It’s been six days of wonder and awe for this lovestruck mama. Our sweet fourth baby, Gaia Claire, was born at home on March 28 in the early hours of the morning.
Since Wednesday, life has been a bit of a roller coaster, but we are well and happy and the kids are totally in love with their new baby sister. Read on for her full birth story, with photos.
Sunday, 6:30-ish pm
I was making the kids a snack/light dinner, and walking toward the counter when my water broke. At first I thought I peed my pants, but as the water continued to gush and mucous came with it, I realised that I certainly hadn’t peed! Jae was at his mom’s house with Lynden, and I called them home on the assumption that labour would be starting very soon.
When contractions didn’t start Sunday night, we took the opportunity to get a good night’s sleep. Monday morning I woke up with a few sporadic contractions, and could feel that the baby wasn’t positioned very well. The kids woke up and got to playing/fight with each other/demanding food. I felt like I was going to go crazy with them around, so I asked my mom to come and take the kids while we waited for labour to start.
After the kids left, I got on SpinningBabies.com and tried some maneuvers for getting the baby into a good position. I could feel the head lodged in my right hip, and after a while I managed to get her lined up with the birth canal. I assumed labour would start, but baby didn’t descend and I continued to gush fluids. After a time, the baby resumed the wonky head-in-hip position.
I took a nap, then called a dear friend to come and keep me company as I rotated my hips on the birth ball and walked up and down the stairs repeatedly. Rashel stayed for most of the day. Jae made pizza for the three of us, and as the sky grew dark Rashel left to be with her children. Jae and I went to bed early, certain that labour would begin by morning.
Overnight I had some wicked strong contractions that shocked me out of sleep, but they never got closer together – about half-an-hour apart. By morning I was tired and sick of waiting. I did some reading on the internet about waters breaking without labour starting, and Jae and I started talking about what to do. Continue to wait? Give the midwife a call? Go get checked out? My instincts told me to stay put, keep trying to get the baby into a favourable position, and trust the process.
By mid-afternoon, the head-in-the-hip thing was driving me crazy and killing my hips. I called my chiropractor and went in for an adjustment, hoping that having my hips adjusted would encourage baby to move her head out of there and into my pelvis. What a relief that adjustment was! The pain was gone from my hips and lower back, and I could feel baby shifting as we left the office. When we got home, we went walking on the trail at the back of the property, hoping to encourage baby to move down. I was still having contractions half-an-hour apart like clockwork, and during our walk they picked up a bit. Still, no regular pattern, and after we went back into the house the contractions spaced out again. Every 30 minutes. Frustration!
Dinner time came, and we realised that we didn’t really have much to eat in the house. I was feeling stir crazy from two days of pacing the house, so Jae and I went out to the grocery store. My usual healthy eating habits went right out the window – I loaded up on cookies, garlic bread, cinnamon rolls, popsicles – plenty of wheat and sugar, gross! I just couldn’t seem to help myself.
Back at home, we ate our junk food dinner and went to bed. I missed my kids fiercely by this point, and cried for a while about the ridiculousness of this situation – over 50 hours since rupture of membranes, nothing going on, and my kids gone to Grammy’s house. Not what I had envisioned! Still, the thought of having the kids at home with me didn’t give me feelings of calm happiness, so I left them with Grammy for another night and did some meditating in the quiet of the night.
By 1am, I couldn’t sleep through contractions anymore. They were finally getting closer together, and they were PAINFUL! By 1:30, I told Jae that I was fairly certain labour was finally starting. I went downstairs to pee, and could barely breathe through the contractions that hit me. Jae came downstairs to set up the birth pool in the living room. The attachment we had to hook the hose to the kitchen tap was the wrong size, so Jae filled the pool with bucket after bucket of hot water.
I was having a hard time dealing with contractions without the comfort of the water, and was so relieved when the pool was finally full enough for me to get in. Instant comfort! Who needs an epidural when there’s a pool full of hot water nearby?
I laboured easily and comfortably through the night. Contractions were fierce and strong, getting closer and closer all the time, but I was able to stay relaxed in the water and breathe my way through them.
By 4am, things were really getting intense, and I suddenly *really* wanted Raina to be with me. She had been so disappointed by being sent to Grammy’s, with her heart set on being my labour partner and catching the baby. I called my mom and asked her to please bring Raina home to me. Soon Raina was there, sleepy but excited, and stripped down to get into the pool with me.
Raina spoke sweetly to her labouring mama, grinning from ear to ear, splashing gently in the water and talking about catching the baby. She had been waiting for months for this, and she was in her glory!
Soon I was pushing, but things didn’t feel right and I couldn’t handle the contractions anymore. The midwife was on her way, and when she got there I told her that something other than the head was in the cervix. At first the midwife thought baby was breech, but after another contraction it became apparent that a shoulder was in the way and the other shoulder was lodged in my hip. Baby was in a very funny position indeed.
By now I was becoming exhausted. I couldn’t hold myself up in the pool anymore, so I got out and laid on the couch. Pushing was excruciating, not the blessed relief it had been for my previous births. Soon baby shifted enough to get the head down into the birth canal, although she was posterior. As I pushed, I could feel her moving down, but as soon as the contraction stopped baby would glide right back up again.
Finally, baby’s head made it out, facing sunny side up with a hand against her cheek. Raina decided she didn’t want to catch, after all, but watched from the pool with excitement and fascination. One more push brought baby’s body forth and I caught her and brought her to my chest. She was calm and quiet, made some gurgling sounds and a very small half-cry, and closed her eyes. A girl! Perfection. All of the agony of that pushing phase was completely worth it.
Unfortunately, Lynden and Robin didn’t make it to the house in time to witness the birth as I had hoped – we were just too caught up with trying to get baby out that nobody thought to call and request their presence. Lynden had wanted to cut the cord, so after the placenta was birthed we left it attached to baby until big brother could get there. The boys arrived with Grammy not long after, but when the midwife handed the scissors to Lynden, he decided he’d rather watch Daddy cut the cord instead. The poor boy was very sad that he missed the birth.
Robin didn’t seem to register the fact that there was a baby, at first, but soon he was delighted. The pool in the middle of the living room was the most exciting thing a kid could come home to, and before long all three children were splashing and playing in the water while I passed some clots and gushed far too much blood on the couch nearby.
After a time, I made my way to the bathroom and got cleaned up while Raina held her baby sister. Gaia was measured and weighed: 7lbs, 5oz (my smallest baby!), 20 inches long. The midwife packed up her gear, gave me a warning about excessive bleeding, did some cleaning, and went on her way. The children left with Grammy, and Jae and I crawled into bed with our new baby for a nice long nap.
So there you have it – Gaia was born at home after a bit of a roller coaster ride, at 7:16am, into her mama’s hands. She has been nursing beautifully and hasn’t done any real crying. She sleeps peacefully, and every now and then opens her eyes to gaze around. She is golden.