Whole Mamas Program Director Stephanie Greunke welcomed her second son in October of 2016. Both mama and baby are doing great! After delivering her first son, Otto, at home with a water birth, Steph wanted to have the same exhilarating experience with Leo. In her own words, here is Steph’s second birth story.
I fully understand that I was blessed with the ability to have another successful home birth. Even with doing “all the right things,” there could have been a need to go to a hospital and I would have been completely okay with that, if it resulted in a safer situation for me and my baby. I would have had my midwife/doula with me at the hospital, so they could advocate for me and help me make the best decisions.
I’m not writing this to make anyone feel bad about their personal birth choices, but simply to share my story for other moms interested in this option and for my friends/family who want to hear the story. Since I was completely in the dark about how home births worked, nor had I heard any success stories from friends/family, I want to provide this story for those who know or trust me.
There’s always a risk that comes with home births, so please understand that there are some conditions and reasons why a home birth wouldn’t be the best choice for you. Make sure you work with skilled midwives/practitioners that can help you understand your personal situation and if this option would work for you.
Past My Due Date
There I was, past my due date (again!), impatiently waiting for the arrival of my second son. He had dropped and was engaged in my pelvis weeks before my “due date,” so the fact that I was over my “due date” completely blew my mind. I was certain he was coming around 36 weeks, so I stopped my moderate exercise routine (4 days a week of BirthFit) and stuck to daily walks.
I rested more and did everything I could to keep Leo in until he was at least full term. I guess it worked. We all know how unreliable “due dates” are—only about 5% of women actually give birth on their “due date” and the date can be off by many weeks—but there’s something about that date that can make a pregnant woman go crazy.
My estimated “due date” was even more unreliable since I only had two cycles before I conceived and they were both 30+ days. I also opted out of a first-trimester ultrasound, so my “due date” was more of a best guess than it usually is.
I was more than okay letting Leo pick his due date. I was comfortable, getting good sleep, hanging out with my family who was visiting from Florida, and enjoying the final moments as a family of three. Otto was getting tons of extra snuggles and attention, so he certainly didn’t mind the delay.
BUT, I was frustrated that I wasn’t feeling any signs or symptoms of labor. Every now and then I would get abdominal/menstrual-like cramps, but that was it. This was also the case with Otto. I had no signs or symptoms and then BAM! at 11 PM the night of his labor things got real, FAST.
Leading up to the birth
A few days leading up to my “due date” I had false hopes that things would happen on random nights. One day a bunch of friends sent me similar text messages saying they thought it would be that night.
Another day, I started feeling really “off.” When my “due date” passed, I told myself to relax and stop anticipating the day. I told myself it would happen within the next two weeks, instead of that night. That helped.
If things didn’t progress by 41 weeks, I’d look into natural induction strategies like massage therapy and acupuncture.
The Night of Leo’s Birth
Everything was normal the night of October 10th. I had been forcing myself to go to sleep by 9 PM, just in case he decided to come in the middle of the night (which I was sure would be the case). My husband put Otto to bed and off I went to sleep.
12:30 PM – 1:00 AM
I woke up around 12:30 AM and had to go to the bathroom. After I was done, I noticed menstrual-like cramps and had a feeling something else had happened (bloody show). Sure enough, there it was.
Now, normally without any other signs of labor this may not be a big deal. It could still be awhile before the baby shows up, but since the bloody show happened within hours of Otto’s birth, I felt the need to contact my midwife and doula, especially since they live 30 – 60 minutes away.
My doula and midwife asked if I was having any contractions and I wasn’t. I felt silly for contacting them before contractions set in, but my instincts told me that I needed to let them know. Maybe because Otto came pretty fast (his labor was about 6 hours) and they were expecting a fast birth with this one or maybe because my body knew it was ready.
I told my doula and midwife that I wasn’t having any contractions, they told me to rest and to contact them as soon as the contractions began. Within minutes of laying down, the contractions began and were about seven minutes apart. I got my husband up and told him that it was happening. It was such an exciting feeling!
I wasn’t scared because I trusted my birth team and body. I was purely excited to meet Leo. When I told my midwife/doula that the contractions were seven minutes apart, I’m sure they weren’t in a rush to get there and figured it would be a while. I thought differently and requested that they head over.
I immediately ran to my kitchen to bake, since that’s my “thing” when I’m in labor! Who doesn’t find comfort in the smell of freshly baked treats? I pretty much never bake, but this is something I really enjoy doing during early labor. It helps get my mind off of contractions and calms me down. I turned on Pandora and started making gluten-free chocolate chip muffins in my laboring outfit while I waited for my midwife and doula to come. I would stop during each contraction and sway, focusing on my breath.
The contractions went from every seven minutes to every five minutes. Once my doula arrived (about 30 minutes later), they went from every five minutes to every three minutes. Surprisingly, during that time I was able to joke around and dance. My doula heated a rice pack and tied it around my waist to help with the contractions. We were having a great time, but things would be speeding up again real soon!
Concerned about the muffins? Don’t worry, my husband kept an eye on them for me at this point. That was the last thing on my mind…
What happened next? Stay tuned for Part 2! Do you have a birth story to share? We would love to hear it! Email us at [email protected]