Birth date: Wednesday, September 25th, 2019
Birth Time: 8:11 AM
Weight: 9lbs. 9oz.
Length: 22 in.
First, I’ll start with a little back story for those who aren’t familiar with our family baby history…
- Blake, born via C-section at 42 weeks and 3 days due to being “past due”, preeclampsia, failed induction.
- Houston, born at home (HBAC) at 39 weeks and 5 days.
- Joelle, born at home (2HBAC) at 41 weeks and 5 days.
My pregnancy with Joelle brought on a lot of anxiety in the last couple weeks before her birth. Constantly questioning if Houston was the “lucky birth” or if I really did just carry late and Blake’s birth was the odd one. But this time, baby number 4, I wasn’t going to fall in that trap again. This whole pregnancy was already such a different experience than all of the others. I started taking a list of vitamins and supplements months and months before becoming pregnant, recommended by a very knowledgeable friend. I also starting working out 4-5 days a week at Burn Boot Camp. My goal was to get my body in the best shape (outside and inside) possible before becoming pregnant again.
A Home Birth without a home?
Since we had already listed our house for sale and were starting the process to build, our tentative plan for the year was; live with family for a few months, travel a couple months, live in an RV for a few months/ live with family, until our house was built. I knew being pregnant during this time would be a little crazy, but I also knew I really didn’t want any more of an age gap between Joelle and the new baby (I know to most that may sound crazy, since 2 years & 3 months isn’t much of a gap, but it’s our biggest so far!).
Fast forward to the end of my pregnancy, “a little crazy” was an understatement. It was hard. Moving multiple times, not having much consistency in our lives, my car being the most private place to escape. But because of it, it made this pregnancy fly by, and it also motivated me to continue taking care of myself, eating well, and working out as that was my “me time”. Even if I was half asleep most of the time driving to the gym at 6am…
I was just fine staying pregnant as long as possible this time, especially since our house was originally estimated to be finished at least 3 months after my due date. We really had no set plan where the birth would take place. We threw ideas around like, on our property, in the RV, renting an air bnb. My parents house was never one of those ideas. My sisters actually drove down from Georgia a few months before the birth to completely clear out and remodel my childhood bedroom, but it was mostly to give them a place to stay when they visit. You know, like for the birth. Instead, after they finished it I jokingly said, “we could just have the baby in here”. Well as time went on that “joke” started to become our only real option.. Our RV started to have issues, like the electric dying out -aka NO A/C-, and any local air bnb’s we looked into weren’t available.
So Stefen and I, but really mostly Stefen, started to prepare the room for the birth. We brought in our king bed, the co sleeper he made and we had used for all the babies, made some small repairs to the room, and made it as much of “ours” as we could. We also started to fill the room with birth supplies; my exercise ball, birthing kit, the birth tub (that our midwife graciously gave us to borrow 6 weeks before he was born, just to ensure we WOULD have a water birth this time).
As we started to close in on 40 weeks, the comments and questions started to come. “he’s definitely dropped”. “it will probably be any day now”. “Do you feel ready?” “Any updates?” “Any progress?” These never really bother me, but I understand how they could bother others. Everyone is suddenly watching you like a hawk and more interested in the condition of your cervix than ever before. But it doesn’t bother me because I was starting to realize that yes, I do indeed carry my babies past the assumed 40 week due date. 3 out of 4 I think I can finally say that.
At the start of my 41st week I was messaging my sister, Lindy, and niece, Genesis, more and more. They were planning to drive down from Georgia to video/ photograph the birth. The hardest part about births for me is the whole “you really can’t plan much at all”. I know that sounds very hypocritical as I am all for letting the baby choose their own birthday, I just wish they’d give me a heads up when about that day might be. So, I finally told them that I thought what would be best is if they drove down Friday (the day after my due date) and they planned to stay till Tuesday. I had decided if nothing had happened by Saturday I would schedule my first acupuncture appointment. At that point I would have been 41 weeks and 2 days, which is how far along I was with my last pregnancy when I went for my first acupuncture appointment. And if nothing seemed to happen from that I would go back in 48 hours, just like I did with my last. Only difference is, last time that second appointment kick started labor, last time I had a baby 8 hours later, last time and up until right now I swore by it.
