It’s hard to know where to begin! I mentioned in my Instagram stories how I felt like I was coming up against a mental block in writing out Luna’s birth story. The last time I wrote out a birth story, my baby had died. It just felt like a lot and I’m still encountering a lot of emotions and triggers but I’m also eager to get her birth story written!
I wasn’t worried about the birth or worried about being in labor this time around. I had done it twice before and I wasn’t scared of pain or of anything going wrong, I was mainly worried about how I would behave. It sounds odd but I was more concerned about the emotional aspect of labor and delivery than the physical aspect. I knew what my body was capable of and I knew that my body could rock a natural/unmedicated childbirth. I had complete faith in my body. I wasn’t sure how I would react to the emotional/spiritual side of it. I had to remind myself that it was going to be a safe place. Only my husband and my birth team would be there and they were so supportive and I knew that whatever happened, I wouldn’t be judged. No one was “watching” me. They would only be supporting me.
After talking that out with my therapist, my husband and my midwives, I felt more prepared for the big day. For some reason, I felt like Luna would come early. The full moon fell at a time when she’d be a couple weeks early, but still full term. I was kinda shocked she didn’t budge. Her due date came and went and I was NOT prepared for that. I guess I had fallen for the myth that subsequent babies come early. (Hint: this is a myth and is not always the case! In fact, when I polled my friends, a lot of them said their 2nd and 3rd babies came later than their first!) I was doing okay, but in ways felt very on edge. I felt like all eyes were on me. Waiting for me to go into labor. Even my husband was extra attentive and it made me feel like I needed to “make” something happen (as if you can make yourself go into labor! HA). Charley was born two days after his due date but I went into labor with him the day after his due date. I had Teddy the day before his due date. So when I got past that point with Luna, I started to get extra antsy. This was HARD. I started to feel defeated. I had done all the things I had done with the boys to help encourage them to come. Chiropractor adjustment, pressure points, acupuncture, massage, clary sage essential oil on my belly, eating all the dates…nothing. I started wondering why she wasn’t coming and if I needed to let it be or try more aggressive measures to get her out. Or if I was messing with her timing and when she wanted to be born. I had an appointment with my midwife on Wednesday, 4 days after my due date. My husband encouraged me to share my concerns with her and how I was feeling defeated and worn down. It helped a lot. I was able to share my concerns about being self conscious of how I’d behave emotionally, too. I think it helped to vent and get it all out there (I process things verbally, apparently!). I decided to have her strip my membranes at the end of the appointment. Why not? Let’s just see if it encouraged Luna to come. If she was ready, it would help her come. If my body wasn’t, nothing would happen. I felt at peace about that. My midwife gave me a tincture to take, as well. I think I took one dose there and one at home, but I honestly can’t remember! I just know I took two doses after she stripped my membranes.
Ben came from work and had met me at there, so we were driving separate cars. It was about 1:00 pm when we left the appointment. We were thinking of grabbing lunch together before he headed back to work. I couldn’t think so we decided to go back to the house and just take one car since he had just found out our other car was ready to be picked up from the shop (it required a huge, expensive repair…freakin mercury retrograde hit us so hard this year!). Well, I noticed I was having more frequent contractions as I was driving home and I noticed two that were like 2-3 minutes apart. I glanced at my watch to double check and wow, sure enough, it had only been 2 minutes or so since the last one. Thud. I had bumped into the car in front of me. Ugh. I was feeling SO fuzzy and scatter-brained (a tell-tale sign that I’m in full on labor!). Thank goodness Ben was behind me. He stepped out of the car and ahead of me to intercede and communicate with the person. You can bet we used the “my wife is in labor” card! It was 100% legit. I don’t think I did any damage to her car and it was a light bump on her bumper. We were at a corner and I thought she had already turned but she had stopped again (heads up if you’re ever in Oregon: Oregonians are SUPER cautious drivers. Like, sometimes to a fault. So beware! lol). Anyway, I bump into her car on the way home and I’m like, “this is happening. I’m in labor!” Ben asks me if I’m sure I can drive home. I’m positive. I was just extra alert and it took extra energy to focus on driving.
Once we got back I was in full on prep mode. I had had our bags packed since I was 32 weeks (haha!) so I knew I had everything. I started getting toiletries and all the last minute items together. Ben asked if he had time to go back to his office to get his things but I said no. He worked on the other side of town and I knew we didn’t have that long. My labors are fast and I didn’t want him that far away. He asked if he could go get our car from the mechanic’s and I said yes, although I was hesitant. My dad helped him go get the car and I labored at home, just monitoring the contractions. For those wondering, they weren’t painful. I love to picture them as waves. It definitely feels like a surge of energy, gently rising and then easing away. The energy ebbs and flows. Just know that they won’t overtake you. You have nothing to fear! I was just monitoring them and timing them. I was happy for a quiet moment alone. I listened to my birth affirmations track once and then put on my birthing music. It’s the same Native American flute music that I listened to when I labored with Charley and Teddy. It just puts me at ease. Makes me feel very connected to the earth and my own mothering powers. Very grounding music. I think I put on a little frankincense (my favorite essential oil!) and then I was holding some crystals I had gotten just a couple days prior. I had black tourmaline to help with fear. I chose a large one that felt powerful and like it would guard against any fear I was feeling, whether I was aware of it or not. I also had a large carnelian crystal. This helps open up your root chakra and was something I felt I could benefit from during this birth. Then I had a small amethyst crystal to help balance my crown chakra. It felt good to hold them as I was laboring. I kept looking out the window at the blooming magnolia tree, swaying, holding my crystals, listening to my birthing music, connecting with Luna. I teared up thinking that I would get to finally meet her soon. I was picturing the moment after birthing her and getting to put her on my chest. That’s seriously the best and I could not WAIT for that moment.
