This is a long and detailed post on my home birth experience with my son. If you don’t want all the gory details, you’re welcome to skip this one. I won’t hold it against you.
When you’re pregnant, do yourself a favor and when they tell you your due date, go ahead and tell yourself that it’s actually two weeks after that. And tell everyone else that too. That way if your baby comes anytime before the last day of being 42 weeks, it’ll be before you were expecting it.
I was so certain he was coming early. So when my due date came and he didn’t I was beside myself. I had been having contractions that were more than braxton hicks but not quite strong enough to do anything in the days leading up to my due date so I thought that had to mean something was coming soon. But I was so very wrong.
During week 40 I continued to have those light contractions and a few nights, the contractions got strong enough that I texted my sister, midwife and photographer to make sure they were ready just in case. Each of those nights I went to bed so I would be well rested when the time came and then woke up each of those mornings disappointed that I was still pregnant.
I tried plenty of ways to induce labor. But in the end, the baby was going to come when he was ready. When I talked to midwife about natural ways to induce she said that for labor to happen, all the stars have to be aligned. I have to be ready, the baby has to be ready, my husband and daughter have to be ready and we all have to feel calm and relaxed and happy and…well, ready.
In the days leading up to his birth, I was really starting to stress out. I was worried that I wouldn’t ever go into labor and I’d have to be induced and then (although I don’t condemn anyone for being induced, it just wasn’t what I wanted) I would feel like I had failed at the labor I wanted. I knew that was the wrong way to feel and that any way to get a baby into the world is the right way for you, but I just wanted the birth I had planned for.
I started to worry that my body was broken. I started to worry that my baby wasn’t okay anymore. I started to worry about pretty much anything that I could think of to worry about. I didn’t understand why my contractions kept stopping. However, my midwife explained that I lot of people labor this way. Labor can start weeks before hand and just slowly get you ready to give birth. It’s why so many women who are giving birth at the hospital get sent home time after time. My body was taking it’s time to dilate a little every day so that by the time I was in active labor, it wouldn’t take so long. And it was working. Three days before he was born, my midwife checked me and I was dilated to a 5.
But I continued to worry. The morning before he was born I had my midwife come and listen to his heartbeat and make sure everything sounded good. It did. She told me to stop worrying and stop Googling and just wait for labor to start.
My parents were set to get into town that evening. My midwife kept saying that she thought the baby was waiting for them to get here so they could help out or whatever. Turns out, she was right.
They got here, we went to dinner at Pizza Pie Cafe, I ate a ridiculous amount of pizza (like I was still eating while everyone sat there and watched me), and all the while I was having light contractions. Then when we got home I had a contraction that I couldn’t talk through. I got a little giddy and thought that this might be it. I sort of started timing contractions but I didn’t pay a whole lot of attention to it. Everyone was in the backyard watching Evelyn play and I came inside to labor in peace. No one really seemed to notice I was gone.
I finally called for Chris to come in because things were getting uncomfortable and I wanted help. I assume that someone put Evelyn to bed, maybe I was there, I don’t actually remember. At 9:17 pm I texted my midwife that things had really starting picking up. I had Chris fill up the tub and take over texting so I could relax. He told her shortly afterward that she better come. We kinda figured things would go quickly.
I turned on my hypnobabies tracks and got comfortable in the water. With every contraction I closed my eyes and breathed through. I didn’t use pressure points or anything else. Between the tub and the hypnobabies guidance, the contractions didn’t seem too bad.
When my midwife got there I told her I was afraid that things has slowed down. I was so afraid that this was yet another false alarm. But she assured me that the water and the hypnobabies were probably just making me feel so comfortable that I didn’t notice how strong the contractions really were. She checked me shortly after she got there and determined I was at an 8.
Labor in the tub was really comfortable. I remember telling Chris that I was so glad we were at home. I couldn’t imagine being able to get this comfortable in a hospital. My midwife’s other two assistants arrived and at one point all 5 of us were in my bathroom. I sort of felt like they were all watching me and I needed to perform or something. They kept offering to do pressure points when I was having a contraction but I declined. I was doing great on my own. Finally my midwife said that they were going to wait in my room as it seemed like I was more comfortable without them there. I’m not sure why I didn’t suggest that.
I wasn’t watching a clock, so I’m not sure how much time had passed, but I felt like I wanted to try pushing. Just to see if it felt like it was time. I never really felt the urge to push with Evelyn, so this time I was just trying to figure things out. When my midwife heard me grunting, she came back in to see how things were going. She checked me again and found that I hadn’t really dilated any more. She could still feel cervix. She knew I didn’t like being checked and offered to show me how to do it myself so I’d never have to have her do it again. Uhm no thank you. I vehemently declined which made her laugh.
She suggested I stand up in the water and move my hips around to try and encourage baby to get into position. It only took one stand up contraction for me to start throwing up. It was pretty violent. Yeah, you didn’t want to know that.
Anyways, after that my midwife suggested I walk the stairs for a bit. This was starting to sound so much like my labor with Evelyn. But if it got things moving, I was all for it. I wanted this baby out! They outfitted me in one of those adult diapers and my fuzzy pink robe and I headed to the stairs. Chris stood at the bottom and watched me slowly climb the steps. When I had a contraction I beckoned Chris to come push on my hips. Contractions out of the tub were significantly more uncomfortable and I was not a fan.
