I waited excitedly for 9 months to share my birth story because I knew that it would prove to people how great home birth really is and that is exactly what it did. When I was pregnant, what I hated the VERY most was reading stories of women who went natural and how “painful” it was because I didn’t want to think about the pain. Pain is only the body’s way of warning you that something is different, usually bad, but in the case of birth, it is only a warning that your life is about to become a lot sweeter so make sure you’re ready and not in the middle of the store when it’s time to push!
I have two beautiful children (at least I think so :D). My son was born June 8th, 2008 weighing 8 lbs 1 oz. I was a nursing assistant in the postpartum unit of the hospital my son was born in. I saw my doctor all of the time at work and had a great relationship with him. I knew all of the nurses and felt really comfortable at the hospital. I wanted a natural birth, but only knew of the hospital childbirth class.
I didn’t have support from the nurses, I didn’t have a doula, and I knew very little. I tried to relax and my way of relaxing was to lay in the hospital bed….now we all know how wrong that is! I should have been up and moving around, but I had no idea and no one suggested it. I just thought I was supposed to relax. Well, needless to say my contractions were pretty painful and I ended up with an epidural. It was an absolutely beautiful personal experience because I felt at home there, but it wasn’t the natural birth I desired. I didn’t feel violated and I wasn’t talked into anything that I didn’t really want. The only thing was that I originally wanted to go natural and I didn’t.
After that, I was determined to go natural with my next baby. I also wanted to be a doula and although not necessary, I felt it would help me feel more confident in doing so if I went natural. So I started looking into birthing center birth. After taking my doula class I realized that I could do it at home just fine and I’d be more comfortable doing so. So that I did. And here is my story:
At 5:00 am on October 18th, 2010 I had my first contraction that woke me up. I’d been having contractions since September 30th that I knew were prelabor contractions (which were annoying at times, but I knew they were just warming me up for an easier active labor), but these contractions were definitely different. They were more powerful. So I texted my midwife just to give her a heads up that I was having real contractions, but they were still 12 minutes apart and it would be a while. (She was actually a student midwife who was my primary care midwife and my good friend from 8th grade. She did everything and the licensed midwife just supervised.) I was able to get through them very comfortably in bed and *tried* to get sleep, but was too excited!
At about 7:00, I got up and started to straighten up my house to the way I wanted it for the birth (which was a great way to distract me and keep me up and moving). At about 8:00, my mom came over and my contractions started to get a little stronger. It was nice to have my mom and my husband both there to rub my back and squeeze my hips through the contractions. We visited on the couch, I nibbled on some snacks, and tried to drink a lot of juice to stay hydrated.
At about 10:00 ,I let Whitney, the student midwife, know that they were getting pretty strong and that maybe she should come over. Since she was also a doula, I thought it would be good to have another person there for support. My contractions were still anywhere from 7-15 minutes apart. They were unpredictable, the only thing they did was get stronger. I was in no hurry for her to come over, so she got to my house at about 11:00. I asked her to check my dilation and I was at a 3-4.
We visited in my living room and I’d stop every few minutes to moan in a low tone through a contraction. I found that moaning in a relaxed low tone controlled my breathing to keep me from hyperventilating, since I would otherwise breath too quickly. It also distracted me from the pressure. Then we’d go back to visiting. My photographer/good friend showed up at around noon and it was nice to just have another person there to talk to and support me. The contractions continued to get stronger and stronger, but never closer together.
At 1:00 pm I decided to get checked again and I was dilated to a 5 and my cervix was much softer. I wasn’t expecting much more than that. The contractions were getting a little more difficult so I decided to try to find a relaxing position on my knees, because the hardest part of the contraction was moving from sitting to a hands and knees position that made my contractions easier to get through. As soon as I moved to my knees after being checked my contractions were closer together, with a very little break in between. My sister showed up (she took her time since we thought it was going to be a while), and I had one more very strong contraction. I was waiting for it to end to say that I thought it was time to fill up the birth pool, when suddenly I had the urge to push!
I had absolutely NO control over the urge. I cannot comprehend how women even hold it in! My body just started pushing and I didn’t know what to think at first because I was JUST at a 5! Finally I just gave into the urge, peed my pants (lol) and my water broke. I stood at the edge of my bed, yelled for someone to take my pants off and pushed with all my heart. I was worried about what I was going to feel and I almost felt a little panicked, but it wasn’t as bad as I imagined! It just felt very warm and I don’t remember a whole lot of pain associated with it. A little stretching, but not super painful. I actually think pushing was the best part because I wasn’t just letting my body do it’s thing, I was actually doing something myself! When her head came out it felt SO good! But I knew it wasn’t over. Then the rest of her just slid right out and that felt SO cool! As soon as it was over I just had a sigh of relief and was SO happy! I turned around, picked her up and thought “man that was NOT as bad as I thought it was going to be! That was SOOOO EASY!!!”
Well, I was checked at 1:00 at a 5 and she was born at 1:16!!! I pushed for three minutes! The licensed midwife didn’t even make it in time because all of us thought it would be a while! Whitney did an amazing job and stayed completely calm and focused! She weighed 8 lbs 9 oz.
After working in the hospital as a nursing assistant for 4 years (I couldn’t bear it anymore after taking my doula class and learning all that I learned), it felt so invigorating to not have someone checking on me to make sure I was taking care of her correctly! I was completely trusted to be her mommy! And I could bathe her myself in a very calm, peaceful, skin to skin environment. It was absolutely perfect and beautiful and I feel no guilt attached to her birth whatsoever. I wish I could have given my son the same experience. Although it was a wonderful experience for me, I don’t think it was as wonderful for him. I will give birth to any future children the same way I did my little girl. It was so peaceful and I never felt like I couldn’t do it.
I also wouldn’t have felt as confident if I didn’t have 100% support from everyone around me. My family never even questioned me or gave me any criticism and I am overwhelmed with gratitude for that! I know so many people don’t receive that kind of support and it is very important to have people around you who have just as much faith in your body as you do. Granted, I’m sure they thought it was a little strange at first since they’re used to the hospital scene, but they never tried to tell me it was a stupid decision. And they all saw the benefits first hand and thought it was great.
I’m SO grateful for everyone involved! Birth can definitely bring family and friends closer together. But even if you don’t have a great support system, it doesn’t mean that finding one is impossible. That’s what doula’s are for! And that is precisely why I am one myself! Every mother and baby deserve a peaceful birth!