This is my birth story for my son Finley who was born on January 1st, 2021.
You’ll never believe it, but if you were to look at the stats on paper, my son’s birth was exactly the same as Harley’s birth.
It was a Friday in January. I went to the hospital at the same time. I had the same doula. I had the same doctor. I had the same room. I had the same birthing tub. I started pushing at the same time.
I had Finley earlier than Harley, because I knew what I was doing this time. I had him at 9:25pm and she was born at 10:11pm, which is about 40 minutes later because I didn’t know how to push with Harley.
When she was born, I was like, that’s it?! And was just so relieved that it was over as I was so tired. With Finley, I really felt him coming out. He was a whole pound and a half bigger, so that was the biggest difference.
So many things were similar, but there were so many things that were different too.
Here’s how it all started…
Ever since Harley turned three, I started feeling like I really wanted for her to have a sibling. A friend once told me it’s the best gift ever for them and she was right, this whole year has been absolutely magical watching their relationship grow.
Shortly after I started to family plan with my husband. I went to the doctor again for the first time in three years and everything looked really great. I was a little bit worried about getting pregnant because I was still breastfeeding Harley and my doctor told me not to worry and also said not to worry about weaning because it would happen naturally. And that there is no time like the present, don’t worry about planning this next child, it will happen when it happens.
She literally took all of my worries away and said – just do it! (And everything she said was right – Harley weaned naturally on her own without any intervention about 6 months into the pregnancy).
In the beginning of 2020 we started trying for a baby and BOOM in March I became pregnant. This was during the height of the chaos in the world and it was such a joy to be able to have a baby and have something to look forward to while all this madness was going on.
This pregnancy was much different than the first.
I was not in as good of shape as I was the first time in terms of athletically and physically fit, but I still was working out as much as I could considering that most of the gyms and fitness studios were closed. I was desperately trying to get back into a really good routine when I got pregnant, but then didn’t really get back into it as it was really hard to be motivated. I pushed myself to move everyday as I knew that giving birth is an athletic sport.
I spent most of 2020 pregnant and the first few months I was very nauseous (about the same as my first pregnancy). I was really tired as well, and I didn’t have time to take naps because I had a toddler running around. The crazy thing was that I didn’t have heartburn like I did with my daughter. So that was really a pleasant surprise. But I felt generally uncomfortable and just achy and tired for most of my pregnancy. Of course, there was a second trimester where I had more energy, and generally speaking it was an okay pregnancy. I gained the same amount of weight that I gained with Harley as with this baby (approximately 35 pounds). Again another similarity!
I did have a few scares along the way.
One time, I thought my amniotic fluid was leaking. Hearing the nurse say I needed to go to the hospital straight away to have my baby at 34 weeks was so scary, but that wasn’t the case thankfully.
I was in the middle of a book launch (for Food Babe Kitchen) when this was happening. I know this is probably too much information, but I would sit so long at my desk conducting video interviews for the new book that I didn’t get up to use the restroom often, but when I did get up, I would just leak a little. I had no idea if it was pee or amniotic fluid and just to be safe, I got checked. Thank goodness it was not my water breaking and it was just pee!
I used this as a sign to slow down… so I did.
I reminded myself, babies come when they want to come, and that happened to be on Jan 1st, one day after his due date.
Leading up to that day was a very difficult time. Yelena, a dear close friend died in a surfing accident on Christmas. She was one of the most beautiful souls in the whole world, incredibly supportive of my mission here at Food Babe, we traveled together and she was an amazing friend who raised the most incredible family. Her daughters love to cook organically and garden, and she was just a truly beautiful mother. Losing her and finding out about that a week before I gave birth was very difficult. When I found out, I immediately went into contractions and continued contracting every single day until he was born.
On December 31st, I was for sure thinking he was going to come, but my friend’s funeral was on the 1st and I feel like he knew that I needed to say goodbye to her before he came. Along the way throughout the week, she sent me so many different signs that she was okay, including showing up on one of the Mama Natural Natural Pregnancy Affirmation birthing cards I was reading to myself each day.
