If you read the beginning of Owen's birth story, I start with saying "I know you’re probably expecting this flowery post about a beautiful home-birth with nothing but my holistic-loving doula by my side, in a warm bath with candles and yoga stretches, and essential oils, as I faced the pain of labor au naturel." which if you read that blog post you know was nothing like my first birth experience. Now flash forward and to even my own surprise, I'd say that pretty much sums up Téo's birth! It was unlike anything we imagined or even planned.
The first contraction came around the time Kramer burst into Jerry’s apartment to say something absolutely ridiculous as usual. We were watching Seinfeld around 9pm the night before Teo was born when I felt a tightening that seemed different than the Braxton Hicks I felt before.
Nothing was consistent, but it was starting, I just knew it. I tried to squeeze whatever sleep in I could before maybe, just maybe, I would wake up and it would be here, “labor day”!
Around 330am the contractions rudely mixed with my dreams, causing me to toss and turn, and by 430am I just couldn’t sleep anymore. I had a shower, dried my hair, smiling and humming (my usual coping mechanism), and timing contractions until 545am, when they were slowly, reaching the five-minute apart mark.
I nudged Aaron, who was sleeping and said, “Today’s the day!” Just like last time, in his groggy state, he wasn’t sure how serious I was, and said “Great. Can I go back to sleep?” Haha. Little did he realize I already put off walking him up for the last two hours. I laughed and let him sleep while did my makeup (ha!) to relax and kill time. I also messaged my doula that it’s happening!
After contractions were consistent for an hour, it was time to call the midwife! I put Stress Away essential oil in my diffuser, and rolled Tranquil on my wrists and neck. I drank 2oz. of Ningxia Red (and did so repeatedly any time I felt my energy levels drop), along with drinking coconut water and ate my post labor fiber muffins (it seemed to be the only thing I wanted to eat during labor!). Soon after, my doula and midwives arrived.
Side note - my birth program consists of a number of midwives, so you don’t know who will be there for your delivery; depending whose on call. Having my doula there was comforting because I knew at least one person (aside from Aaron) who would for sure be there.
To my amazement though, I had seen both of my midwives at previous prenatal visits, not to mention my favorites – one had a UK accent that was especially calming, a must for labor!
Aaron drove Owen to our friend’s house (also an answer to prayer - that we had close enough friends to watch Owen after only three months of living here!). I was so glad to have my doula during this time, since Aaron was gone for about an hour because of traffic. She also brought her TENS machine with her (it puts out little electrical pulses through patches on your back to help alleviate pain), which I wasn’t sure about it at first, but I soon loved it!
While Aaron was away my doula got the tub set up in our living room, but when we tried to connect the hose, it didn’t fit our sink tap! In a moment that could have been a melt down for me, I was strangely calm and all for going with the flow. On to Plan B - we decided to use our own tub!
Once they got their equipment all set up, my midwife checked to see how far along I was… I was 7cm!! She kept laughing and saying, “You’ve got to tell us you’re having a contraction, because we can’t even tell!! You’re so calm, you’re doing marvellous!”
And honestly, I felt it. It was going marvellously! Last time, I was nauseous and throwing up with each contraction. This time I was smiling, talking, and even dancing through them. I really felt like I was embracing the pain and enjoying the experience. I know this sounds crazy (and I’ll get to the painful part by the end of this) but I just felt so prepared and ready to do this. Mentally I was all in, and my body was working with it.
At this point Aaron was back home, and although I was 7cm along, I stayed at this for a while. They asked if I wanted to have my water broken to speed things along. Knowing that this would also let them check early on for meconium (poop in the water), I thought this was a good move. After that, the team really gave Aaron and I our space to labor in whatever way I wanted.
We actually had so much fun. We were doing lunges and squats down the hallway (while quoting P90X), dancing to my favourite music, and sharing inside jokes. The contractions were getting stronger and I would grab onto Aaron’s shoulders, stare him in the eyes until they released. There’s something about sharing in that pain together, staring into his eyes, I looked at him differently after that. Every time we locked eyes, the memories of my labor and our teamwork would flood back. I felt love for him on yet a whole deeper level yet again.
Labor started to speed up and we decided it was time to get in the tub; active labor had officially hit. It was getting real! They always say you feel like you need to have a giant poop, and honestly that is exactly what it felt like!
At this point, Aaron still had my playlist going (Needtobreathe’s latest album, Hard Love), and even though I was intense in labor I was aware enough to get him to skip any songs that didn’t fit the mood right, ha! I kept saying, ”Nope, next one. Ok, these ones, keep playing these ones.”
