Thank you, Courtney, for sharing the Home Birth Story (and video!) of Aleighna.
Birth is such an amazing experience. Unfortunately it can be a traumatic and disappointing for some women. Many women get forced to have interventions that aren’t necessarily medically needed. To make a long story short I have experienced a c-section with my first child because of a breech presentation but got to experience a VBAC (vaginal birth after c-section) with my second child which was amazing but was forced into having interventions that I was not ok with due to the on call OB not knowing my birth plan.
Even before I got pregnant with my third child I knew I wanted a different experience than what a traditional hospital and OB could offer me. I liked the idea of having a midwife for many reasons. A huge reason was because a midwife spends more time with her patients during prenatal appointments and there is less of a risk of them not being able to attend their patient’s births. I also wanted to experience a natural birth this around and have a completely drug free birth. I knew a midwife would be a better option if I wanted to go that route.
So when home birth was brought up by my husband I wanted to learn more about it and we started exploring our options. A home birth is not common in the U.S. and I knew it was somewhat of a taboo subject. I just had no idea what a home birth entailed. So I started reading everything I could get my hands on about home birth and natural birth. In the midst of all my research I stumbled upon a documentary by Ricki Lake called “The Business of Being Born”. This I would recommend not only to women thinking about home birth but any women who ever wants to be a mom…period. It shed light on a whole new idea that I think society has forgotten. Women have been having babies since the beginning. Birth is not a sickness. So why a hospital?
I knew I wanted to give birth in a place of relaxation, a place I felt comfortable and safe. I knew I wanted to have a birth team I trusted and a team who would not force me into interventions I didn’t need. I wanted an all natural birth and really liked the idea of a water birth. The more I looked into it, the more I was on board with a home birth. I used to think women who choose a natural birth were crazy. I thought “Why wouldn’t you choose to have drugs if they were available?”. Well, as I have become more aware of my health, my diet, and the health and well being of my children I knew I didn’t want to risk any of those drugs causing side effects to my baby. So once I knew I wanted a natural birth for sure it was an easy choice to choose home birth.
I loved the idea of being able to have my baby in my own home, in the warm water, with my husband by my side the whole time. I liked the idea of being able to eat when I wanted to eat and drink when I was thirsty. I knew there was no way I could back out and opt for drugs at home. I also loved the idea of being able to sleep in my own bed.
I have no health insurance so this was also a factor in why I chose a home birth. I knew without insurance that a hospital birth could be up to $10,000. Choosing a home birth we paid a total of $3500. We have it completely paid off and started paying for it at the beginning of the pregnancy. We have no medical bills piling in and that feels AMAZING! But even if I had health insurance I still would have chose a home birth without a shadow of a doubt. That was not the reason we chose to have our baby at home.
When I had my mind set to a home birth (even before I got pregnant) I then needed to choose a midwife. I had become part of a Facebook group for home birth mommas in Louisville and they suggested some midwives to me. The first one I interviewed, Juliet, I instantly felt a connection. I felt that she really cared about me, my baby, and my birth. She allowed me to have at least an hour in interviewing her and she was very down to earth and very friendly. I knew I didn’t need to interview anyone else. I just knew she was the one!
I then decided that if I was going to do a natural birth that I needed to hire a doula. A doula is someone who can help with coping techniques, support, be an advocate for you, and can be a comforter and cheerleader during labor and delivery. So I interviewed a few doulas and fell in love with Jackie. She was just so warm and friendly and was very knowledgeable on birth.
So after having all of my prenatal check ups, research on hypnobirthing and natural childbirth, hours of youtube home birth videos. After ordering our home birth kit and buying and gathering all the essentials for the birth, months of anticipation and lots of discussions and prayer, we were ready to meet our baby girl.
On October 29, 2015 I had been having what I thought were painful braxton hicks for two days. I went and led choir practice that evening even through the contractions coming every 20 minutes or so. I got home, got the kids to bed and tried to go to sleep but couldn’t get to sleep with painful contractions coming every 10 – 20 minutes. My husband came home from work around 10:30pm and I got up and told him I couldn’t sleep because of these painful contractions. But they weren’t coming in any pattern and I had been tracking them all day. After tracking them for an hour and sitting on my birthing ball the contractions started coming every 8-5 minutes. They were still in no real pattern but they were getting pretty painful. I told Patrick to go ahead and call the midwife and doula and have them head over. I was really unsure if this was the real thing. I had had false labor before with my second child as well as a week prior to that present moment. As we waited for Juliet and Jackie to arrive I helped my husband get everything ready. Put the plastic over the mattress, get the birthing pool ready, get all the supplies ready and called my mom to come get the kids. In between contractions I was doing all of these things and was thinking that there is no way I was in labor if I was able to do all this in between contractions. My mom and step dad came to get the kids and let them sleep the rest of the night at their place. My doula, Jackie arrived first and within minutes she said “Well, you don’t look like a woman in labor.” This had me convinced that it was not the real thing and that I had had them come over for nothing. My contractions started slowing down at this point I think because I was feeling discouraged. Shortly after Jackie arrived my midwife, Juliet arrived. Juliet was very upbeat and never let me see that she was doubtful that this was the real thing. Jackie and Juliet discussed in private that they didn’t think that I was in active labor. Juliet said they would wait there for an hour and see if anything changed and if things progressed.
We had all the lights dimmed or off, candles lit throughout the house, aromatherapy going, the birth pool set up in the middle of the living room. I had soft and calming music playing on my phone from a playlist I had created weeks before.
