(I'm sharing Katie's birth story as a way to encourage you in your own. For women everywhere, power and strength is possible, and courage can be found. Be blessed and thank you for reading and supporting us in this journey!)
My second time giving birth was the same, and yet completely different to the first.
Camillas birth was mostly everything I knew that I wanted. I can see now in hindsight that it was fast progressing and I went into shock, I was shouty and panicy, but at the time I wasn't aware that happened, I only had happy memories. I kept saying to my midwife "If I could just have a repeat of Camilla's birth then that would be perfect".
I didn't see how I could possibly have it any better!
Being my second I felt much more clued on to the options that were available to me (not just physically, but mentally and emotionally as well) and the things that I wanted and how I wanted them done. I felt I could prepare much better this time around as I knew what I was heading into. Believe me, I did a lot of research heading into my first home birth, but this time I was more aware as to how my particular body and mind coped, and what I would like to do differently to support that.
Physically we planned the same birth - to be at home and in water.
But to be different, in a nutshell: I wanted to feel much more in control of the labour - I wanted to be able to listen to my body instead of a text book and a clock, I wanted a whole range of natural tools to manage the pain if I needed to, and I wanted to feel strong and powerful rather than filled with fear. We also planned to be much more organised and set up for the birth at the beginning of labour, rather than waiting for it to progress (my last labour was 6 hours but the last stage happened very quickly and we didn't get the water birth we hoped for, and we expected this one to be even faster.)
I had been feeling uncomfortable on Snow Day (Friday) while I was 39 weeks pregnant. I didn't think anything of it though. The last few weeks of pregnancy leave you with lots of niggles, aches and pains. We had a great day at home that Friday, snow was on the ground and Milla and I built huts and read books all afternoon. I had received a handmade hot-water bottle cover gifted from my friend Deb that morning from the courier and Nanny Moo2 had braved the snow to gift us a new fan heater and PJs. (These 3 things actually completed our "to get" list for the birth, it was perfect timing).
Graeme went out on Friday night to play poker at a friends house. I spent the evening cleaning and organising. I just knew the baby was coming. I set up the lounge as our birthing area with as many things off our check list as I could. I also text my two support friends, Dawn and Amanda, to warn them that I may be going into labour at some point in the night.
Katies bunting was hung as a last minute touch and I went to bed excited. In bed I downloaded a contraction timing app and phoned Graeme and warned him that he should probably come home at a respectable hour and to be prepared that I might go into labour during the night.
I woke up Graeme and told him this was it, we needed to get organised. He asked to pray for us, and we told God how excited we were to meet out little girl and asked him to look after all of us. Then we both jumped out of bed and got into action.
I stopped timing the contractions after that first half an hour. I really wanted to be able to connect with my body and have it tell me what was happening and to go with it rather than being told what should be happening.
Our beloved midwife and support girls were called along with Nanny to pick up Milla. One by one they arrived. Our midwife, Janine, arrived straight away. I was given an IV in my hand which was another pre-planned tool we had. I wasn't so good at the last stage of labour last time and lost a lot of blood, this was a "just incase" (it wasn't used in the end, I aced that last stage!)
The heaters were on, the pool was filled up, the lights off and the fairy lights on. It truly felt perfect; like a dim hot nest for me to be in. I so enjoy labouring in my own space. I really cant use words to do the scene justice. It was completely perfect. I felt so comfortable.
I laboured completely differently this time around. I really tried to feel in touch and in control of the contractions and my body and to go with them rather than against them. Instead of talking and yelling my head off (like last time) my labouring was much more gutteral this time, I "ooo'ed" and "mmmmm'ed"and "hummmm'ed" and pushed myself into our couch and pillows. Graeme applied hard pressure to my lower back, another thing that was different (last time I didn't want anyone to touch me). We had practiced acupressure but in the moment I preferred the rounded feeling of his lower palms, I felt like I was able to communicate that really clearly and knew what I wanted, and Graeme was really responsive to my needs and was able to fulfill them.
I talked and made bad jokes in between contractions (apparently I'm the chattiest in labour person my midwife has come across - yuss!). I felt like I was having fun, it was a real joy to have everyone there. It felt exciting and I had a little buzz within me.
I looked around and appreciated that every single person in the room was there because they loved us. I thanked them over and over again. Knowing why they were there made everything all the more special and I felt so supported and loved in those moments. They were very defining in how relaxed and peaceful I felt. And I really did feel peaceful. Everything just felt so... right.
