Happy 1st Birthday to Gianna!
Learning to do life with 3 kids this past year has been difficult at times, but I’ve learned a lot about myself, the parent I want to be for them, and the life I want for our family. The first kid was a bit of shell shock as everything was new. Sleep deprivation, learning to nurse, staying home from my office work, doing all the research and feeling all the guilt, took away some of the fun of being a first-time mom. With the second kid, I was figuring out how to meet the opposing needs of more than one child and find a rhythm that worked for everyone. This third time, I’ve lowered my expectations, realized everything has a season, and everyone will be fine with a lot of love. Any adjustment has it’s challenges, but for me, going from 2-3 felt a lot more natural than 0-1 or 1-2. This third time with one of my babies turning 1 has actually not taken me by surprise. I truly feel I’ve been able to cherish each of Gianna’s ages and stages so far (and she’s already acting like she’s two so her only being one feels bearable). Gianna has brought so much joy and laughter to our family!
It all started with her entry into the world one year ago…
I had made it through 24+ hours of labor and to 10cm unmedicated with James’s birth, and I had a pretty quick and smooth unmedicated birth with Joseph’s birth, so I was hoping that for a third baby, I would likely not have any major issues. In the time of Covid, I really didn’t want to deal with all of the packed waiting rooms, mask mandates for labor, limiting birth support and visitors etc. My least favorite part of giving birth in a hospital, other than the painful drive there while in labor, has been how frequently I am awakened (when barely getting any sleep) to be “checked on” overnight with all of the loud beeping and unnecessary poking and prodding. I felt this deep desire to have a sacred and uninterrupted birth in the comfort of my own space, so we decided to choose a home birth for Gianna. I felt very fortunate to work with one of the very best certified nurse midwives I could’ve imagined and we were 12 minutes from a nearby hospital if needed.
I had been having prodromal labor starting around 37 weeks. On Thursday, July 8th, at 39 & 3 days, I started contractions 10 minutes apart all day long. My mother in-law arrived around 9am to help with the kids, thinking at any point, labor could take off. The contractions were annoying and uncomfortable but not making any progress to closer together so I sent my mother in-law home at 4pm. Of course, naturally after sending my help home, by 5pm they started ramping up to 5 mins apart and were getting more painful. I wanted to try to make it through the kids’ bedtime to say goodnight so I called the midwife to come at 7:30pm. We called Ryan’s mom to make the hour drive back to our house at 8pm to watch the boys’ monitors and help with them in the morning.
Having labor kick into full gear after the kids went to sleep was an answer to prayer for me! I was working to relax and breathe through contractions and try different positions. I felt positive and happy, and thought she was going to come that night! But, by 11:30pm they weren’t getting any stronger and I was struggling. I was only a 6cm! I felt like I was working at the level of 9cm or 10 already. I knew she must be in a weird position if it was this painful this early on.
Ryan and I went for a walk outside at midnight but by 1am on July 9th there was still no more progress, just those same painful contractions 5 minutes apart. The midwife suggested we all tried to sleep so I could get my energy up. The contractions slowed to every 15 minutes and I just breathed through them and went back to sleep on and off from 2am-5am. This was such a good decision on the part of the midwife and Ryan to have me rest and try to relax to let my body do it’s thing, even when I was nervous about taking the extra time to slow down. My body does not function well at night in general (hello morning person!) and thankfully I wasn’t on any kind of timeline because my water hadn’t broken.
I started back on the ball at 5:15am and finally my contractions were 4 minutes apart by 9am. I was praying harder than I ever have in my life for this birth and this baby! I used the birth meditations on the Hallow App to help me pray through each intention and Ryan was an incredible doula to hold me up and encourage me. The midwives (there was a second there to assist) thought Gianna just wasn’t in a good position for birth and her head might not be tucked well in the pelvis, so we did 3 spinning babies exercises to get her off the cervix and then re-engaged: belly sifting, inversions, and side lying hip releases. Whew, they worked!!! After that, the waves of contractions were hitting every 2 minutes! After that, I drank a midwife herbal concoction to assist the contractions and I was quickly at 1-2 minutes apart. Ryan and I went on another walk outside but it didn’t last long as I was really struggling to walk. We ran into our neighbor who saw me and said “looks like it’s baby time!”
By 11am, I was 8cm and hopped in the shower for “transition” where the water pouring on me was a helpful distraction. After my water broke, I quickly started feeling pushy. I was trying to push on hands and knees like with Joseph, but Gianna still wasn’t budging. The midwife checked me and realized there was a cervical lip in Gianna’s way (just like with James when he got stuck and my OB gave Pitocin to help push him down over the lip.) She told me I needed to get in a supported squatted position with Ryan holding me from behind and that would likely help move baby over the lip. It did!! Immediately my body started pushing on its own!
Gianna was born July 9th, 12:28pm, 8lbs, right there at my basement couch, caught by the midwife and immediately handed to me. It was AMAZING and excruciating at the same time! I did NOT mentally expect or plan for a labor longer than maybe 5 hours. Silly me! She was just so stubborn like her older brother! Her heart rate was perfect the entire time. We could truly not have done it without the expertise of the midwives to try many different things to help labor, as well as their patience and their respect for my body’s ability to do this!
The best part was having the boys get to be involved in the entire process, coming to my pre-natal appointments, helping with the heartbeat checks, getting to know my midwife and learning how moms give birth, and getting to come down and meet their baby sister right after she was born! I also loved that the midwives came back for several days after birth to check on me, so I didn’t have to leave the house. I had a 2 week appointment so I didn’t need to wait until only the typical 6 week appointment. It was a special experience to build a relationship with 2 women who looked after me my entire pregnancy and whom I trusted to help me bring my baby into the world. They helped me create a postpartum plan, asked how I was doing emotionally and spiritually, sent me research, gave me options, and spent 30-60 minutes with me each appointment getting to know my family. I’m thankful for how they journeyed with me and how our sweet Gianna entered our life outside the womb!
Like I’ve said in previous blogs, every birth is unique and beautiful. No matter how a baby comes into this world, I always wish for each mom to feel educated, cared for, and empowered. We need to love both baby AND mom ❤