Thank you, Cerise for sharing your home birth story!
Before and during my pregnancy, I relentlessly researched all of my options for pregnancy and childbirth. After much consideration, we decided to have a homebirth with a midwife. I felt really good and healthy and had an easy, uneventful pregnancy. In fact, the most difficult part of my pregnancy was the constant criticism we received for the decision to have a homebirth. Although the comments were hurtful, I tried not to let it bother me too much as I firmly believed that this was the absolute best choice we could have made.
As a good prenatal yoga student, I took to heart Anne’s mantra of “the average first time pregnancy lasts 41 weeks and 1 day.” When people asked if I thought I would go early my response was “No, I’ve had it way too easy. I’m sure I’ll go way past my due date and be good and miserable at the end.” Needless to say I was shocked when at 36 weeks and 1 day I felt a trickle and gush of my water breaking! I was in disbelief, but I didn’t know what else it could possibly be. The water continued to trickle, so I called our midwife. She was also surprised, but was pretty sure from my description that my water had indeed broken. Since it was around midnight and I’d had no contractions, she said that she would check on me the next day. She gave me instructions for reducing my risk of infection and staying hydrated so that my amniotic fluid would continue to replenish itself, and told me to call if I started having contractions. The next day, I still felt fine other than the strange sensation of the trickling water. So, I went to work and started making preparations for my maternity leave. This whole time I only had two main concerns: would I make it to my shower on Saturday and how was I going to take care of everything I still had left to do at work?
Our midwife came that evening and at that time I had only had three mild contractions. In fact, I didn’t even know they were contractions until I described them to her. Candace assured us that we would be fine. In fact, she said it was good that our baby was taking his time since my water had broken before 37 weeks. She said that he needed time to get his lungs ready since it was so early and not to worry if it took a few days – this was a good thing. I still felt great the next day and had a lot of adrenaline to wrap up my duties at work. I took care of everything I needed to and left work at the end of the day feeling that everything would be okay without me.
That evening I began having more intense contractions. They started out pretty far apart then got closer and closer together. When they were about 7 minutes apart I called our doula, Anne, and our midwife to give them the heads up. The contractions were manageable, so Anne and I decided to wait an hour and check back in to see if I needed her then. After that, they slowed down to being 30-60 minutes apart. They were just intense enough to keep me up most of the night. Friday, my husband and I stayed home from work to rest and shop for some last minute things just in case we had to cancel the shower. My contractions continued at the same rate and intensity, so we decided to go on with the shower. The contractions definitely became more intense during the shower, but I was able to interact without anyone having a clue as to what was going on. The interaction and activity was enough of a distraction that I could get through the contractions a little easier. So, when my husband’s friends suggested going out to dinner afterwards I was ready to keep up the distraction. I talked to our midwife while we were there and she said that if our baby didn’t come that night, that we could try some natural induction methods the next morning.
When we got home from dinner, the contractions became much more intense. They were getting much closer, 15, 12, 8 minutes apart, but not in a predictable pattern. I kept thinking I was in the first stage and that it could still take 12 hours for me to have this baby. I began to doubt my ability to do this naturally. Suddenly, I had an extremely painful contraction. It felt like his head was coming down and I felt an extreme urge to push. I was afraid to push because my contractions were still mostly over 10 minutes apart, so I couldn’t possibly be fully dilated. After a couple more contractions like that I called Anne and told her I definitely needed some help. I knew something was happening so I called our midwife too. She agreed to come and check me, but said that if she did we had to have this baby soon because there would be risk of infection after doing an internal exam. I told my husband to go ahead and start filling up the birth pool – I wanted to be able to get in it as soon as I could! By the time Anne arrived I couldn’t sit or lay down anywhere – there was a huge bulge on my bottom and I felt like I was sitting on my baby’s head! Anne arrived and helped me through a few contractions. Candace arrived shortly afterwards. She said that we would have to empty the pool because it probably wouldn’t be warm enough by the time I was ready. She watched me have one contraction, and then we went back to the bedroom so she could check my dilation. She checked me, looked at Anne and said, “I need you to help him get that birth pool ready now! She’s complete.” I felt this immediate sense of relief! She told me I could reach down and feel my baby’s head! Candace called her apprentice and rushed to set up her equipment. Anne and Craig rushed to set up the pool and I felt relieved that the end was near.
When the pool was ready, I got in and completely relaxed. I didn’t have another contraction for at least 30 minutes, maybe longer. I had a few more contractions, but they were 10% of the pain I had experienced before getting in the pool. During those contractions Candace told me how to push with them to open myself up. She put the mirror in the pool so I could see the little sliver of baby’s head with each push. I pushed again and felt an intense pain as more of my baby’s head came out. Candace and Anne reminded me to slow down and not force it too quickly to reduce the chance of tearing. I tried to breath deeply, pushing gently and relaxing between contractions, but everything seemed to happen so fast. I think I pushed about 3 more times and my baby’s head was out. Next thing I knew his body was coming out and he was in my arms! I immediately felt this intense love for my baby and couldn’t believe I was actually holding him. I was amazed at how well my husband supported me throughout my entire labor and delivery. I felt extremely peaceful as my husband and I held our new baby during his first moments of life.
I am so grateful that I trusted my body and my baby enough to plan a homebirth. My birth confirmed my belief that it is most important to trust your body and your baby — they are the true experts when it comes to childbirth. I’m so glad I didn’t listen to everyone who criticized my choices to have my baby at home, to go to work when my water had broken and to continue being active during my labor. My baby’s entrance into this world was absolutely perfect!