Wren Kate Solstice is my third baby, third home birth, first free birth.
The run up to this one has been different. I had been feeling underprepared, out of control, and worried about not having done enough emotionally and physically to get ready. I don't have affirmations up, I've not put fairy lights where I wanted them, I've not done any perineal massage...I'm lucky that I was so fucking supported by friends that talked me through all of these concerns and fears and I realise now, the only thing I needed to do to prepare was to shift my thinking. One friend in particular said to me "It is just another family experience".
So I had been having braxtons for a couple of weeks, intense but not painful, and I actually enjoyed them as I was getting a chance to practice breathing and talking to myself and reminding myself that there is no such thing as a false contraction, everything I experienced was working towards the end result.
So, Sunday night the boys went to bed, I showered and washed my hair, James dried it (something about him drying my hair gives me all the oxytocin tingles) and we watched the end of Wolf of Wall Street. We went to bed and I woke up with a contraction at 1.30am ish. It was different, I knew it, but I also knew I needed rest and to not jump the gun, so I went back to sleep. James had gone in with Kit, so I had the bed to myself and was waking through the contractions and then falling back asleep. I also kept drinking lots of water and peeing and each trip to the toilet had more contractions coming so I kept that up, too. My top reminder to myself at this point was to just listen to what my body needed and not think ahead. I got to the point of not being able to lie down during the contractions, so getting on my knees in bed was helping and then I was straight back on my side to try and sleep
Around 5.30am I went to the toilet and saw my mucous plug coming away, so I went downstairs to go and get pads and sheets to cover the floor etc. It still didn't feel entirely real, but pottering around was helping, so I kept at it.
I went back upstairs and sat on the toilet for a poo and realised the contractions were much more intense at this point so I ran a bath. I spent about an hour in the bath on my side which was lush. Lake (5) joined me at around 6 and stayed with me, just by my side commenting that I "sounded like a monster" but for the most part, really aware of me needing some support, and James and Kit woke up shortly after. Jim poked his head around the door with a "is it happening?", to which I replied "I think so, but no rush", so he went to get the boys fed whislt I got out of the bath to try and eat breakfast.
I ate something, had more water, and wanted to go upstairs again. I found a comfy spot on the floor by the bed and that was me rooted until birth. I managed a lot of the contractions on my own, they were feeling similar to how Kits were (all in my hips so I assumed positioning needed some work and that I was in for a long day) so I just worked through them on the side of the bed. James checked in often reminding me he was there, to drink, but for the most part, I was ok with him dealing with the boys until I needed him.
And then I vomited. Which made me feel panicky. I know vomiting comes around transition, but I couldn't possibly have been at that point just yet. I was worried I now had no food or energy, and I was in for a long day tired and weak. I told James and he listened, offered Frankincense but I was already in the next contraction feeling the need to push for a poo. In my head I panicked again.
What if it was too early to push?
What if I wasn't ready?
I should call the midwife now to check but what if that stalls me or it makes me feel disheartened?
What time was it, should I, shouldn't I?
And then I gave myself a stern talking to. "Just fucking listen to your body, Beth. Do exaclty what it is asking of you".
So I did. My noises changed. So did my posture. I asked James for the pool, which he went to sort, but then I asked him to stay with me so it sort of got forgotten about. He kept reminding me that I had got this and to drink water. With a contraction my waters broke (first time I have experienced it what with the other two being born in water) and I told James "waters" for him to go "yes, water I'll get you water" and me to reply "no waterssssss". He turned on the light (after warning me) and described them to me. A bit green, mostly white splurges in clear fluid. I was happy it was all good and at this point I knew I would be birthing without a midwife as I didn't want him to leave my side.
In between contractions, I reached for a feel and I could feel a wrinkly head sitting just inside my vagina, and I cried out of relief to James who was beaming at me. The next contraction was fucking strong, I was loud and Lake came up, got down to look and exclaimed "I see the baby's head! Oh wait no it's gone". And it had. James reminded me there was no rush, I kept saying "nice and slow, it needs to be slow, it's all ok". One more contraction and I could feel a little nose sunny side up and I roared her chubby head out. A few deep breaths and the next contraction out she came, to me feeling like a rockstar, and her big brothers in absolute awe (Lake of the baby, Kit of the amount of poo and goo and blood). Jim spotted the nuchal cord which I removed, popped her onto my chest and sat back for a minute.
James sorted the bed for me to hobble onto and went to call the midwives. I birthed the placenta on the bed still attached to the cord whilst the boys watched in fascination. This was really important to me as both previous times I have had the cord cut before birthing the placenta, so getting to do this, and then using a cord tie that I made was wonderful.
It was a truly healing and empowering experience. She is a chunk, 9lb at 38+4, feeding spectacularly, yet to cry, adored by everyone here with someone who wants to hold her at all times. Yesterday I felt on top of the world, the adrenaline has now worn off and I'm achey, my belly feels empty, my legs are a tad wobbly, the after pains are a bitch, but fuck me I'm beyond proud.
The main things I will take away from this are: - My family is fucking exceptional and I love the chaos and our dynamic and the love. - James and I are made for each other and I wouldn't have chosen a midwife over him at all. - My body is incredible, but my mind is next level.
I keep playing it over in my head and I love it. I love how I felt and how I feel now. I love how much it has healed me from Kit's birth. I love how much I love the boys, and Jim, and her, and my friends (online and IRL), and oxytocin is fucking lush.
I'm still not moving from the bed for more than 5 mins. I'm embracing this postpartum period. And we are still pondering a name*.
*She told us her name around 2 weeks later.