I had my first baby the regular way, in a hospital. Before she was born I had researched home birth but at the time I felt that having a midwife was an unreachable goal and the hospital route was just the normal thing to do, obviously. While my hospital birth was not horrible or traumatic in any way I felt that it could’ve been so much better. I was induced and was able to have a vaginal birth but it could’ve gone the other way very easily.
Ever since then I poured over birth stories of women who had chosen to use midwives and had their babies at home. I was so intrigued by this and decided a long time before I was even pregnant with my second that that was what I wanted to do.
Fast forward a year or so and I was pregnant with number 2! Thank goodness JW was supportive of my decision to have this baby at home. I am a very strong willed person but it would have been difficult if he had not been on the same page.
I found several midwives in my area and interviewed both. I ended up choosing the ones that I felt most comfortable with. It was such a different experience from my previous birth. With my first, I was unable to pick my doctor and saw a different one at nearly each appointment I went to. I never even met the doctor who delivered my baby until it was time for her to be born.
My appointments with my midwives were somewhat similar to doctor’s, on the same schedule at least. But instead of sitting in the waiting room for what seemed like forever and then only getting to see the doctor for maybe 15 minutes, my midwives blocked off an entire hour for me. Not only to check baby’s heartbeat and my vitals, but to get to know me and my wishes for my birth. They did all the normal blood draws and tests so don’t think that the medical part was thrown under the rug just because they aren’t technically doctors.
I was finally getting close to D-Day, or delivery day. I was late with my first baby and hoped number 2 would make her appearance earlier, but no such luck. For any future babies I’ll just add 2 weeks to my due date that way I won’t be surprised again. I have come to terms with the fact that my body likes to hold on to my babies till they are good and ready.
Surprisingly I was never afraid or nervous about labor. A few people thought I was crazy but it was never something I had to fear. Women have been having babies for thousands of years. I had some labor pain experience before I got an epidural with my hospital birth but I was on pitocin and that tends to make things so much worse. My husband and I took a Hypnobirthing Class to help us prepare. It sounds like hippy voodoo but it was a great tool for teaching yourself to release fear and relax. I highly recommend it to anyone and everyone, whether you want a hospital or home birth. I really liked the positive affirmations that came with the program. I also put little encouraging notes all over the house. The Birth Without Fear blog was also a huge motivation for me.
I was 41 weeks plus 2 days, it was a Monday afternoon and I started feeling tightening sensations. Nothing intense or painful, just tightening. I started getting excited! They were consistent but they never got intense. I went to bed thinking surely this is it. But no, they continued on the next day, and the next, otherwise known as prodromal labor. I had my 41 week appointment on that Wednesday and my midwives talked about going to the hospital if she wasn’t here by Monday. I was really discouraged. I hadn’t come all this way just to end up going to the hospital! We decided to strip my membranes to try to get things going. I was already dilated to a 3 and was 50% effaced! That was definitely encouraging.
By the next day around lunch time I knew these contractions were different. They increased in intensity and stayed regular. At 2:00pm I was starting to have to work through them, standing was easier than sitting. I tried not to get JW’s hopes up just in case but I had him vacuuming while I washed dishes so that my house would be clean in case this really was it. JW was working nights at that time and I did not want him to leave when it was time for him to go to work. We had already called my mom to ask her to keep B that night, I told her I just wanted to rest. Not only to keep her from freaking out but also just in case this wasn’t it. See a theme? I was in denial big time. When she left with B I cried like a baby, I guess all those hormones and feelings converged at once.
I had been texting my friend Debra, a doula with Tiny Tree Birth Services and told her what was going on. She came over shortly and we walked around the cul-de-sac by my house. It was dark and cool outside, I had all the doors open in my house and nothing but candle light. It was peaceful and calm, just as I hoped it would be. About an hour later, after talking through contractions, she suggested we go ahead and let the midwives know it was time to come. I was like, seriously?! Yes the contractions were getting more and more intense but again I was in complete denial. She assured me that yes, this was real and Special K was on her way. My lovely midwives arrived shortly after about the same time that JW got home, I’m pretty sure his wheels never touched the pavement.
When my midwives got there we discussed how things were going and they asked if I wanted to have an internal exam or not. I did, but I was worried that if I would be discouraged by the result. I told her she could check but just not tell me. Apparently my midwife Heather has a terrible poker face because she went Ohhhh! when she checked me. I said well now you have to tell me! She said I was an 8 and 100% effaced! She asked JW to start setting up the birth pool. Already?! He said. He was as surprised as I was. He was so supportive during labor. He held me during contractions, let me yell in his ear, and gave me little encouraging tidbits when I needed to hear them. I could not have done it without him by my side.
A short time later I got into the pool, around 11pm. It did help to relax me but wasn’t quite the pain killer I had heard about from other’s experiences. From then on the contractions continued in duration and intensity. I never had any thoughts about going to the hospital but definitely thought, this is why people take drugs! JW, Debra, and my midwives Heather, Jessie, and Sallie kept joking back and forth and we laughed and laughed in between contractions. Something I had heard before was that making lower gutteral sounds helps your body not to tense up. I’m pretty sure our neighbors thought we were performing an exorcism or something since I sounded like a cow being killed. One thing I loved was that my body pushed on its own like it should, there was no one ordering me to push. Midwives are trained to listen to a woman’s body and only intervene if necessary. My water broke during one of these pushes, for a whole second I thought that the baby had just shot out of me! All the pressure forced the water out in a huge gush. Special K was born about 45 minutes later. The only time they told me to push was when her head was already out and I needed to push the rest of her out. I had originally wanted to catch her myself but at that point I just wanted her out, so I said someone grab her! They brought her out of the water and immediately handed her to me. I kept saying I did it! I did it! She was born at 2:15am, 9 pounds 6 ounces (smaller than my first), 19 1/2 inches long, I was 41 weeks plus 6 days.
We moved to our bed a short time later and she was weighed and checked out. I cut her cord after it had stopped pulsing. The midwives made sure we were settled in, cleaned up the pool and left about 3 hours after she was born. It was so soothing and comfortable to be in our own home and in our own bed.
There were so many emotions that night that it’s hard to sum it up in just a few words. It was great, it sucked, it was hard, it was easy, and on and on. It was definitely empowering! One thing I can say is that I wouldn’t have done it any other way! If we are blessed with more babies I will definitely be bringing them into the world in this same way.