We are thrilled and honored to share a very special birth story today. Our guest blogger, Cassandra is a newly minted mother of two - congratulations!! Today she shares the story of Baby P's arrival. It is the complete opposite of last week's marathon labor birth story. She and Baby P definitely had a different path!
Baby P is baby #2 for our family; you can read my son’s home birth story from 2012 here on the blog.
I have been blogging about certain aspects of my second pregnancy on Sweet Pea Families over the course of the last few months; fears, affirmations, newborn essentials, and most recently musings over my labor, what it would be like and who would be there. I had grand visions of a coming together of many women in the late afternoon or evening, laboring peacefully in the birth tub with plenty of laughter and wearing the cute new bra and panty set I purchased to look nice for the photographer that would be there. My daughter would definitely be born in the water since coincidentally her brother, even though we were in the tub, was born over the water. But, as it turns out (again!) babies decide things for themselves and we, as mothers are simply a vessel for whatever their life holds for them.
My son was born at 43 weeks 3 days from my LMP. Dates were ambiguous due to irregular cycles and lack of ultrasounds, but with no vernix, long fingernails and an aging placenta at birth he was definitely a longer cooked baby. Going that far past my “due” date was definitely an emotional time: not knowing what to expect as a first time mom, worrying, comments from family/friends/strangers, etc. etc.
Baby #2 was surprisingly conceived after my first cycle at 25 months postpartum. I got a positive pregnancy test on cycle day 30 and a twelve week and then twenty week ultrasound both matched up with my LMP due date. So, this time was different, we knew! It was always in my mind that maybe I just cooked babies a little slower than most but as the pregnancy progressed I didn't really think there was any way I was going to go past my due date. I was so cramp-y this time, so much more pressure down low, so much more active, I had a completely different lifestyle chasing an almost 3 year old every day than during my first pregnancy. But alas, my due date came and went and then a whole other week passed. At 41 weeks I was having doubts about the baby coming out any time soon and really just couldn’t believe I had gone so far again.
At 41 weeks 1 day, a Monday, I was feeling good and talked with my midwife about just waiting it out another week and seeing what the weekend held. At 41 weeks 2 days, Tuesday, I was totally done being pregnant. My son and I had a great, exhausting day that day. We played at home, went grocery shopping, had a coffee and muffin date and met with a friend at the park to play in the sunshine for 3 whole hours. We came home and made dinner and he stayed up past his bedtime while my midwife came over for our weekly appointment. We chatted about the risks of the pregnancy progressing past 42 weeks, how we (my husband and I) each felt, what natural induction methods she likes to use and ultimately I decided I really just wanted a membrane sweep right then.
I had one with my son that resulted in losing my mucus plug and then starting labor two days later and I was ready. It was the night of a super new moon and I finally felt at ease to try and do something (at this point we weren't employing any kind of help labor start tactics). If my baby and body weren’t ready I trusted that nothing would happen anyways and we would continue waiting.
We were done with the sweep around 7PM with caution from my midwife that there could be spotting and cramps during the night, all totally normal and to try some nipple stimulation if I wanted. My son went to bed and my husband and I settled in on the couch for some Netflix while I hooked up to my breast pump for exactly ten minutes. We went to bed shortly after as we were both really tired from a long day and I fell asleep pretty quickly. I felt cramps on and off through the night in a very sleepy haze, my son slept horribly and was crying most of the night but thankfully my husband was comforting him and I spent most of the night able to drift in and out.
I woke up at 6:40AM and had what felt like bad period cramps, sharp, painful cramps super low in my pelvis that went away very quickly. I wondered if I should still be having cramps 12 hours after the sweep (?) and hoped they would go away soon. I got up to go to the bathroom and brush my teeth and had lots of bowel movements. This used to happen to me every time I had period cramps so I wasn’t surprised; and afterwards laid back down to try and sleep some more until my son woke up.
He was up a little bit after 7AM and I was still having the cramps so I text my husband around 7:15 and asked if he could come home for a little bit to be with our son until these cramps went away. I was fine in bed but T was asking for breakfast, etc. and I just felt icky and wanted to stay resting. He didn’t respond so T and I read books in bed and then looked at photos on my phone. Around 7:45 I was still having them so I called my husband (he hadn’t seen the texts) and asked him if he would just come home from work for a little bit. T and I stayed in bed cuddling, goofing off, laughing and watching videos of him on my phone.
Around 8:30AM my husband finally walks in just as I was about to call him again, he had brought breakfast and I was so happy because I was starving! I used the opportunity to finally get up and go to the bathroom again and the cramps were still coming, fairly frequently and kind of radiating down and out into my pelvis. Definitely still cramps though, did not feel anything like a “contraction”. We decided to call the midwife as she emphasized calling her as soon as I suspected anything since my son was born fairly quickly after active labor began.
I dialed her at 8:37AM and left a message. She instructed on her voicemail that if she didn’t call back in 15 minutes to call our other midwife. Right afterwards I text our photographer, she has a son that she needed to make arrangements for so I wanted to give her as big of a heads up as possible if there was any chance I was going to be in labor today. “Hi it’s Cassandra, I might be in labor today!” I told her about the sweep the night before and that I was just having cramps so I wasn’t sure and I had called my midwife but was just waiting to hear back and that I would keep her updated. After that I came out of the bathroom and tried to lean into our hallway wall during one of the cramps to see if that alleviated the pressure, it didn’t so I headed back to the bathroom. I was starting to think this was a membrane sweep gone horribly wrong and I had brought these insane cramps on myself and now who knew what was going to happen!
