I’m posting my second birth story because I think women’s experiences of birth are essential to share. This is true whether the birth went perfectly, was miserable, or anywhere in between. In sharing our birth stories, we share our power as women and are able to process, learn, and grow.
Having hung around the birth community enough, I feel the need to say that I share this to educate and inspire, not to belittle any other birth experience. I want women to know they have choices in their providers, in their birth environment, and I don’t think women usually even consider this until they are pregnant at which point they just assume they should do whatever everyone else has done! But birth is an event that we’ll never forget and has lifelong impacts on mothers and babies. It’s important to choose your birth team wisely! Your birth team and environment may look completely different than mine (and that’s great — I totally understand my path is not right for everyone), but I hope you researched and investigated your options for what is best for YOU.
As with my first home birth, I opted to receive co-care. This means I went for prenatal visits with a team of hospital-based midwives in addition to my home birth midwife. I was thoroughly screened to ensure that I am healthy and a good candidate for home birth. In addition to my amazingly experienced midwife, I also had a doula, my brave mother, my incredibly supportive husband, and my 3.5 year old daughter attend the birth.
(Oh, and one final note! All high-quality images are courtesy of Barefoot Smiles Photography. All other photos were lifted from a home video or came from an iPhone which explains the disparity in quality!)
Sage’s Home Birth Story
This pregnancy was another positive experience overall. There’s nothing that can compare to the feeling of another life growing inside. There were no complications aside from some intense bouts with allergic reactions that I’ve never seen the likes of before! At one point I spent over a month with a swollen face and extremely itchy hives. Not fun.
The last weeks of pregnancy also threw some curve balls – my 3 ½ year old came down with a viral illness in week 38 and my beloved grandma passed in week 39. I thought there was a very real possibility that I’d be in labor during her funeral as my first born came 5 days “early”.
I think it was good that my 40-week mark was met with silence. I really needed some extra time to process my grandmother’s death and the feelings that her passing brought up about my dad who also died less than a year ago. We have been through a lot of change.
Even at 40 weeks + 5 there were still things to work through. My early labor waves began that morning and it was a gorgeous day. I went for a walk after dropping my preschooler off at school and had some blissful moments meditating at the edge of an overlook. Fears about how this new birth would impact my firstborn, about labor, and about the change of becoming a mother again bubbled up as I tried to affirm positive messages instead.
The waves were inconsistent all day and I hoped that I would be able to sleep through the night. Thankfully, I did and the waves resumed in the morning. Would it be today?
As the second day went on, they still never developed a rhythm, although I also began to lose my mucus plug. I knew I needed to relax and really let go. I asked my mom if she could help with my preschooler. I spent a good part of the morning grounding in the woods and then I decided my husband and I should go on a date. We went out to lunch, did some shopping, and had a long-overdue afternoon alone together. Throughout this, I continued to have mild waves which are interesting to conceal in public places!
That night I didn’t rest quite as well, but I tried my best as I knew at some point I’d have to let go into labor. In the morning, I could feel things shifting, but I wasn’t yet sure if I should believe it. And yet, as the day went on, things progressed.
I began with relaxation, affirming that it was ok to let go and finally meet this baby. I listened to gentle music as my husband prepared the birth tub and other areas we thought the baby might be born.
Eventually I was too restless to lie on the couch any longer. It was a sunny, pleasant spring day so I moved to our back porch. I brought my birth ball and experimented with a variety of positions as labor built. I felt very confident at this point, continually affirming to let go, open, and meet the new baby. I drew on energy from the nature surrounding me and I kept my body moving! Moving definitely helped to keep things progressing and helped me to enjoy the sensations rather than run from them.
I knew I still had a ways to go so I tried to stay relaxed between each wave and to help the opening with low, deep noises.
My mom came around noon or so to help occupy our preschooler who didn’t seem to notice much was happening at this point. It was only later that she told me that I was being too loud and she couldn’t hear her show!
Around 3:00 I knew there was really no turning back. Things were very intense and I was having a harder time staying in front of the waves. I thought moving to the birth tub would bring some relief. The warm water felt very soothing and soon thereafter my husband made the call to our midwife and doula.
Their arrival was reassuring and my midwife thought we didn’t have too much longer based on the way I was laboring. I was very loud, moving a lot, and the sensations were increasingly difficult to manage. I had been afraid of meeting the transition phase again (the point where full dilation is almost complete), but I was in the thick of it gathering all the strength and courage that I could.
The best way to describe this time for me is that it’s like my body and soul are breaking in two to allow the arrival of this new human. There is nothing else quite so intense and transformative.
I can’t say I made it through with total grace, but I roared through with power and strength, proving to myself yet again that I can do really, really hard things and that I have the tenacity to face big fears.
Eventually the sensations of transition passed and I was ready for my baby to come sliding out as I was told by many would probably happen the second time around.
Well…that wasn’t the case. This little one was quite cozy where she was! I started feeling pushy in the tub, but that didn’t seem to be helping her move down.
I got out onto the couch and tried several positions there, but she wasn’t sliding down. I got onto hands and knees on the floor…still no luck. We spent quite awhile on the birthing stool, too.
My midwife thought she was having trouble getting under my pelvic bone so I was trying to lean back. Still no luck. My midwife could feel her right there and ready, but as we weren’t making much progress on the stool we decided to move to the bedroom.
We finally decided to see some progress in the new location, but that doesn’t mean it happened quickly! I tried to stay positive, focus on moving the baby down, and use all the power I could to help her out (later we learned her head was transverse which is what caused the slow arrival).
Bit by bit, she moved. Everyone around me cheered me on with words of encouragement and gave me updates about her hair!
I kept working with all my power and could feel her getting closer and closer. As she was finally crowning, my midwife had me slow down to make sure there were no tears (there weren’t!). The next thing I knew, her head was out. Relief! This was followed quickly by the rest of her body.
Mike caught her and pulled her up to my chest. I finally did it! I finally did it!
There is no sweeter relief possible than birthing a baby. I felt so much joy and gratitude in that moment – for a beautiful, healthy baby, for my own strength, and that I was finally on the other side!
My mom was there with tears in her eyes, my first born was by my side squealing with excitement, and my amazingly supportive husband with love and pride in his eyes. It was quite a special moment. “We did it, Sweet Sage, we finally did it.”