My Home Birth Story

Early Labor

It was a Saturday and I was two days past my due date. A snowstorm was on its way. As a first timer, I had fully prepared myself for the possibility of my baby taking an extra week or two before he was ready to make an appearance. Birth is not like in the movies. My water didn’t break on my due date and I didn’t have to be whisked away to the closest hospital before my baby burst forth into the doctor’s arms. Not at all like that.

I woke up Saturday morning and energetically I felt different. I noticed an uptick in my anxiety, the vibrational kind that you can feel coursing beneath your skin and you can’t seem to shake the willies or the worries out. I chalked it up to the impending snowstorm, being two days past my due date, and my visiting parents who were also anxiously awaiting the arrival of their new grandson. I popped out of bed and instantly got busy organizing, cleaning, cooking. Anything to try and work out this buzzy feeling that was nagging me. Now I can reflect that I was not tuning into my intuition, which was trying to tell me “Time to get ready, mama!.”

I went grocery shopping with my mom and sister that afternoon when I started to feel crampy and uncomfortable. I also felt the need to keep going pee. Three weeks prior I had a urinary tract infection so I was paranoid that it was happening again and I’d have to do another round of antibiotics, further wreaking havoc on my intestinal microbiome I had worked so hard to improve during pregnancy. Gut health is mental health. But that’s for another blog post. I began losing my mucus plug shortly after the cramps started and continued to do so for the rest of the afternoon. I knew that this could signal the start of labor, but that was likely days away and this was a sign my body was getting ramped up for the big event. I didn’t actually think that the main attraction would be here in 12 short hours.

We came home and my parents, who were staying at my sisters, said goodbye and to keep them posted if anything changed and to stay pregnant until the snow had passed. My husband and I then promptly got into an argument so mundane and inconsequential that neither of us can remember what it was about, only that it had happened and we were both upset about it. The joke afterward was that the best way to go into labor is to get in a fight with your partner (although there might be some truth in that). Stress and worry were making themselves known despite our best efforts to contain them. I got dinner ready, scalloped potatoes and ham, and he busied himself in his woodshop, spinning a bowl on the lathe until the frustration was burnt out. I remember we ate dinner late, on the floor, in front of the TV and snuggled for a long time. It was around 8:30 I suggested we go lay down to get some rest. I was having contractions at this point but they were staggered anywhere from 4 minutes to 15 minutes apart. There didn’t seem to be any consistent, regular contractions that we could track and I did not want to stress too much about them. First time labors can take a really long time; I was hedging my bets that my labor would really pick up tomorrow, after the snowplows had cleared the way for my midwife and doula to get to us.

Active Labor & Transition

I wasn’t in bed very long. Maybe an hour or less. The intensity of the contractions were picking up and I wasn’t able to lay there and try to breath through them. I needed to be able to move. My husband slumbered away next me as I crept into the living room and laid on the couch. It was at the point where a contraction literally lifted me off the couch in way I hadn’t moved in months that I knew my body was in active labor. I lurched forward with speed and quickly came to lean over the ottoman with my head in my hands, moaning through a contraction. I had lost all sense of time and had no idea how long was between contractions, only that there was a sweet pause, a brief moment for me to breath and be still. At around 11 p.m. I called my birth doula, who I had texted earlier in the day about my cramping and mucus plug. Thank the stars that she’s amazing and had actually reached out to my midwife to let her know that I may be going into labor soon. I told you, I was in denial. I just assumed it would take a really long time and I had more time than I actually did.

My doula talked me through a few contractions and let me know that she was on her way over and to call the midwife; I was having this baby. At this point, I finally woke up my husband with a howl to call the midwife, RIGHT NOW. To our horror the emergency line was not working; I called twice and then he tried twice. Luckily I had the midwife’s direct cell phone and we were able to get through. She lives 45 minutes away from our home and by this point of the night (11:30-midnight) it was nasty out, still snowing and the wind had picked-up and was blowing snow all over. I was so wracked with the surges of my uterus that I scarcely gave the possibility of them not making it here in time any real thought.

