Giving birth was one of the most interesting and fun things I’ve ever done. Yes, fun!!!
First of all, my pregnancy was pretty great and I think I can attribute that to being self-employed. The handful of times that I had to be somewhere early in the morning made for a queasy and rough day. Being able to make my own schedule helped a lot (even though I threw up throughout my entire pregnancy). Lots of funny throwing up stories, but I’m going to focus on the birth story in this post.
(me at 31.5 weeks pregnant)
(pretending to give birth to Henry)
(2 weeks after this photo was taken, I gave birth to Finley!)
I knew I wanted to do a natural, out-of-hospital birth from the get-go. It didn’t take much to convince Adam. Our doula (who ended up not being our doula, more on that later) pointed us towards an amazing midwife, Carolyn at Birth Wellness. We met with Carolyn for a consultation and I was completely sold within minutes! Their prenatal care included group meetings/classes and they would talk about things like vaccines, circumcision, cloth diapering, breast feeding, labour, etc. They didn’t sway you any particular way on these issues, and just provided facts. We loved it!
Every appointment would start by checking your weight, blood pressure, baby’s heartbeat, etc. And then you had a one-on-one with the midwife for any questions. After that, you’d head out into the living room for the group class. It was neat having other mom’s there who could share their experiences. Group prenatal care is such a rad idea.
Anyways, I assumed I would be the 42 week pregnant lady with an 18 hour labour, and so I prepared myself for Finley to be born close to Christmas (her due date was December 16). I didn’t book anything past the middle of October though, just in case! I had one whole week where I wasn’t working and then….BAM! Baby time.
It happened like this:
One evening at dinner (November 23, 2015), I started having cramps. My parents were over for dinner so I ignored the cramps. I woke up at 4am the next morning with contractions. I woke Adam up so we could time them, and they were about 4-5 minutes apart. I was confused because google said that Braxton Hicks contractions were supposed to be painless, and these hurt! They weren’t crippling, but they were definitely quite painful. I tried changing positions, walking around, and eating but they didn’t stop. I didn’t feel overly concerned, and Adam went to work. As soon as he left, I had my “bloody show” (sorry dudes), which after not having a period for almost a year was super shocking! Adam rushed back home, but we figured we’d just wait it out. We had a prenatal appointment later that afternoon, so I just went back to bed and by 10am the contractions had stopped. After describing all this to my midwife, she assured me that it simply meant things were happening and progressing. All totally normal (and exciting!). She said she could check me at my next appointment if I wanted (one of the many things I love about Carolyn is that she doesn’t check you down there unless you ask or if it’s necessary. The only time I was checked was when I was IN labour). I felt reassured by Carolyn’s nonchalance, and went back to my daily life.
I also took those contractions as a warning sign and finally packed my bag!
On November 28th (6 days after having the cramps/contractions) we all went out for my dad’s birthday lunch. I was feeling fine. No discomfort, just feeling pregnant and happy.
Later that evening, Adam and I went on a 2 mile walk (which I tried to do every day) and then stayed up til 11pm hanging out and watching a movie. I went to bed feeling totally fine and normal.
I woke up at 4:20am to go to the bathroom. After my quick pee break, I slid back into the warm bed and immediately had a contraction. It took my breath away! I waited to see if there would be more, and when the second one came I woke Adam up. It felt like the real thing but my brain couldn’t process the possibility of me actually being in labour. The contractions were about 3.5 minutes apart and HURT. In between the contractions I vomited + pooped a ton. I think that’s when I suspected it might be real labour.
When I learned about labour, I learned that it typically starts slow…at first you’ll feel cramps, and then as time goes on it will get more and more intense. So I’m thinking that I’m in “early labour” at this point, and I’m FREAKING OUT because early labour isn’t supposed to be painful. I told Adam “Oh my gosh, this is going to be so embarrassing but we’re going to have to tell Carolyn that I can’t do this! And we already paid her, but I can’t do this! It’s only going to get more painful from here and it already hurts so much!”
