“Your life does not get better by chance, it gets better by change.” –Jim Rohn
Oh how I have changed. If you would have told my 20 year old self that I’d be birthing 2 babies at home, I would have thought you were nuts. If you would have told me that I’d be encapsulating my placenta and cloth diapering, I would have thought you were certifiable. But alas, here I am doing all of those things willingly and loving every moment (well, most moments). Kids have a tendency to change you and my 30 year old self thanks them for that.
My pregnancy with Amelia was so different than my pregnancy with Logan. With Logan I craved healthy stuff like eggs and fruit. With Amelia, I just wanted FOOD – usually in the form of a cheese burger from In and Out. From the start I just knew it was a girl. In fact, the day after I found out I was pregnant I went out purchased a dress for the fetus in my stomach who hadn’t even developed sex organs at that point. I just knew. When we went to our anatomy scan, I didn’t even wait for the tech to announce the gender before I shouted “It’s A Girl!” and I couldn’t wait to slather her bedroom in pink!
This pregnancy flew by much quicker than my first. I had Logan preterm at 36 weeks and I made it a goal of mine to reach 37 weeks, full term. 38 would be better, 40 would be ideal, but my midwife and I were okay with 37. Lo and behold, at exactly 37 weeks pregnant, I woke up feeling sporadic contractions. I shrugged them off, thinking they’d surely subside, and headed to my wax appointment. Hey, if I was having a baby, my eyebrows were going to look good. I joked with my aesthetician that I might just give birth on her table.
We ran a few more errands and my contractions still weren’t letting up. This was exactly how my labor with Logan started – untimeable contractions that weren’t too uncomfortable but just didn’t go away. After an hour of sporadic contractions, I knew that I would be meeting my daughter soon and I called Mary, my midwife. She suggested that I take a warm bath to see if they would stop. The bath was relaxing, but it didn’t stop my contractions. This was it.
While I napped with Logan, my husband and parents rushed around the house getting things ready. Rich got the birthing pool set up and my parents helped clean my house. I loved that I was able to spend a couple hours cuddling with my sweet boy before the birth. I got teary eyed thinking about how these moments would soon be far and few in between. Soon, he’d have a little sister to compete for my attention with. His little life was going to drastically change and I hoped the adjustment would be easy for him.
I was in constant contact with my midwife throughout the day. She was trying to gauge my pain level and I reminded her that early labor with Logan went the same way, generally easy until I hit 7cm and then it turned intense fast. I told her that I felt like my labor could go on for hours and hours at this rate, but somehow she knew better and told me she was going to head my way in an hour to check me.
Shortly after I hung up with my midwife, my contractions started picking up and became somewhat timeable and very uncomfortable. A 3 year old is a great distraction for labor, he definitely kept my mind off of the pain. I knew from Logan’s birth that once I hit sensory overload, I was entering into active labor. I was getting there when Mary walked in the door and I quickly sent Logan off with my parents on the promise that he would get to meet his baby sister very soon.
If you read Logan’s birth story, you might remember that Rich spent much of my labor blowing up the birthing pool with a manual pump because our electronic pump didn’t work. You also might remember that after a couple hours of blowing up said pool that I refused to get in. This time around, he checked and double checked the electronic pump ahead of time and was quick to blow up the pool as soon as I mentioned the word labor. He also made me promise that I’d get in, if only for a couple seconds, this time around.
As soon as Logan was out the door, I happily obliged my husband by getting in the pool and I was in labor heaven. Don’t get me wrong, labor was still labor and still painful, but the warm water definitely helped. I joked with Rich that this was the only time we’d have a pool in the middle of our living room. While I was enjoying the water, my anxious husband didn’t know what to do with himself. He went around cleaning our already clean house and checking on me every few minutes. I was content laboring in the pool without distraction.
Things were quickly getting intense. There was a fleeting moment of doubt in my ability to do this. Memories of how excruciating it felt to push Logan out were coming back to me. I wanted to run and hide in the restroom. Mary told me that my baby would be coming soon and that I didn’t have time to go to the restroom. I pushed away those feelings of self-doubt and reminded myself that I had done this before and that I could do it again.
After going over the pros and cons of a water birth with Mary, we decided that I would labor for as long as possible in the pool and get out for pushing. Turns out that I was more than ready to get out of the pool when it came time to push. Mary and her assistant had laid down a waterproof tarp and some sheets on a nearby rug, so I didn’t have to walk too far from the pool. After an intense contraction ended, everyone helped me out of the pool and onto the rug.
Mary’s assistant, who I hadn’t had the chance to form a relationship with pre-birth, started mentioning meditation techniques. Anyone who knows me, knows that I’m a no-frills kinda girl when it comes to labor. I’m sure meditation works wonders for a lot of people, but when I’m in that much pain I personally don’t want to picture myself on a beach. I might have shouted “no, no, no” in the middle of a contraction when she asked me to go to my happy place.
After a little pep talk from Mary, I was ready to push. I had a different mindset with this labor. Instead of fighting against my body, I was going to work with it. I wanted to meet my baby and I wanted her out of me NOW. I knew what I had to do this time around. Only 3 minutes of intense pushing and Amelia was born. Mary placed her on my chest and the first thing I noticed was her amazing head of jet black hair. She was beautiful and so perfect. Hearing her tiny cry for the first time was the best sound in the world. She immediately gripped onto my finger and didn’t take her eyes off of me. She knew me. My doubts of being able to have enough love for another baby quickly dissipated as my heart doubled in size.
With Logan’s birth I wasn’t interested in seeing anything besides my baby. With this one, most likely my last, I wanted to see it all. I was a veteran mom after all, nothing can gross me out anymore. We were able to feel Amelia’s cord pulsate before Rich cut it and I savored those last few minutes of being physically connected to my child. Such a miracle. Next I delivered the placenta, which was less painful this time around. Mary showed us my placenta, which would soon be encapsulated, and how the part that faces the baby looks like a tree, which is why they call it the “tree of life”. So amazing.
I shouted at Rich to get out the camera and capture these first few moments with our daughter, while I desperately tried to engrave them in my brain. I didn’t want to forget a thing.
Life is definitely better with change.