April of 2017 we experienced our third home birth. Having natural births has always been my goal. Our first 2 children were born at our home in Bradenton, Florida. When we found out we were pregnant with Lowell, in Washington state, we debated for months on where to have this baby. Living in a Airstream can be tight enough, birthing in an Airstream seemed impossible to me. We finally decided to birth in Florida and asked our mother in law if we could give birth in her house. She agreed so we set our sites on Florida, for a February arrival. Due Date April 11th.
Our little bundle decided to stay warm and comfy until 41 weeks, 1 day. For me, that was the longest I had ever been pregnant. Both of our other children came at just past 39 weeks, making the extra 2 weeks feel like 2 months! It was a blessing in disguise, with my husband still recovering from ACL/MCL surgery those extra two weeks really were needed. Once we reached 40 weeks though I was getting nervous. We immediately started doing all of the tricks to get labor going; from taking primrose oil, pumping, using clary sage oil, walking, getting acupuncture to having sex and eating spicy food we tried it all!
At 40 weeks, 6 days we went for a non-stress test and to check my fluids. We went after a day of me being stressed about reduced movement. Within minutes of us being hooked up to the monitor the nurse very proudly stated, “you are fine, this baby is going to pass our test so quickly.” Little mystery baby (as we didn’t know the gender yet) was moving around like crazy in there. My fluid levels were perfect, sitting at a 4.3 (anything under 2 is worrisome and over 8 is high according to the doctor at Sarasota Memorial.) That reassurance was everything I needed to relax, that little one was happy and healthy and just comfortable.
41 weeks arrived! Our midwife, Ivy came up to the Airstream for our appointment. She offered a membrane sweep, which my husband actually ended up doing. I was 2cm and only 30% effaced, but as we all know those numbers don’t matter much and can change in hours. If I had to pick something that worked to get labor going I would say that membrane sweep was it. Of course, I don’t think anything works unless baby is ready but mystery baby must have been ready because around 7pm that night I started experiencing contractions.
We had spent the afternoon at the mall playground, had dinner out with ice-cream and were on our way home around 7pm when I felt that first real contraction. It wasn’t painful, just uncomfortable. I had 2 contractions on the way home. We put the kids to bed and sat down to watch a Harry Potter movie, contractions were happening every 7-10 minutes, 45 seconds in length. I let everyone know around 8:45 that I was having what seemed like early labor contractions. I did a pump session to keep things going and took some herbs my midwife had left for me.
My friend Cat was driving over from St. Augustine for the birth. She had a 3.5 hour drive so when she got my text she immediately wanted to leave home. I was still worried it wasn’t the real thing but my husband encouraged me to have her head this way just in case. We had gone through long periods of early labor with Graham and Isla’s births but this did seem to be progressing faster so I agreed. She headed toward Sarasota and I called my mom to come to the Airstream to be with the kids.
Around 11pm we arrived at my mother-in-laws house, where we were going to give birth. While a birth story in the Airstream would have been awesome it also wouldn’t have been practical. There isn’t enough room for all of the birth team and I am not a peaceful birther, my children would have been worried sick and not understood what was happening. When we birthed our second child, still in our home, our first child just slept right through the night and woke up to a new baby sister.
During the drive to my mother-in-laws our contractions had averaged 45 seconds in length but every 4 minutes. Once we arrived we thought we would try and rest, that didn’t happen. I got in the shower and by midnight my contractions were in full force. Our doula, Cheryl arrived first with Ivy (midwife), Patricia (birth photographer), Heidi (birth assistant) and Cat arriving after.
I am not sure on the timing of the next events but this is where I did my best to stay focused and move through labor. Mentally, for the most part, I was telling myself things like: “You can do this;” “Each contraction gets me closer;” “Open up;” “Baby I am ready for you.” Out loud I was just screaming, literally screaming. I would try and focus on low noises but it felt good to let it go, no care for what anyone else’s ears were experiencing (which I am sure they were hurting because I was SCREAMING at the top of my lungs.) I had birth affirmations and candles from friends and family around and I loved that part. I would move from the tub, to the shower, to the floor, to the bed and back to the tub again. For some reason I felt a real desire to not give birth in the tub this time. I wanted to be out and the shower (which had been my space for Graham’s birth) was not at all where I wanted to be.
