It’s taken me a few weeks to fully process and reflect on my most recent birth experience. Bryce has been with our family earthside for 7 weeks now. It’s been an ever evolving journey, but I dare say we’re as adjusted to our new “normal” as much as I think we will. During this time we’ve not only adapted to life as a family of 7 (7?! That still shocks me every time I say it) but we’ve been living through a worldwide pandemic that has changed almost every aspect of life as we previously knew it. It’s been a whirlwind of a ride but it all started roughly 11 months ago.
During the summer of 2019 I was fully engulfed and in the thick of my midwifery apprenticeship. I had spent almost the last 2 years at Brookhaven Natural Birth Center soaking up every ounce of knowledge and experience that I was able to. I was fully focused on my goals and serving the families of the birth center, the last thing I had on my mind was becoming a client myself.
However, June of that summer I realized something was a little off. I wasn’t feeling like myself, my cycle which was wildly unpredictable, was completely absent. That’s when I found myself in the womb room with cold gel on my abdomen and Misty closely evaluating the monitor of “Bertha”, her trusted ultrasound machine. “I’m pretty sure that’s something right there.” she said, pointing at a tiny shadow that would disappear as quick as it appeared on the monitor. I still wasn’t convinced. It only took dozens of positive at home pregnancy tests and other Ultrasonographers pictures a week later before it sunk in that yes, we were having another baby.
This was baby number 5 for me, although we have one set of twins, so pregnancy number 4. Having done the pregnancy thing a few times and being very focused on my goal of finishing my midwifery apprenticeship, this pregnancy just flew by. It went along fairly easily and before I knew it we were well into winter and my belly was undeniably growing by the week. We had decided to let the gender of this baby be a surprise. We already had most of the baby essentials from our older children, so why not let this baby be a mystery. It was a sweet surprise to look forward to.
Around 34 weeks pregnancy started to really set it. Getting up and down, squatting at births and sleeping wherever I was able was taking its toll. I found myself more tired and overall moving at a slower speed. Luckily there was an end in sight. I had exceeded the number of births required to finish my apprenticeship and had far beyond the amount of clinic experience required. My last week on call at the birth center I had some random contractions, enough I knew my body was signally to me it was time to slow down. That Friday I was officially 36 weeks pregnant and it was my last day on call. That evening my wonderful Brookhaven family and friends surprised me with a Blessing Way, it was the perfect way to relax and get into the mindset that it was time to be ready to welcome this baby.
I had everything set. We were planning a home birth. I had taken over the kids playroom and my awesome husband, David, set up the birth tub and adorned the entire room in twinkle lights. It was the perfect space. I had my playlist ready, the bluetooth speaker charged, candles in all the right spots and my mother had arrived. We had planned all the details, the older children were going to witness their new sibling be born, we had everything ready to make him/her a birthday cake and my postpartum meal supplies were all set along with the ingredients for Hot Toddies for all. All we needed was a baby.
I thought for sure once I relaxed and was ready that labor would just take off and it would be time. Wrong. I had irregular contractions on and off the next couple of weeks. They weren’t strong, just annoying. The more they continued, the more frustrated I became. I knew that birth would only happen when it was ready, but that didn’t stop me from doing everything in my power to encourage it. There was lots of stair climbing, walking, special foods and red raspberry leaf tea during those weeks. My due date came and went, my mom had to go back home after spending almost 4 weeks waiting for this baby to arrive and I was feeling defeated. I knew nature would eventually take its course and this baby would be born, but it felt like an eternity. Each night I would gain false hope as contractions would pick up, only to die down and I sleep through the night.
Two days after my due date was just like the last couple of weeks. Contractions that seemed to be a little stronger and come a little closer together but nothing to write home about. That night I went to sleep a little relieved, it was February 29th, a leap year. My husband jokingly had said this baby was just waiting to be a leap year baby, I was not amused. I drifted off to sleep and contractions fizzled out just like they had in the nights prior.