image credit: sabrena rexing photography
By Celeste Fahnert, Contributing Writer
I was so excited to be pregnant with baby number three. After years of back and forth…should we or shouldn’t we…my husband Matt and I decided that of course we wanted to do this. I knew that at 36, I didn’t have many more years of indecision left in me. I had two previous births that were very different.
My first, Isabella, eight years ago, was in a hospital in Las Vegas, where I lived at the time. I was very naive and was induced at 39 weeks simply because I was “uncomfortable” and my doctor offered. It was rough. My body wasn’t ready, she wasn’t ready.
So when I got pregnant with Juliet a year and a half later, I knew it had to be different. Still in Las Vegas, I found Hypnobirthing. I had Juliet in a hospital, but with the help of Hypnobirthing and a doula, the experience was vastly different and it was amazing. I knew if I ever decided to have a third, however, that it HAD to be in the water and Hypnobirthing was a given.
So, here I was, nearly six years later and finally expecting my future water baby. We started out at a large ob/gyn practice, planning to use their birth center. However, at around 16 weeks, I just wasn’t feeling it. I felt like a number. It wasn’t what I wanted.
I had heard so many wonderful things about everyone at Central Texas Birth Center from friends that my husband and I had to go meet them. When we did, we knew that was it. My only worry was that they were a good distance from our home. I wondered how difficult it would be for us to get up there while I was in labor.
I came to the realization at nearly 38 weeks pregnant that that one issue was the only thing I was worried about and the only fear I couldn’t release. So, I asked my midwife Salli how difficult it would be to change our mind and have a homebirth so late in the game. Her response was, “Not difficult at all! We’ll just make your next visit your home visit!”.
And she did. Just like that. She was at our house a few days later with a tub and a birth kit. It was THAT EASY! The immediate sense of relief that I felt told me we made the right decision. I never would have imagined I’d have a homebirth, but my midwives, Salli and Heather made us feel so comfortable and confident that here we were, planning our homebirth.
I had weeks of waking up at night with surges (Hypnobirthing speak for contractions) thinking “is this it?” only to have them die down after an hour or so. The weekend before my estimated due date was Memorial Day weekend and family was hanging out just kind of waiting…staring at me. So I walked a lot, ate some pineapple, did a lot of jumping jacks, just hoping for her quick arrival. Then that weekend, we had flooding, tornadoes and torrential downpours. I knew my body would likely not let me go into labor while all of that was going on, so I just rested.
My due date came and went. Then that night, around midnight, after all of the storms had died down, I felt like this was going to be the night that the surges would be “real” and Harper would finally be here. So I went to bed to make sure I could get some rest. I was woken up around 2AM with a powerful surge that got me out of bed and into my bathtub.
I got in, relaxed, listened to some Hypnobirthing tracks and started timing them. They were steady and I knew this was finally time. I woke up Matt at 4:30 and said we needed to start filling the tub. Isabella came out of her room so excited that today was the day and she was ready to fulfill her “duties” as my daughter/doula. She threw on her swimsuit, grabbed the hose and started filling. At 4:45, I finally texted my midwife, Salli and told her it was time to come over, we were ready.
I got into the tub and it was amazing. Isabella stood outside the tub doing my surge breathing right along side me. She got my water when I needed it telling me, “mommy, all you have to say is ‘drink’ and I’ve got it for you, just relax”. She did light touch massage on my arms, she kept telling me I was doing great.
The surges were like an intense pressure, but nothing I couldn’t easily breathe through. I also had breaks in between, so I figured we had a few hours to go. Matt was helping get everyone situated downstairs and parents were eating breakfast and hanging out ready for a long day. Salli, Heather and Jessie arrived around 5:30 all ready to go.
The most amazing part for me was how hands off they were. I was left to labor how I needed to and wanted to with very minimal interruption. Of course, Salli did the necessary blood pressure check and checked Harper’s heartbeat, but other than that, I was completely left alone. I hadn’t been checked for dilation/effacement at all during the pregnancy, nor was I checked once during labor. So, I had no idea how “far along” I was, I just responded to my body.
My surges started to get more powerful soon after they got there and it felt good to kind of moan through them, so I did. This went on for maybe 20 minutes before I felt the pressure of my baby girl ready to come out during one big surge.
I called for Salli and Matt to let them know this was it. She was “right there” as I put it and it wasn’t going to be long. Matt came in and got into the tub with me and I made sure both of our moms were there to witness the birth of Harper too! My mom brought Juliet with her and Isabella was still next to me reminding me to relax and breathe and to cheer me on.
With one surge, I started to breathe her down and felt her head peek through. On the next one, I did the same, but suddenly felt like I needed a break. Salli told me to get on all fours, so I knew I when she said that, that I needed to do this and get her out. Salli guided Matt and helped him deliver our baby girl and it was amazing. She had her hands there to help guide her out and Matt was right there with her. With one big push, she came right out and I turned around to see my beautiful baby girl right there in Matt’s hands. I grabbed her and heard a beautiful big cry almost immediately. Isabella was standing behind me with some big emotional happy crying that was so sweet. Juliet was in my mom’s arms and all I heard from her was, “I almost threw up, I just ate a taco!”. HA!
I feel so incredibly lucky to have experienced such an amazing, perfect birth in the comfort of our own home. It went so fast and in the end, we were back in our own bed and loving on our baby girl. It couldn’t have possibly gone any better.
I asked Isabella to write down her memory of the events a few days later. What I got was priceless.