A lot more people are becoming interested in home birthing these days. It is a great alternative for moms who want complete control over their birthing experience, with no interference from hospital policies or staff. It is also safer, to avoid medical mistakes and of course hospital-acquired infections. If you are considering home birth, please find a qualified midwife and discuss your particular situation with her. But, in order to help you in your decision, I’m posting Daniel’s birth story!
Monday morning (7/13/09) I woke up feeling crabby and sore, but nothing going on. Saw the chiropractor at night, hoping he’d do something to help me get started with labor. Nothing happened though.
Tuesday morning went back to the chiropractor. I was feeling even more crabby and sore, it was very difficult to do anything. But still nothing.
Wednesday morning I woke up around 4 am, having a few contractions. This continued every 20 – 30 minutes until around 8 am (I made Ben stay home from work) and I didn’t really get any sleep in here. I went back to sleep around 8 and stayed there until 10. Then I got up for the day, feeling still sore and cramping and having occasional contractions but nothing serious or consistent. I wanted to get things moving though!
We saw the midwives that night at 6:30. Audra assured me that it could be something – or not – and the baby would come when he was ready. We left and I was still hoping something would get started. Bekah was being a bit fussy, so we played with her, and fed her, and got her ready for bed. Around 8:30 (right before Bekah went to bed), the contractions started again. They were every 8 – 10 minutes and lasting only 20 seconds or so. But, it was something!
This time the contractions continued and grew closer together. By 11:30 they were only 4 – 5 minutes apart, lasting 40 sec. I called Audra and let her know we were probably going to have a baby tonight, and that I was going to go and try to sleep. I sat up and talked to some people online and watched movies (all the Austin Powers movies) to take my mind off the contractions. At 12:30 I laid down to try to sleep.
At 2:30 I had a really strong, long contraction that woke me up. I knew I would not be able to sleep anymore. At this point, the contractions were coming every 2 – 3 min. and lasting 40 sec. and were fairly strong. I finally had to DO something to get through them. I breathed, leaned, moved around a little. Then I woke up Ben and told him it was time to fill the birthing pool, and I called Audra and asked her to come.
I sat in a rocking chair for a while, closing my eyes and gently breathing through the contractions. Audra arrived around 3 while I was just relaxing there. After a while, I got on the birthing ball. I walked up and down the hall some, frequently stopping in the bathroom. Every time I walked around though or sat on the toilet, the contractions came on stronger and longer, so I tended not to do that too much.
I held onto Ben during some contractions, if he was close by, putting all my tension into gripping his hands or leaning on him. Sometimes I stared into his eyes. This did not take away all the pain but it did make it more bearable. I spent a lot of time sitting on the birthing ball at first. Abby arrived around 3:30. Audra checked me around 4 and said I was about 4 cm and mostly effaced.
I wandered up and down the hall for awhile. Everyone else fell asleep. I sat in bed, rocking and breathing through contractions, occasionally trying to sleep. Every time I did, though, I would have a super strong, super long contraction and I would wake up.
Audra checked me again at 6:30 – no progress. Any walking made the contractions and pain basically continuous so I did not want to do that. I was beginning to feel exhausted and like I couldn’t do it. Not having made any progress in three hours (or longer as I was pretty sure I was 4 cm by 2:30 when the contractions got rough) was really getting me down.
Bekah woke up at 7:30 and wanted to nurse. I sat on the birthing ball and had her sit on Ben’s lap, facing me, and I let her nurse. It was not easy to do through the contractions, but I managed. She kept fussing though, wanting me to hold her and not wanting to go anywhere else. Different people kept taking her out of the room but I could hear her crying. I left the room with all my birthing supplies and went back to my room. I said I needed to call someone to watch Bekah so I could focus. We called Lindsay, who came a little after 8.
I sat on the bed and said I was too tired and in too much pain. The contractions were still every couple minutes and strong. I told them I couldn’t do it. Ben told me I could and I wasn’t going to the hospital. I was crying a little and saying that I wasn’t making any progress so how could I do it? If I was only making SOME progress it would be bearable, but nothing was insane.
Abby said maybe it wasn’t real labor and the baby wasn’t ready…and I didn’t want to have him before I was ready. They told me that the hospital would not help me yet, they would probably either induce or send me home, but probably send me home (I learned later that they all went downstairs and talked without me and decided they had to get me to relax). Abby said from the outside my contractions just didn’t seem strong enough, and as they were still only lasting 40 sec., not long enough either.
I cried and I said I couldn’t, I was too tired, so they started to think of ways to help slow my labor so I could rest some between contractions. This was around 8:30. They decided I should get into the birthing pool to try to slow it down. I said no, I did not want to move and I did not think the water would feel good to me. Finally, Ben pulled me up and said “You’re going” and pulled me down the hall. He took off my underwear and basically put me in the water. He stayed with me and held onto my hands for a few contractions, then wandered off (apparently they were talking about me somewhere else).
