Thank you to Melissa for sharing the Kentucky home birth of Scarlett. Scarlett was born in Bowling Green. Be sure to scroll all the way to the end for a great slideshow!
As the mother of two boys, I have gotten used to crazy forts, hands-on learning projects, and mud as a part of my everyday life. I had two brothers myself, and I loved dirty fun as well as dolls and dress up. My parents raised me with a perfect blend of mud and lace, and I longed to pass on that fun to a little girl of my own.
When I recall the births of my two boys, my memory is clouded with stress and fear. I have pleasant memories of when my precious boys were placed on my chest, but everything that happened before and after was stressful and elicited fear in me and my husband, David. My babies like to be well-done, so late babies call for a nice dose of Pitocin. My body goes into hyper drive on that medication resulting in a six-hour labor in my first child and two hours for my second child.
My second son had a tough babyhood that included nursing difficulties, reflux, thrush, severe reactions to two vaccinations, multiple ear infections, allergic reactions to every antibiotic in the book, and anaphylaxis to milk products. Eventually, in 2009, my youngest son was diagnosed with autism. Not only did we dive into intense early interventions and therapy, we learned everything that we could about the health/autism link. We changed our lifestyle in many, many ways. I discovered the link between autism and the methylation process (immune system and detoxification). Air fresheners, pop tarts, and most medications went out the window. We were going all natural!
When we discovered we would be adding another little one to our family, fear returned as we remembered all the unnecessary medical interventions and the invasive monitoring that was required in the hospital. My husband isn’t one to make rash decisions. So when I proposed a home birth, he wanted to know all the details. We attended an ICAN meeting that educated mothers about homebirths. We were able to ask questions of parents and two Certified Professional Midwives. My husband was instantly impressed with their vast knowledge of births, procedures during complications, and their philosophy. Birth is a natural process, not a disease to be cured. The midwives came to our home, and we were able to ask many more questions. One thing that stood out in my mind instantly was that my midwives were not in a hurry to scoot out the door immediately. They took their time, chatted about life, and addressed every question that we had. I realized that I was no longer on the conveyer belt of medicalized birth, and I LOVED that.
Fast forward many weeks down the road. As I neared the end of my pregnancy, we were all curious how I would labor naturally since my first two pregnancies were medically induced. I lived in constant fear of spitting out a baby in twenty minutes and my midwives not making it. Scratch that…my HUSBAND lived in constant fear of that scenario since he would be the one catching the baby. This pregnancy was very different from the other two, and I had a lot of sharp, sudden pain near the end. There were times that I thought-this HAS to be the day because I am in severe pain. Forty-weeks came and went with no baby. There were times that I would wake up with very intense contractions at night that would go away or lessen in intensity as the hours passed by. Sometimes during the day, my contractions were so intense that thought I was in labor, but they would go away when I went to bed. Then I may wake up at night with contractions again that would go away. My body was having backwards labor. Why would I wake up, crawl the floors with contractions only to have them lessen and go away? This cycle went on for about nine or ten days, and I was completely exhausted. At ten days past my due date, my midwives mercifully stripped my membranes. We then went out to eat with a group of homeschool moms, and laughed the evening away. I came home, went to bed, and woke up at 4am with the same old intense, agonizing contractions. As was my pattern, they lessoned over time and eventually stopped around 9am. So I started walking and getting busy to see if I could keep them going. At 11 am, they started up again. I was pretty sure at this point that I was going to have a baby that day. I called the midwives, and they were on their way.
My adorable husband needed to run to the hardware store to buy some stuff for the birth pool. He also wanted to know if he had enough time to mow the lawn. Surprisingly, this did not bother me at all. In between contractions, I was able to laugh, rest, or do my thing. I was even comforted by the presence of my children. When I was on Pitocin in the hospital, the contractions never ended and just kept peaking. This was very different. Now, some women may need a partner to wipe their brow, get in the birth pool with them, and coach them through every contraction. I didn’t. I am very independent. My husband needed to keep himself busy, and this was okay at home. I remember at the hospital, he was frozen with the “what do I do?” syndrome. At home, we were able to just be ourselves. I could go to my room, rock on a ball, and deal with the pain on my own. He was available to get me drinks and checked on me regularly, and I was amazed at how this seemed so much like a normal day. When the midwives arrived, they all finished setting up the pool. By this time, I needed some coaching to get on top of those killer contractions. In between, I was still able to crack a joke and carry on a conversation.
Around 5pm, a friend came over to take some pictures and be available to help. As soon as she arrived, I reached the transition portion of labor. The laughing was over, and I had to mentally recover in between contractions. My midwives let me know that I could push to see if it helped the pain. At times it helped and others it did not. By this point, I was begging God to help me deliver this baby. When the baby began to crown, one of the midwives asked if I wanted to feel the baby’s head. I snapped back, “No! I just want it out!!!” I was beyond the sensationalism of a home birth. The moment she came out and was placed on my chest was pure ecstasy. I immediately looked to see the sex and was overwhelmed with joy to know I finally had my girl.
Later that evening, my midwives let me know that Scarlett had a very short cord that was also wrapped around her neck when she was born. There was a reason my body labored a little bit at a time. She needed that. Her heart rate never dropped, and she was not in distress. My body did exactly what it needed to do to birth that baby.
The next few hours were so stress free and relaxed. Even with pain and weakness, I was at home and in complete comfort. We were able to bond with our little girl. My boys came over (they had been with a neighbor) and were also able to bond with their new little sister. The recovery was amazingly speedy. There is something about spending those first few days at home that is so peaceful. My midwives checked on me the next day and were on call if I needed anything. I remember that first evening cuddled up on my couch with my husband and little girl after the boys went to bed. I was home, and it was wonderful.