We knew it was “possible” to get pregnant on our wedding night, but we didn’t actually think we would get that lucky on the first try! We found out we were expecting the day after arriving home from our honeymoon in Italy just 13 days later. Throughout the entire pregnancy we both had a strong feeling we were having a little boy, but we received a BIG surprise when little miss Finley Rae arrived on May 21st; 6 days past her “due date”.
We were pretty pumped about her late arrival because the weekend she was due, Isaiah was stuck in part 4 chiropractic board exams (an ALL DAY event under security where no one is allowed to leave) &, to be honest, I had procrastinated finishing up my “pre-baby to do list” until just days before her actual arrival.
A huge goal of mine was to continue staying as active and fit as possible though out my pregnancy. I was, after all, training for the most important workout of my life.. BIRTH! It was Friday evening when Isaiah and I decided to go to the gym for a workout. Granted it was already 7:30 pm, this hungry mama hadn’t eaten dinner yet and wasn’t super thrilled by the idea, but I ate a little snack and we walked the half mile to his school gym hoping a good workout might kickstart labor. I remember doing rowing intervals, kettlebell swings and weighted box step ups thinking, “if this doesn’t help get this baby out, i don’t know what will!”
Kidding.. But really. It had to have helped right?
After our workout we walked a longer loop back home from the gym and got me adjusted before having two of our best friends over to hang out. By this time it was about 9 o’clock, I was still feeling normal, but I had an inkling that baby was coming real soon. Around 10:30 I noticed the smallest hint of a cramping feeling in my stomach. As someone who didn’t notice braxton hicks contractions during pregnancy, I was becoming more certain that this small pinching in my tummy meant the baby really was coming soon! I had a conversation with Isaiah about thinking I was going to go into labor during the night while our dear friend/cousin Bridgette was planning to spend the night at our place that evening. Always wanting to be a good host, I was more worried about disturbing her peaceful snooze on our couch with my frequent nightly potty breaks than about going into labor myself! Isaiah assured me it would be fine, so we eventually decided to just go with it.
We went to bed around 12:30 am, but I was soon up again at 2:30 with a pain in my low back. I made my routine nightly trip to the bathroom (hello, baby squashing my poor bladder over here!) while trying to remember the stern advice from our midwives, Sarah & Erin, to try to not get too excited that labor was beginning so I would be able to get adequate rest while I was still able to. I noticed a mucousy pink substance when I went to the bathroom so of course I had to google “mucous plug” to confirm my suspicions. Contractions came every 9-10 minutes and lasted for 1.5 minutes at a time until about 4:15 am when they sped to 8-9 minutes apart. I stayed in bed trying to rest between contractions, but don’t remember if I ever actually fell back asleep between them or not. The contractions were upsetting my tummy so I felt like I was getting up every other one to go to the bathroom or to move around to ease the pain. Isaiah would roll over occasionally to put his hand on my tummy and check on me. Sweet fella.. Around 4:30 I got up and had a banana and a long hot shower because I was starving and what better way to pass some time than to bask in the goodness of a toasty hot shower. Hot showers had been my (not so guilty) pleasure during pregnancy and was the perfect thing to easy my contractions and prep me for the labor to come.
Around 7 am Isaiah & Bridgette got up and had coffee. I drank a huge glass of water & ate a Perfect Bar. We turned on my Bethel Music worship playlist, dimmed the lights & started diffusing calming oils though out the apartment. By this point the contractions were getting more uncomfortable where I would wince and not want to chat much during them anymore.. But between each one I felt great; still up and about like normal.
I soon realized I had forgotten to purchase a VERY IMPORTANT item off of my supply list.. BIG COMFY POST-PARTUM UNDIES. Any mama who has had a baby knows how essential this item is.. Of course, Sarah and Erin had actually told me to buy Depends because they’d be comfy/easy afterwards, but being the diva (not) that I am, I wanted to do post-partum pads + undies, but I had forgotten to buy 1 of the 2 essential items necessary to bring my plan into fruition.
