Each of my birth experiences has taught me something and helped me grow. My first birth was a cesarean in hospital after a failed induction at 43 weeks, my second was a vbac in hospital, with a successful natural induction at 42 weeks 6 days, in which I got a spinal at 9cm after 46 hours of hard labor, my third was an unmedicated homebirth with a midwife with only 4 hours total of active labor at 39 weeks 5 days. All of my birth experiences are valid, meaningful, and important, and variations of normal. As a student midwife who hopes to become a homebirth midwife I wanted to share my experience with homebirth.
The birth of baby R:
On Sunday night my prodromal labor began as it had nearly every night before for the last 10 weeks or so, for some reason this time I was able to sleep through them, providing much needed rest. I woke up the next morning feeling refreshed and rejuvenated even though my contractions never stopped like they usually do around 4am, Matthew asked if he should leave for work or call in, and I told him to go, these were nothing to worry about and that they would stop soon. Matt hesitantly left for work but called at lunch because he just had a weird “feeling". I laughed and cried, because of how often our souls connect, and told him he was right and they hadn't stopped yet, but not to get excited yet because my other labors were really long, and often petered out many times and I always ended up going to 43 weeks. Since I wasn’t even due for another six days I knew this would probably stop soon. An hour later he was home with flowers. We spent that day just enjoying life together as a family, we played with the kids, I finished up dissecting a cow heart and eye for my A&P final (the kids loved it). We went for a nice walk after dinner and the kids went down easy. Gentle irregular contractions kept coming all along. I prayed and sang River by Leon Bridges on repeat (thanks to Sarah). I invited my friend and doula Elaine over to support my flurry of emotions, and she loved on me and encouraged me in remaining patient, and strong. Matthew gave me a really nice sacrum rub and side laying release and we went to bed early wondering if the contractions would wake us in the night. The night was a blur, I remember noticing strong contractions but just falling immediately back asleep after I had one. Sunlight in the window surprised me as I had only gotten up to pee once instead of my usual 12 times. Matt and I both slept hard and were feeling good (2 nights of good sleep when nine months pregnant is No joke)! Matt had Tuesday off so we just did our thing and enjoyed our time together, contractions were a little more noticeable but really I was quite able to ignore them. We did a lot of cleaning and even dropped the kids off with Elaine (love her) so that we could go have a quiet lunch just us. I can't really remember the rest of the night specifically, I think we did the family puzzle or board game or maybe all watched a movie together. Just enjoyed our last moments together as a family of 5. Tried going to bed early but within a couple of hours I woke up to a contraction and couldn’t get back to sleep. I took a long hot shower, then went downstairs to finish up my finals. I decided to put “This is Us" on as background noise because everyone said it was good and ended up binging 6 episodes, rage crying, and writing a 10 page love letter to Matthew about all of the ways that I love him. Fell asleep shortly before dawn and napped until my appointment with Midwife Sunday.
At this point my contractions had formed a regular pattern and were gaining intensity but were only happening once every 1.5 hours or so. I was still able to go about life and talk through them so I just did my best to ignore them. “ignore them until you can't ignore them anymore" I always tell my clients… easier said than done 😉. At this point I was feeling pretty disheartened. I knew M and S were leaving for their biodad's house and we wouldn't all be together if this did turn into labor labor. One of the struggles of a blended family. I decided that since it was just Matt, T, and I that day (for those of you who have made it this far it is now Wednesday lol) today would be a good day to head to the city to finish our spring shopping. Matt was all, absolutely not, we are not having a baby on the highway. I was all, but that would be a really cool birth story babe! 😂😂 I agreed to let Sunday decide what was best since we had an appointment with her in an hour. When she got to the house she checked on me and baby and check baby's position and commented how much lower it had gotten she offered to check me if I wanted her to but didn't feel she needed to medically. So I declined and asked permission to go shopping, she said she wasn’t worried even though Matt was haha! So off we went, we got everything we needed for spring, ate a nice lunch, and stopped for froyo on our way out.
This is where the TMI begins so if you don't like birth stories stop here!!!
