It’s been 32 hours and I still can’t believe that a) I have a baby and b) I made it through labor alive! Over the coarse of the pregnancy I hadn’t thought much about how much pain a natural childbirth would bring and boy am I glad I didn’t. If I had thought about it I might have not made it through it. I’m going to try and remember the details but some things are a little fuzzy, which is probably a good thing. For those of you who get embarrassed easily you probably don’t want to read this. In order to really get people to understand what a home birth is I’m not going to be so discrete so don’t read if you are squeamish or if you will look at me funny from now on after you know what I went through.
My whole pregnancy has been very easy. I think that god, knowing how painful my labor was going to be, showed mercy and grace when it came to my pregnancy. As painful as the labor was, though, it was fast! But I’ll get into that later. Now for the long boring story up until he starts to come
I went into early labor at 11:30pm march 1. It wasn’t bad at all but still uncomfortable enough that I couldn’t sleep. I didn’t want to wake anyone up since I knew that this probably wasn’t going to happen for awhile and so I emailed my midwife instead with my timings and she had me call her in the morning. Things had slowed way down by then and I was convinced it had stopped and that we weren’t gonna see Asher for a few more days. Debbie told me to go for a walk and that would either speed things up or slow them down. She also suggested a bath and to try and get some rest. So, on a walk we went. Jonathan worked from home that day and boy am I glad he did. We walked, I was fine, we went and got lunch, I was fine, I took a long bath, and I was fine. Then, I wasn’t fine. My contractions were coming very fast but were not lasting as long as Debbie said they needed to in order to signal that she needed to come. I tried to focus on other things, which wasn’t hard as the pain was really mild and manageable. Around 3pm I made the executive decision that Boaz needed to be taken asap to the kennel and that my mom needed to come. I didn’t have a specific reason, more like a gut feeling that it needed to be done soon. That was another really good decision I made because Jonathan found out that our Banfield vet plan expired and so did one of Boaz’s shots so puppy tubs wouldn’t take him until he had it. God is good, though, and Jonathan ran him over to petsmart, got the shot, ran him to puppy tubs and was back in time for when things started to get worse for me.
While he was gone, my mom and I timed my contractions. Every 3 minutes but only lasting 45 seconds. We sent the times to Debbie who still didn’t want to get my hopes up since they weren’t lasting long. So, I took a shower and my mom started to cook dinner, thinking we would all sit down and I would be able to eat here and there. Wrong! Things started to really progress after the shower and thank the lord Debbie decided to leave her house before I called her. She said she just had a feeling. She called Tanya, the soon to be midwife, who came right over. I felt so much better knowing she was on her way. By the time she got there the contractions were so frequent and strong that I couldn’t get through one on my own. Jonathan was right there rubbing my back or letting me collapse onto him every single time. He was so supportive and encouraging. He kept telling me I was doing great and to keep going.
Tanya arrived at 7:30 and couldn’t understand why my contractions were so fast yet still so short. I told her it was probably because nothing about my pregnancy has been normal. She let me get through a few contractions then wanted to check to see how far dilated I was. This was the part I was dreading because I was in so much pain that if she had told me I was at a 3 I might have just died. So, I climbed into bed, she made me pee first (they make you pee a lot at a home birth), and now I know that I never want to give birth on my back with my legs in the air. Just getting through a contraction in that position was terrible! Tanya seemed very hesitant to say how far I was but then she came out with it. ”I don’t want to say I’m positive but (long pause) I believe you are at a 9.” I didn’t believe her. ”I’m having a hard time finding the cervix but I don’t want you to get your hopes up so we’ll have Debbie check when she gets here.” I still didn’t believe her.
I labored for about an hour longer, bent over the couch, on the toilet, hanging onto Jonathan for dear life. This part is a little fuzzy. All I really remember is pain and not being able to find a suitable position that would alleviate some of the back pain and make it easier for me to deal with the contractions. The back pain was intense. I knew I would have some but this was more than I expected. Debbie arrived at 8:30ish and we checked the dilation all over again. Sure enough, Debbie confirmed what Tanya had discovered. Only a few hours into active labor and I was already a 9!! I still didn’t believe it and I don’t think Jonathan did, either. I wasn’t sure what the best way to deal with the pain was so Debbie and Tanya suggested the bathtub might be a good place to help with relaxing a little more. I will never look at my bathroom the same way again.
