He was born on a Thursday, the Aries New Moon. It was a dark and stormy, a windy day here, totally the opposite of Sunny which already feels like his personality coming through.
Just after 6am I woke up with a gush of bloody mucus and a bit of water leaking. My water continued to leak through the rest of the day - sometimes pink tinged, sometimes clear, but definitely messy. I was in labor from about 8 am and on, but was able to do stuff around the house through the contractions until about 10:30am. Wilder slept in that morning, and Franky was cooking away in the kitchen, while I cleaned the house. It was a quiet and perfect morning. At that time I asked if Frank would start timing them - he was ready with a contractions timer app that I didn't know he had, it was extremely cute. Maybe an hour or so later I needed him to press on my hips or massage my hips and lower back during each wave. My friend Eileen came over around 12:30pm to be with us and her presence was so wonderful to have. She would knit quietly or talk to Wilder, or help hold massage me during a contraction. Another friend arrived shortly after to take pictures and she had her 6 month old baby with her. Around 3:30 my team of midwives (primary midwife, another midwife who comes for births, and then their apprentice) plus one more friend arrived. I know, it sounds like a party! --- We all joked that we were having a birth party and I was the queen wearing my robe and having my picture taken - which they pointed out is totally my style, hehehe… What can I say, I love a good party. Anyway, I was completely comfortable with each person, I had been envisioning it all for months so it felt like the perfect dream team. My friend Trevanna who came took Wilder outside even in the storm and they said prayers to the elements and gods and goddesses on the land, welcoming in the spirit of the baby. I'm so grateful my son got to experience that ceremony while I was fully in labor mode.
Throughout the day I kept eating because I knew later on I might not want to, so I snacked a bunch. Franky had made banana bread, so I would eat a piece with a huge slab of butter, every hour or so. Our friend taking pictures had brought a big batch of beef stew that another friend had sent with her, so I was able to eat a couple bowls of that. Since this birth experience, I’ve heard that the number one reason for transport is maternal exhaustion. I myself could barely eat anything during my first birth (with Wilder) and I’m realizing that food could have fueled me more during that experience.
Back to our story… Around 5pm I felt really tired which the midwives saw on me and encouraged me to go upstairs and lay down. I had avoided/resisted sitting down for the entire day up until that point because I didn't want it to slow anything down. They assured me it wouldn't and said to me and my hubby "go make out and lay down". So we went upstairs, and the moment I put one knee down on our bed I had a contraction at least twice the intensity of anything before that. After a couple of these, my primary midwife came to check on me because she heard my tone shift from downstairs. I told her these had been much more intense and I felt like throwing up during the last one. She said that was very good and meant things were moving along faster. I had positioned myself to be hanging off the side of the bed, with my knees on a pillow on the floor. I mentioned feeling like I needed to throw up. So, she came back upstairs with a pot in case I did, and right after that I said I had the chills. Another good sign she says! So she went down and got the rest of team on getting everything else ready - the birth tub, her gear, supplies, Wilder and Trevanna were filling the tub, etc. I really don't know what else was being prepped! Then both midwives and one friend came up to be with me, and I said it felt like I have to poop during the next contraction. “That is the baby's head coming down in the canal” they said, “you could get in the birth tub now.” At this point it was nearing 6:15-6:30, I think. Someone says “there's about 6 inches of water in the tub, do you want to get in?” Yes I definitely do - it sounded SO good at this point! And then another contraction. We all tried to quickly move me downstairs in between contractions which were coming very close together at this point (no idea what the timing was, but they lasted about as long as what was in between each one).
So I get in the tub and it's the most incredible feeling to be in the hot water. It really is a natural pain relief, and I can't imagine birthing any other way! As soon as I got in the tub, my son wanted to jump in too, but I asked him to wait until after the baby comes out. As far as I've been told, it was about 5 or 6 contractions in the tub until he came out. Which to me felt like one continuous extreme contraction. I was pushed to my limits and was clenching like mad on every one. Eileen and Trevanna held my hands and talked me through every breath. My primary midwife was coaching me during this whole time. Lower my shoulders, lower my voice tone (the lower the tone, the better for the opening), etc. Franky and Wilder were behind me holding each other and waiting. At this point, everyone is basically saying things along the lines of “you got this mama” and I stayed with it. It was about 10-15 minutes of this and he was born. Again like with my 5 year old son I didn't really push, it was more like my body had taken over and was just emptying a baby out. Only this time I felt so with it and aware of what was happening (it hadn't been multiple nights of lost sleep and total exhaustion from being in labor for so long). At one point my midwife said "reach down and feel your baby's head" which I did and was the coolest and definitely the weirdest thing to feel! On the next contraction, he was coming out of me and she says "catch your baby, reach down now and catch your baby!” and somehow I listened to her and managed to reach down and catch him as he came out! It was unexpected because we had planned for my hubby to catch the baby but he was holding my son who was watching every moment and feeling the intensity of it all. Right before Sunny came out, a huge gust of wind came through the window and knocked several things off of our piano. Everyone looked and gasped and it was as though Sunny was entering the room. He was born at 6:57pm!
