When I think back to Lucan’s birth, it feels as though I have just woken, trying my best to remember each detail of a vivid dream.
I can recall scenes, but it’s each picture is surrounded by a soft glow, like that of fog or a blurry photograph.
I began to experience contractions in the form of stop and go labor for days.
Each walk I took increased the intensity, but like clockwork, they wound down to extinction after I stepped foot into our home. I couldn’t help but feel a bit disappointed by this. Still, I tried to remind myself that my baby and body were on their own timeline and focused on my daughter before our family grew.
It was a warm, calm summer day the day before our son was born.
Eric brought out a blanket for Ella and I to lay on in the shade. We looked up through the barely moving leaves overhead. When Eric took Ella out for a swim in the paddle boat, I closed my eyes and listened to their distant splashes and laughter. I rested my hand on my belly and breathed deep.
A few phone calls were made back and forth between my doula and midwife that day. Just to keep them informed. I must have subconsciously sensed that it would be soon, as I hadn’t called either of them before that day when having warm-up contractions.
By early evening – dinner timeish – contractions had become more consistent, while still very manageable.
No one would have noticed had I not mentioned them. My midwife suggested I drink a small glass of wine and take a bath to relax. I called my mom, and she came over with two bottles of red and some snacks. She, Eric and Ella sat at the kitchen table laughing and eating while I took my wine into the bathroom.
The bath didn’t feel right.
It was slowing things down. I got out and paced around the house with a serious look on my face. I didn’t want those contractions to peter out!
Ella went down to bed at her usual time of 9:30. My labor continued to march on slowly but surely, gaining in intensity.
This is when I started to get nervous.
Some women had reported that their second labors had gone by in record-breaking speed: 2 hours of intense labor once their water broke and things like that. I worried that would happen to me and my midwife wouldn’t get here in time.
I communicated these thoughts with my mom and Eric who were sitting in the living room while I quietly labored, balancing on the exercise ball. They agreed that we should wait until things got more serious, but not too long, as our midwife and doula had drives to make (about 30-50 minutes).
Eric finally called L (midwife) and Jessica (doula) at around 11:30 PM. They arrived just after one another at around midnight.
Curious as to how I was progressing in comparison to my first birth, I asked L to check me.
I was 4-5 cm dilated and 100% effaced! HUGE difference from previous birth.
After a little chit chat, we recognized I was still hours away from birthing, so everyone, (but me) went to sleep.
Decided to walk up and down the stairs and loop across the kitchen, around the dinner table and back up the stairs. It was a course I made for myself that I followed, pausing intermittently during contractions. 5 cm dilated with Ella after laboring all.night.long. This news made me feel energized and confident. It also strengthened the intensity of my contractions (L had turned my cervix forward – ouch!).
Finally, I tired myself out.
I got in the bath and out to the bed. Tried to lay down but had to get up and kneel, bent over across a pillow during the peak of rushes. Sleep came over me for a short period of time – probably 20 minutes or so – before I felt the urge to get up and walk again. I left Eric in the bed, (he had been resting with me, encouraging and rubbing my back softly – oh and there were candles lit too…nice romantic atmosphere) and went back downstairs. This was around 2 a.m.
Jessica heard me rustling about and got up to watch me pace/offer her support.
One moment I distinctly remember is telling her, “if there is one thing that’s holding me back from progressing, it’s knowing what I am about to go through. I have to give birth to this baby. And it’s not going to feel good!”
She smiled and nodded, knowing what I meant.
Just then I leaned over the table through a contraction, and when it was over, sighed with relief. I had just gotten my “worst fear” off my chest and was ready to move forward.
We went into the living room where I had a station set up for kneeling over a bench. There was a water-proof covering on the floor and a folded towel on top of the end of the bench where I could rest my head or elbows while kneeling.
I leaned over the bench and Jessica began rubbing my lower back. That woman has magic hands! It felt SO good. I murmured something about being ready for the baby to come and Jessica said gently, “come on baby. Find your way out.”
Time to walk again. I tried to stand, but couldn’t.
It was as if someone was pushing down on me, not allowing me to stand up straight.
When I tried again, this time with more force, my water broke! We laughed. Baby was listening!
(Another stark contrast to my first home birth - I was so out of it when my water broke with Ella. Like I was half awake or something. I was aware that it happened but couldn’t walk around well at that time – maybe it was the back labor, I don’t know!)
I stood up and walked into the bathroom to get cleaned up.
When I came out of the bathroom, L was upstairs from her nap on the downstairs couch, and my mom and Eric were awake as well. Jessica was telling them my water had broken as L inspected the fluid on the floor.
The shift in energy and general commotion must have been felt throughout the entire house, for just then, Ella woke up for the first time all night. I heard her through the monitor and went in the bedroom to nurse her back to sleep.
As she began to nurse, a contraction came on hard (my first since water breaking).
I couldn’t help but vocalize through it, although I tried with all my might to keep quiet. I writhed on the bed trying to cope with the strength of the post-water breaking rushes. Whew, that was the first really tough contraction, but I got through it and successfully made it out of the bedroom without Ella.