I felt much better on the toilet. I would push down into the sides of the toilet seat during the cramps and kept having to pee or poo so it was better anyways. 15 minutes passed so I called our second midwife at 8:51AM. We talked for 8 minutes about what was happening (cramps, mucus tinged with blood, bowel movements) and I had two of the cramps while I was on the phone with her. She said she couldn’t tell I was having them and it sounded like early labor stuff and to try and lie down and rest between them, eat something and to let her know when they seemed to undergo a change. So I got off the toilet and lay down in bed and asked my husband to bring me some pancakes. I was still so hungry and so happy to be eating, I had two bites and then another cramp came and I immediately needed him to take the food away from me. I also did not want to be lying down. There was NO way I could rest; so back to the toilet I went.
I listened to my husband and son playing a Frozen matching card game in the other room and was still trying to understand what might be happening to me. The cramps got stronger and I asked for a chair from the kitchen to put backwards in front of the toilet so I could drape my arms over the back and press into it during the cramps. At 9:17AM I had a cramp that left me shaking and immediately breaking out into sweat all over. This was intense! I text my midwife “Ok getting hot and sweaty and shaky. Can’t rest” and she responded she was on her way. There was also a lot of blood after that and I finally knew this was definitely labor.
Midwife called at 9:21 while she was driving and I couldn’t even really talk to her. I text my photographer at 9:24 and said “Ok def in labor. Midwife coming over now, 15 mins away.” She wrote back that she would be over in about 15 or 20 minutes too! This was when I told my husband to start filling up our tub – it had been inflated and ready to go for weeks and he just needed to fit the cover on it and then add water.
I had wanted to alert my friends from my blessingway when I was in labor and now that midwives and photographer were out of the way I could finally let them know. I sent out a text to everyone in the group at 9:27AM that said “Baby’s coming, send love – need it already <3” I remember trying to make sure that I included everyone and that I was trying to count the names and count the girls in attendance and it was hard for me to concentrate, but I did get everyone! The responses were just starting to come in when my midwife walked in about 9:30AM.
Just before then I was starting to get worried about continuing to do this on my own as my husband was tending to the tub and playing with our son so I was really happy to see her. She asked if I was pushing and I was kind of caught off guard, pushing!? No way, what? I was definitely not pushing! Then another wave came and AH! There was a head! I was pushing!? I half yelled out that I was pushing and she asked if I could feel the baby’s head. I said no but then I barely reached up and the head was right there. She told me I needed to get off the toilet, which was seriously the last thing I wanted to do. She helped me down onto the birth stool where I tried to sit and then hold myself up against her but it was really unstable and I needed to get down. This entire time I could feel baby’s head right there. When I got off the stool I felt her head kind of suck back up a little and wasn’t sure where I was going or what I was doing but I heard hands and knees and I just kind of fell onto the floor in that position, head facing the corner, butt facing the doorway. This all happened in a couple of minutes and soon our photographer, Kirsten, walked in. She was greeted in the bathroom doorway to my bum and then a little bit of baby’s head starting to come out.
On the next push I moaned out so loud and low, it didn’t even really sound like me, I think this was the first noise I made the entire time. I was proud of myself that it was loud and low and not high pitched screaming (like I was with T). I knew I had to keep it that way and gosh the burning, ah! I literally just gave way to the burning, told myself it was happening and just feel it, don’t fight it and then her head was out! I said I wanted the rest of her out, just get her out! but I knew that wasn’t what I really wanted. Tearing so badly again was one of my biggest fears around labor and I knew this was the moment. My midwife told me to pant and I tried but couldn’t really so I started just breathing shortly and blowing raspberries, I could do that and it calmed me down and gave me something to focus on while I just stayed in hands and knees with her head out. I heard my husband say something like oh my gosh eyes! A little nose and mouth, awww! I kept up my breathing/blowing and then all of a sudden her body was out!
She handed her to me and I sat back on the bathroom floor and held her, it was 9:51AM. Not even an hour and a half from when my husband walked in the door with breakfast and our baby was here, so mind blowing.
I felt fantastic. I had so many emotions rush me all at once and I felt energized and ecstatic and it will definitely be engrained in my mind as one of the best moments of my life. I got up and walked to the other room to lie down in bed and seriously just could not believe how great I felt. T was right there in the doorway watching the entire time and once I got settled in bed he climbed right up to touch and kiss his new baby sister.
Needless to say the tub was not filled up enough for me to get in it once I had to get off the toilet and the pictures are not going to be anything like I had imagined. I did not get to diffuse my Serenity blend or light my beeswax candles or stare at the affirmation wall I had created in the bedroom, but I wouldn’t change anything about it. So intense, but so quick and so perfect. It was a beautiful sunny day and after everything was cleaned up we all hung out in bed as a family of four watching movies, reading books and playing games and I couldn’t have even imagined the amount of bliss I felt.
I needed no stitches, which literally made me want to jump up and down and cry out with joy and I have felt pretty great every single day since.
I learned so much from baby P’s birth, there was not a single sensation that felt the same as my last labor and birth. Again, mind blowing. It was a great reminder to throw out any and all expectations I may have surrounding this little girl and being her mama, as we truly are never in control.
Congratulations, Cassandra, Eric, and new big brother T !!
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