With the birth of my first daughter in 2013 I thought I knew everything needed to have a natural birth. I hired a midwife, read books, researched, and read more books. None of that prepared me for labor or for my new role as a mother. Little did I know that while my midwife yessed me at every appointment and made it seem like natural was possible she quickly turned cold while I was in labor.
I awoke to my water breaking and contractions coming steadily. I was told to stay home as long as possible. Well this being my first rodeo I had no idea how long this could take. After being home for about six hours my husband Tom and I decided it was a good time to go since we had a 50 minute car ride to the hospital ahead of us. Once we got to the hospital my contractions slowed down to practically nothing. I was admitted and checked. The nurse told me I was maybe 2cm dilated. Not too long after my midwife comes in and tells me things are not moving fast enough and she wanted to start pitocin. I asked the nurse at the time if this would make my contractions worse, she told me no. Well that is a big fat lie. My contractions started coming faster and more intense. I was having horrendous back labor (due to baby being posterior, but no one told me) no amount of rocking or moaning was keeping me calm.
My midwife would come in periodically and turn up the Pitocin without saying a word to me. She at one point asked if I was ready for the epidural. I shook my head no because I thought there was an understanding of me wanting to do it naturally. After she left I had a few more contractions and cried out for the epidural. The epidural was given to me but did not take effect properly. The anesthesiologist was called in for a C-section and I was left to labor in bed with one side completely numb and the other side feeling like it was on fire. Two hours later he came back to redo the epidural. After that I was finally feeling comfortable but had no idea what was going on. It felt very isolating.
After quite some time my midwife came in but this time told me the baby’s heart rate was dropping. She told me that they were going to give me an hour and if nothing changed they would have to section me. I was so tired and at that point all I wanted was for my baby to be safe. The end of the hour came and my midwife checked me telling me that I was fully dilated and ready to push. After about 30 min of coached pushing she was here. She was purple, wide eyed and silent. She was breathing and everything was fine but she never cried. She looked like she was in as much shock as I was.
Total time was 23 hours. I have suffered from depression and anxiety most of my life and after the birth of my first daughter postpartum depression hit me hard. I was upset over my birth experience, replaying it in my head, what if’s and should have’s. I eventually found peace with my first birth. Got the help I needed to get through PPD and really started to enjoy motherhood. Two years later I was at the birth of my nephew and I helped support my sister-in-law through a very tiring labor. This birth opened my eyes to the wonderful world of being a doula. Four months after my nephew’s birth I took a doula certification class. I learned so much and was so excited to give back what I learned. Little did I know that just two weeks later I would find out I was pregnant.
It was two and a half years after the birth of our first daughter and I was ready to reclaim my birth. I switched to another midwifery practice and knew immediately that this group of women would give me the right tools to get the birth I desired. At just a month and a few days into my pregnancy I was hit with morning sickness. Not just “Ugh, I feel so queasy and gross” morning sickness. I was throwing up 6-8 times a day and couldn’t eat anything or keep fluids down. It was a horrible pregnancy. Six months of non-stop throwing up and three months of feeling like I had the worst hangover ever, every day. During those nine months I found birth without fear. I loved reading all these women’s amazing powerful birth stories. I prepared much more mentally for this birth then I did with my first.
The midwives I was seeing offered homebirth as an option as well as going to the hospital. I had looked into homebirth with my first pregnancy but my husband was not comfortable with the idea of it. This time he knew that I was looking for something different and was completely supportive. The midwives offered us an opportunity to attend what they call a homebirth social. You go and talk to other families about their experiences of birthing at home. It was a wonderful way to gain confidence in myself as well as put the few fears my husband still had to rest. Every story was different but the consistency of how the midwives worked was reassuring. So I was armed with my wonderful midwives, I hired a doula, did my affirmations and just waited for the day baby decided it was time.
I awoke on June 10th (my actual due date) at 3:30am to the feeling of what seemed like mild menstrual cramps. I laid in bed trying not get excited but knew that this was it. The day before I had some bloody show and was so tired I could barely stand. I had gotten a good amount of rest that night and decided that after an hour and half to get up. It was around 5am and Tom was getting ready to get up for work. I told him I was feeling crampy and had to breathe through the feeling. He decided to stay home to help with our three year old and just see where the day took us. The midwives had told me that second babies always come faster but I was skeptical thinking about my 23 hour labor the first time.
