Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Second Time Around

5 days old
Newsflash: Ingrid Elisabeth Toler was born last Thursday, October 16 at 8:10 a.m., at a lanky 23.3 inches and 7.4 pounds.

A dear friend once said that being the mother of two is the beginning of motherhood with a capital "M."  I'm beginning to catch glimpses of that truism, but the beginnings of mothering #2 were certainly easier.

Compared to the 42 hour labor, including two hours of pushing, to bring Gideon into the world, Ingrid required a mere 14 hours and 2.5 pushes.  Last time involved two trips to the hospital, including a planned, peaceful walk to the hospital and unplanned nightmarish walk back (totalling 5 miles) and an amazing, empowering active labor of seven hours.

Instead of fighting our way to the hospital, this time around, we opted for a home birth.  We figured there was nothing that the birth centre did that we couldn't do at home, so we thought we'd save ourselves the hassle and enjoy the peace and tranquility of our own home.  It turned out to be an excellent choice for us.

While the main event is much more peaceful, prepping for a home birth is much more involved.  We prepared by purchasing a birth pool from the Birth Pool in a Box people and a yoga ball from Argos, preparing a big box full of towels, candles, essential oils, buckets and other practical items necessary to welcome a baby, practicing hypnobirthing, and booking private midwives.

Home births are much more common in the UK versus the U.S.  The National Health Service (NHS) will routinely inform women of their choice to have a home birth (for women with low-risk pregnancies) and even provide two midwives to attend the birth.  My wonderful midwife from Gideon's birth, Ona, had recommended it to me. I was out of the catchment for a home birth through my hospital, St. Mary's (meaning an ambulance couldn't get there in time), so booked a private pair of midwives once I discovered insurance could cover them.

It was a bit of a scramble at the end to start practicing hypnobirthing (more in another post), book the midwives, and purchase and practice blowing up the birth pool, but we were finally ready by 39 weeks (full term is 40 for the uninitiated).

I was *really* hoping for a double birthday on the 8th, but that and then my due date passed, as did a false alarm after a beautiful weekend with Lance at home.  By Wednesday the 16th, I had not only finished the home, but had gotten my wedding ring cleaned, the storage room cleaned, my email inbox completely cleared out, and Gideon's wooden bus fixed - to do items months or even years old.  I ran out of things to do and just started enjoying myself - I went swimming with Gideon and Marianna, got a nap, wrote a few work emails, and contemplated tinting my eyelashes as labor gently started.  Lance was coming home early naturally, so I made dinner and we watched Nacho Libre.

Marianna came home and we had her pack up Gideon for the neighbours while Lance blew up the birth pool, got a fire going, and lit candles.  I attempted sleeping in-between "surges" (a hypnobirthing term for contractions) with my rented TENS machine strapped to me for a bit while Lance rested on the couch.  We then shifted to the nursery's double bed, as the birth pool took up most of the space in our room.  Later, I took a bath.  Throughout the night, my surges were fairly stable at 8 minutes apart and lasting over a minute each.  I knew from Gideon's labor that if I were to walk around, things would pick up quickly, but I was attempting to reserve strength for the end and allow Lance and the midwives to sleep.

At 5:00 a.m. I began pacing and singing with Lance, and my surges quickly picked up in frequency (5 minutes apart) but diminished slightly in length.  Lance called the midwives at 5:45 a.m., and I got into the now-filled birth pool for active labor.

I had a hard time temperature-wise in the pool preventing me from truly getting into the hypnobirthing "zone," but the water plus Lance's application of pressure points, steady breathing, and a couple of calls to my mom were big helps (especially the calls to my mom, who sang to me the song she used to sing to me at bedtime and which I now sing to Gideon and Ingrid).

The midwives arrived at 7:00 a.m. and before long I was surprised to realise that I was about to go into transition.  I needed Lance in the pool, and quick!  At about 7:50 a.m., I had three very different-feeling surges, and at the end of the last, I felt the urge to push quite strongly.  I resisted, continuing my breathing, and then the midwife said the baby's head was visible.  I reached down and felt it.  Amazing - "It's a baby!" I cried.

Again the urge to push was upon me, but with an unmistakeable burning sensation that told me to use "downward" breathing and again resist the pushing urge.  The baby's head was out, and the midwife said that she was attempting to wriggle out and turn.  Another simple urge to push, this time heeded, and she was out.  "We have a baby!" I cried over and over again as Lance and I exulted over our latest addition.

Other than the long night labor, it all happened so quickly that I had little time to reflect.  But the birth was what I had hoped for - peaceful, brief (for me!), and at home without complications, proddings, or a painful (and unnecessary) journey to the hospital.

It took me a couple of days to get over the sleep deprivation and feel like a human being again to realise the full significance of the event, but by day three when I cheated and let our little one sleep on my chest after the early morning feed, I was deeply and hopelessly in love.


  1. Beautiful story. Thanks for sharing. Excited to see you on Thursday

  2. Congratulations! She is just beautiful!