fife's birth story
For those that don’t already know… I had my second baby! A little boy, Fife Bernard Ward McGhie, born on Thursday, October 18th. I cannot wait to share his birth story with you and be forewarned: I kept it to one post so if it’s a little lengthy, you know why! (Nia’s birth story was broken into a part i and part ii << if you want to go back and read it) Enjoy how Fife made his appearance in the world… VERY different than big sister who was an emergency c-section. Thankfully Fife was not only a VBAC (vaginal birth after c-section), but we had him at home, too!
It started on Wednesday, October 17th…
I woke up to pee early morning which I normally do (at least 2x a night) and while I was up (around 5am) I felt kind of crampy and thought, PLEASE let this actually be something this time. I had had the crampy feelings before but it would happen later in the evening and then disappear by morning. So this time, since it was already morning and I was cramping made me feel that this might actually be IT.
We woke up for the day and got Nia ready for school (breakfast, lunch packed, dressed for school), all while still feeling crampy. Tyler and Nia left to go to school, so I prepared a celery juice and in that time I quickly heard them come back home. Nia wasn't feeling that well and made the decision that she wanted to stay home that day. I'm glad she did because it was our last chance to spend the day with just her!
I then went on to bake some muffins and clean the main bathroom (in an attempt to domesticate this baby out of me LOL). The cramping feelings never went away and by mid-morning I was pretty sure they were the start of contractions/surges, but the idea of calling them just 'cramps' made me feel better, mentally (especially if it did progress to labour, I wanted to make sure I was strong in my mind). We spent the rest of the morning just hanging out.
We (Tyler, Nia and I), went for a short walk about 3pm just to get out of the house and to make sure I was moving around. By now, the contractions/surges were just wonky and all over the place (2-7 mins apart, but only lasting 30 seconds), so we called our midwife, Rhonda, to be safe. She said to rest, drink some electrolytes and have a bath. I tried to do the first 2 but never got around to the bath part. (Which I know now was to see if labour would progress or stall, as she told us later.) She also said to call her back when it was 7-1-1 (7 mins apart, lasting for 1 min, for 1 hour).
My friend stopped by with her girls around 4pm, so Nia played outside with them for a bit. It was around this time that I was definitely noticing the contractions were a bit stronger as I stood there trying to hold a conversation with my friend. Once we were back inside, my contractions were SUPER wonky; every 2-3 mins now lasting for about 45-50 seconds. Sometimes they would stall and give me a 5 min break in between, but it was so much that I couldn't even help Tyler make dinner. I eventually just camped out on the couch, breathing through them as they definitely started to intensify.
Once dinner was prepared, Tyler decided it was time to call Rhonda again. He gave her the update on my contractions and she decided that she was ready to come see us. She lives on the other side of town, so she said she would be there in just over an hour. That was enough time to scarf down dinner and get Nia ready for bed to prepare for the night ahead.
The midwife assistant, Gertrude (an older lady who has a career in nursing and just transitioning over to midwifery. Fun fact: this was her first home birth!), arrived first and then Rhonda arrived shortly after. It was perfect timing - Nia had just gone to bed before it started getting real.
When they arrived, I was in the bedroom and this is where I'd stay until Fife made his appearance << crazy to type that! While they got set up, I was labouring on and off the bed with my contraction app on my phone. Within the first 30 mins, Rhonda wanted to check me to see how things were progressing. Unfortunately, my cervix was (still) tucked back behind his head and she couldn't reach it to find out how dilated I was. She left it for a bit and said she'd come back to it. I continued with contractions as we got into the flow of things. I tried a few different positions (slouched over the bed, squatting with Tyler's help, on the bed), and then finally she wanted to try to check me again... during a contraction.
This time she was able to feel the cervix and pull it a bit more forward. We were well into the 9-10pm range at this point and I was measuring 8-9cm. Gertrude for sure thought I was having an October 17th baby! By this point, I was ready to try something new, so I hopped in the tub. It was nice and relaxing, but maybe a bit too much because it actually slowed things down. So I got out and sat on the toilet. I was working on my breathing a lot and Rhonda encouraged me to start making lower/deep sounds out of my mouth on my exhale to encourage baby down. He was already sitting fairly low (she could feel his little head when she reached in), but just to make sure things kept moving forward. Plus to note: they were checking baby’s heartbeat every 30-60 mins with the doppler just to make sure he was doing ok!
Again, to make sure things kept progressing, I switched up positions and tried doing some squats during contractions using a band and Tyler to help hold me, then I went to the bed on both sides, back to the toilet and on the ground on hands & knees. Then I was on the bed again, and Rhonda checked to see if my water was going to break and that's when they saw the sac actually coming out, so we went back to the toilet to try some pushing. Rhonda thought my water might break if we go to the toilet and try to push. It didn't end up breaking after sitting there for a while, so we went back to the bed.
After spending another (approx) 30 mins on the bed going side-to-side, Rhonda decided that we should break my water to keep things progressing (see the theme here?).
So on the next contractions she broke it and luckily the fluid was clear (and probably one of the craziest sensations to me! I don't know when my water was broken with Nia. My guess was right before my c-section with her and hence why I don't remember/never got to experience it!), which was a good sign for Fife!
After that, I went down on the ground to try labouring there and my contractions started spacing out a bit, so Rhonda recommended trying the toilet again. While there, she also suggested nipple stimulation to get contractions back up and she also introduced cotton root bark (taken orally under the tongue). This seemed to help as contractions started coming again more consistently.