I went into the living room, sat on my birth ball and watched American Hustle. It seemed like every 30 minutes I was feeling a rush. It was nothing that I couldn’t breathe through. By 7am our 3three year old was up and ready to start her day. I made her breakfast as my husband milled around asking if I thought this was it. I told him I wasn’t sure, things at the time didn’t seem consistent and the rushes were not lasting very long. I left the house around 8am to see my chiropractor while my husband stayed home with our daughter. I had two rushes on the way to the office, which was 30 min away. While getting adjusted I had another. My chiropractor suggested that I call my midwives when I got home. On the way home I had two more in the car and needed to breathe to get through them. They still didn’t seem to be lasting very long and were manageable.
Once home I walked around on our back deck stopping occasionally to breathe through the rushes. I called the midwives and spoke to Cindy who was on call. She said to give a call back when they were more like 10 minutes apart. I lived 50 minutes from their office and they needed time to get to me. I also texted my doula to keep her up to speed. We took our daughter to gymnastic class around 9:30 am. While at the 45 min class I could tell that things were getting more regular. I was swaying and breathing through each rush. I wasn’t timing them I was just letting the waves come and wash over me. I leaned into my husband for a few. I can only imagine what this must have looked like to the other women in the gymnastics waiting room.
We left the class and were heading home when my daughter asked if we could stop at her favorite place she calls the purple place for lunch. My immediate answer was “Sure! Why not? This isn’t so bad.” Then a rush came that was different than the others. Active Labor. It was more intense and I recanted my decision to go out for lunch. We got back home and my husband made lunch for our daughter while I paced back and forth on our deck, hunching over various chairs and railings when I needed. I remember feeling like I just wanted to walk and move as much as possible. My husband asked if I was up for a walk and I agreed. We walked up our street and back to our house. It was a slow pace as I was stopping every so often to hunch over the stroller to breathe through the rushes. We even stopped to talk to our neighbor who was outside.
After our walk I was feeling kind of fatigued. Tom suggested I lie down and try to rest because we weren’t sure what was head of us. I went to go lay down but had three big rushes fairly quickly and close together. It was about 1:30pm and I texted my doula. I told her I was trying to rest but couldn’t and asked her to come. She told me she would be there in 30 minutes. I got up because laying down made everything worse. I told Tom that I sent a text to Chrissy the doula and she was coming over. I also asked him to just start keeping time of the contractions. This whole time I was managing my contractions by doing deep breathing and swaying.
I decided to get in the shower after I texted my doula and that’s when things changed again. Transition. I had to hold onto the window in the shower and was very vocal through each rush. I kept saying “Oooooookaaaaaayyyy” in a low growl like way as if to remind myself that this was all okay. Also the wide open mouth made me visualize myself opening. I get out of the shower and at this time it’s about 2pm and things start to get a bit hazy from here. I finally realize that this is for real and call my midwife. I don’t even have to say more than a few words before she is telling me that she is on her way and to not get in the tub before she gets there. Tom had been writing down the time and they were about every two to three min apart. I was hoping for a water birth and had the tub but it wasn’t even inflated or anything. In fact nothing was ready.
My doula Chrissy comes into the house all smiles and sees me in the kitchen making witch hazel pads to put in the freezer. She comes over and starts to help without saying a word. I have another rush that makes me want to fall to the ground but I just lean over the stove moaning while my doula does counter pressure on back. I start to feel shaky and nauseous with each rush. In between each rush though I feel normal and talk to my doula and ask my husband to start getting the bed ready by layering. At this time it’s about 3pm and my mother-in-law shows up to help with our daughter. I greet her as she comes in the door giving her a big smile and hug. Thanking her for coming to help. She takes our daughter out for a walk while I keep laboring and again have another rush, this one bringing me to my knees. I am kneeling on the floor hunched over our couch and think to myself “Oh man, this is painful. I should have just gone to the hospital, got the drugs, and been done. What the hell was I thinking?” My doula saw that I was getting introspective and reminded me that I am strong and that this is what I wanted and that I’m kicking ass at it. My mind set refocuses on the task at hand and I go back to vocalizing and swaying my hips.