It was time for me to get into the pool which felt like instant relief. The weightlessness, the warmth; My body felt wrapped up and supported and it was the best relief. I'm so glad we made the effort to prepare for a water birth again!
Once in the pool it took a while for my next contraction to come, Graeme sat beside the pool and whispered his story about getting Milla out of bed and Nanny taking her away. His eyes welled up as he told me how she responded to hearing that we were having the baby, just like how she does with her baby books. I could see the love in his teary eyes. He loves that girl with everything he has and I felt so much gratitude then in knowing I was about to give him another little girl, knowing he would love her completely too. He's a good husband and Daddy, we are so blessed.
The contractions resumed and I was in the pool for about 25 minutes when I started to lose the grip on my control, I started to say "I couldn't do it" - the mantra of Transition. Dawn was sitting right in front of me and I saw her face light up as she recognised that saying from her own three labours, her face shone with joy and I remembered that the baby must be close.
Moments later I announced that I needed to push, which I spent 6 minutes doing. I could feel every movement and every millimeter that she decended. That sensation was so real, I could feel her moving out. I didn't get that with Camilla, it was all hasty at the end and I had to push her out in one go. But with Katie I could take our time. She slowly (actually, rather quickly) decended, and I waited for her to turn, then finally her head.
Throughout the labour and pushing I spoke to Katie and my different body parts out loud. I was so aware that Katie was doing a lot of hard work too, having to squeeze through all those bones, I wanted to make the journey for her as painless as possible. I commanded everything else to open up for her and to do as they were supposed to do. I really did feel so strong and powerful. I believed everything I was saying and I really do think that my body listened to my commands.
Katie was born at 4.10am on Saturday morning.
My midwife caught her and brought her up and around to me. I wept dry tears of happiness. She was quiet and warm and placed in my arms. She was breathing so quietly almost as if she was sleeping. We cuddled in the water with Graeme's arms around us while I blew on her face and we spoke to her, our Daughter. Finally she gave a tiny little cry, my heart sighed of relief. I kept saying thank you over and over again, and an indescribable, involuntary tongue slipped passed my lips, what I can only guess as being a thanksgiving prayer.
We sat for a very long moment and soaked her in. She was so tiny and so beautiful, absolutely perfect.
I moved from the pool to my birth mat set up with blankets and pillows for a comfortable last stage, along with the biggest umbilical chord my two midwives have laid their eyes on. I needed a few stitches, which was nothing compared to last time (and have already healed now, unlike needing further surgery months later last time).
Katie began to latch, cups of tea and toast were made for everyone involved and I was the happiest woman alive.
My support girls left after a long while tidying up and took my washing with them. Then we were tucked up in bed with Katie snoozing naked on Graeme's chest our midwife did a final check and left at 8am. We slept till 11am together in our own bed.
Our friends had changed our sheets and rehung Katies Bunting above our bed. One of my favourite parts of having a home birth is slipping into a clean bed with a naked baby and a handsome husband, skin to skin for hours, it's a breeding ground for Oxytocin.
From my first contraction the labour took just over 2 and a half hours and I spent 6 minutes pushing. It was much quicker than my last 6 hour labour but it felt like the perfect amount of time. Nothing about it felt rushed or out of control, everything was organised and peaceful and felt completely normal.
I love Katie's birth. Every part of it happened with peace, strength and power just like I had hoped and prepared for. I felt completely supported through every moment and if I knew that I was doing it all again tonight I would go into it confidently, just as I did that Saturday morning. It was an empowering experience and one that I feel blessed for having. My lasting memories of it will be of joy with an excited buzz and a peaceful calmness.
I am so glad I spent all those months preparing myself mentally, spiritually and physically. I was in a different mental place this time around and I believe my labour experience and Katie's birth reflected that.
I am so thankful for those who were there:
Graeme - My man who knows how to read a check list and how to read my mind.
Dawn - For those strong hands and your joy at me saying "I couldn't do it"
Amanda - All those hot jugs you boiled! I so appreciate your braveness at supporting me in a home birth.
Janine - My incredible midwife who believes in bodies and birth, you empower woman!
Jo - My back up midwife, thank you for coming all the way from Diamond Habour in the middle of the night!! (And on a day you were competing in a big ocean swim comp! Incredible!)
Nanny and Poppa - For taking Milla at 3am and her being cool about it really helped me. It was so nice to know she would be having a great time with you!
And God - thank you for being with us.
Camilla's Home Birth (my first daughter)
Everything I've written about Home Births
Katie's Monthly updates
Katie's First Day Of Life