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Okay, so it took me a whole month to sit down and write my birth story-- here is the rough draft.

To tell the story of the birth of my second daughter, I need to start with the birth of my first. Ingrid was born at 34 weeks, after my water broke. We had planned a homebirth, but went to the hospital because it was happening too early. I had not really considered being in the hospital, and in fact did not feel at all ready for her birth or for her to be on the outside. The labor itself was fairly easy, except for the pushing phase. I was encouraged to hold my breath and push during the whole contraction, rather than when I felt like it. By far, the worst part of the experience was having Ingrid in the NICU. She was there for 6 days, which to most people doesn't seem like much, apparently, but it was still a wretched experience-she (in hindsight) didn't need to be there, and the nurses/bureaucracy were very unsupportive of everything that I knew that I wanted to be doing to connect with my newborn child. Even before I became pregnant the second time, the most important thing to me concerning the birth was to not endure a separation like this again.

My second pregnancy, like my first, seemed mostly normal- I was very healthy and stayed active. I had a lot of Braxton Hicks contractions, though, and put a lot of effort into trying to reduce them. Around 28 weeks, my cervix was starting to change. My midwife was concerned, and referred me to a perinatologist. He was unconcerned. At 32 weeks, I went to the hospital with Braxton Hicks type contractions that were 3-4 minutes apart for many hours. I was dilating, so I was put on a magnesium sulfate IV for 48 hours. I received steroid injections to help the baby's lungs mature. Eventually, I went home on bedrest.

Bedrest was difficult with a 2.5 year old, but I have family who were able to help. I needed to make it to 36 weeks to have a homebirth. My due date was July 4, but June 6 was fixed in my mind for the entire pregnancy as the goal.

On May 29 (34w, 6 days), my water broke at 4:45 AM as I slept. I was extremely disappointed, but calm. I woke my husband, and we called our midwife. I told her that I wanted for her to come over, rather than going to the hospital. With my first, it took many hours for contractions to start after my water broke, and I really did not want to be sitting around at the hospital hooked up to monitors. Yet I wanted for her to come listen to the baby and be sure that all was well.

The midwife probably arrived around 5:30 AM. I hadn't been feeling baby's movement, but her heart rate sounded fine. My midwife was very comforting to me, and we talked some about what was most important to me when it came to birthing in the hospital.

After having been on bedrest for 3 weeks, what /I really wanted to do was go for a walk. So my husband and I did, leaving ou sleeping 2 year old with our midwife.. We walked to a hill near our house with a view of downtown. We watched the sunrise and I held onto him and cried for a while, mourning what we wouldn't have with this birth. I knew the baby would be okay, and was pretty confident that at 35 weeks we could keep her out of the NICU, but the birth wouldn't be at home as we truly wanted.

Back at home, our midwife made us breakfast. I called my mom to ask her to bring my sister over to stay with Ingrid while we went to the hospital. Ingrid got up, and then I went to take a shower at around 8 AM. I'd had some stronger Braxton Hicks type contractions, but nothing regular. As soon as I got into the shower, real contractions started. They weren't exactly painful, but I noticed that I was leaning into the shower wall and moaning during the peaks of them. My husband came in to check on me, and I told him to tell the midwife that I was having contractions. I got out of the shower and sat on the toilet, and then they got really intense. I had the urge to throw up during contractions and there was a lot of pressure. I was vaguely aware that it felt like transition. My midwife came in and listened to me, and started timing them on her iPhone. She quickly announced that we needed to go to the hospital and that I needed to not be on the toilet. My contractions were about 2 minutes apart, long and intense. I was naked and wet from the shower. With a lot of help, I got dressed. I remember feeling overwhelmed by the thought of getting to the hospital.

I made my way through our small house. I had a contraction in the living room and leaned on my husband, which made the intensity so much more bearable. Then we were out on the porch. The car door was open, and I said that there was no way I could get into the car. Ingrid was sort of losing it (go figure) and Ethan was helping her. There was a conversation between Ethan and the midwife about taking Ingrid to the hospital with us and an attempt to reach my mother by phone. I sat on the porch, leaning into the railing, moaning. I remember wishing that I could somehow slow everything down. My midwife stopped and said,"It sounds like you are pushing. We need to go back inside and check."

Upon checking me on the couch, my midwife said, "The head is right there. We can't go anywhere." I was pretty thrilled, though really it is all sort of a blur. Ingrid was back inside, saying "mama, mama" and stroking me very sweetly. Or maybe it just felt like she was stroking me. In between contractions I tried to talk to her and reassure her. During contractions, I tried to relax into Ethan. There was so much pressure, even though I was lying on my side. I remember thinking that maybe I should be squatting, but it seemed impossible and I felt that it might really hurt to do so.

My mom and sister arrived and whisked Ingrid away, which was both a relief and sad to me. I let my body push for me, which was so different than pushing when other people told me to, as during my first birth. I didn't push at all until really far into each contraction. At the same time, I really wanted to hurry it up and be done with all of the intense pressure. During one contraction, my midwife encouraged me not to push, so that my tissues could stretch. A decision was made to call EMS so that they would be there soon after the birth, in case there was a problem, since the baby would be born slightly premature. Even though things definitely felt rushed, there was also an element of peacefulness. Here we were on my familiar old couch, Ethan with me, and I felt absolute trust in my midwife. She was so calm and deliberate. I was able to let go and have my body do its work, letting my body be the vessel through which birth happened.

Slowly and suddenly, I felt her pass through me and into the world. She was immediately on my chest and being rubbed down with towels, gasping, and eventually, crying. The backup midwife and then EMS arrived, checking the baby and I out soon after the midwife had. Many minutes passed before I lifted her up slightly to see that she was a girl. For those ten minutes, she was just our baby. She was perfect. Later, we would weigh her - 6 pounds, 12 ounces. We had a wonderful, hazy first day lounging around with her after being born exactly as she should have been, at home.
 

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That is a truely amazing story. And she was a good size for a 35 weeker.

Congrats again and thanks for sharing her story.
 

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Beautiful, Amy! That is a lovely story, and Louisa's birth still amazes me. That you for writing and sharing this with us.
 

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What a beautiful story! I am very happy for you.
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After DD2 was born, I had a few minutes of holding my baby before looking to see she was a girl. For some reason those moments are magical to me, I cannot describe why.
 

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Beautiful. Thank you for sharing!
Glad you got to keep her home.
 

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What a wonderful birth story! I am so glad you were able to birth at home, mama.
 

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That is wonderful that she was born at home and perfectly healthy at 34 weeks! What a lovely story
 

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Wow, what a beautiful birth story! I'm happy for you that everything worked out. It sounds like you were just dreading to have to go to the hospital and being scared that the baby was on the early side. I'm so happy for you that the baby is healthy and you got to give birth the way you wanted to!
 

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What a wonderful birth story!! Thank you for sharing. Congrats again to you and your family!
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