Kyla of Birthing Aspirations shares two stories: the midwife-assisted home births of her first two children, Naomi and Lily. Earlier this year she shared the story of the birth of her third child, Zoe, with us: A Simple Home Water Birth.
Home birth of Naomi:
I was at a volunteer appreciation night at my church on my estimated due date. I was joking with some of our friends that baby had three hours before her due date was over. On the way home I told my husband that I felt like it was the calm before the storm. I had no idea what to expect as this was my first baby. I was scared, yet excited for labour to begin. Every little niggle and cramp sent me running for paper to mark it down as I anticipated “something” happening.
I went to bed around midnight, my mind running a mile a minute as I processed what we still needed to get ready for the baby. I started to feel light contractions about five minutes apart around 1:00 AM. I laid in bed for an hour or so, timing them roughly in my head. I probably could have ignored them and went to sleep for a couple of hours, which would have been a good idea so I could reserve my energy. I did the opposite, being an excited first time mother. I jumped out of bed and starting surfing the web with searches of “am I in labour?”, simultaneously timing my contractions on contraction master.
Around 5:00 AM, I felt like the contractions were becoming more painful. I called our midwife and she said she would come over and check me. She arrived around 6:30. I was only three centimeters dilated and she said she would leave and I should call her when the contractions got closer together. We made eggs and farmer sausages for breakfast and were able to relax a bit. I willed myself to keep calm, as everything I had heard was that fear and panic can make the pain worse. I tried to sleep between contractions, managing a few cat naps, as I had not slept yet. I was about to call the midwife back around 11:00, the contractions were lasting longer and becoming more painful. She called at the same moment I was about to call her. She said she would be back over soon because she could hear in my voice that labour was moving along.
Our midwife came back around 12:00 and checked my cervix, she found it to be five centimeters dilated. My water was not broken yet and the contractions were still very manageable. She asked if she could break my water, and I agreed. As soon as my water was broken the contractions became much stronger and I began to panic. My midwife suggested that I try to have a warm shower. I came back downstairs and was becoming vocal and high-pitched. I could feel the tension and pain building when I lost control of my breathing. My midwife used counter pressure on my back and showed my husband how to as well. She gave me some homeopathic remedies (not sure what it was) to calm me down.
I was facing backwards on a chair and breathing with all that was in me. I was sure I was not going to make it through. Looking back, I was in transition. I was becoming very agitated and scared. The midwife called the second midwife to come at this point. I was checked around 3:30 and found to be complete. My midwife suggested I try pushing on hands and knees or kneeling but I felt like I couldn’t move off my back. I pushed in a half sitting position on a mattress in front of the couch. I pushed for 30 minutes. Naomi was born at 4:02 pm on June 12th 2008. My midwife had tears in her eyes and kissed me on the forehead. My husband was sitting beside me on the couch and he was crying and looked stunned! He came over and kissed me and we both cried. Naomi looked up at me with her eyes wide. She cried for a few minutes and then my midwife helped me latch her on to nurse.
I was found to have 2nd degree tears which were then repaired. Naomi was weighed at 7 lbs 4 oz and was 21 inches long. The placenta came easily after a Pitocin injection. Our midwife showed us how the placenta worked and how it looked like a tree. The midwives cleaned up and after checking everyone over, went on their way. We ordered Swiss Chalet and called our families with the good news. I went up to bed around 8:00 and my husband stayed with the baby and brought her up to nurse or for help with meconium diapers.
Even with midwifery support, I felt very afraid during Naomi’s birth. I can only imagine how much more scared I would have been if I hadn’t had their calming touch and soothing voices to bring me back over and over. I wouldn’t change a thing about her birth. It was a life-changing event unlike anything else I have ever experienced. I was on a birth high and was amazed I had actually given birth! I had done what I had considered to be the impossible. I gained confidence as a mother through my positive birthing experience. The pain was gone just as quickly as it had started and I was left with a whole new perspective on life and a beautiful little girl to love.
Home birth of Lily Grace:
I woke up on April 22nd 2010, two days past my estimated due date, with mild contractions every seven minutes. I had been having contractions every evening for a week or so and had gone to bed each night telling myself that I would sleep through them until I couldn’t ignore it any longer. I always hoped that it would be the last night going to bed pregnant, but I would always wake up with nothing happening. I had begun to believe that baby was never going to come so when I woke up on the 22nd I was convinced it was another “practice round”.
