These are personal and vulnerable moments, it’s real and raw, it’s birth.
Birth is beautiful, I did something I’m so proud of, and this is the story of how Theo entered the world. I remind myself of the handful of women who told me that sharing Remi’s birth story really encouraged them in their own pregnancy and labor, some even choosing a natural birth plan for that reason. That seriously makes it all worth it to me. And if I encourage others to share their birth stories then I definitely should practice what I preach. Lucky for you, I am not posting ALL the photos taken. ;)
So without further ado…
Saturday morning on April 13th, 2019, we all woke up and had a slow morning eating breakfast together, just the three of us one last time. After we were finished eating I remember texting my mom at 9:54am saying, “I could be wrong, but I feel like the baby could be here soon,” not knowing that contractions would begin shortly after that. I had felt kind of achy the few days leading up to this one and sensed something was different. Other than that no imminent signs of labor had occurred.
Around 10:30am contractions started. I hardly noticed because they felt like Braxton Hicks, which I had experienced since about 16 weeks on. After about an hour or so I noticed them coming more regularly and only slightly stronger. We were just hanging around the house that day and had planned to drop Remi off at Logan’s moms house to have one last date night before baby arrived. I decided to keep walking around and trying to ignore them (didn’t want to get my hopes up) but thought it might be good to time them in case there was something going on. I continued to time them as I went about the day, resting on the couch, eating pineapple, cleaning, walking, etc.
After a few hours contractions felt slightly stronger but still not uncomfortable. Logan asked me when we wanted to drop Remi off and I said to him while eating my pineapple during a contraction - “the last thing I want to do when I go into labor is be away from my home.” So he called his mom and told her that I thought I might be in labor and we wouldn’t be bringing Remi. That made it feel more real.
Around 2:20pm I decided to text my doula, Candice, what had been going on in case things were to progress. I had been having contractions about 7 minutes apart and they were starting to hurt a little bit. I was still hesitant to officially “call it” since I did not want to be a watched pot, or have my birth team show up unneeded. It felt good to just be alone at home doing whatever I needed without worrying about anyone or anything (except taking care of my cutie 2 year old). I liked that it was still just a normal Saturday in the Samperi home with a little hope that we might be meeting our baby soon. Candice suggested I rest in case things happened during the night.
The rest of the evening I continued to have contractions about 5 minutes apart but really not much closer than that. They were still so manageable, I was still hesitant to tell my midwife what was going on. Surprisingly (but not surprising) I kept wanting to labor on the toilet. I would go attempt to use the restroom and that would cause more contractions (which seemed good to me because #progress).
As a matter of fact, laboring on the toilet during contractions is amazingly helpful. The natural instinct to release and relax your pelvic floor allows baby to come down easier during each contraction. Still nothing painful happening at this point, but I could tell what I was doing was helping. So I spent a lot of the evening on the pot. Fun!
We put Remi to bed around 7 and went to go watch a movie. I probably bounced on my ball or squatted next to the bed as we watched, I don’t really remember. We were watching Bridesmaids, which I super love and tried to get Logan to watch once when we were first married before getting only about halfway through because the movie froze and wouldn't let us finish watching it. So tonight we were getting another chance! We made it barely halfway AGAIN when I decided I needed to get back on the toilet. After being in there for a while going through a few uncomfortable contractions (was really having to breathe through these now) I ended up losing my mucus plug. As soon as I realized I peeked through the door and told Logan to call everyone and tell them it was time! It was 10:50pm now.
Logan already had the pool blown up so there was not much prepping we needed to do. I changed into some comfy clothes and began focusing on my contractions. It was about to go down. In my mind I thought I’d have the baby in the next 5-7 hours maybe?
My midwife, Jaelin, arrived first, then my doula and photographer shortly after. My contractions were getting painful and now I needed some support. Candice and Logan started switching off doing counter pressure (hip squeezes) and sifting with the rebozo. Hip squeezes were CRUCIAL for my pain management. I didn’t realize how much they were helping until Logan let go one time during a contraction, so I made sure someone was there right behind me with each contraction. They were 3 minutes apart now and Logan began filling up the pool.
I decided to get in the pool around 12:30, knowing it could slow down labor, but I just really wanted the comfort of the warm water. I got in and was immediately relaxed, so much so that I was worried that maybe it would be quite a while until we’d actually have a baby in our arms. I remember still being very alert and able to happily communicate in between contractions. Definitely not how it was during Remi’s birth at this stage of labor.
I had a handful of contractions in the pool until 1am when I decided I needed to get out and just deal with the pain. I just wanted my baby to be here!
I got out of the tub and within seconds I was having several back to back intense contractions. I slowly made it into our bedroom to put on a dry top, trying to find one quickly before another wave hit. I found one I liked and was trying to get it on over my wet sticky body when a contraction began and I whined “I need help!” as the pain took over my body and was no longer able to dress myself. The sweet midwife assistant was right there and jumped in as soon as she saw me ask for help.
Squatting felt best during these contractions so I leaned on the bed for support while Logan or Candice would give counter pressure (hip squeezes). I knelt on one leg with the other up several times to open up my hips during contractions. It was not long at all before the contractions turned into the urge to push. That’s the weirdest feeling. Your body takes over and you have no control over it except to allow it to do its job.
I started getting tired holding myself up next to the bed. I wanted to rest. Logan and I got into our bed and he held my hand as I rested on my side in between contractions. He might have fallen right to sleep at this point if I had not been squeezing the life out of his hand.
