The last time I had a baby in January 2020, I only had one other person working for me (shout-out to our amazing customer service manager, Teresa). And since this whole business started out as my personal blog, I was used to blogging about… personal things. Since then our team as grown, our brand has grown, and I tend to keep my personal reflections on my instagram. But as a woman who LOVES to read birth stories on blogs, I cannot resist sharing about Lucille’s birth. Plus one day I don’t want her to say, “why did you share about Frances and not about me!” So in honor of the two month check up she had today (she went from 28th percentile in weight to 78th!) I’ve decided to finally write it out.
A short version of Fran’s birth: 18 hours from first contraction to her arrival, she was born at a birth center in the tub at 40 weeks + 1.
Right around the time that we were trying to get pregnant, our birth center announced that it was going to be closing. I had already been feeling interested in exploring a home birth (I am convinced that the transition from our house to the birth center last time added hours to the laboring experience and caused the baby to flip sunny side up, which resulted in horrific back labor). So with this news, we were excited to know that our midwife, Cindy, was going to be offering home births. I cannot rave enough about how amazing midwives are. Each appointment is an hour long where you can talk about not just the medical part of pregnancy, but also about all the changes happening in our lives. Plus it is family friendly so Fran got to be involved. She was OBSESSED with “docta Cindy” and loved listening to baby’s heartbeat.
Everything was really normal with this second pregnancy until about 34 weeks when my uterus wasn’t growing at the normal rate. I went for an ultrasound and everything seemed okay. But each week, I was not growing and the baby seemed to be measuring small. My anxiety was increasing and now looking back, we realize I was also experiencing perinatal depression. I didn’t even know this was a thing until a few weeks ago. I felt really overwhelmed and hopeless and felt so much guilt for not being excited about the baby coming.
When I was 39 weeks pregnant and still measuring 33, we were all perplexed. The baby was slowly growing, but not at the normal rate. My fluid levels were one away from being too low and needing to go to the hospital. Our midwife was debating between needing to get the baby out OR letting her cook longer. She wanted me to see a maternal fetal medicine doctor, but due to our horrible self employed insurance, we were struggling to get a referral.
At 39+5 (Ash Wednesday), she swept my membranes and we hoped that would move things along. I was already 3cm and she could stretch me to 5. Paul and I went to dinner (my parents had already arrived) and to Trader Joe’s to buy snacks for the birth.
But nothing really happened. I struggled to sleep because I was having very light contractions. I did all the things from Spinning Babies and the circuit.
In the meantime, Cindy showed the numbers to a few different doctors and everyone was in agreement that the baby just needed to be born. Friday was my official due date and we decided that we needed to help her come. If she didn’t come over night we were going to try castor oil on Saturday.
Cindy told me to have a good last meal, get a good nights rest, have a good breakfast, and then take the castor oil. We all went to dinner and got ice cream. Frances seemed like such a big girl and I was so excited that after all of her patience for her baby sis, she was going to get to meet her soon. We went to bed and I slept well. I woke up, had coffee and breakfast, and around 8am I took the castor oil. She suggested mixing it in ice cream to mask the taste and it worked like a charm. Cindy said that IF the baby was not ready to come, the castor oil wouldn’t do anything.
About an hour later, I had to go to the bathroom - castor oil is a laxative. My mom and Fran went to get us breakfast tacos (I ate them almost every day in that last trimester). I enjoyed the tacos and Paul and I watched a movie and rested.
I was having some very mild contractions, but nothing different than the prodromal labor I had been feeling for the last month. And then all of a sudden they changed. I had forgotten what real contractions had felt like and I instantly regretted my home birth decision.
I got in my tub (with Fran the water felt so good), but this time it just wasn’t doing it for me. I put on my hypnobabies soundtracks and tried to relax into the waves. They were already very close together and I was slightly panicked.
Paul called Cindy and told her she better come quickly. There was an IKEA step ladder in our bedroom that I had bought in 2013 for my NY apartment and I wondered why it was in there. But to my surprise it became the thing that helped me the most. I was able to lean over it and move my hips during the waves. They were very intense very quickly and I thought I might die.
Cindy said it probably wouldn’t be long if I was already feeling that way. And I kept saying I didn’t think I could do it.
Paul was trying to set up the inflatable tub in our newly renovated bedroom. There was some miscommunication about the hose that was needed - we did *not* buy one. He called my parents who were out for lunch with Fran and asked them to run to Home Depot. In my head I knew they’d never make it in time, but couldn’t communicate that. I asked to go back in our tub, but halfway through the first contraction, I needed OUT.
I found being on my hands and knees on land was better for me. And then moved to that position in our bed. It was just as good as I imagined - being in our own space.
Cindy and her assistant midwife left the room to let us be alone but then suddenly the contraction was so painful that I screamed - not the moaning of labor, but a “something is wrong” kind of scream. They rushed back in and I laid on my back so she could see what was happening.
The way the baby was positioned was catching the cervix so as she tried to move down, her head was pulling it. She had me lay on my left side with my right leg draped over some pillows to see if it would help the baby get around and in a better position. The next contraction hurt like mad, but I could feel her get around the cervix.
In the moment I knew I needed to push, I saw my brother walk in the house with the hose and I thought to myself “poor guy is about to hear this…” What I didn’t know was that Fran was in her bedroom next door going down for her nap.
The next contraction I pushed and I could feel the baby descending. The break between contractions was longer than it had been and Cindy said that allows me to rest a little longer. She asked if I could let go of Paul’s hand so that he could catch the baby and I said NO. His hand in my hand was essential. I stared in the eyes of Monica, the other midwife who we just met, and I didn’t let go of that eye contact. It was if she was saying “you were made for this.”
With the next contraction, the pushing was involuntary and out slid our perfect baby. Paul cried. I was relieved. She had ten toes and ten fingers. And in the best case scenario, was simply a tiny baby (with a tiny placenta). She had a full head of hair and took right to nursing. And I didn’t tear.
6 pounds 9 ounces and 18.75 inches long
Lucille “Luce” Beatrice Campbell - Lucille after my paternal grandmother and Luce after my maternal great grandmother, Beatrice after a little girl I knew in Brazil named Beatriz. And we say Luce like "luz" in Spanish or "loose" in English.
Active labor was only 2 hours and 45 min. It was HARD work, but it was quick. I didn’t feel completely spent like I had with Frances and it was only 1:25pm so we had the rest of the day to relish in the experience.
In the next hour, Cindy and Monica cleaned me up, boiled the postpartum herbs, did all the baby checks, and picked up our bedroom. It looked just like it had a few hours ago. As they were walking down the hall to leave, we heard Fran cry - awake from her nap. We couldn’t wait for her to meet her sister.
I give the home birth experience a 10/10.
(Buy the Our Lady of Guadalupe Swaddle Blanket here)
Two months out, as I said, we now know I was experiencing both perinatal and postpartum depression. My psychiatrist had recommended lowering my depression medicine dose because I was at the max dosage postpartum from my first birth. I had not paid enough attention to how to affected me. Now back on my old dosage, I am feeling like myself again and have renewed hope and joy (despite the MELTDOWNS of being a working mom of two). So if you’re reading this and are like I was, talk to your doctor or midwife about getting help.