Jackson's Birth Story
Jackson’s birth can be summed up in a couple words: fast & furious. Instead of “hurry up and wait” it was more like “wait and hurry up.” Admittedly, I expected him to make his appearance on the earlier side of my due date (Christmas Day) rather than later. Although I had also said all along that I thought New Year’s Eve would be a great time to go into labor. Self-fulfilling prophecy, I guess!
Leading up to Labor:
The week leading up to Christmas was such a tease. Every evening from about 6-9 Jackson would go crazy and cause me to experience what I called “uncomfortable activity” that would often give me pause. Every night before I went to bed I would think that could be the night, but simultaneously pray that I would be able to get a good night’s sleep before going into labor. And every morning I would wake up and still be pregnant. Christmas came and went. The day after Christmas I tried some old wives’ tale induction methods: pedicure, deep pressure foot massage, spicy Mexican food, walking, etc. There was also a full moon and thunderstorms coming through. And still—nothing. I had a prenatal appointment on the Tuesday after Christmas. My midwife Shannon and I decided to start a homeopathic treatment that she’s found to be very successful. She said she typically sees results on the third day. So the plan was to do the first round on Tuesday, second round on Wednesday, then hopefully labor would start on Thursday. If it didn’t get things moving we would get a little more “aggressive” with our plan so as to avoid a hospital transfer as I approached the 42 week mark, which could risk me out of a home birth. Wednesday night I tried really hard to relax. I had a nice bath, Justin rubbed my poor aching back & feet that come when you’re in your 10th month of pregnancy, we listened to the beautiful birth playlist Justin put together, and Justin read aloud a relaxation script from my Birth Boot Camp manual. I believe mental blocks are very real and can cause labor delays so I vented some things to Justin that were concerning me. After all that, I thought I would go into labor overnight. But, again, I woke up Thursday morning still pregnant, so we carried on with business as usual. We ran some errands and went to lunch. We had made plans to go out on New Year’s Eve, which I fully expected wouldn’t happen because I thought I would have a baby in my arms by then! But it looked like our plans would continue. While at lunch we thought we would go ahead and drop Joel off at Justin’s parents since we were near their house. But as we were eating I got what I call “hormotional” (hormonal + emotional) and couldn’t bear the thought of dropping Joel off any sooner than we needed to. I was still anticipating that labor might come that day and I needed more time with my first baby while I had the chance. Justin says that mini meltdown was a big indicator to him that I would indeed be having a baby soon.
So after lunch we went back home and I rocked my baby one more time, instinctively knowing that the next time I saw him he wouldn’t be the baby any longer, but would instead be a big brother.
Immediately after that (around 3, I think) I went to the restroom and lost my mucus plug along with some bloody show. This is exactly how labor started with Joel. Soon after I was having mild contractions, but they were pretty far apart. I told my parents they should start their 5+ hour trek.
After Joel’s nap, he went to his Honey & Tom-Tom’s house for the night and Justin and I went to dinner with our friends Jesse & Hunter. Hunter is also my doula, so I was in capable hands if my labor went full-blown. We were tracking contractions throughout dinner, but they were very mild—I was able to talk and walk. Eventually those even stopped. After dinner we went back to our house to play games. I had a couple more contractions, but still nothing to write home about. After Jesse & Hunter left Justin and I went for a walk to try to get contractions going again. We stopped & talked to some friends who were outside doing fireworks. One of the fireworks was quite loud and abrupt, which startled me and caused a few more contractions. (Knowing Jackson now this is even more funny to me because he startles quite easily so I can just picture him in the womb being startled!)
When we got home I checked in with our midwife Shannon and Hunter. I was using my childbirth educator skills to assess where I was in labor. I thought, “If someone showed me a video of myself right now, what stage of labor would I categorize myself in?” The answer was early labor—contractions were sporadic, far apart, not lasting a long time, and pretty mild. Around 11 p.m. I let my birth team know I was going to bed and hoping for a full night’s sleep.