I remember having this one moment in the tub, my panic moment, where I literally thought, “I can’t do this. I have to do this. But I don’t think I can do this! What was I thinking!?” I kept wanting this one song called “Testify” which said “Come to the fountain and you can be satisfied. There is a peace, there is a love you can get lost inside. “ I remember praying, thanking Jesus for all he’s done for me, feeling such joy and peace, and praying for help to get through this, because I needed to finish this!!
There were three major moments where my midwife was so in tune to what I needed that it made all the difference. First, she could tell I was having a hard time to position low enough when I would push, so she took her fingers and placed them exactly where I needed to be pushing, it helped me to focus my pushing on the right spot and seriously helped me to get through it!
A word to the wise, don’t drink kombucha or anything acidic right before active labor. Suddenly I felt like I needed to sit upright and burp, but here I was leaning back in this tub.
Again she knew just what to do and said, “I feel like you’re not comfortable in this tub. How would you feel about moving to labor in bed instead?” I was all for it! Switching to our bed was the best decision in that moment. I felt like I could get a handle on pushing again, and it gave me the renewed energy I needed.
Things really picked up and I got to what had only briefly been mentioned in the books I read as, “the ring of fire” aka you literally feel a circular burning ring down you know where!!
Let’s just say I thought I felt and experienced everything with Owen, since my epidural had worn off significantly by the time I pushed, but let me tell you right now, I did not. I never felt anything like that in my life!!
Here I was saying or probably half shouting through tears, “Um it’s burrrrrning.” To my relief (sort of) they said, “Yes, that’s normal.”
“Ok, now we need a few more big pushes.”
Ummmmm excuse me? I feel a BURNING ring of fire in my whoo-ha and I’m supposed to push through it!? It felt like insanity, but somehow I did it. It took everything within me. Once I got into this rhythm of pushing, there was no stopping me…
Until my midwife (the third time she made the perfect call) said, “Ok, now stop.”
Wait what!? This was like a train barreling down the tracks with no breaks and you’re asking me to stop!? But I knew if I didn’t listen I would end up tearing and needing stitches again, something I had really hoped to avoid this time.
And so by some crazy miracle, I concentrated so hard, regained control, breathed slowly and forced my body to stop pushing. And there it was, a few small pushes later and Teo was on his way out, and I was left without any tearing!!
I’ll never forget when they told me how much hair they could see (just like Owen I thought), and before I knew it, there he was all soft and new on my chest, reaching his hand toward my face. That feeling, that sense of “oh my goodness, we did it!” is something I can’t really put into words.
They wanted to use oxytocin to help expel the placenta, but I was set on letting things happen naturally if it was safe to do so. I read that geranium, lavender, and Gentle Baby essential oil can help in this process so we applied 5-7 drops of each on my abdomen, and lo and behold it came out a few minutes later.
Also, the first pee post labor can occasionally be difficult, but I used a few drops of peppermint in the toilet bowl (who knew) and within a couple tries, I was able to pee naturally (avoiding the possibility of a catheter). Also maybe TMI, but my post-labor muffins & green smoothie really helped me to avoid constipation and made my first poop a breeze!
As for my essential oils, the midwives kept saying, “It smells so good in here!!” (Referencing the Stress Away I was diffusing) and “I think everyone should use aromatherapy during labor!” Seriously, it was so amazing to use my oils and Ningxia Red throughout labor. Everything from stress to pain to after care, they had me feeling good!!
I never wanted to have a natural birth to “prove” anything, even to myself. I just wanted to labor in a relaxed environment and have a different experience than last time, and I knew a homebirth would provide all of those things. The sense of strength and accomplishment I felt afterward was an unexpected bonus, to work through all of that pain and then get to hold my little boy made it all feel so worth it.
All birth is a feat, no doubt. To any mamas reading this, DON’T hear me saying I think a homebirth is superior to a hospital birth. Both are difficult, hard work, and so so beautiful.
I’m just thankful I was able to have the experience I dreamed of, and for finding the amazing team of midwives and my doula to make this different than my last birth experience. This whole thing was an answer to my tearful prayers from the first night I found out I was pregnant again. It was a total dream, and so is Téo! Love at first sight. Thank you for sharing in this journey with me!!
**If you’re looking for a complete list of oils for labor, my post-labor muffin recipes, and more – I included them in the Pregnancy Wellness Bundle. I hope some of my experiences can help you have the most amazing pregnancy and delivery, and help you to embrace labor without fear!!
***All oils mentioned are from Young Living for their purity and potency. To be used with midwife or Dr. supervision. This does not represent the views of Young Living.
I’ll be blogging soon about my favourite essential oils for postpartum (and all the postpartum feels that go along with it), so stay tuned SG Mamas!