We tried a new move of walking with high knees for a few times between contractions and then we were on the ground and I was using Tyler to support me. This is when Rhonda said we might need to start pushing (versus my vision of 'breathing baby down' as I was trying to envision in hypnobirthing). So, we went back to the toilet and tried there, but Rhonda decided it wasn't moving forward so we decided to come back to the bed. This is when I tried actually pushing and his head was progressing out, but only a bit each contraction. This went on for a while and is also when I was starting to get extremely exhausted and my breathing techniques started to slip. While pushing on the bed, we tried pillow propped under one hip, then switched to the other. This is when they started checking baby’s heart rate after each contraction just to make sure he wasn’t under stress.
Now we were well into the early morning (my guess is around 2:45am) and that's when I had to start giving it my all because our window for getting baby out was getting smaller and smaller. I had to start physically bearing down and giving all I could to push during contractions (Rhonda was still giving me cotton root bark from time to time). I was holding my legs back and pushing as hard as I could. Baby's head was there, but never enough to get under the pelvis and out. By this point, I still hadn’t looked down there to know what was happening, but I normally had 2-3 pushes per contraction and it was on the second and third that I was typically pushing really well whereas Rhonda said it’s normally the opposite (mom’s push better on the first). Even with ‘good’ pushes, she had to manually get in there with (olive) oil during contractions to help me & support getting this baby out as much as she could. She said this was the most she had to get in there to help a mom out (and I was totally fine with that).
By this point, it was over 3am, I was exhausted, my breathing was definitely getting worse because of how tired I was, so Rhonda brought out the oxygen mask to help. I had this on for about 20-30 mins while still pushing on the bed. Tyler was amazing and made sure I was taking in deep breaths between contractions because without this prompt I was having the shallowest breaths.
We decided to move to the floor beside the bed to change positions. Oxygen was off at this point, and Rhonda was still physically helping (stretch) me down there as much as she could. She was so determined that we could do this right here, right now. We still could not get the baby's head beyond a bit of crowning, so Rhonda had to make the call: 2 more pushes and if no baby, then she would have to make a cut.
We had to reach that point and once she did, after 2 pushes, his head not only made it out, but his body flew out with it. I was so relieved because after so much pushing, pain, laboured breathing (and worrying about Fife's oxygen when I was not breathing properly), and exhaustion, I don't think I had anymore pushing left in me.
I was so shocked at how quickly he came out once she made the call to do the episiotomy. At first when she said she would need to do it, I was worried and disappointed that my body couldn't do it on its own, but knew it would bring us our baby and that made it worth it. His head and body shot out at 3:49am and it was then that we found out our baby was a BOY!!
In the end, Fife was "sunny side up" or in the anterior position and his head was literally coming out at such a wide angle to fit through the pelvis. As a result, he had some head deformation in the front, which luckily was almost gone by not even the 24 hour mark and no bruising whatsoever.
I'm so happy Rhonda was so on making the calls that she did because it meant we were able to stay at home to get him here vs. it turning into something else. After he came out, I held him in my arms and the placenta delivered about 15 mins after that point. Tyler got to cut the umbilical once it was done pulsating and then I fed Fife. He latched right away and hung out there for a good length of time!
We then passed him off to Rhonda, so she could do her measurements and tests on him. By this point it was almost 5:30am and we thought we heard Nia stirring, so Tyler got her, brought her into our room to meet Fife quickly then took her back to bed to sleep a bit more. It was so amazing that she got to meet him so soon after he was born and the bonus is she slept through the WHOLE process of Fife entering the world. I could not have planned for a better home birth from the perspective of having a child at home (especially since we have zero family local to us).
Rhonda was convinced that Fife was at least 9lbs, so when she weighed him and he came in at 8lbs, 9oz, she did a second measurement just to be sure 😉
We actually had to leave our house at 6:30am to head to the midwives' office (30 mins from where we live), so I could get stitched up by the other midwife, Kalene. Rhonda felt more comfortable letting her do it and thought the sooner the better to drive over to the office before the morning commute started on the highway. Although it was super fast to be getting a new baby out and into the car (world), I'm so happy we did it because it meant me getting the next step I needed to heal and it meant we were back home by 9am to rest for the remainder of the day. (A big thanks to Rhonda for pushing us to do it sooner rather than later.)
By this point, we had been up for over 24 hours so it was so welcoming to spend that first day as a family of four snuggled up in bed, watching shows and getting into our new groove.
I'm so glad he's here and safe and I am SO happy that Rhonda was the midwife on call for our home birth (she’s who I wanted!). She was literally on point all night and knew exactly what to do. I trusted her judgement so much and I know she did everything that was best for us. Rockstar midwives are truly the best!
For anyone considering a home birth… I say, do it. I’ve been in both situations (hospital and home) and I just could never imagine being in a hospital setting again. To have the ability to have a baby in the comfort of your own home (which TOTALLY plays into how your labour goes - trust me!) is indescribable. Plus, just know that the midwives WILL make the call to transition to the hospital if needed. They would never play around with the health of you or your baby. Thankfully Rhonda knew I was strong and could do it, and that is why we stayed at home.
I hope you enjoyed this! Birthing a baby is SO unique and I don’t think I’ll ever get over this fact. You can prepare your little buns off all you want but that baby will make its way into the world the way s/he wants to. Case in point here ;)