It was just like any other day. I had just gotten over what seemed like a month long cold, woke up to pink-eye in both eyes (an ongoing auto-immune issue supposedly), exhausted from a toddler wanting to wake up early and a full agenda for Desiree Hartsock Bridal. My due date was to be the following day and needless to say, I still wanted the weekend to get ready for the BIG event.
Ok, so maybe it wasn’t like any other day. Definitely not a normal day.
Come to think of it- it was an extraordinary day.
January 12, 2019 at 11:23am we welcomed our second son, Zander Cruz Siegfried, into the world.
On Friday the 11th, I had a midwife appointment, at which I even told them I don’t feel like he’s coming this weekend, and was holding out till Monday. Asher was pretty much right on time to his due date so since Zander hadn’t arrived early yet I was thinking he would follow suite.
Like I mentioned up top, I had a rough go the last month or so before my due date with the deadly winter colds that were raging through everywhere and a strange, pink-eye problem that kept reoccurring no matter how many different things I tried, threw away or stayed away from. (eventually after the 4th go at it- an eye doctor mentioned an auto-immune thing) who really knows- I’m still having issues with dryness and some red (but now that might be lack of sleep). Anyways… Probably due to growing another human in my belly and the winter germs, I couldn’t kick it. With planning another natural birth, this time at home, I was anxious about being sick and did NOT want this baby to come while I wasn’t healthy and strong. If any one has gone into labor you know how much of your mental and physical strength you need to even get half way through.
I’m not going to lie. This time around I didn’t feel as prepared the whole nine months leading into D-day due to a very busy work and travel schedule and managing a toddler at the same time. My mind was NO where near ready for labor or recovery. Not until I started going to some breathing/ pre-natal workout classes and refreshing my mind with books like Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth did I begin to feel at ease and at peace with what I was about to go through once again.
After this second time around I have to say that labor is what you make of it. With Asher I felt as though I just tried to ENDURE the pain and make it through the best I could. With Zander I feel that wisdom, experience and preparation with breathing knowledge helped me to EMBRACE the pain and be present with each and every contraction.
I had a very bad recovery experience (due to tearing) with Asher so I had a lot of concern going into this second one and the fear of the unknown or possibly going through that same post-partum period kept me from feeling prepared. It’s always easier to go into something not knowing what to expect so I didn’t feel this kind of fear with Asher. I was dreading to feel the discomfort of contractions again but did not want to compromise the experience I wanted for Zander’s birth. As much as the recovery with Asher was terrible and yes contractions suck, I wanted to experience it again because we are far more capable of a positive birth experience than what we are lead to believe.
The last month of pregnancy I really drove into positivity and kept reading those books that encourage and empower us to trust our body and our baby during labor. It’s truly amazing what we put into our lives and into our minds we actually manifest. I ignored ignorant or negative comments from ‘friends’ or strangers and began to change my mindset from fear to confidence.
Although I was hoping for a few more days with babe in the womb, he came at the perfect time.
The previous day happened to be really beautiful outside and so of course Asher wanted to go for a walk. At 10 months pregnant I was fine just kicking my feet up and laying on the couch all day but toddlers win every time. 😉 He needed a nap anyways so I figured I would just walk around the block a few times till he fell asleep. Of course, I ended up going rogue and turning down a street we don’t normally take. I wanted to give Asher more time to nod off but found myself at the bottom of a 45 degree hill! There was no turning back now- if I turned around I would be going up a similar type hill but further away from home so I sucked it up and treaded up that wretched hill with quite a few breaks in between just to catch my breath and make sure baby wasn’t falling out. lol. Like for real. At almost my due date – that pressure (with boys I hear is worse) down below is no joke!
I know for sure that walk triggered baby to start making his way home. Earth side.
It was around 2:15am when I first woke up to use the restroom and check my eyes because they were bothering me. I felt some discomfort in my belly and made sure to check the clock, just in case I felt it again. Initially I was like ‘NO!! not yet. I told you not till Monday!) I went downstairs to get some water and BAM 15 minutes later felt it again. It’s such a strange feeling, this moment, when you think you’re about to be in labor. I’m pretty sure most people get excited. For me, an intense feeling of anxiety swept over me (since this time I know what is to come with contractions). Thankfully an even larger spirit of peace washed over me, putting me at ease and ready to do the damn thing!
Sure enough, by the time I walked back upstairs with my water, I felt it again. Another 15 minutes had gone by and I knew it was GO time. This would be a great moment to go back to Asher’s Birth Story because they start out pretty much the same and why I knew I didn’t have much time to relax and that things were going to progress pretty quickly.
They did exactly that. I tracked about 2 more contractions 15 minutes apart before waking Chris up and making sure he called our Doula and Midwives to come quick. Within an hour they began to be just 8 minutes apart and centrally located so I was already having to breathe through them.
Since they were centered, the only position I felt any relief was the fetal position laying on one side. Not sure why but I rolled with it.
You never know what position or technique will be best for you till you’re in the moment. Each baby is positioned differently and needs to create his or her own path into this world and as much as I know this, I was surprised that what worked for pain management with Asher was not the same with Zander.
(No matter how silly or how awkward or hard or indifferent a position might look or feel- just go with it! Our bodies know what they are doing and will help you guide the baby down.)
From the first contraction to the last I had all centered contractions – not on either side of the belly- just dead center. Maybe this is normal but with Asher I felt the contraction everywhere and not just down the middle so it was new to me. It made many of the contractions more painful than I remembered but I was much more intentional with each contraction so maybe that’s why it seemed more painful in the moment.
At this point I had to distract my mind from everything else around me so I put in some earbuds and had my Christian playlist on repeat. You know, little bit of Hillsong, some Bethel Music, and Lauren Daingle. If anything would help me get through this I knew my God and my praise in Him would, and it certainly did.
