2 days before her due date:
At 3:00pm the Saturday before Easter, I started experiencing cramping and a tightness in my tummy. I grabbed my heating pack and expected them to subside soon. They didn’t and at one point I looked at Avery and said “I have to tap out of parenting for a bit. I need to go lay down.”
At 3:30 I started tracking/timing the contractions. I tried laying down but couldn’t get comfortable, so I started a bath around 4:00 and turned on Christian Hypnobirthing encouraging verses. I fully expected this to be prodromal labor that would fizz out after an hour. I was keeping my midwife and doula up to date throughout all of this. Meanwhile, Avery was out shopping at Home Depot with Carrie.
Every time there was a contraction I’d lean over the side of the bath and just rock. It was on the 2nd or 3rd time doing this that I realized this wasn’t prodromal labor. This was the real thing because I was following my body, I wasn’t doing this all on my own. I told avery to come home and told my doula and midwife that they were picking up. It was now about 5:30-6.
I was totally caught off guard that this was it and had an initial moment of panic that this was happening right now. I still planned on taking photos of my doula and her family, I wanted to make some freezer meals, I never got around to blowing up the birthing tub, etc. while my mind was coming to terms with reality, I was also noticing that the contractions were owning me instead of me anticipating them and breathing through them. After a handful of frustrating contractions I honed in on them, did a mentality check, and chose to go with them instead of against them. The only thing I remained nervous about was the length of this labor. I had no clue what a natural labor looked like on my body with Carrie’s birth starting off as an induction. Mentally, I was trying to prepare myself for hourssss of labor.
By now, Avery was home and made dinner for Carrie while I dried up from the bath, threw on a robe, and tried to lay down. They were coming every 2 minutes now. I made sure to eat some oatmeal inbetween the contractions. I started to get sleepy in-between them too, almost falling asleep a handful of times until another contraction came and I focused on breathing through it. The only contractions I ever experienced during Carrie’s birth were transitional contractions (the really tough ones towards the end) so that was the only meter I had to gauge the intensity off of. As I continued to go through them alone while Avery took care of Carrie, my whole focus was relaxing and releasing tension as the contraction came. I remembered being vocal during contractions with Carrie so I tried that and it helped some.
As soon as Avery put Carrie down around 6:30 he had planned to set up the birthing tub but I told him to scratch that and just come lay behind me and apply back pressure. At this point my midwife was on her way and my doula was heading home from the airport where she was picking up her husband. Both were roughly an hour away. I thought we had plenty of time.
After laying in bed for a while, I stood up over the bed for some, with Avery behind me applying back pressure and encouraging me. At 7 on the dot my water broke, just like it does in movies haha I thought it was the coolest thing ever. They had to manually break my water with Carrie’s birth and it was excruciatingly painful so I was pleasantly surprised when it naturally and painlessly happened. Felt like a relief.
Immediately following that, I told Avery I wanted to go to the shower some. I needed the warm water, these contractions were starting to feel like transition. We were in the shower for maybe 3 minutes when I started to bear down, and again - I was caught off guard. I remember looking back at Avery saying “I’m bearing down and I can’t do anything about it.” My body was in complete control, all I had to do was follow. Because I was starting to bear down, I told Avery I wanted to go back to the side of the bed and away from the wet tiles in case baby girl came.
Avery continued to coach me, reminding me to breathe, relax, and be vocal like I was during the contractions of Carrie’s birth. I never feel more like a team than I do with Avery during birth. Once on the side of the bed I stood leaning over it, on top of some towels and began to push. There was nothing I could do to stop it. My midwife had just said she was 6 minutes away, I thought surely I could make it to then - my body thought otherwise haha
At 7:10 I told Avery I felt something down there. He thought it was just the sac, I told him no, I feel something. He reached down and sure enough, her butt was coming first. He coached me through it, talking both him and I through the things we knew to look for with her being breech. “Her butt is first, now both of her feet have come down, there’s no cord wrapped around them or near them, so we’re all good, now her torso, and her head and arms. Good job baby. She’s here, she’s here! Nothing is wrong with her!”
At 7:12 Jeanie girl was earth side and in her dads arms. He smacked her on the back a couple times, she started crying instantly, I rolled up onto the bed and had her on my chest within seconds. Everything was so instinctual and not a single ounce of myself doubted Avery or baby girls well-being. It was just us three in our dim lit master bedroom. We looked at eachother in shock and amazement and tears started coming out of my eyes as I said “thank you for trusting me.” Those three minutes of just us were pure bliss. We never planned for an unassisted birth and never will plan for one, but I have no doubt God was intentional in delivering one this go around. Easily one of the most intimate things Avery and I will ever experience together.
Minutes later our midwife arrived in shock and awe. Congratulating us and exclaiming that she knew I could do it. She was so impressed with Avery too. And then a handful of minutes more and our doula showed up. She too was instantly in tears at the fact that we did it, unassisted, breech and all - and baby girl was completely healthy.
We spent the next hour waiting for the placenta to come and monitoring my bleeding. There wasn’t a single tear or scratch either and I was SO THANKFUL. I had experienced a scratch from Carrie and required stitches and that was one of the worst parts for me as far as recovery goes. Baby girl laid on my chest the entire time. No one grabbed her from me, no one was poking or prodding her or I, we just cuddled and got familiar with each other. She latched instantly and all of her joints and limbs looked good (something you check for after they’ve been breech). She weighed in at 8lbs 19.5 inches, with her daddy’s nose and mamas dimple chin. She was perfect.
Avery later told me how cool it was to see me so alert, joyful, and engaging after just giving birth. He also kept talking about how much energy and calm he had immediately following the birth. We all just hung out, talked, and laughed as my bleeding was monitored and everything.
I took a shower in my own shower with the help of my doula and cuddled right back into bed with baby girl. I remember telling my doula (the same one that was at Carrie’s birth) that I was in so much more immediate pain and my body was tense for days after Carrie’s birth vs this one. And she reminded me the power hormones have when they aren’t tampered with or interfered with. I felt safe, comfortable, honored, and respected. Naturally my body and hormones were thriving off of that and it was such a unique thing to experience firsthand.
After eating Olive Garden in bed, Avery picked up the rosary that we had started during contractions and finished it. We thanked God so many times for His goodness, providence, and protection. I couldn’t have dreamt up a more perfect birth story if I tried. Imagene Cait Wells - we love you, welcome home.