We got pregnant with our second baby in February of 2009, which ironically meant that I was going to be due on the exact same day that I was due with our first baby Aurora. Of course I never actually thought I’d give birth to two babies on the same day (two years apart) but baby Liberty had plans of her own…
Liberty’s Home Birth – November 15th, 2009
Liberty’s Birth Story
Due Date: 11/10/09...
went into labor on 11/15/09...
Liberty’s Home Birth – November 15th, 2009
This time, we planned a home birth. I hemmed and hawed about making the decision until I was almost 30 weeks, but upon meeting Jenny (the midwife) I was confident and ready to commit to the plan. We started my prenatal care shortly after that and made all the preparations for a home birth, like buying a plastic sheet for the bed and planning how we would address an emergency situation during the actual birth. Eventually my due date came and went, and we were fast approaching the “do not hatch” date of November 15… Rory’s 2nd birthday.
I thought I was in labor Friday/Saturday, Nov 13/14 and got SO excited! I was just sure this baby wanted her own birthday! I was taking herbs to help encourage the finicky contractions I was having, but after 14 hours of strange labor "symptoms" I was lacking really good, painful contractions. I even experienced reverse cervical dilation from 7 cm to 3 cm, so eventually my midwife and I decided I wasn't in labor. Talk about depressing!
I was ready to do this thing, but baby wasn’t, so we had to take a break. After basically “calling it off,” Chris, Rory, and I spent the rest of the day watching movies at home. Sunday morning the 15th I woke up with contractions about 6-7 minutes apart. It was Rory's 2nd birthday (could not believe this was happening!) so we had birthday breakfast and opened presents, and then she and my mom left to go visit my grandparents. I started paying attention and was still having contractions, so I called Jenny (midwife) and she said to take a shower and call her in an hour if things were still happening. I lost some of my mucus plug and had consistent contractions in the hour that passed, so I called my sister, too, and she started driving this way.
Jenny (and the other midwife who was her assistant) arrived around 1 pm and decided I was definitely in labor. She didn't check me right away because I didn't want to get disappointed and find out I was only a 4 or something. I did some standing, squatting, swaying, sitting on the toilet, and then got in the tub at 2:30. My sister arrived shortly after that. At 3:15 Jenny wanted me to get out and pee and when I stood up my water broke. The water was a little cloudy, so we knew there was probably some meconium (fairly common with overdue babies and “normal” in my history), which meant I couldn't deliver in the tub, but I didn't really care about that just as long as I could still labor in the tub, which I could.
As soon as my water broke, it threw my contractions into high gear. Being out of the tub was awful, so I got back in and labored until about 4:30 when Jenny asked again about checking… she really wanted to check how dilated I was - turned out I was an 8! I was so relieved, and thought for sure I was going to be having the baby in like an hour (like some lucky people who finish dilating from 8-10 in like 2 contractions!) But NO. Instead I spent the next two hours stuck at an 8, in the tub, which was the only thing keeping me from losing my mind. It was painful, but I was handling it okay up until that point. I had found my rhythm... deep breath at the beginning of the contraction, short "shhhhhh"ing breaths through the peak, and then more deep breaths through the end. It didn't feel like any time had passed at all, until I realized the sun had gone down, which meant I had been in the tub for over 2 hours with intense contractions at this point.
When Jenny checked me again at 6:30 I was still an 8... this was my breaking point. I didn’t feel like I was experiencing classical transition like I did with my first labor (the first labor I went from 6-10 in 30 minutes). So, I just decided to try and get it over with and gave in to the pain completely and for an hour was rocking, moaning, crying, "heeeee heeeee heeeee" ing and anything else to try and make it the rest of the way to 10 cm. And I was already feeling pushy, so I had to NOT push at the same time. It was hard. HARD. I was not handling it well at all. All my Bradley training was running through my head, and I knew I could be doing better but I was just choosing not to out of stubbornness and fatigue. I kept asking people to check on my sister in between contractions because I was afraid I was scaring her and that she was going to decide not to have any nieces and nephews for me someday because of it. At 7:30 I got checked again and was ALMOST 10... just a tiny lip of cervix left at the top. I begged Jenny to just push it back like I know they do at the hospital but she wouldn't do it (love her!) - she did agree to "help" me though if I would get out of the tub. So I got onto the bed and we spent 30 intense minutes with her manually applying counter pressure to my cervix while I attempted to relax enough through the contractions to let the cervix go up over the baby's head.
Finally I felt it go (that was a crazy feeling, like a sudden release and the baby came sliding down immediately) and we were pushing! Pushing was way more intense and painful this time, which I think is because when I had my first baby, she basically just exploded out of my body without me exercising much control over how fast or slow she came out. This time though, I only pushed for about 10 minutes and then started feeling the intense ring of fire sensation because she was crowning already. I managed to control it and just blow blow blow through the last few contractions until her head was out. We knew from when my water broke that there was some meconium, so Jenny had me stop pushing so she could suction her nose and mouth. Once she did that, I didn't even have to push again, her body just slid right out and her little arms went reaching for me at the same time I went reaching for her! It was incredible! She was born at 8:37 pm, on November 15th, which means she and Rory do actually, unbelievably share a birthday. I’m sure some day they will claim we did that on purpose to ruin their lives.
As soon as she was born, the whole hormone rush just took over and I felt great. The pain was completely gone and we were just holding her, laughing, crying, talking baby talk... it was wonderful. Once I delivered the placenta I was able to pull her up and nurse (her cord was really short – only 12-13 inches long). She immediately poo'ed all over me, so I handed her off and Jenny cleaned her up a little and weighed and measured her, and then let Chris dress her. Then they got me cleaned up and into fresh clothes, and within 2 hours of her being born, Liberty and I were nursing again, everyone had gone, and we were just the three of us, tucked into our own bed for the night. It was HEAVEN.
It was definitely a longer, harder labor than I expected... I dilated so quickly with my first labor that I never expected to this time get stuck at an 8 for 3 hours. But even so, I was glad I was doing it at home. I felt I was able to relax a lot more and let things happen the way they needed to, even if it took longer than I wanted it to. She had a really short cord, so she needed some good rip roaring contractions to be able come down far enough to be born. I really believe everything happened just like it needed to - I was in very good hands and never felt worried. And being at home for the entire recovery has been awesome! Even though we had to get out the next day to the pediatrician, it was great to get to do everything else at home. Our daughter got the unique experience of being born in the same bed in which she was conceived, which pretty much says it all. I honestly can't wait to do it again and see how different the next one is.
Stay tuned to hear LindsAy's hospital birth story next week!