DawningLife Midwifery

Experienced homebirth midwives serving Metro-Atlanta and North Georgia families for over 35 years!

Benjamin Homebirth

Before you read this very candid account of Benjamin’s birth, you should know that it was the most wonderful, amazing experience of my life. I’m honest about the pain in my story, but readers should know that I would do it again in a heartbeat.

On 11/10, 5-7 days before my EDD, I woke up at 3:17 a.m. for my usual “wee hour of the morning” trip to the potty. I realized as I returned to bed that I had some menstrual-like cramping. It was coming and going, so I was sure that I was starting the labor process and got very excited. I woke Matt and told him, and also reassured him that he should go back to sleep since we had no idea what the coming day would bring.

Before you read this very candid account of Benjamin’s birth, you should know that it was the most wonderful, amazing experience of my life. I’m honest about the pain in my story, but readers should know that I would do it again in a heartbeat.

On 11/10, 5-7 days before my EDD, I woke up at 3:17 a.m. for my usual “wee hour of the morning” trip to the potty. I realized as I returned to bed that I had some menstrual-like cramping. It was coming and going, so I was sure that I was starting the labor process and got very excited. I woke Matt and told him, and also reassured him that he should go back to sleep since we had no idea what the coming day would bring.

I tried to go back to sleep as well, knowing that I would be grateful for the rest later; but I was just too excited. I lay there feeling the cramps come and go, thinking about everything I still needed/wanted to do to get ready for this. Finally around 4:30 a.m., I gave up and got out of bed. I cleaned the kitchen, and swept the main floor of the house. Periodically I needed to get on my hands and knees and breathe through a contraction, but for the most part they were pretty light and I could just pause whatever I was doing. At some point during this time period my mucus plug came out too.

At 6:00 a.m. I started vacuuming. I was bored and lonely, and accidentally on purpose woke my husband. He forgave me, made some coffee, and helped me continue to get the house in order and the bedroom set up with our birth supplies, etc. We timed contractions for about an hour, and they were 3-5 minutes apart, and only 30-45 seconds long.

Matt called work to tell them he would not be in that day. I called Debbie (our midwife), and told her that while I certainly didn’t feel that anything was happening anytime soon, I just wanted to give her a heads up. Even though I knew that this could go on for days, I was still excited to be able to report that something was happening.

The contractions slowed down to about 10 to 15 minutes apart, still very short and manageable. I tried to rest more, and I also went for a short walk. I dozed a little bit in between contractions in the early afternoon while Naomi napped. Once she got up, we all went for a long walk in our neighborhood. It was exciting being able to tell the neighbors we saw that we were in early labor!

By now it was 5:00 p.m., and I was thinking that I would be doing this for days, and kicking myself for not just going to work that morning. Although the contractions were a little more intense by this point, they were still at least 15 minutes apart. I was getting impatient and frustrated. Women in my family just don’t have long labors! (My mom’s last baby was an unintentional unassisted homebirth, and my sister’s second was born in the car.) What was wrong with me?

Debbie came to check on me around 6:00 p.m. She gave me an encouraging pep talk, and told me that either we would go to bed and get a decent night of sleep tonight, or we would have our baby before morning. We didn’t do a cervical check, because I didn’t want to get too excited or disappointed. A few days after the birth Debbie told me that she would not have been surprised to find me at least 5 cm by that point. So Debbie left with instructions to call her if things intensified, or if not, to just check in when we went to bed.

We set up our fishy pool in the bedroom, and Naomi and I got in and played around. She thought it was great fun to be getting in a pool in the house! We finally got ourselves to bed around 10:30 p.m., called and told Debbie no change, and lay there reading for awhile. By now I needed Matt to hold his hand on my back during the worst of a contraction. They were still at least 15 minutes apart, but definitely getting more intense. I wouldn’t call them painful yet, but I had to focus on relaxing and breathing through each one, and I was moaning through the peaks also.

By the time we turned out the lights and tried to sleep at 11:30 p.m., the contractions were getting more intense and closer together. I would definitely say they were starting to hurt. After trying to ride out two or three of these more painful contractions in bed, I told Matt I wanted to get up and get back in the pool to see if the water eased the pain at all. It was just about midnight when we got back out of bed.

