This is the story of Lucy Mae's birth. She is my fifth baby, second home birth, fourth VBAC, and third natural childbirth.
My pregnancy was really great and flew by so fast...maybe too fast. I could have been pregnant for another 6-8 weeks. I wasn't ready for this pregnancy to end. I love being pregnant. There is something so amazing and sacred about growing and carrying and feeling a baby inside you. It is truly beautiful and amazing. But the last couple weeks were tiring and emotional. I guess that's to be expected when you decide to move to a new house when you're nine months pregnant. So many people told me I was crazy for moving this closed to my "guess date." A friend said something really inspiring to me a few weeks before our move. She said, "You're brave." I held onto these words and every time I wanted to say, "This is crazy," I told myself that I was brave for trying to do what was best for my growing family. This move felt right to both Jake and me and I had to follow that.
The week that Lucy was born was so very busy. We finally signed on our house at the beginning of the week. The rest of the week was a whirlwind of arranging for the house to be cleaned (much more difficult than I thought it would be) and packing and moving things over to the new house. I truly thought we were ready to go, but we still had tons to do! On Thursday I woke up and had a lot of mucusy discharge. I knew this was pieces of my mucus plug. I didn't freak too much though because I know that this doesn't always mean birth is going to happen that day and frankly I had too much to think about to fret.
I took Ben to summer preschool and went to check on the house. The cleaners there cleaning. My mom had taken Sam with her earlier that morning to work on unpacking and organizing. They showed me the progress they had made and I felt relieved things were coming together so I went back home to get another load of boxes. Jake insisted that I take a break, so I did. I sat on the couch for almost an hour.
My sweet sitter had taken Jane and I had instructed her to pick up Ben from preschool and take the kids all day. She did an amazing job of keeping them entertained. She took them to the movies, the park, and probably a bunch of other activities I don't know about. She kept them fed, happy, and clean. Jackson had been away at Scout Camp since Monday and wouldn't be home until Saturday. It was a blessing that it worked out that way. He had been moping around since we told him we were moving and I was grateful he could spent the week with his friends.
I got a call from my mom around 10:30 a.m. saying the cleaners had left and hadn't finished cleaning! I was livid. I called the lady and she said she just didn't have time today but could come back later in the week to finish. I told her, it had to be done today and that I was due to have my baby in 5 days! Thankfully I was able to find a cleaning team to come last minute and finish the house. I went to my prenatal appointment. On the way up the steps to the Birth Sweet, I felt Lucy move down a little and I thought, "Woah, maybe this will be today!"
I vented all my house frustrations to Cyndi at my appointment. I was moving in just up the street from Cyndi and she had been driving by my house each day watching how slowly the previous owners were moving out. She had been a great listener throughout my pregnancy. This pregnancy had been great physically for me, but emotionally it had been difficult. It seemed like every appointment I was crying to her about something and she always listened without judgment and always with support. I am a firm believer that all those extra prenatal appointments towards the end of pregnancy are for women's emotional well being just as much as they are for our physical wellness. Cyndi was great, as always.
At my appointment, she verified that my baby had indeed moved down. I left my appointment and went straight to the house to let the new cleaners in. When I got there I realized I didn't have the key! Seriously this day was so stressful, but I knew I couldn't breakdown...maybe later, but not yet.
The new and better cleaners left around 4:30 p.m. and finished everything on my list! Hallelujah! That was definitely God answering my prayers! I sat down to take a break and talk about furniture arrangement with my mom and had a strong pressure wave (Hypnobabies lingo for contraction) that pulled me to my hands and knees. My mom said, "You're not in labor are you?" I laughed it off and said, "No!" Telling myself, I could not be in labor. Not today!
Shortly after I headed back to our old house. I did some more packing and our neighbors helped us move our washer and dryer and bigger furniture. I thought my house was pretty clean until they started moving all the furniture. Then I wanted to cry. Giant dust bunnies and years of candy wrappers and lost toys suddenly appeared. This was going to be a lot of work cleaning this place!
The men kept asking me if I was okay and all they teased Jake for putting me through a move so close to my due date. I was having pressure waves, but I kept them to myself and convinced myself that they were coming from the stress of the day and that they would subside once this hectic day was over.
