Finding Solace in Our Home
By Rachelle Campbell
NOVEMBER 1, 2020
As I woke, I was surprised by the fact that I almost immediately felt the urge to get a roast prepared to put in the crock-pot. I was feeling hungover from last night’s sugar rush. My spouse, Matt, and I took our daughter, Raegan, trick-or-treating. She went dressed as an adorable little Elmo, him as the Cookie Monster, and me as Big Bird. I fit the character quite well at 39 weeks pregnant! I had slept in that morning while Matt and Raegan played together downstairs. We lived in an apartment at the time, with two levels. The kitchen and living area on the main level, two bedrooms, a storage room, and a bathroom upstairs. The extra rest was much appreciated, as I had Hyperemesis Gravidarum (severe nausea and vomiting during pregnancy) and was feeling quite drained, and also crampy. This was quite a different pregnancy than my experience with my daughter! Not long after getting the beef roast, with potatoes and carrots into the crock-pot, (this was literally one of the only home-cooked meals I made the entire pregnancy) I began to feel rushes of energy. It wasn’t long at all before things started picking up in intensity, however, I was breathing and smiling through each rush, as Matt and Raegan ran and played together through our apartment. I should note that my daughter came twelve days past her due date, and I truly was not expecting for our son to be born before his, on November 6th, nor were our midwives.
As things progressed, I was still somewhat in denial, but after all the reading I did throughout the pregnancy on natural childbirth and hypnobirthing, I was at peace, and enjoying the company of my family. Knowing that we were having a home birth and were well prepared also gave me great comfort. Matt brought a clean load of laundry in from the laundry room, as Raegan sat on my lap and bounced, ‘mooing’ like a cow and breathing with me through contractions. We were having great fun! The time seemed to go by quite quickly. Before I knew it, I had been labouring for three and a half hours. I felt euphoric, and at the same time was good and ready for a rest. I went to lie in bed for a while, still riding quite intense waves of energy. Matt brought me some delicious homemade tomato soup- he is quite the cook! I am certainly blessed. When 530 p.m. rolled around, I thought it might be a good time to call my mother-in-law. We had planned for our daughter to stay with her and Grandpa, along with their fur babies named Cullan and Hope while birthing our son.
At this point, Matt still did not know the gender of our unborn child. I managed to keep it a surprise, as he wished, the entire time! I am normally not one for surprises, but with mindfulness and dedication, I did succeed. Grandma arrived at about 6:30 p.m., and Matt and I kissed Raegan goodbye. This would be her first night away from home. We knew she would do just fine. At this point, I still didn’t know for sure if our son would arrive that night. Things were very intense, but it was nothing like my birthing experience with Raegan. This time, I felt in control. I decided to go downstairs and lie on the couch, timing contractions and listening to Christmas movies on TV, while Matt started blowing up the birthing pool. If you’ve given birth, you know that you are asked not to call your midwife or go into hospital until contractions are about every five minutes, lasting for one minute long for at least an hour. Well for me, if I was standing, I had one contraction that just didn’t end, and if I were lying on my side, which I found to be most comfortable, contractions were anywhere from two to twelve minutes apart and lasting three to five minutes long. I didn’t want to call our midwife too soon. Every once in a while Matt would ask if it was time to make the call, each time I would respond with ‘not yet.’ Matt sent his energy to me as my uterus contracted, I took sips of water from a pink adult sippy cup during each break. He continued to clean and prepare things. As he was upstairs organizing toys, (we had a lot of belongings for such a tiny apartment) I decided to try sitting on our birthing ball. Things got intense. I wasn’t two minutes sitting on the ball before I decided to head up the stairs to relieve myself. Boy, that felt like a journey up the thirteen steps! After relieving myself, Matt asked me for about the fifth time if he should call our midwife. Clearly, he could see that things were really progressing. I still said, “not yet, go get the bed ready while I shower, and then call.” I wanted to be organized at this point, I knew there was no time to fill the birthing pool, and I wanted the bed properly set up; mattress protected with plastic, towels over the sheets. I felt very comfortable with the birthing process and trusted God that things were happening just how we had planned them to. When I got out of the shower, I threw on my hot pink fleece housecoat that Matt had bought me for Christmas our first year together. I didn’t take the time to dry off. I sweat through contractions, and shivered during the short breaks I had in between. I got to our bed and Matt made the call at 8:58 p.m. Our midwife quickly answered and heard me moaning loudly. She said she was on her way. Not even five minutes later she was in the lobby of our apartment, with literally all of her supplies, and her and Matt ran them to our apartment down the hall. They made quite the amazing team. Our midwife was certainly someone we could count on! Another contraction came on and I moaned, she said “this is a long one” to Matt, and ran up the stairs to check my cervix, which was 10 cm dilated and our baby boy was eager to meet the world. She asked me to pant to help hold him in a little longer, as she needed time to set some things up. A few minutes later I felt I couldn’t wait any longer, and it was his time to come. I said “our baby is coming!” and she responded with “Okay, you can have your baby now!” I laid on my side while looking at Matt, he was calm and eager to meet our little one. Our midwife is ready to receive our baby. I’m sure she was also catching her breath! I gave one big push and roarrrred, and our baby boy shot out at 9:12 p.m., still enclosed in the amniotic sac, as my waters never broke! This is called an en caul birth, also known as a ‘mermaid birth’ or ‘veiled birth’ and is extremely rare. En caul births are quite spiritual, or even magical you could say. A ‘caulbearer’ may inherit the gift of clairvoyance and have healing abilities. The caul is sometimes preserved as a good luck charm, and has been sold to sailors for huge sums of money since they are believed to protect one from drowning. Our midwife softly peeled back the beautiful, shimmering veil surrounding our precious baby. It was incredible! His first cry was absolute music to our ears. Matt was elated to meet his son. Our baby boy made his way to my breast and we named him ‘Solace.’;7lbs 6oz of purity. We truly found Solace in our home that night. A second midwife arrived shortly after he was born. After I delivered the placenta, which I found to be quite exhausting, we were given some time to rest and bond as a family. Little Solace looked both his daddy and me in the eyes with intent. His eyes a pale crystal blue. We caressed him gently as he nursed at my breast. We gleamed in perfect silence. This was an experience I am so happy to share. I am so thankful for my support team. Solace is now eight and a half months old and is quite a spunky big boy! We are also expecting our third child in December. This time, we plan to have a doula present to help out, as well as our amazing midwife team, and would like to have both our children present for the birth. Raegan is looking forward to having another sibling to help look after and entertain. I receive many tummy kisses from her. She loves being a big sister, and happily greets her brother ‘Ollie’ each morning with a big “hi!”, a giddy smile, and a loving hug.
Rachelle is originally from a small town called Bancroft, located in Ontario. She moved to Kingston, Ontario in 2011 to take the Hairstyling program at St.Lawrence College, and took the Esthetics program the following year. She lives with her spouse, Matt and her two children, Raegan and Solace. Rachelle has a passion for childbirth and is an aspiring doula.
More moving birth stories
Meet all the winners of the Birth Story Writing Contest 2021 here and their stories. You can also read the 2020 and 2019 winning birth stories.
Did you miss the Birth Sharing Circle? Listen to some of the 2021 finalists telling or reading their own birth stories. Also, don't miss the introduction by Karen Lawford who talks about maternity care and Indigenous communities, and the musical performance by Kim June-Johnson. A truly beautiful and moving event.