I don’t know if it helped any because I stayed in the tub for about an hour and then once I was out I was already pushing so I can’t say that water helps with the contractions. While I was in the tub they checked to see if my water had broke…….it hadn’t. They explained that they could break it but that it would make the contractions more intense because it would get baby out faster. All I heard was “get baby out faster” and I was ready for that no matter what they did. Let me say that it’s a very uncomfortable feeling laying on your back in a bathtub while someone, during a contraction, tries to break your water. She was successful, though, and within seconds I felt stronger contractions and a desire to start pushing.
The back pain was even more unbearable, now. A couple times I made a comment about how drugs sounded really appealing and that I can see why women take them. If I had been in the hospital, they would have given me drugs then. The sad thing is that I would have taken them because of the pain but been so upset later that they gave them to me against my initial wishes. I think every woman wants the drugs when the pain gets too unbearable. But later, I would have been so disappointed so I’m glad that wasn’t even an option for me. It made me face the pain head on and just push past it, literally. I realized just how stubborn I was, then. After several minutes of pushing I hit the proverbial ”wall.” I had Tanya, Debbie, and Jonathan all watching me and encouraging me saying that I was doing great but the wall came and I almost started to cry. I remember saying, “I’ve hit a wall. I just want it to stop.” Tanya had Jonathan put on his swim trunks and sit behind me in the tub so that he could apply pressure to my lower back. I don’t know if it was the pressure or just having him behind me but I felt better. They say that I didn’t scream but I know that I was making some kind of god-awful noise while I was pushing. Maybe the midwives have just heard much worse so for them mine was not as bad. They said that it was good that I was talking between pushes and that no matter what I felt I kept going, I didn’t hold back and tense up. I had watched enough home birth videos to know that the worse thing to do is tense up because that makes it take longer for the baby to come out.
We were in the tub probably another 20 minutes when Tanya and Debbie decided that it was time to get on the birthing stool. They put a trash bag inside it to catch all the “stuff” and then you sit on it and bear down however is most comfortable for you. I had specified for the longest time that this was how I wanted to give birth. There is a greater risk in t
earing when you use the stool as a first time mom but they said that all I needed to do was stand up when they said to and we could try and avoid tearing as much as possible. I was ok with that. I am so glad that this was the position I decided to give birth in. Not only did it give me total control over my body and the pushes but it allowed Jonathan to sit behind me and support me in whatever way necessary. It also allowed him to be much more a part of the birth.
The one thing I never counted on was how much pain I had in my rectum (told ya I wasn’t gonna hold back). I found out later why that was but at the moment it seriously felt like the baby was coming out of my butt. The midwives were so great. They just sat and waited patiently, wiped me off when they needed to, and then Tanya told me to reach down because she could see hair. I felt the smallest bit of fuzz and that was all I needed to get him out. Tanya put her hand on the places where I needed to focus on pushing and would say, “push me out.” that was extremely helpful. I knew exactly where to push and focus my energy. The birthing stool allowed me to lean forward, bear down on my hands, and curl my whole body into a ball. I used every ab muscle I had, and I had good abs according to Debbie, and with only a few more pushes
I had been having contractions every night since 37 weeks. They would come and go, irregular, but would make me wonder "was this it??" and I would get my hopes up, only to wake up in the middle of the night to no contractions :/ Elijah (5 years old) was born at 37 weeks, and Jeremiah (3 years old) was 39 weeks, so I was SO sure I'd go early. Well, around 38.5 weeks I went into labor. I called my midwife team and my friends who were to attend the birth (this was about 10pm). Contractions were every three minutes, but not really increasing in intensity. So when the midwife got here I was at 3 cm. I labored like that until 6am...when the contractions just stopped. I was 5cm. I couldn't believe it! But I was pretty exhausted so everyone went home and I slept, believing labor would restart any second. It didn't.
I walked around 5 cm until the day before my due date. That night my mother-in-law told Larry (my husband) and I to go have a hot date before we couldn't have one for awhile...so we did! During dinner I was having some good contractions, but I was so not getting my hopes up this time. We went home, put the kids to bed, then turned on some Star Trek (I know, so us, haha). Well, during the first episode we watched I noticed that the contractions were coming closer...but I wasn't timing them. During the second episode I was totally zoning out. I would ask Larry to stand up so I could lean on him, and he kept asking me if I thought I was in labor. I'd answer "no, I'm going to be pregnant forever." After some really good contractions he asked if he could call the midwife. Remembering the last time, I said, well, let me have three more contractions like that, then maybe we can call the midwife.
