Twenty-five months after I had what felt like a never ending birth with Philomena, things were very different with my second baby. (You can read that birth story and some great information on the safety of homebirth by clicking here)
My goal this time around was to take relaxing during contractions to a new level, so that they could be effective, unlike when I fought them last time. I also compiled a huge list of prayer intentions from my friends, family, and internet connections, so each contraction could be offered up for the needs of others.
On July 1st, at 39 weeks and 4 days, I felt great. Ethan and I had gone and babysat for a friend that morning and during the afternoon I went to rest in bed a while. I had been resting just a few moments when my water broke.
I texted my midwife and proceeded to cook dinner and relax for the evening. Contractions were totally sporadic, spaced, and easy to breathe through. When things weren’t changing at all, my midwife suggested I go invert myself upside down on the couch (A common exercise for turning breech babies or helping a non-breech baby get into the optimal position- find out more here). She suspected baby’s head might be tilted just a touch off to prevent labor from starting.
She was right – I did the inversion for 30 seconds, got back up, and within one minute labor immediately started to become more intense and contractions came at regular intervals of 12 minutes or less.
Similar to Philomena’s birth, I was up all night – I just can’t sleep once those contractions start. I pulled out my prayer list and labored the night alone, letting Ethan get some rest.
I woke Ethan around 4 am and said I was no longer comfortable in bed. We moved to the living room, and called the doula at 5:30 am to come, as the intensity was getting bad and I needed her help.
My doula arrived within an hour and was so amazing. She actually helped me and relaxed me so much that my contractions really started to spread apart again. She knew just where to give counter pressure, to rub, and what to say to help me get through the waves.
Philomena was awake by this time and Ethan was able to tend to her as my doula helped me. We labored inside and out, enjoying a gorgeous walk around the block in the sunshine, which got my contractions coming quite close together.
Similar to Philomena’s labor, my contractions would come close together for a while, then totally spread out like 10 to 15 minutes apart.
Around 11 in the morning I was becoming discouraged. I had labored for over 12 hours with enthusiasm and complete surrender to every contraction. But I was starting to get in a mental trap of believing that Philomena’s labor was going to repeat itself and I had two more days ahead of me.
Miraculously, I was able to fall asleep for an hour (so did Philomena and Ethan!) and when I woke up at 12:30 pm I had renewed energy and vigor.
My midwives came by and checked our vitals and hung out for an hour. They encouraged me that I was well into labor and they said I was doing a great job relaxing.
Each contraction I totally and completely relaxed every muscle in my body. It hurt – not bracing against the pain meant I felt the contractions deeply, but I surrendered and prayed for the people on my list, working that baby down.
That afternoon, Ethan took Philomena to our friends’ house, and at 3:30 in the afternoon, my mother arrived after changing her ticket after my water broke the night before from the original date of arriving a week later.
I never experienced “transition” with Philomena’s birth. But when my mom walked through the door, I just started sobbing. I was tired, exhausted, but the relief of the woman who has been there for me my whole life, who has sacrificed everything for her children, and who was such an amazing support during Philomena’s birth, walking through the door just brought up so much emotion.
I then went from relief at seeing her to I remember almost yelling. I was done. I said I wanted to sleep. I was never going to sleep again. I couldn’t do this. I couldn’t get this baby out. I almost had a temper tantrum about it.
My mom helped me through, always the positive one, insisting I WOULD get this baby out, and I was MADE to do this. She, Ethan, and my doula got the birth pool assembled, and started filling it with hot water.
When I got in, my contractions were a solid 10 minutes apart. My doula, up for 12 hours with me, said she was going to go take a nap, as it seemed I had a while to go. I sat down flat on the bottom of the pool with my legs in an M shape and experienced two contractions and then bam. I felt Zelie’s head ready to come out.
I panicked and I yelled for my doula. “The head! I need to push, baby is coming!”.
She told the midwives they needed to come ASAP, but with contractions still ten minutes apart, I think everyone thought maybe this was just me needing to use the bathroom, or simply being mistaken.
One of my midwives who lives just blocks away ran through the front door a few minutes later. She said the pool wasn’t full enough yet to birth in. She helped me out and waited for a contraction and I started pushing. She called out for the supplies she needed, which my mom and doula were getting off of the table. We moved to the bed and I had one contraction there and hated lying down.
Here I had the supreme discouragement. This phase was MUCH harder mentally and physically than Philomena’s birth. I couldn’t believe I went from contractions 10 minutes apart, to suddenly feeling that head. I doubted myself at being able to do this, and panicked.
I stood up next to the bed and at 6:34 pm, THE contraction came. I completely relaxed into Ethan’s arms with my midwife underneath me. I did not push one ounce, just making my labor sound, absolutely relaxed, and my body did ALL of the work for me. I breathed her out, just like I had mentally prepared for all those months.
Baby’s head was twisted a bit to the side, so my midwife had me lift my leg up leaning on the bed, and out baby came. I laid down on my bed, my miracle was handed to me, and I just said over and over, “It’s done! I’m done, it’s over! We’re done, oh baby you’re here!”
I took a moment to collect myself, soak in this child, and then looked down and in shock announced that we had a girl, Zelie Maria. (I had been convinced it was a baby boy my whole pregnancy!).
Words cannot describe that moment this wet little new baby is handed to you. Zelie was wide eyed and alert like Philomena, and started nursing right away.
I had no bad tearing, need for stitches, or issues. Our midwives took care of all of the newborn exams and work, and I just soaked in the moment.
When Zelie was an hour old, Ethan left and picked Philomena up. She had been well prepared for baby’s arrival, and when she walked in she got wide eyes and giggled, knowing her big sister moment had arrived.
This girl is the sweetest thing, and I am grateful that even though in many ways her labor was more intense and painful than Philomena’s, because of that surrendering to contractions, that it was speedy and over far sooner.
Our little home is humble and has so many quirks that drive me crazy, but I will forever love and remember it as the place that our first two children came into the world.
Enjoy this post? You may also enjoy Why We Don’t Wait – Our “Early” Pregnancy Announcements and Embrace the Cross Today