Things have been quiet over here because I’ve been soaking in all the sweet newborn snuggles now that Junie girl is here. It’s been such a fun almost four weeks getting to know our daughter, and I’ve never been so proud of the kind, loving big brother James has become. I’m still in shock that four weeks ago today I was in early labor… It feels like it was just yesterday but also like it happened ages ago.
I’ve been wanting to sit down and write out the birth story for a while now, but between the “I just had a baby” daze, keeping a toddler and newborn alive and everything in between I literally haven’t had time to do so. BUT since June is almost a month old (and I need to start working on her one month update – cue all the tears) I decided it was now or never.
So let the birth story begin!
(read James’s birth story here!)
It all began on Friday, July 17th.
All day I felt like something could be happening, and was texting Isaac, my close friends and midwife, Danielle (Holistic Midwifery Care), off and on trying to decide if it was early labor or not. I was having a ton of Braxton Hicks, and just had a “feeling” that labor could be starting. But when the afternoon rolled around and not much had changed, I decided I was being crazy and getting my hopes up.
Around 4 PM I put James down for another nap (he was being a very moody toddler that day too, which didn’t help anything) and laid down on the couch. I dramatically texted everyone and said it was a false alarm, I wasn’t in early labor, and this baby was never going to be born. Isaac got home from work and snuggled with me on the couch while I had a little pity party.
As we laid there I felt like I was peeing on accident and immediately jumped up off the couch. Right away I knew what was happening and just stood there in utter shock as my water broke and gushed down my legs. Isaac threw back the rug and we both just looked at each other and laughed as a puddle formed on the floor. The next hour was hectic. We called Danielle, texted our friends, and had my sister come pick James up so we could get ready for the birth.
We had decided to do a home birth, which meant there was some work to do in the house so everything would be ready for June’s arrival. We got our bedroom picked up and cleared out, put waterproof stuff on the bed, and made sure all our supplies was gathered and ready for when the midwives arrived. It was a crazy hour running around, focused on getting everything ready, and once we sat down I realized I hadn’t felt any contractions yet. I blew it off, thinking I was so focused on everything else that I just hadn’t noticed them, and trusted that things would start soon.
As we looked around the house, Isaac turned to me and asked if I felt up for going out for dinner. Our anniversary was the next day and since we knew we’d proooobably be a little busy, he thought it would be fun to go on a date a day early to celebrate. Since I still felt fine (besides the fact that I was in a constant state of leakage now that my water was broken) I said “why not?”, put on the only dress that fit over my bump, and we headed out. It was definitely an interesting date, and we giggled a bit as we walked in to our favorite “fancy” Italian restaurant knowing I was in labor, wearing a diaper, and they had no idea.
The rest of the evening and night were restless for me. My contractions still hadn’t started and I was getting frustrated, but trying to stay positive and calm. I slept off and on, sometimes up for a couple hours before being able to go back to sleep again, and thanked the Lord when it was morning. I was determined to get labor started, and hit the ground running from the get go.
James spent the day with my sister while we focused on me and baby June. We walked a mile around our neighborhood, curb walked, went to my amazing chiropractor (Sozo Chiropractic), lunged up and down stairs, walked another mile around Grapevine Mills Mall, tried pumping, took homeopathic remedies, and begged the Lord for labor to truly begin. I was checked only once in the morning and was around 3-4 cm dilated, so I was glad to know something seemed to be happening even though I still wasn’t having contractions, but still the entire day was still a mental struggle. I was emotionally, mentally and physically exhausted, and was starting to worry that I’d have to go to a hospital to be induced.
But around 4PM on Saturday (which was close to 24 hours since my water broke), while pumping it seemed like my contractions were really starting to get going. They were more intense and close together, so we called Danielle and our photographer (Jenna Vanloon Photography) to come on over. I was getting excited but still worried that it would peter out again like it had been doing all day.
Not long after they both arrived my contractions stopped and I was sent outside to walk some more. I felt more surges and tightening as we walked, and came back in sweaty and hopeful.
It stopped again.
And at that point, I lost it.
I was SO done. I was frustrated. I was angry. And I couldn’t understand why my body just wouldn’t do what it needed to do.
So I cried, let my frustration out, and told my midwife I was ready for castor oil.
Castor oil had been my Hail Mary move that I wanted to avoid unless absolutely necessary. I had heard plenty of stories from other moms about how it affected them, and was nervous about how my body would handle it. But I was at my wit’s end and wanted to give it a shot before truly entertaining the idea of going to a hospital. Danielle made the castor oil smoothie, I downed it in a minute and prayed it would work.