At some point my midwife calls and my doula answers my phone. I didn’t know it at the time but my midwife was prepping my doula in case she didn’t make it and would have to deliver the baby. My doula kept her calm and got Tom to help put the waterproof pads under me and get my skirt and underwear off. I move from leaning over the couch to leaning over my birth ball trying to stay as relaxed as possible, letting my body do the work. I start to feel pressure in my lower back and my doula kept up with the counter pressure which was amazing. My midwife has still not made it to the house but the midwife assistance showed up at some point. She and Tom start blowing up the pool. I asked Chrissy if she thought the baby was coming soon to which she replied “Well, your contractions are a minute apart but there is still time and you’re doing great.” I remember looking over at Tom, feeling a bit loopy and I couldn’t really focus on anything, but I saw him smile and all felt just as it should be. My daughter had come back from her walk with my MIL and brought over a flower for me that she had picked while out. She went outside after to swing in the backyard. I realized at that moment that she would come back into the house a big sister and my heart soared. I continued to ride each wave in till it felt like I had to take the biggest poop of my life. The midwife’s assistance asked me if I was feeling any pressure and with the next rush I yelled out “I feel it in my butt!” with that I hear someone say “Cindy is here!” and as soon as she walks in my door my water breaks and I yell out “Something’s happening!” Cindy is immediately behind me and I hear her say “There is no time for this pool–the baby is coming.”
Out of the corner of my eye I see Cindy toss the pool a side and pull out the tablecloths to put under me. I start to get a bit scared at this time because the sensations I were feeling were so intense. I felt like a wild animal. I couldn’t focus on anything or anyone and felt panicked. My body starts to take over and I feel like I need to poop so badly. I can hear Cindy behind me and her voice is so clam “Stacy just push your baby out” Like it’s that simple. She says it again and I regain some composure and start to push. I can feel the burning and I yell out that it hurts. Cindy tells me the baby’s head is coming out and I’m just stretching to accommodate it. She directs me to just breathe slowly and then the burning stopped. “The head is out!” She tells me to reach down and touch our baby’s head but I’m afraid. I reach down and quickly pull my hand away.
With the next contraction she tells me to lean back and catch my baby. I tell her I can’t and she calmly tells me again to sit back and catch my baby. So I give one last push and grab the baby and bring it up to my chest. I am filled with relief and look at Tom who was in front of me. His face says it all, awestruck. We didn’t know the sex of the baby and I hear someone say “What do you have?” I looked down at this baby who was now crying and I see we have a girl! I am overcome with so many emotions and start to cry. I can’t believe I just did this. In our home, on the floor of our living room. It was pure bliss. From the time my rushes started to the time she was born was a little over 12 hours. It was really only that last hour where I felt things were hard.
At some point another midwife had shown up as well as her assistant. I’m not sure how long I stayed in the living room but eventually the midwives helped me up and I walked the 25 steps into our bedroom. I carried our brand new girl into our room and lay on the bed where she immediately rooted for my breast and latched on. Cindy told me it was time to push the placenta out and I gave a few little pushes and it sort of slid out.
Tom cut the cord after it had stopped pulsing. Our daughter came in to meet her new sister. It was just the four of us in our room, on our bed. Our oldest was in awe and asked if we could sing happy birthday to her. So my husband, our now oldest daughter and I sang happy birthday to our newest girl. My husband and I couldn’t help but shed a few tears at the sweetness of the moment. After a while the midwives came in where they performed the newborn exam right in front of us. Tom weighed her and helps to measure her. 7lbs 6oz 20in. A pound and inch bigger than her sister. My doula cooked me eggs and feed them to me in bed while everyone cleaned up. By 7pm the house was empty. You would have never guessed that a baby was just born in the living room three hour before. The house was clean and looked just as it had but now there was this tiny new being with us.
We settled in for the night recapping the day’s events and thinking how crazy it was that she was here and we were home and it was just pure bliss. This birth made me see myself in a whole new way. I can only hope that other women get to experience a birth that makes them feel powerful.
Submitted by Stacy C.