I’d been trying not to count too much on my due date with this baby, after having two babies go past their due dates. Even my midwives seemed to think I’d go “late” again, but still, I made sure everything was ready to go by that date. As my due date approached, I went to bed each night thinking “maybe tomorrow” and woke up telling myself “okay not today.”
On Sunday night, I packed my hospital bag (a just-in-case measure), with Jade wondering hopefully if we were going on a choo choo train or airplane. I baked two quiches for supper, because we had lots of ham and eggs, and thought as I put one quiche in the fridge, “Okay, three casseroles in the freezer and one in the fridge—good time to have a baby.”
At 2:30 am on Monday morning, I felt a cramp across my abdomen that was definitely more than a Braxton-Hicks. “Yes. It’s today. Thank you, St. Margaret,” I thought. When my husband and I had been looking for baby names, we’d noticed that my due date was the feast day of St. Margaret of Scotland, one of my favourite saints. I’d written a paper about her husband, King Malcolm III, in a history class in university. They had eight kids, so I’d asked her intercession for a safe and timely labour.
During contractions, I stood up and squatted or rocked through them, praying Hail Marys to take my mind off the pain. Between contractions, I lay down and slept. By 7 am, my contractions were getting closer to five minutes apart and I’d had one that was strong enough to make me throw up. My husband’s alarm started going off, and during one contraction he noticed my deep breathing and asked, “Baby?” I said, “Yep,” and he threw off the covers and said, “I’ll call Val.”
My friend Val from the Island had offered to come watch the girls while I was in labour. He let her know that I was in labour and she said she’d try to be on the next ferry. Then I called my midwife and told her what was going on. Jade woke up, so I went to get her, noticing as I passed Lily’s room that her light was already on too. “Lily wake me up,” Jade told me indignantly.
“Do you want to go play with her?” I said, lifting her down and trying to breathe through a contraction. She said yes. Sunshine asked me something about the day and when I said no, she asked why. I said, “Because the baby is coming today” and Jade said, “Yay!”
Worried that the girls’ waking up would slow down my labour, as it had slowed down when the midwives arrived during Jade’s birth, I urged them to get dressed and eat breakfast while I messaged another friend of mine. She lives five minutes from us and had already offered to watch the girls if we needed help during labour; I figured she could take the girls for the morning, until Val could get here. Then I went back to my room to pace and pray through contractions.
By 8:30, my midwife arrived and my husband whisked the girls out the door. My midwife checked my blood pressure and baby’s heart beat (both good) and set up her things, then offered to check my dilation. I was a bit uncertain about this, as it had been disappointing with both Jade and Lily to feel like I was far along in labour only to find out I was hardly dilated. But I let her check between a contraction and was happy that I was already 7 cm. Things were moving faster, as I’d hoped.
My husband made it back again, and the backup midwife arrived as well. My midwife offered to break my water to speed up labour and again, I agreed. I’ve hoped with all of my labours since Sunshine that they’d go faster, but all of them so far have been 10 hours. Then it was just waiting… contractions continued, and I squatted through them or sat on the edge of the bed, resting and waiting for the next one.
Pushing seemed to take forever with this baby. With Lily, it had been so easy—an urge I couldn’t control, two hard pushes and she was here (but I tore the worst with her). Even with Jade, pushing had been almost automatic, even as I tried to slow it down and listen to my midwives (and not tear). This time, I kept waiting for that urge, which never seemed to come. My midwife suggested the birthing stool, which she had tried, but that hurt worse, so I moved back to the bed and continued waiting on all fours, as I’d birthed Jade.
Finally, I was pushing. Slowly, painfully, the baby moved down. Then, wish a gush of more water, she slithered out. I flopped down on the bed and took her in my arms and the midwives wrapped us both in a towel. She was quiet, looking up at me. I got my husband to check whether she was a boy or a girl. The placenta slid out and my midwife assured me I hadn’t torn again this time.
Then the shivering began. I went from sweating through contractions just before she was born to shaking uncontrollably after she was born. (The one thing I miss about home births is the heated blankets at the hospital—I need to figure out how to do that at home.) So my husband took the baby for a bit, and the midwives checked her over, while I went for a hot shower. Then we stripped the wet sheets off the bed and I curled up in bed with our newest little girl.
I spent the rest of the day sleeping and feeding baby Pearl. My husband picked up Val at the ferry at noon and she took the girls out for the afternoon. He cleaned up a bit around the house and got me juice and snacks. The girls came home at bedtime, excited to meet their little sister. Jade was actually the first to ask to hold her, putting her arms out. We let them each have a turn, and took pictures and videos, and then sent them off to get ready for bed.
And so we are a family of four girls now. Pearl has been a perfect little baby, eating and sleeping and pooping like a pro. My mother-in-law arrived on Tuesday to help for a week or so. I am working on resting and enjoying the “babymoon” while the girls get lots of Grandma time. They all want to hold their little sister, and Jade enjoys getting out the diapers for diaper changes.
I’m grateful to the friends who wrote guest posts for me to share on my blog while I focus on Pearl during this time.
Love this birth story? It’s included in Beginner’s Guide to Growing Baby: Tips to Help You Through All Four Trimesters, a book about pregnancy, birth, and baby’s first three months. Written with my good friend Anna Eastland (mom of 8 kids!), Beginner’s Guide to Growing Baby is an honest, practical look at pregnancy and beyond. We share what’s worked for us in growing, birthing and loving thirteen babies.
Beginner’s Guide to Growing Baby is available on Amazon.