I would say another hour went by, contractions getting to be about 2-3 minutes apart and I was still in the same position on the bed, laying on my side. With each contraction I would breathe through it as if I was on a surfboard riding a wave- needing to breathe all the way through till I hit the shore. I’m drawn to the ocean and find peace at the shore with waves crashing at my feet so this analogy really worked for me. Also the diaphragmatic breathing I practiced at my pre-natal workout class really gave me the tools to understand how my breathe helped assist the contractions and help with the related pain.
Doulas and midwives are truly angels in disguise. They arrived about an hour in and I couldn’t have had the same experience without them. As the contractions sped up and the pain of each one increased, my doula was an enormous help in keeping my mind focused on breathing through each one. She would place pressure on my lower back with each wave and I found that to be a huge relief as I would hit the peak of each contraction and have to breathe through it again. She would either breathe with me or remind me with each contraction to ‘breathe it down’.
My midwives were diligent in checking my heart rate and the baby’s and luckily we both stayed pretty consistent without any concerns. From our experience with Asher’s birth, we knew that we may have to break the water bag this time around too. After giving it some time without progression, and trying different positions we decided to pop my water bag. To do this, I had to get out of my coveted position and sit on a birthing stool. I find that the transition of changing positions is the worst – but also the most crucial as this can help the baby maneuver and progress. Popping the water bag was a huge relief but I knew the moment we did, things could progress even quicker.
I went right back to my bed, with my earbuds and directly into my beloved position laying on my side with my hand over my face grabbing onto a pillow. I had learned in my pre-natal workout class that for pain discomfort I responded well to pinching my hand, so I did this to help take off some focus on the contraction. So from the very first contraction to the last I was either grabbing a pillow with full clutch or using my nails to pinch the top of my thumb. (if that makes sense).
By the fourth hour I was exhausted and not sure how much longer I had. The contractions were like every minute and with each one I felt so present, and so aware- of the discomfort and the time passing by. The intention and presence I had with each contraction is what helped me get through each one though so I wouldn’t change it for anything.
The last hour was obviously the most intense but also the most powerful. I had Josh Baldwin’s song ‘Stand in Your Love’ on repeat at this point and the reason why I chose this song for labor is because of the initial fear I had surrounding it. The only way to combat something is to come at it full force. The chorus sings ‘My fear doesn’t stand a chance, when I stand in Your love’ and it was the perfect anthem for the perfect moment to conquer any fear or any pain I was experiencing.
Since I could tell that the baby was getting lower and my midwives actually knew how far down he is, we changed my position to be almost all fours on the bed. Luckily, with my father in law being a chiropractor we had a foldable slant board just laying around our house so we used that to prop up my forearms with my knees on the bed so I could move up and down with each contraction while Chris held my wrists/ forearms for support (by far the most relief and gravity enforcing way to labor (for me at least). This allowed me to really feel where Zander was with each contraction and with him staying center ALL the way down I could really feel where he was. With each contraction by now I could feel his head trying to make it further, further, further more. Since I was so aware of where he was and aware of my breathe I was able to truly breathe him down with each contraction. Might sound strange to ‘breathe him down’ but if you practice diaphragmatic breathing you will understand the power it is to assist your baby in the birthing process.
I felt so in tuned, so on course with Zander that it’s hard to explain just how present I was with him. I visualized his head and his body maneuvering down with each contraction and I would intentionally push when my body told me to, knowing it would help assist him down. The pushing with Asher is why I had a tough recovery so I was nervous going into it with Zander but it wasn’t terrible at all (also helps that it was my second). Midway through the last hour someone had opened the blinds and Chris made sure I opened my eyes just enough to see the most miraculous, firey pink and orange sunrise I had ever seen. It was like the moment Simba is lifted up on the rock and the song begins. It felt too surreal for it to be real life. but it was. It was as if God was peeking through the blinds shining His light on us. A moment I will never forget.
So while I have my anthem song is blaring in my ear, my eyes closed tight (the entire time btw), Chris in front of me holding my arms, and the sunrise warming the room, I give one last breathe/ push through a contraction and out drops the most beautiful squirmy boy. Before the midwives could even help guide him through my legs up to my arms and chest, I was sobbing. Sobbing of relief, of joy, of love.
Holding Zander in my arms with my head on Chris, I felt so much gratitude. For the strength of my body and mind, the strength of my faith and God’s provision, the love of a good man and good daddy for my boys, the guidance and knowledge of birth support, the ability to birth in the comfort of my home, the sun, the bed, the bird’s chirping outside. It was a magical day I am also so grateful to be able to share with you.
Zander went straight to breastfeeding which was a huge relief since we didn’t have nearly the same experience with Asher and as we all rested in our bed together skin to skin I felt so strong, so beautiful, so alive. After a huge breakfast sandwich and re-hydrating I took a much needed nap with my newest little man right there beside me and a permanent smile across my face and my heart.
Asher was picked up by a friend of ours during labor so that Chris could help in the process and I wouldn’t be distracted but once he returned he got to meet his little brother. He was so proud and so in love from day one with his new baby brother and six months later that same adoration is still there. Truly a mother’s dream to watch how they interact with each other and the bond they will continue to grow.
Many of you may have had similar birth stories or absolutely the opposite. Many of you may be trying for a baby or experiencing loss of a child. I see you in my son’s eyes. I see the hope and the desire for this same story in your life or the connection we have as mommas. I feel like birth stories- no matter the experience, no matter the story- need to be celebrated and shared. For one child born into this world is one more of God’s angels able to make a difference in someones life. The only thing we can do is walk alongside these sweet babies with love, protection and support to guide them into who they are supposed to be.