I tried two or three contractions in the water, and they just got worse. They seemed longer, and I still needed Matt’s hand on my back, so it was more difficult for him with me in the pool. I just couldn’t get comfortable, and I felt like I had to go to the bathroom and was worried I’d do it in the water. I draped a towel over the birthing ball and then leaned over it on my knees for a few contractions. In between contractions, I told Matt I didn’t know if I had to pee, poop, or throw up. I tried a couple of contractions on the toilet, thinking I’d feel better if I could urinate or have a BM. Nope, contractions just got worse and I HAD to get back to the ball with Matt’s hand on my back. We tried the ball in front of me on the toilet, but that didn’t do the trick either. (By now you would think that I would have realized that nothing was going to help except pushing this baby out.)

I told Matt to go ahead and call Debbie around this time. I was nervous that the need to have a BM that I was feeling meant that it was almost time to push. I was still somewhat in denial though, as it was only 12:20 and I had only been in serious labor for all of half an hour. I told him that if I was wrong she could always just go sleep in the guest bed.

While we waited for Debbie to arrive, I labored on my knees with my face and upper body on the ball. I also used the roundness of the ball to rotate my hips a little bit, which felt good. I was moaning pretty loudly, and the contractions seemed non-stop. They were like waves, with peaks and valleys. They didn’t really stop, just lessened in intensity for a few seconds, then built back up again. Matt barely had time to run downstairs to unlock the front door and turn on the outside lights for Debbie. I still needed his hand on back for the worst of the contractions, and felt as though I would die if his hand wasn’t there.

Debbie arrived about 12:50 a.m. and immediately told me to bear down if I felt like it. I was still kind of fighting the “have to poop” feeling with each contraction. She checked the baby’s heart rate as soon as she walked in also. Debbie’s apprentice Beatriz arrived soon after she did, and I was kind of aware of a flurry of activity as she brought in supplies and set things up.

After Debbie got some of her supplies inside, she and Matt got me up on the bed so she could check me. Just getting into position on the bed felt like such hard work! I’m pretty sure I yelled when Debbie was checking my cervix, it hurt more than I had thought it would. She said that I was complete except for a little lip that was acting like a hammock due to my position on the ball, and suggested I try the bed for a bit. I agreed, and she also said that she would break my water now. I screamed out NO! It hurt so much already that I couldn’t imagine how much worse it would get if my water was broken. As that contraction eased, I told Debbie that it was ok, I trusted her, and if she thought we should than go ahead. She said that was fine, there was no need, that it just might ease some of the pressure I was feeling.

By this point I was panicking with almost every other contraction. I felt like I couldn’t catch my breath, and it hurt so much that I was seriously questioning whether I would live through this. (but somewhere way deep down, I knew the whole time that everything was fine, that none of this was abnormal)

Debbie suggested the birth stool, and I reluctantly moved to that with Matt sitting on the bed behind me and supporting me. I also had to be talked into letting go of him and gripping the birth stool instead. When each contraction eased, Debbie would tell me to take a deep breath, hold it, and bear down. However, before she finished her instructions each time I would feel another one coming, I whined, “No, I can’t”, and just yelled my way through it, trying to catch my breath. We repeated this little cycle over and over. I felt like I was hearing it for the first time each time, and I had to re-process what she was saying. By the time I understood her words, and tried to put it into practice, there was another contraction and it was all I could to just get through it. I think this is when I got very loud-I know Naomi woke up and came in at some point and Matt took her back to bed. It was too late to call someone to come get her now, and I felt like I needed Matt with me every second.

Debbie checked the baby’s heart rate often, and each time it was great. It hurt so much even for her to put the Doppler on me though; I think I even yelled NO and slapped it away once. Another time she said something about how good the baby was doing, and I thought to myself that I didn’t care one bit about the baby, I just wanted this to be over. Isn’t that awful?

Beatriz and Matt were giving me sips of water and Gatorade, and I was so worried about the red Gatorade spilling on the carpet. I thought, wait a minute, I must not be that far along if I’m still conscious of where Beatriz set the glass down!

