Sorry, I couldn’t help myself with the title.
Our second child, and first little darling girl was born March 19th, 2015 at 1:36AM. Her arrival, although anticipated, being 40 weeks plus 2 days, took us by surprise! But before I share with you our short but incredibly sweet birth story I want to share a bit about this pregnancy, more for my own reflective benefit than anything else. 🙂
Finding out we were expecting was, as it often is, a surprise. Honour was still nursing occasionally which meant that our chances of conceiving were low to none and this was a bit bothersome to me. It was not that I was ready to jump onto the baby train but I at least wanted to feel in control of when we would have our next child. This was not possible at this point which frustrated me! Our feelings changed daily about whether we were ready for a second child and we flipped back and forth between desperately wishing we were pregnant to being thankful we were exactly where we were in life.
Upon discovering our growing bundle in my belly my emotions did not sky rocket with excitement as I assumed they would. I stayed very unattached to the idea and was obviously quite distracted with raising our toddler and keeping a safe and loving home for my family. I had also just jumped with two feet into the birthing business and knew this would be put on hold for some time. I was not resentful of being pregnant or even negative, more along the lines of indifferent. Not growing with excitement as my belly bulged like everyone else was a difficult emotion to handle. I felt guilty and undeserving of the beautiful child I was carrying. I was also working through the second child transition. The guilt was strong for taking away the ‘only child’ stage for my son, the transition I knew it would be for our family, as well as the fear of the unknown, entering a world with two dependant little ones.
As time carried on I became more and more aware of being pregnant, you know what I am talking about: the people approaching you in stores, everyone questioning if you think it is a girl or a boy (which we did not know until birth), loved ones asking how they can best support you post partum. It was during this time my heart started to shift. I reached out to families with multiple children for advice and wisdom, began explaining to our son the changes coming and the friend he would have in the little baby currently growing in mummy’s tummy. I sorted through our newborn clothing, blankets and cloth diapers and began preparing our home for our baby. I was getting excited. Honour was, for the most part, getting excited and asking when the baby would ‘pop out’ and Ben was always sensitive and supportive to both me and our very active unborn babe. Little things began to link her to our family. Honour anticipating our midwife visits so he could help measure the baby and listen to her heart beat, the fact that she almost always got hiccups daily which is a classic Clarke trait (my mum’s side), while Honour may have had them once in utero. My heart had officially shifted and I was in love and waiting for the moment we could all meet this precious gift.
We finally reached 40 weeks and the messages all came through! Happy St Patricks day and happy due date! I had never waited for a child before as Honour entered our lives at 38 weeks, taking us off guard with his punctuality…or impatience maybe? I was at peace though with waiting for our little one to take her time and trigger her own labour when she was ready. As desperately as I wanted to stop being pregnant and just hold our child I tried to patiently wait and bask in those last days of being a Mum to one. It was a special time and I am thankful for those days as there is no going back now 🙂
Now for the big event. I had come to terms with waiting. I was at peace with even holding off another two weeks if needed but that was when Journey gave the go ahead. I feel it may be connected, the relaxation I found in being ok with the possible wait and my body being calm enough to kick things off? Who knows, but whatever it was things started around 630 PM on the 18th. And when I say started I mean not much. I was sitting finishing dinner with my Mum and Honour as Ben was out for a couple hours when I noticed some tightening in my belly. There was no pain involved so I assumed they were some good ole braxton hicks preparing my body for labour. I did not get my hopes up as I had experienced these earlier in my pregnancy and knew they could go on for a long time and not mean anything special at all except that my body was getting ready. My mum left later on and things began to get a little more intense but not enough that I would have considered timing or worrying about my contractions. Pre labour can be a pesky thing so until things started showing a stronger, longer, closer together pattern I was not going to fuss with timing or getting myself worked up. Honour’s labour, from first contraction to birth took 30 hours so wtih this in mind I knew that pre labour can start, stop, start, stop or go on for days…I was ok with waiting and did not want to tire myself out early in the game. I put our little man to bed and called Ben who was on his way home and it was 830 at this point. I shared with him that I had been having light contractions but that they were not regular and I was just going to go on about my night and try to lay down after we had watched a bit of a show together.
