They say that you’ll know when it’s your last baby. In my case, they were absolutely right.
Last summer, we made a cross country move from Hawaii to upstate NY. We trekked through airports with a 1, 2, 3, and 4 year old. Managing flights for our two dogs. Driving with all parties in 2 vehicles plus a uhaul. And we arrived in the dead of night to a home that we purchased online, technically. (We had trusted eyes on this end, but we never set foot in the home or in the state when we were in the buying process! Talk about faith in God!)
We walked through the dark house taking in what we could with tired eyes. Climbed the stairs with little ones who had sore butts from car seats, threw down some blankets, and I watched them all drift off to sleep. All I could think about is how easily our family could fit in this house. The move was over. Ralph was 1. I wanted one more baby.
I had a remarkably easy 41 weeks of pregnancy. Typical morning sickness, cravings, sore hips and back. Nesting didn’t really come as our family was sick with colds and flus for my entire second trimester.
Snow. kept. Coming. In the weeks leading up to her arrival, I sat inside wishing sitting was comfortable while I watched so many inches of snow accumulate. No wonder she couldn’t be coerced into her arrival.
Savoring my last moments of pregnancy before retiring this chapter of my life, I didn’t feel the need to try the “natural inductions.” Her due date came and went. Well meaning friends, family, and acquaintances asked when I’d schedule my induction.
The truth is, we had planned a quiet, simple, safe home birth. And I was bound and determined to let her come on her own.
Right around March 24, day after day I had the pleasure of enjoying contractions 5-7 minutes apart. With no breaks. The good news is they were the best kind. I could do life through 90% of them. And I was still sleeping! Good Friday (march 30) arrived and my contractions woke me at 3am! Arguably, labor had started. Had I planned a hospital birth, i likely would have gone in. Sebastian stayed home from work, I am notorious for vomiting during transition, and right around 730-8 i lost my breakfast. I called the midwife, kristen, and she said she’d be over shortly! Salem had the day off of school so we sent the kids to play with our favorite local family. After a few hours that morning of no obvious progression, kristen and Kathie (second midwife) encouraged me to rest and call them if the contractions got closer, more painful, or if I vomited again.
I went throughout the day, pressure increased but no more pain than usual. I was able to eat lunch, we walked around together enjoying a day of just the 2 of us while our kids had the time of their lives! We called and asked our dear childhood friend, raechel, to drive with her girls from New Hampshire (2.5 hours) and stay with us overnight, in case things picked up overnight.
Around dinner time, we picked up the kids and came home. We settled in for a quiet evening. All the while, 5-7 minutes would pass and I’d have another contraction!
The girls arrived, the kids played, and I nested away in my dark room trying to quiet my mind and listen to my body. Sebastian and raechel got all 6 kids to bed without me. I drifted off to sleep. The next morning, the midwife checked up on me. No change from yesterday! Talk about a gut punch to a well-overdue Mama.. ha!
Kristen packed up all the birthing materials to put back in her car. “Once I pack everything up, it usually encouraged babies to come,” She joked.
Raech was here all day, and she brought Easter egg hunt supplies! We stuffed them together and hid them. The kids had the sweetest time, pun intended. I sat on the birthing ball all morning. Kristen called and explained she’d be driving about an hour away, and to call as soon as something changed. Then we decided, what the heck, nothings changing, let’s go to target (Raech lives in a target free area. The horror, I know!)
We enjoyed daydreaming about Joanna Gaines, picked up summer shoes for the kids, and sipped our Starbucks on our Mama date. (The boys hung out with dad!)
While we were getting ready to leave, my contractions jumped to 3-4 minutes. (!!!) we got to the car and i called Kristen.
Once we got home, kristen came to check me shortly after (3-4 pm). Still no “visible” change. But the contractions changed, so we knew she was coming, just not how soon.
Right around dinner time, Sebastian was a little restless. Raech was able to stay one more night, and he really didn’t want to go back to work on Monday. I was definitely getting impatient. I had my hopes up that she was coming since yesterday!
We called Kristen at dinner time to discuss having her break my water. She explained the risks. We bantered back and forth. Ultimately deciding she should probably come and do it right around 7 when the kids would be heading to bed.
Suddenly, I felt a “POP”
“Uhm, kristen I think my water just broke…”
She chuckled and said “well, are you leaking?”
I sat up and felt a little bit. I rolled my torso a bit and felt a gush!
Ruby decided if Kristen was gonna come kick her out, she’d rather do it on her own terms I guess!
Kristen packed up to head on over. I got up to get into the shower. Sebastian and raechel wrangled the older kids.