Debbie finally said, “Ok Miriam, you can have as many contractions like that as you want, or you can push your baby out.” Of course I didn’t want more contractions like that! Her saying that helped me understand that I needed to focus, that this little one wasn’t just going to fall out just because I was getting through the contractions. I still wasn’t able to catch my breath enough to hold it, but I started really trying to push. I just couldn’t get it! Right at the very end of each contraction, for a few seconds, I would get it right. Then it would be over, and I’d have to start all over the next time.

Debbie had me get back on the bed, and I was able to tell Beatriz where the extra pillows were. (So I still questioned whether I was close yet.) Then, Debbie told me I’d need to hold my legs with my arms. More whining from me: “I caaan’t.” Somehow I got into position-kind of reclining, with my arms around my legs. Everyone was helping me, and I was so grateful for each sip of liquid, for the cool rags on my neck and face, for the encouraging words.

Now we were doing serious pushing. I still just could not get the hang of it until the end of each contraction, so then I would try to hold it after the contraction ended. I didn’t want baby slipping back up! Debbie would remind me to let go and rest, that it wasn’t helping, and she reassured me that the baby was not going backwards. Sometime in here my water broke, and I swear I heard the pop. Debbie was right, for a second it did ease the pressure.

I mostly kept my eyes squeezed shut, so I didn’t get to see any of the good stuff. But I did get to reach down and feel a little head. It was amazing! It also encouraged me to know that we were getting close.

Debbie told me that in a few contractions she was going to help me slow down and do tiny pushes to avoid tearing. The whole time she had been using olive oil and I think doing some perineal massage to help me stretch. I was starting to feel the “ring of fire” and that encouraged me too. I told myself that I had to push towards that pain, that it meant I was doing something right. But I was also still feeling like I could not do this, that I surely would die soon.

I took a deep breath and pushed as hard as I could, towards the pain, through the pain-and the baby literally shot out. (According to my husband) Not just the head, but half of the body too! I think the rest of him slithered out into Debbie’s hands, and she immediately set him up on my stomach. I was so excited to hold and greet my fresh, slippery little baby. He was crying but calmed down right away. Since we were having a “surprise” this was also when we found out it was a boy! I wasn’t too surprised, we all kind of had a feeling.

Matt said that when the baby shot out, he heard Debbie say quietly, “Oh, Miriam” because I tore quite a bit, a 2nd degree tear. I can’t say I felt it at all, and it has not been uncomfortable while healing either.

Debbie said I was bleeding a little more than she’d like, so she gave me a shot of Pitocin. I’m not sure if this was before or after the placenta came out, which was almost right away. I remember she told me I needed to push once more for the placenta, and once again I whined that I couldn’t. But I did, and it came out easily and quickly.

We were able to go get Naomi right away and bring her in to meet her little brother. She kept saying “Mommy, he’s so cute.” He was very calm, and not the slightest bit interested in nursing yet. His Apgar’s were 9/10, and he weighed a healthy 7 lbs., 3 oz.

Since by this time it was after 4:00 a.m., Matthew took Naomi back to bed. Then, he held the baby and my hands while Debbie sewed me up. I was able to take a nice warm shower, and crawl into my fresh clean sheets in my own bed, just as I had imagined when we planned our home birth. The part I didn’t imagine was the adult diaper and two layers of pads underneath me.

Debbie, Beatriz, and Matt finished cleaning everything up, and Debbie made sure that Benjamin was nursing a little before she left. Finally, as the sun was rising, the Hinton family slept—all four of us.

When all was said and done, I had labored almost exactly 24 hours-21 hours were early labor, 45 minutes active labor, and 2 hours and 15 minutes of pushing.

I will never be able to find the words to describe how wonderful Debbie and Beatriz were. Beatriz seemed to be two people in two places at once, acting both as assistant to Debbie and as doula to me. Debbie was the perfect combination of gentle, but firm; guiding me through what was a very intense, fast experience. The safety I felt because of her was priceless, and I will forever be so grateful for her and for all women who practice the art of midwifery.