Written by Rina on July 8th, 2011.
Having the knowledge that I would give birth at home, with my midwife Nancy, assisting midwife Noel and doula Machelle, was a huge comfort to me. It was such a relief to know I would be doing the hard work of labor in familiar surroundings and recovering without interruptions from nurses and visitors. During my last trimester, anytime I complained about pregnancy related discomfort, my husband Aaron would ask me if he needed to take me home (instead of the hospital) in case I went into labor. It made me smile every time.
My pregnancy was healthy and I gained about thirty pounds. Nancy and Machelle came to my house for prenatal visits and it was nice to be able to relax and talk with them in the comfort of my home. I was tired much of the time but Baby and I were doing very well. My estimated due date was May 1st, 2011 but I was anticipating that I would be overdue, like I was with my first baby.
So you can imagine my surprise when, Thursday evening, April 28th, early labor began. I was having a lot of back contractions, I felt very restless and the only way I could get comfortable was to sit on my exercise ball and rock back and forth. I began thinking, “This could be it! I could be in labor…but I’m just not sure.” I remember telling my husband, Aaron, that we had to get a new dishwasher immediately! Ours had broken down and we were washing dishes by hand. I just felt this intense need to have everything organized and ready. That night, I was so tired but sleeping was a challenge due to back and hip pain.
Friday morning, April 29th, I woke up and I felt like I had a million things to do. Around 10:30 AM, I began working on sidecarring a crib (converting a crib into a safe co sleeper) when the contractions became obvious and more intense. I was incredibly irritable and short with Keaton and I knew I needed help. So, I called Aaron, my husband, around 11:30 AM and asked him to come home and help me care for our son. Aaron finished his lunch and came home soon after.
Around 12 PM my water broke in a huge gush, all over the kitchen floor. It was quite a surprise and, at first, I didn’t believe this could be happening. I thought, “Wait…water breaking before active labor hardly ever happens! Maybe I just peed myself?” But, as I had more contractions water continued to gush. I called Aaron again and told him he had to hurry home! He said he was on his way. I called Nancy, my midwife, and explained to her that my water had broken and I was having strong, irregular contractions. Then, Nancy called Machelle, my doula, to have her come to my house to take the baby’s heart tones.
My contractions continued and my water kept gushing. Keaton was very interested in what was going on but he was also a bit concerned. I had put towels down over the water and Keaton kept trying to help me clean it up. As you can imagine, having a three year old help clean can make an even BIGGER mess and it was a challenge to keep him away from it while I had contractions. Thankfully, Machelle arrived soon after my water broke and she cleaned up the mess for me. Wasn’t that nice? I remember saying to Machelle, “I am so glad this is on the kitchen floor and not the carpet!” Machelle and I talked a bit, she listened to the baby’s heart tones and then she started setting up the birthing pool for me. Aaron arrived home about 1 PM and it was a huge relief to have him at the house to take care of Keaton. Nancy and her assisting midwife, Noel, arrived soon after.
Around 1:30 PM I began entering active labor. Things became hazy after that and I closed my eyes and concentrated. I rocked back and forth and rested between contractions as they continued to grow longer and stronger. To my amazement hours were passing by in the blink of an eye… Nancy and Machelle reminded me to eat frequently, for the baby and to keep my strength up, even though I had no appetite.
Aside from getting me food and checking the baby’s heartbeat they pretty much let me do my own thing and allowed me to move around as I needed. Machelle would apply a heating pad to my lower abdomen when I had contractions. The heating pad was incredibly soothing. A few times she used a rebozo wrap to lift my belly during contractions which was very helpful too. I was walking around, I leaned over on my exercise ball, I labored standing, and I walked some more but eventually I decided I wanted to be in the birthing pool once the warm water had filled up.
One interesting sensation was realizing that my hip bones were moving and spreading. It wasn’t painful, but more like an intense pressure as my baby was bearing down on my pelvis with each contraction. I remember that I was getting out of the pool often to go to the bathroom to pee. Once out of the pool, it was nice to get my land legs back after using the bathroom, but I wanted to get back into the birthing pool as each new contraction came.
The birthing pool was an immense help for my contractions because the warm water relaxed my muscles and allowed my belly to be buoyant. Machelle gave me a back massage and reminded me to relax my face during contractions. I recall hearing Nancy and Noel talking quietly on the sofa while Machelle was next to me as I was laboring in the birthing pool. Listening to them talk was a very nice distraction from the discomfort of my contractions. I had my eyes closed but hearing their voices seemed to help me relax because I was reassured to know where they were. Nancy was able to take the baby’s heart tones while I was in the water and it was helpful to know he was doing as well as I was.
In the mist of labor Keaton became concerned and anxious. He kept coming over to give me hugs and kisses to make me feel better. He was such a darling and so concerned about mommy. He even attempted to get in the pool but we had to gently tell him no. So, instead, he would put his hands in the water and move them back and forth. He so badly wanted to be close to me and offer me love. Unfortunately, having my son present and upset began to slow down my labor and my contractions would stop while I tried to comfort him. I became emotional so Aaron and I decided it would be best for them to go for a drive and get some fresh air. Later, I learned they had a great time getting burgers at Wendy’s and watching cars drive by. They also visited Aaron’s dad at the hospital.
