Thank you, Mary Kathryn, for sharing Isaac’s Louisville-area Birth Story!
Our second son, Isaac, was born at home in November 2013. He was our second planned home birth, but our first born at home. His big brother, Henry, who was born in 2011, was also a planned home birth. However, when I experienced PROM (premature rupture of membranes) just shy of 36 weeks with Henry, we decided after careful discussion with our midwife to go to the hospital just in case baby needed a little extra help. We ended up going to the hospital once I was well into active labor, and I delivered a healthy baby boy after a short, uncomplicated vaginal birth with no interventions.
With my second pregnancy, I was anxious to get to and surpass the 36 week mark. That milestone came and went, and I was happy with each additional day. I was breastfeeding my toddler all throughout my pregnancy, and it had become common for me to have Braxton Hicks contractions when he nursed. They were not painful, but they did sometimes become uncomfortable.
On November 14, I was 39 weeks and 6 days pregnant. My “guess date” was November 15. We had a play date during the day with some close friends. Around 4pm or so, I noticed that the contractions were happening with a tiny bit more regularity, but nothing alarming. They still were not painful in any way. At one point, I noticed a very slight trace of blood when using the restroom. A little before 5pm I texted my doula, Nicole, and my midwife, Juliet, to give them a head’s up. I also called my husband, Eric, to let him know. Nicole wrote down my exact text on my birth report that she gave me. It said, “FYI having some scant light pink spotting. More contractions this afternoon. What are the odds this baby is born on her due date?” I had been certain this baby was a girl.
Throughout the rest of the afternoon and evening, the contractions continued much the same way. They were definitely more frequent than I had previously experienced, but there was no discernible pattern. They were erratic in duration and frequency. We had dinner and prepared for bed-time as usual. We downloaded a contraction tracking app on my husband’s phone, and I began tracking around 7pm. Occasionally a contraction would give me a tiny bit of pause, but still nothing I would classify as truly painful.
After dinner, I took a warm bath with my toddler to see if the contractions changed any. They did not. They remained in their weird pattern. We decided to put our son to sleep in another room that night, so we set up a baby monitor in that room, and I laid down with him so he could nurse to sleep.
Conveniently, he fell asleep fairly quickly. Around 9pm, just as I noticed him drifting to sleep, I felt a noticeable POP. I climbed out of the bed and easily realized that my water had broken. Hollywood style. I was hoping that Eric had the baby monitor receiver close by, because I started loudly whispering his name in hopes he would hear. I clenched my legs together, hunched over, and slowly tried to make my way out of the room. However, things had gone from extremely tolerable to VERY intense almost instantly.
Eric was, indeed, listening on the monitor and he came quickly. I told him, “My water broke. Call Juliet, Nicole, and your mom NOW and tell them to come.” (His mom was in charge of our older son during the birth.) He went to grab his phone, and I hobbled to the bathroom in the hallway. I sat on the toilet for a moment because I felt like I needed to go. In retrospect, I should have remembered that sensation from my first birth as meaning my body was ready to push.
I got my now-wet pants off and sat there in a bit of confusion while thinking, “This is really intense now.” My husband returned and helped me the rest of the way down our hallway to our bedroom. While I had been putting the toddler to sleep, he had been busy putting the plastic and extra sheets on our bed. I got on my hands and knees and felt a ton of pressure. I began making noises beyond my control. I think I said something along the lines of, “The baby is coming now!” I wasn’t scared. I was in the moment. My husband called Juliet again and put her on speakerphone. She only lives about 15 minutes away and was driving frantically to our house.
Juliet told him to open the birth kit and get some Chux pads. I’m not really sure what else she told him, but I could hear her voice on the phone. Still on my hands and knees on the bed, I could feel the baby moving down fast and pressing his way out. My sounds became more high pitched and fast, pretty much the opposite of the low, guttural sounds Ina May might tell you to make. Looking back, if the low sounds are supposed to help you move things along and stay open, I think I somehow was making the high sounds as an instinctual way to slow things down.
With the speed of things, I was worried about my perineum. I reached under myself and put my hands between my legs to do counter pressure. My husband told me to move my hand, and I said I couldn’t. I think I also said something like, “Baby slow down!” Later, Eric told me that he thought I was trying to push the baby back inside! I guess from his point of view, that’s what it looked like.
I could most definitely feel the top of a squishy head. I had felt my first son’s head as well when he was crowning. It’s such a unique feeling, and something that really can’t be described. In mere moments, the head was born. I have no idea what was going through my husband’s mind at that moment, but he was being remarkably calm. I was already feeling a sense of relief with having the head (the hard part!) out. The rest of the baby quickly followed, caught by Eric.
I was in no rush, and briefly pausing after having completed quite a feat. Eric was eager for me to turn over and quickly take the baby. The baby wasn’t crying, but I was not worried. I knew that I just needed to hold him and rub him a bit. I pulled my shirt off and took the baby. I remember hearing Eric ask Juliet if the baby should be doing anything. I think she said to just keep rubbing the baby. It was no time at all before he let out a cry.
Not long after the crying started, my mother-in-law walked in the room. She was quite in shock to hear a baby crying since she had come immediately when Eric had called her. A few minutes after her, Nicole, the doula and photographer walked in as well. Nicole reported later that she had arrived at 9:35pm. Right after Nicole, Juliet arrived. We all spoke in amazement at how fast things had happened. Everyone said the same thing, “I left as soon as you called. I can’t believe it!” Nicole started taking pictures, and Juliet began checking us over. I was soon propped up on some pillows and covered with blankets. The baby latched on easily to nurse, and he was happy and content. There were even jokes about, “Next time, you will have to call us sooner!” I had just delivered a baby moments earlier, and we were joking about “next time!”
Just before 10pm, Maya, the assistant midwife, arrived. Not long after, the placenta was delivered. Maya and Juliet worked together to do all the necessary postpartum checking and monitoring. Maya assisted Eric in cutting the cord, and she performed the newborn exam while Juliet recorded the information. Baby was 7 pounds, 5 ounces and 20 ¾ inches long. I had some minor tearing, but nothing significant. I found that impressive, given the speed at which things had occurred. I really think that being in the position of my choice had a lot to do with that.
Around 11:20pm, the toddler woke up. First my mother-in-law went to try to comfort him, but it didn’t work. Next, my husband went, but he was still upset. I knew it would take me going to him in order for him to calm down, but everyone else was telling me no, I needed to stay put. Even with a brand new baby, I knew that my other child really needed me. At my insistence, Maya helped me get into the lovely stretchy panties, I got a robe, handed the baby to my husband for some skin-to-skin with Daddy, and went down the hall to my older son. It only took a few minutes to settle my older son, and I was able to return to the new baby.
I think it was a little after midnight when everyone started packing up to head home. Juliet let me know when either she or Maya would return to check on us. It was lovely to settle into my own bed and go right to sleep. I was used to having my toddler with me, so I had one ear listening to the baby monitor in case he woke up in the other room. Surprisingly, he slept until about 8am, which shocked both Eric and me.
The next morning, Henry met his little brother. Later in the day, we decided on the name Isaac Scott.
And that is the fast and furious birth story of Isaac!