Like I said, I was still feeling pretty bomb between contractions & I remembered reading numerous times in Ina May’s books that going for a walk in early labor was a good way to kick start things, etc. So I was dead set on walking the quarter mile or so over to target myself to get undies. Thankfully tho, Isaiah was all the wiser and forbid it. He said we could go for a walk, but that Bridgette and Philip could pick some up for me or my mama could on her way up from Iowa. So alas, I reluctantly settled for letting them tend to my needs and we went down to the parking lot for a mini stroll around 8:30 am.
My contractions were quickly sneaking closer and closer together because we didn’t even make it down a row and back in the parking lot without me having 2-3 contractions. By now I had to stop walking and would close my eyes and sway during them while telling Isaiah, “just give me a second” until I was able to walk again. Thankfully no cars were pulling out/driving thru because during the contractions I was moving for no one!
All of my labor was taking place in my low back, which to me wasn’t surprising because I have always experienced menstrual cramps worse in my low back, as well.. So we expected that I might labor this way. We eventually made it back up to our apartment and decided it was time to get the tub put together, only to realize we were missing an essential rod piece that held the outer shell together! Isaiah gave Erin a call and thankfully she quickly found the missing piece and said Sarah would drop it off/come check on me, as well, after she made a quick run to target.
Around 9:30 or 10 am was when the mini panic of “when did you say Sarah and Erin were going to be showing up?!” began to kick in. The contractions were getting real intense, lasting 2.5 minutes a piece and just 5 or so minutes apart. I remember doubting if I was timing the contractions correctly because they were nearing together so quickly.
FUN FACT/TIP TIME: In the 2nd trimester I had read that expecting mama’s who ate 6 dates a day for the last 6 weeks of pregnancy showed to have quicker 1st stages of labor in addition to other awesome benefits.. So I had religiously eaten my 6 dates a day with high hopes, but even I didn’t expect for things to progress quite as quickly as they were!
Sarah eventually made her way over, allowing us to get the tub filled up & boy was I ready. Anything to help ease those pesky contractions. Sarah felt baby’s position and checked the heartbeat. Everything was in perfect order so I eagerly hopped into the tub. The warm water was calming and helped to cut a little of the intensity of contractions.
The point from getting into the tub to beginning to push is a bit of a blur. I remember sitting on my knees in the tub and feeling great until a new contraction would come on. Bless Sarah’s heart, she was a God send early on showing Isaiah how to best help ease my back labor during cx’s. As one would come on, she would press firmly on my hips/low back as I would slowly try to sway away the pain. Isaiah soon took over that job, and since all of my labor was in my low back and tailbone I appreciated any help I could get!
I do recall Isaiah offering me a frozen peanut butter filled date soon after hopping in the tub. Never thought these words would come out of my mouth, but the peanut butter made me gag! That was the only moment that I thought I might throw up.
After awhile of chilling in the warm tub, they asked me if I might want to try to go potty as a full bladder and pushing out a baby don’t really work hand in hand.. So with a helping hand I swung one leg then the other over the top of the tub and strolled to the bathroom. FYI, it’s not easy to maneuver your legs at this point when you’ve essentially got a watermelon slowly sliding down in your abdomen and putting pressure on your pelvis! But we made it work.
I was still sitting on the toilet after peeing and Erin told me that on my next contraction I would likely feel the urge to push and it was okay to give into that urge. Boy was she right! I remember that first pushing contraction very clearly. Not only the forceful power of the female body, but the physical movement of the baby sliding lower into the birth canal and the intense pressure down below. Ugh.. My poor, poor tailbone. If you have endured intense back labor like I, God bless you. I don’t think any labor is for the faint of heart, but man.. That back labor is on another level. Don’t let that scare you tho! It’s so 100% worth it and the baby DOES eventually come out. Pain is temporary and, let’s be real, it’s called LABOR for a reason. Those first pushing contractions can be a little scary in that they feel completely new and it’s easy to want to fight the “fire” feeling going on down below, but I learned that things move along so much smoother if you give into that burning pushing sensation. Each surge is bringing you closer to meeting your little bundle of love!