Once Aaron and Keaton left, my labor became more productive and around 6 PM I was in transition. I was bellowing and groaning to cope with the pain and it really worked. Vocalizing the contractions and swaying back and forth made them more tolerable. I thought I would be scared of the pain of labor but I really wasn’t. I took it one step at a time, one contraction at a time, and all the hormones kept me going strong. There were a few times when I felt like I just couldn’t do it but I remembered something Nancy told me, “the pain of labor is a productive pain” and that helped me stay positive. I could actually feel my baby rotating in the birth canal. At one point, as I was squatting in the birthing pool I said with surprise, “Air bubbles are coming out of my vagina.”and we all laughed.
Before I knew it, my newborn son was crowning. Deckard was born at 7:02 PM but he had a short umbilical cord that was tightly wrapped one time around his neck. Nancy somersaulted him in the water, leaving the umbilical cord intact, and placed him on my chest. He was blue and not breathing. Nancy him put on a warm tray next to me and gave him two puffs of air while Noel got the oxygen tank turned on. Then, an ambu bag (a bag valve mask used for resuscitation) was placed over his face. I was holding my breath and Machelle told me to start talking to my baby. With tears in my eyes I told his name to him for the first time and I told him how much I loved him. I told him he was so beautiful and I asked him to open his eyes. As I rubbed his back, I watched the pink color return to his skin and his chest began to rise and fall. He looked at me with a confused look on his face, like he was thinking, “How did I get out here?” and he whimpered. Then, he started to cry and I was so happy! All of this took place in less than three minutes.
Shortly after birth, while Deckard and I were still in the birthing tub, I called Aaron to come home. As luck would have it, Aaron and Keaton had already pulled into the garage and were on their way to the door. They got to meet Deckard at the perfect time; they avoided all the scary, icky stuff but they got to meet him when he had stopped crying and was alert. Aaron had a proud look on his face and Keaton was super excited to see his baby brother.
Deckard and I stayed in the birth tub a little while longer to catch our breath. I awkwardly held him against my chest but we could tell he was getting cold. I carefully lowered him into the water with my hand supporting his head and back so that he was floating and staying warm. As we were resting and enjoying the warm water, I delivered my placenta and when the umbilical cord stopped pulsating, it was cut.
Once I was ready, Nancy, Machelle and Noel, helped me slowly walked over to my living room sofa where I settled in and bonded with my baby. He was very alert as I held him skin to skin while I gazed at him and admired how handsome and perfect he was. Breastfeeding went off without a hitch about forty five minutes later and we’ve been going strong ever since. I got to watch my older son, Keaton, run circles around the living room and showed off for us. He certainly knows how to be the life of the party. A bit later Aaron put Keaton to bed and he came downstairs to join us as we relaxed and chatted in the living room.
We talked about how beneficial and lifesaving it was to leave Deckard’s umbilical cord intact after it had been wrapped around his neck because he was still receiving 70% oxygen. We talked about water birth and I told them how appreciative I was to have had the birthing tub available because it was instrumental in coping with the pain. We talked about the fact that home birth is very safe for a mother and baby when they are healthy. We talked about how perfect and healthy my labor and delivery was and how natural homebirth is. We commented on how handsome and healthy Deckard was. It was such a calming experience to sit and talk in the dim light and warmth of our home, while we discussed the events of my birth.
After a while, I gave Deckard to my husband to hold and I went up to our bedroom, with Nancy, Machelle and Noel, to have a tear stitched up. Then, my son was brought to me while I lay in bed. Nancy weighted him, did a health check (no Vitamin K or erythromycin ointment) and made sure all his fingers and toes were accounted for.
He weighed 9 lbs., 9 oz. and was 22 inches long. What a big, healthy boy! Around 10 PM Nancy, Machelle, and Noel said their goodbyes and headed home while Deckard and I snuggled in bed and my husband took care of the birthing tub. (I was so thankful he was willing to do that even though it was hard work and took several hours.) It was a very restful experience, to sleep in my own bed with my newborn son, undisturbed by interruptions from nurses and visitors. Just peace and quiet as I got to know my baby…
Giving birth at home, on my own terms, surrounded by three strong women helping me was an amazing experience! I am so glad I had the courage to bring my second son into this world drug free and in the security of my own home. I can’t say enough how peaceful and natural it was. Home birth gave me confidence; if I could give birth at home, I could be fearless and I could do anything! I had tons of endorphins and oxytocin rushing through my body and I felt alive! For me, home birth was exactly what I needed. I wish now that I had allowed pictures to be taken of the birth because it was such a beautiful experience.
During the early postpartum period I got to see Nancy and Machelle on a regular basis for home postpartum visits. Deckard was gaining very well, I lost thirty five pounds during the first couple of weeks and we were both very healthy. I realized that emotionally, I was doing much better than I had after my first birth.
Last time, I knew intellectually that I had had a baby but instinctively, I felt unsettled and confused. I had the baby blues and then postpartum depression which seemed to drag on and on. This time, both instinctively and intellectually, I felt at peace because enduring the pain of childbirth, in my own home was what my mind and body needed.
I did have the baby blues for a few weeks and I do feel tired most days and overwhelmed sometimes but there are no signs of postpartum depression. I feel my home birth has contributed to my state of mind because it was a very healing, enlightening and empowering experience for me. I felt closer to my newborn son and I felt like I could take on the world. What a blessing homebirth can be. It was hard work, it hurt A LOT, and I did it!