McKinley's story started a lot like Kayleigh's - my due date came and went without any signs of labor. Fortunately this time I was much more prepared emotionally and mentally than I was the first time I went "over" and it probably helped that I was a lot more educated as well about "due" dates.
My due date was on a Wednesday and by the weekend I planned to start doing all the things to get labor started - miles circuit, walking, etc. I am a believer that a baby will come when he/she is ready, but I was also ready to have this little one. Whatever I could do to help my body, I was all for. My birthday was on Friday and I took the day off to relax with Kayleigh then we went to dinner as a family of 3. I was grateful to spend my birthday not in labor haha that night I was pretty convinced with how relaxed I was that labor would start.
When that didn't happen, I consulted with my doula, Jenny, and we agreed to a list of things to try.
I was in the middle of doing the miles circuit when Kayleigh woke up during her nap and was throwing up. A quick stomach bug took her down then it got Tim on Sunday. I knew that since I had to take care of them, my body was stressed and wouldn’t go into labor. By Monday they were both on the mend and I went to get acupuncture done with my best friend Leah ( I was 40+5). I knew at this point we wouldn’t have a February baby but was excited for the March birthday.
I went to bed Monday night very relaxed, listening to Christian Hypnobirthing. At 1:30 am (same exact time as with Kayleigh) I woke up to a contraction! For the next half hour I laid in bed and tried to sleep. By 2, I was moving around to find a comfortable position and Tim woke up so I told him it was likely baby day. At 2:30 I texted my birth team to inform them I was in early labor. We tried to sleep but by 4am the contractions were too uncomfortable to lay down through so I got up. I ate some breakfast and Tim worked a bit as we sat in our room - me doing hip circles on the exercise ball.
By 6 I called Leah to get up and come over since Kayleigh would be waking up soon. Between 6-7am the contractions were about 5 minutes apart but nothing too strong yet. When Kayleigh got up at 7, Celeste said she and Patricia (the midwives) would pack up and come my way. I got anxious because I felt I was still in early labor and with Kayleigh up, things spaced out a bit.
The midwives stopped at Panera for breakfast while Leah took Kayleigh to daycare and I tried to relax. At 8:45 Leah and I started walking up and down the street as Jenny our doula arrived. The walking and talking helped relax me and contractions got stronger and closer together again. We stopped and went in to eat more breakfast when the midwives arrived at 9:30. I asked for a cervical check and I was 4-5 centimeters dilated, super squishy, baby was at zero station, and my bag of water was bulging. I was really happy with knowing where I was at.
The midwives went downstairs and the rest of us finished setting up the birth space with more affirmations and the pool. Being in my room and relaxing helped calm my nerves more and allowed me to surrender to labor.
From 10-12, I stayed upstairs and chatted with Leah and Jenny as the contractions picked up. Jenny noticed a change and started to coach me through my breathing and when to change positions. I rotated from leaning on the birth ball to lunging then leaning over the bed. We ate snacks and talked like it was the most normal day (which it is, birth is a normal process!)
Time is a blur for me but Jenny kept encouraging me to try a new movement or position every half hour and she suggested talking a walk outside. I quickly shot that down because I wasn't confident in my ability to do the stairs anymore. So instead we walked down the hall to check out the nursery. I had a few contractions in there and quickly wanted to go back to my room to go to the bathroom and get more comfortable.
Now let me just say, going to the bathroom when in labor is my least favorite thing. I knew the toilet was referred to as the "dialation station" but HOT damn! By this point of being in active labor, I couldn't go pee quick enough in between contractions so I'd end up having to ride a wave while sitting down and it was the most intense feeling. Tim cracked jokes and held my hands every time.
At noon the birth tub was being filled and Jenny put the TENS unit on my back. (TENS is an abbreviation of Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation) What a game changer that was!
During the contractions I turned up the tempo of the back stimulation which helped distract my mind. The counter pressure everyone had been doing helped but this made a difference as things got more intense. The contractions were tough but doable with the breathing and counter pressure, only a few caught me off guard and I lost myself in.
Around 12:30, Celeste told me I could get in the tub anytime I wanted to. For those new to water birth, there's a fine balance between water relaxing you too much and slowing labor down or it relaxing you to help carry you through the toughest parts of labor. I had a little crisis thinking I couldn’t do it. What if the water didn’t provide as much relief as promised? I was nervous because I was heavily relying on Tim and Jenny's physical support up until now but I got in at 12:33 and it was the most amazing feeling. I’ve never felt so relaxed in my entire life.
I had been upright for most of the morning and my legs were tired so the warm water immediately brought me relief. I kneeled down and laid my head on a pillow as Jenny poured water over my back. I had one contraction that I noticed but I barely felt it, practically sleeping through it. Looking back, I was clearly in transition and didn’t know it. I thought to myself that I could do this for hours if needed and be a-okay! No quicker than I had that thought, I felt a contraction come on and my body start pushing, so I gave a little push and my water broke, and baby come barreling down the birth canal as my body continued pushing. It was the most intense feeling and I started to scream (I knew I wouldn't be a quiet birthing mama!) which clued the group into the fact that I was pushing.
Less than 2 minutes later the next contraction came and I pushed (and vocalized, loudly) but baby wasn’t coming. With Celeste’s help, we got baby’s shoulders out and Tim caught our newest little one.
Tim held McKinley while Celeste and Leah helped me flip over and get seated on the stool in the tub. Tim handed me our new baby and told me how proud he was of me and that was had another girl! I was still reeling from the intensity of the last 5 minutes that I could hardly catch my breath but I'll never forget the look in his eyes when he told me that. He was beaming with joy, love, and amazement.
We stayed cuddled in the tub together, with Tucker also trying to jump in, for 20 minutes or so. In that time, I delivered the placenta and bonded with McKinley. It was clear she wanted to nurse but I couldn't get into a good position so we got out of the tub and into bed.
She was born at 12:46 pm weighing 8 pounds and 21 inches long!
By 3pm, the whole birth team had helped me shower, cleaned my house, did the newborn screening, fed me, and packed up to leave.
All in all, having a home birth was such an incredible experience and I can’t wait to do it again someday. My biggest worry was that I wouldn’t be able to handle the intensity (I had an epidural with Kayleigh) but honestly, it almost felt easy and dare I say fun! I truly enjoyed experiencing the entire labor and delivery process.
I had heard homebirth can be addictive and I couldn't agree more. Talking about birth and pregnancy is a passion of mine, especially physiological birth. If you have any questions or are interested in learning more about it, my "door" is open!
Jordan Zabama of @amichiganmama on instagram
Jordan is a mama to two beautiful girls and wife to Tim, living in Michigan. Her blog, A Michigan Mama, is to chronicle her life as a mother and share all she learns along the way with other mamas.