Of all the things about childbirth I was the most freaked out about was the high likelihood that I would vomit. It is extremely common for women to throw-up when they go through transition (the final dilation stage). It was shortly after we called in our birth team that I vomited and cried in panic that I couldn’t do this, there was no effing way I was going to be able to make it. The thing about labor is that there is no going back. Even more so when you are birthing at home in the middle of the night, in a snowstorm.

Pushing & Birth

My husband ran a shower for me, as hot as I could stand it, and I labored on my knees with the hot water beating into my low back for about an hour. Toward the end of the shower, as the water was cooling, I felt a strong urge to bear down. I called out that I felt “pushy,” to which his immediate reaction was shock and a demand to “don’t do that!.” I tried to breathe through the urge to push with lamaze-type breathing but the urge far was too strong. This is what my body was telling me was next so I stopped resisting and starting accepting the cues from my body. After I got out of the shower I was leaned over my bed when my water broke. We called the midwife, who was still on her way, and she reassured us that the pushing stage can take a long time for a first-time mom and check the color and smell of the amniotic fluid for meconeium.

Almost two hours after our initial call, my midwife, her assistant, and my doula walked through our bedroom door. I have never, ever experienced such relief in my entire life. I felt like I could finally be present with my birth. I had been partly in the worry-land of ‘what if they don’t make it in time’ and now that they were in my bedroom, setting-up, and checking on me and the baby, I let myself go into the experience of birthing my child.

I climbed into the birth tub, now filled with piping hot water, thank goodness for canning pots and gas stoves since I used all the hot water in the shower! The calm, quiet encouraging words from my doula, her soft touch on my shoulder, and the reminder to drink water between contractions were so comforting to me. I buried my head in my husband’s shoulder between contractions as he leaned over the side of the tub to hold me. We were supported but we were not bothered, monitored, or interrupted. It was magical.

I remember my midwife asking if I felt any burning or stretching yet. I responded no, hoping that hey, maybe I wouldn’t! It wasnt long before the “ring of fire” made itself known. It burned, even in the water. My pelvis felt like shifting tectonic plates. It felt very, very far from normal. Like this shouldn’t be possible. That was my son’s head making his way out and, next to my birth team arriving, it was the second most relieving moment of my labor. I could breathe normally again. I smiled and laughed at how much time seemed to be passing between his head coming out and the next contraction that would push the rest of his body out into the world. I was on my knees, leaning over the birth tub, holding on to my husband when the last contraction came and I pushed my beautiful baby boy into our lives. Our midwife told me to “reach between your knees and lift your baby.” There are no words for the awe, the sheer magnificence and completeness that I felt holding my tiny, squealing, perfect baby. It was 4:04 in the morning.

Placenta & Immediate Postpartum

One of the most amazing benefits of having your baby home is that the ‘golden hour’ doesn’t end. With help from my birth team, we transferred to my bed, where my baby, my husband and I snuggled, transfixed with each other and beaming with joy. I was on a high like no other. I could hear my birth team in the kitchen, drinking coffee, talking and cleaning up.

We were left alone until I felt the telltale cramps and the urge to push again that signaled his placenta was being expelled. We waited until the umbilical cord stopped pumping blood and I had the honor of cutting the cord. I am still in such deep gratitude for the incredible miracle that is creating a baby. Women make an entire organ inside their uterus that nurtures and sustains a human life! And when birth is all over, the placenta detaches from the uterus and says farewell, my job is done here. We saved the placenta to be encapsulated in the days following the birth.

My doula brought me berries and beef bone broth that I had prepared as a nourishing first snack post-birth. I sipped on the warm broth and she helped me guide my baby to latch onto my breast for the first time. At around 6:30 my birth team said their goodbyes and the three of us curled up in bed. I remember the sun rising, golden and pink against the silhouettes of black trees and it slowly revealed the peace and stillness that only a snow-covered world can elicit. It was such incredibly gentle, warm, and loving way to begin his new life.

I knew I was about to begin a whole new kind of journey, full of struggles and worries peppered with inexplicable moments of joy, all of these emotions a branch on the overarching tree of unconditional Love. I was a Mother now. I had been reborn.

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