We started this pregnancy with See Baby Midwifery, but at our first appointment at 11 weeks, both the midwife and Dr. Bootstaylor mentioned we would be great candidates for home birth. While we have friends who have had homebirths, we hadn’t ever considered it for our family. We researched and met with Constance for a consultation, and we decided that home birth was our new plan! I loved the long and personal prenatal appointments. I loved getting to know Constance and Debbie and the student midwives. I was blown away with how peaceful and loving our home birth was.
This is Caleb’s birth story.
July 23rd seemed like a normal day. I thought Caleb might be a bit lower since I was feeling some on and off pressure and having to use the bathroom more frequently. The kids and I took an early walk and bike ride to have some outside time before it got too hot. I waddled behind as Ansley and Braeden zoomed ahead on their bikes. We got home and I rested on the couch while they played until lunch. After lunch we sat down to read books together. While I read book after book, I noticed some tighter Braxton Hicks contractions. They didn't hurt at all, but they seemed to be happening in a regular interval. I didn't think too much of it, and then it was time to get the kids ready for nap time.
1:15pm: The kids are napping and resting, and I text Ben. I wanted him to be in the loop but was pretty sure these were just Braxton Hicks. I told him I was going to lie down and see if they stopped. I lay down, and they didn't stop. So, I started timing them to see if they were as regular as I was thinking. They were 8 to 9 minutes apart. I continued texting Ben saying, "I don't know if you should come home or not... This might just be nothing." I also text my mom to keep her in the loop.
2:40 pm: I decide it's probably best for Ben to just come home even though contractions are so mild and painless... just in case things change quickly. He heads home from work.
3:15pm: Ben arrives home. Kids are done napping. Contractions feel very tight, a bit more frequent, but they are not painful at all. I tell the kids that my tummy is having contractions, but that doesn't mean CJ will be born today. Their excitement level skyrockets! I call my midwife, Debbie, to update her. She says it could fizzle out or my body might wait until kids are in bed to focus on labor. I hop in the shower and Ben tells my mom to come over. Contractions are getting a tiny bit more intense and more like "real" contractions. I can talk through them, but prefer not to move during them. The kids energy level is driving me a little nuts. We give Ansley helpful things to do to channel her energy. She sweetly rubbed my back through several contractions. Braeden just ran around like a wild man.
4:20 pm: I ask Ben's parents to come get kids to go play and eat dinner. Around this time, my mom arrives and helps Ben get house tidy and our bedroom setup for birth. My contractions are 30 seconds long and 4 min apart. They are still pretty mild in my mind.
5:00pm: I call Debbie and update her. Contractions are requiring me to concentrate, close my eyes, actively relax my whole body, and breathe slowly. She asked if I want her to come yet. I tell her I am not ready for her yet.
5:30pm: 30 minutes later, contractions are about the same, but during one contraction, I get the feeling I need to tell Debbie to come over. So, I did. After two previous labors, I have learned to listen to my instincts and feelings during labor.
6:00 pm: Debbie and Ashley (midwife student) arrive with all their gear. They first check baby’s heart rate during and in between contractions. They ask to check how dilated I am. As I start to move to where they can do this, I stand and begin to have a contraction. I want a place to rest my head, so I get to my knees and rest my head on the bed. This contraction jumped in intensity and breaks my water. After this contraction, I lay down on the bed to be checked. I ask Debbie how dilated I am, and she answers, "Oh you're good. You are going to push a baby out soon."
At this point, I stopped checking the clock, but this all takes place during the next hour. Ben and midwifes help me stand. I stand and lean on Ben while we sway through a few contractions as the midwives fill the birth pool from a hose attached to out sink. Ben is a genius and finds a way to fill the pool from our bathtub faucet as well using the pump intended to empty the birth pool. I was so thankful for that because I am having contractions and feeling slight pushing urges while staring at one inch of water in the pool (and dying to get in it). Finally the pool is full enough for me to get in. The water feels amazing. I tell my mom that she can invite my dad up if he wants to be present. My body starts to push and I just let it work. Debbie tells me to start pushing with my body. I notice she is very attentive to baby’s heart rate, but I knew I had to let her worry about that, and I just needed to focus on pushing. At first I am making too much noise instead of holding my breath to let my full lungs help me push, but Debbie guided me towards more effective pushing. I was having internal mental battles with myself: "I hate this part.", "I want to quit.", "You can't quit now, you are kind of committed at this point". Thankfully I had hung up scripture on the wall for birth, and while I wanted to keep my eyes closed to focus, I peek at God's word: "But He said to me, my grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." And "He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak... But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength." I asked God to provide me with what I needed to get CJ out. I heard the encouraging words of Debbie and Ashley that confirmed my pushing was effective. Ben tells me I can feel the head, and I do very quickly. Then I get my hands re-settled into the grooves in the bottom on the pool to prepare for the next contraction. Soon the head was born. Debbie said he had a cord around the shoulders. So she adjusted that. I waited, for what seemed like forever, for the next contraction and pushed the rest of my baby out. He was placed on my chest and within seconds, Ben (who was right behind me on the outside of the pool) told me it was a boy!! My sweet Caleb James!!! Born at home at 7:08pm!
Debbie is checking his heart right away. He is breathing and crying, but slow to pink-up. I am bleeding a tiny bit more than they would like, so the midwives help me and Caleb move to the bed. Caleb continues to slowly improve on his own and I enjoy the skin to skin with my baby. I birth the placenta and Debbie massages my uterus to help resolve the bleeding. I am given a huge glass of juice and asked to drink it. I get Caleb to latch for the first time to help encourage contractions, and it brings tears to my eyes. I adore nursing my babies. With a few minutes, both him and I are just fine. I didn’t need Pitocin and he didn’t need oxygen. The extra attention we needed did not stress me out or worry me, Debbie and Ashley calmly addressed our needs and communicated with us so easily. The kids and Ben’s parents arrive after going to dinner (I had expected labor would be lasting a while and that they would have been present also). The kids were so excited to hear they had a baby brother and rushed up to meet Caleb. After a good hour and a half of skin to skin with our family surrounding us all in our bedroom, I got into the shower while Ben enjoyed skin to skin time with Caleb. Then, I had a slight 2nd degree tear to have repaired. Family return to our room to watch Caleb be measured, weighed and checked over. I am so grateful to be at home and surround with such love. After Caleb is dressed, Ansley and Braeden hold their new brother, and grandparents get a quick snuggle before heading home. By 11pm, everyone has left, and we enjoy our first night with our new son.