Ruby had passed meconium, as most term babies do. The shower was quick to get the contractions to pick up. I was definitely feeling them now, although they weren’t intense.
I finished my shower and came out to the living room. Sitting on the floor cross legged, swaying with each contraction and laughing with friends. Exactly how I imagined birth to be.
Kristen didn’t do any cervical exams once my water broke. She and Kathie just watched my labor cues. After a good half hour of sitting in the living room (around 730- 8) we all trekked upstairs to the bedroom where kristen and Kathie were setting up, once more!
I got to the edge of the bed and mentally prepared myself to climb onto it. I could tell the contraction was building so I opted to wait so that I could guarantee 3-4 minutes of trying to get comfortable on the bed. I started to sway through the contraction when kristen applied pressure to my tailbone. It brought instant relief! I decided standing, swaying, and that counter pressure was definitely what i wanted.
At this point, I felt myself going off into labor land. Time didn’t really occur to me. I could feel my legs getting tired. And having a conversation wasn’t really attainable. They helped me into the bed, although I couldn’t tell you who! I think I tried laying down, but it wasn’t quite the comfort I was looking for. I remember saying I was so tired, and Kathie and Kristen would agree and say “you’re working hard.” And those positive phrases would stick around in my brain.
There was no push of ideas on what I could do to make it “faster.” There was not pressure to walk and wear myself out more. There wasn’t a looming threat of the clock ticking since my water had broken. No whispers of surgery.
Just knowledgeable women watching a Mama birth. Listening to me listen to my body.
I leaned onto a pile of pillows on the headboard. I started to get nauseated and hot flashes. Raech held the bucket out to me while I vomited once more. She then held the washcloth on me to help cool me off. Everyone looked at the clock and tried to guess if ruby would be a march baby or an April fools baby!
I expressed concern that it was nonstop and I didn’t feel like it was ever gonna be done. Kathie said “you’re so close candace. So close that kristen already has her gloves on.”
Kristen encouraged me to do little pushes if it seemed like that would help to relieve pressure.
I tried it. And I felt Ruby’s Head turtle!
Alright. She’s totally ready, I thought.
There’s such beauty in that moment. Only Mama and baby know what’s about to happen. Others can guess, but only we get to know that the end is near!
I have a history of being a one and done pusher. Ruby decided that wasn’t gonna be the case.
I pushed and felt her move down. But she wasn’t even crowning yet! I could tell the contraction was about to be done and out of pure determination, I pushed until I could feel her crowning. I’ll be darned if I have to push much longer than the next contraction!
Kristen commented “she’s bald!” And Sebastian laughed and said “they all are!”
I felt the next contraction and pushed again. I could tell her head was coming.
Kristen laughed and said “no wonder you’re pushing so hard! It’s these cheeks!”
I rested once more, knowing the next push was the end. And I pushed (really freaking hard again) and felt her shoulders and her body! She was here!
Later Sebastian told me kristen asked him to pick her up and hand her to me and mortified that she hadn’t cried yet, he just stared and shook his head, thinking “what the heck?! She’s not breathing!” The next moments are always so blurry.
I moved over and sat down on clean pads while my husband handed me my sweet baby girl. My final baby. Raechel snapped some precious photos of our first moments. Sebastian went to retrieve maebel, who finally had her sister.
Maebel excitedly left her bed in preference of ours. She protectively watched over Ruby’s first moments earthside, essentially pledging to continue to do so for the rest of her days!
Ruby Susannah Wren was born at 11:29pm on March 31, 2018. Weighing in at 10.1 lb and 23 inches long!
Ruby means “precious jewel.” She is named after proverbs 3:15. We prayed and prayed that God would bless us once more, and with a sister for maebel. He answered our prayers, and more precious than rubies is she!
Susannah, named after her great grandmother, Susan, her grandmother, and a great aunt! Susannah means lily. In the apocryphal Book of Tobit Susannah courageously defended herself against wrongful accusation. White lilies grew in the biblical city of Susa in Persia. And she is definitely as beautiful and delicate as a white lily, and I hope as strong and courageous as that Susannah!
Wren is after her aunt Lauren (Laur-Wren). In welsh it means ruler. A Wren is also a beautiful little songbird. Both are fitting to little Ruby. As the baby girl, we certainly know she’ll rule the house! Her cry is the softest of all my babies. Soft and sweet like a little songbird!
Kristen wore an absolutely fitting shirt “peace on earth starts with birth.” And that is definitely the perfect way to describe Ruby’s arrival, peaceful. I certainly hope that more mamas can have their own peaceful and beautiful births.
Last bump shot: