I had my baby on the toilet and I have a photo as proof. Don’t worry guys, the photo is completely PG. Adeleine‘s homebirth story was definitely not what I thought it might be, however, I didn’t really have a vision of what I wanted it to be anyway. Birth is unpredictable. The only thing that I knew I wanted, aside from my seller birth team, was to have her in the birthing pool at home. Only one of the two of those happened and based not the header of this post, you can guess which one that was.
Before I go any further though, like any good speech, you first thank those that got you to the platform. Let me first say THANK YOU to my rock, an entire mountain size rock of a hubby for being the best support there is! He held me through it all and even up when I couldn’t from exhaustion at the very end. To my oldest baby Caroline for being the most tender and loving Mini Doula a momma could ask for. To our rockstar of a midwife Jennifer, Pittsburgh Midwife, for saving Adeline and her gem of an assistant Tara for her calming guidance through labor. Lastly, our fabulous babysitter AND doula Lisa for being my weekly sounding board and labor support while watching and coaching the “mini doula” Caroline through my labor. I couldn’t have done this without you all.💜
Clearly what could’ve been considered a “plan” was not God’s because had I birthed her in the pool, she probably would not have made it.…
I had prodromal labor several times in the last month before Adeline was born. On Caroline‘s family birthday party day and the day before her actual birthday, the 5th of March, things had been heating up and I ended up with contractions 2 to 3 minutes apart lasting for about a minute by mid afternoon. Our midwife came, and a few hours after she had arrived, everything just completely dropped off. I felt pretty defeated that day, but I was also glad Caroline could celebrate her 5th birthday the next day with me. Caroline was quite disappointed though that her family party had gotten postponed, so we called our family back and invited them over for a later time that evening.
Prodromal labor happened on and off again for days following the 5th, but always during the day. At about 4 o’clock in the morning on the 19th, it started again. Normally my labor is started by my water breaking, but this time around, that would not be the case. I always thought I wanted my babies to “ride the slide” as they say, but now I think I would prefer to have my water break and that always be how my labor starts.
Contractions stayed consistent every 4-6 min apart from 4:00AM on, so around 9:00AM, my sweet mother-in-law popped over to pick up Grady. Caroline would be staying at home with us, but I’ll get to that part later. Just before she arrived, my once steady contractions suddenly stopped and I was feeling quite upset about it thinking I had just gone through the motions yet again for nothing. My mother-in-law came back to my room and prayed over me while I was on the birthing ball before she left with Grady. Sure enough, a few minutes later contractions started up again. Looking back on all of this, I can see how my labor was coming and going like that because of how poor little Adeline was in caught inside of me.
Contractions had been pretty consistent through the rest of the morning. I didn’t want this to be another false alarm, but I also know that your third baby can be a total wild card and you can go from 0 to 60 in no time and have a baby in your hands a few minutes later. I made the call to my midwife, and she gave me an hour to monitor everything and explained that if my contractions didn’t start getting more “teeth” by the end of that hour, we were gonna monitor a little longer before she came down.
At that point, my brain and body panicked and contractions almost stopped yet again. After a little “refocusing,” they stared back up and we’re finally getting those “teeth” for my midwife to join us. Jennifer & Tara, along with my Doula Lisa, join us not long after. What’s wonderful though about this time around, was that while it wasn’t comfortable, it wasn’t painful either. I was happy, content and enjoying the process.
Homebirth is grand! Being able to be in your home. Your safe place. Being able to walk about, eat an entire carton of blueberries or unload your dishwater is fabulous. 😂 I could lay in my comfy bed and we be left alone if I wanted it. It’s a truly personal experience. You pick your birth team so they are people you get to know and love. It’s amazing!
I laughed during labor. I told jokes. I reminisced about the start of Aaron and my dating years and even our two years of being “just friends.” It was truly the best time. Caroline put lotion on my legs, snuggled me, and encouraged me. Yes, she was here for it all.
About three or so months before I was due, she told me she wanted to be there when the baby was born. My immediate thought was that it was not an OK idea, but on my way home from one of my midwife appointments, I was listening to a podcast about a mom who had allowed her oldest to be a part of her labor / birth and how redemptive it was. I was through listening to that podcast that I realized I wanted Caroline to be there.
Caroline‘s birth wasn’t anything that terrible, but as I learned and have continue to learn, the hospitals interventions completely ruined my birth with her. I then ended up with the toughest postpartum adventure and I felt that having her join me for this baby’s birth would be just what we needed. Gosh was I right! We spent the last month prepping her for birth with birth videos, birth stories and just educating her on how wonderfully created her body is as a female. How perfectly designed the female body is to not only carry a baby but also to get the baby out. How even the baby is designed to know exactly what to do to escape. I wanted to educate her so that she felt empowered and not afraid no matter what happened through this birth.
Early morning turned to mid morning and early afternoon to evening. My body kept getting ready and going through the motions but no baby. There were so many moments when I thought I had to be so close to having her, that it had to be the end and then it wasn’t. What I didn’t realize was that it was all because Adeline couldn’t get into position. She couldn’t because she was stuck. The umbilical chord was wrapped around her neck and shoulder and she couldn’t engage.
