A few months ago, one of my friends from college gave birth to her beautiful little boy- at home. Emilee and I worked together in college, and she is now a nurse. I asked her to share her beautiful story with my readers, and so here it is! (For some safety facts regarding home birth, please visit this website!)
The birth of my son was so memorable for so many reasons. I had always wanted a natural childbirth. My mom raved about her three successful natural births and that always stuck with me.
I had planned a home birth with a midwife because I wanted to be sure my birth would go as much according to my plan as was in my control, I very much valued my autonomy. I had seen several hospital births and the thought of going through one myself terrified me. I was afraid of putting myself in the hands of doctors in which their method of child birthing is relatively new compared with midwifery, which has existed for millennia. I was mostly terrified of an induction and also a cesarean section. I love my OB/Gyn and if I could guarantee that he would be the one to deliver my baby I would probably do it in a hospital. But that was an impossible wish.
Throughout the course of my pregnancy I saw my midwife and the doctors concurrently. I wanted to feel as safe and comfortable with all the doctors as possible had the inevitable happened. I was healthy with no complications and there was no reason why I couldn’t attempt a home birth.
The day my water broke I will never forget. I felt ill all day and had diarrhea and nausea the entire day. I was on my feet helping my sister make meals for her job as a personal chef. I had work as a bartender at 5 in the evening and I was dreading it. My feet were terribly swollen and sore and I just hit the pregnancy wall. I started having irregular Braxton-Hicks contractions during the day and they increased while at work. They would happen every time I bent over but would stop when I stood up so I thought nothing of it.
Around 10 my boss sent me home to rest and told me he’d see me tomorrow. Apparently I looked like crap. My due date was 8 days away but when customers would ask me when I was due I would grumble “tomorrow”.
At home I changed into sweats and laid on the couch while my husband prepared me dry burnt toast to calm my stomach. I leaned up to grab a piece of toast and I felt a “pop” followed by a little bit of warmness between my legs I knew immediately that my water had broke. It was 12 minutes of midnight.
I immediately called my midwife to let her know she asked about my water and contractions, which I wasn’t feeling any and she told me to return her call when they were 5 minutes apart for an hour lasting one minute. I spent the next couple hours walking around my house cleaning, making my birthing bed, and calling friends and letting them know the news of the baby arriving soon, I had no idea how soon. My midwife had also told me to get some rest as I needed my strength for labor. Around 2:30 my sisters came to get our dogs and I decided to lie down. Immediately I started to feel tightness but again no pain except in my back. These back pains started out okay but ended up feeling like hot charcoal briquettes burning my sacrum. The next couple hours I spent trying to relax through these contractions that were very irregular but at times I felt no relief. My husband and I both read “The Bradley Method” and he reminded me not to hyperventilate and to relax through my pains as he pushed as hard as he could on my back. The back pains were pretty intense. I remember thinking if I was in a hospital I would chicken out and take the epidural if they offered it.
We did get some sleep but around 5:00 I felt like I was having more diarrhea so I asked my husband to help me to the toilet. This should have been a clue as I remember “timing” my short walk to the toilet perfectly. I sat there through a few attempts to evacuate my bowels but nothing was coming out. I remember when trying to return to the bed that I would eventually give birth on to wait until I could walk.
I squatted on the bed, my bum on my heels, my knees on the bed in a wide stance and my husband rubbing my back. I still had no pain in my belly. Still breathing deeply and trying to relax. I was getting tired, I began to doubt myself as I was running out of energy. I was thinking I don’t know if I can do this for 12-15 more hours!
All of a sudden I felt burning. And I’m pretty sure my eyes were as big as saucers. I knew it could only be one thing; the head. I said to my husband “You’re going to think I’m crazy, but I feel the head!” I reached down and sure enough I felt a hard hairy head receding back into my body. I figured it would be several minutes before the head came out as I have seen many births and know it is a two steps forward one step back kind of a deal. Without warning the head flew out at the beginning of the next contraction.
“The head is out! Help me!” I screamed as calm as I could. I realized I would have to do this without my midwife.
“What do you want me to do?” my husband responded.
“Catch it!” I exclaimed as I lifted my right knee up to show him our baby’s head. The head rotated and out came one shoulder, then the other and the whole body followed. The baby instantly pinked up, but did not cry(it is not uncommon in drug free births for babies not to cry). This all happened as quickly as you can read it. And as soon as he came out I said to myself “Well I’m definitely doing that again!”
I collapsed on my bum and took my baby. I suctioned his mouth, then his nose. My husband put a hat on his head and wrapped him in a towel. The cord was too short to pull him to my chest as I wanted so I left him in my lap. Until the midwife got there.
Aldon Jakob was born at 5:33 on Halloween morning. He weighed 7lbs14 oz. & was 19 1/2″ long. My training as a nurse definitely helped me but this whole process was so instinctive, I simply just listened to my body!