A journey is a person in itself; no two are alike. And all plans, safeguards, policing, and coercion are fruitless. We find that after years of struggle that we do not take a trip; a trip takes us. – John Steinbeck
We hadn’t planned on expanding our family so quickly, so you can imagine our surprise when we discovered Lilly was going to be a big sister after only 9 months in our lives! She and her sibling would be around 18 months apart. The memories from her birth were still very fresh and the emotional wounds were still seeping. My first labor and birth was tough. Very tough. Lilly was a planned homebirth turned hospital induction due to prolonged rupture of membranes. My water broke at 1:45 am Tuesday morning, my pitocin induction started at 11 am Thursday morning, and she arrived earthside at 1:26 pm Friday afternoon. There were bright lights, a rude nursery nurse, a failed epidural followed by a spinal after 21 hours of labor, and very interrupted time with my new baby. I learned so much from her birth, but I was terrified it would happen like that again. Thus, our journey begins.
I suspected on July 2nd that I was pregnant, so I bought a pregnancy test after Lilly’s 9 month check up. It was negative, but I was still not sure that was correct. On July 3rd, my husband and I were discussing food. He mentioned ribs, and I became nauseous immediately. I looked at him, then went and took another pregnancy test. Positive. I knew it.
I knew from the get go I wanted to try for a home birth again, and I wanted to have all my prenatal care be with a midwife instead of switching halfway through like I did with Lilly. However, with my history of ectopic pregnancy, I decided to see an OB just to have an ultrasound to confirm placement and have my labs drawn so insurance would cover it. I hired my fabulous midwife, Michelle, before the doctor even decided I was definitely pregnant. I interviewed and hired the most amazing doula, Jessica, shortly thereafter. I feel like I really clicked with both of them. Michelle has an assist, Sue, who joins her for many births. Michelle also had a friend, Janelle, who is in training and needed a few more births, so I agreed for her to join us. Jessica took on an apprentice as well, Kat, who I felt comfortable inviting to my birth. I felt amazing about my team, all 3 midwives and both doulas! Jessica is also a placenta fanatic, so I asked her to do my encapsulation as well. After suffering from PPD with Lilly, I wanted every tool possible in my arsenal.
Pregnancy was much harder on me this time around. I stayed exhausted. I stayed sick much longer than I did the first time. I met much more criticism when I announced I would definitely be trying for a home birth again, despite it not working out with Lilly. My heart was still set on birthing at home.
I had several occasions where I saw my chance at home birth slipping away. At 29 weeks, I caught the flu while visiting family in Arkansas for Christmas. Ugh. The ER doctor tried to scare me into scheduling a cesarean for 36 weeks because the baby was breech. I argued my case and left, thankful that I would not be delivering my baby in Arkansas and knowing that I had MORE than enough time to turn the little one. However, I can’t pretend like it didn’t plant the tiniest seed of doubt. I knew I could vaginally deliver a breech baby, but I also knew it was a little more risky and I wouldn’t be comfortable if my midwife wasn’t comfortable. Baby turned vertex 2 days later though, so no worry.
At 32 weeks, I started having regular Braxton Hicks when I would walk or be intimate with the hubs. Then I started having severe pain after sex, which led to the discovery of a varicose vein in my vagina. Oh, fun. At 35 weeks, I followed Michelle’s advice and propped my hips up just a tiny bit after sex to help with the varicose vein. The little baby decided to take that opportunity to flip breech again. Cue freaking out! I texted Michelle, hopped on spinning babies, did an inversion followed by a breech tilt, puked from the pressure of the tilt, took an Epsom salt bath, and prayed all night long. Babe decided to go vertex by the next morning, so another disaster averted!
At 36+3, I started having regular contractions that felt much different than the Braxton Hicks and were way more regular. In California, 37 weeks is the cut off for home birth, but it can be done after 36+4 IF the parents understand the risk. I had an appointment with my whole birth team the next day anyway, but thankfully the contractions stayed 20 minutes apart and then fizzled out. My midwives were confident that baby and I would be ok, so John and I filled out a paper saying we knew the risks and accepted them.