We packed my car to the brim and my brother-in-law showed up just in time. I asked him to drive my car because I was exhausted and I couldn't bear the thought of squeezing by giant belly behind the wheel again. I had a few pressure waves on the car ride back to the new house, but I kept my cool. Later my sister-in-law told me that he told her that he thought I'd have the baby that night. And here I thought I was playing it cool!
I knew I needed to go back to finish packing and clean the house, but the thought just overwhelmed me. For a split second I thought, maybe I'll have the baby tonight and I won't have to go clean. It was such a mess though, I couldn't have her tonight...I didn't want anyone to see my house like that!
I seriously only anticipated having my friends help me wipe down walls and dust door frames. I have the most amazing neighbors. They came to my rescue and finished packing and cleaning my entire house. It was such a humbling experience to have them help me. They are all such wonderful friends.
When I got to our new house, I must have looked exhausted. My mom sent me to shower and go to bed. Thankfully I had set up the kids bathroom earlier that day and my mom had set up Jane's bed too and I just so happened to have some clean clothes to change into. I showered and tried to sleep, but the pressure waves seemed to pick up when I was lying down. I tried listening to some Hypnobabies tracks to put me to sleep, but the pressure waves just felt better when I was upright. It was concerning to me that I couldn't lie down through them, but I knew I couldn't focus on that. So since I needed a distraction, I went back downstairs to unpack and organize. I mostly just told people where to put things and would stop now and then to lean over the counter for a pressure wave.
Sam, Ben and Jane played with their cousins and explored the new house, since they hadn't seen it until that day. Someone finally put them to bed around 10:00 p.m. and then the house was quiet and dark. I walked into my room and my mom and brother-in-law were setting up my bed and putting clean sheets on it. I wanted to cry because it was just what I needed and I had totally forgotten that we might actually need to go to sleep that night.
There were so many times throughout the day I just wanted to cry, but I kept praying that I could hold it together.
All this time I was still having pressure waves. I didn't time them though, because they didn't seem very consistent. Plus I had been having pressure waves on and off for weeks. That's just what my body typically does towards the end of pregnancy. I have tons of pressure waves that usually get me all excited. Sometimes I time them and they're regular. And sometimes they're strong enough that I get on my hands and knees or sit on a yoga ball. But then they just stop completely. It's all warm-up for my actual birthing time, so I usually try to just ignore them. It's just my body's way of preparing.
Jake was busy taking trips back and forth from the old house to the new house all day and we had only seen each other for short periods of time throughout the day. Now we were finally under the same roof again and it felt good to have him near. I could tell he was exhausted but he was still making me laugh.
Around 11:00 p.m. I kind of had a small inkling that I was actually in my birthing time when I sat down on the couch and I had to keep getting off the couch to get on my hands and knees when I'd have a pressure wave. I would talk and laugh through them though and then I would just get back on the couch and continue my conversation with my mom and Jake. But, I wouldn't let my mind go to the thought that this baby might actually want to come tonight. I really wanted to get the house more organized and a good night's sleep first!
Jake and I fell into bed around 12:30 a.m. and I fully expected the pressure waves to stop, like they had for the past few weeks. But they didn't! They kept coming and starting to feel really strong now. Then I started to panic! I couldn't have her now! Not tonight! I didn't even have my toothbrush, or my hairbrush. I had the birth kit, but no towels, no diapers. The pool was at Cyndi's. I felt so unorganized. I am an organizer and I felt like a wreck.
I called Cyndi at 1:00 a.m. in a total panic. I had been in denial all evening and now I had to face the fact that it was happening tonight! I called her and said I hadn't even been timing them so I had no idea how far apart they were or how long they were but that they were getting really strong and just felt "different." She must have thought I was nuts. I knew better. I should have had all the basic information ready for her. But I think a birthing woman can be allowed to act a little kooky, especially given the circumstances.
Cyndi told me she had to go to the Birth Sweet to get the tub liner. I told her I didn't care and that we were too tired to worry about setting up the pool. I could just give birth in the bath tub. Then I told her I was more concerned that I didn't have my toothbrush! She just laughed and told me she would bring me one.
