After a few long days of prodromal (false) labor, something finally seemed to shift.
I woke up around 4 am with some real surges, consistently building in intensity and frequency. I reached a point where I couldn’t stay in bed any longer, so I moved to the bathroom and sat on the toilet while Topher made me some toast. We felt it was the right time to let our birth team know what was going on. Toph and I then stepped outside for a moment; to connect with each other, and the full moon, and bask in its beauty.
Once we moved back inside, we were simply together. We embraced the quiet, just the two of us. We listened to music in the candlelight, and rested between surges. The journey began in earnest with just the two of us there together, focused on each other and bringing our sweet girl into the world. During this precious time, my surges were coming about every 6 minutes and lasting about a minute to a minute and a half. To my surprise, I found most comfort on the toilet during this phase.
As we approached 7 am, the sun was rising and so were my surges. They increased in frequency to every 5 minutes, still lasting about a minute to a minute and a half long. Lauren, our midwife, and her assistant-midwife, Melissa, arrived around 7:30 am. Calm and ever-assuring, Lauren listened to baby’s heartbeat and said she sounded perfect.
I sat back and relaxed on the couch again, when suddenly I was overcome with emotions. So much joy. The realization of what was happening hit in full force, and I thought to myself, “I’m going to meet my baby girl today.” Toph held me close in a strong embrace, kissing me as I wept the happiest of tears into his shirt. Total joy and love.
I let out a releasing sound, as I rode the wave of each surge. Sinking into them, surrendering, allowing, breathing. Waves of nausea were coming on as well, which were eased by sniffing peppermint essential oil and some homeopathic tablets from Lauren.
At that time, I decided that getting in the birth tub sounded nice, and a moment later our friend and photographer, Elise, arrived.
8:19am. My first surge came on since getting into the tub, and I felt the most wonderful popping sensation and knew my waters had just released. I laughed, and announced it out loud because the EXACT same thing happened during Nora’s birth: first contraction in the tub, that fascinating pop, and ruptured waters. I am still in awe of that amazing coincidence. And still slightly obsessed with how remarkably pleasant that sensation feels.
Our friend Elaina arrived, there in support as my best friend as well as to capture video footage, bringing with her a delicious green smoothie. Nora then woke up, and Toph stepped away to bring her out and explain that her sister was soon going to be born. It took her some time to adjust and take it all in, so while Toph was away tending to her needs, sweet Elaina rubbed an essential oil blend of lavender and clary sage while she helped me manage the surges. Quickly, Nora got comfortable, settled in and found her place; keeping close to her daddy’s side as he whispered the most beautiful words of encouragement in my ear. I was beginning to slip away to that other worldly place of labor land… I couldn’t help but release more tears of joy for all of the love I felt around me. My dear husband was supporting me more than ever and my darling Nora was touching me and rubbing my back; intuitively following daddy’s lead.
Gentle words of empowerment and support from my midwife, Lauren, struck deep and nearly brought me to tears (once again). I continued to tell my body to open; allowing my mind to quiet, and my baby to descend. Any time Toph needed to step away to help Nora, Elaina would step in and continue to rub my back with the essential oil blend. And at one point, Nora ~my own sweet little doula~ helped her rub my back. Then Nora expressed a desire to get in the tub, and we welcomed her to join me.
I spent some time leaning over the side of the tub as Toph continued putting pressure on my low back during surges, while Nora sat right next to me in the water. At around 9:15-9:20, after a strong surge that ended with some involuntary pushing, I suggested that Toph also get ready to come in, as I felt in my body that things were picking up in pace. About 5 or 10 minutes later, I started to notice my body was consistently instinctually pushing at the end of each surge. So I decided to turn around to face my family. I placed my legs on top of Toph’s and laid my body back to rest my arms and head on the side of the tub. Relaxing and letting go completely between surges, I found it hard to even form words when I needed to say something.