The kind that brings you to down on all fours.
I vocalized through this one too, which woke Ella up again. She joined us in the living room. Contractions were closer together. Ella wanted to nurse, and I let her. Those were some tough contractions to get through because I had to stay still for her while she nursed.
After two contractions, I couldn’t take it anymore and asked my mom to take Ella downstairs (that’s what my mom was there for – support for Ella).
Ella was NOT happy about that one bit. Up until that point, I had never stopped her from nursing at night, I always put her to sleep that way. That night, I could not and she was devastated over it. She screamed, kicked and cried her little heart out. I could hardly take it.
Jessica and L suggested we move upstairs.
Ella’s cries were so distracting. I complied.
Warm water was already in the jacuzzi tub and I decided to get in. With the addition of hot water, then cold, I set into a steady rhythm of powerful contractions. My mind and body worked together to get things moving. I was ready to get the show on the road!
Candles were placed on the rim of the tub and Eric, L and Jessica sat behind me in the bathroom on the floor and toilet seat. They watched quietly and waited while I labored, vocalizing and providing my own perineal support.
Time went by so fast that I thought I was pushing against nothing…was I really ready to be pushing or was I rushing things because I wanted to soothe Ella? I voiced these concerns with L, who kindly told me that my body wouldn’t be pushing if it wasn’t ready to. That I knew what I was doing. Her words helped.
She and Jessica mostly stood back and let me do my thing, but at one point I remember her putting her hands on the lower part of my back, providing pressure more than rubbing. Later that morning she told me she felt the baby moving down during my contractions. Amazing!
When my voice began to get higher in pitch, Jessica suggested that I try moving into a new position, perhaps turning around to squat rather than kneel.
During the next break between contractions, I followed her advice, allowing my legs to open up and straighten a bit.
My first inclination was to kneel again, but I decided against it -
I wanted to take Jessica’s advice and see what changing positions would do. It wasn’t more than two or three contractions after I had turned around that I felt my baby’s head begin to emerge.
This is the part of my birth story when my nose starts to tingle and eyes slowly flood.
Those first moments of beginning to birth my son – feeling the soft, squishy top of his head as he crowned. That was our introduction.
His head came out in one big contraction as I provided my own perineal support. Then the contraction ended and there we were…I was holding his baby head in my hands, feeling his face and ears, resting my palm on the crown of his head. It was so surreal. I kept saying, “oh my god, my baby.” I heard, “wow,” and “you’re doing amazing, Katie,” from who, I don’t know.
I was in the moment, but also eagerly waiting for the next contraction to come so I could push him the rest of the way out.
When the next rush came, I said, “come on baby! Help me get the baby out. Get ready to grab the baby.” Something like that.
L asked Eric if he’d like to catch his baby.
“No!” He said. Then, Yes!” They reached their arms down into the water. Eric barely had time to push up his sleeves (which did end up getting a little wet). Together, they placed our baby on my chest. Slippery. Soft. So small!
This memory is fuzzy – all that adrenaline pumping clouds things! – but I remember hearing Eric crying.
I remember saying, “oh my baby, oh my baby.”
I felt between the legs, which was a game time decision for me, and made the announcement, “it’s a boy!! Eric, you have son!” Eric cried harder. L rubbed his back. Jessica took photos. It was 4:50 a.m.
I asked for Ella and my mom.
When they arrived, Ella got in the tub and nursed immediately, staring wide eyed at her newborn sibling. We were all in awe.
Eric announced his name, “everyone, I’d like you to meet Lucan Frederick Walker.”
Smiles and cheers all around.
Next, we moved into the bedroom to weigh, measure, clean up, take photos and nurse.
This is one of the major perks of home birth – that you can get into your own bed to do these things and stay there as long as you want.
As with my first home birth, I was made breakfast in bed and drank orange juice and a cup of coffee. At one point I was left alone with L and Jessica, along with Lucan wrapped up and sleeping in my arms.
We reminisced over my birth.
I was still in shock. I couldn’t get over the fact that I had given birth to this baby on my own. I guided him out with my body, into my hands, on my own! No one told me when or how. No one said faster or slower. I did it!
L said I looked triumphant.
She said, “I didn’t do anything. You did it. I didn’t even need to be here!” But I’m so glad she was. As much pride as I felt giving birth on my own, I loved having my team there supporting me along the way. I love looking back on them in the photos of my mind.
I haven given birth at home twice, and both were lovely experiences.
The first was on a bed, the second in water, and if you’re curious, I preferred the water birth to the two.
Not sure if it was due to being in warm water that softened my skin or just the fact that my body had done it before, but it hurt less. Less burning anyway.
My wish is that every woman could experience feeling triumphant after birth as I did.
There is no better feeling in the world. Giving birth proved I am strong enough to do anything. Strong, yet soft and yielding, like the moment I held Lucan’s face in my hands. I got a glimpse into the future – that I’d sneak into his bed in the middle of the night 14 years from now, just to touch the top of his head and recall the first moment we met.
Back to Water Birth Stories