I sat in the living room on my birthing ball and bounced hoping to get the contractions to progress. Then Jackie came into the living room and asked me to spell my kids names in cursive in the air with my hips. I felt stupid doing that but let me tell you, that was the turning point in my labor. That got everything going quickly and within minutes the contractions came on much stronger and longer. Each time I felt a contraction come over me I leaned my upper body over my birthing ball and breathed through it as I rocked back and forth. Patrick rubbed my shoulders, back, and hips to help with the pressure. I was feeling the contractions in my back a lot and think I was having some back labor. Jackie and Patrick took turns massaging me during contractions. Even in active labor though I was smiling in between contractions and making jokes. Jackie still couldn’t believe I was in labor just because of how well I was handling it.
I went into the kitchen and Juliet checked the baby’s heart rate to make sure she wasn’t in distress. I leaned over the table as I had a few contractions there. Jackie took me back in the bathroom and had me sit on the toilet to get the contractions much stronger and longer. Wow, that made things intense but Jackie was there with me for every contraction and held my head and softly caressed my hair while I was having a contraction. She encouraged me with her soft but powerful words. Things got intense at that point. I went back out to the living room and felt I needed to get on my hands and knees during my contractions. Patrick massaged my back and hips during contractions. It was getting very intense but after the contraction was over I was still talking, coherent, and smiling.
What I remember and will cherish is that in between contractions while I was on the birthing ball Patrick would look into my eyes and we would tell each other we loved each other. He would whisper that he was so proud of me and would kiss me softly. It was the closest I have ever felt to him. It was like we were spiritually connected on a level we had never been before. It was amazing and I will always remember that feeling of being so deeply connected to him. This experience strengthened our love for each other. Knowing we were only hours away from meeting our baby girl was just so powerful.
Jackie again took me back into the bathroom to make the contractions stronger. That is where I felt the most powerful contractions. I started to cry at that point but not because of the pain. I realized that I was about to meet my baby and all of the waiting and wondering was over. I was pretty tired at that point as well as I hadn’t slept in over 24 hours.
At that point the birthing pool was filled and ready. I wanted to get in to ease the contractions. Once I got in the water my back labor instantly went away. The warm water was so soothing and calming. From the time I got in the water it was only about 20 minutes or so until I was ready to start “breathing her down”. Juliet was concerned with me ripping since I had an episiotomy with Bella and that skin hadn’t been stretched before. So when I felt the urge to push I had to breathe through the pushing urge and just allow her to come down slowly in order to not rip. Juliet was AMAZING in this regard! She talked me through it all and when I felt like I couldn’t breathe through it anymore she kept me going. This was the most intense feeling of all. Burning, stretching, stinging. I was not expecting it to be that intense but thankfully it was only 20 minutes or so. Jackie and Juliet encouraged me through the delivery as Patrick sat behind me holding me in his arms and encouraging me as well.
In between each contraction I took those few minutes to rest and close my eyes. I was so tired and exhausted at that point. Once I delivered her head though Juliet told me that I could push on the next contraction. I was so happy when I heard her say that! I pushed on the next contraction and she was out! Juliet pulled her up out of the water and put her on my chest. I remember thinking she was just so tiny and that she looked nothing like my other two children. I thought she looked just like my husband. I also remember being in awe that I had just had a home birth, I had birthed a baby naturally with no drugs, and that she was perfect!
After about 10 – 20 minutes in the birth pool with Patrick and the baby I was helped out of the pool onto the couch. I breastfed my baby girl as Juliet waited for the placenta and then kept an eye on my bleeding. I was clotting nicely and there was no risk of a trip to the hospital. We kept the baby attached to the placenta for a good hour or two until Juliet clamped it and cut it. It kept baby calm and content. Patrick was given the baby as Jackie and Juliet took me into the bathroom to take a bath. Then made it to the bedroom and Juliet did her exam of the baby. After that she told us to sleep and her and her assistant cleaned up, ran a load of laundry, and made sure we had everything we needed.
Juliet came the next day to check on us as well as once a week until baby was 3 weeks old and then our last visit is at 6 weeks. Jackie is coming to give me a relaxing body massage at about 6 weeks post partum. She is not only a doula but also a massage therapist.I know this is lengthy and not written very well but I am not a writer and I wanted to write down everything that I remember about the birth and paint a picture of how amazing it really was. Having my daughter at home was so calm, relaxing, and left me feeling that much more connected to my husband and baby. Not to mention that I feel that much more connected with my midwife and doula as well. These women are like family to me and have been a part of the most special day of my life. I feel empowered that I was able to do not only a natural birth but a home birth. I finally had the birth I wanted and everything that I had envisioned. I understood that birth is something that is unpredictable and it could have made a turn that I had not expected or thought about and I was prepared for those things but didn’t dwell on what could happen. I was so blessed for everything to have gone perfectly! I thank God for this experience and he is the reason I found the strength to get through the labor. It was so much better than winning a marathon. I had a baby! My body is capable of amazing things.
In closing I want to say that every woman has the right to chose the birth that she wants to have. Whether that be in a hospital, birthing center, or at home. And just because I chose to have my birth at home doesn’t mean I believe anyone who doesn’t do that is wrong. I have experienced a c-sections, a VBAC in a hospital with epidural, and now a home birth and I can relate to every side of the spectrum. Many women have amazing births in the hospital and that is wonderful. Every woman has to do what she feels is best for her and baby. I support home birth but I also support a woman’s choice! I hope that by sharing my story that I was able to shed some light on home birth as well as help people understand why I chose home birth. Thank you for reading my amazing home birth story!