The miracle of our second born son, Jesse, really begins back in 2018 when my husband, Eddie, and I decided we wanted to grow our family again. Jude was just about 2 and we felt ready to try for another baby. After getting pregnant, announcing it to our family and of course being very excited, we unfortunately lost that second soul at about 10 weeks pregnant. It was a traumatic miscarriage for me, with a hospital stay, D&C operation and blood transfusion. I came out of it very weak, and very sad. My father was in the hospital at the same time and my grandma (whom I was close with) passed away just a few weeks later. It was a dark end to 2018. I spent most of 2019 starting and building Nourish Farm, but also focusing on getting my body and my heart built back up and healthy. I focused on taking more time for me, eating very well, and making sure I was in a good place spiritually. It was a lot of work, there were a lot of tears and questions, but it was also so beautiful and full of so much light and SO MUCH learning.
Our first year farming and doing our CSA program ended and we went on our long awaited December 2019 trip to Costa Rica! It was such an amazing time of relaxation and sweet family memories. It was on that trip that we bought a pregnancy test at the local farmacia and found out we were expecting another baby! It took me a while to actually believe it, because of how long we had been waiting for this babe. A year and a half had passed since we first decided we wanted another baby. It was a beautiful and powerful pregnancy, and I learned to trust my instincts and listen to my motherly intuition so much more than I ever had. My faith in the Lord grew and my faith in myself and my body grew.
Since my first birth with Jude was a planned homebirth that ended up in a non-emergent cesarean at the hospital (you can read that story here), I was doing everything possible to prevent that from happening again. I was planning a home birth after cesarean, and had chosen a team of women that I believed would support me beautifully in getting there.
If you'd like to skip reading and just WATCH THE VIDEO, head on down to the very bottom.
So let's get into the day of the birth...
I woke up from another fairly good’s night sleep around 3 am on Wednesday morning (41 weeks pregnant) with one of my usual practice contractions. I had been having them throughout every day for the last 4 weeks and each week they would start getting a bit stronger and more consistent. The few days before his birth they had started to get even more consistent and each day I would get excited thinking, “maybe today is the day!” By Tuesday, I was so tired of thinking that, that I finally just said “forget it, I’m not getting my hopes up anymore…he’ll come when he comes.” And Tuesday was a pretty perfect day for our family. Although, pretty much every day those last few weeks of pregnancy were pretty perfect.
As Eddie’s alarm for work went off, I could tell my contractions were starting to get stronger and they were definitely consistently coming on now. I also noticed my waters were leaking, which was a for sure sign that labor was getting started. I asked him to help me set up the birth tub before he left for work, so we could get that taken care of. Jude was still snoozing away of course. Then Eddie left for work around 4:30am.
I went back to my room, drank water, bounced on my ball and watched an episode of "Parks & Rec" on Netflix to just relax and get some laughs in. I had had a good night’s rest so far, so I didn’t feel like sleeping, plus I probably wouldn’t have fallen asleep anyways. Eventually I got up and made myself some coffee and ate my morning fruit. I did some tidying up around the house, and made sure things were kind of set up how I wanted them for labor. I text my doula around 6:45am and told her “I think today is the day!” At that point my contractions were about 5-7 minutes apart, but still easy to manage. I told Eddie I thought he should come home from work since things were starting to gear up.
Jude woke up and we went outside to do our usual animal chores. We walked through the dewy grass of our field hand in hand, him chattering away and me knowing this was the last time we’d do this by ourselves together for a while. We let the chickens out of the coop and said hi to the sheep, then walked back. I had a couple contractions while walking and it felt nice to be out in the cool of the day before it turned into another hot Central Valley summer day. I made myself a delicious breakfast of fried eggs, sourdough toast & tomatoes while Jude watched some cartoons.
Once Eddie got home, we both just got really excited together, like “ok this is really it! We’re about to do this. This baby has finally decided to come out!” I told him he’s in charge of Jude now because I wanted to go back to my sacred space of my bedroom. I put in my headphones and turned on my “Sacred Birth” playlist, put my rebozo around my shoulders and sat on my ball. I was flowing with it all and it felt so nice. I decided I should let my photographer know, so I called her between contractions and she started getting ready to head our way. She lives 3 hours away, so I wanted to make sure she got here in time, but also didn’t want her to come early and have to sit around too much. We ended up timing it pretty perfectly. This little baby just timed everything so wonderfully, he’s so thoughtful.
Jenn my doula showed up around 11 am and eventually asked if she could come into my bedroom space just to check in. She was very sensitive and careful when she entered, as not to “bother me,” which she didn't at all, but I really appreciated her being so respectful. After a few minutes of us chatting, she went back out to the living room and hung out with Eddie and Jude while I continued to flow with labor in the bedroom. I went out now and again to walk around a little, get more water or snack on watermelon.
Eventually, things progressed and got a bit more intense, then they kind of petered out. I started to notice the contractions get a bit weaker and space out more. I got confused and started walking around, trying to get things going. After a bit, I started to psyche myself out a bit- I started to get really nervous that I was stalling again and something bad was going to happen. “What if this isn’t going to work again?” “What if I stall again?” “What if this labor goes on forever?” I got a bad feeling inside me and totally messed with the good vibes I had going all morning long.
