I've been thinking on this post for a while. Trying to decide what to say to reassure all of you mamas who are currently mourning the loss of what you thought your third trimester, welcoming your baby, sharing that special time with family, entering that fourth, magical trimester and being postpartum would look like. I've struggled with so much anxiety, myself. For those who don't know, this is my fifth pregnancy. We adopted our oldest son through the foster care system during the process of trying for our first biological child. It didn't take long and we were expecting, only to be devastated by losing the pregnancy around fifteen weeks with no clear answers as to why. We went on to get pregnant a few months later with a healthy baby boy and have had two more since. Two Christmases ago, while in the process of making the decision to grow our family again or be done having babies, we experienced a very early loss. In that moment, my husband and I both knew that we wanted another and we were all in to begin trying and planning for baby number five. After seven long months without a positive test, my husband was ready to stop. I'ts so emotionally taxing to try month after month and get the same negative result, especially after having such an easy time getting pregnant in the past. A few days after we made the decision to stop trying, I got that positive test. It felt like God was saying, "All I wanted was for you to trust ME. To stop making your own plan and let me work..". Nine months later and, here we are.
I've gone back and forth emotionally this entire pregnancy. One moment feeling such excitement and promise for what the future of our family with this new little one will look like and the next being overwhelmed with such anxiety and fear about bringing him into the world. Going through another unmedicated labor and birth. The recovery and feeling the after effects for longer than the actual labor. I't's all a bit daunting. I know I asked for this. Heck, I BEGGED for it. I wanted another so badly, it was literally beginning to effect our marriage in more ways than one. But, now that I was in the midst of it, past the joyous moment of finding out it was actually going to happen, I was being reminded of all that a woman's body goes through to bring new life into this world. And I was afraid. In the past few months, I've had chats with my midwife, I've prayed daily (multiple times a day) for God to let His peace wash over me and reassure me that He would be with me through it all. I've talked with my husband and close friends about it, and I can finally feel the overwhelming anxiety beginning to wane. I know it will all be alright. The labor and birth part will be hard. Training my mind to let go and trust my body will be hard. Even though I've done it three times before this. It will all be hard. But, that's okay because I know that it won't last forever. I'll have my best friend by my side, my amazing midwife looking after us and making sure all is well and the most loving God there through it all. Now, sitting here with the windows open, listening to the birds sing and knowing God is in control, I can honestly say that I feel such peace about it all. And, now, more than the fear and unknown pieces, I think about meeting him for the first time. Holding him in my arms and feeling his little body on mine. The relief of knowing he's here and he's safe and God orchestrated it all. And I just can't wait.
I wanted to preface this post with these very personal, intimate feelings because I want you to know that it's okay to feel those things. It's okay to be afraid and joyful at the same time. God knows our hearts. And He's ready to bless us, if we just trust Him. Let yourself feel everything you need to feel and then be prepared to let go of anything that isn't serving you. If you're anxious about who you want to be at your birth, pray about it. Don't let unnecessary stress take away from the joy in this birth. Trust your gut, give yourself grace and allow God in. It's in our weakest moments that we can feel him nearest. And he's with you mama.
I also want to share some of the things we've done to prepare for this new babe's homebirth. The supplies we have in order, the things our midwife has suggested to us to have on hand, what's included in our birth kit and a few of the preparations I've made to make those first few days/weeks with a new baby an easier transition for our family. Look for all of that below.
As far as our birth kit goes, our midwife has created a personalized kit for her homebirth clients to order through In His Hands Birth Supply, as most midwives do. It has the most important sanitary items and things she'll use during and after his birth.
Some of those include :
postpartum briefs for mama
peri bottles (a Godsend btw)
an infant tape measure and hat
mattress cover and water birth supplies (should you choose to order those)
among other things..
Then there are things we gather to have on hand on top of those things.
Those things being :
2 sheet sets (one for birth and one for after baby arrives)
gown/t shirt/bra to labor in
gallon ziploc bags
large trash bags
large bottle of hydrogen peroxide
package of depends
I have all of this rounded up and organized in our bedroom, along with the bassinet, moses basket, baby lounger, diapers and blooming bath. I have a bralette, lounge pants and a robe to labor in and one of my favorite nursing gowns ready to wear after birth. For baby, I've got a couple of sweet outfits and bonnets along with a soft swaddle blanket to wrap him in and the cards I made to announce his birth. I plan to toss our linen sheet set into the washing machine pretty much as soon as I'm sure it's time and then they'll be fresh and clean to put on our bed immediately after he's born, whether we use our bed for his birth or not. After I strip them off to wash them, we'll put on the mattress liner and older sheets in case we need our bed during labor/birth. After that, we plan to put together our meal for after his birth. I have all of the ingredients to make a lasagna. It's something that's nice and protein packed and yummy while easy to make and serve. At that point, we'll be focusing on getting through a peaceful labor. I plan to labor/birth in our tub so I've got it all clean and ready to go as well. My goal is to have our boys spend time with both of their grandmas while we're in labor and then they'll be brought back home quickly after baby is born. My experiences with homebirth have been nothing but amazing, comforting, empowering and overall very healing. I love that our baby will be born into the home that he'll be spending the majority of his time in. The love and joy and peace and comfort that we strive to fill it with make it that much better of a place for him to be born. The germs that are there are the ones that will be present as he grows, he won't be exposed to anything unnecessary or unwanted and we get to be free to labor and recover exactly the way we want/feel we need to. I know I'm not in control of a lot of things surrounding his birth and our recovery but, knowing I can make this part of it as close to the way I envision it as possible is very comforting.