She told me to take a bath to see if they calmed down. I thought, oh, good idea. Maybe that will get them to stop! I was thankful I had thought to bleach the tub earlier that day. I got in the tub, but the pressure waves weren't stopping. They were really strong.
I told Jake that I was fine and was just going to take a bath and that he should take a nap. He was snoring in seconds! I knew he was exhausted from moving all day. I had the thought to ask our baby or God to just wait one or two more days...but I couldn't bring myself to ask. I had pleaded with this baby to stay in until we were in our new house and she had. I couldn't ask her to wait another day... she was so ready to come.
I woke Jake up, who had probably slept all of 15 minutes and I called my doula who is also my sister. She had been sick that day and I had no idea if she'd be well enough to attend my birth, but she said she was. I asked her to bring towels since those had been left at the old house. What an awesome doula and sister! She arrived around 1:30 a.m.
Then I called my mom. I knew she really wanted to be at the birth, but I still felt bad calling her back over just after she had left. She was so excited and quickly came back over. Then I promptly sent her back to the old house to get the baby's diapers and of course my toothbrush! I seriously had considered driving back over there myself, but I knew I had to just allow other people to help me. After I decided that, I just felt more calm and was able to accept that our baby was being born that night. I felt like it would all work out and that I just needed to allow things to just happen the way they were supposed to, even if it was not how I planned or envisioned.
The pressure waves just kept coming and I just kept waiting for them to get easier. They were just really strong and intense all over. Pressure waves with Jane and Ben were just different. They just seemed so much easier. I would just take a deep breath at the beginning of a pressure wave and turn my light switch off (Hypnobabies hypnotic tool) and get lost in the wave. They were easy. These felt soo different. A wave would start and I would wine and moan until about the peak and then I felt like I could breathe deeply again. I'm all about making noise in birth. Women just make better progress when they can make low deep noise. I knew I wasn't making the right kind of noise though. It was more of a whining moan and not deep, but I didn't care.
I had been listening to my Hypnobabies tracks since I got in the tub, but I longed to listen to my instrumental playlist. I had been listening to this playlist the past month in times of stress and I had taught myself to relax to the music. I had been practicing my Hypnobabies for much longer and I knew it was ingrained and that it would be there for me, so I asked Karen to turn on the instrumental playlist. Karen started repeating bits of mini Hypnobabies scripts, but I just wanted silence (I probably didn't say it so nicely, but a birthing woman can get away with grumpiness).
When I started to become vocal, Jake asked if we should call Cyndi. So I had him call her and she arrived around 2:30 a.m. Our houses are just up the street from each other, so she got there quickly. Soon after Lisa (Cyndi's assistant) and my mom arrived with diapers and my toothbrush. About this same time, I got out of the tub to go to the bathroom. The pressure waves were getting stronger and the tub just wasn't comfortable (I was surprised by this because I love the tub, but knew I needed to listen to my body). I sat on the toilet and Karen, Jake, and Cyndi would take turns sitting in front of the toilet holding me during my waves.
I got dressed and made my way to the floor by the bed. The pump on my birth ball was broken so the ball was not firm, so it didn't feel comfortable. Someone offered to go get another one, but I just wanted everything to settle down so I asked for a folding chair and I sat on that for a while between waves. I would stand and hold onto Jake during a pressure wave and this was my favorite position. I tried kneeling and hands and knees a few times while someone did counter pressure or the double hip squeeze, but standing while Jake held me felt the best. I felt like I was being so loud, I was so surprised that none of the kids woke up. But birthing women always think they're louder than they really are.
I made my way back to the toilet and had a few pressure waves there and Cyndi said that the baby might be posterior. It all seemed to make sense to me now! She had been hanging out on the right side for weeks. I would encourage her to move to the left, but she would always end back up on the right. From my doula experience I have found that babies tend to like to move in a clockwise motion. So sometimes when a baby starts a birthing time out in the ROA position they move into the OP position. It's often times more ideal to start on the LOA and move to OA. [To read more about baby positioning click HERE.]
That's why these pressure waves felt so different from my previous births. That's why the waves were so irregular and more intense and I felt so much more pressure in my bottom! It was all beginning to make sense now. I really didn't have the unending back labor that I always thought a posterior baby would cause. It was intense, strong, and even painful, but completely bearable. Thank you Hypnobabies! I hadn't listened to my tracks during the birth, but all the hypnotic suggestions were ingrained in me and helped me stay calm.