I never expected labor to be 19.5 hours long. I thought for sure I would have had a babe in arms by early afternoon at the latest. When the darkness finally settled over the house as the sun set that afternoon, I felt so discouraged. My body was tired. My contractions were minutes apart and lasted for about a minute as well. I was spent but the work wasn’t over yet.
Due to the location of movement of the baby during monitoring, and the heart rate, there was concern baby had flipped would be arrive breech. Jennifer asked if I would consider being checked. I had declined this with Grady and had with Adeline until now. Being so tired, and at that point now worried, I consented to a cervical check.
Thankfully after a very painful time on my back and emotional cervical check due to some trauma from Caroline’s birth story, it was determined that baby was facing the right way at least. What I didn’t know was that I had only been 6cm dilated still after all of that. Again, dilation doesn’t really matter since you can go from 2-3cm to 10cm in minutes if baby is ready and there. However, my baby was not there. She couldn’t really get there. Adeline had to much room to move in my water due to her small size and was tangled. I’m quite certain she had been that tangled for quite a while due to some issues after birth and how I felt her move inside of me for a while prior.
At one point while laboring on the toilet I thought for sure she was going to shoot right out. I felt her head “there” if you know what I mean, and in that moment I had the most clear mental picture of a dark head of hair about to come out. It was the wildest thing. I’ve never had such a moment like that where I could “see” something that I couldn’t actually see. With that feeling though and metal picture, it all passed and she still wasn’t out. It would be another 2+ hours before she was.
While toilet labor wasn’t on my agenda, neither way hanging over the tub edge and sleeping. I was so tired that I couldn’t even leave the bathroom. I knelt down beside the tub and flipped over the edge with my head inside it and drifted off to sleep between contractions I was so exhausted. The contractions wouldn’t let up though every 2-3 minutes I was hit again.
I will pause for a more lighthearted moment. This WAS the birthing pool. Poor Aaron was so busy helping me through labor that the pool filling up became forgotten. It wasn’t until a rush of water ran over the tub and hit the sunporch floor that we all remembered it was filling. Oops!
At some point shortly after 11:00PM I gave up. I half folded onto the bed about delirious with exhaustion and I finally audibly vocalize what I had been rolling around in my head for hours. I said something along the lines of “I give up Jesus I can’t do this anymore.” Aaron lead over the bed and took my hands. My next contraction hit and I suddenly felt “pushy.” Somehow I managed to stand up and tell the room that I needed to pee. I made it to the toilet and that’s when the beginning of the end started.
I never heard Jennifer, but she told Aaron I was going to the toilet to have a baby. All I know is that I sat down and seconds later was standing back up. It went something like.
“Waters and crowing!”
“Wait wait wait!”
All the sudden that head I had envisioned hours before was being brought up to my chest as I tried to sit back down and stop supporting myself/lean on aaron for support from my exhaustion. That poor guy had helped hold me us since I was so weak to stand. This next part is a bit of a quick blur but I remember Jennifer patting her and rubbing her back and a lot of fast movement followed by her telling me to blow on baby’s face. I did and the loudest cry I’ve ever heard from a baby was the response I received. I didn’t know until two days later how close Adeline had been to resuscitation from her chord entanglement.
At 11:33PM on Sunday the 19th of March. We welcomed our new baby.
I moved into our room to relax and rest when about 30 minutes went bye, we realized we still hadn’t looked to see if we had a daughter or a son. After 19.5 hours of labor, I was just overjoyed to have my baby in my arms. I was beyond shocked to find out we had another sweet girl but thrilled non the less. I am truly been hoping for a little girl this time. Caroline had also been praying for a little sister for months. This sweet babe was the answer to our prayers.
At the end of the “night,” about 2:00AM, we all cuddled up. My mini doula was passed out and couldn’t even stay awake to hold her new baby sister. I was flying high on a wonderful oxytocin post birth hight with my babe in arms. It was all over and she was finally here!
When Jennifer came back Tuesday morning she shared with me more about the cord being wrapped, how close she was to not taking her first breath and how her delivery in the hospital could have very likely been a still birth and considered a “chord complication” loss. All of the times I felt her go down and try to engage inside of me and then pop back up, she was fighting. Fighting to escape being tangled and fighting to make it while escaping. Had her birth been a slow and relaxed water birth, she very well would not have made it. God knew just what she needed. She needed that silly toilet birth and a well educated and trained midwife who thinks fast and kept her alive. Just as I felt “pushy” leaning over the bed after saying I was giving up, that push feeling felt very out-of-body. I feel like God himself just gave her a little push to get to where she needed to be and out quickly and safely.
Every homebirth story is different and this one was a story of sweet waiting and God’s goodness. While the wait was hard, the ending was so rewarding. Looking back at the challenges Adeline faced not only in the womb but as she was getting out, God was just so good and gracious to us. I’m ever so thankful for a stellar hand picked birth team and a wonderful hubby and daughter to cheer me on.
Our first photo as a family of 5! I still don’t think it has hit me yet that we are out numbered. I think it will sink in more when they are all running around and I can’t keep track of them. For now I will be trying to find my brain and attempting to get a night of sleep. 😉