This is the freebirth story of Farren Mae. If you’re unfamiliar with freebirth or even homebirth, I feel the need to warn you that it’s messy and littered with terms that you might not be too comfortable with.
Freebirth is the process of birthing without a doctor or midwife. It’s based around the belief that birth is a relatively uneventful, normal process & is heavily focused on having a lot of trust in your body & your baby & it was the path we decided very early on would be the way for us. You can read more about our decision to freebirth here.
Friday night (May 3rd) had wrapped up my 42nd week. I had been having prodromal labor now for weeks on end, just like with the girls. I even joked early on that I didn’t think I would be pregnant much longer. I’d been saying this from around 37 weeks. Lets all take a moment to laugh amongst ourselves.
I had been done. Me, I mean. Baby… not so much. And that was ok. I was determined to let her cook as long as she felt needed. Not to say it wasn’t hard. I was heavy, my knees ached from the weight gain, I was sick to death of the constant pee breaks but I was determined.
I was pitted against talks of induction on a daily bases. It seemed the world was not content to let me be pregnant anymore. And so we had that talk, husband and I: “How long is too long?”
We had picked a day: 43 weeks and 3 days. But it was still only a day to revisit the subject of more natural induction methods. It wasn’t even an ultimatum date. Determined… like I said.
I wanted to stand as a testament to patience. That woman like me DID indeed exist because let me tell you, I sought them out and they were few. Fist bump to my “late cookers”.
Anyhow… this is supposed to be a birth story not a “I was pregnant forever” story. Moving on.
BIRTHSTORY: Friday night I go to bed at 42 week’s end making the same exact statement I had been making since 40 weeks- “I don’t want to wake up pregnant anymore.” I go to bed and have more prodromal labor only, whats this? a little more painful than usual? Oh it’s all in my head. I’m going to be pregnant forever. Remember?
I wake up that morning, still pregnant, cursing the day. For the last few months since become unemployed, hubby had been taking the girls out of the room (we all bedshare) upon waking to allow me to get in some extra hours of sleep (my Lola still wakes up very frequently in the middle of the night). This morning was no different. He took the girls out and I went back to bed. This was about 6:30am. I laid in bed tossing and turning trying to find that sweet spot. Every time I’d thought I’d found it, a contraction. So to keep my mind from going to prodromal hell I decided to start timing them. Just for fun.
Every 6-7 minutes. Interesting. And they felt bitey. Curiouser still. So I sent The Guy a text telling him something strange was a foot. Any attempts at sleeping in at this point were futile so I got up. The Guy cooked me a large breakfast and we decided to load up the kids for a quick trip to the grocery store for possible provisions. I was still convinced I’d be able walk these badboys off.
In the car I was caught with a contraction I actually had to focus on breathing through. “Oh wow so you’re like… really in this?” Too afraid to fall for it again I laughed it off.
I continued to time them and they continued to be patterned. Every couple of isle, contraction. We gathered milk for the girls, snacks for the event, some flowers for an arrangement, coconut water for hydration… This was totally happening!
We got home and got right to work. My mother in law who’d been staying with us up until this point took the girls outside to play while I arranged a bouquet for the room and bake up some brownies for after baby. The Guy went into a whole new place.
Everything had been moved to the room so what little I saw of my guy was in flashes. He was in a total frenzy, talking a million miles an hour, zipping in and out of the room with questions & supplies. It was incredibly adorable.
After getting the flowers arranged & the brownies baked, I decided it was time to get settled into the room to get ready for the job ahead. The next time I would leave our room I would have a baby in my arms.
I laid an extra sheet over a towel over a large chux pad & I attempted to nap but couldn’t. I was just too excited so I decided to snap my last bumpdate, get into something more comfortable, get my birth playlist rockin’, and do a little dancing. It was started to get a little heavy but I still wasn’t sure if it was “birth pool heavy” so I texted my doula Cassie and asked her what she thought. I was very much relieved when she gave me a green light. This was about 1pm.
I had a small moment of doubt when things started to feel a bit intense so I started vocalizing through some contractions, to test the waters. It felt great. The Guy laid in bed as I draped over the edge and moaned between conversation. I was able to pull myself in for a short period of time with the strangest visualization: I was Spawn. The pain was my transformation. I would take it on like armor to become stronger, more ready, more focused. It worked for a good while. When that didn’t work I would vocalize. “You should make more of those noises because… they’re kinda sexy.” My husband.
After a while the sexy noises changed and none of my measures of comfort were doing the trick. I begged for Joey to hold my hands and was thrown into a new kind labor. I lost all concept of time at this point. I tried to get a feel for where I was and could still my cervix at about 4cm (maybe) but I could also feel baby’s head about a knuckle deep PROGRESS WAS HAPPENING!