I decided I needed to try and snap myself out of it! I put on a song that had really made me feel empowered during the end of my pregnancy, “Three Sisters” by Beats Antique & Tatyana Kalmykova. I still had my headphones in and was in our bedroom, so I was the only one who could hear it. I let it flow over me and just danced and moved and tried to let all my fears, doubts and worries out. I probably listened to it like 5 times. I started to feel better and was giving myself a good pep talk in my head. “You are powerful Nicole!” “You can do this!” “You’re body and your baby are doing this!” I just wanted to tap into my power again and feel it.
I thought if I talked to Jenn about it, she might have some insight as well, so I asked her to come back into my room with me. I told her what I was feeling, how I felt like things slowed down and I was getting worried something was “wrong”. She listened so wonderfully and then suggested that I might be at the place in my labor that I got to when I stalled with Jude. The place where we had to transfer to the hospital when I was in labor with Jude. I was about 7 or 8 cm dilated when I got to the hospital with Jude, right before or starting transition pretty much. I had thought the same thing in my head and hearing Jenn say it confirmed to me that this was for sure what was happening. She said maybe my body just needed, and wanted, to give me a moment to catch up and know that yes it’s ok to move forward with this labor, we are safe and we can do this. I sat on my ball while she was talking and then just started crying and releasing the rest of my fears and doubts about this labor and birth. It was a release I couldn’t possibly have done any other time, except for right then, at that moment, exactly when my body and mind needed me to. It felt so good to let it all out.
I told Jenn I would like some touch, and asked if she could massage my neck and shoulders. She gave me a beautiful massage with some lovely oils and it really helped me to relax back into the flow of labor and finish letting go of those worries that I had. Within 20-30 minutes, my contractions started up much stronger and longer and I needed Eddie to come in and help support me too. I laid on the bed on my side while Jenn put pressure on my hips and rubbed my back and Eddie laid in front of me, encouraging me and holding my hands. My noises started to get deeper and lower and I knew we were back in it.
After a while, I asked if the birth pool was ready because I felt like some warm water would feel amazing. Jude was still napping and the house was quiet. I walked through the house to the pool, with the help of Eddie. Sinking my body into the warm water felt glorious. The contractions were a bit more manageable in the water, but after a while I felt like I just couldn’t find a comfortable position to rest in there. My lower back/sacrum area just felt like it was opening up and the sensations were so intense back there.
Jenn said she believes I was transitioning while I was in the water because the contractions were long and only 2 minutes apart for the hour I was in there. Jude woke up from his nap while I was in the pool. He came over and gave me a kiss and then wanted to be by me the whole time. He was giving me water to drink and holding my hand, it was so sweet. I’m so glad he was there for all of it, it means so much to me, and I believe was a huge help in his transition from only child to big brother.
While I was in the pool, the midwives arrived. Jenn went outside and kind of was the gate keeper, de-briefing them before they came inside. She had asked me earlier if I wanted her to let them know they could come in now, and I agreed. I knew I was getting close to the end and I was ok with them showing up. Once they got inside the house, it wasn’t an issue with me at all. I was so far into my body, that their presence didn’t mess with me or my flow (something I had worried about prior to the labor). Brooke took my blood pressure once and listened to the baby, she was very calm and quiet and talked to me before she did anything. I was totally fine with it all.
After about an hour, I just needed to get out. All I wanted to do was rest. Eddie helped me up and out, gave me a towel and led me back to the bedroom, Jenn followed. I got down on my hands and knees at the end of the bed for a bit, but just couldn’t find a good position. Then I got up onto the bed, laid on my right side, got a peanut ball between my legs, and just rested. The contractions started to space out and I pretty much slept between them. It felt so good. The feelings were very intense but it was more of an intense inner movement than an outer feeling of pain. I could feel the baby moving down while I laid there.
It was probably about 5:30pm by now and all of a sudden I just needed to poop. I got up and walked to the toilet in our room, and my body just decided to clean out. It was an intense, uncontrollable clean-out. I needed Eddie in front of me so I could put my arms up around his neck and just let everything fall out from below. After all the poo came out, my body started getting even stronger pushing waves. I started to feel that “throw-up out your butt” feeling and it was powerful! I stayed on the toilet for 30 minutes to an hour maybe and after a while had to get up because my legs were falling asleep.
I crawled over to the side of our bed and that’s where I stayed until the baby came out. Jenn asked if she could invite the midwives to come into the room since the baby would probably be making his or her entrance soon. I agreed, barely conscious to this world. I continued to let the pushy contractions take over me and tried not to hold my body back. I was leaning over the bed with my knees on the floor, Eddie to my left, Brooke to my right and Jenn up on the bed holding my hands. She gave me my rebozo to stick my face in when I was resting, which felt so safe and comforting. Then after a bit she took the rebozo, wrapped it behind her back and gave me both ends to hold onto. With each wave I would pull and moan and growl and roar and feel my body and and baby working with every fiber and cell to push this baby out.