It was 6:30 am. I laid in bed trying to sleep but was too awake at that point to fall asleep again. Around 8 am my husband woke up for work and I mentioned that I was having contractions. He said he would stay home from work but I insisted that he go since I was convinced the contractions would stop at some point. He only worked 10 minutes away and I could call him if things picked up. My almost two year-old woke up and we went about our day as normal. I was still having light contractions every seven minutes but could still walk and talk through them.
I called my midwife at 11 am to give a heads up that today might be the day since the contractions were still coming. She had done a stretch and sweep three days prior and had predicted that labour would start that night or the next day but it hadn’t happened so she was waiting for my call. She told me to call back if things picked up a bit. Right after making the call the contractions spread out to anywhere from five to twenty mins apart, even going an hour with nothing at some points. Since the contractions were so irregular and mild I decided that nothing was happening that day and was slightly disappointed. The midwife called me back around 4 pm to check in and I told her that things had calmed down and she wished me luck for tomorrow.
I continued to have mild contractions 7-10 minutes apart but was able to continue on as normal and had already put it out of my head so I barely noticed them anymore. I made supper and cleaned (read: nested) for a while and finally sat down on the couch at 6:30. I immediately heard an audible pop. I jumped up (more worried about the couch) and realized it was my water breaking. I told my husband who had arrived home from work shortly before. He frantically ran for the phone saying he was going to call the midwife. I asked him to slow down and breath and get me a towel first.
I got cleaned up and called the midwife who said she was on her way. We called my sister-in-law to come look after our daughter during the labour. Our midwife and the student came over at 7 pm. I was checked and was found to be five centimeters dilated. I wasn’t in a lot of pain and we were just sitting in the living room having a chat about all sorts of non birth related things… I almost forgot what I was about to do. It just felt like a little get-together over tea!
My water had not fully broken so the midwife broke it to get the contractions moving faster as they were still very mild and spaced out. At this point the contractions began to get more painful and 4-5 minutes apart. I was walking around and trying to remain upright so things would not slow down again. Around 8:30 I was checked and was at seven centimeters. The contractions got harder to work through at this point. I rocked on my birth ball on my knees or leaned on the bed frame to rock my hips through the contractions.
I was checked at 10:30 and was still at seven centimeters so the midwife suggested a stretch and sweep to help. I happily accepted as I was hoping to have made some more progress with the strength of the contractions. I immediately began transition and did not have a break in between contractions. I needed to go into my zone and block out all voices and just breath and rock on my birth ball. I lost track of time and just went into “labour land” as some call it. My nearly two year-old daughter kept coming in the bedroom to give me props and steal the freezies I was being fed. She was very relaxed and excited about the whole situation. Between contractions she hung out in the living room with her aunt.
My husband, midwife and the student took shifts putting pressure on my back. At 11:15 I told the midwife I felt like pushing. She had just called the secondary midwife and had not expected me to say that so soon. We weren’t sure if the other midwife would make it in time. I started pushing on my hands and knees on the bed. The second midwife slipped into the room at some point. I remember saying hello to her when I looked up and saw her but didn’t remember hearing her come in. The midwives used hot compresses on my perineum to help prevent tearing. I pushed for 14 minutes before our baby was born.
Lily Grace Joy was born at 11:29 pm. I was helped to lie back on the bed. She nursed right away. I was so tired I just laid there in a daze and didn’t have enough energy to to talk. I was given a pitocin shot and the placenta came 9 minutes later with a few tiny pushes and a little bit of gentle cord traction. I had no tears or cuts. My two year-old was brought in to meet her sister a few minutes after she was born and sat on the bed quietly. She looked confused but warmed up to her no problem. She went to bed shortly after as she had stayed awake the whole labour since there was so much going on and she couldn’t settle for bed.
We weighed Lily and she was 7 lbs, 9 oz and 20 inches long. The midwives cleaned up and left around 3 am and we went to bed as if it were just a normal day. I had woken up that day, sure that nothing was going to happen, and went to sleep with an extra person in the bed. It felt seamless, like such a natural thing. Wake up, clean the house, make supper, have a baby, go to bed. This is one thing I love about home birth. It feels so normal and right. There is no rush to the hospital and no bright lights or a busy setting. Instead, it’s calm and familiar and peaceful.