5 Hour Home Birth

{Editors Note: This story comes to us from Elizabeth. I have to say that I really connect to the start of the story – my own labor started after a long walk around IKEA!}

Our first daughter, Penelope, was born in 2010 in the hospital – natural and with no intervention.  I knew that for our next birth, I didn’t want to be in the hospital, so I found an awesome team of midwives at a birth center just a few minutes from where we live.  At first, we’d intended to have the baby at the birth center but a few months in we decided to go with the home birth.

Mariana was eight days late!  I was convinced she would be early, but I was very wrong.  It was freezing outside, being early December, so I tried to encourage her to come by walking around Costco and the mall.  A week after our due date, my mom took Penelope for the afternoon and my husband Jason and I went to dinner.

We were going to go to a movie, because we figured that would be an awesomely inconvenient place for me to start labor, but instead of the movie we opted for IKEA.  I’d been joking with a friend that beside Costco and the mall, IKEA would be the place to go to start labor.

We picked up Penelope and went home. We went about our evening as usual, and just as I was about to go to bed, I felt my first “real” contraction.  I’d been having Braxton Hicks like crazy for the past three weeks, but this was the real deal – IKEA had done the trick.

I told Jason, and he told me to try to get some sleep.  I tried, but I couldn’t, so I ran a load of laundry and cleaned the kitchen really well.  As I puttered around, the contractions got stronger and my mucus plug came out, bloody show and all.

I called my doula, Liz, after about 45 minutes, at almost midnight and told her how I felt. Liz had helped with Penelope’s birth too, when we were in the hospital. She offered to come over right away, and I told her that I was fine. I didn’t want to get everyone too excited.  I told her I’d call her back in an hour.  After I got off the phone with her, I laid down on the couch to tried and rest.

Just as I’d figured out how to sleep through the contractions, BOOM!  My water broke.  It sounded and felt like an impact, and it woke me up.  I saw that almost two hours had passed since I’d talked to Liz, so I called her and told her that my water had broken.  She got in her car right away.

I woke up Jason to tell him that my water broke, and he started getting the bed and the house ready for the birth.  I took a shower and changed into a sports bra, tank top, and yoga pants.

Lauren, the midwife, had told me at my last appointment that with a late baby there’s the chance that meconium can get into the waters and that they could possibly obstruct baby’s breathing.  She told me to look for a “pea soup”-like liquid if my water broke as a sign of meconium.  Sure enough, there was meconium in the water so I called Lauren right away.

Lauren asked how I was feeling, how the contractions were.  I told Lauren that I was fine, and I was talking through contractions.  There had only been about 2 1/2 hours of labor at this point, so I figured that I was fine and that there was no need for Lauren to head over right away.

It only took Liz about 15 minutes to get to my house. I was bent over the bassinet, with contractions getting stronger, longer, and closer together.  Liz told me she thought I was a lot further into labor than I thought, but I was still convinced that we had hours ahead of us.  As Liz started to make tea for us, the contractions got even stronger.  Liz was helping me with pressure on my low back, reminding me to breathe.

I changed positions as the contractions got stronger – about 45 seconds long, a minute or two apart.  Liz told me that I was sweaty and got a compress for my forehead. She called the midwife to tell her that she thought I was heading into transition.  The midwife started on her way – it would take her about 25 minutes to get to my house.

I didn’t believe Liz or my body – it had only been a couple of hours since my first contraction.  I insisted that I had to go to the bathroom.  Liz didn’t want me to sit on the toilet – she told me that the bowel-movement feeling could actually be an early urge to push.  I told her that I knew it wasn’t pushing – I just really needed to poop.

She let me sit on the toilet for a minute, but as soon as I got there I realized that she was right.  This baby was close.  I found myself unable to get up from the toilet and told Liz and Jason that I couldn’t move.  Liz called the midwife back to ask where she was, and put Lauren on the phone – Lauren told me to get off the toilet, that she was almost there, and that she would not let me have the baby in the toilet!

Liz and Jason helped me off the toilet and onto the bed.  I faced the headboard, and Jason piled pillows underneath my elbows for support.  I took my clothes off, and concentrated on what my body was doing – I was holding the baby IN with each contraction.  Liz asked me to pant to keep my efforts in my upper body, so that I wouldn’t push before the midwife came.

Liz was holding the baby in with one hand and keeping a cold compress on my forehead with the other.  Jason was kissing me on the cheek and telling me how much he loves me.  I was so ready to have this baby!

Lauren got into the house with her supplies, and touched base with Liz to see how I’d been doing.  She got her gloves on, and on the next contraction I pushed and delivered the baby at 4:13am – just five hours after the first contraction, and six minutes after Lauren got to our house.

First Minutes

Mariana was absolutely beautiful, so alive and alert right away.  I held her on my chest as Lauren finished getting everything together.  We did the examinations, Jason weighed the baby (8lb 8oz!) and I delivered the placenta (in the toilet).  The student midwife helped me into the shower and got my pajamas, and Liz and Jason changed the sheets and made the bed.

Fresh Baby

Jason and I got into bed with our brand new baby as Lauren and the student midwife documented the birth.  Liz helped us get comfortable and made sure baby was nursing well.  About two hours after delivery, everything was taken care of and all three of us went to bed.  Big Sister (2 1/2) slept through the whole thing, and woke up in the morning to meet her baby sister.

Liz told me that I didn’t yell or scream even once, except immediately after I delivered.  Lauren congratulated me on how well I’d done, and I replied LOUDLY – “I could give birth in the forest!”.  I don’t know if I really could, and I probably wouldn’t want to try, but I’m even more convinced now that labor is 88% mental preparation – I’d been telling Liz for months that I was shooting for a 4-hour labor.

In retrospect, Liz thinks that I went into transition when I was talking to Lauren on the phone, and they were both amazed that I was talking through contractions like that.  I tend to downplay pain and keep my game-face on, so it could definitely be the case.

Happy Family

I am happy that I had two different births with my two very different and beautiful babies, but honestly I did prefer the home birth.  I felt so relaxed and prepared, and it was so nice to wrap up the birth the same way – comfortable in my bed with Jason and Mariana.

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