It was probably about 1:45am when the next contraction brought on a big reflex to push which made my water break. I WAS NOT PREPARED FOR THAT!!
When my water broke I was already fully dilated - so it felt like baby was about to fall out at any second! Totally painful and totally not expected. It was like zero to one hundred in one second and took me off guard. I definitely lost my cool a little bit when this happened and everyone had to remind me that it was all okay and I needed to slow down and breathe. This experience was a complete contrast to Remi’s birth, one in which I gave all my might pushing out for almost three hours. She definitely paved the way for her sibling!
Keep in mind that we do NOT know the gender, although I felt it was a boy as soon as I found out we were pregnant. So baby’s head is crowning and Jaelin tells me that baby is about to be here, but I’m in the bed and I planned to deliver our baby in the pool. Our conversation went something like this;
Me - “I want to have the baby in the pool!”
Jaelin - “Okay well we have go right now!”
Me - “But I can’t walk!”
The next thing I know, Logan is scooping me up and carrying me to the living room where the pool is. Everyone got a kick out of that.
He gently sets me in the water and I am sort of floating on my knees trying to slow my breathing and calm down while a baby feels like it’s going to fall out at any minute. Honestly my instinct was to hold it in and slow it down from coming out too fast, I didn’t want that baby to do any damage!
I reach down and start touching the top of baby’s head while slowly allowing my body to release him down farther. Just a side note: For some reason after feeling the top of the head, I convinced myself that it was NOT his head (what was it I don’t know) and that something was wrong. Everyone assured me that it was in fact just his head. I guess you think silly things when you’re in intense pain? LOL
The next contraction happens and the entire head is out now. Jaelin quickly checked to make sure no cord was around his next and then allowed me to continue. The first thing I say is “That was too big of a head.” Then I start to feel around and can feel tiny facial features, I start to smile.
Next contraction the rest of the body is out and I reach down with my other hand and slowly bring baby up to my chest. As I reach down and take hold, I could feel that this little baby is probably not a girl. Raising him up to me I say “it’s a boy!” while Logan and I both look to see officially that we have a son. Theo was born at 2:04am.
It was so surreal just seeing his face for the first time. He had such a boy face! I’m not sure what it is but I think having experienced that once before made the next time so much more emotional and sweet. It wasn’t a huge shock like it was when seeing Remi for the first time. I knew what to expect and all I could feel was LOVE and ELATION! The little son I had been thinking about for nine months was real!
We had hoped to have Remi present while he was being born, but with it happening so quickly we totally forgot. Logan went and got her out of bed a few minutes after he was born and brought her out to meet him. Of course she was so excited to see new faces in her house, but she was in awe that the baby we had been talking about for so long was finally out of mommy’s belly! The awe wore off after about five minutes then she was asking everyone to play dollhouse with her, including her new brother.
After the cord was cut Theo was handed to Logan to get skin to skin with him while they brought me to my bed. The midwife assistant took my vitals and then I got more skin to skin with Theo. Remi did not run out of questions while the pool was being taken down and things were getting picked up.
Theo had his newborn screening done after breastfeeding and then he and I got to soak in an herbal bath to help heal our bodies. It was so sweet to see him instantly relax into that warm water while I gently held them as he floated. That’s when I got to see all the perfect little features my body somehow created.
Then back into bed we went to rest and recover; everyone still helping and doing whatever they needed for us. Candice played with Remi while everything got picked up. Remi just loved having a new friend to play dollhouse with!
After everyone left, Logan put Remi back to bed and then we all got some rest. My parents came over the next morning to meet their new grandson and take Remi home to stay with them for a couple nights. We did not tell them what the gender was before they arrived because I wanted to see what their guess was when they saw him. Immediately they could tell it was a boy by his sweet old man face.
Choosing to labor and deliver at home was one that I made after realizing that although I enjoyed my experience at a birthing center with Remi, I knew I’d feel even more comfortable in my own home. I really believe that because I wasn’t a ‘watched pot’ for hours on end that I was able to totally relax and allow my body to do what it needed to do.
Overall, the intense part of my labor lasted just a couple hours before he was born. I had energy after he was born and wasn’t utterly wiped during labor with him.
Labor with Remi was painful and intense for about 12 hours or so, being in labor for almost 24 on top of pushing for about 3. I was extremely exhausted. Remi was a pound heavier than Theo was at birth, but she was also two weeks later than he was. Theo arrived one week before his due date weighing 8lbs 2oz. They were both 21” long.
I really only had three *extra wishes* for my birth other than the health and safety of baby and I:
1. That he would be born in the water, 2. That I would not have to “push” him out, that the fetal ejection reflex would take over for that, 3. That I could catch him myself. I can happily say that those desires happened and I had the labor and delivery that I hoped for. I am so thankful for that as I know it doesn’t always turn out how you plan it to.
A pleasant birth experience is so important not only for mom but baby as well. Find people that fully support you in every decision and help you achieve the goals you set for your labor and delivery. You deserve it and your baby deserves it. I would not have had the same great experience if it was not for my amazing birth team. I HIGHLY recommend each person for anyone in need of these services.
Midwife: Holistic Heritage Homebirth, Jaelin Stickels & Andie Wyrick
Doula: Woodlands Birth & Baby, Candice Fitzgerald
Photographer: Cultivating Motherhood, Nicole Bimber