I sat down in the tub and held my baby and felt so incredibly relieved. Everyone was looking at me like "aren't you going to look and see what your baby is!!" I had already forgotten! I was just so happy I had done it. I moved the cord over and shouted "it's a boy!" laughing as I did because I had told many people I thought I was having a girl. Wilder was already stripping down and got in the tub with me right away. As soon as he started talking next to me, Sunny opened his eyes and was looking around trying to find his voice. He knew that voice!
With Wilder in the tub with me, my midwives coached me through birthing the placenta. I was determined to do this well, as I had a lot of trouble with it when I birthed Wilder. Luckily the placenta is super squishy and soft and is not the same as birthing the baby. Bam! It came out, and Sunny and I were wrapped up in a towel, still in the tub. A team moved us to a covered bean bag, in our livingroom.
We left the cord and placenta attached for somewhere around 2 hours and then we cut the cord so that we could preserve the placenta which my hubby would process the next day.
My midwife came to do a newborn exam on Sunny. Everyone was guessing that he would be in the 7 lb range when my midwife was about to weigh him, because he didn't look huge, but I kept thinking I really doubt it since my first baby was 8 lbs 13 oz. She weighed him and he was 9 lbs exactly! He was 23 inches long which he why he looked smaller than everyone thought. One midwife said she's never seen a 23 inch long baby! Hilarious. He started nursing right away - within 30 minutes of being born. The latch was tricky for a moment but he got it within a minute or so!
I tore a bit and needed to get stictches from my midwife. Honestly, the pain was so night and day (better) from my first birth that I didn’t think I had torn. With Wilder I had internal tearing which is just about the worst pain imaginable, so this was shall I say “pleasant” in comparison.
I remember it was a mission to get me to pee after the birth, which is a normal thing. The midwive’s apprentice was an absolute angel and I felt so well taken care of after the birth. Frank and Wilder were having their first boy’s moment on the bean bag together while I was taken care of. I was given some herbs to help stop the bleeding. I remember looking at myself in the mirror at one point and thinking “how am I this with it right now? I just gave birth!”. I even felt like I looked “glowy” in some way.
The last person left somewhere around 10pm, and shortly after that my parents arrived! They were so excited to meet their new grand baby that was just a few hours old. They stayed for a few days, which was wonderfully helpful for all of us. My dear friend Brooke arrived a few days later to help us, she was a lifesaver and we are so grateful! I was extremely engorged for a few days after the birth which was quite intense.
During the first night, everyone went to bed somewhere around 11:30pm. I could not sleep, for I couldn’t take my eyes off this little angel who I had been waiting to meet for so long. I think I may have dozed off for a bit after 1am, but didn’t stay asleep for long. I felt a bit overwhelmed and exhausted at this point. Sunny would wake up and nurse and then fall back asleep for a bit. I could barely sleep. Around 4am, I realized that I felt majorly overwhelmed and bloodsugar crashing, so I woke Frank up to make food for me. That was indeed what was happening! He brought me apples, cheese, and sausage (the best postpartum nursing snack!) and I felt so much better. I slept until sometime after 7am.
The days following the birth my milk came in, and I was extremely engorged. Looking back on it now, I somewhat wished I would have pumped a bit, but I’ve always heard that will tell your body to keep creating that much milk. I nursed Sunny as much as possible to get relief. He was all about it. He never lost any weight after the birth (most babies lose weight in the first days), and he was 10 lbs just a few days later! It is true what they say - the afterpains are much more intense with each baby you have! I kept my crampbark and motherwort tincture close by at all times to help with this.
My sweet Sunny is 5 months old now! It’s hard to believe it’s already been this long. He has filled out so much, and his adorable little body is still quite long! He outgrows pants and shoes quickly! He looks soooo much like his older brother and loves giggling and babbling, pretty much non stop. Wilder does a silly dance which Sunny loves and has him cracking up in the cutest ways.
It’s interesting reflecting on my birth months later. I feel so proud of my body for the birthing I did, the nourishing of my baby, and the healing that has taken place. Our bodies truly are pretty wildly amazing. I still feel so amazed that I gave birth 5 months ago. A lot of people say “the body bounces back” but I really feel our bodies bounce forward. My body isn’t the same after either child, and though I feel I recovered much better and faster this time around, I have a new body, different from how it was before babies, after 1 baby, and now after 2. I love my body and I love the gift of being able to create and bring babies into the world. There is nothing like it! What an honor.
Thank you to my incredible midwives Chris, Julie, and Jessamy, and my amazing team Eileen, Trevanna, Kristin, and baby Milo. To Frank for being with me for every moment and being my rock, and Wilder for being the best cheerleader anyone could ever ask for.
All photos by Kristin Dillon of Blue Horse Photography unless otherwise noted.