I had the opportunity to photograph Katie's birth in January. It was a wonderful way to start off the new year.
I had begun to feel pretty impatient about Milo's arrival. He had been gestating over 3 weeks longer than my first child did and I started to worry I would go past 42 weeks and not be able to go with our planned home birth. On January 14th, 9 days past my due date, I got up and drove to work. I saw a couple patients, answered questions from all my coworkers ("You're still here? Is that baby ever going to come out?"), and did a few administrative tasks. By 11:30 or so I'd had a few contractions, pretty far apart. I went to the bathroom and saw a good amount of discharge and some of it tinged brown and pink. I decided to leave since I have a 35 minute commute and was starting to get excited that it might finally be happening.
I let my husband, midwife, doula, and photographer know that I thought I was in early labor and was heading home. I timed my contractions on the way and was about every 8-10 minutes. I walked in to my house at 12:30 and then quickly went to about every 6 minutes. I had told the team basically "No rush, come on over whenever" but sent some new texts that were more like "How about sooner rather than later?" My husband and I were running around getting things packed up for our 17-month-old daughter to go to a friend's house. By 1:30, contractions were 2 minutes apart and requiring my attention. Once we got my daughter out of the house we could focus on filling the pool and getting ready for our son's arrival!
Within an hour, Sarah (my doula), Monet, Janet (the midwife), and Kate (her assistant) all arrived. I was on my knees for awhile leaning over the birth ball, while Kevin and Sarah helped me through with some back massage and by stroking my hair. I also spent some time in the bathroom while my body apparently cleaned itself out in preparation. Right around the time Janet arrived (2:45), I got into the tub for the first time (and finally changed out of my work clothes). There were some challenges with getting the tub filled with warm water, but it was warm enough and the team added pots of boiling water. This was my first experience laboring in water and I had some difficulty finding a comfortable position. I don't think water has the magical, calming effect on me the way it does for some other people. We discussed whether or not I should get a cervical check. I was hesitant because in my first labor I thought I was nearly ready to push and got very discouraged to find out I was at 4 cm. I didn't want that to happen again, but was also hopeful that I'd be checked and be told I was ready to go! I did get checked (around 3:45)...and I was at a 4. I was given lots of reassurance that things could still progress very quickly.
Janet suggested a few positions to try to continue to open and get him to drop more. I was resistant, concerned that moving would be too hard. In both my labors, my instinct has been to brace myself with my arms during contractions, so I didn't want to find myself in a position where I couldn't do that. I did try a few times to remain more upright. At one point Janet suggested I get out of the pool and try to walk the stairs two at a time. I remember thinking, "This lady is crazy!" I did agree to get out of the tub and go the toilet, feeling as though trying to empty my bladder might help. Two contractions in the bathroom, and I felt the urge to push! Kevin helped me move back into the tub. It seemed like everyone was getting excited, but I had a hard time believing I was already there (I think partially because my labor with my first had been so long). After everyone was in place, I still had to ask, "Is this for reals? We’re really doing this?" and they all laughed.
Soon enough, it was obviously for real and I was pushing with each contraction. Janet identified a cervical lip, which she tried to manipulate during some of the contractions. She finally told me that gravity would likely help again and asked if I would go to the birth stool. We moved between contractions, with Kevin, Sarah, Janet, and her assistant helping me out of the tub and onto the stool. With the next contraction the cervical lip cleared, then I agreed to have Janet break my water, then I was crowning, then he was here! I don't think those happened on consecutive contractions, but it did happen quickly once I got out of the tub.
One funny moment came when it was time to cut the cord. Kevin had no interest, I was holding Milo, so Monet volunteered to do it! Unfortunately no one thought to take her picture. I feel honored to have had one of the founders of cord cut the cord!
After Milo arrived, it was an amazing time of settling in and bonding. That time immediately postpartum was one of the biggest differences for me between my hospital birth and my home birth. The team helped get me settled in bed and then I had I think over an hour to snuggle with him and breastfeed before they came back upstairs to do the newborn stuff (weighing, measuring) and to clean and stitch me up. Kevin was busy making phone calls to eagerly awaiting grandmas, Sarah was pushing Gatorade on me, Monet was editing our sneak peek pictures...everyone was chatting and laughing and debriefing the whole experience. It was official – Milo had been worth waiting for. He was perfect and handsome, weighed 7 lbs, 15 oz., was 20.5” long, and had a healthy head at 14 3/8”!
Doula: Flora Birth Services
Birth Photographer: Monet Nicole: Birthing Stories
Midwife: Janet Schwab