Lindy and Genesis arrived Friday night. Saturday I had my acupuncture appointment. On the drive there I felt very anxious, like I was doing something wrong. I knew deep down I was rushing him and he wasn’t ready, but I went through with it. When I left the office though I felt completely different. I was relaxed, at peace with everything, and in the mood to bake. So I went home and made a couple batches of pumpkin muffins.
Sunday morning Stefen and I had a nice relaxing time sitting outside while the kids were playing. I said it would be a great day to have the baby since it had cooled down just a little. Lindy and Genesis were checking in on me and asked if there was anything else I wanted to do. I couldn’t think of anything, and then Genesis suggested a pedicure. So later that afternoon a few of us went and Genesis treated me to a pedicure. I asked the lady giving me mine if she had any special pressure points she wanted to try because I was past 41 weeks. She was very empathetic and said she would definitely try because she understands, and then went on to say how she delivered her baby at 44 weeks, and her mother went to 11 months with her! I was starting to feel a little silly for sounding like I was way overdue at only 41 & 1/2 weeks… After our pedicures we went next door to get smoothies, and I also took a “wellness shot”. I don’t remember what all was in it but I know it had cayenne, ginger, and turmeric.
After that I went home and made some buffalo chicken tacos. Monday morning I had my second acupuncture appointment. I met Stefen at work and we drove down. I was feeling really optimistic that this would be it. I was almost certain I’d be having a baby that night. Until my session was over and the acupuncturist mentioned that if I didn’t go into labor within 48 hours I’d have another appointment on Wednesday. What! After the second session with my last pregnancy he said that was it and I wouldn’t see him again. Why was he asking me about scheduling another appointment? Feeling pretty discouraged, we left his office and headed straight to my chiropractor appointment. Dr. Tinari usually guesses (and is right) when babies will come, but this time he just kept saying whenever I decided to. Which was partly funny but also kind of frustrating because I was starting to believe he was right in a way, my body was ready physically.
Later that night we went to our property to show Lindy and Genesis our house. We had mentioned going for a walk before we left, and then maybe walking once we got to our property, but it kept getting put off. So on our way home I told Stefen to just pull over about a mile from home and I got out to walk/ run/ jog the rest of the way home. I didn’t say anything to anyone else because I was the only one wearing running shoes anyways and I figured they didn’t really want to do the work anyways, I was the one trying to get the baby out! About half way home I saw the boys running towards me, I thought Stefen must have let them get out and run to me, but then I also noticed Stefen, Lindy, and Genesis all walking towards me. I don’t know why this meant so much to me but it did.
I was starting to feel all the pressure and like I needed to do it all on my own, and they all came and met me, and made sure I wasn’t doing it all alone. Earlier that night Genesis had told me that she was able to take some more time off work and she didn’t need to go back Tuesday like she had originally thought. I was instantly so relieved because before my acupuncture appointment I thought for sure I’d have the baby Monday night, but as time was going on it seemed as if he wasn’t coming any time soon, and I was starting to think Genesis would have to leave before he arrived. There was no pressure from her or Lindy intentionally, but it’s inevitable when family is coming from out of state and changing all their plans around to be there for you, you kinda want things to work out! So, hearing her and Lindy say that they were going to be able to stay a few more days took so much stress away! Either way, by this point I was starting to get too stressed out overall and I knew that wouldn’t help the birth. So I decided at my next prenatal appointment, which was the next day, I would talk to my midwife about trying something to get things going.
The Final Appointment
Up until this point I had no cervical checks or anything. I had mentioned that I had a free prenatal massage at my midwife’s office but I had never used it because I never had a chance with all the kids. Lindy offered to watch them for my appointment and suggested seeing if I could get a massage at the same time. So, Tuesday afternoon Stefen & I drove to my appointment. I walked in the room for my massage, and jokingly asked Dawn, the massage therapist, if she had any tricks she was gonna try to get things started. She smiled and told me to have a seat. She went on to say that after her and Lucie had talked they decided instead of trying to induce labor in any way during the massage, she wanted to work on helping me relax, that they knew I was mostly stressed with everything going on, house and living situation, etc. So she dimmed the lights, gave me all the pillows I needed, and began what was one of the absolute best massages of my life. Just after Dawn asks me to sit and talk I was already feeling so much peace, especially when she said that she would most likely be lucie’s assistant at the birth.
