As you may have gathered by now if you have been following along, my baby girl is almost one. My emotions are are so conflicted about this milestone. With her, the newborn stage was really hard. At the time, we had a toddler who was just barely learning to use the potty. She had tummy issues which meant a lot of anxiety for me and sleepless nights for us all. I basically spent 4 months straight bouncing on the exercise ball, her happy place. It took some trial and error for us to figure out she could not have dairy or soy through my breastmilk which meant I, as a vegetarian, ended up on a very restricted diet. For these reasons and more, I am so looking forward to her being just a teeny bit older. BUT at the same time, I already miss my tiny nugget. I simply cannot believe it has been an entire year since my belly was as big as a watermelon and we were anxiously awaiting her arrival. Almost a year since she was that tiny perfect baby in my arms.
If you saw my last birth story post, you already know that I was very adamant about having a natural birth with my son and that it did not quite go as I had hoped. So as soon as I figured out I was pregnant with my daughter, I dug my heels in and started doing more research about natural birthing. The first thing I did was get my hands on The Business of Being Born. No matter what path you chose for your birth, I highly recommend this film for every mom-to-be to help you navigate your way through all your birthing options.
After watching the film with my husband, I felt empowered to start looking for a midwife for my prenatal care. I had already scheduled an initial appointment with my OBGYN after taking the home pregnancy test, but being as this was my second, I felt much less anxious about getting in to see a doctor. We decided we preferred to go to a birthing center over a home birth. I definitely knew I did not want to be in a hospital again, if possible. Luckily, I found a birthing center that was pretty close to our house that had just opened up. Elizabeth, our midwife, had been in practice for several years prior to opening her own center when I interviewed her. Our overall views on birthing were just perfectly aligned. I felt instantly comfortable there knowing I would not have to fight against the grain for the birth I wanted.
My overall pregnancy and prenatal experience was wonderful. Of course, I had normal pregnancy annoyances, aches, and pains. But mine was a healthy, normal pregnancy. Each of my prenatal visits was 30-60 minutes long. Each time, we talked about all the physical and developmental stuff, but also psychological, emotional, and spiritual. We talked about diet and acupuncture and exercise and work and my toddler and everything inbetween. My big A even came with us as a family to some appointments and would “help” listen to baby. My heart would burst out of my chest at those moments for the love he already had for her. It was such a stark contrast to the 5 minutes I would get with my OB during my first pregnancy. [If you live in the Los Angeles area, I HIGHLY recommend you check out Gracefull Birthing.]
My due date finally came. And went. And each of the 5 days past that day felt like an eternity. My son was born ON his due date, which is super rare of course, but even waiting for him I was impatient. This time, I was mentally prepared to wait for her due date but not a moment after. I tried all the tricks to naturally induce labor. You name it, I tried it. On the fifth day, I went for a chinese foot massage with my mom who was in town waiting for baby, but in all honesty, mild contractions had already started before we got there, so I guess she just knew when she wanted to come! It was early in the afternoon when my massage finished and I told my husband he better come home from work soon, this baby was a-coming.
Second babies are a second chance to do things better than you did the first time in practically every way. It is no wonder first children are so screwed up. (Sorry, son.) But I can say that because I am a first born. So going into labor the second time there were some things I already knew. Expect the unexpected. Roll with the punches. Speak up when you need something. Whatever is meant to be will be. Breathe.
By evening, my contractions were getting stronger and closer together. The timing of it was almost identical to my first birth. Does it seem like all labors start in the middle of the night or is it just me? I called my midwife and she told me to call her back when contractions were 3 minutes apart and regular. I told my husband to try to get some sleep and I drew a bath. It was not even an hour before I had to call her back, wake up my husband, and go.
From the time we got to the birthing center to the time my baby girl was in my arms was less than three hours. Second babies really do come fast! I’m not going to sugar coat it, it was an intense three hours. But I had so much help this time. Elizabeth was there, another midwife, an assistant, and of course my husband. I was in a primal, hazy state, but I was waited on hand and foot. I got massaged and stretched, held and cleaned up after. I was bracing myself for much more time laboring (although I really had no sense of time) when I was told I could start pushing if I was ready.
The team helped me up and since my water had not broken yet, someone told me to do a deep squat and that took care of that! Then I got in the giant tub to start pushing. It was only in this moment of pushing that I really started to question what I was thinking with this whole natural route. But once I connected to my breath and started pushing efficiently, it was three pushes and she was out! I held her on my chest for an hour. We breastfed. Tony cut the cord and snuggled with her too. It was pure heaven.
Our original plan was to have my son there with us for the birth, but since it was the middle of the night, I did not want to keep him up. And in the end, I am glad he was not there. I would not have been able to focus on birthing or on him properly if he had. In all honesty, I think it might have been scary for him. But as soon as baby went to get weighed and measured, I let my sister know to wake him up and bring him to meet us there so we could all go home together as a family. Oh and that beautiful past-due-naturally-birthed baby weighed in at 9 pounds 3 ounces and was 19 inches long, thank-you-very-much.
Only hours after she arrived, we did go home as a family and we slept all together in our big bed. We never did true co-sleeping with either kid, but there was nothing better than being all together as a family in that bed for those first few hours and days. Again, it does not even compare to the sleeping arrangement we had at the hospital- each of us in our own little pods in a tiny sterile room.
Everything about this birthing experience was better. I feel so fortunate to have had the support of my family in my decision for a natural birth and of the team of midwives at Gracefull that helped me achieve that beautiful experience I dreamed of.