I took my first instagram poll, and "family blog" won out over a wedding blog so because I got a bit caught up on weddings this morning, I figured now, at 9 weeks old, was as good a time as any to share some photos and write about how we brought our newest LoveMac into the world. It feels funny to share such an intimate moment with the WHOLE interweb, but I find that when I'm my most vulnerable, that's when the magic happens. That's when other women reach out to connect in ways that would never happen otherwise. Plus, I think the more stories that we share about such a crazy thing (BIRTH), the more we can all realize and support each other in the difficult decisions that come with having a baby. So here goes!
So leading up to baby, we did ALL THE THINGS. It was like, the more we do, the less I'll realize my own misery. As I shared in the last family blog. This pregnancy was just so hard on me. The feeling of how is ever going to even be possible with 4 kids, combined with the sheer exhaustion and just overwhelming pain that came with being pregnant again. Maybe it was 75% mental, and I let it get to me. But I swear, I wasn't sleeping, and the aches were just so much!
My original due date started as 9/23 AND I started at a typical OBGYN. Like lots of you might know, Coco was delivered at home with a midwife. After her birth, and hearing subsequent birth stories, I let fear get the best of me, saying, "IF we have more, I'd NEVER deliver at home because ____ and ____...but no worries, we're done" HA! So, you can imagine my utter confusion once I found myself pregnant, having vowed never to deliver at home again, but absolutely struggling with the medical side of pregnancy. I didn't want to do the extra stuff. I didn't want to be poked and prodded, having known my own history the way that I did. We had three healthy, normal, nothing extraordinary pregnancies. I like the midwife approach to my own pregnancy, it works for me. Is it better than any other? NOPE! Everyone has to choose and do what's best for them and their growing baby - but for me, I just couldn't do it. I started to explore other options and found myself liking another homebirth route. Now, keep in mind, this pregnancy was NOT easy for me. Everything with baby, and my health was FINE. But mentally, I just wasn't there. Spoiler alert: now I look at my sweet Shiloh and wish I would've accepted him more, but I just couldn't. I've had lots of conversations with other moms about this already. I am by no means an expert, but my best advice is that it'll be ok. I can't look at him regretful I didn't BASK in my pregnant glory. I was treading water like no other time in life. Trying to keep up a "normal" and happy life for my 6, 4, and 2 year olds. And run a business. And be a wife. It was exhausting, and painful. (I am making it more miserable than it really was ... I think. It wasn't just sadness the entire time!) So anyways, after the first ultrasound at 8 weeks or so, and he measured well over 3 weeks bigger than he should be, we moved the date to 9/15. I've had a baby 4 days late (FInn), 3 weeks early (Sawyer) and one week early (Coco). So in my head, this baby is coming end of August, no later!
August comes and goes. And things are different feeling. He's measuring fine, my appointments are fine, blood pressure, protein, weight gain (honestly, I NEVER EVER worry about weight gain. I don't even know or pay attention to what it was with any pregnancy. To me, that's just a thing to cause extra worry) fine....but I'm feeling...different. I started to feel like I did something wrong by not embracing and glowing every second of the past nine months. I started talking myself into the idea he...wouldn't be able to breathe at birth, or wouldn't come out crying. Hormones? maybe..but more than anything his pregnancy started to feel different than the rest. I had braxton hicks contractions from like 20 weeks with him. Never experienced those before with any other kid. Around September 3ish maybe? I would have "pre labor" I guess I'd call it? 20 mins of contractions here and there, consistent for an hour or so, then nothing. Again, never experienced those things with any other child. Once labor hit, the baby was on their way. All these things let me get into my own head about how the birth was going to go. Mentally, by this point I was dealing with *still* being pregnant fine. I wasn't like GO INTO LABOR GO INTO LABOR! Like I know it's easy to get into. I convinced myself I'd stay pregnant till the 20th of September (maybe even the 21st..."do you remember..the 21st night of September" only our favorite wedding song EVVVERRR!). And maybe started to feel the most bonded with my baby as I'd felt all pregnancy. I always remember the wise words my sister told me as I was late with Finn, and she'd already had their first three weeks earlier: "enjoy the last days of pregnancy, it's the last time you can ever truly protect them" gaaaah, doesn't that just get you!? I started thinking, what if something happens? What if these months with him inside are all I get with him. Who are we to be able to have FOUR healthy children? Hormones. Too much.
Well the day of Sunday the 10th of September, I slept. and slept, and slept. And snapped. At the kids, at Mike. Looking back: DUH. I'm about to have a baby. In the moment, whoa: I'm super pregnant. Leave me alone!
I woke up at 1:45 September 11th, and was having contractions closely and consistently. We started getting stuff ready, we knew a litttttle better how to prepare for a homebirth this time around (last time, we didn't have the tub inflated, and Mike was literally bringing boiling buckets of water to warm the tub as Coco was born!). So the midwife arrives at 3:30 (?) I think, and says the words, "well! this should be fast!" and ALL I've said ALL ALONG is that I will base this pregnancy off of how the rest of my pregnancies and labors have gone. SO, I'm already in my own head about the fact that the intermittent contracts are different and what's wrong with this baby?! AND he's posterior. Which means we're spine to spine. He should be facing the other way, so that when he is born, the easiest part of his dome delivers first. It also means that the contractions are insane.
