It’s my last baby’s first birthday today. I’m proud and a little sad. I suppose that’s the way it is for final babies. The occasion has me looking at her birth photos and reminiscing on what an incredible day it was when we welcomed her into our family. It was a warm summer day. We opted for another home birth. Hospitals always made me nervous and I trusted my body to birth this baby. Home felt like the place to be for all of my babies and thankfully I had no complications or health concerns. Sadly, you won’t find an intense birth story here. No battle wounds or tails from the trenches to speak of. Not that I’m sorry. There are plenty of scary birth stories out there if you want to find them. Belle’s birth day went quickly and smoothly. May it be encouraging to any mamas-to-be out there hoping for the same 🙂
Belle was overdue. Being overdue feels like an eternity and it really was a long and tiring week. We met frequently with our midwives who reassured me everything was fine and to be patient. The only major concern was whether or not we would be able to contact them quickly enough when she decided to arrive. I have quick babies. Donovan arrived in 3 1/2 hours, Clementine took about an hour and a half. Quick births are wonderful because they’re fast but they’re also intense. You’re packing 10 cm’s of dilation into a very short amount of time and often there was no break between contractions. I was gearing up for that again.
After enduring a few months of braxton hicks, I was on high alert but nothing was constant or regular. Finally on Sunday morning, I had mild contractions again but they were actually happening at regular intervals – about every 2-3 minutes apart. I wasn’t convinced I was in labor but we called the midwives anyway and my husband went to check on the birth tub. We called our friends to take our 2 year old; she’s sensitive and we didn’t want to scare her. Our son was set up with a movie but also prepared to welcome his new baby. We’d spent months talking with him about what the birth would be.
My midwives already had their car loaded and arrived about 10 minutes later. They checked me and said I was around a 4. Good news for some mamas but it was disheartening. With my son, I was 8 cm when they arrived. With my other daughter I was a 6 before labor even started. A 4 for me was discouraging.
My midwives asked me how I was feeling. I felt fine. Contractions were mild. They let me know they would get everything ready but would most likely head home to take a break and come back later in the day. When they came to check on me before leaving I had one big contraction and my midwife said that never mind, we were going to have a baby shortly instead and went to finish her preparations. My husband snuggled up to me in bed and we talked quietly. I began crying. The reality of labor was hitting me. It was going to be painful and intense and I didn’t want to do it again. I seriously considered an epidural in the hospital. I’d already had two home births. I had nothing to prove. Why not take it easy for the last one?!
I hopped into the tub. With my previous two births, getting into the hot water of the birth tub always offered immediate relief. But this time was different. Nothing brought relief other than my husband’s hands pressing into my back and an ice cold washcloth pinned against my forehead. And then time seemed to stop. I was at the point where I was working too hard to be aware of anything other than my body working to get my baby out. I felt a loud pop in the water and knew my water had broken. My midwives didn’t get too involved; they knew and I knew that my body was in control and doing its job. My husband rarely left my side and was prepared to catch our daughter again when she made her appearance.
And then all of a sudden I was pushing. Or rather my body was. I couldn’t look at the picture above for over 6 months because it took me back to that moment of intensity. I was not in control of that moment. It was powerful and painful but also the end. This baby took one great push and she was finally here.I would have a thousand babies just to see the smile on my husband’s face each time he met his children. I was always too in shock and running on adrenaline to soak in the moments but his face is everything. And me, I’m just staring at that little face. Always marveling at this little person that I grew. She was beautiful and perfect.We called our friends to bring back our middle daughter so she could meet the new baby. That’s when we realized our sweet baby arrived in about 45 minutes. 45 minutes from when we called our midwives to holding her in our arms. What a roller coaster. Our friends were still at church.
The funny thing about third babies (and beyond I’m sure) is that you think you know the process. And you do in a way. You think you know what it feels like and what your emotions will be. But each birth feels new. Each baby that I held for the first time was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. And each one help my rapt attention those first few days with no end in sight. It’s amazing how something so small could capture our hearts simply by existing.
Belle came in as our smallest baby weighing a mere 7 lbs. 6 oz. Her breath smelled like heaven and her little, squished face was enchanting. She was the easiest baby we’ve had and from the day she arrived it felt like she had always been there.
I remember my sister in law asking me after Donovan if I would want to have a baby at home again. I hesitated (because at the time the stitches were just starting to heal) but then answered yes. And I did. Twice. And it was hard and painful but I’d do it again in a heart beat. I was at home and despite the storm in my mind while I worked to get my baby out, it was peaceful. What a gift to be where I was most comfortable and to have the care I needed come to me. I don’t take being able to carry and birth my children on my terms for granted.
And now it’s a year later. Sweet Belle is ONE. And she’s amazing and wonderful and was well worth the effort and then some. We love you sweet girl. Here’s to many more years and to the person you will become! xo, your mama
Thank you to our friends from Sarah Joy Photography and Joe & Patience Photography for capturing this little one’s arrival.