Yet, every time I envisioned actual labor, I always thought of a quote from a French homebirth advocate.....
"The first intervention is leaving your front door."
That line floated through my head regularly but I thought there was no way I could have a homebirth in very conservative Mississippi. I was content to dream about the impossibility of it all.
At 35 weeks pregnant, Henry and I were grocery shopping when I ran into my friend, Hope. We chatted for a while and then she asked if I had seen the very pregnant girl walking around Kroger. When I said no, she proceeded to tell me that the girl was in early labor and having a home birth. To Hope, this was just a interesting fact to share but my mind started spinning in a million different directions. I asked her where the girl was in the store and then literally took off running, with Henry in the grocery cart.
It didn't take long to find Alyson and she was happy to answer my questions. Yes, she was having a homebirth. Her midwife lived in Kosciusko. She is great and here is her number! I called Norma that afternoon and set up a meeting at her house for two days later.
Norma was absolutely fantastic and everything I hoped she would be. She answered every one of my questions with the exact answers I needed to hear. When I found myself nodding in agreement as she discussed how a woman's body is designed to give birth and the miracle of childbirth, I knew she was the medical professional we wanted to attend our daughter's birth. Taylor and I left her house and he immediately said, "Let's do it!" I called Norma the next day to let her know we were ready to commit to the homebirth experience.
I was 36 weeks pregnant when we switched care to our midwife. As much as I love and respect my ob/gyn, a midwife's care is a very refreshing alternative. She came to our house for my weekly appointments and each appointment lasted around an hour. Her prenatal appointments consisted of everything that is the norm for an ob/gyn but also so much more. In addition to taking my blood pressure, checking my heart rate, listening to Liza's heart tones and checking my urine for proteins with a little dip stick, we also discussed my nutrition and currents eating habits and she spent A LOT of time feeling Liza's position in my belly. Positioning is very important in an unmedicated childbirth because optimal positioning means that labor will be shorter and less painful than if the baby is poorly positioned. Liza was in the most perfect birthing position until I hit 40 weeks and then Norma discovered that she had moved towards my back. She showed me different positioning exercises to help baby get back in the proper position and I spent a large portion of the next week on my hands and knees and leaning over our coffee table.
I began getting anxious about "problems" with the baby the closer we got to the 42 week mark. But, Norma constantly reassured me Liza's heart tones were perfect, my blood pressure was as low as ever and Liza was preparing herself for birth. I just had to maintain faith in my body and my baby.
Immediately after Liza's birth, I wrote the following 'birth story' detailing the events of her labor and delivery. I edited it and took out many details for my blog and published it as her birth announcement when she was a few days old. After writing the details of our decision to have a homebirth, I figure I might as well let interested readers in on the raw version of events.......
Friday night I went to bed with an achey back and very inconsistent contractions. 9 days past my estimated due date, I hoped my new symptom of an achey back was a good omen of impending labor....
At 2am I woke up with contractions that were very regular but not very painful. I got out of bed, sat on my excercise ball and watched a movie while I timed my contractions. I was excited to realize they were 30 seconds long and every 2.5 minutes even though they were still very weak.
I called my midwife, Norma, around 2:45 and she said she was leaving her house immediately. This stressed me out for a moment because I worried she would get here too early but she knew exactly what she was doing! She called back about 20 minutes later to check on me and I reported I was losing my mucus plug and having a lot of bloody show. The bloody show actually scared me at first because it was so bright red but I put on a pad and tried not to worry.
At that point, I woke up Taylor to tell him I was in early labor but I wanted him to get more sleep and I would wake him up when it was time for to get things ready. As I walked out of the room, he called out "congratulations and good luck!" HA!!!!
He got up about 5 minutes later because he was worried Norma would get there and he would still be in bed and "that would look bad". He was all about pleasing our mw and following her directions to a T.
Contractions were getting stronger and I found myself drawn to dark corners of our house. I would sway my hips and breathe through each contraction and then walk around our house waiting and welcoming the next contraction that would bring our girl closer to my arms.
I loved this stage of labor. I felt in total control of my body and even though the contractions were stronger, I instinctively knew exactly what my body needed at that moment. It was a wonderful feeling to understand my body and to genuinely welcome each contraction.
Soon, I found myself moaning through the contractions. After a few of these moaning contractions, I realized that transition was getting closer if my body was making these low tones.
