What a treat! This time we get to hear mom’s version of the birth story in all of it’s wonderful detail. The slideshow is at the bottom. Enjoy!!
Willow’s Birth Story
Early on Wednesday morning, during my last week of work at Whole Foods, labor began. For the week prior, I had been having contractions every evening for about an hour, but they always stopped before I’d go to bed. I had been fully expecting a nighttime labor and birth for Willow, since a lot of mothers of toddlers have births after putting their older children to bed (and Audrey was born overnight), but Willow had a different plan.
At 6:30 am, Jamie went out to start my car for me while I ate breakfast and got Audrey up and ready to go to Jesika’s for the day. When I went to use the bathroom, I was losing my mucus plug, so I thought maybe today was the day. I started timing some contractions shortly after that, but they were pretty irregular so I brushed it off and continued to get ready for work. Jamie left for work and told me to call him if anything changed.
I texted my midwife to let her know I had been having 20-25 second contractions every 3-4 minutes and wondered if she thought I should stay home from work, which she did recommend. These contractions were still pretty irregular over the course of an hour, and although they were stronger than earlier in the week, still seemed mild. I went outside to turn my car back off and bring my already-packed lunch and work bag back inside. I called Jamie at 7:30 to let him know I wasn’t going to work and that he should come back home. He said, “already?” I think he had somewhat expected that though. 🙂
When he got home, Jamie got started on getting the house ready for the birth: vacuuming, cleaning our bathroom, etc. I decided to take a bath to wash my hair, as I knew after Willow was born it would be a few days before I had time to do that. 🙂 The water was great and definitely made the contractions more mild.
From 7:30 am until 9 am contractions were still mild and although more frequent, there were still a few an hour that were 7 to 9 minutes apart, so I assumed I was still fairly early in labor. My labor with Audrey was about 8 hours, so I had expected this labor to go faster.
At 9 am, I texted Jesika to see if she could head over (we had asked her to be Audrey’s support person during the birth) and she arrived around 10 am. Jamie asked if he should set up the birth tub, and since I still had some contractions spaced out longer than 5 minutes, I said no.
From 10 to 11:30 am things continued on fairly steadily, with contractions ranging from 50 seconds to 110 seconds and ranging from 3 to 8 minutes apart. Around 11 am, I did start having some stronger contractions that were about 2 1/2 minutes long, but they were only about 4 an hour, with milder, shorter contractions in between.
At 11:30, my midwife texted me to see how things were going. I let her know some contractions were 90 seconds long, but still irregular as far as timing. Some were 3 minutes apart, but some were 7 or 8 minutes apart. At 11:37 she asked if I wanted my other midwife to come over to check in and get some stuff set up. My exact answer was “It is so hard to say since it has been all morning. I guess it wouldn’t be a bad idea in case in sneaks up on me ;)”. (Lesson learned for future births: even if I still have a few 7-8 minute breaks between contractions over the course of an hour, it could still be time to birth in a couple hours ☺)
My second midwife arrived by noon and started to get some things set up. I was still content laboring on my yoga mat on the floor, dropping onto all 4’s for stronger contractions, resting my shoulders on Audrey’s bean bag chair for support. The midwife checked the baby’s heart rate with the doppler and all was good.
Audrey was an amazing and brave girl, hanging out throughout labor. We watched “The Brave Little Toaster” and Audrey and Jesika hung out at the kitchen table while Jamie set up the birth tub. We had prepared for her to stay during the birth by reading some books (My New Baby, Welcome with Love, & I’m a Big Sister), and I had shown her several birth videos, including one of her birth. We had discussed that Mama would ‘roar like a lion’ since I would be working so hard, so she was prepared when she heard me. I stay fairly quiet during labor until the last hour or so, but I wanted her to be as prepared as possible, as she is an extra-sensitive girl.
Between noon and 1 pm, labor started to ramp up, and I prepared to get in the tub. I wanted to change from my white bra to a black bra since we had a birth photographer coming (alas we should have called her sooner), so I went to our bedroom to do that. I had to stop twice to get on the floor for contractions, so I knew we were getting close. When I came back out to the living room, the tub was still not full, as we had to wait for the hot water heater to catch up. I got in anyway and it felt great. Since our photographer had still not arrived, Jamie took a few photos with his camera, while still supporting me with counter pressure during contractions. He was an amazing labor partner! By this time the rest of my birth team was arriving. I’m not sure the time. Pretty soon after that I started to feel pushy, and I knew Willow was starting to make her journey through the birth canal. Thank goodness our photographer arrived at this point or we wouldn’t have gotten our birth photos! 🙂 Since the tub was still not filled as much as it should’ve been, my midwife firmly told me that I either had to keep my butt down in the water or get out to birth Willow. I couldn’t imagine getting out of the tub, so I told her to have Jamie help keep my end down. I held on to the side of the tub to try and keep myself more upright so I could keep my whole end under the water. Pushing is intense! But amazing! My first hard push I could tell her head was near birthing, and knew to let my body do the pushing. My awareness throughout the last hour was always on my breath and keeping my voice deep and full, which truly helps! The second push I felt her head starting to crown- she had a lot of hair! It was amazing having my hand there, guiding her out into the world. The next push her head came out- that was the most intense of it all and still wonderful! There is nothing else in the world that feels that way- yes, painful but exhilarating, life-breathing, and powerful! My midwives told me the hardest part was over, and on the next contraction she would be fully born. It felt amazing to take a short breather, still in the water, knowing I was about to meet my daughter. The next contraction the rest of her body slipped out and I reached down to bring her up to me. She was beautiful! Her hair was black and straight- I couldn’t believe it! (Between my husband and I, we have every type of hair in our genes, but our first daughter is a curly red head, so straight and black is on the total opposite end of the spectrum!)
My first words after Willow’s birth were “That was amazing!”
And it truly was. I couldn’t imagine birthing any other way.
Later I learned that the only time Audrey started to seem even slightly overwhelmed is when I was pushing at the end. She saw me gripping the tub tight and thought I wanted to get out. She told Jesika they needed to help mama get out of the tub! She is such a sweet and brave girl.
After the birth, I was helped out of the tub and sat on the couch for skin-to-skin time. It was a magical time and the euphoria of birth was still high: holding my new baby, being surrounded by my husband, daughter, and birth team, and just soaking it all in. Jesika brought Audrey over to us on the couch so she could meet her sister. She wanted to sing to her, so we all sang “If You’re Happy and You Know it” and “Happy Birthday” to Willow. I’ll never forget that- it was so cute!
The next step was to get the placenta out. After about 45 minutes, my midwife thought it would be a good idea to try the Angelica tincture to help the placenta out. Almost immediately, I birthed the placenta. They prepared my herb bath and Willow and I took a wonderful bath together, which we would also do for the next 5 days.
We left the placenta intact for a couple hours. After we were ready to cut the cord, Jamie suggested that I do it, since he got to cut Audrey’s cord. That was another really awesome experience. And apparently I had the longest umbilical cord anyone had ever seen. 🙂
Welcome to the world, little Willow Grace. You are loved beyond measure!
Special thanks to:
my partner/husband/doula/utility man: Jamie
my brave and amazing daughter: Audrey
my amazing birth team: Pam, Meghan and Lori
my birth photographer: Erin
Audrey’s birth partner: Jesika
Cincy homebirth mamas who shared supplies and wisdom
my placenta encapsulator: Tiffany
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