Our next birth story comes from my precious sister-in-law, Claire, as she recounts the birth of her second child. When I starting dating my husband, I had no idea that the family I would one day marry into would soon become my closest friends. Claire has been a precious friend to me and it has been so amazing watching her become the sweetest mother to her girls. What a blessing it is to have friends and go through all of life’s adventures together.
Get ready for a nail biter! Enjoy!
Reese Elizabeth was born on May 28th, around 10:00 in the morning weighing 8 lbs. 4 oz. Her entrance into this world was memorable to say the least. After my first baby girl, Mary Claire, came into this world naturally with the help of a nurse, doula, and doctor at the hospital, I knew that we were ready to give a home birth a try. Mary Claire’s birth was pretty standard in many ways. She was born on her due date after eighteen hours of labor that began very slowly and steadily progressed until I pushed her into this world. Knowing what I’ve read about second births, I was anticipating my labor with Reese to be a little shorter, and I was also banking on easier and faster pushing! I looked forward to laboring and delivering in the water with the help of my amazing midwife, Cori. I should have known that all my plans and expectations would take a different route, because that is the nature of labor and birth, after all.
The night before Reese was born, I was going on four days past my due date. I had been experiencing lots of cramping and Braxton Hicks, and I was DONE. I cried to my husband, Cody, that I couldn’t bear another day. Reese must have felt my frustration, because around 5:00 am the next morning, I awoke to some intense cramping. It felt very much like period cramps, but they were strong enough to prevent me from going back to sleep. So, I decided to park it on the couch and see what came of it. My twin sister, Caroline, who was also full-term pregnant, noticed my early morning social media activity and texted me to see why I was up. She was also awake due to pregnancy discomforts, so we lamented together.
Around 5:30, I felt the first contraction. In that moment, it was undeniable that my time had come. Caroline suggested that I time my contractions. While I did this, I decided that since there was surely several hours of early labor ahead of me, I would put on a calming movie. I started Pride and Prejudice, of course, and waited for the contractions to roll in. They were all over the map in distance between them, but lasted about 45-60 seconds. I noted to myself that they were fairly more noticeable than my previous labor had begun. 7:00 AM rolled around, and I could hear Mary Claire starting to stir. I went and woke Cody to tell him the news that labor had begun. He knew what to do! We started the day with Mary Claire like normal. Cody drove to Einstein Bagels, an apparent labor tradition in the making, to buy me a hearty breakfast to prepare me for the task ahead. I ate my breakfast sandwich and decided to get in the bath to relax. My midwife had been alerted already, and she suggested I relax as well.
As I attempted to relax in the bath, it became clear to me that I was, indeed, not relaxed! This bath was not doing the job I expected it to do. My mind was already giving way to fear of the pain. So I began to repeat a mantra I saved onto my phone so that I would remember it in the hours to come. “I am stronger than my contractions, because they are a part of me.” This bath was over. I needed to get dressed and comfortable. That meant hunkering down in bed. Cody was set with the task of tending to Mary Claire as we waited for my mother to arrive. Therefore, the majority of this time was spent alone, listening to my body, concentrating through contractions, and trying to force myself to change positions. Cody would check on me and ask if I wanted him to call the midwife. Since it had only been about three hours since the labor began, I hesitated to call her. It was ‘too soon’ in my experience. Plus, the contractions continued to be varied in length and frequency. In spite of this, they continued to intensify. I was repeating my mantra and focusing hard through each one. Every movement or change of position incited a contraction. I found myself longing for a respite, so I laid back down in bed and parked it there. My mother had finally arrived, so Cody was able to check on me and stay with me. I was still hesitating to make the call, so he made the decision for me and told Cori she should head over. When he informed me that she was twenty minutes away, I estimated about how many more contractions I would have to do without her before she arrived. I was not encouraged! He then asked me if he should fill up the tub. THE TUB. Ugh, all this hard laboring, and I didn’t even think to use the biggest tool I had.
He began to fill the tub, and as he did, I reached transition. I could no longer concentrate through the contractions as they lasted 1.5 minutes and had become so strong that no thought could enter or linger in my mind. All I could do was moan through them, something that helped me immensely in my labor with Mary Claire. It was currently the only tool I had. After about four or five really tough contractions, my water broke. I instantly became “Type A” Claire and rolled out of bed, so that the mattress wouldn’t ruin. It’s amazing how you can go from completely thoughtless to intensely concerned about a potential mess. OY. I thought to myself, I better go to the toilet to contain the fluid. As I waddled over and sat down, I had the most intense contraction of all. I lost complete control of the moment and grabbed the walls and screamed in pain. Cody was by my side instantly, but had become slightly undone. As the contraction subsided, I dropped a bombshell on Cody. I told him I felt like I needed to push! Cody was officially undone. “What do I do?” he screamed! I pulled myself together between the contractions and told him to help me to the tub. By this time, the midwife was on speaker phone giving me instructions to get horizontal and NOT to push as she madly sped down the highway to our house. I couldn’t deny that I was scared. I wanted my midwife there. I didn’t want Reese to come yet. I had no idea what was going to happen.
In the midst of my fear, I continued to listen to and trust my body. I tried my hardest not to push, but I looked down to see the top of Reese’s head. I couldn’t be inactive. I sat down in the water, and gave one big push. After her head was delivered, I stood up, and then Cody came to my aid to help deliver her, even though he had not one iota of knowledge about what to do. I hesitate to include this next comment in my story, because it definitely wasn’t a part of the vision I had for this birth. But it’s honest, and therefore, deserves to be shared. Somewhere in the midst of her delivery, I shouted “Get her out of me!” I chuckle at it now, because I longed to have that calm, quiet strength I see so many women display during birth. I guess my strength is more vocal…Regardless, she quickly came out, and the relief was instant, but also was my need to hold her. He handed her to me, and I sat down in the water to check her out. She was perfectly pink, her mouth was clear, and she had a strong cry. Instantly, I saw how beautiful she was, and I knew we were going to be okay. It was over! I was in shock. My mind was swirling with the events that just occurred and the fact that I was actually holding my baby in my arms with no midwife in sight. Just my shell-shocked husband who managed to keep calm enough to deliver his baby!
Cody went to unlock the door for the midwife and to informed my mother, to her disbelief, that Reese was here! In all, she had been there for twenty minutes before Reese was born! After about five minutes, the student midwife arrived. She immediately assessed Reese and determined she looked great! Cori arrive a couple minutes after that. The whole team got to work taking care of me and Reese. What a wild and fast ride. We snuggled Reese in bed all day, retold the story to each other over and over, and continued to sit in the disbelief yet also in the knowledge that God is good and the birth was perfect. Next time, I plan to trust myself instead of any clock to determine when the midwife should arrive. Cody has enjoyed the accolades and teasing as people call him Dr. Cody at work. Reese turned out to be the most chill baby on the planet, somehow defying the fast and furious entrance she made into this world. The pain of childbirth is entirely eclipsed by the miracle of letting your body do what it was created to do. The moments immediately following birth when I have brought my baby to my chest, am soaking in their existence and instant connection as their mother, those are the most powerful moments of my life so far. Nothing can compare to it. I’ll forever be thankful to God that I am able to carry and deliver life.
Thanks so much for reading! To catch up on the other birth stories, check out The Honest Truth page. Surely I am not the only one who can not get enough stories about how precious babies enter this world! There is truly nothing like it. Happy Friday and God bless!