Sitting here at 5 days postpartum, I’m still surfing on the familiar waves of this experience feeling so surreal. From the moment I learned of this little girl, I couldn’t believe (or comprehend) that we were having a second baby – the final piece of our family of four. And even though she’s now right in front of me, I’m having so many moments of, “I can’t believe you’re actually here!”.
And just like with the typical 2nd baby thing, it’s now been 4 weeks, and I’m sitting down to finalize Maple’s birth story.
A few weeks before Maple was born, I made the prediction that I’d go into labor while watching the 3rd episode of Game of Thrones season 7. So, when Sunday night came and went, and we went to bed without watching the episode, I smiled when realizing my prediction was wrong.
The next day, Monday, I check off my “omg I have to get these contracts done” list for work. I picked Alba up from school at 3:30, and assumed that since I worked so hard to get my work done, baby girl would likely take another week or more before she was ready to join us. Murphy’s Law. Also, we were on the verge of a heat wave (4 days of 100 degree temps), so I was slightly hopeful she’d wait.
Later that evening, while cooking dinner, I felt a small gush – I was curious to see if my water was leaking. I paged the midwives, who told me to use the amniotic fluid indicator … while we were on the phone, I used it, but in true Ravyn Style, I dropped the stick in the toilet before I could see if it changed color. Oy! Midwives told me to call if anything changed, and I went back to cooking dinner.
After putting Alba to bed, J and I sat down to watch Game of Thrones (a day late). Almost as soon as we sat down, I felt my belly tightening. It didn’t trigger any red flags, as I’d been having contractions on and off for a few weeks. But, I did think it was pretty funny they were happening during that 3rd episode of GOT. After a few contractions, I decided to download an app on my phone to keep track of them. Sure enough, I was having mild contractions every 7-10 minutes, and they were lasting a minute each. I didn’t say anything to Jimmy at first, because I assumed it was nothing. By the end of the episode, I told him what was going on, and we agreed we should probably pack a “just in case” hospital bag.
After going back and forth about this being labor or not, J convinced me to page the midwives. Alba’s labor/birth was only 6 hours from start to finish, and since I was already over an hour into contractions, we figured they should be in the loop. Since my contractions were still mild, we thought that it would be best to get some rest and call if anything changed.
The notes in my phone tells me I rested from 11:15 – 1:00 before I decided to hop in the shower. I was feeling nauseous, and unable to sleep. I vividly remember looking over at J, silhouetted by the light of our salt lamp, and wondering if this was the last night we’d be a family of three. I took a shower, and then decided to call the midwives to let them know I thought this was it. Even with mild contractions still (6 minutes apart), we were 4.5 hours into this labor, and we all agreed it could change course towards a rapid labor at any point.
My midwives arrived and setup their equipment. After observing me during contractions and monitoring baby girl, they encouraged me to get some more rest. Contractions were getting closer together and more intense, but still manageable. I went back and forth between the bed, leaning on the yoga ball, and walking around the house. At 5:30, not much had changed. When I stood up, my contractions were pretty regular, but when laying down they would stall out. My midwives suggested that I was still in early labor (even so many hours in), and we all agreed that a cervical check (my first ever during pregnancy or labor). It was determined I was 4 cm dilated, and since things were still relatively slow, we decided the midwives would leave and we would try to sleep. Things were pretty calm … I continued having contractions, and could generally make them bearable by standing and adjusting my hips, or just simply focusing on my breath.
At 7:50, I woke up with a strong contraction, and my water broke. it wasn’t the same huge gush that happened with Alba, so I do wonder if my water really was leaking the night before. We immediately called the midwives, and they headed back our way. I didn’t realize it at the time, but Alba had perched up on our bed, and was holding my hands through these contractions. So special! A few contractions later, I was standing at the edge of our bed and had one of those horrible contractions (the ones that make you want to crawl out of your skin … I explained it to J as feeling like my body was ripping in half – not the most pleasant). I screamed, “Call the midwives, NOW!”, and just then, they walked through the door.
I told my midwives I needed to use the bathroom. They assured me it was just the baby, and I assured them it was just poop. In a move of compromise, they insisted on coming into the bathroom with me. I checked myself and confirmed there was no head. Two minutes later, at 8:20, I reached down and there was very much a head right there. One of the midwives ran out to the dining room to get Jimmy and Alba … they came into the bathroom as I started pushing – given the small dimensions in our bathroom, they hunkered down in the bathtub. I love this. One of my biggest fears was tearing (as it was the one aspect of Alba’s birth that lead to a harder recovery), so my midwife, Sarah, encouraged and coached me to breathe short breaths – to slow things down. At 8:24, baby’s head was born. FOUR MINUTES of pushing. About 10 seconds later, Maple was born into our midwives hands. We were in total shock. In a matter of 34 minutes, I went from sleeping to my water breaking to my baby being born.
There’s nothing sweeter than those first moments after birth, but I’ll be honest, I was in such shock that most of it is a blur. I remember our dogs barking in the backyard (one of the several comical parts of the birth – trumped by the fact I had my baby on the toilet), and how chaotic those last moments were. I remember looking at Maple’s face and thinking she looked so much different than Alba. I remember the midwives sweetly encouraging Alba while she cut Maple’s cord (our first baby helped officially welcome her little sister into the world).
A few minutes after Maple was born, I delivered the placenta. J took Al and Maple into our room, and my dear friend, Heather helped me shower. It was then time to get into bed to be examined, and cuddle with my family. I ended up with a superficial tear that didn’t require stitches (thank goodness). I held my baby girl, soaking in the first hour with my family. Maple latched and nursed for the first time, and then the midwives did her newborn exam. Our little peanut was 6 lb. 15 oz., and 18 inches long.
After we were all settled, the midwives said their goodbyes, and Maple and I settled in for a long nap. Jimmy and Alba popped in throughout the day, and just like last time, we spent most of our time just marveling at the new human we made. This time, many of our friends and family knew we were having a girl, but only a few people knew her name. It was so fun texting and calling people to share our news … officially introducing our girl to the world.
I am so happy we were able to have another home birth. It was the perfect fit for our family. I’m in awe of my caring midwives … their dedication and respect for birthing women is beyond what I could have wished for. Maple’s birth is bittersweet, as we have decided to close the chapter of our lives on having babies. This means it’s the last time I’ll go through a pregnancy with the wonderful women of Vivante Midwifery. Just like last time, it’s amazing how our midwives became a part of our family’s story. I have so much love for them.
A month into this journey with Maple, and things have been a dream. Of course, having a second baby is quite an adjustment. Alba has settled into her role as a big sister, and we are slowly finding our groove. I have way more to share (there have been some hiccups, but it’s been mostly sweet). She’s such a calm baby. She mostly just sleeps, eats, poops, and cuddles. Grateful for her sweet disposition. Grateful for the experience of being a mom of two beautiful girls.
I’m feeling happy, blessed, and so, so grateful for this journey.
If you’d like to read it, Alba’s birth story is right here.