Monday night, I went to bed feeling very defeated. I was 42 weeks + 5 days pregnant, no sign of baby coming. I laid in bed and cried about how uncomfortable I was. I let myself break down, and got a good night’s rest to follow. Tuesday morning, I woke to get Clair ready for school… I went to use the bathroom and when I wiped, I had a small bit of bloody show. I immediately felt shaky, nervous, excited- my body was actually taking steps towards baby making their arrival. I wasn’t broken. I was so ready.
After sending Clair to school and Corey off to work, I showered, and did my hair and make up. In the shower, tears started flowing as I talked to my baby about how excited I was, how ready we all were. I was having contractions- still not intense- every 7m20s. Hurry up and wait.
I laid back down with my son and took a late morning nap. When I woke, the contractions were still there- not surprising after weeks of prodromal labor. No more bloody show though. I thought it may have been a cruel joke. Maybe baby wasn’t coming. I took my son to the park and walked on the path around it as he played with his bulldozers in the rocks. We came home, snuggled on the couch and watched a movie. After that, I felt things had slowed… so I pumped, then went out to our driveway and rolled my hips on my ball while my son played on his scooter outside. Things were still moving slowly. After playing, I walked around the neighborhood a bit.
Finally, more mucous plug and bloody show. By early evening, more was there every time I wiped. This was the real deal. Contractions still 6-7 mins apart. I let my photographer and family know things were gearing up. I made dinner and my husband mowed the lawn… we went about our normal evenings. I skyped my sister and mom while cleaning up dinner and they excitedly timed my contractions at 3-4 mins apart. Not incredibly uncomfortable but enough to make me stop and breathe through them. I worked through contractions as I folded laundry and hung out with my husband.
My birth photographer friend came at 10:30 and we spent some time between contractions catching up on life as I continued folding laundry. By this time, I was gently moaning low through each surge. They were pretty uncomfortable, but bearable. Within the next hour and a half, they intensified quite a bit and I was struggling through them a bit. My MIL arrived somewhere in there and spent some time with Alex, who would simply not settle for bed, and did some laundry for me.
By midnight, I wasn’t sure if it was too early but I needed the water to calm my back… so I asked my husband to start the tub.
The warmth was immediately relieving between contractions.
Things seemed to slow down in frequency for about an hour, then it all hit hard. Alexander wanted to “go swimmin” so he hopped in the tub briefly with me.
Things continued to intensify. Surges were frequent, low, in my back. I had to moan through each one while my husband put pressure on my lower back.
By 2am, I was losing it a bit. I started to panic with each surge. I had to verbally talk myself down with each contraction. I kept saying “breathe baby down”, “come on baby”, “slowwww”, “I can do this”, etc. I got to a point that the water was definitely causing more discomfort than comfort, so I kneeled into the water between contractions, and lifted out of it onto my knees during contractions.
This part of labor was honestly tougher than I expected. Transition is no joke. I doubted myself many times. I’m so glad I was at home. My mother in law kept saying affirmations to me- “You’re doing it”, “You’re so strong”, “Slow deep breaths” while holding my hands and supporting me.
My husband would do double hip squeezes and put pressure very firmly on my lower back.
Eventually, it got so intense that I kept my hand between my legs, reaching inside often to feel where my cervix was, where babys head was. His head got so low that I had to stand up and squat into each surge. I would hold onto my husband with each surge, him supporting me as my legs shook, his mom gently rubbing a cool towel on my head and saying affirmations to me.
That didn’t last long, since standing brought baby down quickly and, with my hand inside of me, I felt my bag of waters burst.
When that happened, I immediately said that I needed down in the water. I felt and his head had gone from two knuckles in to being right at the entrance of my body. My legs were jello. My husband helped me get down onto my knees. One contraction and baby was coming, I had to lean back. My husband had planned to stay beside the tub but before I knew it, he had hopped in, completely clothed, and was helping support my bottom and legs while my body birthed our baby.
Baby stayed crowning for a whole contraction, I tried to slow myself and not push him out forcefully. I gently pushed my skin around his head, helping it stretch slowly. Next contraction and his head came out, face down. Biggest relief ever. I smiled up at my husband and said “we’re really doing this” and he kissed me. I let myself have a few big deep breaths, and we waited while my body prepared for the rest of the delivery. I was surprised by the lack of rushing I felt in sitting there in the water with baby’s head out and nothing else. I reached down and tried to help support the head in coming out with the next contraction but he didn’t budge. His shoulders were big. Before I even had a chance to think about it, my right knee instinctively came up into a semi-squat and I waited for the next surge. As it came, my body pushed baby out, into my husbands arms at 4:11am. He brought him to my chest immediately. We were both immediately consumed by how incredibly beautiful he was. We sat there, in awe of all of the vernix, touching his beautiful dark hair, looking at his adorable back rolls, laughing about his little buff arms.
He was trying to work out a bit of mucous, so I turned him belly down and patted his back gently until he let out a little whine and cough. We had forgotten we didn’t know his sex. I lifted him to see he was a boy and so excitedly told my husband. He had been hoping for another boy. Seeing the excitement on his face was everything. We did it. Sullivan wanted to nurse right away, and latched on immediately to my right breast. My mil went to wake Clair first. She was SO excited. She had wanted a girl but I knew now, it didn’t matter. She was smitten. My MIL tried to wake Alex up, carrying him into the bathroom in the standing position, explaining what was going on, but he was too sleepy and out of it to care, so he went back to bed.
We sat there for a little bit in complete bliss. After my husband got out, he helped Sullivan and I out of the tub and lined a walkway to our bedroom across the hall. I got there and laid with my placenta still attached and inside of me. We hung out in our room for a while, looking over and admiring every inch of him. My placenta still had not come an hour after he was born, so I tried nursing again on both sides, tried squatting, rubbed my uterus externally, etc. No luck. I knew I needed to urinate, but couldn’t get it to happen. I wanted to wait a couple hours and do a cord burning ceremony, but the cord was short and I had very limited mobility. We decided to go ahead and tie the cord off, cut it, and used our beeswax taper candle to cauterize the end just to be safe. I then left daddy and Clair to enjoy some snuggles while I went back to the bathroom to try to pee and hopefully deliver the placenta. No luck. I got in a shallow warm bath, still couldn’t urinate. Finally went back to the bedroom and just relaxed on the bed, to give myself a bit more time. At a little after 2 hours postpartum, I got into a squat position on a chux pad beside my bed and massaged my uterus until firm, and let out a couple gentle pushes with the contractions I was still having. Suddenly, the placenta came out and I urinated for a really long time. Sweet relief, we were done. My husband helped me up and to the bathroom where I examined the placenta, bagged it, and asked him to put it in our fridge. I cleaned up, and got back into bed to snuggle and nurse our sweet boy.
My mil got me a snack and got Clair back to sleep as I got comfortable and nursed. Everyone, well everyone but me, in the house was asleep by 730am. I laid there, in complete birthy high, staring at our beautiful creation.
If you have any questions about our unassisted birth experience, comment below- I’d be happy to answer!
Here is our birth video- it’s raw and real:
I will be sharing soon how we prepared for our homebirth, some must have items to have on hand, and what led us to the “radical” decision to birth unassisted.
Jennifer Riddle, CLD (CBI)
Mother’s Intuition Birth Services