by Kristen, USA
I wasn't sure how to expect labor to begin with this baby, but felt pretty sure it would go quickly once it did start. Waiting on this little one was full of many anxieties, as I worried about feelings of downward pressure, and got stressed about being stressed! Mostly I wanted my baby to stay in until 40 weeks, and felt like I had so much to do to “be ready” for this little one.
Thankfully the LORD was good and I was able to get pretty much everything “done” and then had a week to just putter and enjoy feeling those last kicks, hiccups, and little arms and legs sliding around inside of me.
The moon over our barn the night of Sadie's birth
Saturday night, the 31st, I went to bed and just could not sleep. I got up repeatedly to use the bathroom – first just to pee, then to pee and poop. I was very tired and really, really wanted some rest. Maybe labor would have begun in earnest then if I hadn't been so intent on actually getting sleep! I'd fall asleep only to be jarred awake by the need to pee or a particularly sharp feeling of pressure. Still I stubbornly went back to bed to try and sleep. I figured maybe I'd finally sleep for a couple of hours, then the baby could come at dawn, like Corwin had.
I did finally get to sleep around 2am and slept well until around 5am, then off and on again until 7am. I was grateful for the rest, and I was excited when I went to the bathroom and wiped to see a little bit of show on the toilet paper. This was the first time I'd had “early birthing time” show in a few babies. We walked the dog and took care of our goats and I was feeling pretty sure that things would pick up and I'd meet my baby. But that didn't happen.
I texted our birth photographer to let her know what was going on and then everything pretty much stopped. I'd have pressure and light rushes here and there, but really nothing. I felt distracted and unable to focus on anything (usually I can and do take every spare moment to fit something I need to do in). I just felt really off and almost distraught. Scott thinks this is because the house was so noisy (our house is always noisy when the kids are awake) and I was essentially holding the baby back – subconsciously if not consciously.
Scott set up the birth tub that morning (February 1st) and filled it throughout the course of the afternoon, which both comforted me and worried me. It worried me since I thought everything had stalled. I was happy to have a nice nap in the afternoon without lots of rushes waking me up, as had happened the night before. But by suppertime I really wanted to know what was going on with baby.
We took another walk that evening, then got the kids to bed and the house was finally quiet. I still didn't feel settled or sure of what to do. I said something about calling my midwives, and I should have called them then, but decided to time rushes instead to see where they were. They were around 10 minutes apart, but were getting more intense. I was sitting on the couch but found I needed to stand up and rock my hips when they came along.
I did this for awhile, went to the bathroom some, sat on my birth ball a little bit – I felt focused only when a rush came along and I swayed with it. Otherwise I still felt unsure and apprehensive. We finally called Kathi – I think around 9pm – to let her know what was happening. She needed to talk to me which made me feel really grumpy but I think I was pretty civil on the phone 😉 I told her Scott would say they should come over – rushes were 5-6 minutes apart at this point. We called the photographer right after calling the midwives.
I put on a tank top and an “around the house” jersey knit skirt, thinking I'd try and sway through the pressure waves for awhile before getting into the tub (I'm always worried about getting in too soon). I only had a few rushes, though, before Scott suggested I get into the tub. He reminded me that I had a nice long time in the tub with Corwin because I'd gone ahead and gotten in, but only a short time with Galen and Honor because I'd stalled with both of them. That made sense and thankfully I listened to him and got in!
This picture is actually after Sadie's birth – I was facing Scott while birthing her. But it has the candles and fire 🙂
Scott lit a fire in the fireplace and some candles and I settled into the tub. It was at this point, finally, that I began to feel more settled, and more confident about where I was at and that this baby was actually coming to us.
Getting in the tub signals to my body that it's really time to move because things really picked up at that point! Scott could see the clock on the wall, though I couldn't. He said they were about 3 minutes apart and lasting 2 minutes each! It didn't feel like they were that long to me, though.
I did glance at the clock once to see what time it was – Scott's mom really wanted Sadie to be born on February 1st so she would share a birthday with Nana Bonnie's very first grandbaby (and Sadie did come on the 1st!!).
But otherwise I paid attention only to what was happening with me and within me. I knew that the baby was getting close because the rushes were so intense. Between them I sat in kind of a semi-squat position, but during each rush I got up on my knees and held on to Scott. He had a t-shirt on and I said it was going to get soaked – and of course he said he didn't care.
At one point Scott looked at me and said I was so beautiful! And so stubborn (for not believing that “this was it”). And that made me smile. We talked and laughed and smiled at several things between contractions, though I don't remember all of them even now only a few days later! I know that it was sweet and wonderful.
