The reason I want to share my story is because its positive, and I had a completely natural home birth. I feel like in today’s world, especially in America, that’s not a story you hear very often. I didn’t know a home birth was a possibility at first, because I didn’t know anyone who had had one, and I assumed the AF would have some rule against it. Surprisingly they didn’t, and then I became friends with Nicole.
Once she told me her story, and I thought more about what I wanted from my birth experience the better a home birth with a midwife sounded. No IVs, no being attached to machines, no pressure to have unnecessary interventions, no one watching the clock telling me I’m not progressing fast enough, and the best part not being in a hospital. Both of my pregnancies had been completely normal and healthy. My previous birth was without complications. I was a perfect candidate for a home birth. I discussed it with my Ob who was completely behind me. So I started my research.
I found Jane my midwife from another friend who was going to use her for her home birth. Once I met with Jane I knew it was going to happen. I felt completely at ease with her, and I trusted her. She just has the air about her that is so confident and relaxed. I knew she would be perfect. Then I started reading home birth stories which I found really helpful and inspiring. I also researched potential complications, but like I said there was no cause for alarm or concern as E and I were perfectly healthy. As I progressed in my pregnancy, and my due date approached I felt increasingly confident and excited with my decision. I also felt really impatient, but that’s pretty much how everyone feels.
Thinking about my second son’s birth naturally makes me reflect on my first birth experience. While it wasn’t negative it wasn’t positive either. I didn’t get to hold S until after he had been bathed, checked, and all bundled up about 45 minutes later. I was induced, had an epidural, and the whole thing felt very anticlimactic. I know that sounds awful. I had a healthy baby, and that is truly the most important part, but is it the only thing that matters? I don’t think so. With S it took me a while maybe even a day or so to get to know this little stranger that I used to carry inside me. I wouldn’t say I had PPD, but I definitely didn’t have that birthing high I experienced this time. All in all it was what it was, and I have a lot of guilt over it because I didn’t go into labour with a clear idea of what to expect. I wasn’t well educated in my rights, and of what is actually necessary as far as interventions go. I had decided almost as soon as I found out I was pregnant I was going to wing it, because I was terrified. Labor is scary. I *knew* it was going to hurt like hell because that’s what I have heard my whole life. You just suffer through it and then you get your baby. That is basically what happened. I suffered through the Pitocin, got an epidural (which completely took away all feeling below my hips), and then pushed for about 45 minutes and had my son. I’m writing this so it’s understood what completely different experiences they were. So here we go.
I went to bed on Friday experiencing what I thought was going to be *another* sleepless night of annoying false labor contractions that would not lead to anything. I woke up about 2am that morning because I could no longer stay asleep with the contractions that were happening every 10 minutes. I decided to get up and go downstairs to watch TV. The contractions increased to every 5-7 minutes, and ever so slightly increasing in intensity. I hesitate to use the word intense, because they weren’t in the slightest at his point they were just annoying. At about 6am I emailed everyone who was planning on being at the birth. I didn’t want to call because I was expecting this is be an all day event and didn’t want to wake anyone up. At about 7am Catherine, who was totally “my person” that day, showed up. Catherine is a midwife, and while she wasn’t my midwife her presence made me feel so relaxed and comfortable. About the same time S woke up. While Catherine hung out and chatted to me I was breathing through contractions, making S breakfast, and doing all the normal stuff we do every day. I decided to call my good friend Jessica to come take S for the day because I knew I wouldn’t be able to focus on being in labor if I was worried about him. I packed his bag and at about 9am Jessica came and collected him. I admit that was the first time I cried that day. I knew the next time I saw him I wouldn’t just belong to him anymore. He would forever have to share me with his little brother. It was a little sad, but I knew he would grow to love his baby brother, and would realize that I still loved him just as much. That might have been the hardest part of the day.
Once he left and I recovered my body quickly got me refocused on the task at hand. By this point I was breathing through the contractions on all fours. It felt a lot better to be in that position because it took the pressure off my back. They were still about 5-7 minutes apart. An hour later it was finally decided we should call my midwife Jane. My contractions had quickened to every 3-4 minutes, and I could no longer talk through them, but they weren’t the terrible life shattering pain I remember from the Pitocin. Jane arrived and my labor seemed to slow down. Apparently this is normal when new people show up your body slows labor down until you are comfortable again. They seemed to lessen in intensity for the time being. This seemed like a good time to blow up the pool. That was really exciting and at that point I realised this is going to happen! I’m not going to be pregnant for much longer. Whoooo! That was a happy moment for me. I really am not a fan of being pregnant. So we got the pool blown up and filled up with hot water. We put the cover on so it would stay warm, and we went back to hanging out.
At about 12noon I called Jessica H to come over. I still didn’t think it was going to happen any time soon, but I like her company so I wanted her there. When Jess got there everything slowed down a bit again and didn’t seem to pick back up. Jane even decided at about 12:30pm that she would leave to go get lunch, because we all thought we had a long day ahead of us. Right before she left I decided to get in the pool because I was really curious how the water would help when I had contractions. Let me freakin’ tell you. It was AWESOME! It didn’t necessarily make them less intense, but it helped my body relax and accept them. I’m pretty sure this is what made the next part happen so quickly.
