The Unassisted Home Birth of Willow

Willow Trinity, my third baby and second freebirth, was born at 12:07AM on March 15, 2020 in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. My pregnancy with Willow was absolutely perfect and uneventful. Her pregnancy was mostly unassisted, but at 32 weeks pregnant we decided to hire a home-birth midwife to help with the documentation portion of it all, so we could get her birth certificate and SSN without issue. It was nice to be planning a freebirth, but to also have a midwife on standby for a backup plan. Our midwife showed up about 15 minutes after Willow was born. This is her birth story.

 

March 14th 2020

 

6:00AM:
I woke up today at 41 weeks pregnant and felt…different. My cheeks were flushed, my body felt ‘off’, and I had the tiniest speck of blood on the toilet paper when I wiped.
Today is the day.
I smiled as I walked out of the bathroom and crawled into bed with my husband and 2-year-old.

7:00AM:
I woke again from an uncomfortable and short sleep, which is how my sleep has been pretty much always, lately. I forced myself to go to the bathroom, only because I wanted to wipe and see some kind of progress. It was kind of disheartening to look and see absolutely nothing on the toilet paper. I looked at myself in the mirror and could just tell by the way I looked. My skin was almost glowing; I was radiating energy and life. I embraced my bump and smiled down at my baby. I knew today was the day, and I was so excited. 

7:30AM:
Jackson, my 2-year-old, wakes up first and we slowly make our way downstairs. A dash of excitement fills my soul and my heart skips a beat when we round the corner of the stairs and are met with a bright, white winter wonderland through the sliding back door. It has snowed overnight, unbeknownst to me, and looks absolutely beautiful. The snow is falling in big, thick, beautiful flakes. It was the very first snow of the season. I got a text from one of my best friends telling me she had a dream I had given birth.
What a beautiful day for our baby to arrive. 

8:00AM:
I tell my mother-in-law that our baby will be arriving today, and she is simply giddy with excitement. I go to the bathroom again and this time there is substantial amounts of pink on the toilet paper. I know this is a sign of dilation, so I make a mental note to keep walking and staying active to help encourage everything along. I remind myself of the journey coming but am more excited than anything.  

9:45AM:
My midwife texts, telling me she’s on the way for our scheduled home visit at 10. I’m so thrilled to tell her about our progress, and am generally just in a great, excited mood. I have a smile that can’t be wiped from my face and feel so full of life.

10:15AM:
The midwife arrives, and we welcome her into our home. It’s a typical Saturday morning, with breakfast cooking, family talking, and kids running everywhere. We talk about my progress, and she gives me a “Labor Whiff” tincture to help encourage labor and stimulate uterine contractions ‘just in case.’ We both agree that labor will probably start tonight and that I should try and squeeze in a nap. 

11:00AM:
We take the kids outside to play in the snow, and they have a complete and total blast. I get a little emotional watching Jackson, and make sure to snap a few pictures of just him and me. I can’t believe that soon he will be promoted to big brother, it feels like not so long ago I was preparing for his freebirth. Soon, he will be my middle little, and no longer my baby. I watch as my husband plays with them and am so excited for this new life on their way. 

12:00PM:
I enjoy a hearty brunch and spend time playing Super Mario Party and other Nintendo Switch games with my mother-in-law, sister-in-law, and husband. I go to the bathroom and, again, have confirmation that progress is happening. I take some of my “Labor Prep” tincture (which I’ve been taking for about 4 weeks now, and just helps tone the uterus) and spend some time embracing these fleeting moments of pregnancy. 

2:00PM:
I gather the boys and nurse Jackson down for a nap. I snap another picture, because I know this will probably be the last time I nurse him during this pregnancy. I fall into a deep, comfortable sleep. 

4:00PM:
We decide to take a trip to the grocery store to grab some last-minute things and walk around. COVID-19 is definitely affecting the supply available in the stores, but we grab some noodles, sauce, and a few other random things. I try to get some walking time in, but mostly just feel sore, so we leave shortly after arriving. I am acutely aware this is my last shopping trip while pregnant. My smile couldn’t be bigger. 

6:00PM:
We play games on Nintendo again, and I start gathering the birthing supplies into one place. My nesting instinct feels very strong, but my energy feels low. My body feels different and I can tell things will start happening soon. 

8:00PM:
As a tribute to our last unassisted birth and a fun way to try and get things going, we decide to order Chipotle for dinner. (Chipotle was the last meal I ate before going into labor with Jackson). I eat some of it, but don’t have the biggest appetite, and am somewhat afraid of vomiting up Chipotle while in labor (I had nausea/vomiting in labor with Andrew). I eat about a quarter of the bowl, but begin feeling some tightening in my stomach and don’t want to eat much more. Everyone was still playing games, but I feel like I want to withdraw from everyone. Every few minutes, I make my way upstairs to the bedroom to just sit on the toilet or lay on the bed. I am losing quite a bit of blood at this point. I snap my very last belly selfie. 