I went to the bathroom at the froyo place and had lots of bloody show and was immediately hit with a huge contraction. I could feel a serious shift in my mental state and I started to wonder if this was finally it. On the way home my contractions were becoming more intense and deliberate, they were now 30 mins apart or so, but again I tried to ignore them. We got all of the new spring stuff sorted and out away and went to bed early wondering how long we would sleep. Around 10:15 (I slept for 1-2 hours) I woke up with an intense need to use the bathroom, I thought I ate something out that was making me react and I was having IBS. After about an hour the idea I might be in labor crossed my mind. I would sit on the toilet between contractions, and throw my self off and rock hands and knees on the floor during. I really didn’t want to wake Matt up just incase we still had a long way to go because my other labors were really long (47 hours) and I wanted him to be well rested. I felt like I was moaning through contractions really loudly but T stayed fast asleep and Matt too. I decided to download a contraction timing app and see what this pattern looked like. 2 minutes apart and lasting 1-1.5 minutes long, I finally believed I was in labor but still was thinking I would have to do this a while so I kept at it on my own in the dark quiet of the bathroom. I started getting hot flashes and feeling like I couldn’t do it alone and woke up Matt. He rubbed my sacrum and it felt amazing, I was like, why didn't I wake you up sooner?! He started a bath for me and asked if he should call Sunday, I was like no, it's probably still going to be a while let her sleep. And I got in the tub, I hated it and moaned through contractions, Matt tried everything to help me but just kept annoying me by talking too much (sorry babe!) And I did the classic, “you did this to me! You decided to get me pregnant and I hate this! Why do people even do this? It's terrible!” He practically laughed at me and kissed me and helped me to our bed. I started to feel nauseous and started begging God not to let me throw up. Then in an instant I came out of my birth haze and questioned, “am I in transition?” and went back into a moaning contraction. Matt was like they're not stopping can I call people? And I was like yes. So he called Sunday, Elaine, my mom, and the Mimi and told them it was time. It was around 1am. For the next hour I wondered if I was in transition, wondered if I could do it, wondered how much longer as I moved from hands and knees on the bed to bouncing on the yoga ball in the bathroom all the while holding onto and leaning into Matt. Sunday showed up around 1:45 am I think? And Elaine came in right behind her I think (at this point I was very drunk off labor hormones so things get foggy). Sunday asked if she wanted me to have her check or just wait until I feel pushy. I told her I needed to know so I could mentally prepare to do this another 40 hours if I needed to. We got everything ready and she asked my permission to touch me then very gently and comfortably checked me and said , “well honey, you're complete, you're ready to push a baby out whenever you feel like it's time.” I think I yelled, praise Jesus! Thank you Lord! Thank you! And kissed her on the cheek. And I got hands and knees on the bed and immediately started doing little pushes with my contractions. It felt so good to work with them instead of just letting them rip through me. As the baby started to crown I felt like I wanted to flip over to kind of sit up/squat but I needed Matt behind me to help hold me up. The second I turned around and gave a push my waters exploded all over everything. I laughed my butt off and was like uhh sorry guys! And kept pushing. It felt like the baby was coming out of my butt (this was my first unmedicated birth and that plus the ring of fire was so intense and surreal.) I kept pushing and got his head out. I don't feel like I ever stopped pushing at this point just one long continuous gentle push, it didn’t feel like it was me doing it, just my body alone, fetal ejection reflex is no joke. The baby's shoulders were stuck for a moment but I could literally feel them caught on my hip so I just cocked my right hip up in the air and his shoulder came out then another push and the rest of him was out. Laid immediately on my chest and started crying pretty loudly pretty quickly. Matt revealed my looking under the towel and exclaiming, “that’s a honkin weiner" in true Matt fashion. I did my best to nurse him and rub in all his cheesy vernix but he didn’t want to latch. Somewhere during this time my mom and grandma arrived fully expecting to wait a while longer and support another long labor and being surprised with a new grandbaby. I drank some tea and recognized that it had been a bit of time and that I needed to work on getting the placenta out. I tried doing so by squatting over a chux pad while matt held River. I gave a few pushes but it wasn’t releasing. I sat on the floor to rest and try and get the baby to latch knowing the oxytocin surge would help my placenta to release. I was starting to panic because I knew we were getting close to the two hour mark, and the baby was screaming and would not latch, I was starting to feel tired, sore, and weak. Sunday and I both knew this and I asked her to administer the angelica tincture, which helps release the placenta from the uterine wall, and asked Elaine to make me some shepherd’s purse tea to help my uterus to cramp down and limit the bleeding. The baby finally latched on and my placenta released. I used my last ounce of energy to go from sitting to squatting to get it out, I looked for Matt to hold the baby but he had gotten T up to show her her new baby brother. She was so excited she was shaking, I think she said something along the lines of, “I don’t understand why I feel this way, what is this feeling?! What is this?!” and she continues to love her baby brother endlessly. I needed Matt to take the baby so that I could get off the floor, I felt really uncomfortable about anyone else touching him I felt like a lioness protecting her new baby. This was probably a bit irrational because everyone there was surrounding me with love, respect, and kindness but I just wanted Matt. I think my mom ended up taking the baby so that I could get back into bed, and I was so grateful for her help and to finally get off the floor. My legs were dead asleep and in so much pain from squatting so long and laboring on my hands and knees. Matt and I got into bed and marveled at our new baby. After the cord was completely limp we tied our crochet flower cord tie onto the cord and cut the other end. Matt and Elaine took my placenta to process it and make me a smoothie with it, mom helped me into the shower to get cleaned up, and Sunday assessed weighed and measured baby. It was amazing, this was the first birth that I was able to get out of bed on my own walk to the shower and wash myself without help or passing out, then get back into a freshly made bed. (Someone had cleaned everything up and started the load of laundry-you would have never known there had been a birth in there!) By the time I got back I finished my tea, ate my smoothie, and nursed and snuggled the now champion nurser of a baby. I just loved being in our room with Matthew and feeling the love and prayers we had set upon the space. Meeting baby R was like meeting a long lost friend that I had always known would return, its difficult to describe but it was really easy to connect with him because I had felt so connected with him in the womb. We marveled some more, then shut out the lights and went to sleep as a now family of six.
I am a student midwife and doula serving families in the North Country, and living life with five littles.