Close-up of the candles on the mantle during Sadie's birth
During each rush I put my arms around Scott and breathed along with him (as best I could when it got really intense). It helped me to wrap my fingers around in his hair and think about that during the rushes. As each one was ending I kissed Scott's cheek (several times), which has consistently been helpful to me as I birthed our babies – I think just helping get some of that incredible energy out to another person!
I did reach and see what I could feel between a couple of contractions, and felt that sweet curving baby head, though my untrained fingers don't know much more than that. I just know that I love that feeling and my fingers have it memorized for eternity.
Then I felt my water break – just a small relief of pressure – and her head start to come down. I couldn't say anything right away, but did manage after a moment to say “baby is coming.” Then I had to bring my hand down to my tissues. I could feel the incredible stretch and it felt to me like her head was taking a long time to crown and pass over my tissues – I actually pushed a little bit with my hands trying to help her head out. I wasn't as dedicated with doing the Internal Work during this pregnancy as I was during my pregnancy with Corwin and this is one thing I would go back and change. I didn't tear, but I feel like getting her head out was a little tougher than Corwin's.
When her head was born I was able to breathe for a moment and tell Scott that the head was born and I sat back just slightly and for just a moment. I don't know how long it was but it wasn't very long – I don't even think another rush – before her shoulders started coming. Those took some work too, and her body, but I knew she was coming steadily. Then the most perfect moment – I said to Scott “here's our baby” and started to bring her up through the water. I can still picture that instant in my mind – I noticed her head had some slight molding and just watched her little body come up through the water.
I was in the middle of the tub at that point, and brought her close to me. I'm not sure if it was at this moment that I looked to see if she was a girl or boy, or if it was when I was going to lean back against the side of the tub – but I think it was at this moment that I looked past her cord and saw that she was a girl.
I watched her and saw that she looked good but wasn't breathing much yet. I gave her a little breath, and then another, and then I could hear her gurgling and working to come around. I talked to her softly, encouraging her, and when I was sure she was going, had Scott help me lean back against the tub with her.
Scott snapped this picture with his phone just minutes after Sadie arrived – 4 minutes, exactly. It feels to me like it was much longer than 4 minutes between her birth and me sitting back – but it was only 4!
We had about 20 minutes or so after Sadie arrived all to ourselves, just looking at her and watching her and it was so nice. Quiet and peaceful, a very perfect family birth!
Kathi arrived and quietly came in – she said later she could tell that the baby was already here 🙂 Shortly after she arrived, Katy and Colleen (our great photographer) arrived. Colleen started snapping pictures right away. Even though I'm sad I don't have pictures of the actual birth, I really treasure the ones Collen got after she arrived. The older kids all woke up as everyone was coming in, and they came to the den at that point.
There are so many good pictures, so I'll put just a few and save the rest for the gallery!!
I could feel the membranes of Sadie's amniotic sac trailing out, but the placenta wasn't coming. I reached up to feel and could feel the placenta sitting, ready to come. I tried pushing and it wouldn't come, I think because of the way I was partially reclining in the tub. Kathi said they could get the birth stool for me to push on and I said I'd like that. I'd pushed Galen's placenta out on a birth stool and it worked well then.
They got that set up quickly and helped me get out of the tub. I was able to hold onto Sadie while I got out and cuddle her on the stool. I didn't really wait for them to set up – I just wanted that placenta out! I pushed as soon as I could and it came right out (luckily Kathi had the pan ready). We weren't really particular about who cut the umbilical cord, so I ended up being the one to do it. I think this is the first baby's I've cut myself!
I asked Katy to cut Sadie's cord off of her placenta and we dried it coiled up (I had read about this in another birth story). It dried with the inner vessels making a heart shape in the center – neat!
Kathi helped me head to the bedroom at that point, where I snuggled in with Sadie. She'd nursed quite a bit in the birth tub, but wanted to nurse even more in the bedroom. She latched on like a champ and has been a good nurser since then. I did have a really hard time starting the next morning and lasting for about 28-30 hours – until my milk came in. Sadie wanted to be latched on constantly and I was incredibly sore and she was very fussy. Thankfully I remembered this from Corwin. Both were big babies and I think they wanted milk and not colostrum! But it was challenging for me, and I mention it in case it helps you get through an initial challenging point 🙂
Sadie nursed quite awhile, then we did the newborn exam and all looked good. Sadie weighed in at 9lbs even! I remember Katy saying “she's a big head of cabbage” when I said I thought she was big but wasn't sure how big 😉
After the newborn exam the midwives wrapped up and we snuggled in for the night – and we all slept very well! It was a lovely birth, and we're so happy to have our sweet Sadie Grace.
(NOTE: Want Real Mom Tested Techniques for Handling Labor Pain? Use these 11 proven natural childbirth techniques to handle labor and keep things moving right along. Get them here.)