Jane left, and almost immediately after that, I got up to use the bathroom. When I was washing my hands my water broke. I was pretty shocked. I wasn’t expecting that to happen anytime soon. So I went out of the bathroom and informed Catherine what had happened. She quickly called Jane who said she would head back ASAP, and said as long as I wasn’t feeling any urges to push she would make it back in time. Pretty much right after she hung up the phone I felt this huge pressure in my pelvis. It kind of freaked me out because I wasn’t expecting it so I instantly tried to fight it. I yelled to Catherine “never mind, I’m pushing, I’m pushing”. She immediately called Jane back and then came to my side. I grabbed on to one of her arms and my other grabbed on to Jessica’s. I didn’t let go until after I had him. I was leaned over the tub sitting on my knees in the water with both of my hands holding my friends hands.
At first I tried to breathe through the contractions so he would come out slowly which would decrease my chances of tearing, but I’ll be blunt – that didn’t feel good. In fact, it hurt. I haven’t used that word so far because it really didn’t apply until this point. I was never “in pain”. I had been uncomfortable, but no one thought that I was that far along because I wasn’t in pain and my contractions never got more that 4-5 minutes apart. After the first contraction and trying to breath though it I decided “eff it, I’m going to push”. The next one was a whole different story. Once I felt the contraction coming on I took a deep breath and pushed with the contraction. It was the best/worst
feeling in the world. It didn’t feel good, but I felt like I was doing what my body wanted, and I knew I was working toward the best goal. Plus I could actually feel my progress. No one was telling me “I can see his head”; there was no need I could feel his head descending. From what I remember I pushed with 3 contractions total. The last one Jane told me to lift my body so he would have room. I lifted up and looked down and grabbed up my baby boy. Ezra was born at 1:22pm, just 20 minutes after my water broke.
No one birthed my baby. I did it! My body did what it was supposed to. Knowing that was so amazing. It was the best high I have ever experienced. I sat back in the pool and stared at my son. It was an instant connection. I knew him. He was so familiar to me. It was so obvious how right this was. This was how it was supposed to be. I had my baby in my house surrounded by people I cared about, and who cared about me. It was perfect. He was perfect.
After a few minutes I decided to get out. Ezra was still attached to the cord at this point, because I wanted to wait until it was done pulsing to cut it. I got out of the pool with help from Jane and Catherine and sat on the couch. They covered me with towels and blankets and I cuddled my baby. After about an hour Jane said it was time to birth the placenta. After which, I decided to have a placenta smoothie. Be grossed out, whatever. I figured it kept my baby alive for 9 months, and people rave about how energising it is so why the hell not. It tasted like a smoothie. I didn’t even know it was in there. After Ezra was weighed (7lbs, 10oz), and Jane checked him out everyone slowly left to leave me and Matt to get to know our new little family member. It was the perfect day, and I wouldn’t change it for the world.
After I had him, at about 3am that morning, I ended up needing to go to the hospital because of excessive blood loss. Small pieces of my placenta were left in my uterus which was causing me to bleed out. I want to make it clear: this would have happened in or out of the hospital, because my placenta looked completely intact. After a long discussion with my Ob it was determined even if I had had him in hospital I would have wanted to leave ASAP to get home to S anyway. I would have ended up back in the hospital the same way. It’s unfortunate that it happened, but these things just do sometimes. I am just thankful that his birth was perfect.
I hope that reading my story makes having a natural birth seem more attainable. Like “if she can do it so can I”. I spent a long time thinking about “what could someone have said to me the first time around to make labor/natural childbirth seem achievable to me”. The only person who really spoke to me about it was a chiropractor, who asked if I was planning on an epidural. When I told him I had been open to the idea he looked like I had told him I was planning on eating my baby after I gave birth. It was a look of pure disgust. It wasn’t helpful. It didn’t change my mind. It just made me feel ashamed and like I had failed before I even started. So I just want new mothers to know it doesn’t have to be scary, and when it comes down to it you just have to go into it with your eyes open. Make a birth plan and talk to your doctor about your expectations. Obviously these things don’t always go as planned, but as long as you make educated decisions as they happen you are less likely to look back with regrets. I’m not even saying your birth has to be natural to be perfect for you. Just be informed, educate yourself, and surround yourself with people you love. I think if someone would have shared these things with me I might have done things differently. Who knows? I just want people to know birth can be wonderful! I feel so blessed to have had the experience I did. It was healing and beautiful. Most of all I feel blessed to be the mother of my two perfect boys.
Photos by Angela Anderson Photography and Heidelberger Photographer
I had my son 4 minutes after my water broke! It can happen. 🙂
I swear that your midwife Jane was the midwife I had with my second baby! But that was in England.
I’m so inspired by your story and so proud to say I know you and think your amazing!!!! Loving that Angela’s pictures came out great as well, you can see just how relaxed and easy this was by looking at them. Can’t wait til its my turn again one day and I truly hope I get to experience that high like you did.
I had my son 5 minutes after my water broke! It’s amazing how fast it can happen!
Mary, we do live in Engand right now!
I love reading a beautiful story like this. Thank you for sharing it.
Megan– Wow, what a crazy coincidence… I’m almost positive that this is the same midwife that we had with our home water birth in England in 2010. I was active duty Air Force at the time stationed at Molesworth. Jane was/is amazing! I recently had another baby in Florida and it was much harder to have the out of hospital birth that I had in England. I had to switch to standard and there were some out of pocket costs in order to have a homebirth. We ended up having her in a free standing birth center, which was amazing, but not quite the same as our home birth in England.