Adam was just standing there staring at me, knees shaking, not knowing what to do. We finally called Carolyn and she told us to come on in. I think it was around 5:30am. Adam grabs our bags, lets Harley out, and we walk out to the garage when I start PUSHING. I had heard that the pushing part felt a lot like going poop, but I didn’t expect it to feel EXACTLY like a bowel movement. And your body just DOES it. Adam’s response was “Oh my gosh, you’re pushing? Stop pushing!!” But you CAN’T stop pushing!!!
I pushed the whole way down to Chattanooga (30 minutes). I was so hot and sweaty. It was raining and I had the window down and the wet air felt so good! I couldn’t open my eyes. Something about keeping my eyes closed helped me with the pain.
Carolyn checked me as soon as we arrived and let me know that I was fully dilated and in the second stage. She could see Finley’s hair!
I remember thinking “HECK YES. That means I was already IN transition and the painful part is over. I can totally do this!” What a cheerful relief!
Because Finley came 2.5 weeks early and on Thanksgiving weekend, both our doula and birth photographer were out of town. We had a back-up doula who Adam finally remembered to call. I mean, there was a whole lot going on and everything was happening so fast! I thought labour was going to be an entire day of leisurely taking hot showers, making calls to family to let them know it was happening, and watching movies or something. NOPE. The whole thing was happening so fast! We were straight up just not expecting to have a baby that soon.
For whatever reason, laying down made the pain of labour significantly worse so I spent most of the time on a birthing stool (similar to a toilet), and on my knees leaned over a birthing ball. Sitting on the birthing ball lets gravity help with things, but it can also be intense for you lady parts. Carolyn saw that I was starting to tear, so she had me get down on my knees.
I can’t remember when the doula arrived…but she was there when Carolyn had me lay on my side and Amanda (our wonderful back-up doula) held my leg up in the air. I immediately got a charlie horse in my hip and pleaded with her to drop my leg. What I didn’t realize was that Finley’s head was already out. One more push and Finley shot out of me like a canonball! My charlie horse went away.
Sidenote about muscle cramps:
I got terrible, painful charlie horses in my calves during pregnancy. I would wake up crying and screaming in the middle of the night. I told Adam that there was no way that labour could be more painful than a charlie horse. He told me that made him really nervous, because he was pretty sure that labour would indeed be more painful than a charlie horse. It turned into a big joke between us. I would get a paper cut and tell him “Labour can’t be more painful than this paper cut!!” and we would both nervously crack up.
Well, I maintain that a charlie horse is more painful than natural labour and delivery. Adam told me the only time I cried out during labour was when I had the charlie horse in my hip! Ha!
Back to the birthing story…
Carolyn immediately placed Finley on my chest and I couldn’t believe it! She was huge, dark haired, and nothing like the petite, bald baby I expected to see. She was born at 7:50am on November 29, 2015 after 3.5 hours of labour. She was 8lb 8oz. and 20 inches long. It was nothing like the 18 hour grueling experience I had expected and it was, by far, the coolest thing I’ve ever done.
We moved up to the bed and all hung out as a family for the first few hours of her life. Normally, we would have stayed at Carolyn’s for about 4 hours to make sure everyone was all good, but we had to wait for my swelling to go down so she could stitch me up. That took FOREVER. Carolyn wouldn’t tell me how many stitches I got, but I estimate it being around 3 million. Maybe even 4 million.
We were supposed to go over to my parents house that day for lunch, so we called them and said “Hey, remember how we were supposed to come over for lunch? Well, we just had Finley so maybe y’all could make that lunch at our house instead?”
My mom’s response was “What? What? WHAT?!?!?!?!”
We headed home at 2pm that same day and were in shock for about 3 months. 🙂
(Finley, 1 day old)
(Finley, one week old)
(Our first attempt at a walk. 1 week postpartum. I made it across the parking lot before realizing what a bad idea it was.)
(My little cuties!)
(Finley, 2 weeks old)
(Finley, 1 month old)
(Finley, 3 months old)
(Finley, 8 months old)