Rainbow Girl's Labor was four hours from start to finish. Sugar Bear's was just over two hours. When imagining my labor with Sweet Pie, my midwife and I were pretty sure that it would be around the two hour mark. However, a few times, my midwife did say, "If you keep on planning on such a short labor, it's bound to be long this time!"
She was right.
Now, my mom's labor with me was 12 hours- and I have had several friends in hard labor for days. That was not the case with me, thankfully. I had several weeks of prodromal labor, several times thinking this was it. I never had that with the other kids. I always knew when it was real labor. I was measuring 4 cm dilated for weeks before she was actually born. I'd like to claim that I was in labor for about 30 days, but my real labor, consisting of regular, strong contractions, lasted seven and a half hours this time. Three and a half hours longer than my first labor!!
At my last midwife appointment, the day before her birth, my midwife helped me master a few breathing techniques. "Hee-hee-hee-whoooo" turned out to be the answer to my wishes and hopes to have a scream free birth. With both kids, transition happened so fast that my head went to a place of fear and I couldn't get my peace back. Having a pattern was a lifesaver.
I even wrote on the birth tub what my midwife said to me many times during labor.
Here is our story.
The following includes real, uncensored birth photos.
I went to bed on July 15th having regular, uncomfortable contractions. I figured, "If I can call asleep, this isn't it." Sure enough, I actually slept through the night until my big kids woke me up around 7am. I was 40 weeks plus 4 days pregnant, still having weak contractions, but nothing regular anymore. I did all of my regular morning things, made the kids breakfast, and assumed this was going to be another day of, "not today".
At 9am, I knew with one contraction that this was it. It was just a titch more painful than the other had been, but it was quite real. Then five minutes later, another. Five minutes later....another. I called my midwife and she got on her way. She reminded me to begin my breathing pattern. I told my husband to start filling up the birth tub. I called my mom and she left work immediately. (She is a personal trainer in the pool. She arrived at my house, still in her swimming suit.) I called my brother (my photographer) and he came right over. I called my dad (who would be entertaining the big kids), and he jumped in his car. Everyone came so quickly, because everyone knew it was going to go quick!
My amazing midwife arrived, checked me, and based on how (not)strong my contractions were going, told me to go walk laps in the driveway with my husband. We walked, and I tried to savor each and every contraction. I have never experienced a labor with contractions like this one. It was beautiful to actually be able to labor. To be walking around and knowing that my baby would be here soon.
This was also the beginning of my realization that my husband had turned into quite the support person since my last birth. He was so present and loving during my entire labor.
Eventually, I got thirsty and hot and went inside to fix those issues- only to be lovingly shooed out again by my midwife to continue walking. I walked until I could walk no more, and went inside to sit on the ball. It was at this point that my contractions began to get significantly stronger and closer together.
Finding out what time it was, I began to feel upset that I was taking so long. Embarrassed that everyone had rushed over so quickly. Wondering if anyone had eaten. Worrying that I was letting everyone down.
Of course, none of these things were the case, and my children were well fed.
My midwife asked me if I was ready to get in the tub. I remember expressing some fear at this point because I remember, with my son, once I got in to tub, only about 20 minutes passed before he was born. I was so ready to have my baby in my arms, but I did have fear.
I feared the increase of pain. I feared that the labor would continue forever. I feared pushing her out. I feared that she would not be ok. I feared that I might bleed too much. I feared the placenta wouldn't detach.
Stay with the breath.
Yes. I was ready to get in the tub. After sliding into the warm water, I felt so relaxed. So much of the pain that I had been feeling melted away. After a while, however, I began to get too relaxed. Fourty-five minutes had passed in the tub. The contractions slowed and I was getting too warm, so my midwife had me get out.
Gravity woke me up for sure. Standing up in the tub, Sweet Pie's head pushed so much pressure on my cervix. I walked around the upper level of my house, stopping and breathing through each contraction. I spent a bit of time in the girls' bedroom, leaning on the baby's crib during contractions. My midwife had me sit on the toilet for a couple contractions. She gave me a great talk about how it was time, and I needed to allow it to happen.
Walking back to my room, in the hallway, I had my first urge to push.
I made it to my bed and laid down. There, I had another pushy contraction. Immediately following that contraction, Super Husband and my midwife helped me back into the tub.
Staying with the breath, without screaming, and witnessed by both of my older children, both of my parents, my husband, my brother, and my midwife, I birthed my second daughter three minutes after my first urge to push. I could not lift her out of the tub right away because she had the cord wrapped around her belly one time. My midwife helped her become untangled, and into my arms she went. Her and I relaxed for a little while before I also delivered the placenta with no problem whatsoever.
While still in the tub, I asked Sugar Bear if he wanted to cut the baby's cord. He very enthusiastically came over to do so, just like my brother cut my cord after my homebirth. My brother is four years older than me, just as Sugar Bear is four years older than Sweet Pie. I always thought it was neat that my brother "gave me my bellybutton" and now Sweet Pie has a similar story.
I handed her to Daddy, and I got out of the tub and into my bed, where I continued to offer her the option of nursing, but she just wanted to calmly lay beside me. My midwife took the opportunity to check her out and do her measurements. 8 lbs 2 oz!
After her measurements, she was ready to nurse. She did so for a beautiful length of time before falling asleep.
Daddy took her downstairs to meet family who had arrived while I soaked in an amazing herb bath that my midwife had prepared.
Although it was not the labor that I expected, it was the labor that she needed to be born, and it was magnificent. She entered the world into a peaceful, loving room full of her family. It was a breathtaking birth and I am so thankful for my happy, healthy, brilliant children, and for the opportunity and ability to give birth in the comfort of my own home.
Her nickname, Sweet Pie, was given to her by Sugar Bear. She is his "Sweet Pie".