On the 1st, I got to say goodbye to my friend. I watched the entire Zoom funeral (because of Covid) on my iPad while I was in the bath contracting. Soon thereafter I got out of the tub, a complete mess of course, and went out into the living room to have lunch. My contractions stopped. And then all of the sudden they started back up at 3pm every 3 minutes.
This is when my doula came over. These contractions were basically pretty painful. I had stopped what I was doing and really braced myself on a wall and breathed through them. I had to do what I needed to do and my daughter was watching this and was looking at me going, “Mommy, you look funny”. I started to laugh and said this is what your body does when it’s ready to have a baby, you have to push the baby out and so your body contracts to move the baby down the birth canal. Harley loved meeting the doula and being part of the day with me, during early labor at home. Around 5pm is when I felt like there could be some kind of water coming out of me and we were worried that my water was breaking and if it had broken then it was time to have the baby. So, my husband got the car packed, we hopped in and headed to the hospital.
Given the fact that I was 41 at the time, I was nervous about having a home birth, and my husband was even more nervous and just wanted to make sure we had the least risky situation for me and this baby. So we decided to have a hospital birth. Even though I had really considered a home birth because I wanted to stay out of the hospital system during this very interesting time, but we went to the hospital and it was wonderful.
I refused every intervention that I could. I was very gracious about it and polite about my wishes. The nurses and doctors were very supportive of my decisions. Because so many things were similar as my first birth, I really got to focus on the other details around me. I got to focus on the lighting and how I didn’t like certain lights in the room. And what time it was. And having fun and joking with my doctor and doula in between contractions. Of course that was before I went into transition, where I went from 7 to 10 cm, the hardest part of labor. Then I got a little bit cranky. But I was so calm and so fearless and just had no anxiety about anything really. My doctor had put me in such good spirits, knowing that there were no major Covid restrictions that I had to follow. I did not wear a mask during childbirth. I can’t imagine trying to wear one during childbirth. I was free to be me and have this baby.
When things got really really tough, I said to myself, I will never judge a woman for getting an epidural or anything, because wow, this is intense. My friend was there coaching me from above and was looking down on me and saying, “Vani you can do this”. Knowing the sacrifices her family has had to make with her being gone, I knew I could get through it. If her family could get through what they just did at her funeral, I could do this. She got me through every tough contraction. Yelena – thank you for helping me birth Finley – I love you.
When I saw my doctor start to put on different protective clothing, I asked my doula why. She said – your baby is almost here, I was elated labor was about to be over.
When he was born, I got to catch him and that was the coolest thing–feeling him coming out of my body while I was holding him.
It felt so surreal and so fast this time compared to the last time. This time I could just look at the clock and know, okay I think my body will progress this fast for this long, and would ask the doctor for predictions and for everyone to kind of bet on what was going on. It was so fun and beautiful.
Finley III was born naturally with no interventions at the hospital.
Very similar to Harley, I had high blood pressure again after childbirth, which was annoying, but I was able to get it under control very quickly after getting home, acupuncture treatments and getting back into my regular routine.
Recovering from this birth was much harder. I felt like my body had broken into two during labor when I was pushing. I didn’t tear or have complications with the birth, but my body needed rest. I have a hard time asking for help and rest, I am a go go go person and I did not listen to my body. I should have rested more. Also I didn’t have a toddler running around the first time, and this made resting even harder. Right after birth, I had these really intense contractions almost like I was going into labor again two days after having my child, which were very painful. I would just take a hot bath with epsom salt and everything would get better.
I was only in the hospital for 18 hours after I gave birth – I pleated to go home as fast as possible. The little guy decided to sleep almost 8 hours straight after he was born, while me and my husband just stared at him and stayed up all night in awe and got zero sleep. I really wanted to get back to my daughter, as she wasn’t allowed in the hospital.
Having her meet her baby brother was the most beautiful thing in the whole world. She told him “I want you to be my baby brother forever, I love you so much ” when she met him. It was the most life changing thing I have ever seen and you could see the instant love in her eyes.
Becoming a mother again is the most special thing that has ever happened to me.
I’d love to hear your thoughts, questions, comments and or birth stories below.
P.S. In case you missed it, you can read my daughter Harley’s birth story here.