As soon as I realized I was pregnant with baby #3, I told my husband, “I don’t want to do this without Ann.”
Ann is a local legend with a midwifery career that spans 40+ years. She’s provided care or delivered the babies of nearly our entire village and the stories all share a common theme: We couldn’t have done it without her. Ann is a force to be reckoned with and once she arrives, babies just seem to come flying out.
Unfortunately, Ann retired three years ago – and Aksel was the very last birth she attended (you can read the full birth story here). I remember telling her that I refused to give birth again without her and that if we happened to have a third, I would beg or bribe her out of retirement. Thinking it was probably a long shot, I sent Ann a message asking if she’d be willing to be my birth partner sometime in November. When she responded with a “yes” saying she’d love to be there, I may have let out a war cry and felt like I could conquer the world.
As my due date approached, all I could do was keep hoping and praying for a fast labor and delivery. I expected to go past my due date, as I had with my first, so when I reached 39 weeks, I sailed into the day without a thought. Ann texted me that morning to see how I was feeling (she later said she had a feeling baby was near). I responded that I’d had some Braxton Hicks but baby was quite comfy and not coming anytime soon. Plus, I had a lot to do that day and Aksel had come down with a little cold so I was quite busy and had no time for any interruptions. You’d think I’d know better by now!
At 3pm, my friends arrived to take me on a surprise baby shower adventure. First up was a trip to Nancy’s Vintage Teashop in Newmarket for afternoon tea and gifts. Bite sized cakes and scones are my love language, so I was in heaven. Then we headed into Cambridge to watch Bad Moms 2 and eat our weight in popcorn. I got home around 9pm absolutely exhausted and hopeful that the kids would let me sleep in the next morning. Before I could sleep, though, I felt the need to tidy up the kitchen real quick and organize some papers that had been left out. I should have recognized the ridiculousness of it, but I was in denial.
At 1am, I woke to a POP and a gush of water. I rushed into the bathroom and sure enough, my waters had broken. This was new territory as my other two babies burst their bags of water when they started crowning. I reminded myself it could still be a day or so before anything even happened so not to get worked up. I was also still worried about a long labor and decided I needed some protein in case I was in for a long night. So I threw together a peanut butter and cheese sandwich and did my best to choke it down.
I headed back upstairs, told Jason my waters had broken and he might want to start getting the birthing pool ready and then heard him snoring again. He claims I told him to go back to sleep (I did not!). An hour later at 2am, I had my first contraction. I finally got Jason awake and he went downstairs to prep everything. I heard him vacuuming the floor which made me smile because I’d been a neurotic psycho the past four weeks about the floors being clean!
The first couple contractions came and all the memories of my previous births ran through my mind. That sensation is so distinct – and it’s strange because you don’t necessarily remember it after the birth but as soon as you feel it, you just know. I decided I would track ten contractions before calling anyone as I didn’t want to sound the alarm too early. Downstairs, I could hear Jason start filling up the birthing pool, or at least attempting to. The hose kept popping off the sink adaptor, soaking the entire kitchen and sending my poor husband into a fit of rage. I could hear him cursing, cleaning and resetting the hose multiple times and it actually made me laugh because I knew he was probably so irritated with me but not allowed to say anything. Bless his little heart; he’s a patient man.
By 2:30, I’d reached my self-allotted ten contractions and asked Jason to call Ann in case things picked up. She said she was on her way over and yet again, it was like my body flipped a switch and decided to hit the gas. I had one really long and hard surge (which I think may have been my transition) and suddenly bolted out of bed and ran straight for the toilet. My inner exorcist decided to join the party at that point and I got LOUD. I am not a quiet, gentle birther by any stretch of the imagination. The words and sounds that come out of me resemble that of a cavewoman wrestling a saber-toothed tiger. It’s primal and intense and I laugh at myself every time I think back on it.
By 3am, it was clear this baby was coming. Jason called the midwife as Ann arrived to find me on the toilet, bearing down. I couldn’t really hear the conversation, but Jason later told me that whoever answered the labor hotline told him to keep me out of the tub and not to push as the midwife was 45 minutes away. Thankfully, he had been through this before and knew better than to relay any of those messages! Ann started filling up the tub with a look of panic as she told me I better not drop this baby in the toilet.
We barely managed to get the tub filled before I jumped in, reached down and felt a head. The intensity of these surges rivaled a NASA rocket launching into space and I’m not even sure that description does justice to what I felt. Lena came to the side of the tub right as I felt a head between my hands. Normally, a baby will exit by coming out slightly, then slipping back in and it’s a lovely, beautiful process. This was like a jackhammer – head, shoulders and body, boom boom boom! For some reason, I thought to check the cord before pulling baby out of the water and it was wrapped under both armpits and behind the head. I carefully slipped the arms out from either side and brought our new babe into the air. I heard Jason call out, “It’s a boy! Lena, you got another brother!”
One hour and 18 minutes after my first contraction, I found myself holding a vernix-covered baby in the upstairs bath. I couldn’t believe it had been even faster than the last time and yet again, I felt like Wonder Woman. Jason brought Aksel into the room so he could meet his new brother and both kids were so excited. They took turns feeling the vernix (which they said looked and felt like sun cream) and even felt the umbilical cord pulsing. Lena was really fascinated by the placenta since we’d talked a lot about how that was keeping the baby safe inside me. After about 30 minutes, I birthed it into the tub and we transferred to my bed.
As I’d had another precipitous birth and the midwife wasn’t able to arrive for another 45 minutes, they sent for the paramedics. I think they were a bit shocked when they arrived to find everything had already happened and we were just relaxing. Even though she was unable to provide anything beyond moral support, I knew that if there were an emergency, Ann would know what to do and I think that gave me infinite confidence. Once the midwife arrived, Ann relayed all her info (thank goodness as I had no clue what time or day it was!) and she was able to start processing the paperwork. Both big kids wanted to help cut the umbilical cord so they put on surgical gloves and helped squeeze the handle.
Everything went so fast and there ended up being so many people in the end that I barely saw Jason. As usual, he was taking care of everything so I didn’t have to – he’s a saint and acts of service are definitely his love language. Once everyone had left and the kids were put back to bed, we had a chance to relax and take in the newest member of the family who still needed a name. Unfortunately, Jason’s earlier suggestion of Ghourd or Roy Ramses didn’t quite seem to fit (shocker, I know). It took almost two days but we finally made a decision: Einar Kasper. In Old Norse, Einar means one or lone warrior while Kasper is a variation of my mom’s maiden name of Caspersen.
It still feels a bit surreal to think that I’m a mom of three kids after swearing up and down I was never going to have ANY children. For the most part, it’s been a pretty seamless transition. Lena and Aksel have been incredibly kind and helpful; Einar eats and sleeps like a champ, and Jason deserves an award for husband of the year as he’s taken on everything without complaint. We are so incredibly lucky and grateful.
Also, a massive thank you to Jesi Smith of So Smith Photography for racing to us in the middle of the night to capture these priceless memories. It was so special to be on the other side of the camera for once and I will treasure these photos when I’m an old lady with an empty nest. What a gift.
And to Ann, you’re our good luck charm! Knowing we had your support and expertise made all the difference. It was an honor to have you here and thank you for casting your spell again; saving me from a long labor 😉 You’ve helped us give both boys the very best start to life and have inspired Lena to someday become a midwife. You’ve earned a very sacred place in our family history and we are so grateful to know you.
Welcome to the world, Einar! Thank you for coming quickly; we sure do love you a lot!