I've had two unmedicated births, by choice. And they were easy. So smooth. This one, so far, was not happening that way. I knew my labors last no longer than 12 hours. Coco was born in an intense, but looking back, EASY 3. SO as I'm listening to the newspapers be delivered (because in our neighborhood, the car that delivers them ALWAYS has a broken muffler!) around 5am, I'm realizing this is 4 hours in, my baby should be here by sunrise. The photos will be fantastic! An early morning birth, a day full of sunshine for all the goodness I want to capture of him meeting everyone. All I ever wanted in a birth!
BUUUT I'm getting no relief. I've gotten in the tub, in the shower, on the toilet (TMI?! it's a birth story remember!?). While the warm water of the tub allowed me to relax for a second, nothing was progressing as quickly as anyone expected it to. One thing about birth, that I'm certain you've read before is that when the urge to push is there, it's insanely relieving. I never got that. My body stopped. What I love about the midwife practice is that mom is in charge. They told me to go with what my body felt. Well, the one or two times I gave in to the urge to push, at home, I didn't feel anything that felt better. As the minutes passed, I could feel my body shutting down. I could feel my fear and anxiety taking over.
The reason I went with the midwife practice I did is that the hospital they transfer to + have a wonderful relationship with is just 5 minutes from our house....at 7am, I was given the choice, after trying the birthing ball IN the shower (nope, nope, nope!), to get back in the tub? get on the toilet? try to lay down? I looked around and said,
WHY!? We're just prolonging it. Let's go to St. Ann's.
I thought maybe in that moment I'd feel bad, or like I'd failed, or that I did something wrong. When, in all actuality, I felt empowered. I made a decision that I KNEW I, and my baby, needed. They looked me in the eye and said, we'll clean up and follow you. NO QUESTIONS ASKED. well, maybe they said, uh, can you get in the car? Or, can you get pants on? HA! And, I'll tell you another spoiler: throughout the rest of this birth, I never felt a single moment of NOT being in charge. Even with a hospital transfer, and even with "the medical side" of having a baby.
So by now the kids are awake, my sister's arrived to watch them, and I somehow managed to make it to the back of our van. I'm not sure if I laid on the seat or the floor, but it wasn't awesome. I closed my eyes and played the route their as I counted turns and Mike assured me as to where we were at each stop. The check into the hospital was swift, got us right into a room, did all the things (all the questions ALLLLL THE QUESTIONS!), and told me my epidural would be here "soon." tell a women in labor "soon" and she has a different idea of what that means. 20 minutes certainly isn't soon.
I chose to go no epi with Sawyer, at the hospital, because the pain of the needle in my back was just terrifying to me after Finn's. This time around, I swear I would've left with that thing if they let me! After having the labor I'd had, the relief was so welcome. And, after two natural births, I'll tell you what: sitting in a hospital bed laboring while just scrolling instagram and laughing and oh my gosh maybe even resting!? is blissful. In this instance, too, I can look at it as a time that I probably most bonded with my baby. Crazy right? I wrote about it in the last post I wrote about his birth. I let my body calm down. I let myself relax, and wasn't in any pregnancy pain. FINALLY. Clearly my body needed it, because the midwives "this'll be fast" comment couldn't have been further from the truth. After the epidural, my body needed 5 hours to relax enough to progress to get to the point to push. FIVE HOURS! My anxiety, I think, about what was going to go wrong, or what I did wrong, played a huge roll in that.
So sparing these details (hahaha!) he arrived, and was PERFECT and HUGE. I got to hold him right away, we didn't know whooooo he looked like, and once they got him on the scale we knew why - my miserable pregnancy was justified the second the scale read NINE POUNDS TWO OUNCES! (keep in mind Coco weighed 6 lb 11 oz), and he pretty much looked like a puffy version of each kid at birth.
The laugh cry emoji is perfectly applicable for this moment in my life. Never would I have imagined, after all 6 and 7 pound babies, that I could have a 9 pounder. He was so fat, and so awesome! (iphone pic below because when you transfer to the hospital from a homebirth, you barely get even just yourselves there and we certainly didn't bring a camera)
He's the perfect addition to my life. I am selfish and say it like that because he's everything I never knew I needed. He's relaxed me in ways I didn't know I needed. I let my big kids be and don't even think twice about it. They're big kids! they can deal with independence. I have days when I don't put him down. It means more intentional living all around. I find myself seeking meaningful interactions with each kid instead of just wasting the time I have. And on top of that, they're all obsessed with him. Not all the time, not in an annoying way, just like, Oh, he's our baby, and he's here. And we LOVE HIM.
thanks for being here! if I can be any support to any new / about to be a new moms out there, don't hesitate to write! I love nothing more than getting to help someone who needs it <3