By 10 I was ready to shut off the tv and try to lie down. My contractions were getting a bit more intense but still spaced out so I wanted to try to rest between them in case we had a long night ahead of us and I definitely did not want the experience the exhaustion I did with my previous labour. As anyone who has laboured before knows, laying down sucks. I was absolutely exhausted by 10, unusually so, and knew I had to rest. I managed to lay uncomfortably dozing on and off between contractions for about an hour..after that I had to get up. No matter how tired I was I knew I needed to walk, to sway and to help the contractions feel less intense. I knelt next to our bed and rested my head between contractions. Honour came wandering into our room around this time and gently held my hand as he dozed off next to his dad.
This brought us to 1130 and I was up walking. Ben joined me once he knew our little guy was out and I truly feel his presence brought a peace to my mind and things began to progress as I leaned against his shoulder. We again tried to put on a movie to watch as we still were not convinced this was the real thing…that did not last long as I was up and down to the toilet after every contractions…another sign of labour. Finally, at 1 AM I threw up and my water broke at the same time…thankfully Ben was there to witness that haha. Oh the love our men have for their women 🙂 I can honestly say that at this point I was still in denial. Water breaking is not like you see on tv…it does not always mean you are about to give birth as some women wait days post water breaking or like Honour’s birth it was a decision I made to have mine broken to help progress labour. So, this time I thought I could still have hours but no. Within 15 minutes I got extremely hot (a sign of almost being ready to push, also called transition), I had three incredibly intense contractions one after the other…to the point I was ready to call my midwife and tell her to meet us at the hospital as I was getting some pain meds. I knew that if the contractions were that intense and were going to last for hours I was done with this natural birth thing. Well Journey had other plans. As I leaned into Ben for those insane contractions I told him I had the urge to push…actually that I was pushing. I told him to call Soheyla, our midwife, as I got down on my knees and leaned against the coffee table. From his perspective he thought I was just overcome with pain and that we were not as far along as I was exclaiming but when he shared the news with our midwife by phone her seriousness caught him off guard 🙂 Soheyla knew we were close to holding our child and told Ben to call EMS to be there just in case. Ben dialed 911, and they were here within 2 minutes. I was still on my knees when they walked in and asked if I would like to get on my back…hahahahaha. Try telling a women who is pushing her baby out to change positions, let alone get into one that closes her pelvis 30% and creates the worst scenario for pushing. I told them between pushes that I was fine where I was.
They stood by and just kept an eye on the situation which was calming for Ben and appreciated by me that they did not try to interfere with me birthing my baby.
I reached down as Journey began to crown and told Ben….the baby is coming, I can feel the head. With another two pushes she entered my arms and filled our hearts. I sank from my knees to the floor and it took a good minute or two to realize we did not even know if we had a little boy or a little girl…a girl it was 🙂 Journey Susan Dawn was her name.
Midwives, Mum and sister showed up within 15-30 minutes and all was well. We did it. We caught our own child with help standing by just in case. I would not be one to advocate an unassisted birth as I truly believe as natural and safe as homebirthing is, it still needs to be respected for the amazing and powerful experience it is. Women were born to birth but problems do arise that a trained midwife can handle better than myself or my husband. I do know that for my next birth, if there is one, it will be as untouched by others as possible. Professionals will be there just in case but I want this experience again…empowered, in control, grounded, driven by instinct and catching my own child as they enter this world. They have been inside me for 9-10 months and I want to be the one to welcome them onto this earth with my own arms.
Many people have shared statements like, “I can’t believe you did that’, ‘What a strong women catching your own child’ or ‘I don’t know what I would have done’. All I can say is yes, you would have. You could have done it, you would have done it and you are also stronger than you believe. Birthing a child is natural, instinctual and that primal behaviour takes over as you push out your child. Just as your body knows when and how to change positions in labour (if you/your caregivers let it), you can also push out and catch your child without knowing you can. It is within all of us and if you have the chance to let your mind shut off and your body do what it was created to do you can. It isn’t a matter of strength, it is a matter of instinct. You don’t think your way through labour and birth you just do it. If you have the chance to catch your own child…take it and trust yourself! 🙂