Then we turned on my Hymns and Psalms playlist and I laid down for about an hour to rest and to let the smoothie do its work. That hour was the changing point for me mentally. I didn’t sleep (even though Isaac did), but I spent the entire time listening to the music and praying. I prayed for June and her safety. I prayed that my body would go into labor and that I would have the strength I needed to bring her earthside. I prayed that if we needed to transfer to a hospital that I would be okay and at peace with that decision. And I prayed for Isaac, Danielle, Stephanie (the assistant midwife) and Jenna (the photographer).
After that hour, Danielle came in to check on me and I sat up, smiled and said “I’m ready”. I felt like a new person and knew we could do this. The next few hours labor really picked up. The tightening became stronger. The cramping grew in intensity. And the pain began radiating from my lower abdomen to my hips and back.
I labored on my pregnancy ball for a long time because I was most comfortable there. We had the music playing, and it was such a sweet and special moment for me as Isaac and I sang hymns together in between contractions. My entire pregnancy I listened to that Spotify playlist, and we sing many of the songs in church, so it helped bring me to such a peaceful state of mind that I was able to really focus on what my body was doing and relax into the contractions.
Once things began getting more intense, I moved to the living room where I walked around, swayed my hips and used a step stool to lunge during contractions. That’s when things really picked up and I could barely talk in between the surges. My contractions were very painful and the only relief I felt was when Isaac did counter pressure by squeezing my hips. I started to get nauseous and felt more and more out of control as the pain increased and I struggled to relax into the surge (which I know sounds counter intuitive, but it’s what you need to do to really take full advantage of what the contractions are doing!).
After a while I needed to sit down and I asked if I could try getting into the tub. I never got to labor in the tub with James so I was hopeful that the water would help with the pain. While waiting for the bath, my contractions were awful and I ended up throwing up in a not so feminine fashion for much longer than I would have liked. I thought it would never stop, y’all! But thankfully it did, and I was able to get in the bath.
Once I settled in and felt the next contraction coming, I freaked out. The water was not helping at all with the pain and now Isaac wasn’t there to squeeze my hips. I yelled out “THE WATER. ISN’T. HELPING!” mostly out of frustration because I just wanted this to all be over. The contractions and the pain were so much more intense than my labor with James, and I had no idea how much longer I had to go.
I labored for a bit in the tub, and then I felt myself bearing down during a contraction. I told Danielle I felt like I needed to push, but that I was still experiencing a lot of pain in my lower abdomen. She said it could be because a bit of my cervix still needed to thin, and to try going on my knees and resting my arms on the side of the tub. I did, and with the next contraction my entire body started to push and I began grunting without thinking. I was quickly told to move back on my side, and so began the longest 20 minutes of my life.
Even though I pushed a little longer with James, this time was so much harder. I don’t know if it’s because of how I was laying in the tub, because I was so tired from a very long day or what, but man… That was hard. I could feel her sliding back down in between contractions, and the Ring of Fire was excruciating. I had to really focus in between contractions to keep my breathing deep and regular, because her heart rate started to get a little concerning.
But finally, after the longest and hardest day of my life, our sweet girl was born.
With the last push I felt her body slip out, and Isaac helped bring her to my chest. As we heard her first cry and looked at her little face for the very first time, all I could do was breathe deeply and say “She’s here”.
We did it.
30 hours after my water broke, 6 hours after drinking the castor oil smoothie, 20 minutes after my body started bearing down, June was here.
She was born on July 18th, on our 5th wedding anniversary, at 11:23 PM.
8 pounds and 6 ounces of adorable, vernix covered cuteness.
20 inches long, just like her big brother.
And the BEST anniversary gift I could have ever asked for.
She was born exactly on her due date, and on the one day I had said for 9 months that she wasn’t allowed to be born. Joke’s on me, but honestly wouldn’t want it any other way.
We did an herbal bath (which is one of the things I have looked forward to with both babies), she nursed from the get go, and I stuffed my face with a well earned honey butter chicken biscuit from Whataburger. Isaac got to snuggle her, and I called my sister and asked her to bring James home so he could meet June.
So yes, in the middle of the night, we woke our crazy toddler up so he could meet his baby sister. He smiled SO big when he first saw her, and said “baby” over and over. He found her little nose and patted her belly. And best of all? He went right back to bed after we snapped a few pictures together.
I didn’t know how I would like having a home birth, but now that we’re on the other side of it, I couldn’t have imagined June being born anywhere else. It was the perfect place to have her, and I think being at home definitely helped me be more calm and at peace during the entire labor. My one complaint? The fact that I obsessively cleaned and picked up our house the weeks leading up to the due date because I didn’t want to have to do that while in labor. Or worse… give birth in a messy house. ;)
Since that crazy long day, life has been a blur. But it’s been the sweetest, hardest, most rewarding four weeks of my life. I was scared of life with two kids, but now that we’re in the middle of it, I wouldn’t have it any other way.
June Elizabeth, you have brought so much joy to our little family. We love you to the moon and back, sweet girl.