It all started on Sunday, April 28th. I really wanted to go on a walk, so I told Patrick we should go on a short, mellow family walk on the Junction Creek Trail. We decided that Silas would ride his bike on the trail while Patrick and I walked, and we had a nice little outing of about 45 minutes. As we were getting back to the car, I felt like I really had to pee, but I also felt like I had some leaking going on. Just the day before, I peed my pants after sneezing while going to meet my midwife, so I just figured I was in the mode where I might be leaking pee more since baby girl was so low and my bladder was being squished! I went to the bathroom and we headed home. Then, I read Silas a couple of books before his “rest time” in his room, and I noticed that my pants kept getting a little wetter. So, I went upstairs to change my underwear and leggings, and there was a steady trickle of fluid coming out with every step I took as I was changing, so I thought this might be something more!! I called Alyssa (the midwife) and told her what was going on, so she said to put a pad on to collect any more fluid that came out and she would come right over so we could test it to see if it was amniotic fluid. She gave me the strip to go put on the fluid in the bathroom, and when I came out and she saw it was dark blue right away, she said that it was actually amniotic fluid!!! She gave me the rundown of what to expect next… basically, we needed to wait for active labor to begin now and if nothing had started on its own by 24 hours (noon on Monday, April 29th), then we would have to discuss a change of plans to go to the hospital to have a pitocin induction and leave our homebirth plan behind. I was super excited but also super nervous about having this time limit put on! Alyssa gave suggestions for ways to naturally try to induce labor at home: drink more red raspberry leaf tea (I had just drank two jars of a RRLT concentrate that I made the night before and morning of my water breaking), nipple stimulation via the breast pump, or- as a latch ditch effort- trying a castor oil smoothie.
I went on about a mile walk in the neighborhood and listened to the Birth Hour podcast- a favorite of mine throughout the last 4-5 months of the pregnancy- and when I got home I noticed that I was having very mild contractions every 8-9 minutes. I also continued to have water steadily leaking, and in the afternoon I started having bloody show- a good sign that my cervix was changing and something was happening! This was around 4pm, and the contractions lasted until I went to bed that night around 10pm, but then they basically fizzled out and, despite drinking more RRLT and using the breast pump a little, basically went away. I tried my best to sleep that night, catching a solid 4-5 hours of sleep with very sporadic contractions waking me up as well as my brain waking me up with all the thoughts of what the next day might bring.
The morning of Monday, April 29th came. I woke up pretty disappointed that there wasn’t a baby there yet, especially because we had Ron, Linda, and Kaettie all come down and spend the night just in case a baby was going to be born in the middle of the night (they were all assigned the job of taking care of Silas during the birth should he have happened to be home at the time). I called Alyssa at 6am and asked her what to do next, so she went ahead and recommended I drink 2 oz of castor oil mixed with some kind of juice and nut butter in a smoothie. So, I headed to the kitchen and chugged that down as best as I could- not the most delicious smoothie I’ve ever had! After eating a little breakfast, I ended up having to go to the bathroom- the glorious side effect of the castor oil- around 7:45am just as Patrick was leaving to take Silas to school (we decided to send him to school since we really had no idea what was going to happen that day). I called Alyssa around 8am as she wanted me to update her, and I told her there really wasn’t much going on, so she wanted to come over and check my cervix and do a sweep to see if that would get things moving a little more. I went back downstairs and chatted with Kaettie for a little bit (Ron and Linda had already left and Kaettie was on her way out) and I started noticing that I was having contractions every 3 minutes apart, though I could definitely still talk through them as we were chatting in the kitchen. Alyssa got there right around the time that Patrick got back from dropping off Silas, and when she checked me she said that my cervix was 100% effaced (thinned out) and 4cm dilated. She packed up her stuff and left, with the instructions to drink another dose of the castor oil smoothie at 10am (4 hours after the first dose) and to call her if anything started changing in terms of the intensity of my contractions.
