Welcome baby Oliver! (birth story)
It has been so long since I last posted that the last post was another birth story! Our newest little one turned one today, and though I have not been using this space as much as I would like to, what better reason to come back than his birth story?
Welcome baby Oliver!
Oliver was born on a Sunday. I was 40 weeks and 5 days pregnant and eagerly anticipating his arrival. Last time around, E arrived 3.5 weeks early so I did everything in my power this time around to ensure that I was ready for an early arrival. By 40 weeks and 5 days, it felt like I had been waiting an eternity. I was starting to get anxious for his arrival, similar to what a mother or a wife awaiting the return of their son or husband from war must feel. I found myself constantly thinking about when he would be coming, and just hoping and praying that he would arrive safely.
That Sunday morning I woke up and went to church. During the service I started to feel light cramping, and wondered if that meant that Oliver would be coming. Not wanting to get my hopes up, I did not really think much of it. After church, I went home, put E down for a nap, and had some lunch with J & M.
After lunch, as I had been doing for most of my pregnancy, I went to take a nap. Only this time I started to feel some more cramping, and now a little stronger than it had felt during church. The cramping was on and off so I decided to record the timing of each “cramp” to investigate whether these could be contractions. Sure enough, the cramps were coming at regular intervals, the first time 9 minutes apart, the second time 8 minutes apart, and the third time 7 minutes apart. Since they were regular and getting closer, we decided to cancel our afternoon plans with friends and I called the midwives and my doula to let them know what was happening.
A few weeks prior, when I was at around 36 weeks, I decided that I would try to have a home birth this time around. It was something I had been drawn to since my first pregnancy.
Since the other two kids’ labors were short, I was hoping that everyone would arrive before Oliver did!
Over the next couple of hours, everyone started trickling in. My friend Leah arrived first. I was blessed to have Leah offer to be my doula, as she is a midwife who is currently home with her kids. She is also an amazing friend, and such a supportive person to have around. Over the next bit our photographer Grace, our midwife Paula, and my in-laws all arrived. At first, the contractions weren’t very strong so we used this time to get set up. There was a buzz in the air, and I felt very excited. I made coffee for everyone and explained to the kids that their baby brother would likely be arriving soon.
We all hung out and played in the family room for a bit. Paula assessed me and said that I was not in active labor and that she would go back to the office (which is very close to our house) and to call her when active labor started. She left the house at 4pm.
After she left, contractions started to get stronger, so J packed a bag for the kids and sent them off with their grandparents.
We called Paula back at 6pm since things had definitely gotten more intense by that point. I had prepared a birth tub in our bedroom.
It must have been around 7pm that I got into the tub. I remember feeling that the water helped with the pain management, but also that it seemed to be slowing things down. Having been induced twice, the gradual nature of the increase in pain was very different. I almost felt impatient – but I did enjoy the breaks in between contractions.
The mood in the room was very calm. There was soft music playing, and everyone was quiet and respectful. We would talk quietly in between the contractions and then get into gear when the next contraction would start. I couldn’t help notice that outside my bedroom window was a beautiful sunset. I remembered reading that the birthing environment should have the same respect and calm as a place of worship. This resonated with me because, to me, the birthing experience is one of the few times in our lives where we get to experience something truly sacred.
Our second midwife, who had been there for E’s birth, arrived around 8pm. It was shortly afterwards that I felt ready to push.
The pushing this time around was likely shorter than my first labor but longer than my second one, which was a bit of a surprise. The bigger surprise though was that Oliver’s head came out, and then it took about 10 minutes for the next contraction to come! This felt very strange, especially since we were in the water. My midwife assured me things were ok. I remember asking for confirmation that the hardest part was now over (since the head was out), to which my midwife responded “yes, that and the next 18 years”. Oy.
Eventually, the contractions started up again (10 minutes felt like an eternity!) and out came Oliver. I caught him myself and I spent the next moments catching my breath and sitting in awe of our little babe. I remember feeling like I wanted to lift him up to the sky, the way that they did with the new baby cub in the Lion King. I was just so in awe.
The first night was so surreal and, similar to the other two birth experiences I had, I just could not come down from the adrenaline rush. I was so excited! All I could do was stare at him in disbelief.
The next morning was also so exciting. M and E came home to meet their baby brother. They were excited to meet him and hold him. E particularly enjoyed showing him all of his trucks.
We spent the next few days (and the first year, really) getting accustomed to life as a family as five (which has been a huge transition, but that is for another post). More importantly, those first few days were filled with a lot of love and cuddles as we all embraced our new roles within this growing family.