My midwife said that when I felt a contraction coming I could work my way into the living room, where she and her assistants were sitting, and they’d all do pressure points on me. On the next contraction I made it to the living room floor on my hands and knees. The pressure points only seemed mildly effective as compared to the bath and I also didn’t have my hypnobabies on at this point which may have added to that discomfort. That contraction was so strong that I started throwing up yet again. I immediately regretted eating all that pizza. It did not taste nearly as good on the way up. As I violently heaved my insides, my water broke with a pop. Chris even heard it. It was kind of cool. Thank goodness for that adult diaper though…we have new carpet!
I informed the team of my water breaking and the ushered me onto the tile floor where I immediately had another strong contraction. After that I went back into my room where they had set up the birthing stool next to me bed. I was super against birthing on the birth stool. I had Evelyn that way and I tore and later read that it’s common to tear on the stool and I was not about to tear again, no thank you.
In fact in the midst of my discomfort and contractions, after my midwife suggested the stool I said, “But I just don’t want to tear.” She assured me that they would use warm compresses to keep that at bay. Well if she was sure, I wasn’t really in a place to argue, or think for that matter.
I wanted to push. I was ready to push. But guess what…I was still dilated to an 8. Oh well. I had Chris turn on the hypnobabies pushing track and I started pushing. My midwife stopped me and said that there was still cervix in the way and I was all, “Listen lady, I’m pushing this baby out now.” So she held my cervix back while I coerced my baby to come on out now.
My experience pushing him out was much different than pushing Evelyn out. I had started pushing because I wanted to and although it was difficult, I felt like I was in charge. With each contraction, and a few times in between, I bore down and pushed with all my might while my midwife held my cervix out of the way. I remember kind of yelling and panting and probably exclaiming that it was too hard or I couldn’t do it. Chris sat behind me and held me up and kept reminding me to breath the baby out and telling me that I was doing a great job.
It was actually really helpful to hear him there, encouraging me. I’d start to scream and he’d remind me to use low tones and then I would pull myself back into the present and take control of the situation. When I’d hold my breath to push, because there really was no other way to do it, he’d remind me to breath and then I would. He was my brain when I was too preoccupied to think for myself. The hypnobabies track was still playing in the background but I don’t remember hearing it so much, or paying attention to it.
I can distinctly remember the feeling of pushing him out. It really did just feel like intense pressure and amazing relief when he finally came out. I also remember hearing myself yell and wonder whether the neighbors or my parents downstairs could hear me. I don’t remember feeling that ring of fire that everyone talks about but I do remember how determined I was to make this happen. I was a little disappointed that I didn’t get to be one of those girls who pushed their kid out in 2 pushes but in retrospect I think it took me 30 minutes so that I wouldn’t tear. It was much better than the 2.5 hours it took with Evelyn.
When my midwife saw his head she tried to get me to reach down and feel it. Erm..no thanks. At that point I wasn’t so much sitting on the stool as I was laying back into Chris’ arms. I have no idea what he was sitting on. A chair? The floor? A ball? No clue. He leaned over me and said he could see the head. That was enough motivation for me. I bore down and pushed and ‘pop’ there he was. I think Chris even kind of got to see him come out this time. Top side of course.
I looked down and noticed that his back was smeared with blood. That didn’t seem unusual to me, babies are always smeared with some kind of gunk when they come out. My midwife spent what felt like forever wiping him off. I remember thinking that I didn’t want the gunk (vernix) wiped off and wondering why she hadn’t given him to me yet. Come to find out, he was so over due that he didn’t have any vernix and the blood was a bit of a concern. But after a thorough look-over she determined that nothing was wrong with him and the blood had likely come from my cervix which hadn’t fully dilated or something.
When she finally handed me my baby I was a bit in disbelief. I kept saying things like, “I did it. I did it. He’s here. He’s mine. This is my baby.” So repetitive, really. I was then force fed a disgusting after birth drink which consisted of pineapple juice, olive oil, cayenne pepper, among other things. I guess it’s supposed to help with the after birth shock or something but it didn’t so much help me.
I was uncontrollably shaking all over. My midwife determined that I hadn’t torn and was a tad confused as to why I was in such a distressed state. I mean, I had just pushed out a ten pound baby so I suppose I was a bit sore and throbbing but I guess most of the shaking and crying was due to shock. That’s the only thing I can figure.
They helped me into bed and the timeline of the rest of things is a bit of a blur. I nursed him a little. They weighed and measured and did all those birth tests and we all oohed and ahhed at how much he weighed. Chris went to get my mom and Maddie and my mom got to dress him for the first time. My midwife helped me to the bathroom (ick) and get dressed and then the troops left and the three of us, Chris, Remi and I, settled into bed for the night.
Everything went so smoothly and in the end I was so so happy to have never had to leave home. The only thing that stinks about home birth is not having a cafeteria there to feed you. Thankfully I had a mom here for that.
I sort of think it’s weird to call a birth beautiful because when you think about it, there’s a lot of pretty gross, unpleasant things that happen but all that aside, I feel like my birth was beautiful. It was such a bonding experience between Chris and I and it was, once again, a testament to me at the amazing things the human body, my body, can do.
IF I ever have another baby and IF the circumstances are right, I will absolutely do another home birth. I realize that it’s not the way that everyone wants to give birth and that’s perfectly fine with me, do what you gotta do people, but for me it was the perfect way to give birth.