Now, I had remembered reading stories of women who pushed on the toilet, had babies over the toilet or a similar type chair. Valiant and wonderful birth stories, sure.. But not quite what I envisioned for myself so after a contraction or two more we made our way back to the tub. Pushing contractions were much more taxing than the “pre-transition” contractions. So most of the time between I spent floating around with my eyes closed taking deep breaths and praying our little nugget would make his/her way into the world safe and SOON.
Time went by with little progress. My pushing contractions were only lasting a short 25 seconds, so I had to make the most of each one. Sarah and Erin were making position change suggestions to see if that might help move things along. Though baby felt like she was in a good position, we wondered if she might be stuck on one of my hips so I was recommended to try putting one foot forward flat on the bottom of the tub with my other knee down and back in a “runners lunge” pose. Ya’ll, I thought they were crazy! I had so much pressure in my poor bum & was feeling crampy in my legs, the last thing I wanted to try and do was scissor split my legs!
Alas, we decided to transition out of the tub to try something new. We eventually got me down in the runners lunge pose as I leaned my upper body on my big exercise ball for support. I pushed through a couple contractions on one side, then swapped legs and did the same on the other. I had made some definite progress by now, but I still couldn’t manage to push her out.
My water had yet to release by this point, but they could see the membranes bulging each time I pushed. Sorry (not sorry) if that’s TMI for ya’ll, this is a birth story after all! With my permission Erin gave the water bag a good pinch to help break the membranes.
Ahh, a mild relief of pressure. Come on baby!
I don’t remember who suggested it, as my mind was kind of a blur at this point, but they had me transition from the ball/runners pose down onto my back next to the tub. Now.. if you have had a home birth or know anything about home birth, the last thing you might picture is a mama laying down on her back giving birth. But that’s exactly what happened.
Once on my back I got to actually see the progress I was making with a mirror, as the top of a head was clearly visible. A few pushing contractions later and out came the head (hallelujah, sweet relief!) with curiously alert eyes wide open & lots of dark brown hair.. Along with the head was a tiny little left arm wrapped across the chest/neck and over a tiny little shoulder.
Psh.. no wonder she was so hard to push out!!
Another big push and out she came! We had no idea if we were having a girl or boy.. The whole pregnancy I said we were having a boy, until we got to about a week from her due date and I “just had a feeling” it was going to be a girl. Mama always knows. (or maybe I just really wanted to use the girl name we had picked out.. It’s hard to say.)
Sweet Finley Rae was born at 2:20ish on May 21, 2016 in our apartment living room.. on the floor.. next to the birthing tub.. & it was perfect. She had the tiniest & shortest little umbilical cord so she had to lay on my low belly in those first moments while we waited for the placenta.
Mamas.. Those first sweet moments with your baby are the best. So many emotions and so much adrenaline, it was hard to take it in. But wow, the power God put within women to grow another human being and to give birth naturally is truly amazing. And what an honor it is to experience it personally! All thoughts of the pain and endurance it took to deliver your baby are instantly GONE when you hear those first couple cries as your baby fills their lungs with air.
I don’t know if it was the adrenaline, all of the working out I did during pregnancy or the fact I no longer felt like I had a bowling ball trying to bust out of my backside.. but when they asked if I wanted to go lay down with Fin in my bed I popped right up off the floor and started strolling that way like nothing had happened. Let me tell you though, one of the biggest blessings of having a home birth was getting to snuggle up with my new bundle of love in my very own bed & being in the comfort of my own surroundings. There really is no place like home and though we no longer live in that apartment, it will always hold the sweet memory in my heart of where our family of 2 became a family of 3.