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Blakely Rae’s birth story

Man, I feel like I don’t even know where to begin… Labor is such a complex moment of a mom’s life, and it’s memory is fleeting. That’s a wise design, I think, because if we truly remembered it vividly, I bet the human race wouldn’t still be here! My two previous births played into this one a great deal and the way I prepared. They helped me define what I wanted from birth, and it felt like a true finish line this time, knowing this is my last baby. If you want the back story on Rhett and Tucker’s births, I’ll link them. If not, I’ll just start at the start ☺️

6 AM— a little over 5 hours after my water broke, getting ready to go to the birth center

So the tiniest bit of relevant back story, 5 days before Tucker was born, I started having regular contractions in the middle of the night. They were 5ish minutes apart for hours, and I called my mom to make the 5 hour drive because she was going to try to make it before he was born. She and my stepdad arrived in time… because this was prodromal labor. I walked and bounced on the birth ball that whole day because I was desperate to keep the contractions going, but it became clear it wasn’t labor if I was having to try to sustain them. So the next day, they went back home, and I was a little deflated. That Sunday, 6 days before T-money’s due date (remember Rhett was a full 41 weeker, so I wasn’t actually expecting a baby to come before my due date), Marcus, Rhett, and I were supposed to go to my in-law’s house and out on their new pontoon. I told Marcus that morning I’d rather he take Rhett and go so I could wrap up some last minute nesting and projects. I cleaned, I ran (waddled), I relaxed, and that night, true labor started! Tucker was born around 6 hours later, so maybe all that on and off early labor had accomplished a little bit.

So fast forward to 36 weeks and a few days in this pregnancy, and I started having those “practice contractions” very consistently for a few hours in the night. I didn’t want a babe coming before 37 weeks because then I couldn’t deliver at the birth center, and we had just finished all the details of transferring from an OB’S office with a midwife to the birth center. This put me a little on edge the next few days because my body had only done that for a few days before Tucker came, but I wasn’t getting them very often, and they never had much intensity to them. I noted I’d had awesome sleep, on the contrary, for the last 3 nights on the 16th. I was grateful my body was resting up for sure because at 12:45 AM on the 17th, I woke up to both a sound and the sudden sensation of peeing my pants.. except not. The sound wasn’t what I would expect from my water breaking, so it just made me look around the room for a source. And the sensation of peeing my pants is not completely foreign to me 🙄 so I immediately realized this was different than that. I went to the bathroom, unsure of if it had broken, and then went back to bed. 20 minutes later I was back up, and this time I put on a pad so I could monitor if something was actually going on. I hadn’t had a contraction yet, so this all felt very up in the air. The urge to pee wasn’t matching up with the leaking at all, so as the minutes went by, I became more and more confident my water had broken! That was exciting to me because it meant there was no going back, no false contractions, no starting & stopping, because your water breaking technically puts you on a bit of a clock, even at a birth center. I was (and have been in each pregnancy) GBS negative, so I also wasn’t at all worried about infection risk, but I did want to stay relaxed and let the oxytocin flow so contractions could begin ASAP. The last thing I wanted was to be forced into interventions because of an arbitrary time clock.

Soon I became aware that the fluid leaking was happening with subtle contractions, and they were starting to come every 8-10 minutes or so. Marcus stirred, and I told him I thought my water had broken but that he should rest. I went downstairs and turned on Harry Potter— I had watched each movie after I finished the book over the last couple months, and I still had Deathly Hallows part 2 to watch! I laid on the couch on my left side for a while with the lights low and enjoyed feeling the contractions grow in consistency and mild discomfort. By the time the movie was almost over, I had switched to sitting on the birth ball so gravity could aid the great descent, and Marcus came downstairs around 3:45 AM. He had one of his busiest work days in a while on the schedule for the day, so he was a little on edge with what to expect for the day. He showered and got himself ready, whether for work or birth, we weren’t 100% sure yet. I started using the Freya app from The Positive Birth Company to time contractions and listen to affirmations, and by 4:30, everything was heading in the direction that said the birth center was definitely our next move. Marcus called his mom to come to the house, and she arrived about an hour later. I stayed upstairs for a while to keep quiet and calm and get the last of my things together for the birth center. I didn’t like the logistical side of things I was having to think about, like who to call and when it would be appropriate to, and it’s clear that started to impact my contractions. I called the midwife on call though, around 5 AM, because I really didn’t know how much time or notice they needed from me. She asked me questions, and I sensed skepticism in her voice. I didn’t have a single contraction while on the phone with her even though they’d been 4-5 minutes apart leading up to that. That was definitely a sign of things to come! I also called my mom because she was going to need to get to our house by late afternoon to relieve Marcus’s mom so they could still make their 30th anniversary getaway. We have the best grandmas in this fam, if ya can’t tell! ❤️

After the boys got up, we threw on their special big brother shirts for our last pic with just 2 kids!

We’d been anxious in the last chunk of pregnancy about when would be the right time to head to the birth center, but we eventually decided it was better to err on the side of too early. We could always labor there almost as comfortably at home, if not more because there wouldn’t then be an impending car ride. So we left a little before 7 AM. My contractions had started to be a little irregular with the commotion of the phone calls and distracted feelings, but I had a few that lasted 75-90 seconds and felt extremely productive. Those were the final push to get in the car.

