It’s been three whole days since our most recent baby boy made his way into the world. It’s a bit unnerving knowing how fleeting these precious moments of the newborn stage are and just how quickly they slip by. In three short days, he’s already looks more like a tiny man-to-be than a baby and has noticeably changed, even in the smallest ways. Time really does go by too quickly.
I keep replaying the events of the birth in my head. Even having been through all of it once during the excrutiatingly long, intense, mostly natural labor when Jude was born, I was surprised as the events unfolded and in the ways they compared and contrasted to the first time. I was merely along for the emotional and physical ride that giving birth takes one on. What an amazing experience it was.
After we were less than satisfied with the uphill battles we faced while in the hospital for Jude’s birth, we decided that we needed to find a new set of birth options for our subsequent babies. Birthing at home was something that seemed to fit well for our needs and desires. After meeting with our home birth midwife for the first time, we knew instantly it was a great match and that we felt not only comfortable with but excited about birthing in our own home. The conveniences & comfort of being in our own space, taking things at our own pace was just as appealing as not having to pack up a hospital bag.
We preferred to birth in a tub and finally decided where to place it – in a spare space near the windows in our bedroom. It was close to the bathroom and shower, well lit, peaceful. We thought it’d be the perfect spot to bring a new baby into the world. And it was.
Malachi William was born on 12/19 (three days after his estimated due date) at 6:51pm, after a solid 8 hours of active labor. I had mild contractions starting at 11pm the night before into the wee hours of the morning. Eric’s parents picked up Jude for the day around 6:30am and by 9am, labor started to progress quite quickly. Our midwife arrived around 10:45 and magically flipped our bedroom into a space set up with all of the necessary supplies. We lit some candles and played my well-rounded birthing playlist (which has given me a rush of emotions every time I’ve listened to it since labor with Jude). We took it one contraction at a time; in my opinion, the only possible way to get through a labor. Focusing on something other than the present moment becomes overwhelming and I remember having to clear my head a few times when I found myself over-anticipating or thinking of how much longer it’d go on. As much discomfort as they cause, each contraction is one step closer to holding your baby in your arms. It’s the hardest work I’ve ever done, but the most meaningful and the most rewarding. Times would come and go where we would be silent, focusing on the work being done. We laughed, joked, reminisced in between.
Labor actively progressed until around 2pm when contractions were still regular and strong, yet we seemed to have plateaued. I’d been laboring in the water for about two hours at that point and I think being weightless, calm and moving minimally kept things from progressing more quickly than they did. I decided to get out of the birthing tub for a bit to walk around and try new positions, which did help labor progress. My midwife observed that the baby could be in a less than ideal position with his hands near his face, preventing a full dilation and perhaps a cervical misalignment. She manually adjusted it and the contractions immediately intensified. (The baby did have his hands up near his face, perhaps sucking his thumb, and it created a cervical lip.) There was an intense internal pressure bearing down on seemingly every direction inside me. Eric, my midwife, her apprentice and my sister each physically helped me through the pressure and intense contractions with massage techniques, head rubbing, and even simple hand squeezes. We made it through about two more hours of this intensity until it became so intense that I had to push to break my water to alleviate the pressure, except the feeling of pushing just sounded too intense to bear. The best way I can describe it is that someone was asking me to tickle myself – not something you can fathom doing or really let yourself do – the instinct would be to do the opposite. I tried a few positions to push – one foot up on the bed while standing, using a birthing stool, on all fours on the bed, etc. I finally decided to try a back lay which is one of the most counterproductive ways to push, working against gravity and thus making it harder. But I needed to take the rest of the weight of my body off so I could focus on bearing down in the correct place. After a couple super intense contractions, it worked. My water erupted (much like exactly what happens in the movies)and the insanely intense pressure was gone. It was time to push the baby out!
I was quite tired and feeling the need to conserve energy, so when my midwife asked if I wanted to birth in the tub, I said that the bed was fine. We could already see the baby’s head, so I didn’t want to prolong anything at all by moving. My midwife knew I had it in my heart to birth in the tub and said something like “You really wanted to birth in the tub and if you’re going to, you’ve got to get in NOW – he’s coming any second.” That was all it took for me to hop up and into the tub, and I’m just so, so glad she reminded me in my moment of labor-clouded judgement and so, so glad I did. I jumped in and used the sides of the tub as leverage and pushed into them with my feet. Malachi was born 14 minutes and 3 pushes later. Eric caught him and placed him on my chest.
The midwives let us have a few moments to acclimate to and admire our new guy while they began cleanup. Malachi nursed. We were blown away with emotion and our hearts doubled with the amount of love they could hold.
Malachi received his newborn exam and was weighed. I had a postpartum check and they prepared the bathroom for me to shower. While I showered, the midwives changed the bedsheets and room and prepped it for our first postpartum night’s sleep. My sister went to pick up what I’d been craving – a wood fired pizza, and we ate it while chatting about the birth. We were all on cloud nine.
Birthing at home was such an intimate, special, incredible experience that we cannot be more pleased with the outcome of. It was just, dare I say it — easy. Simple. Free of distraction, time limits or agendas. Just a beautiful team of people who believed in the capabilities of my body and the baby’s intuition. It was perfect. We are so smitten with our new little man and being a family of four.
(Eric squeezing and massaging my hips through the discomfort)
(overwhelemed with emotion: feeling grateful be going through the experience and also excited to bring another child into the world)
(feeling weightless in the water)
(Malachi getting weighed – 8lb 8oz)
(getting ready to make his fashionable debut)