and then we were four: a birth story in words.

I wanted to write this down exactly as I remember it, which may or may not be exactly how it happened. I wanted to share this before I saw the video of that day, which I know I will treasure always and will share with you soon. This is how I recall the days leading up to and including the day that Niara was born.

. . .

I was born at the start of December and Noelani came at the end of December. Anthony was born at the start of August, so it seemed very circular that Niara might come at the end of that month. But Thursday, August 31st came and went with no sign of our second child’s arrival.  That day my co-workers threw me the sweetest surprise baby shower, complete with gifts and food and lots of laughs. That same day my sister and Noelani arrived back in town from a quick trip to Disney World for my nephew’s birthday. I hoped they would both be present for Niara’s birth so I was relieved when they returned and baby had not made her appearance yet.  On Friday, September 1st, I went to work as usual and saw my last scheduled patient, on the last possible day before Niara’s guess date. I tied up a couple loose ends at work (mostly signing off on charts and paperwork) and excitedly looked to the the long holiday weekend ahead. Friday evening I had a routine pre-natal visit and baby was doing well and well-positioned. Niara’s guess date was that Monday and all along we had laughed about how ironic it would be to “labor on Labor Day.”

I truly believe babies come when they are suppose to, and at the same time, I think my baby knew that I wasn’t ready for her to arrive until my sister and Noelani were back in town and I had taken care of all my scheduled patients at the hospital. Almost like clockwork, the following evening I noticed my contractions started coming regularly about 10 minutes apart. They weren’t uncomfortable, but this was similar to how Noelani’s birth started so I let my birth team know just in case. Overnight Saturday the contractions seemed to slow down and I could feel Niara kicking towards the from of my belly instead of the side, which made me think maybe she had moved a little overnight. Sunday my midwives came by to check on me, and agreed that baby was in a slightly different position than Friday and the contractions I felt were likely trying to nudge her back in to position. My midwives helped me perform the “Three Sisters” technique and baby got back in to an ideal position. My contractions continued Sunday evening although still not uncomfortable. Overnight we started filling our birth pool and our videographer came by to capture some of our last moments as a family of 3 and some of the preparation before labor started.

But then Monday morning came and things seemed more or less the same.  We updated our birthing team and then went about our day. We walked from our home to downtown (about 2 miles of city walking each way) with stops along the way including a splash park for Noelani. Noe also wanted to visit the library but alas it was closed for Labor Day. We stopped for some spicy Thai food for lunch before heading home. The whole day I still was having contractions but still nothing uncomfortable.  As evening drew on, our chances of having another “guess date baby” seemed less and less likely.  I went to bed comfortable shortly before 11pm which is a little later than usual for me. I played my tracks from the hypnobabies course Anthony and I had taken as I fell asleep. Around 1am I had a contraction that woke me from my sleep. This one was definitely more uncomfortable than the ones the days prior. About 8-10 minutes later I had another one that felt similar. I let Anthony, who was still awake, know, and then I timed the next couple before letting my birth team know that these felt a little different. Unlike the days leading up, it felt like this time, labor was actually here. I spoke to my midwife on the phone and we decided to try and get some rest but to update her as soon as anything changed. Throughout the night the contractions continued to come regularly at 8-10 minute intervals and in between I tried to get some sleep. Towards the later part of the night they were getting stronger and Anthony grabbed a birthing ball for me to use and rubbed my back with each contraction. Around 7:30am Noelani woke up and came over to our bed to say good morning. She thought laying on the birthing ball was a game we were playing. A little after 8am we all went downstairs, greeted my sister good morning and let her know that things had changed a little overnight. My midwife called around 8:30am and I let her know that the contractions were getting more intense but still about 8-10 minutes apart.  We decided she would come by to check on me that morning around10:30am. Right after I got off the phone with her I had a series of contractions that were 4 minutes apart each. I let my birthing team know that things had changed and my midwife made her way to me right away.

Right around 9am my midwife and videographer arrived. Contractions were coming strong and consistently about every 4 minutes now. The most comfortable position for me was still laying across the birthing ball as the contractions came and then resting off it in between (this was the same for Noelani’s birth actually). With each contraction I now felt pressure on my bottom, which was relieved by Anthony applying counter-pressure to my lower back. As each wave came, Anthony reminded me of my hypnobabies cues for “peace” and to “release” and my midwife reminded me to relax the tension in my face. Noelani was unfazed and coloring pictures next to me with my sister (her tita). At 10:02am my water broke and I felt a relief of some pressure but also suddenly felt the urge to push.  I made my way to our birth pool and with the next contraction I knew baby was crowning and would be here soon. One more push and her head was out at 10:19am. I waited for the next contraction as my midwife reminded me that my body knew exactly what to do and when. The next contraction came a few minutes later (although Anthony claims her head was out for “at least 10 minutes before the next push!”) and she was fully out at 10:23am.  Anthony caught her and passed her to me and when I rested her on my chest she immediately lifted her head to try to look around. We rested together in the pool for a little while with proud daddy and big sister looking on affectionately. After we got out of the water, we just enjoyed the time together for the first time as a family of four. Daddy cut her cord and Noelani sang her happy birthday. She and daddy both held her skin-to-skin and Noelani was the loving big sister I imagined she would be. Niara was 7 lbs 14 oz and 21 inches of complete perfection.

It all happened as I had envisioned in my head — she would be born in the water and daddy would catch her; it would be morning time with the sunlight coming in through the windows and Noelani would be there and she wouldn’t be scared; everyone who I wanted would be there, including my sister, my videographer, and my midwife (who was actually 41 weeks pregnant herself the day Niara arrived!) Whether it’s true or not, I feel like I manifested  her birth into existence. Niara, we are so happy that you are here!

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. . .

Check back soon for a birth story in motion. Until then, here is an iPhone photo ❤

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