This new labor started with contractions that had me in growls. I apologized to my husband for being so loud & scaring him. I remember telling him I was trying my best to keep it low. I was terrified of scaring him or worse, the babies in just the other room. He encouraged me to go with it. “Get angry baby!” It worked.
I began to let go as contractions grew more and more intense. I began to wonder if I was going to be able to handle what was in store for me. I started thinking about the twin’s birth and how incredibly intense it was. I was hit with the overwhelming fear that this was only the beginning of a labor I would be in no condition to handle. Looking back it was text book transition thinking.
(side note: it was at this point where my birth playlist had ended and instead of looping back around it began to play whatever was on my ipod which happened to be Gwen Stephani’s Holla Back Girl, in the middle of a strong contraction that I lost my shit & begged Joey to just “turn it off! TURN IT OFF! TURN IT THE FUCK OFF!” Needless to say I’ll never hear that song the same way again)
My largest internal battle was fighting the urge to tense up. Knowing this would cause my labor to be harder and more stretched out, it was a battle I lost during my last labor. But this my labor. In my home. With my husband as my comfort measure. Armed with the ability to labor as I pleased I was in a much better place to mentally get myself in order. However… I’m still me. I am the kind of person who if I’m not full on resisting, I’m pushing and that was exactly what I started doing.
I was worried I was doing something wrong. “I shouldn’t be pushing yet. I’m doing this wrong.” was my first thought but I couldn’t fight it and it felt so much better than resisting so I rolled with it. I would push whenever the contractions were too intense and growl like a warrior. It was incredible and intense and overpowering, all in one.
The last time I had labored like this I fought the start of each contraction with a “NO! NO! NO!” I didn’t want to make that same mistake. I was determined to take on each contraction, one at a time. To take a breathe and enjoy the moments in between contractions. Instead of heading them with fear.
“One contraction at a time. One contraction at a time. One contraction at a time.”
That was my affirming chant between contractions. I would pant it out each time a contraction would end & husband would encourage me as well. During the contraction I let myself go: I became totally & completely primal with growling, screaming, gritting my teeth & baring down on my lower half. I stopped worrying about being loud and just let myself do whatever it was that offered any amount of relief and primal screaming was it for me. I channeled my best Spartan Mother.
A few times I would cry out & wither. “I don’t want to do this anymore” & husband would assure me I could do it. I began to wonder if I would ever hit transition because each contractions end I would ask myself if I felt like I could handle another one & each time I felt like maybe I could. “This is not transition thinking though. I shouldn’t be able do this anymore.” The concept of where I was in labor was lost on me.
Side note: Husband knew it was transition. “I read transition can last about 30 minutes. That’s an episode of The Office. Want me to recite one?” We’d been watching a lot of Office reruns to help pass the end of pregnancy so it was really sweet. Even if I turned it down.
The end of transition had me squeezing husband’s hands while the rest of me from the hips down was struggling to run away. I had had enough. I shot up to stand in the birth pool and begged husband to just hold me. I just wanted to crawl into his arms & have him hold me tight. I decided I had had enough of the water. I wanted out.
I got out still holding onto Joey when another contraction rocked me. Not knowing what to do I stepped up on the step stool outside the tub, still clinging to husband, & just sort of swayed. This felt by far better than just laying or squatting in the water so I rolled with it.
When they say switch positions to help ease labor pains, they aren’t kidding. Work with your body & move around until something, anything, feels better.
I would contract & lunge downward. Go up, contract, & lunge downward. I did this several times while husband (in many cases with zero support from me) held me up. We would squat & rise together in perfect harmony. It was beautiful.
Until my bag of waters popped all over his crotch & landed in a nice warm splash at our feets. HIGH FIVE FOR BIRTH MESS!
Problem was I had no plans on birthing outside of the pool. I’m a cancer, a natural water sign & a total water lover. This was supposed to be my element. Therefor, like all things pregnancy & birth related, I was totally unprepared to birth on land. We had a few towels making a path between the pool and the bathroom so that I wouldn’t track water or slip but little else between myself & our carpets.
I checked the towels for color. Everything looked normal. Or didn’t it? It was pink. Was it supposed to be pink? Did I have time to Google it? How did I not know what color amniotic fluids should or shouldn’t be?! It’s not brown though so… phew. All is ok. Right? Another smaller contraction & then something different. Very different.