Side note: I treasure moments like those. I felt more disconnected and more distanced from Luna than my other babies during pregnancy. So any moment where I connected with her and felt a bond was really special and I held onto that. I think it’s natural to feel this way after losing a baby. You put a wall up whether you mean to or not. I think it’s your body’s way of protecting itself.
The contractions started coming closer together. Every five minutes or so. I text Ben to see where he is/check his status. He is starving as he hasn’t had any lunch (neither of us had!) so he picks something up on the way home. I tell him that’s fine, just eat it outside of the room. Haha! (I didn’t want the smell to bother me!) I grab some peanut butter crackers to eat because I knew I would need something but couldn’t handle a meal. Not at this point! My contractions start coming closer together now — about 2-3 minutes apart. I text my midwife and tell her. I also tell her I’d feel more comfortable being at the birth center at this point. She says to come into the birth center in about 30 minutes. I’m so relieved because I know how fast my labors go and at this point I really needed the assurance of being surrounded by my birth team. We get in the car and get to the birth center at about 3:15 pm. I get checked in around 3:30 and the midwife students get my vitals, I set my phone (with my music playing) and water and crystals out. My midwife comes to see me shortly after. She squeezed my hand and smiled. It made me feel immediately at ease. I was so happy she was there. I felt safe.
The contractions start getting stronger and just as I predicted, my hips start hurting. I knew this would be the case, so I had requested help with this and every time I had a contraction, someone was there to help and applied counter pressure (this basically means someone is pushing hard on my hips from the outside and it helps so, so much!). I do a lot of swaying during the contractions. Movement helps and so does gravity, my friends! I’m standing up the whole time. I finally sit down and lightly bounce on the birth ball in between contractions to rest. They check Luna’s position and suggest I try to labor with one leg up on a stool during the next few contractions to encourage her to move/rotate. It works and I move on to my normal swaying. I kind of breathe and open up as much as I can with each contraction.
I’m not sure how long it’s been, but they’re getting stronger and more intense, so I ask if getting in the tub would help my hip pain. My midwife says it could so the students start filling up the tub as quickly as possible. What’s funny is that I had been adamant about how I liked to birth standing up or on my knees. But then a couple weeks before I had Luna, I mentioned to my midwives how I wasn’t against using the birth tub, and we’d just see what happened. I’m so glad I got in because it really helped make my hip pain more bearable. I didn’t want to get in there too early because the buoyancy can slow labor down, but it just felt like the right time. I had hovered by the bed last time with Teddy, so that’s where I expected myself to want to be, but this time I was by the tub so Ben helped move my things closer to me. He brought my water over and set the crystals down by me.
I felt more “with it” than I did with my first labor. My doula that I used with the boys said this is common — to feel more coherent with subsequent labors. With the first labor, I went to la la land! I didn’t really respond to Ben or anyone around me and yet I was aware of everything going on and even answered questions about my weight when I was in triage. This time around I was more verbal and communicative.
When I got into the tub, it felt so good. Definitely helped my hip pain, but the contractions starting coming closer together and sometimes it felt like they were coming right on top of each other, one right after the other. It was hard to find a comfortable position. I’d roll to my side or back to rest and a contraction would come, so I’d roll over to my hands/knees to work through it. I knew Luna was bigger than Teddy, so I think my body instinctively knew to be on my hands and knees, just as I was with Charley. That position increases the pelvic floor outlet, giving baby more room to come out. I was looking for something to hold onto (hard when everything seems slippery…I WAS in a tub!), so they brought me these handles that suction cupped to the wall. It was nice to hold onto them during contractions. Made me feel stronger and more grounded. I knew Luna was close to coming because I was feeling SO tired and I started telling everyone how tired I was. For me, that kind of talk means I’m in transition (the period right before you push!). Some throw up, some cuss, I exclaim “I’m so tired!” My midwife said “I know you’re tired. You gotta finish this and then you can rest and you’ll be holding that sweet baby on your chest.” I told her I knew Luna was close to coming because I was saying that and that I couldn’t wait to hold her on my chest. That was what I had been picturing all day and even in the months before. That sweet relief and the biggest reward!