After my amazing hour long massage, I had my appointment with Lucie. I had told her I wanted to try one thing to start labor. I had a list in my head of my options, and asked for her advice on which one I should choose. She really didn’t want to say and wanted me to choose on my own, but being the horrible decison maker that I am, I had her choose! After my appointment, we headed back to pick up the kids, and went back to my parents home. I was feeling a little crampy the rest of the night but wasn’t having any contractions or any other signs of labor. The plan was to have my third acupuncture appointment the next morning.
That night while we were all getting into bed, Blake, who has been sleeping on the floor in our room, asked if he could sleep with us. Knowing this could possibly be our last night as a family of five, I was happy he asked, even though five in the bed isn’t the most ideal, I went to bed feeling happy and grateful. Wednesday, around 12am I woke up for the first time to what felt like a very mild contraction. It was enough for me to get on all fours in bed, or put a pillow under myself to lie on, but after a minute or so it went away and I was back asleep. This continued to happen almost every hour for the rest of the night, and every time I would get on all fours for a minute and then go right back to sleep.
By about 5:45 I decided to get out of bed. I was annoyed with having to get up every hour, because let’s be honest, sitting up at this stage is no easy task. This is also the time that I was usually up and at the gym anyways, but instead of boot camp I just got my exercise ball and sat at the end of the bed. I texted my midwife, not expecting her to even see it because she had told me to call and not text, and I also messaged Lindy and Genesis. I just told them all that it would probably be sometime that day because I had been up every hour and now I was too uncomfortable staying in bed. Genesis asked if they should come over yet and I said I’d probably call the midwife in a few hours if nothing changes—“a few hours” would have been an hour past Oliver’s arrival!—JoJo and Houston woke up shortly after and wanted me to hold them, so I did while rocking back and forth on my ball.
Stefen started to wake up and asked if I was leaving for the gym, I replied, “no, I think I’m having a baby”. He got up very quickly—he’s obviously learned from past experiences better than I have!—and asked if he should set up the pool. I said, “no not yet” so he went to take a shower and get ready. When he was done I still told him it was probably too soon, but he went ahead and started setting it up anyway. At about 6:30am, 45 minutes since I had woken up, I decided to get in the shower and see if things slowed down. They definitely did not. I was timing contractions since around 6am up until I got in the shower, and they were as far as 6 minutes apart and as close as a little over 1 minute apart. There was no pattern at all, just like my previous births. After getting out of the shower they were starting to get painful. I was brushing my teeth and I had to stop during each contraction to apply pressure on my back with my rebozo, which I was at that point carrying around with me to relieve pressure every time a contraction came.
I kept telling myself I would call my midwife after the next contraction, but they started coming pretty closely together so while I was getting dressed I called Stefen into the bathroom and asked him to go ahead and call our midwife, Lucie. He was right outside the bathroom on the phone with her. I heard him say, “she’s in a lot of pain” and then that was it. I was surprised to hear him say that because I hadn’t said anything about being in pain, and wasn’t even at the point of needing his help with relieving pain yet. When he got off the phone I asked what she said, as I was used to my midwife wanting to talk to me to see how I was doing/if I was in active labor. He said, “she said she’s coming”. I was relieved because while I was in the bathroom I started to question why I was having harder contractions already, and starting to worry that I’d be in labor for a really long time. I remember thinking, “maybe I’ll call Lucie so she can be here during labor and help me manage some of the pain”, something I had never really done before since I had always called my midwife at the very end and by the time they arrived I was already 10 cm.
This time I thought I would call with plenty of time! After all it had only been a little over an hour since I woke up. I also knew it would take her at least an hour to arrive so I was ok calling in what I thought was “early labor”. After Stefen called Lucie, I messaged Genesis and told her they should come over. She asked if she should wake Amber, who I wanted there to help the older kids in case they started to get scared or anything, I told her to at least wake her up and let her know what was going on. She went to her room to wake her and Amber was already up and said she had been up almost all night (“midwives” always know somehow). A few minutes later I told Genesis to tell Amber to go ahead and come over as well, and she said she was already coming.