The contractions were still only 5-7 minutes apart, so I really didn't think that I was in labor. And they didn't hurt enough. Well three went by, and I didn't say anything to Larry...then with the next contraction I was on my knees moaning! Larry called the midwife, haha. After that contraction I told Larry to move the kids upstairs to my mother-in-law's room and start filling the birth pool "just in case"....I was still in denial! So we move upstairs to our bedroom, where my "birth nest" was set up...at this time it was 1am.
I start pacing around, dropping to my knees and moaning with each contractions, still only 5 minutes apart. Finally the birth pool was filled, and I dived right in! The first three contractions in there I didn't even feel...that water is simply divine. Around this time (1:30am) the midwife and her apprentice arrive. She checks me, I'm 6cm, so now I'm thinking maybe I really am in labor? They checked the baby, baby was doing well, so she set everything up. Well each contraction is getting harder than the last one...no time really to adjust before it gets harder. During this time the water in the pool was cooling a little, and our water heater couldn't keep up, so the apprentice had to boil water on the stove! How cliche, haha! But that kept it nice and warm for me.
Also during this time I heard thunder...I had a dream earlier in the pregnancy that the baby would be born during a thunderstorm, which is pretty rare in Nov, so I was amazed that it was thundering outside! So, so weird. I also was saying weird things in the long space between contractions...I would try to make a joke, but no one laughed....the weird things a laboring woman thinks, hehe. Anyway, when I start getting pushy (3am) the midwife tells Larry that if we want Elijah to be there, we better go get him! So I start pushing in earnest...and it HURTS! With the other two, pushing felt so good, and I was able to push them out pretty quickly (20 minutes for Elijah, 4 minutes for Mimi). This time it SUCKED. I screamed with almost each push!
Elijah came into the room, sleepy-eyed, and with the biggest grin on his face. He said, "Mommy, you're having a baby!" and I almost cried, it was SO, so sweet! Each contraction Elijah would say, "I see the baby!" (when the head wasn't even close, hehe) or would clap his hands and say I was doing a good job. I was so glad he was there :) Well, after about thirty minutes of pushing I could feel that I was pushing out the baby's amniotic sac, not his head, so I asked the midwife to break it, because I couldn't break it with my fingernail. The next contraction she did and the baby's head came right down. I had my hand on his head the whole time so I could feel where to push, and within two more pushes he started crowning. I was thrashing around the pool, trying to run from pushing/pain (I still don't know why I thought I could do that, hehe), and ended up on the far side of the pool, so Larry was leaning over the side to ensure that he was able to reach when the baby came out (and got wet in the process). So the next contraction I deliver his head, then Larry says, "he’s turning," so I wait to push out his shoulders. Then I push to release his shoulders and after they were out I thought he would just slide out....nope! I had to push to get his chest out, then he stopped at his hips! So I had to push his booty out too! Well I am on my knees, holding onto the side of the pool, and the baby was delivered by Larry behind me (345am). He brings him up out of the water and I hear Larry laugh and say "Its a boy!" I said, "WHAAAAAAT??" because I had thought it was a girl the whole time, haha!
The midwife helped me put my leg over the cord and I turned around and Larry handed the baby to me. I cuddled him and said "so you were the little one inside the whole time?" It was so wonderfully precious! The midwife put a wet towel over both of us, and I started rubbing him to hear him cry. He peeped, but that was pretty much it. He was pink, so I knew he was fine. After cuddling him for about 10 minutes, I feel the placenta ready to come out, so I push and it popped out. The baby was still attached to it, so they plop it in a bowl which floats in the water next to us. They say its about time to get out, so Elijah cuts the cord (he was SO excited to do that!) and hand the baby to Larry who cuddles him skin to skin (can't do that in the hospital, hehe). The midwives help me out of the pool, and onto the bed. I then got the baby back and nursed him. After about 30 minutes the midwife had to check me. I did tear, so they did have to stitch me up (which I screamed through too, even though I was numbed...I’m such a wuss), then I was able to get into my OWN shower! That really was heavenly, even if I felt like my insides were going to fall out. Then they helped me into my bed, fed me (the most delicious PB&J I’ve ever had), laid the sleeping baby beside me, cleaned up, and they went home! We were all together in bed by 6am. The next three days I stayed in my room, while my mother-in-law fed me and Larry tended to me. It was wonderful!