I remember noticing that the time was 5:38 pm or something like that. I felt like I had to push and was really starting to bear down and push Luna out. My midwife checked me and started giving me instructions. Later she informed me that there was a lot of amniotic fluid in between Luna’s head and my cervix, so that’s why I was working soooo hard but Luna was still sitting higher (Side note, my water had not broken yet! I thought for a split second that she’d be born en caul!). She was going to help hold something out of the way during the next contraction but then it slipped and my water broke. Now we were in business! They say every pregnancy and birth is different and it’s absolutely true. I’m not a super quiet birther, but my sounds were VERY different this time around. Honestly, the best way to describe it was a roar. I felt like it was a warrior’s cry. I knew to keep my sounds as low as possible (lower pitched sounds help you open and relax, versus high pitched ones. So it’s a very intentional, focused thing to help you relax, release, and open up), but these were battle cries. Ben and I laughed about it later. In writing these last few sentences, I’m getting super emotional, because they WERE battle cries and I was the warrior. I was fighting for my moon baby, Teddy’s twin. I was releasing trauma from everything surrounding Teddy’s birth and death.
I had to ask this later, but I pushed for only 22 minutes. With Charley I pushed for about 30 and with Teddy, I have no clue…he came out way faster than anticipated, so I’m assuming less than 20 minutes! My labors are fast, if you haven’t noticed! I’m relying heavily on my midwife. I ask her so many questions as I’m pushing. I need reassurance. She gives it to me and makes me feel safe. She had to tell me to slow down and let Luna stretch me. I could tell I was pushing a bit too much but I just wanted her out so badly. I told her I didn’t know how and they all (both midwives and the students) start demonstrating that pursed lip, fast breathing everyone thinks about when it comes to labor. It’s become such a joke for tv shows, etc, that I never thought I’d need to use that kind of breathing in my labor! I slow down. I tell my midwife, “wow, I forgot how intense this is!” I push her head out. She stops. My midwife helps bring the rest of Luna’s body out while I push. She’s out! My little Luna girl is here. I roll over and they help me (you’re still connected to the baby via the umbilical cord, so they help to make sure you don’t get tangled up! ha). Luna is on my chest and I wish I could remember what I said, but I don’t remember! I probably said “oh” a lot and “Luna! You’re here! Oh!” Luna isn’t crying and one of my midwives is helping stimulate her on my chest along with me. We have a towel over her and are vigorously encouraging a cry. She is that grey color all babies are when first born. I’m serenely calm. My midwife starts to bag her (give her oxygen and breaths). I instinctively hold the seal on the mouthpiece around her mouth to assist. She starts crying! I can tell we all breathe a sigh of relief, especially my husband. I think I looked over at him a lot during this labor, more than the others, just checking on him and trying to share the moment with him. Like at Charley’s birth, he was up towards my head and sometimes I’d reach out to him so we could hold hands. I looked over at Ben in this moment and smile and also check on him to see how he’s doing. I tell him to sit down. This has been an incredibly overwhelming experience, and I didn’t want him to faint. I guess he sat down? But then it was time for me to deliver the placenta and then soon after, he came over to cut the cord. It felt like the placenta was easier to birth this time than with Teddy and it happened a lot sooner (took an hour to deliver his). We let the cord stop pulsing before cutting it. And boy, this placenta was HUGE. Just like I remember Charley’s being. People commented about how large and beautiful his was and they were doing the same with Luna’s. So much joy and heartache in those kinds of moments. Wishing we could say the same about Teddy’s placenta.
Once Luna starts crying, she cries and cries and cries! I remember that vividly. She was SO much louder than her brothers! Ben holds Luna on his chest and does skin to skin. Remembering that picture of him sitting on a chair in the corner, his shirt off, holding Luna is so beautiful to me. I’m overwhelmed. The midwives and students help me out of the tub and to the bed. It’s funny how strong I felt in that moment and yet my muscles felt like jelly! Oh my whole body ached. I worked hard to breathe and push her down! I remember saying shortly after birth that I needed a massage! They help me put some lovely depends on with a heavenly ice pack. Ha! I think there’s just a lot of swelling from the work of childbirth so it feels amazing. Even without trauma to your perineum, it STILL feels so good to have that ice pack on there. My midwife checks me and everything looks good. Slight tear but I can’t feel it and it doesn’t need stitches. My little miss is a big girl! It wasn’t technically shoulder dystocia, but my midwife did tell me later that Luna’s shoulders needed some help (remember me saying she helped pull the rest of her body out while I pushed? Yeah, her broad shoulders got stuck!). She hooked one shoulder and it was an easy rest of the delivery.
First few things I noticed about Luna: she was loud! She had CHEEKS! She has a delicious roll of fat on the back of her neck. Her fingernails are SO long. I was thankful my friend gave us gloves to cover them until we could trim them at home!
She was a whopping 9 pounds 4 ounces, 21.5 inches long. We are thrilled she’s here and in the same breath we ache for her brother. Welcome to the world, Luna. We love you so much.