I felt like the baby had moved down more and that I was completely effaced and slightly more dilated. The water was a little cool but it did feel good…especially once Abby coached me to relax and stop fighting the contractions. Audra made me get out to check – I was about 5 cm, stretching to 6. Some progress!
Around 9 they decided the water was too cool and added more hot water to it. The cool water was making me feel more crampy and sore and the hotter water helped me relax. I laid back on the side of the birthing pool, letting the pool and the water hold my weight. I breathed and softly moaned through contractions at this point and it was incredibly difficult to relax, but I did. I still felt mostly like I couldn’t do it, but I had glimmers of hope that maybe I could. A little while later I felt like I was about at 7. The baby’s head was nearly crowning but I had a lip of cervix left.
I still did not believe it was really happening and the hospital was in the back of my head. I had decided that I would try until 10:30, and then if it wasn’t happening I was going to transfer (my first labor was 14 hours so I figured I could last about that long this time, counting from the time of the first really consistent contractions and not pre-labor). Even when I was thinking of transferring, I only wanted some pain relief so I could rest. I did not actually want to deliver at the hospital, or stay there after delivery, or deal with the hospital staff. I REALLY did not want to get into a car or pack a bag or even walk downstairs. So despite thinking about the hospital, I was pretty sure I didn’t really want to go.
At about 9:30 I was 7 cm or so and I started to feel the urge to push – strongly. I was also starting to bleed. Audra checked with the Doppler several times and the baby was doing fine, so they left me in the tub. Abby was out getting breakfast. Audra and Ben started to coach me to blow through the contractions as I was having serious trouble not pushing with them. I knew I wasn’t fully dilated but I could not stop.
I kept bleeding so they pulled me out of the tub to check. The bleeding didn’t look too bad but I was 8 cm and the lip was still there. Audra couldn’t move it. She called Abby and said the baby was coming soon and she better get back. That was when I realized this WAS happening and it was almost over!
Abby got back and checked me. Audra told me to get on my side. I said no because it hurt more. She said it didn’t matter, they had to get the lip off. I was trying not to push but it was still impossible, and Audra and Ben were yelling at me to blow and Ben was trying to breathe with me. I turned on my side, and Abby almost immediately pushed the lip beyond the baby’s head and told me I could push. And push I did! That’s when my water broke, right when I started pushing. I felt it go everywhere.
As I was pushing I flipped onto my back to have more control. I pushed hard, whenever I felt like it, taking a breath in the middle of a contraction. Audra cautioned me not to go too fast. I pushed a little more gently but mostly went with my body. It burned but I knew that the baby was coming and pushing would make it over faster. With a third push, the baby’s head was out. I breathed for a minute, then pushed again, as the shoulders were born, and then my baby was here! The cord was wrapped tightly around his neck, but Abby carefully pushed his head into my thigh and somersaulted him to unwrap it. I pushed for only 2 minutes total before he was born.
Daniel was lifted up and laid on my chest. He was a bit blue, and Abby rubbed him and gave him oxygen for a few minutes. But, he was crying a little and he was fine. I stayed there, holding him, for a few minutes. Ben went and got Bekah, who climbed up on the bed and seemed fascinated by her new little brother. She smiled and poked him a few times.
Then I moved so I was sitting up, reclining against pillows. I had a small scratch but no real tear. Daniel began to nurse almost immediately and nursed for 40 minutes straight. My parents showed up about 20 minutes after the birth and my mom came upstairs to see us (she was also taking care of Bekah at this point) and just could not believe I had really done it…we were both crying.
Then I had to give him up for his newborn exam (his cord was cut just over an hour after birth) and I had to go take a bath. I was bleeding everywhere, feeling a little lightheaded from not eating and the birth itself, but generally feeling good! I sat in the bath for a little while, then got out and was moved into bed. Daniel was perfect, 7 lb. 5 oz. and 20 inches, and slept for the next 11 hours straight! I rested and people brought me food and I reveled in the fact that even when it had seemed impossible, I had stuck with it and I HAD done it!
Now Daniel is 5 days old, nursing like a champ, sleeping through the night (5 – 6 hours) and generally just a calm baby. Very easy! Bekah is still thrilled with her new sibling – most of the time. We haven’t had any tantrums or meltdowns over him, though, that is good! We are all very happy, feeling SO good, and plan to have homebirths with all the rest of our children.
**Entered in Labor Day Link Up at Amy’s Finer Things
2012 update: Sadly, Abby, the senior midwife who attended both Daniel’s birth and our second son, Jacob’s birth, died on Nov. 30, 2011. We will miss her.