I lied down on the bed and asked Cyndi to palpitate my belly to confirm her position. She confirmed that she was a posterior, but on her way out of that position, and just needed to turn a little bit more. I immediately turned to my right side almost on my belly and had my team put pillows all around me. Everyone was talking and I had to hush them in my nicest laboring voice. I don't know how nice it came out, but I warned them all previously I might be a little grumpy this birth. I started talking to my baby silently. "Ok baby girl, I need you to move so you're facing my back with your chin tucked." This little girl is so obedient and she moved so quickly!
With Jake at my head and Karen at my side, I started to push a little with each wave. I didn't even have a chuck under me, so when I felt my water break at 4:12 a.m. I said, "My waters!" and my team quickly jumped into action! I still had my cute undies on and Cyndi quickly pulled them off and announced she could see her. Yay, sweet relief this was almost over! The urge to push was stronger now. I just wanted to push hard so I could be done. I remember thinking, I don't care if I tear, I just want to be done! But then the doula side of me wouldn't let that happen, no… it was probably my angels telling me, you're just stretching things out, slow down, ease her down. Then another wave would come and I'd go back and forth in my mind again with the same thoughts.
A few minutes later her head was born. Lisa said, "Oh look, she has tons of hair! Enough for pony tails." I was so tired and just wanted to be done so I said to Cyndi, "Just pull her out!" Cyndi laughed and said that she wouldn't do that and that I could do it. I was so relieved when I finally pushed her out. It was 4:22 a.m. (And I didn't tear!) It was such a surreal feeling. I felt like I had been feeling her little spirit and movements for months. When I first saw her, I just saw this dark mass of hair and this little body cuddled up next to me. I thought, I should say something to her, this is an important moment, she's finally here. I want her to feel welcome. I said, something like, "Hi baby girl. We love you." I was so tired. I just hoped she felt loved, even if I didn't have something eloquent to say to her.
Lucy latched on quickly and started breastfeeding. My mom made me a bowl of oatmeal and a big bowl of fresh peaches from her tree. In all the business of moving, I forgot that I hadn't even eaten since lunch, so it was delicious. I showered and then Cyndi did the newborn exam. Lucy was 7 lbs 5 oz and 20.5 inches.
Then she tucked me in bed and everyone left. It was around 6:30 a.m., but it was still dark outside. Jake and I were both so tired that we fell asleep really quickly. I put Lucy's on my chest and when I woke up about an hour or so later, she was the sweetest smell and sight to wake up. I was suddenly so refreshed and felt as if I had gotten a full night of sleep. Ben came in our room and saw the little baby rocker next to my bed and said, "When is the baby going to be born?" I told him to come up on the bed. He got all tender when he saw her and said, "Awww." And then he ran upstairs to wake up Jane so she could hold her first. I guess he thought Jane needed to hold her first. Then Sam woke up next and got to hold Lucy. Jackson had to wait to meet little Lu another day since he was still at scout camp.
After breakfast, as I was examining her closer and taking in every inch of her, I realized her hair was red. It truly looked brown when she was born because it was wet and matted down and I put a hat on her pretty quickly to keep her head warm (okay mostly to cover all the goo in her hair). I wanted to wait on washing it until she had nursed at least twice, so I hadn't noticed the night before. I quickly called my mom and told her to get over here quick. I needed her to wash her hair and verify that Lucy indeed had red hair and that it wasn't just wishful thinking. Oh what a sweet surprise that was!
Lucy's birth was amazing; it was fast, intense, and so special. Our house was in utter disarray, with boxes everywhere, but Lucy is the best house warming gift we could have ever received. Jake and I both can be perfectionists and we always like to have things orderly, so our little Lucy Mae is our sweet reminder that life doesn't have to be perfect or organized to be enjoyed, and that special, sacred, beautiful moments can be found in the chaos. And with five kids there's definitely lots of chaos! We feel so blessed to have another beautiful baby join our family and we just love our little red headed beauty.
Thank you to Brittany Stucki from My Framed Photography for taking our family pictures and for many of the beautiful photos on this website!