A year ago today, I gave birth to Oliver Michael Jones. It took me a year to share Charlie’s birth story, so why would it be any different this time around? To be honest, in the craziness of having two kiddos now, I’d give myself complete permission to wait until Oliver’s SECOND birthday if it weren’t for the fact that my mind would probably have completely forgotten every detail of his birth at that point. So instead, I’ll go ahead and make this happen!
Oliver definitely kept us guessing. When I was 37.5 weeks along (trying not to expect it but hoping that I would go into labor at 38 weeks just like I did with Charlie), I started having major contractions. All the signs were showing up, to the point that we took Charlie to a friend’s house to spend the night and Caleb and I began getting everything ready at home. Then, we waited. And things tapered off. Late that night, we finally went to sleep, and when I woke in the morning everything had stopped.
We picked up Charlie that morning, went to the park, and when we got home, there was a message from Caleb’s brother. We called him back and he told us that the night before, Caleb’s Grandfather, Pap Pap, had passed away. Pap Pap was incredibly special to all of us and while he had been dealing with health issues as he got older, it was still a shock. We knew then that God had nudged Oliver that it was not yet time for him to arrive, so that we could have some space to mourn the loss of Pap Pap and celebrate the incredible life he lived.
As the next couple of weeks passed, I would get hit with random bouts of intense contractions, but every time I would decide that maybe this was it, they would slow again and space out. Everything was looking good, thankfully, Oliver just couldn’t decide what he wanted to do!!
Finally, on Saturday (June 6th), contractions started again and this time, something just seemed different. I tried not to get my hopes up but I was pretty certain this was it. I would be 40 weeks that Monday and couldn’t believe I was still pregnant. Things were fairly quiet that day, but I cleaned a bit to try and distract myself. I went to bed early, not knowing what to expect.
On June 7th, I woke up at 4am, with things feeling a bit more consistent. I was excited because June 7th was Pap Pap’s birthday, and Caleb and I had talked about how crazy it would be if Oliver waited until that day. I rang the midwife and she came around 5am, checked me, and agreed that this was probably it! She was about to finish her shift and told me she would send another midwife in a couple of hours. Right before the second midwife came, I was timing contractions and they were getting really close together. But in a perfect example of how environment and people can affect the progression of labor, as soon as she came in and started checking me, they stopped. I had never met her before, she was super matter-of-fact (which was fine later but initially came off as a bit rude) and I didn’t feel totally at ease with her. She told me to give her a call when they got closer together again and get some rest in the mean time.
Charlie went to church with a friend of ours and Caleb and I went for a walk. It was a beautiful day and it was really nice to be outside, even though I would end up majorly leaning on Caleb every time I had a contraction. When we got back, I started using the birth ball and some of the exercises on Spinning Babies to try and get Ollie into a good position and hopefully speed up the labor. It worked, and around 7pm, Caleb left to get Charlie from our friend’s house (I was so thankful he was being looked after and having fun) and I called the midwives again. This time, they sent two midwives to stay, along with a midwifery student who happened to be on call for observation. They arrived while Caleb was still out and helped me get the TENS machine wires on. I had never used one before, but they are popular here and I was really glad I had rented one. It’s about the size of a remote control, and has electrodes that are attached to four thin adhesive pads, which you stick to your lower back. When you turn it on, it causes a slight buzz, and when a contraction starts you can push a button to intensify the buzz (kind of like a bunch of grasshopper wings going super fast, if that makes any sense!). It’s a really nice distraction when contractions get intense.
Caleb called to let me know that he and Charlie were on the way, so I had the midwives go “hide” In the kitchen so that Charlie wouldn’t be confused. I sat on the stairs and was able to give Charlie a hug goodnight between contractions, which I was really glad for! I think it helped him settle for bed a lot faster. Once he was asleep, Caleb and the midwives started filling the birth pool. I spent most of the time in the living room on or near the couch, relaxing and going back and forth between the birth ball, or leaning onto a pillow on the couch. I wanted to wait as long as possible before getting in the tub because I felt like I got in too early with Charlie and that was part of what slowed things down with his labor.
Things were getting SUPER intense around 10:30 and I laid on the couch with Tycho turned up really loud in my headphones. I was definitely in the zone, and it was only later that I realized I was definitely in transition at that point. I came out of it a bit, had some popsicles and vitamin water, and when the midwife checked me, I was at 9cm! I was elated and so glad that it was time to get in the tub. I took off the TENS machine pads and got in the water (which Caleb had worked incredibly hard at filling, between using our tiny sink tap and carrying down bins of water from the bathroom). It felt AMAZING. Seriously, hydrotherapy is a wonderful thing. I relaxed in the water and then stood and held onto Caleb in between contractions. It was almost midnight, and I was really hoping that Oliver would be born that day so he could share a birthday with Pap Pap.
The midwife explained the gas and air to me just in case I wanted it. I hadn’t necessarily planned on using it, but had agreed to have it available just in case. She set it up and showed me where to inhale. Then, I had a contraction and my water broke—all of a sudden I was in a totally different zone. I asked for the gas and air, mainly because I wanted to trust my body and not overthink pushing. It worked really well and I was able to relax and let the contractions do all the work. It’s hard to describe, it didn’t really change the pain but just made everything a bit fuzzier around the edges when I was breathing it (probably for a total of 10 minutes or so).
I had Caleb hold my hands/wrists to support me. I couldn’t not push, I felt completely out of control and driven by instinct. After two or three contractions, it was the most intense and I reached down to feel Oliver’s head. Within seconds his head was out! I knew there was a flurry of activity all around me preparing for him, but I just listened to Caleb and to my Midwife. I took some breaths, exhaled slowly and let his body turn while the next contraction came. And just like that, he was out! I kept saying, ‘You’re here! You’re here! You’re finally here!” It was so incredible; he was so soft. It was 12:23am. The student midwife took photos and later I saw that his eyes were open in the water, and he had one hand up to his face (he still loves being able to suck on his hand). I spent some time with him in the tub before they cut his cord. After I got out, I delivered the placenta and then I got all cozy on the couch and nursed Oliver. He latched on perfectly and was so sweet and snuggly. He weighed 6 lbs, 13 oz. Charlie only woke one time; right after I had given birth and there was some commotion, but Caleb was able to get him right back to sleep. He was so excited to meet his brother in the morning and kept saying, “Ol-i-ler came out! Ol-li-ler is out now!”
I was so thankful to be able to have Oliver at home. I felt so comfortable and relaxed the entire time, and I’m so glad that the NHS is supportive of home birth. Taking a shower in my own bathroom and cuddling up with my new baby in my own bed was pretty amazing (although Caleb did all the hard work of putting away the birth pool and getting our kitchen back to normal).
As much as we had hoped that Oliver would share Pap Pap’s birthday date, I’m really happy that he was born on June 8th. He has is own special day, but since he was born in the UK, it was still only 7:23pm in the US. Which means that technically, at the moment he was born, it was still Pap Pap’s birthday. I can’t wait to tell him all of our favorite stories about Pap Pap and how lucky he is to share in his legacy.