Disclosure: My home birth story is as I remember and does include great detail, so if you’re of the faint of heart or not prepared to hear things as they are…maybe this article isn’t for you.
Okay. So. Twas the night before Christmas. Actually, no, it was the morning before Christmas. Exactly 6 days past my due date. I woke up just after 3am and immediately reached down to grab myself. I ran to the restroom. I felt wet.
Nothing too weird at this point, I just figured that I needed to pee, a very normal thing during pregnancy. Intense need to pee. All the time. Had I not been able to hold it? Perhaps. As I was about to go back to bed, I noticed something. It was like I was starting my period. The toilet paper was red.
I sat there a minute. Confused. Then blood started dripping into the toilet. My initial thought was, “Oh no, not again”.
Let me tell you about my first pregnancy real quick. Basically, my planned home birth turned into an emergency ambulance visit to the nearest hospital that would accept me due to blood in my water when my water broke. My midwife considered the amount of blood very abnormal and thus I was rushed to the hospital.
Long story short, I was able to birth naturally in the hospital without any interventions, drugs, epidural, IVs, etc. All was as I had hoped it would be, the only difference was that my home birth was a hospital birth.
What was all the blood in my first labor? Placenta rupture. This is when the placenta tears from the uterus. It can be very dangerous if the placenta tears completely as oxygen will be cut off to the baby. Thankfully, this did not happen to me.
No one knew why it happened to me. Well, I know why it happened. Stress. But that’s a story for another day. This article is about my home birth story.
Back to the blood dripping into the toilet. The frequency of the drips was increasing. Basically, every time I would be about to get off the toilet, I would have to wipe again. Then, my stomach started hurting. So I just kept sitting.
Finally, I started getting pressure in my backside. The type of pressure you may feel when you need to use the restroom. Cramping, blood and backside pressure. To be completely honest I wasn’t sure I was having a baby at this point…but I sure was hoping.
The second I got a chance, I got up and ran to my guest room where my Mom was sleeping. I opened the door and said “MOM! I think I’m having a baby.” She’s like, what do you mean? I’m like “I’M HAVING A BABY!”
I ran back to my room to Eric and said “Call the midwife, I think I’m having a baby”. Like a whip, he jumps out of bed and calls Gerri, my midwife. It’s about 3:30am.
At this moment, I felt my first true contraction. Because I had already gone through labor once before, I knew this was a contraction and I now knew I was in labor. It was enough to bring me to all fours.
I stayed in this position on my hardwood floor as the contractions began rapidly and with growing force. Gerri told Eric to relax and to count my contractions. She also said to call my Doula (my birth assistant).
Eric’s job at this point was to determine how long the contraction was lasting and how frequently it was coming. He pulls out his labor app and starts timing. I remember thinking, “whoa, he’s on top of it! I didn’t even know they have these types of apps.” Seriously don’t know what I would do without him.
According to the app, my contractions were lasting for 1 minute and coming every 2-3 minutes. The app told him I was in ACTIVE labor. He calls Gerri back to relay the info and she says she’s on the way.
I’m in my own world now. My only focus is complete relaxation and controlled breathing. I’m not talking to anyone. It’s just me, the contractions, and my breathing. If I took anything from my first labor, it is that relaxation is KEY.
In my first labor I had been mortified by what I was feeling. I was so scared and it hurt so badly that all I wanted to do was cry…which is like the WORST thing you can do.
For my home birth, round 2 labor, I knew that the contractions were normal. I knew that the intensity of contractions must happen as this is what directs the baby out. Basically, I was so much more mature about the whole process and I knew I could get through it as long as I relax my body and try not to tense up.
Also breathing. Breathing is so huge. During a contraction, I would let out big breaths while saying something like “hmmmmmmmmmmm, hmmmmmmmmm, hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm”.
These hmmmmms would come from deep inside my belly and help me breathe through each contraction. By the end of the contraction, about one minute, my hmmm would be very low, long and almost unbearable.
The contraction suddenly stops and I have one minute of pure relaxation. In the darkness I close my eyes and let my body go limp. There is no sensation, feeling, or pain during this time. This is the incredible time you have to regain your energy for the next the contraction.
This is the process of having a baby. As you get closer to birth, the contractions get even stronger. It is a marathon. The workout is the most intense of your life.
At some point my Mom and Eric help me to my bed, where they have changed the sheets to my birthing sheets. My Mom puts the sheet over my head, turns off the lights, and I lay there alone on my side breathing through every contraction. I’m in my own world.
Shortly after this, Gerri, my midwife arrives with her midwife assistant. It had taken a total of 20 minutes for her to arrive from phone call to arrival. Nice.
I remember feeling so relieved when I knew she was by my side. She spoke softly to me saying they were going to listen for baby and just make sure that everything was good with both of us.
There was no two-way conversation. I was just listening and focusing on my breathing during each contraction. When they finally told me that baby was doing well, I was soooo happy.
I knew everything was going to be okay and this wasn’t going to be a replay of my first labor where I was rushed to the hospital. Praise be.
At some point I moved from my side, which was no longer a bearable position, and back to my knees. I was holding onto the headboard of my bed. When the contraction came, I would bear down on the headboard and breathe out “hmmmmmmm, hmmmmmmm, hmmmmmmmmmm”. This exact process went on for some time.
I had a water birthing tub that Eric and my Mom had set up in my bedroom. This is how I had planned on laboring…in the warm birthing pool. But there was a problem. Of course.
I knew there was commotion going on in the room and something with the tub was wrong, but I didn’t know what the problem was. Finally, I softly said, “can I get into the water?”