Within moments of that thought, I threw up and immediately was thrown into transition. I stripped and got into the pool in our living room. The water level wasn't high enough and I asked Taylor to put more hot water in the tub and fill it up as high as it could go. He hooked the hose to the sink and started pouring in boiling water in the tub. He took his duty of the tub caretaker very seriously and followed my command for more hot water.
I immediately felt my body overheating and I started to panic. I wanted the tub to be filled with cold water but I couldn't communicate anymore. I couldn't breathe through the contractions, my body was tense and I began fighting the contractions.
The logical side of my mind was saying, "Laura, this is transition, your baby is almost here. You CAN do this. You ARE doing this."
The emotional side of my brain was saying, "Laura, you can't do this. This is awful. You don't even need this baby to be born. Just stay pregnant."
My mouth was saying, "I caaaaannnnn'tttt. This huuuuuuurts."
My husband said that my eyes started rolling back in head and he thought I was going to faint. I had totally and utterly given into the pain and desperately needed a doula to get my mind in the proper place!!!! I began feeling pushy and knew Liza was coming soon. I said this and my mw checked me for the first time of my entire pregnancy. She said the head was right there and I could push whenever I was ready. With my first push, I began panicking and my midwife said I had to get out of the water NOW.
I stood up and immediately felt better with the cool air on my body. The logical side of my brain told me that the water was too hot and it would all be better now. My emotional side was telling me that labor would be even more painful on the bed.
I was quite conflicted!
We moved to the bed and Henry woke up at his normal time of 6:45. Taylor left the room to tend to him and Norma told me if I couldn't relax and focus on the contractions she would have to call 911 and transfer me to the hospital. She asked if that was what I wanted and I said no. I looked her in the eyes and asked her to help me focus. We stared at each other and she quizzed me about the events of the morning and asked me questions about my son's labor and delivery. At that point, I decided I would get it together and push this baby out.
Taylor was in the kitchen frantically calling friends to come and pick up our son so he wouldn't miss the birth. Originally, we wanted our son in the room for the birth but my mom hadn't made it to our house yet and Taylor knew I needed all of his energy and focus to get the baby delivered. About 3 minutes later, friends from down the street came on the golf cart and our son had the best morning ever riding their golf cart and playing with their kids.
When Taylor came back to our room, I was a different person -- focused on the contractions and ready to deliver our baby. No more hysterics. Thank God.
I tried a few different pushing positions on the bed: C position which was absolutely awful, leaning over the back of our high headboard was better but I found myself distracted noticing how dusty it was, hands and knees was better but not still perfect. I really wanted to stand up but I couldn't get the words out and our bed is extremely tall and I worried I couldn't get off the bed safely.
The chosen position was kneeling on the bed with my arms around Taylor's neck. He maintained eye contact and said encouraging things. As soon as her head was out, I started saying "get her out, get her out, get her out". It hurt SO FREAKING BAD that I couldn't control myself and I began pushing when my body was saying "no no, don't push". I didn't care. I just wanted it over.
I watched in a mirror on our wall as her body plopped out on the bed. My water didn't break until her body was delivered. I really wanted her to be born en caul and it *almost* happened!
I immediately gushed a massive amount of blood and Norma asked Taylor to get my mom, an RN, to come and assist her to stop my bleeding. Apparently my mom arrived just moments after her new granddaughter was born. She was sad she missed it. My mom gave me a shot of pitocin in the arm, my mw checked my vitals and looked over the baby. She told me it was important that I deliver the placenta quickly. Apparently, a big bleed before the placenta is out is a bigger deal than a bleed post placenta. Not sure w hy but it became very important that I deliver the placenta quickly.
As soon as Baby Girl latched on and I felt the first cramp, I delivered the placenta and I stopped bleeding in a matter of minutes.
Due to my impatience in pushing, I had two 2nd degree tears. My midwife only repairs 1st degree tears so we called the Labor and Delivery ward a few hours later and I was thrilled to find out that my ob/gyn was on call that day. We left the baby with my mom and went to L&D a few hours later for the repair.
Our homebirth was absolutely amazing and everything I hoped it would be -- a relaxed, peaceful environment for our little girl to be born into. Henry joined us on the bed a few hours after the birth and life was marched on with our new little person in my arms. Taylor remarked how natural it felt for her to be born in our house after having been in my belly for the past 40 weeks.
I honestly can't imagine giving birth anywhere else but at home!!!!!