Let's talk about Chloe, my amazingly sweet #miniatureschnauzer! She has been by my side for all 3 labors. Carter, my male schnauzer does not care at all when I'm in labor but Chloe is a loyal pup who doesn't leave me. She loves all my little humans and we all love her. #dogsofinstagram #dogs #homebirth #birthphotography @sweetplumphotography
The strangest thing about this birth for me was feeling very animalistic. The pain was intense, I can’t believe a body can handle that sort of pain for hours. I had urges to bite things. That was a new one for me. At one point my husband told me he thought I was going to bite his hand, then last minute I bit the sheets. I pushed my head up against the tub wall during contractions and had a slight bruise on my forehead the next day from doing that. My knees had flat spots post birth from pushing them into the tub ground but in the moment that pain was nothing compared to the contractions. Birth is such a strange thing.
Ivy checked me around 3am or 3:30am. I was a 7, stretching to an 8 dilation. I decided then, inside my head, to repeat the number 10 a lot. Dilating to a 10 was my new focus. On the outside, I was still screaming. Transition was challenging for me mentally. I know you are supposed to forget this stuff post labor but I clearly remember feeling like I needed to get out of my body. I couldn’t pick a position because I just needed out. I started begging for baby to come out, literally saying, “please” during contractions. I felt like my skin was crawling. Then, my water broke.
Every labor there is one photo that captures my raw emotion in a beautiful way. For me this one is it. I remember this moment and putting my arms in front of me, forcing energy into them to try and release some of the pain from the rest of my body. I certainly don't restrain myself when in labor, I am loud and I am probably scary. Good thing my friend was super excited to be there. I am going to post birth and newborn photos all week with our birth story publishing on Friday! Then, we will go back to your regularly scheduled travel and family photos. #homebirth #pregnancy #birth @sweetplumphotography @bugandbearchronicles #birthphotography #sarasota #travelbandb #babiesandborders #travelbaby #travellife
My water breaking was a turning point for me. I don’t know why but once that happened I started pushing vehemently and within 15 minutes baby Lowell was crowning. I felt the ring of fire with a certain amount of excitement because that meant the finish line was within sight.
As Lowell’s head came out the midwife asked me to stop pushing and my husband recounted to me afterwards that everyone became very focused. The cord was wrapped around his neck, which I am told is pretty common. I was on my knees leaning over the edge of the bed. Ivy asked me to stop pushing and move my leg up. I replied, “I can’t” because at that point stopping truly felt impossible. The doula helped move my leg as requested and Ivy unwrapped the cord. Then I was able to finish pushing him out. They immediately brought him under my leg and I took him into my arms.
With each baby that first kiss on the head is a moment of relief and relaxation. Lowell was no exception. I looked down and announced, “Hi there little Lowell. You’re a boy!” Tyler can be heard saying in the video, “Oh, its a boy” and then laughing out of relief and happiness. My crazy screeching all of the sudden became a soft, “you ok? you ok?” when addressing little Lowell after his cord unwrapping.
I am a totally different person in labor. My normal self control goes out of the window. Having a birth team you trust is of the upmost importance because of this, letting go is empowering and freeing.
As with the birth of my first two children the best part of home-birth is immediately after the birth itself. Climbing into bed with my newborn and my husband, waiting on the homemade meal the doula or birth assistant always makes, having everyone relax and laugh and celebrate the birth, drifting off to sleep in a warm familiar place, all of those moments are so lovely.
We got our birth and newborn photos back from @sweetplumphotography! Who wants to see them? We had the most amazing 3rd homebirth. At 10 hours it was my shortest birth. On April 19th we welcomed a 9lb, 8oz baby boy. He was a surprise gender born at 4:57am at my mother in laws house. We live in an #Airstream so birthing in our home just wasn't an option this time. #birthphotography #homebirth #travelbandb #babiesandborders #unmedicatedbirth @maidentomothersrq @catpennengaphotography
Lowell was born at 4:57am, at my mother-in-laws house. He weighed 9 lbs, 8 oz and was 21.25 inches long.
This is one of my favorite home-birth moments. My husband always get to hold up our new baby to check out how giant they are this time. All my babes are in the 9lbs club. I love the little baby toes sticking out of the end! I will post our birth story on Monday with newborn photos all weekend! #newborn #homebirth #birthphotography #hothusband #newbaby #specialmoment #travelbandb #babiesandborders #birthstory #blogpost
To check out Lowell’s newborn photos click HERE
Birth Photos taken by Sweet Plum Photography
Our first home birth story click HERE
Our second home birth story click HERE