Kaettie was gone by the time Alyssa left (around 9 am), so it was just Patrick and I. My acupuncturist had recommended acupressure points for inducing labor (I spoke with her to schedule an appointment during the day to get things moving, per Alyssa’s recommendation), so we did a few of those. At that point, I was continuing to have contractions every 3 minutes apart but I noticed they started becoming more intense. Patrick was doing some stuff around the house (he has a hard time sitting still!) and I started doing some moaning/singing through contractions, and either sitting on the ball or standing and swaying while leaning over the countertop. With things starting to get more intense, I was supposed to drink my second dose of castor oil at 10am. Patrick made the smoothie for me, and I could only stomach two sips of it before it was making me pretty nauseated. I decided I didn’t need to drink anymore anyway since it seemed like I was in active labor at that point with the timing and intensity of my contractions! I also decided it sounded like a good idea to get into the shower at that point to see if that could help with the discomfort of each contraction, but I think it only made it more intense! When I got out of the shower around 10:40am, I asked Patrick to call Alyssa and let her know that things felt like they were starting to pick up. She listened to me breathe/moan/sing through a contraction and said that if they continued in that way for 30 more minutes to give her a call and she would be right over. At this point, I really loved/needed downward sacral pressure from Patrick during each contraction while I leaned over on either a counter or the desk in our room and swayed. 20 minutes later, at 11:00am, I needed to throw up that little bit of castor oil smoothie that I tried to get down at 10:00! Based on our experience with Silas last time, we knew that me throwing up meant that things were changing, we just didn’t know how fast. I told Patrick to call Alyssa since I threw up, and to have her come since things were obviously picking up! I also started feeling a little lightheaded from throwing up, so I decided to try a new position of lying down on my side with a couple of pillows between my legs so that I could try to rest better between contractions without having to stand up.
Alyssa got to our house around 11:10am and started unloading things from her car. She probably didn’t get up to our room until about 11:20am once she had everything she needed, and she came in right as I was having another contraction. She checked the baby’s heart rate and mine, and everything sounded good. She then went to check my blood pressure and had just put the cuff on when I started having another contraction. At this point, I was still in the sidelying position, and Patrick was giving me sacral pressure here through this contraction… but, toward the end of the contraction, something shifted inside of me and I yelled, “I need to poop… no, that’s the baby’s head coming down!!!”. Everything went really fast at this point. Alyssa pulled the BP cuff off my arm (needless to say she didn’t have time to check my blood pressure..) and she quickly checked to see where the baby was. The head was about 2 inches from crowning! I knew that I wanted to change positions, I just didn’t know to where… so I just pushed myself up onto my hands and knees on the bed because that sounded like the easiest thing to do. Alyssa was behind me and Patrick was next to me on the bed, and they were both encouraging me to listen to my body and push the baby down when I felt like my body was telling me to do so. I could feel the baby coming down so I made a low groan/moan and tried to relax my bottom as much as I could. Two more pushes (I reached down and touched her head in between those, at Alyssa’s encouragement to feel how much progress I was making) and her head was out! Unbeknownst to me, Alyssa unwrapped the cord from around her neck (it was wrapped around one time) and she made a cry/squeak before she was even all the way out. One more push and her body came all the way out, and Alyssa passed her through my legs up to me. I immediately pulled her up and held her on my chest, so exasperated at the thought that she was already here, so quickly!!! I just started crying about how she was there, and Patrick and I hugged her and loved on her, both in shock.
I turned around to lie back with some pillows and just snuggled with our babe, still in amazement at how quickly everything happened. My placenta took a little bit of time to come out, about 30 minutes, so we all just sat there talking and Alyssa monitored us as I slowly pushed the placenta out when my body was cuing me to. Patrick and I decided on her name during this time: Esmé Veronica Wenger. I worked with Esmé on her latch- she was pretty sleepy and not super interested in nursing, but she did latch on a little bit (for about 30 seconds) on each nipple. My bleeding was overall very normal and definitely less than what I had with Silas (thank you 4 dates a day for the last 4 weeks of pregnancy!), and I felt pretty good. I ate some lunch (Alyssa heated up the cannelloni we had in the fridge) and then we examined the placenta, where Alyssa gave me a little “tour” of all of the things she was looking for. Then, Alyssa helped me get up and go to the bathroom/change before Silas, Linda, and Kaettie showed up around 2pm.
Silas came up and met his little sister- I definitely choked up when he came in and I wasn’t able to speak very much at first. He was pretty hesitant to touch me or her at first, but it’s been a day now and he is less hesitant and wants to “pet” her head and give her kisses and hugs when he is next to me holding her. It’s so sweet, and I’m so excited and interested to see how their relationship will grow! Anyway, Alyssa did the newborn exam from head to toe and everything was perfect. She weighed 7 lb 0 oz and was 19” long at birth. After Alyssa packed up all of her things and put the laundry in the wash, she took off and Patrick and I hung out upstairs soaking in the newborn-ness of Esmé while Silas played with Linda and Kaettie downstairs. We all had some delicious dinner together around 6pm, and we continued on with our little family life with our new addition of a fourth.
Having a homebirth was everything I wanted and expected it to be, and I so loved the comfort of being in our home- especially in that it has allowed me to continue interacting with Silas and he has been able to spend so much time around his sister in her first hours. I didn’t quite imagine it would go so quickly, but I am thankful that it was quick, smooth, and ended up with Esmé and I doing really well.