I went back to sitting/leaning back on the birthing ball, and with every contraction I calmly breathed through it while applying pressure on my lower back. At one point I got a little distracted and moved in an uncomfortable position on the ball. I instantly told myself, “this hurts” and I could almost feel my whole self going downhill. I instantly snapped back into focus and the pain subsided. It was a very surreal moment, but it reassured me how mental the pain really was and motivated me to stay focused. With each contraction and each time I would squat lower on the ball, I could feel Oliver moving lower and lower and started having a slight urge to push. By about 7:39 there was enough water for me to get relief in the tub so I got in.
I had anticipated this moment for 6 years, since my pregnancy with Blake. And I was finally here, getting my water birth. To my surprise though, what gave me more relief than sitting in the tub, was the running water on my belly. So, while the tub was still being filled, Houston stood next to me and aimed the hose on my belly. I think he enjoyed it as much as I did. The pain of the contractions was slowly fading and the pressure of needing to push was taking over. At one point Lindy had left the room and I asked someone to go get her, when she came back in and asked, “what’s up?”, I replied, “just a heads up, I felt his head with the last contraction so he’s probably coming soon”.
Stefen was behind me, Blake was in our bed occupied on the computer, Houston was very intently helping me, JoJo was in the tub with me. When I had moved from sitting to getting on all fours, I remember looking up after a contraction and seeing Amber sitting right in front of me next to the tub. Looking back I realized she was right there helping with JoJo, but in the moment I remember thinking, “wow she’s really close” not in a bad way, I just remember noticing it. I didn’t know at the time how important that would be! Lindy was videoing and Genesis was taking pictures. My mom was in the room as well. A little before 8am Lucie had called because she was lost on my parents “street”, if you’ve been to my parents house you know it’s not the easiest to find, and she had only been there once before.
Genesis went outside to try and help her. While she was outside I was starting to push, although I never really pushed. It was more with each contraction he was coming out and I was letting my body do it. Lindy told my mom to run out and get Genesis, so she could take pictures, my mom thought she said to get the midwife, so my mom went outside looking for Lucie. Lucie had just arrived so my mom, Genesis, and midwife we’re all outside. But before they could get back to the bedroom Ollie was coming. After his head came out I reached down and felt it, and I froze. I wasn’t scared of anything up until this point, but the thought of catching a slimy baby has always freaked me out a little. With my previous births I always said “no” when asked if I wanted a mirror to see or to touch the baby’s head. I know some people love it, but for me it’s kind of like cutting your finger and not feeling the pain until you look down and see blood and then it instantly hurts 100 X’s worse. Yeah, that’s what it was like when I reached down and felt his head. I said, “I don’t know what to do”. And Amber, who was still sitting right in front of me said, “I can do it!” I replied, “go for it”.
She calmly took her hair tie off her wrist, placed it on the bed, and reached into the water to catch Ollie with the next “push”. We thought his cord was wrapped around his neck, but it was just loosely draped around his neck. So, after Amber caught him, I reached down and brought him to my chest. And right after that my mom, Genesis, and midwife Lucie all walked in the door! My mom yelled, “WHAT?!” And Amber told them, “I just delivered the baby!” I sat in the tub for a few minutes holding Oliver, shortly after the “separation gush” from the placenta, I moved to our bed.
I know some people were shocked when they heard my midwife “missed the birth”, but honestly we all knew Ollie’s birth turned out exactly how I envisioned it. Lucie knew my wants and needs and she met all of them. She taught me so much during my time with her and gave me the confidence to not feel the need to “hold him in” until she got there, like I had done in my previous pregnancy.
Lucie and her assistant were there by my side to help deliver the placenta, clean up all the gross stuff, check over me and Ollie, measurements, etc. and to just be. To sit with me, to sit with my family, hours after Ollie’s birth.
And that’s it. That’s the long story of a simple birth that went by quicker than it took pregnant me to put on my shoes.