Sweet Nora did such a great job helping out, but -like any 3 yr old- wanted to play and splash, so Elaina and Toph had to gently remind her to keep her voice at a whisper and stay as still as she could. Later on, seeing video, I realized some pretty funny things were happening … Like her dropping little drips of water onto daddy’s head and trying to drink the water from the tub (ew!). Both of these things I was completely unaware of, as I was lost in that alternate birth dimension.
As a surge would come I would again remind myself to be open and allow it. I never felt the need to force anything or even really do anything other than what my body felt was right. Strangely, that meant arching my back to lean my head backward over the side of the tub, while my uterus did its own work of bearing down and pushing.
I remember my mind off in the distance, thinking this was a little peculiar, because for most people bearing down means the opposite; leaning forward and kind of hunching over in more of a squatting position. Or at least that’s what it meant for me during Nora’s birth. But for some reason my body had a completely different need this time. I didn’t question it. I just surrendered trust, let my body lead and do what it felt necessary. After all, my body was made for this.I would ride the wave of the surge and not until the end of it (what I would call the waves crashing and breaking at the shore) would my body feel the natural desire to hug my baby down and out. It was the most incredible thing for my Self to witness… the innate power and ability that are accessible if we just listen to our body.
With these intense involuntary pushes also came the “birth roar” (thanks Elaina for coining that phrase). I didn’t imagine that I would be the type to be so vocal while in labor but again, my body felt some beautiful tribal response to release and I let go of any thoughts or judgements about it and simply followed that desire. Toph used his fingers to press against my perineum for counter pressure as I felt the pressure of her head in my pelvis and low back, making its way down my birth canal.
After a few of these birth roars and instinctual pushes, (I allowed myself a surge or two between each for rest) our sweet girls head was making its way out! This sensation is like nothing words can describe. It’s akin to being opened up and split apart, the most intense and wild feeling. But oh, the sweet relief that came as soon as I hugged her head out from me. I couldn’t help but yell “Ya! Ya!” aloud, as I vocally encouraged my body and baby to continue doing the beautiful work they were doing. I even happened to swear, out of sheer and utter relief (so not like me to swear! I’m pretty sure it was just “oh shit!”… but still.) and at that point it was like I had suddenly snapped out of labor land. I was now able to talk and laugh and interact again.
I was just so so SO happy and proud to be past the hardest part. And I couldn’t believe we had actually made it there! Toph and Nora watched in awe as she slowly turned her head on her own. They witnessed her cute little ear appear, and commented in excitement about all of her dark brown hair. I waited patiently for the next strong surge and let my body continue to hug her out. With many more intense birth roars, her shoulders and the rest of her body made its way into the water, and swiftly into daddy’s hands. I also reached down for her, and together we placed her at my heart. Nora, now a big sister, watched in pure joy and amazement. Violet made no hesitation in letting out her own cries of acknowledgment. She was born at 9:46 am, and what an incredible job she did!
After a few moments of taking in the absolute bliss; noticing her long fingernails and admiring her fresh violet skin tone, Lauren offered the option to get onto the couch to birth the placenta. With some help, I made my way there and rested with my sweet family lovingly surrounding me. We took in the beauty of our sweet new little love as she laid skin to skin on my belly and made her way up to my breast in her own time. I still couldn’t believe that we had made it to the other side.
I had dreamt of and visualized this exact birth for many months and I just couldn’t imagine that we had actually manifested it. Everything was more perfect than I could have dreamt. Even Elaina’s darling baby Mabel (4 month old) who she brought, slept peacefully and silently through the entire process. Our pup Muggs was relaxed and (mostly) well behaved, despite his usual rambunctious self. And it can’t be just coincidence that both of my darling daughters, Nora Jane and Violet Lu, were welcomed into this world on Wednesday mornings, in the water, into their daddy’s loving hands.
I am incredibly grateful for this sacred experience and to share the beauty and enjoyment that birth can be. It is my wish to normalize birth and remind women and mothers of their own innate power that their amazing bodies possess.
Watch Violet Lu’s Homebirth Video Here:
Photography by Elise L Photography @elisethephographer