Welcome to the family, Nellie Noel ♡
Written and shared with permission by Danielle B.
* Third baby & second homebirth with Midwife Rebecca and her team *
No one expects labor to actually begin on their due date. But then again, third babies are wild cards, aren't they?
The first timetable contractions began on Thursday, April 28th around 6am - 40wks on the nose. Although they were 10-15min a part, they started out fairly strong. From the very beginning, they captured my attention and I felt much better breathing through them. By 8:30am I felt they were consistent enough to give my midwife, Rebecca, a heads up that today may be the day.
As the day progressed, the timing of the contractions stayed the same. They remained 10min or so apart, but slowly grew in strength and duration. I went about my day as usual helping my husband take care of our older two kids (3 and 1), took a shower and a nap, got some soup started in the crockpot, walked up and down the basement stairs and bounced on the birth ball.
Trying to labor with the older two was harder than I wanted it to be. It really pulled me out of my zone and made it difficult to stay relaxed during contractions. One favorite memory I have with them though is squatting in the living room and them running over to join. Watching your one-year-old toddler try and do squats with you, and the three-year-old trying to teach the younger one how to do it "right", is... well, I loved it and will remember it forever.
Although the surges weren't getting closer together, Mimi and Papa offered to take the big kids after dinner and we agreed. They were picked up around 6pm.
I just followed the cues of my body - that was my plan going into this. I wasn't set on giving birth in a certain space or position, I just wanted to move when and where it felt right. I spent most of the time laboring upright: on my ball listening to my birth playlist or on the toilet - I actually spent a fair amount of time there... Surprisingly, I didn't feel as comfortable on all fours (which is pretty much how I labored the whole time with my second).
I didn't want a birth pool this time either. Our home is small, and it took so much time and awkwardness to fill. I also didn’t like how much it took my husband’s attention away from me. Although I am a very internal person and needed to be alone for the most part, it helped me to labor knowing Nathan was there and able to be present whenever I needed him. We are blessed with a large bathtub though, and I kept that in mind as a potential place to labor and birth.
Around 7pm the surges started to get stronger and longer in duration, but stayed about 10min apart. I remember telling Nathan that if they were closer together at this strength, I would want the birth team there. "Should we call them?" Nathan asked. I responded with an "I don’t know, what do you think?"
Nathan made the call.
Shortly after, I lost some bloody mucus after an urge to bear down while on the toilet. I don't think it was a "baby is coming right now" urge, but it was there nonetheless. I thought the bathtub might be nice, and I wanted to give the water a try, so we got the water going in the tub. The contractions started coming every 5-7min, and Rebecca called to let us know she should be there by 8:10pm.
I was afraid of getting in the water too early just in case it slowed labor, but at 7:50pm I decided to get into the tub. The water was so relaxing, and helped to take the edge off the surges. The string lights above the tub were on and the main lights were off. Nathan was seated outside the tub next to me. It really was a calm atmosphere.
Rebecca arrived at 8pm and checked on me and baby. We were both doing great, baby was incredibly low, and the contractions were closer together at this point at around 3-4 min. The Assistant Midwife and Student Midwife arrived shortly thereafter, and at around 8:30pm Rebecca left the bathroom to give us some space.
I deep breathed through the surges - the stronger ones I moaned through. With each surge, I tried to be mindful of breathing down to baby.
Nathan was seated on the floor by the tub as things started to ramp up. It was just him and me, and I remember him leaning over for a kiss between contractions.
At some point, I began to feel a lot more pressure in my bum. Progress. As the surges came and went I wondered if I would know when my body was ready to push since I was in the water. Spoiler: I would know.
About a half hour later, near the end of a surge, the urge to bear down came strong and hard - there was no mistaking it or avoiding it. "I feel pushy" Nathan jumped and called the midwives inside the bathroom. My sources tell me it was 8:55pm.
I'm pretty sure it was a tight fit - Nathan Rebecca, Sandra, and Leona (plus, ya know, me with the baby).
I breathed in preparation for the next surge. I had been sitting butterfly style, but as these more intense surges came I felt the urge to lean forward a bit, to grasp the edge of the tub, and to get one leg in a squatting position while kneeling with the other. I moaned and bore down with the surges. I had my eyes closed, but could sense Nathan there and could hear Rebecca's guidance.
I reached down to feel and Rebecca asked if I could feel her head. "I think so" - it felt different than I expected. Where was the hair? It was so smooth and firm. Rebecca would tell me later that it was actually her water bag still intact, and that it wouldn't break until her head was born. Encaul is what this is considered. Maybe it was the lemon water I craved in pregnancy, maybe it was just luck, but I'm thankful to have experienced my waters waiting to break so late in the game. It was a nice change from my first two labors where my water broke early in labor and caused constant, long, and often double-peaking contractions.
I felt the ring of fire this time though, and I remember thinking there was no way I could get her through. Even knowing I'd done it before, it still felt so impossible. How could she possibly fit?
I kept my eyes closed the whole time, kind of sitting with my left leg squatting. I moaned and breathed as my body pushed, my legs were trembling, and I know I had tears in my eyes. But her head came through, just like we knew it would. Just like I knew it would.
Rebecca reminded me to rest once her head came out, to breathe and that I could do this. The pressure of baby's body and the strength of the urges made that seem impossible. "I can't" I said. I can't rest... I can’t wait - my thoughts that I couldn't voice.
My eyes were still closed, and Rebecca asked me if I wanted to catch my baby. I couldn't speak. With the next contraction I instinctively bore down again and her body came through. I opened my eyes, reached down, and pulled her up to my chest. I leaned back with her in the tub.
Tears still collected in my eyes (I probably shouldn't have bothered to put mascara on earlier on in the day). She needed very little prompting before she began to cry - a welcome relief as her older sister needed a little help transitioning.
Two minutes and three contractions. She was out by 9am. That's how long it took for her to come. It certainly felt longer... but also instantaneous all at the same time. Time is strange during labor. Miraculously my body did not tear, and I am so grateful for that as the recovery has been wonderful this time around.
It honestly couldn't have gone better.
Three children feels right to us. If this little one is our last, I can honestly say this was the perfect ending to this chapter in our lives.
Welcome to the family, Nellie Noel ♡