After this point, my contractions would start every morning and stay consistent at 15-20 minutes apart. Every. Single. Day. I went through a LOT of emotions during this time. Apprehension. Excitement. Discouragement. Disappointment. Fear. Sadness. Anger. Guilt. Impatience. It was a very rough time for me emotionally. As my due date came and went, I had to deal with not only my emotions but the emotions of those around me as well. Everyone was ready to meet my baby and find out if we were having a boy or a girl, and it was made clear how impatient people were getting! I tried my best to ignore it, but I was starting to get pissed. I knew nothing was wrong. I knew that a “due” date is an estimate at best, an unrealistic timeline at worst. I knew my baby would arrive when he or she was ready. I was getting a LOT of pressure to induce, either by self induction or by “giving up” and going to the hospital. At 40+5, I said fuck it. I accepted that my baby would arrive at the perfect time, and it was up to me to wait. I accepted that everyone else could fuck off if they thought they could tell me how and when I should do things instead of letting me make the informed decision myself. I decided I wouldn’t do any induction techniques unless my body or my baby was in trouble. I accepted these things, and I felt an overwhelming amount of peace because of it.
The next day, at 40+6, I spent the entire day packing. We were moving in the next 2 weeks, so I had stuff to do. Little one needed to stay in a bit longer so I could pack! I started feeling some contractions, but they weren’t any different than what I had been feeling for weeks at this point, and they were an hour or two apart. John texted and asked if my mom could watch Lilly that night so he could take me on a date. She agreed, so we headed out when he got home from work. We went to the mall, and he wanted me to get a massage, but the lady at the massage place said they couldn’t do a body massage because they didn’t have the right table, so I left. I didn’t want a chair massage, and I didn’t want to have to wait anyway. John was sad I couldn’t get a massage, so he took me instead for a mani/pedi. I’d never had one, so I waddled over to the chair and had my nails done. I started feeling contractions pretty regular, but they weren’t really intense. I didn’t bother timing them because, hey, this has been going on for weeks now. After my nails were finished, we walked across the mall to BJ’s restaurant for dinner. I had to pause through a couple of contractions, but I still didn’t think anything was up. It was 5 pm. When we sat down to eat, I noticed the contractions were coming pretty close together, so I decided to start timing them. However, I did not tell John how close they were coming because I didn’t want to get his hopes up. After our pizza arrived and I ate half, I looked at John and ever so casually said “You know, we should probably fill up the birth pool when we get home”. He looked at me funny and asked “oh yeah?”. “Well, my contractions are 4 minutes apart lasting a minute each…..” “CHECK PLEASE!!”
I decided I should let Michelle know what was going on. Here's our text log.
“We are going straight home. I’m having intensifying contractions right now. Drinking a lot of water but not slowing down.”
“LOL yeah we were having a date!”
“Um. 4 min for the past half hour.”
“Nice! Call me when you get a chance.”
(She called me as I was peeing in Barnes and Noble after the 6 glasses of water I had just downed trying to slow everything down.)
“4 min ish and intense. Fuck riding in the car during these mother fuckers”
“Should Sue come now?”
“I dunno. What do you think? I’m having to moan through these but I’m gonna feel awful if this is a false alarm”
I called my mom and asked her to start setting up the pool. She asked if I was really in labor, and I said my contractions were 4 minutes apart then immediately started moaning through another one. She set to work.
Michelle arrived to our house just after we did. She watched me go through two contractions and called Sue to come while she started to set up her birth supplies. I still wasn’t really sure it was go time, but she reassured me that it definitely looked like active labor to her. Michelle suggested I call my doulas. Funny that my midwife had to come tell me I was in labor so I could call my doulas! I called Jessica and asked if she was ready to have a baby tonight because apparently I was in labor. She said she was going to finish up eating and head over.
After the tub was filled, I asked Michelle if I could get in. “Sure!”. I jumped in still in my tank and panties, but the pants had come off as soon as I arrived home from my date. This made Michelle giggle, and she reminded me that I would have to take off my panties at some point. “That’s fine, but I really needed to get in the water for now. I’ll get them later.”
I sort of lost track of time at this point. I stayed on my knees for most of my labor, leaning my head on the pool. Jessica arrived and started moaning through the contractions with me. Janelle and Sue had already arrived and were hanging out in the kitchen with Michelle and my mom while I labored in the pool in my living room. Kat arrived at some point while I was really too into it and took over for Jessica. At one point, I got out to pee. When I was in the bathroom, I decided to do a quick check because, mind you, I still wasn’t convinced it was ACTUALLY go time. I felt my bag bulging which was my first clue that hey, I’d be having this baby soon! I let Janelle know, and she told Michelle who then came in to check on me. John had to take Lilly out for a drive to help her go to sleep since this was all going down around her bedtime.
