Jude Joseph Robert O’Rourke was born at our home in rural Ottawa on Saturday, September 5 at 1:19am weighing 7lbs, 8oz. While he was our second baby and we felt slightly more prepared for what was happening, he was our first home birth so there were still lots of unknowns ahead.
Jude was destined to be a Labour Day baby due on September 4. Once again I had gone off work a few weeks early but this time I had a toddler getting up through the night so I was savouring every day that I had to rest prior to the arrival of little brother. On the morning of his due date, we set off to continue what would be a “due date tradition” of hiking Luskville falls. It was a beautiful day and we so enjoyed completing this hike with Clyde in tow. Our plan was to head home for an afternoon nap and then join our family for dinner at my Dad’s. Little did we know, Jude had a plan of his own.
We no sooner sat in the car to go home after the hike and I felt my first contraction. Adam was talking to me all the way home but I couldn’t tell you one word he said because I was stunned by the regularity of my contractions. As we pulled in the driveway I broke the news to him that I didn’t think we would be going for dinner that evening. It was shortly after 2pm when we got home. Clyde had fallen asleep in the car so Adam stayed outside while he slept and I went in to try and rest – still not totally convinced that these contractions were here to stay.
By 4pm, there was no doubt this baby was on his way so we notified the troops! We cancelled dinner at my Dad’s, called for my Mom to come look after Clyde and notified our midwife. From this point on, I tried my best to stay rested, fed, hydrated and comfortable. Having run out of steam during my labour with Clyde, I wanted to give myself the best chance of having a successful unmedicated delivery.
We planned on a water birth so Adam setup the tub in the basement and put together all the odds and ends we wanted around for Jude’s arrival. At 7pm, we called the midwife again to let her know my contractions were coming every 4 minutes and it was time for her to come. Adam put Clyde to bed and I got in the tub to continue labouring while watching “How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days” (perks of a homebirth!). Our midwife arrived at 8pm, got set up and checked my progress – 5cm. Woo hoo! I remember feeling great and so relieved that I didn’t have to be thinking about when to leave the house.
Unfortunately, I was feeling a little too relaxed in the birthing tub and my contractions slowed to 6-7minutes apart. This is what happened with Clyde’s labour – I got to 5cms and then stalled for hours. My midwife had me get out of the tub and start walking around. The frequency and intensity multiplied almost as soon as I stood up so I laboured out of the tub for the next few hours.
My sister was in town from Montreal for the long weekend. She had asked me earlier if she could attend our birth if baby decided to come on his due date. She was at my Dad’s for the family dinner so after her kids were put to bed, she came up to the house with my Dad and my step Mom. A true family affair! Haha! We had decided to camp out in the basement for a few days with our newborn so my Dad helped Adam bring our mattress down and then he and my Step Mom gave us their best wishes and headed for home.
It was coming up on 10pm now and things were going very smoothly. My Mom, my sister, Adam and I would chat and then pause for a contraction. My midwife was observing, taking notes and would occasionally come over with the doppler to monitor the heart rate. I laboured while resting on the birthing ball with one person squeezing my hips together during a contraction and another holding my hands. My contractions were coming every 2-3 minutes and I felt strong and in control. I actually remember saying to Adam “I don’t know what all the fuss is about a natural birth. I feel amazing.”
Before long, it felt as if the baby was very low and I started to feel pressure during a contraction. My midwife checked my progress during a contraction (effective but not comfortable) and agreed that the baby was pushing quite low. I was ~8cm and nearing the home stretch so I got back in the tub for the delivery. Our midwife then called the on-call midwife to have her come for the delivery, which is standard procedure.
Remember what I said about ‘what’s all the fuss of a natural labour’? I get it now. The last part was hard. Really hard. I was labouring on my knees in the tub and had everyone around me for support. It’s important that the water be around body temperature for the delivery so Adam was coming back and forth dumping pots of hot water into the tub. The contractions were almost one on top of the other and it was after midnight so I was tired. The baby felt so low and I kept asking my midwife if I could push but she said I would know when it was time. Sure enough, just after 1am during the next contraction my body pushed all on its own. I couldn’t believe the difference and how naturally it happened.
The midwives came around the tub and still while on my knees, my body pushed with each contraction. I know the saying goes that childbirth is a gift but let’s be honest…the gift is that we instantly forget the level of pain that we endured. Pushing this child out was an out of body experience for me. I remember trying to climb out of the tub and reassuring everyone that this wasn’t actually going to happen.
Eventually, my midwife had me sit down, leaning back and I felt much stronger. With one big push, the baby’s head was out and I could reach down to feel him. Two more big pushes and he was here! He came up on my chest right away and after a few minutes, Adam cut the cord. Another beautiful, healthy baby boy had arrived and we were instantly in love. Hallelujah and welcome, Jude Joseph Robert O’Rourke!
Note: Over the weekend, I will share about our experience with home birth. Please comment below if you have any questions you would like answered!