I’m finally getting around to typing up this birth story for our third and last baby. She was a second home VBAC and by far my easiest birth. Freya also is a rainbow baby after 3 early losses and the loss of twin boys at 10 weeks pregnant in April 2019.
If you want to read a brief summary of my first birth and detailed story of my second birth: Click Here
It was April 29, 2020 and I was 40 weeks 1 day along pregnant when I woke up after 2am for a bathroom visit. Those happen far too often at this stage of pregnancy. I crawled back in bed and proceeded to arrange my pillows comfortably. Right as I finished this tedious adjusting, I felt a faint gush of fluid in my undies. I knew instantly that it meant my water had broke so without moving, I grabbed my phone to call my husband (Matt) who was in the other room playing a video game (he’s a night owl) and I told him “my water just broke, bring me towel!”. He came racing into my room with a towel in hand and I quickly shoved it between my legs before standing up. And I was right, out came a huge amount of amniotic fluid! My water broke at 2:29am.
I went to the bathroom and sat on the toilet, letting more fluid drain out and then cleaned myself up a bit. I changed into a nursing tank top and then called my midwife. I wasn’t feeling any contractions yet so she told me to call back when they started and were becoming consistent. I had Matt go lay in the den to nap a bit, since he hadn’t slept yet that night. Then I sat in my room on the birth ball or walking around until my contractions were about 4-6 minutes apart around 4:30am. I called my midwife again and she and the birth assistant/midwife in training headed my way. The first to arrive was the assistant about 5:30am, followed by my midwife at 6am. Both of them attended my first home VBAC, 4 years earlier!
I asked for my dilation to be checked about 6:30am and was only about 3cm. The contractions were feeling more intense by this point so I was a bit discouraged at such little progress. Matt and I were doing such a good job laboring alone together that they moved to the den to give us privacy. My contractions were intense but I was grateful for no back labor so that I was feeling total relief from the pain between contractions. I hadn’t slept much so I tried to lay down and get little bits of sleep for the few minutes break I had between them. Every time a contraction came, Matt would take my hands and let me squeeze them as hard as I could. When I wasn’t laying down, I was moving between the toilet, standing with my arms around his neck/a leg propped on my bedside, and the birth ball. I knew staying vertical would help her engage so I encouraged myself to stay that way as much as possible.
The birth team only came in periodically from 7-10am to check fetal tones. By about 10:45am, I was having super bad pubic bone pressure/pain and my midwife said she was still high up in my pelvis. I asked for her to check me and she reluctantly said I was only about 6cm but maybe closer to 8cm since she only used only finger to check. In reality, she just didn’t want to give me a firm number since she knew it would discourage me again. She recommended that I lie on the bed and try the Walcher’s position for 3 contractions to help move baby lower and into the birth canal. The first contraction was very painful in this position (on my back, legs hanging off the bed, with a rolled towel under my lower back) but then the second and third contractions didn’t have the intense pubic bone pressure anymore. After I stood up, I could tell it must’ve worked to lower her down because I had a lot of rectal pressure, so I went to labor more while sitting on the toilet.
Just 15-20 minutes later, I had the overwhelming natural urge to push while sitting on the toilet and I let out a huge guttural noise while doing it. My midwife and her assistant quickly moved to the bathroom doorway and were frantically putting their gloves on. They mentioned trying to pant through the pushing instinct, just in case my cervix wasn’t ready, to help avoid swelling. But then a second wave hit me and I couldn’t resist pushing again. The assistant used the flash light to check my progress and noticed my labia was starting to part, meaning baby’s head was in the birth canal. She asked if I could move to the end of my bed, where the birth stool was, so I could avoid birthing on the toilet for easier access.
I quickly made the short walk to the birth stool and then almost immediately had another intense push happen. Before this birth, I had trained myself to bare down when I exhaled a breath instead of just purple pushing and I feel it was so much more effective. I was able to reach down and feel the top of her head once I was sitting on the stool. It gave me an overwhelming sense of realization about how close I was to being done with laboring and I was so ready to be done with it. Just a few minutes after getting on the birth stool, one solid push had her head crowning and then out it came with an audible ‘pop’ sound. Baby’s neck was quickly checked to see if the cord was around it and it wasn’t. Less than a minute later, another strong push sent her shoulders out one by and one and then she was here! The birth assistant caught her and quickly passed her up to my chest. Just like for Jensen’s birth, my first words were “I’m done!”.
I had a lot of bleeding so I agreed her cord could be cut at about 7 minutes since it had stopped pulsing. I can’t remember if the placenta came right before or right after but I know it splashed blood all over my midwife when it hit the bowl that was sitting under me. Right as they were drawing up a shot of Pitocin to stop the bleeding, it stopped by itself so I narrowly avoided needing that shot.
Freya Evelyn was born at 11:21am! 9 hours after my water broke and only about 5-6 hours of laboring with contractions. I moved to our bed when she was 15 minutes old and she immediately latched on and started nursing like a champ. I checked her for a tongue tie immediately after she was born and was so thrilled she didn’t have one like Jensen did. We were able to enjoy the golden hour snuggled up nursing on our bed before they did her newborn exam at the end of the bed. She was 8 lbs 2 oz and 20.5”. We declined the eye ointment and chose to do oral vitamin K drops instead of the shot. My midwife checked me for any tears and thankfully I only had tiny ones by my urethra and by my perineum but neither needed stitches and they both healed within a week.
Freya did have jaundice by 2 days old so she used a bilirubin blanket at home from 2-9 days old until her level was low enough to stop. Her birth was definitely my easiest one. She’s now almost 2 months old and exclusively breastfed. It’s bittersweet that she’s our last baby but I’m so happy we finally got our rainbow after the storm.
– Johna – Wanderlust Momma Smith
IG – MommaSmithx3 (DM for collaboration)
Birth team – Full Circle Midwifery based in Memphis TN/Hernando MS