Things really started getting intense for me, but I still wasn’t feeling any worse than I did on the damn pitocin with Lilly, so I was handling it quite well. At some point, I hit transition. In my head, I knew that was happening and was having a rather epic internal battle. During a contraction, I felt like I was DYING. After it passed, I was saying to myself to just get it over with and go get an epidural. Then I reminded myself that the epidural itself didn’t work with Lilly, but the spinal did, so I’d just request a spinal instead. Then I realized that, in my poor planning, I had not actually ever mapped out the course to the hospital and did NOT want to do that shit during labor. Ah, fuck it, suck it up and push this baby out in the water in your living room like you’ve been fighting to do for the past 18 months since Lilly’s birth. Alright, let’s buckle down and do this.
I looked over my shoulder and realized that Janelle and Michelle were behind me with gloves on… Um, ladies, no point in that right? “You really think we’re that close?” Michelle responds with “Why don’t you put your fingers in and tell us?” I attempted to check myself and couldn’t feel anything. However, I completely chalked it up to fuck I’m uncomfortable and just can’t get in the right position. In my head, I was laughing that they had their gloves on because there was NO WAY we were close enough for me to be pushing. Then I had another contraction and grunted loudly as I started pushing and my water released. Oh.
John walked in and was told to stay. “Yeah? You think we’re that close?” Cue next contraction and next pushing. “Well, this is what we would call pushing, so you should probably stay.” I was on my knees facing away from everyone. Then I turned around and crawled over to John. Then I turned sideways some. I just could NOT get into the right position to feel the most comfortable. I was turning and moving, but I kept staying leaned forward. Michelle suggested I lean back on my heels, so I did and felt progress. Then I heard Janelle ask for someone to grab one of the kitchen chairs because getting out of the pool might help things along some. I decided there was no way in hell I was getting out of the pool, so I leaned back against the opposite side of the pool and pushed with everything I had. That was it. Baby moved down!
John came around behind me and held my hands. He was telling me how awesome I was doing and how close we were. God I love that man. I started really feeling like I had to poop something awful, so I just pushed through it. I felt my baby moving down and my vagina opening. Janelle told me not to push, but I had to push so I was very, VERY controlled in pushing. I gave the tiniest little pushes, and POP! I felt the head emerge. Then I just took a deep breath and rested. I looked down and saw the head between my legs. Holy wow we were doing it! This baby was being born AT HOME! I felt the next contraction come, and with a little push, 2.0 arrived! I was reaching at the same time they were passing baby to me. In my arms, against my chest, and I felt under the baby to see the sex. “Hi Amelia! Happy birthday!”
Our second little girl was MAD about it, but I was so happy! She had the cutest grumpy man face. I was bleeding a little, so I got out of the tub, still holding my baby who was still attached to me, and moved to the couch. I laid down with sweet Mia on my chest as we waited for the placenta to deliver. After I delivered the placenta, the midwives showed it to me and went over the parts, then we cut Mia’s cord as all the blood had gone to her. She latched on right after her cord was cut and nursed for an hour and a half. She was perfect. I was thrilled!
Amelia “Mia” Claire Turknett was born at 10:59 pm. She weighed a whopping 8 lbs 8 oz and was 21 inches long. Her birth was *perfect*. I had 6 hours of labor, and 30 minutes of pushing. Her apgars were 9 and 10. Like I said, perfect.
I enjoyed a placenta smoothie as Janelle and Michelle did Mia’s newborn exam, and John got some awesome skin to skin with her while I went and took a shower. Lilly slept through the whole thing. At around 2 am, John and I took Mia and went to bed while everyone was leaving. Lilly woke up as we were getting in bed, but snuggled up next to me and went back to sleep. It was pure bliss holding both of my daughters close for the first time as we all slept together in our family bed.
Now Mia is 2 weeks old, and I’m finally able to sit down and write her story. Her birth absolutely healed everything I was holding on to from Lilly’s birth and restored my faith in perfectly natural, normal birth. Our journey was long, had its ups and downs and wrong turns, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.