Active Labor & Transition:
Right after I laid down I had a contraction that I would classify as mild. A few minutes later I had another that I would call moderate. A few minutes after that I had a strong one that I had to work my way through with a position change to hands & knees (my go-to position in labor) and low moans. I told Shannon, knowing she would understand what that meant. Immediately after that contraction I fell hardcore asleep. I know that sounds crazy, but it was like my body knew what it was about to do and needed a power nap. Because I was asleep, I didn’t respond to Shannon’s reply so she asked Justin what was going on. He told her I was asleep. Shortly after I woke up from the intensity of a contraction and said, “I want Shannon!” I knew it was go-time. The contractions were coming quickly and intensely now. Justin started getting the birth pool filled, candles lit, music on, all while trying to comfort & support me. I asked him to call our friend Jennifer down the street. She walked down to rub my back and offer encouragement. Labor came on so quickly and intensely that I was having a little trouble coping. I channeled every relaxation technique I could think of. There’s no way to know how long labor will last and it scared me a little to think how much longer I had to go. I kept thinking, “I better be in transition. If this isn’t transition I’m not sure I can keep going much longer.” But I just kept taking it one contraction at a time. Around midnight my mom arrived. Funny enough, she arrived an hour before Joel was born also. She has a knack for arriving during transition when I’m in the most intense throes of labor! Soon after Shannon and Hunter arrived, along with our birth photographer. Fireworks were going off everywhere, but I hardly knew it because I was so focused on working through the contractions. Thankfully I was able to get in the birth pool, which is my saving grace. I have no idea how people have a baby on land! I labored in the pool for a little bit, making sure to keep my moans low, staying hydrated, and receiving continual support & encouragement from my birth team. I received a cervical check around 12:30 and was 9 cm. Knowing that I was indeed in transition was a relief to me! The end was in sight.
At 1 a.m. I was minding my own business when my body decided to spontaneously push. My low moans turned to very high shrieks that are not conducive to labor. I remember looking around frantically and Shannon telling me in a firm voice, “Look at me!” so I focused on her to center myself. All of a sudden Shannon & Hunter jumped up and got gloves on, realizing that something had shifted. Justin wasn’t quite sure what was going on but quickly caught on that baby was coming! I pushed twice and my water broke as Jackson came out in a fury at 1:05!
Side story: we had made many a joke (but half-seriously…) that we really wanted/needed Jackson to come in 2015 to get the child tax credit. Around 9 p.m. I had asked Justin, Jesse, & Hunter, “What do y’all think the odds are of me having him in the next 3 hours?” Everyone laughed and basically said it was impossible and would never happen. Maybe I took that as a personal challenge—I didn’t make it in 3 hours, but I did do it in 4! Just after midnight.
Justin wanted to catch him, but there was little time to prepare him for how to do so effectively and Jackson shot out so quickly that Justin and Shannon both received him. He was immediately brought to my chest. I was overwhelmed with joy and relief. The joy turned to weeping from being so overwhelmed at how quickly and intensely it had all happened. Then just as quickly the weeping turned back to joy as I really looked at my little boy for the first time. I had some concerns that I wouldn’t be able to love Jackson as much as I do Joel, but realized that was ridiculous—my heart burst open yet again. It’s like each boy has a key to unlock their own special place in my heart. I felt like the Grinch; my heart grew three times its size!
Justin and I were able to celebrate and admire our little boy before the contractions returned and I delivered the placenta very easily (unlike last time!) I got out of the birth pool and enjoyed skin-to-skin with Jackson. One of the (many) reasons I love homebirth is because my baby stayed with me the entire time. We relaxed in an herbal bath together to promote healing and relaxation. Afterward Shannon performed the newborn tests with him right by my side.
Soon, Joel was brought in to meet Jackson. We had prepared him as best we could so he would know what to expect, who would be there, that Kat would be taking pictures and he would need to smile, etc. It went amazingly well! Joel gave Jackson love pats and kisses and held his new baby brother.
Honey & Joel had baked cupcakes earlier in the evening in hopes that Jackson would be joining us, so we celebrated his birthday with cupcakes & sparkling cider as we sang happy birthday to our sweet new baby boy. The birth was amazing and we are overjoyed at the new little life we’ve been blessed with.