I remember from my first labor that water had been so incredibly helpful. I had stepped into a shower at the hospital and just standing there in the warm water allowed my body to relax during the contractions when I had been so scared and tense.
I needed the water!
My midwife and midwife assistant helped me out of the bed to the birthing pool. Yes, there was a problem with the tub. There wasn’t much water in it and the water was hardly warm. On my knees, I had to bend over to submerge my belly. It was that shallow.
The problem? The old home that we live in had run out of hot water as the tub had been filling up and we needed to wait another 30 minutes for the hot water heater to restore itself. Seriously, WTF. I didn’t have have 30 minutes.
After getting into the water I felt immediate relief. Even though the contractions were stronger than ever, being in the water, albeit shallow, was amazing.
A total of 15 minutes went by from when I got into the water to when the baby was born. But we’re not there yet.
I was holding onto the side of the birthing tub and letting out deep breaths with every contraction. My breaths were loud and intense. I could feel change happening deep in my belly. Gerri asks me to feel for the baby.
I’m like, “What? How do I do that?”. To which she says, “Feel for her. Is she in the birth canal?”
I say, “You mean, you want me to stick my finger up there and see if I feel her head?! What if I don’t feel anything? Does that means she’s nowhere close to coming out?”
“No, it doesn’t mean that…but just see if you feel her.” Gerri says.
Mortified, I do what she’s asking of me. I don’t feel anything!
All of a sudden my Doula walks in…looking all fresh, clean, and vibrant. I wanted to be soooo annoyed. The whole point of a doula is for her to be there for the birthing mother. Literally, the entire time.
A doula’s sole purpose is to help a woman through the labor. To be her support system. To get her water to drink. To massage her back during contractions. Basically, anything she needs. Whatever it may be! A doula is there for the birthing mother during her labor.
My Doula was on another planet. When Eric originally called her to come, he told her that Gerri said she must come immediately. Her response to him was, “don’t worry, we’ve got time, I’ll be there in a bit”.
Basically, her “in a bit” meant that she was going to have a cup of coffee, take a shower, get dressed, do her hair, put some makeup on, and maybe read the newspaper.
So, when she walked in, I was NOT happy to see her. I had labored by myself the entire time. And although I had thought about the fact that she wasn’t there during my labor, I knew that I couldn’t let it affect me. I had to do this on my own. There was no one that could help me birth my baby except for me. True story.
Ladies, having a home birth is a MIND game. It’s all mental. You can either let your thoughts overcome you or you can control them. It’s up to you.
When my Doula entered my bedroom, my midwife and midwife assistant were each close to me on each side of the tub. Everyone in the room could feel the awkwardness as she entered because I was clearly about to have a baby and she had missed everything.
We didn’t need her and I actually didn’t want to see her.
But, what am I going to do under the circumstances? Freak out and throw a hissy fit? No. That would be allowing my negative thoughts to take over the labor process. So I didn’t say anything and I pushed the thoughts out of my head.
You know what she does? She sits down in front of me and says “How are you doing? You got this.” Ummmmmm, damn straight I got this! And how do you THINK I’m doing?!
She starts stroking my arm softly and says “shhhh, you got this”.
Honestly, I just wanted to kill her. Sorry, but stroking my arm was not what I needed. At that moment, I knew I had to forget about her and get back to my focus. Baby was coming.
I could feel baby coming down the birth canal. There was noticeable movement. It was strong. Gerri says, “WHOA, TAKE IT EASY. SLOW DOWN. SLOW DOWN”. This is the moment when your body naturally starts pushing really hard to push that baby out.
There’s no preventing that natural push. It’s SOOO powerful. I remember this extreme pressure from my first labor. In order to control this powerful push, you actually have to hold that baby in…WITH ALL YOUR MIGHT.
“Take it easy” means that you grab onto that baby with your lady parts and keep her inside as long as you can bear. Why? Because if you just push her out, you’ll tear and injure yourself down there.
So, while the baby is coming down through the birth canal, your breathing changes. Now the breathing is super fast. The sounds of my breaths were more like “ch ch ch ch ch ch ch ch” as I held baby in.
You’ve heard of kegels before? These are the most intense kegels you’ll ever do. This is where it counts! Keep that baby in!
Gerri’s midwife assistant suddenly asks me if I want to catch the baby? In shock and disbelief while I’m ch ch ch-ing, I say, “OK”, even though I don’t know how exactly I’m going to do that.
Gerri says, OK, now give me a little push. This was the first push I was going to physical give. I pushed. Baby came right out and into my arms. I brought her out of the water and held her to my chest.
OMG. She was here. Here she was. No more contractions, no more pain, no more crazy breathing. No more sounds. Just pure serenity. Me and my baby. It was 5:25am.
I stayed in the water a few minutes longer until the midwives wrapped her in a receiving blanket and moved us out of the chilly water to the bed. They piled me with blankets as I started shivering like crazy.
I held my baby tight against me. Skin to skin. I helped her to start nursing. I was on cloud 9. A total of 2 hours and 10 minutes went by from when I woke up around 3:15am to when she was birthed at 5:25am.
Olympia weighed 9 pounds 3 ounces. She was 22.25″ long. She was a beautiful, healthy, BIG baby.
I had no tearing. Needed no stitches. Just like with my first natural birth. My Mom always told me how important it is to ease that baby out and NOT to push. Everything went just as I had imagined and hoped it would with this homebirth.
I had prepared my mind to be relaxed, had a stress-free pregnancy, eaten a nourishing diet, and I knew what to expect after my first birth. I was in the comfort of my home. I trusted my midwives. They were truly amazing.
A home birth is life-changing. As a woman, it makes you feel invincible. Like you can do anything. This is my homebirth story.