I was at the end of week 41 of my second pregnancy when my labor started. I had been hoping that our son would decide to come earlier since we were in the middle of moving to a new house in a new city, from Amsterdam to Almere, and I was hoping not to have to give birth among moving boxes and potentially switch midwife. But babies have their own planning and they come when they are ready, so I also knew I had to be patient. Sometimes easier said than done.
He ended up being born 3 days before our move. So yeah. The planning was not great. But I did get to have my home birth with my midwife, just before the movers took our stuff to our new house, so things still worked out somehow.
Having to spend the first few weeks postpartum with a newborn, a toddler, a dog, moving mess, and contractors renovating our bathroom is a whole different story. One that I might not have handled as well as I did, had I not had the support of the most amazing Kraamzorg woman (seriously, she was AMAZING!), and considerate neighbors that offered me to use their shower when needed.
So about the birth...
My surges started around noon that day. They felt different from the practice surges I had been having, so at some level I knew from the start that it was time. But because I was afraid it would anyway turn out to be just another round of practice labor, I decided not to tell anyone until I was completely sure.
I went about the day. I walked to the bakery with my daughter and mother in law to buy bread. The surges kept coming despite the walk, but I kept them in the background. I came home and prepared dinner. And as I was chopping vegetables for the salad I realized I had to briefly stop what I was doing every now and then to breath with a surge. At this point, I was pretty convinced it was not practice labor this time. Our son was finally coming.
During the dinner with my husband, daughter, parents, and mother in law, I decided to let them know that I had been having regular surges throughout the afternoon, and that I was quite sure our son would be born tonight.
I went to bed that evening hoping to get some sleep, but around midnight I realized I would not be able to sleep. I left the bedroom where my husband and daughter was sleeping, and went to call my midwife to let her know I was in labor. She asked me to call again when I wanted her to come over.
Since I was planning for a home birth, it felt good knowing I would not need to go anywhere to birth my baby this time. My first birth was great and beautiful in every way, but I did not enjoy leaving my nest and travelling by car to give birth elsewhere.
I made myself comfortable in my pillow nest on the sofa, focused my attention inwards and allowed my body and mind to relax. I was breathing slowly with each surge, feeling my body working to bring my baby earth side.
It crossed my mind at some point how familiar it all felt, and how easy. I'm not generally for describing giving birth as something which is easy, because I know it often isn't. But for big portions of my labour this was the thought I had. It felt easy. I tried to remember if the first labour felt that easy. I think it didn't. My first birth was also very smooth and calm in many ways, but everything was new that time. This time I felt like I knew more what to expect, I knew what positions and techniques worked best for me, I felt in control, and I felt even more confident than the first time. The whole labor and birth felt very predictable and straight forward to me.
(Later on I've spent some time pondering over how certain aspects of my births are reflected in my children's personalities. My son is very down to earth and predictable, and so was his birth. My daughter is wild spirited and emotional, and her birth was also a more emotional experience for me, where I felt less in control and more of a need to just surrender to the forces of my body.)
I was sitting there by myself for the next few hours, relaxing, listening to my playlist, tuning in to my body, snacking fruits (a lot of bananas), and enjoying the silence while the rest of the house slept peacefully.
Around 4:00 my husband woke up to keep me company. Around the same time I called the midwife to let her know surges were coming around five minutes apart, and it was time for her to come over. She arrived shortly after and quietly prepared the room for receiving the baby. The midwife felt the need at one point to ask me to indicate when I was having a surge, she said I looked so relaxed she was having a hard time telling when I was having a surge or not.
At some point I started to feel restless. I was no longer comfortable sitting down, so I followed the lead of my body, got up, and moved. I asked my husband to place my birth ball in the shower, and I went to sit there for a while, to allow the warm water to calm my body. Surges had become more intense, and for a short period I felt them coming continuously and I was not able to relax my body. Luckily the warm water helped a lot to make me more comfortable.
After a few powerful surges in the shower, I felt it was time to birth this baby. I walked to the living room and sat down on a birthing stool that the midwife had provided. From there it only took about five minutes and a couple of more surges for our son to be born. It was a quiet birth. He entered the world very calmly.
The midwife received him as he emerged and handed him to me. It was around 6:30 in the morning.
I looked down at my sons wrinkly face. Everything felt a bit surreal. There he was - the person that had been growing inside me during all these months. Just like that, I was a mother of two.