wasn’t close, I wasn’t going to have the baby soon because I wasn’t having contractions often/hard enough. I wish you could have seen my eye roll.
We also ended up talking to my midwife while I was going through transition. I told her I was but she didn’t believe me because I wasn’t ‘loud’ enough. I’ll tell you if I’m not in transition.
Anyway, long story short I pushed when I wasn’t supposed to, didn’t let anyone tell me what to do, walked around, got in the tub, and did whatever the heck I wanted until my husband got there. I knew I was ready, I had already felt the ring of fire once. I could have done it all by myself but I was waiting.
Just after five I was on the bed again and everyone knew it was time but – both my first and second babies got stuck on my ridiculous tilted pelvis. I couldn’t do it, not again. I couldn’t push past the ring of fire more than once, I couldn’t deliver the head without the body again.
Spoiler: she was born right after 5 like I planned
But I didn’t really know how to explain this to everyone. To my husband I said, “I can only do this once. I can’t do it again.” And he said, brave man he was, “You only have to do this once. Just one push.”
In my head I prayed, “Heavenly Father, please help me do this.” I pushed once and out she came. I wanted to watch this time and I was sitting up so I did. It was exactly as I wanted. She had a head full of dark hair and she was nice and chunky.
Pro-tip: Clary Sage
I usually have a difficult time with my placenta. This time was no exception but I had done some research beforehand. I had recently learned about clary sage. I had my husband get it out when I was struggling and it took one whiff and I delivered the placenta. Basically, it’s magic.
Overall, the labor was about six hours (placenta included). I pushed longer than I needed to but it was because I wanted. Everyone else thinks I only pushed about three times.
Education is Key
I actually enjoy reading other people’s birth stories because I love the diversity. I also think the more you know the more you can prepare. With my first baby I was pretty darn naive, despite the research I did. I also had a pretty peaceful birth. However, she got stuck on my pelvis and caused terrible tears. The pain of the actual birth is what stayed with me. With my second I had no such naivety. I had hope for a good birth but expected a difficult one, which I got. She also got stuck but didn’t cause any tears.
When everyone tells you that all you have to do is push past the ring of fire and you’re done – and then you have to do that twice? That’s hard. It’s the absolute hardest part of the labor and doing it twice feels impossible. With this baby I had no hope or expectation of an easy, painless delivery and birth. But in hindsight, she was the easiest and least painful of my births. She was also my biggest baby at 7 and a half pounds.
I think the mind is incredibly powerful and I think you can believe yourself into having a beautiful birth. I think since I simply skipped thinking over the birth except that I knew I would have her on my own terms, I gave myself the confidence to do it my way.
I’m glad for that because it made recovery easier. This was important because despite the birth being picture perfect, we spent the next week in the NICU. Next week I’ll post that story.
Thanks for reading. I’d love to hear about your birth story in the comments below!
PS I delivered at 5:20. Merely 20 minutes after I said I would.