June is our 3rd child. My previous two births were natural and in a hospital setting. After we made it through the stressful experience of Arlo (our second) being born in a breech position, we decided we would hire a midwife and do a home birth. Even before I gave birth, it was clear that this was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. My midwife, Sheryl Shafer, is amazing and has been in the midwifery business almost 30 years and delivered over 1,000 babies at home. The moment I met her, I knew she was going to deliver my baby. When she was at my house, I never once felt like I was rushed and instead felt like we were a team working through the pregnancy together. She was always just a text away for questions and gave great natural tips and remedies throughout. The fact that everything (appointments, blood work, glucose, GBS testing) was all done from the convenience of our house was incredible! I never had to get two toddlers into a car and drive to an office or sit and wait in a waiting room. I just felt so comfortable and confident from the beginning.
I hired a Doula (birth coach) for my previous two births and each one of them was amazing and definitely worth their weight in gold. Each doula had helped me achieve the labor and births that I envisioned and I now couldn’t think about going without one. Since I was new to Nashville when I became pregnant with #3, I reached out to a local Midwife and Doula Facebook page and immediately connected with Katie Richardson. Katie is an amazing Doula with great reviews from other women. But most importantly, when I called her to talk for the first time, we chatted on the phone for an hour and I felt like she was an old friend (as a bonus she lives only 20 minutes away from us!)
For each pregnancy I was very active in practicing yoga, running, and walking, up until the day before I went into labor. I also ate as healthy as I could throughout the pregnancies so I wouldn’t have to work so hard afterward. For me giving birth is like race day of a marathon. You don’t just decide “hey I think I’m going to run 26.2 miles today” – instead, you train your body for months in advance to be prepared for that race. That is how I approached each of my pregnancies, but especially this one. With two kids to chase after, I don’t have time to just take a nap and rest like I did when I was pregnant with Ella.
Now that you have a little background on my previous labors, birthing team, and how I approached my pregnancy, here is how June’s big day went down:
On August 22nd around 1:15am I woke up to cramps and thought “oh I remember these.” I got a little excited but didn’t want to be disappointed in case it was just more Braxton Hicks contractions, which I’d been having close to a month at this point. So I stayed in bed and tried to go back to sleep. Around 2:30am, the contractions weren’t letting up, so I started to time them to see if they were consistent…and they were! They were coming every 10-12 minutes for close to 30 seconds. They were not too intense, but enough for me to stay awake in bed and get excited when the next one came. Yes, I was EXCITED….things were happening and I was getting closer to meeting this baby girl!
Side note: I should tell you that I had been reading Ina May Gaskin’s “Guide to Childbirth” book for the 2 weeks leading up to birthing day. This book was a complete game changer for me. I was completely empowered mentally and it improved how I approached June’s birth.
From 2:30-6am I laid awake in bed. Every 10 minutes another contraction would come and I would breathe through it. I thought about getting up and walking the dogs around 4am, but I didn’t know how long labor would last, so I decided to save my legs for the active labor and stayed in bed. I should also tell you that for the past week, every day my kids and I had been listening to the Moana soundtrack (which was in my head all day every day). So I decided around 4am that each contraction would now be a “wave.” I would ride each of these waves using breaths and eventually movement from the soundtrack in my head. I welcomed every single wave with open arms.
I texted my doula & midwife around 5:30am to give them a heads up that things were happening and would keep them posted.
Around 6am my kids came down into our bedroom and woke us up like they always do. I didn’t wake up my husband when I first started having contractions in case it was a long labor, so I let him sleep until they came down. When the kids woke him up, I told him I was in inactive labor and that contractions had been fairly consistent since 3. Mornings are a little crazy for us with getting kids breakfast, packing lunches, arguing over what to wear, etc. These activities helped distract me while my contractions were ongoing. For each “wave” I would get in a wide stance, sway and shhhhh out my mouth until it passed, and then get back to business making lunches (just at a little slower pace).
My husband left to take our kids to school around 8:45 and then to the store to get final home birth supplies (diapers, pads, all the good stuff). So I went to the laundry room to fold clothes to keep me occupied. At this time, waves were coming every 10 minutes then 5, then 10 again. They were intense enough that I wrote down ACTIVE labor at 9:05 on a sheet of paper I was using to time my waves. At 9:15, they all of a sudden jumped to every 5 minutes for close to 40 seconds, and I knew everyone needed to get here pretty soon. With each wave I shhhhssed, swayed, and rode my waves. I continued folding and putting laundry away until around 9:30 when my husband got back to the house and Doula arrived soon after.
Close to 10am, waves were coming every 4-5 minutes for a full minute. I needed my Doula’s support on my lower back as I leaned against my counter top. Later I would lean against my bed with my legs in a wide stance like I was on a big surf board. With each wave getting stronger and stronger, my mind went to a place of YES or BRING IT. I even remember talking to June and telling her “stronger and longer, you’re doing good!” I just went into a zone of sway, shhhsh, ride the wave. Close to 11 the shhhssing started to be a low groan and very primal sound. My Doula told my husband to start the bath to see if that would help. Let me tell you, the tub was life changing! I had not used a tub for my previous births. It took each wave’s intensity down 2-3 notches. I labored in the bath tub on all fours because that was most comfortable. My doula was right there, pressing on my left lower back each wave to help relieve some pressure.
My midwife got to the house around 11:15am and knew I was in transition as soon as she arrived. She didn’t check me, but I do remember her telling my husband “we have to hustle to get supplies from my car,” so that helped me mentally to know that I was close. Each wave had low and primal sounds and then started to get pushy. I just did what my baby asked my body to do. In about 9-10 waves, I breathed June down to a space where my Midwife went to check. She told me I was close and asked if I wanted to feel her head. Within the next 1-2 waves June’s head came down. Then my wave doubled back and I was able to push her body out all in one contraction. She came down through the water and I couldn’t believe it! I flipped my leg up and over her and the umbilical cord, and she was placed on my belly. She was bright purple and covered in vernix (baby’s home-made cocoa butter)! After a couple seconds of rubbing her back and feet, she took a big gasp of air and welcomed herself into this world.
At 11:52am, June Marie Young was born. We sat in the bathtub together over the next 20 minutes or so to stay warm, deliver the placenta, and wait for the cord to stop pulsing. Greg was able to cut the umbilical cord before we got out of the bathtub. He didn’t get to catch her coming out because he had no idea she was going to come out that fast! June and I dried off and walked 20 steps to my bed and snuggled while the team finished up. June was weighed, measured and assessed before they left. They also took great care of me. Everyone left the house by 2pm, and at 2:30, Ella and Arlo came home to a new baby sister.
For me, this was a fairy tale birth. The people on my team made me feel comfortable and let me do my thing, giving me guidance and support when I asked for it. Just like my other two birth experiences, I will remember it so vividly for the rest of my life. With each birth I learned more and more about labor and what I wanted out of the experience. For me, this race was run in perfect conditions and with great company! I couldn’t ask for anything more.
Thank you for reading, I’m honored to share my story with you!