Birth stories are one of those wonderful and incredibly personal things to share. With everything that happened over the past year, I realized I never actually wrote down and shared Grey’s birth story with all of you!
Our sweet Grey’s story is completely wild, and so completely him: unexpected, LOUD, at his own pace and in his own special way.
We found out that we were expecting Grey right after Valentines Day 2019, and were both totally floored. While we knew we wanted to have another baby in the future, with my history of infertility and just what a miracle our oldest, Archer was, we never expected to become pregnant again so quickly!
Archer was just about 7 months old, which would put our babies around 16 months apart when this new little one joined our family. We were excited, but also so nervous about having two so close together! The one thing I was sure that I knew was that I wanted another natural birth at Atlanta Birth Center. We had birthed our youngest there, and while it was a long birth it was also an incredible experience.
Related: Archer’s Birth Story
We ran into a few challenges those first few months. First, we knew Grey’s conception date and felt very certain that his due date would be on Halloween based on that. This was confirmed at our first ultrasound, but our midwife was a little nervous. She recommended we go to another practice for a more advance ultrasound, as this little peanut was measuring very small and the wonderful birth center we utilized had limited ultrasound technology.
We were both so incredibly nervous for that next visit, and had to wait a few weeks in order to be seen since instead of 8 weeks he was only measuring at 5. Luckily at our next appointment he looked great, though they pushed his due date back to November 9th based on his size.
November 9th was my grandfather’s birthday, and Grey had actually been conceived at his old house, which was now our family beach house! If you just got chills, so did we.
With all of the challenges of the first few weeks, we wanted to wait to tell our families until we were further along in this pregnancy. Both of us were nervous with how small he continued to be that there might be something wrong. We were relieved and so overjoyed that after our bloodwork we not only found out that he was perfectly healthy, but a BOY!
My husband and I were all set for this pregnancy, or so we thought! Grey had other ideas. He was incredibly active, and by 35 weeks I was officially diagnosed with prodromal labor after ending up in the birth center multiple times! Nearly every single day for the weeks following we thought he could make an appearance at any time. This was so exciting for us, because Archer actually arrived a full 10 days AFTER his due date, at 41 weeks and 3 days.
During this same period we completely lost our minds and decided it was the perfect time to list our condo and upgrade into a bigger home! Yes, we listed our place in September, sold it within 2 weeks thanks to our incredible Realtor and friend Rachel, AND found the perfect larger home for our growing family only 15 minutes away.
Grey’s due date was November 9th, and we made plans to close on the sale of our old home and purchase of our new one on November 20th. What could go wrong? 😉
November 9th came and went, so after getting the go ahead from our birth team I attempted the castor oil cocktail on the 11th. I was thrilled to lose my mucus plug and have my bloody show a few days later after my husband gave me a pressure point massage the night before. Still no Grey. The entire next week I was incredibly sick with stomach issues, which for many women is a big indicator of getting closer to labor starting.
BUT… still no Grey! At our birth center appointment that week our midwives suggested we get an ultrasound just to check in on him since he was clearly taking his time. It was at the ultrasound they predicted he would be over 9 pounds, which was shocking as Archer was 10 days late and preemie sized!
We had entered crunch time, and what had originally started out as a fun excitement transitioned to controlled panic as we realized that this baby had his own plans. We kicked off the week of November 19th with no baby in sight. Because Grey could literally arrive at any moment, my incredible parents jumped in to assist with making sure the closing of our new home and sale of our old one could be handled by them just in case. That took a huge amount of stress and pressure off me and Matt, and I’m so grateful they were willing to be there for those appointments.
Thankfully our real estate agent, Rachel, was also a long-time friend of mine. She truly went above and beyond to not only make house hunting easy while 9 months pregnant, but also the back to back closing processes as quick, simple and easy as possible.
We closed on the sale of our condo and purchase of our new home on Wednesday the 20th, with a team of real estate professionals ready to jump into baby delivery action at any minute if I went into labor in the closing room!
The morning of November 21st I dropped Archer off at school and headed to our new house. My husband stayed at the condo to coordinate the movers, while I arrived early to our house to make sure everything was good to go there. It hit me on the drive over there that I was now at 41 weeks and 5 days pregnant, and if I didn’t go into labor by 41 weeks and 6 days, I couldn’t give birth at the Atlanta Birth Center per the state of Georgia rules!
Our midwives and doula were of course on top of this, but they were also wonderful in that they gave us a lot of space and freedom to let Grey come naturally on his own. My midwife actually ended up calling me during that same drive, and asked for us to come by the Atlanta Birth Center after the movers left just to check in on baby and make a plan.