I could feel mass amounts of pressure behind my pubic bones & then contracting stopped. It was quiet. I squatting really low telling Joey I just wanted to feel around a bit. I kept reaching behind me & in front & felt nothing. I think she was ascending & descending at this point because when I actually reached UP inside I felt mass. Again, I still had no concept of where I was in labor. My initial thought was it was my uterus falling out (seriously… my uterus… falling out). Was I really that close to being done? It didn’t take long before it dawned on me that it was a head & that I was really, really close to the end.
I was about to meet my baby! I was actually doing this. I was actually about to have a baby on my bedroom floor.
I told husband I wanted to push a little. I asked him to keep an eye out for baby while I focused on holding myself together to keep from over stretching while he maybe caught the baby. I could feel her crowing & something of a ring of fire so I stopped. I pushed her head back up a little via my upper vaginal area (that’s surprisingly the first time I’ve used the word “vaginally” in this story. Bully for me). On my hand was some blood. Husband looked at me & I quickly assured him this was perfectly normal. That everything was fine. I was energetic & ready.
I pushed when I felt like it & could feel her descending lower & lower. I stopped trying to stop her from coming out on her own & figured the head was more or less past the widest point. “Her head it out. And she’s facing backwards!” I’m not sure why he felt compelled to tell me this except maybe he had heard me mention the significance of baby facing the butt & positioning & good gut flora & vitamin k & all that other random birthy goodness.
It took one more push before baby & all surrounding blood & fluid to come out in one fell swoosh. She was covered in vernix which made me feel great. She had needed that extra time after all! I started rubbing her back & head & feet. She hadn’t made any noises still so I flipped her over & as we noted together at once, baby was a SHE! Another GIRL!!!!
I kept talking to her & rubbing & after what felt like the longest minute of my life, a squeaky cry. I held her tight & kissed her warm head & rubbed her on my cheeks. It was just us. I wasn’t even sure what husband was doing in that moment. After a little bit I asked him to get his mom, to assure her all was well & to check on the girls really quick. I had noted that all throughout my labor, I was always incredibly aware of them being close by. It was comforting & relaxing to know this. I’m glad we decided to have them stay during labor.
Mother in law came in & right away she was all smiles. She said she had gotten worried when all went silent & that she was holding her breathe just waiting to hear a baby’s cry. She was delighted to see us sitting on the floor, on cloud 9.
I managed to migrate myself & baby to the bed. Husband had been a bit concerned with the amount of blood I was losing so he had me take some Shepard’s Purse while I looked up blood loss pictures from our facebook group’s library, to reassure him (& myself) that all was ok. I kept having to tell him I felt fine.
There were a few attempts at getting baby girl to take the breast but she wasn’t really interested so we just laid together talking, waiting for the placenta to detach. We stayed like this for nearly 2 hours before I decided I wanted to get cleaned up. My thought was that the placenta was pretty much already there. It just needed some gravitational assistance. I had hubby push the bowl under me while I slowly lifted up off the bed and sure enough, it all came out in one motion. It was pretty funny to watch Husband look away for a brief second before regaining his motion.
After a quick check of the placenta to make sure it was all intact I tied off the cord at baby’s base & had husband cut it. We were free! We took baby’s weight & measurements & made our way to the bathroom.
We drew ourselves an herbal bath and just laid in the tub together. It was there she decided to eat. After a short period she fell asleep. It was the most peaceful experience of my life.
After cleaning up baby a little I handed her off to daddy so I could grab a quick shower to wash up & check for tears. Everything looked good.
And I had another baby girl!
The whole process of handling all my own prenatal care & birthing all on my terms has given me a whole new respect for my body. It was an incredibly healing process after 2 previous hospital births that left me scared & in doubt. I’ve never felt more empowered in all my life. I had done it! I had grown a baby & birthed her with little more than a good man’s love & support. I can’t imagine a more amazing way to bring a child into this world. It was single handedly the easiest, most hardest thing I’ve ever done & I couldn’t be more proud of this accomplishment.
24 hours later I cut up the placenta for a quick smoothy (banana, orange, & apple juice with ice & I seriously could NOT taste the placenta at all) & dehydrated the rest for pills. It was the easiest thing in the world to do & I love those pills.
5 days later her cord stump fell off.
6 days later we finally settle on a name that we both loved & that fits her: Farren Mae.
She’s the most amazing little human being. She’s watchful & sweet & incredibly cuddly. I couldn’t be luckier that chance brought her to us when it did.
I can’t imagine a better way to end my childbearing years.
Thank you Farren Mae. For choosing me to be your mommy.
And thank you Joey for being my pillar. Literally. I love you more than words could ever explain. Never once did you doubt me. Never once did you question my strength or my courage. Never once did you fail me. I could never say thank you enough for believing in me. You did amazing. We did amazing!