Once in the car, we put on my Spotify playlist and chatted. It was nice! We were just a couple going to have a baby, and the atmosphere was relaxed. I could feel my contractions every few minutes, but they were subdued— almost like they weren’t able to build up to full strength. I didn’t have a single “painful” contraction that whole 40 minute drive, and that stressed me out a little. As soon as I stepped out of the car at the birth center though and got on the porch, I had a doozy that brought a strong gush of fluid and sent me leaning on the rail for support. I swayed and rocked through it, and the midwife poked her head out the door to show us we could come in. She immediately started asking more questions, trying to get a feel for what to expect. It was 7:30 and shift change was at 9 and she had an appointment to go to.. you can read between the lines there of how comfortable all of that made me feel. She had me lay down on the bed to examine me— which isn’t routine in a birth center like it is a hospital— because she needed to test the fluid to determine if my water had broken. The first swab was negative, and I was so disappointed. I insisted to her though that the sensation was not pee, and she did 3 more swabs. It’s a pH test, so the shade it should turn can vary from person to person, and mine really just wasn’t definitive. Again, I didn’t have a single contraction through all this laying down and talking. My body was holding back. She examined my cervix, and I told her I didn’t want to know dilation yet. I wasn’t prepared to hear I was “only” 1-3 cm, so she kept it vague saying that I was dilating at least. She also noted she couldn’t feel a bag of waters though, and she was fairly certain she was touching baby’s head and hair! That renewed my hope that it had broken. I told her I was pretty sure this same thing had happened in my sister’s labor, but because they were in a hospital, they were able to check her fluid under the microscope to confirm, so maybe we have a weird family thing pH-wise? Anyways, it was probably around 8:15 by this point, so she needed to chart and call the other midwife and she left Marcus and I to relax and try to get things moving. She tied a rebozo around my belly before doing so, and it was so tight. It provided some support though, and she said it could aid contractions. Well, after maybe 10 minutes or so, it was clear to me it was doing it’s job! I couldn’t sit, and contractions soon had me leaning over onto chairs to get through them. 8:45ish, I told Marcus there’s no way we were leaving, even though I could hear the midwife on the phone telling the on-deck midwife about my “mild” contractions and how Michelle could assess when she arrived whether we needed to go home for a while or not. NOT.

By 8:55ish I’m guessing, I begged Marcus to go see about me getting in the tub. I didn’t care that the midwife was about to leave and the next one up wasn’t there yet. They had the tub filled for me, and the birth assistant who had been called in was about to leave, too. So I made the choice I was getting in. Marcus and Debbie, the assistant and front office staff member who boiled eggs for me on my birthday (and one for me that morning too! 😍) helped me into the tub. It felt so good, and with the very quickly intensifying contractions, I repeated to myself “open.” I was struggling to cope, and I knew I was so much further along than anyone else knew. I know my body, and I trusted it. I told anyone who came in “I go from 0 to 60 in labor,” and it didn’t take long for them to hear the subtle grunts that were involuntarily coming at the end of the contractions. The midwife who was handling office visits that day came in to check on me once or twice in the half hour before the next midwife, Michelle, came in. I’d never met Michelle, but she probably arrived while I was in transition. She angled a mirror under the water, and I could hear her quietly asking Marcus if he could see how well I was progressing! Just knowing there was something to see going on down there helped me to further surrender to the pain I was now in. I assumed the upright position that helped me feel the strongest, leaning the top half of my body over the edge of the tub. My body started doing the real work of labor without any coaching or cues from the staff, one of my favorite aspects of unmedicated delivery. THEY follow the MOMMA’S lead, and it’s beautiful. There was no checking to make sure I was 10 cm or forcing me into other positions, only support and gentle reminders to slow my breathing. I could feel this baby move with every intense surge, and I gripped Marcus’s hand with every ounce of strength I had. Next thing I knew, I was shifting that strength down to get my baby out. A couple pushes, and her head was out! I had taken a water birth education class, so it didn’t worry me that I had to rush to get her out of the water or anything. My body was actually taking decent-sized pauses between contractions at this point, I’m guessing to really muster some strength. The next couple pushes for her shoulders and body were excruciating but oh so gratifying. I was at that breaking point of this being the hardest, most intense moment of my life, but I also knew what was waiting on the other side. I pushed through the burn that only laboring moms can understand or recall, and out she came! The student midwife who is also from Birmingham and I adored helped pull her up between my legs to my chest, where I plopped back and rested her on me. She was “lavender” as the midwives call it and, for lack of a better word, limp. Marcus and I were both a little terrified at the sight of our seemingly lifeless newborn baby, but he said “this is Blakely.” I immediately lost it and sobbed tearlessly (I don’t think my body had the ability to focus on making tears in that moment) and said over and over “I can’t believe you’re a girl!” The look in his eyes when he told me that is one I’ll never forget, and it was exactly what I was hoping for when we decided he would know gender and I wouldn’t. There was pride and pure joy and tears in his eyes at telling me we had a daughter.

Edited for slight modesty 😬

Blakely Rae didn’t make a peep for the first several minutes, but the midwives assured us that water birth babies just enter the world a little more calmly. We rubbed her down, and they kept noting “look at her muscle tone!” as she would pull her arm away from anyone who grabbed at her. She was COVERED in thick vernix, I mean so much. They kept calling it “birthday icing” 😂 They helped me stand up so the placenta could come out, and we moved to the bed. I just kept staring at this perfect, icing-covered baby, and let the waves of emotions and continued contractions wash over me. I had a daughter. I couldn’t believe it, and I felt such relief at no longer being pregnant and that labor was over. The intensity of those moments will fade in my memory, but I’ll always have the knowledge of what power my body is capable of. I got in that birthing tub around 9 AM, much to the skepticism of those around me, and my baby was born at 9:51. It’s safe to say I was right, my body does go from 0 to 60.

Outside the birth center 3 days after birth

If there are any takeaways here for any other women, it’s this: take the time to learn your body and to manifest your confidence in its abilities. No one can advocate for you like you, and nothing in this world can make you feel stronger.

Watching him quickly getting wrapped around her tiny finger 💖

About an hour and a half after birth

Ready to head home, a mere 4 hours after birth

“Hold?”


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