I called my dad and asked my parents to pick up Archer from school that afternoon to make it easier on all of us. Our movers came and went, and by 5pm we were headed to the Atlanta Birth Center to see what was going on with our boy!
When we arrived I was told I was already 4 centimeters dilated, which was so exciting because I really struggled to dilate at all with Archer (his birth was incredibly different in every way, and if you’re curious you can read more about that here). However, even with that level of dilation, labor didn’t seem to be starting on its own. Our midwife suggested a Foley bulb catheter as a natural means of induction, knowing that if I didn’t go into labor by the following night, I would have to birth at a local hospital instead.
Around 6pm the Foley bulb was placed, and contractions started almost immediately but were relatively minor. We were sent home and encouraged to wait it out until I was dilated enough for the bulb to fall out. We passed the next few hours unpacking our kitchen, which we knew we would need access to immediately once this little guy arrive. I tried a castor oil scrambled egg concoction around midnight based on her advice (which by the way was DISGUSTING and I do not recommend doing) and tried to sleep a few hours.
Based on the advice of another very smart friend who told me her natural birth story, I wore an adult diaper to bed. My water broke at 3:45 AM on November 22nd. I had never experienced this before, as my water had to be physically broken with Archer. It literally felt like a rubber band snapping inside of me and actually woke me up from the sensation!
I ran to the bathroom and was so excited to gently tug the Foley bulb and have it easily slide out. That meant it was go time! We called Atlanta Birth Center and got in the car to head in, arriving around 5:15 AM. I was so excited to discover that we were back in the “Fire Room, the room that Archer had been born in!
The contractions came hard and fast, and were so much more intense in a very different way than with Archer. While during my past childbirth I mostly experienced back labor, which was incredibly painful, it was also a very slow, steady progression. This time with Grey it felt like it went from 0-100 out of nowhere.
I was in the birthing tub around 6am. I could feel the very top of Grey’s head for a long time, but for some reason he just wasn’t progressing down the birth canal.
To be transparent: I was scared and overwhelmed. Archer’s birth had been so hard, and I was still carrying a lot of emotions from that birth with me. Instead of the calm, measured birthing experience I had hoped for this time, my body needed to scream and experience working through all of those emotions.
The contractions were so much more challenging in a different way this time. It was almost like my body took over, and unlike last time when I really had to make an effort to push Archer out, my body was contracting on its own. It was incredibly powerful and intense, and I was shocked.
So I let go, and leaned in. I screamed, I grunted, I cried. But I knew I could do it.
After attempting to birth in the water, my doula and midwives suggested I change to the bed so they could also take a look at what was going on. It was then that they realized Grey was essentially stuck. His head popped out and the team realized he had a “compound arm,” meaning his arm was wrapped across his chest and hugging the opposite shoulder. My midwife had to put her hand inside of me to get him to release his arm in order to come out.
The pain was incredible, and I’m pretty sure I screamed “just get him out of me!” For a flash I was sure that he was going to never come out and live inside of me forever, the stubborn little guy.
But almost immediately with the extra help from my midwife, there he was! Grey Thomas Borland was born at 8:14 AM on November 22nd (41 weeks and 6 days), weighing 8 pounds 9.5 ounces and rocking a 99th percentile head! He was perfect and beautiful and I was instantly elated.
While labor was incredibly intense and painful, the after-birth glow was so different this time because I wasn’t completely exhausted. My husband went and got us breakfast, and I sat there eating and feeding my baby and just being able to enjoy these beautiful moments together.
Even more special, Grey was born in literally the exact same spot in the exact same room that his brother was born in! We never planned that, but it’s amazing how things work out.
By 3pm that same day we were back in our own bedroom! The next 48 hours were a blur. My parents watched Archer to give us time to not only get Grey settled, but also to have a little bit of time to unpack our house and Archer’s room. Just a few days later, we were able to get his newborn photos taken and dive right into celebrating the holidays as a brand new family of 4.
I hope our natural birth story inspired you today. Natural childbirth is HARD, but I am grateful every single day that I was able to have two. I am so thankful for the incredible care team we had for Grey’s birth and the weeks leading up to it:
Shari Aizenman, our doula
Vanessa Treaster and Nicole Madalon, our midwives
Our team of Atlanta Birth Center nurses and support staff
My parents for jumping in to help with the closing of both of our homes in case I went into labor!
Rachel Powell Roop-Harpe of Roop Residential, who made that crazy last week with the purchase and sale of our home so incredibly easy and stress-free
My wonderful husband Matthew, who managed so many things for our move, Grey’s birth and our new home together. I am so lucky to get to walk through this life with you!