9:00PM:
I am having light contractions every 10 minutes or so. They are still inconsistent, so I’m trying to get some rest before true labor begins. I’m still making my way between downstairs with the kids and everyone else, and upstairs getting into my labor space, though I am spending increasing amounts of time upstairs. 

10:30PM:
I make my way upstairs after having a contraction downstairs almost too strong to hide. I’m not sure why I wanted to hide the fact I was having a contraction from everyone else, but I just feel very withdrawn and want to hide away in my bedroom. My belly feels very heavy, and I feel like baby is descending into position. I lean over the bed with my belly sort of hanging there weightlessly. My husband finds me like this, gives me the look, and asks if it’s time. I tell him it is. 

10:45PM:
A contraction grows through my body. I feel it stretching in my lower stomach, opening me, preparing my baby.
“Relax. Breathe. Open.” I remind myself.
It’s definitely a strong sensation, but I can easily breathe through it.
It lasts for about 20 seconds, and I’m back to laughing with my husband. 

10:56PM:
Another contraction begins to grow. At this point, it’s hard to tell if one is actually starting before it’s actually starting if that makes sense. It’s not painful until it is. Again, I’m laying on the bed, but it’s getting harder to find comfort when everything completely tightens up. It’s easier to breathe through while laying on my side instead of laying completely on my back. The majority of my tightening is in my lower belly, and like my other 2 births, I feel no pain in my back. This comes as a relief, as I had a lot of back pain during pregnancy, and was worried about back labor.
This one lasts for 48 seconds, and leaves my legs shaking afterward.
I can still laugh, joke, and scroll through Facebook when it’s over. I tell my husband that I wonder if this is actual labor. 

11:06PM:
The next contraction builds through my body, stretching and opening me. I remind myself again “Relax. Breathe. Open.” through the 47 seconds that it has hold of me. My husband talks to me through the contraction, and I listen but can’t really respond. The pain is still manageable now, and I think about how my water hasn’t broken yet. After the contraction is over, Andrew and I discuss the potential of a possible en caul baby. It’s something I’ve always kind of wanted to experience, but in both births before, my waters broke well before it was time to push. Jackson comes upstairs to play on his tablet and hang out with Mommy. 

11:12PM:
The next contraction comes on surprisingly fast, much faster than the last few. I’m not even sure if it’s a real contraction, because this one fades so quickly – within about 30 seconds. My husband is downstairs during this time, and the contraction is brought on by me changing positions in bed. My uterus is starting to feel agitated at this point, and every little movement brings on the feeling of a contraction. This one definitely didn’t build as strong as the last one, but I count it anyway. 

11:19PM:
The next contraction begins to build just six-ish minutes after the last. This one actually gets me up out of bed because I simply cannot find comfort. I bend over the bed and breathe through the tightening. After 45 seconds, my muscles release. I feel my baby kick and smile, looking at my husband “That was a strong one.” I am out of breath, but I still feel like I’m just beginning the journey. “I don’t know how else to take this”, my husband says motioning to the contraction timer on his phone “other than as the baby will be here very soon. There’s something about midnight.” he smiles at me, referring to how similar this labor is to Jackson’s (who was born 20 minutes after midnight) “The baby will be here soon.”
I shrug his words off and consider the idea that this could be a longer labor than my last. My water still hasn’t broken, and contractions are nowhere near as strong as I’d expect for transition. 

11:23PM:
Just as I climb back up onto the bed, another contraction begins to build.
I lay on my side and breathe through as it grips, stretches, and molds me. I can’t think about anything. I can’t speak. I silently breathe through the 20 seconds before I am released and able to find a comfortable position. 

11:28PM:
The waves are getting stronger, and I imagine myself surfing over them, gliding toward my baby.
“I am confident. I am in control.” I whisper to myself, thinking about how I wished and prayed for this day, for this experience. “I am so lucky.”
The contraction lasts 35 seconds and I am left breathless and shaking. I feel the need to get into the shower. It takes me a few moments to gather the strength to slowly and carefully get out of bed. It feels as though another contraction is getting ready to build, but it quickly fizzles and I make my way into the bathroom. 

11:33PM:
As the warm water streams over my body, another contraction begins to build. I tell my husband, who’s sitting on the toilet, to start the timer again. I prepare myself for this one to be strong, but the hot water runs over my back, easing the pain. It’s not nearly as intense as the surge before and after 33 seconds, is completely gone. I tell my husband how amazed I am at how much the water helped relieve the pain. I’d used water for the two births before, but the contractions never felt so obviously lighter like they did this time.

11:38PM:
I ran the dishwasher before labor started, and I guess it used a lot of the hot water, because the shower is getting less hot. It’s still pretty warm, but not as hot as I want it. A surge begins building, and I lay the top half of my body against the shower wall, while the water beats on my back. I’m still able to silently get through the contraction, consciously thinking about and gaining strength from, all the women in the world taking this same journey at this same time along with me. It lasts for 31 seconds and slowly releases. 