To all you mamas having to deal with the stress of changing your plans last minute, know that my thoughts and prayers are with you. All birth is beautiful. Every labor matters. What you're feeling is important and justified. Just don't be afraid to consider other options as your labor progresses and things may not go exactly as you had planned. If you're switching to a homebirth from an OB, I'd say to do your research and get recommendations before choosing a midwife. There are many out there but the most important thing is that they are knowledgeable, confident they can keep you and baby safe, aren't afraid to transfer you if the need arises and they're a good fit for you and your family. Don't jump into a new birth plan because you feel pressured to. Pray about it, confide in others and make the decision that's best for you. But, if you do end up choosing a homebirth, don't be afraid. It will be such a beautiful, healing experience for you and your baby. I really think you'll be surprised how much you love it. And I'm cheering you on!
As far as transitioning to a having a new baby in the house and navigating those first few days/weeks, I do a few things to make it as easy as possible for our family, the help that we have and our littles. A few weeks before birth, I begin preparing freezer meals and storing them up to have on hand after baby arrives. This helps so much in keeping our home stress free and making meal time easy when we have family here helping us, and even after it's just us again, adjusting to a new normal. We don't always use all of the meals I prepare right away but that makes it nice to have them for an easy meal fix on harder days as well. I make things I know my family loves, that my boys will eat and that are easy to pull out of the freezer and bake or toss into the crock pot. Some of our favorites are candy chicken, chicken strips, pizza bread, honey garlic chicken, chicken and rice, parmesan chicken casserole, sloppy joe and cornbread muffins, frozen pizza, lasagna and chicken tater tot crack. That seems like a lot of chicken meals, I know. But, I also keep things on hand that I know make easy meals like, hamburger helper, stir fry ingredients, breakfast casserole, egg and sausage biscuits, fresh fruit and veggies and so on. Just having those things ready to fix makes a world of difference when your family is going through big changes. I make a list of all of the freezer meals I have ready to cook so that we can choose easily and know what we have left. I also make a list of easy to make meals that our boys love so they don't have the added stress of worrying about not liking something, because routine is important to kids, especially when so much is changing around them.
Since our boys are a little older this time around, I made each of them a "chore chart" to complete throughout the week. I broke it down by day and then added a space at the bottom of things to be done daily. They're things they already do to help out around the house but, also things they're getting old enough that I feel like they can do more of. I wanted them to have a set of daily tasks to keep them feeling like they have purpose and routine but also so they feel like they're doing their part to help when they may not get as much instruction while we're still adjusting to the new baby. We'll be taking a break from our schoolwork for a time (how long, I'm not quite sure yet) and I don't want them to feel like all of their days are running together. My boys strive on routine and having things to do and they're already SO excited about these charts. There's nothing major on them. Basically, things like : take out the trash, unload the dishwasher, sort their dirty clothes on wash days, put away their clean laundry, brush their teeth and comb their hair daily, keep their shoes and jackets put away, feed our calf, sweep and vacuum. Things that they've been doing more and more gradually lately and I feel like they'll feel so accomplished in doing mostly by themselves after baby arrives. Plus I think it'll help them feel a little in control of how their day goes when we don't have much structure for a while. I'd also like to say to be prepared for lots of heavenly snuggles, long days (especially with the quarantine situation) and more screen time than you'd probably like. It's okay and it won't be this way forever. So soak it all in. And let your expectations of yourself and your family lower for bit, you can always raise them again later, mama.
Anway, I feel like that was LOT of information in one post. And maybe no one will even read it but, I feel like it could help a mama struggling with the decision to switch to a homebirth and how to go about it or welcoming a new baby with other littles in the house and wondering how to make it as easy a transition as possible. So, I hope it helps. If you have any tips for me, please let me know. And if you know someone who could get anything out of this post, please share it with them!
Above all mama, give yourself grace to let go of unnecessary expectations. Don't think your labor, your birth or your postpartum journey has to look like anyone else's. This whole experience belongs to you and to your family. And, while we may not be in control of all (or very much) of it, there's peace in knowing the One who is. All my prayers for a safe and healthy pregnancy and delivery.