After the way Miles’s birth went down, I really really wanted an uncomplicated vaginal birth at home (an HBAC, because we’d had the c-section with Miles). We began seeing our midwife, Jennifer, who was our doula in Miles’s birth.As with Miles, I started having pre-labour signs at around 37 weeks, but nothing significant until Saturday evening (when I was 39 weeks along).Then I started having regular, but brief, contractions. They lasted most of the night but died down the next morning, much to my chagrin. They were pretty concentrated in my lower back and pelvis, which worried me because that had been our big indicator in Miles’s birth that something wasn’t quite right. When Jennifer checked me on Sunday, though, everything was fine and I was dilated 4 cm! We were on our way!Things continued to go slowly and intermittently until Monday morning, when I woke up with horrible aching in my sacrum. Jennifer told me to go see my chiropractor to get adjusted, so I managed to snag a mid-morning appointment and got a little relief. I took a short walk in Garden of the Gods with my parents and Hannah after that, continuing to have backache and irregular contractions, and we went home for lunch and a nap not long after that.I woke up at 3:45 when Hannah brought Miles home from school, and after a brief nurse I went to pee. At that point, I felt a pop and a gush of fluid- my water had broken! Somehow I knew things would move quickly after that, so I yelled for my mom to call Nicholas (who was still at work) and Jennifer and get them to come to the house as quickly as possible. My dad started filling the birthing tub.Boy, was I right! I was in transition a few minutes later, and by the time Emily (our second midwife) arrived, I was 9 cm dilated. I was having a lot of pressure in my sacrum with each contraction, which Emily assured me was Baby’s head descending. We realized there wouldn’t be enough time to fill the pool, and started preparing the bedroom for a land birth. Nick arrived not long after that, and then Jennifer, and within a few minutes of their arrival I was starting to push. In my head pushing has always been empowering and satisfying; in reality, I kept telling everyone, “I don’t want to do this anymore.” We tried several different positions to push, and finally Jennifer told me that I should get on the birthing stool, leaning back on Nick. Karen arrived a few minutes later, barely making it in time. Everyone kept encouraging me, telling me how much of Baby’s head was visible with each push. I kept asking if we were crowning yet, because I was getting so tired. Finally, I could swear, Jennifer told me, “you’ll be crowning on your next push.” (She told me later that all she said was “you’ll know when you’re crowning.”)That push turned out to be bigger than anyone expected. Instead of crowning, Baby’s head and body came popping out! Jennifer neatly caught him and handed him to me, in spite of the surprise, and Nick and I happily snuggled our newborn. He came out all bloody- see the photo- and crying loudly. He was, and is, perfect. From my water breaking to Malcolm’s birth, the whole active labour process was just under 2.5 hours.Having a VBAC was an important goal for me after Miles’s birth, but in all honesty I had a lot of doubt that I was capable of achieving one- even while I was pushing. To me, this photo not only shows the honest aftermath of a speedy delivery, but also how shocked and proud I was at the end. Thank you for giving me this satisfying moment, Malcolm.