Eddie told me afterwards that he could see every vein in my body popping out, from my belly to my arms, to my legs. He could see every muscle tightening during those waves, as my body worked to push this child out. He made it sound so powerful and beautiful & it made me realize that this experience was almost as important for him as it was for me. As Jesse started to make his way down the canal, it started to burn; it felt as if my body was opening in half, almost tearing, like it couldn’t possibly happen without completely destroying me, but then I told myself your body can do this and IS DOING THIS! I kept saying “Roooooo,” who is one of our sheep, the alpha female and b.a. mama that I wanted to channel during this birth. Then I remembered “mine & Jesse’s song,” and started humming the tune to “The Blessing” by Kari Jobe and smiling and swaying. I kept reminding myself, “you are about to meet this baby Nicole!” “this pain is bringing this baby about - that you have waited for 2 years for!”
He started to crown a little and then would slide back up, and oh what relief when he went back in. Then on the next contraction he would crown again. I remember saying “it hurts so bad!” And all three ladies - Jenn, Lucinda & Brooke, saying “we know, it’s ok, you’ve got this.” I just felt so much comfort in that moment knowing all three of these wise women around me knew EXACTLY what I was talking about, and had walked through this fire before. Eddie was continuing to whisper encouragement and empowering words into my ear, Brooke would encourage me quietly, now and then, in my other ear. Every now and then she would listen to the baby with the doppler. No one suggested I do anything or asked me to move, they all just surrounded me and made me feel safe and like I was doing perfectly fine.
At last, he crowned and when the contraction was over, he didn’t go back up, he stayed right there…that’s when I knew, I need to get you out, I don’t want that feeling anymore and I’m ready to hold you! On the next pushing wave, I added just a bit more to it myself (which I hadn’t been doing the whole time) and his entire body slid out onto the floor. I gave a gasp and excited yell and saw him laying there! I picked him up (not yet knowing it was a him) and just said “oh my baby, my baby” (I can barely remember what I said, it all seems like a dream). After a minute, I asked Eddie to check what “it” was; he looked and said surprisingly, “IT’S A BOY!” I was shocked! I totally thought we were having a girl, a girl named Jessie.
He was sooo warm and slippery and beautiful. I saw the cord and how gorgeous and amazing it looked, just knowing that he was connected to me through that cord this whole time was so magical. Jude was RIGHT there along with everyone else, and saw it all. After a few minutes of just sitting there, basking in the glory of it all, I slowly got up with the help of a few people and laid on our bed. I cuddled him close and just looked at his face, Jude came over and met his little brother. He touched his brother and the cord and was a little nervous about it I think, but really handled everything so amazingly. The midwives were checking my bleeding and my abdomen to make sure all was ok. The placenta came about 25 minutes later and felt so good coming out. I was having some after pains, but they weren’t too bad. Holding Jesse close helped me not to be bothered by them.
The rest of the night is a bit of a blur, talking to Jude and talking to Eddie, getting a few stitches and looking at the placenta, the photographer getting some last shots…I know it happened but I feel like it’s a movie I watched and it wasn’t really me. Eddie just kept saying over and over again, “I knew you could do it!” “You are amazing!” “I’m so proud of you!” I was quietly reveling in my power and triumph and he was outwardly expressing it, which felt so good to hear from him. I told him not to forget about the chocolate cake and champagne, and he went and got some for us. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a chance to have any, but he enjoyed it for the both of us. All I wanted was a giant bowl of chicken soup that I had made a couple weeks earlier, froze and then thawed out for post-birth. It was so good! So much better than the stale turkey sandwich I got at the hospital after Jude's birth.
This birth surprised me and challenged me in ways I definitely could not have prepared for, AND at the same time, it was exactly the birth I had hoped and prayed for: beautifully instinctual, undisturbed and physiological, spiritual and magical. I know that Jesse was born exactly how he needed to be born, but I also believe that he came in a way that he knew I needed him to come; in a way that fully restored my confidence in my own body as a woman. As I’m writing this, Jesse is nursing peacefully at my breast - which was my other biggest wish, that we would be able breastfeed naturally and easily.
My birthright as a woman (and all women’s birthright) is to birth my child and feed my child in my own power, with my own body, with my own instincts, in a way that feels perfectly right to me. I was able to do that and I will forever be changed. I already feel like a different woman than the woman I was just 2 weeks ago. I did a lot of healing over the past four years, but this powerful birth and this absolutely blissful postpartum is the final piece to my healing puzzle.
I’ll walk forward now as a mother of two, refined by fire, supported by my loves and wise women, absolutely empowered by my birth, rested and healed, ready to embark and continue on the rest of my journey. These two beautiful boys that I call mine, have taught me about unconditional love in a way that you can only learn from having children. I never knew how much motherhood would mean to me, or how deep into my feminine power and far under my Father’s wings I would go as I became a mother twice over. I give thanks to my God who has walked by me and led me through the dark valleys and who is now standing with me on this mountain top.
Photography by Azara Images
I put together a video from the clips we had recorded throughout the last hours of the labor and the birth. I hope you enjoy.
Song in video: Clair de Lune by Flight Facilities