11:41PM:
Another wave begins to build, and I brace myself by leaning onto the back of the shower with my hands and allowing the water to rain down on my back. The warm water really felt so good. It was pain-relieving, relaxing, and like a big, warm hug. This one lasts for a long 43 seconds, but I silently breathe through, reminding myself to stay relaxed and open. The more I welcomed the wave, the less painful it was. Some sensations were even good and exciting! My husband asks if I want him to call the midwife, and I tell him no. I think about them in this space, and it doesn’t feel right. This does. Because of my silence during the contractions, I believe I still have a long way to go before meeting baby. As the contraction fades, I decide to get out of the shower to preserve hot water for the “real deal.” I know that I am well on my journey to the stars, I am much less “here” (talking, joking, looking at my phone, etc), and much more in the zone. I try to get back into bed. 

11:45PM:
Another wave builds quickly and is quite intense. I feel the pulling and tightening throughout my entire belly now, and get up on my hands and knees in the bed. I slowly rock through the pain, reminding myself to breathe, to stay open and calm. It’s harder now though, and my husband notices immediately by my position that we’re close. “Baby will be here soon.” he says, excitement laced in his voice, and the contraction fades 52 seconds later. All I can do is breathe. 

11:49PM:
My husband moves to the bed to try and comfort and reassure me, but this new wave is more intense than the last and all I can do is moan through it. I rock forward and back, my voice shaking, my hands gripping the sheets.
“Relax. Breathe. Open.” I remind myself, trying so hard to be as relaxed and calm as possible. I am forced to completely surrender for 36 seconds.
I decide to try the shower again. 

11:52PM:
I make it as far as the bathroom sink with my husband running the shower, before another wave overtakes my body. I stand, holding the counter for support, and sway my hips. This one overwhelms my body, and its intensity threatens to overwhelm my mind. I start feeling nauseous, and my husband asks what I need. All I can do is vocalize and breathe. 

11:53PM:
I move to get in the shower, and nausea overtakes me. All of my Chipotle ends up in the back of my shower and my sweet husband encourages me the entire time I’m vomiting. I absolutely hate throwing up and he knows it. 

11:55PM:
Another contraction begins to build and I stand up, bend over the vomit on my shower floor, brace myself with my hands on the shower wall and moan through it. The pressure builds from the bottom of my bump all the way to the top, my legs shake, and I roar through. As I reach the peak, I begin making sounds that are much more deep, primal, and productive. It lasts for 44 seconds and ends in a growl. “I think I’m pushing?!” I say to my husband as I’m released. Confusion washes over me. I don’t feel the urge to push. But that sounded like pushing. 

11:59PM:
Everything begins happening so quickly. I have reached the stars, and am bringing my baby home. Another contraction begins to build, and it’s impossible to contain my roars. I am definitely pushing, and there is nothing I can do to stop that. I haven’t been able to feel my baby descend, like I did with my boys. In fact, though I’m pushing, I don’t feel the urge. It must be because my waters haven’t broken. My husband asks if I want him to call the midwife, and I say yes. 

 

March 15th 2020

12:00AM:
Andrew goes downstairs to call the midwife.
I make the instinct decision to squat down in the bathtub and feel within my body for progress. About one knuckle in, I’m met with a soft, squishy bag of waters.
I knew I was pushing, but I didn’t know I was this close. 

12:01AM:
Another contraction grows. Andrew comes back into the bathroom and meets me at the bathtub, face-to-face, exactly as we sat just 2.5 years before when I was birthing our son.
I roar loudly. 

12:03AM:
I reach down and feel my baby’s bag of waters right near the entrance to the world. They are right there, and excitement races through me. I tell my husband how excited I am. As another contraction builds, I begin to worry about how quickly everything is going, and tell my husband I’m worried about tearing. This incredible man runs downstairs to grab the olive oil, which I apply all over the opening of my vagina in a very rushed and panicked way. I don’t know if it actually helped, but hey, it was worth a shot (and I didn’t tear).

12:06AM:
The strongest contraction of them all squeezes my entire body. I growl, roar, and lean out of the bathtub. It’s almost as I push this baby out, I’m pushing myself up and out of the tub. Somehow, through it all, I think about how I should have one more contraction after this; how only the head should come out with this one. I feel myself opening, stretching, growing wider by the second.
I feel the ring of fire for just one second in time, reach down to support my perineum, and am met with a huge, heavy bag of water, which splashes all over my hand, as the entire baby comes shooting out afterward.

12:07AM:
Everything went so unexpectedly quickly, and the Fetal Ejection Reflex took over like I’ve never felt it before. I roared my baby into the world, and she flew into the bathtub. I didn’t even have time to catch her, and my husband was face-to-face with me in the moment she was born, so he didn’t either.
I gingerly climbed over her so that I could lay eyes on this baby I’d been growing for over 41 weeks. My first thoughts were “Oh, how tiny” and then immediately “It’s a girl!”
I picked up my tiny 6lb 15oz baby and brought her to my chest. She was much more gurgly than my other two, which I attributed to her being born in the waters, but she pinked up so quickly. I couldn’t believe it, we had a baby GIRL!

Another perfect unassisted birth, only over an hour from start to finish.

Welcome to the world, sweet Willow, we’re so happy you’re here.