Every birth I have the honor to attend is special. Some though, like this one, hold a very special place in my heart. There is something about walking with a long time friend and couple you truly adore as they embark on their special journey into parenthood that is profoundly moving and extra special. To witness your friend find their strength as a woman, and then as a mother is a beautiful, poignant thing! Even though I had attended hundreds of births before her- Baby Jane also holds the title of the very first baby I caught as a Florida Licensed Midwife!! So special to get to share these milestones with my friends, and now so special that they have shared them here with y'all!
"There are so many home birth stories online, and some of them will have you scrolling forever, so I'll try (but probably fail) to keep this short and sweet, while covering a lot of what you may experience if you choose to have a home birth. I'm not writing about why I chose to do this because everyone has their reasons and the bottom line is that we all make our choices based on what we feel is best for us and our babies.
I lucked out with an easy pregnancy; no morning sickness or IBS or any of that fun stuff. The hardest part of my pregnancy (besides actually pushing out a baby) was dealing with the reactions from friends and family after telling them about our home birth plans. I also lucked out with a very supportive husband who, despite the fact that he preferred a hospital birth, supported my decision. I don't feel that I could have stood my ground against the opposition without his support, so I'm grateful for that. Of course, as is probably normal, our moms were the most nervous of all. For my mom, nervous is putting it mildly; she would literally cry and beg me to have a hospital birth almost every time we talked. My sister was also nervous and several of my close friends repeatedly voiced scary "what if" scenarios to me.
It almost worked. I started to get very nervous and pre-registered at a hospital, just in case. In an attempt to calm my mom's nerves, I asked her to come to an appointment to talk to the midwife, but she was firm about her feelings on the matter and chose not to open a dialogue. At my wits end, I contacted Charlie who reminded me that this was our (my husband's and my) choice and advised me not to share with anyone who wouldn't be supportive.
If you walk away from this story with anything, walk away with that. People are going to think you're a weird, crazy, hippie for wanting a home birth. They will match you argument for argument about why you should go to a hospital instead. While I'm sure their arguments comes from a place of love and concern, they will completely forget that this is YOUR baby and YOUR body, and they will try to convince you to do what THEY would do. If a home birth is truly what you want and you trust yourself and your midwife, don't share your plans with anyone who won't support you or be prepared to tell the people you love to shut up.
Once I took Charlie's advice, I felt more confident in my decision. When people offered unsolicited advice or opinions, I just smiled and changed the subject. I did start to get nervous as my due date approached, but I think that's normal for home or hospital births. It probably didn't help that I had waited until the last minute to take any birth classes and my birth instructor wasn't able to meet with me as planned. A few days before my water broke, I had set up an appointment with another birth coach for one the following week. Whoops.
Baby Jane decided to come early. At around 3:30 AM on a Sunday, two weeks before my due date, I woke up because I thought I'd wet the bed. I got up to go to the bathroom, dripping all the way, figuring I'd lost control of my bladder -- a really fun regular occurrence at all the most inconvenient times during my pregnancy. After using the bathroom, I realized I was still leaking, but it was pinkish in color. My water had broken. It wasn't a big gush like you see in the movies, but a steady drip. In hindsight, I think I lost my mucus plug the night before in the shower, but I didn't worry about it because you can lose it several days to weeks before you actually go into labor. Oh, I also had diarrhea, which I later read is an indication that you're about to pop out a dang ol' baby so your body empties your bowels! Pregnancy is just a wonderful mess of fluids and discharges.
I called my midwife who advised me to eat, feel for fetal movement, and to call her if I didn't feel baby move. Baby started moving, but I wasn't having contractions so she advised me to go back to sleep. Let me tell you who slept after that. Not this guy. My baby was about to come! How could I go to bed? I don't take OTC's and I didn't drink while pregnant, so a sleeping pill or wine were not options. Instead, I woke up my husband so he could call out of work and we stayed up, both shaky and excited about the baby coming. Luckily I fell asleep early the night before, which I was about to find out is SO. IMPORTANT.
Random contractions started around 5 AM. Some would last 12 seconds, some would last two minutes, and they were all over the place. Charlie planned to come by around 9 AM unless my contractions followed the 4-1-1 rule before then.
Charlie showed up, checked to see how dilated I was (3-4 cm), and told me to rest some more because my contractions were still all over the place. She said to have my husband call when I couldn't talk between contractions. I didn't know what she meant by that because you have down time between contractions, right? Yeah... At around noon, I knew what she meant by that. Yes, you have a period of rest between contractions, but whereas I could talk before, now, in between contractions, I could only nod my head in response. It wasn't pain, it was just like "this is my down time after feeling like I'm wearing a belt of fire and knives so STFU kthx."
So, Charlie came back and started filling up the birth tub. At this point, I had vomited twice, which I was initially freaked out about because I'd never heard about that happening during labor from any of my mom friends. The good news is, Charlie told me that vomiting stimulates the uterus, so while it's not fun, it's good for birthin'. While waiting for the tub to fill, I walked around the house, leaning on things, moaning about how bad it hurt. Because I had to remind my midwives and the birthing assistant, all who have children. You know, in case they forgot. I don't know, you just say dumb things during contractions. Sometimes you just yell like an animal. Sometimes you drop the F bomb. Sometimes you drop the F bomb a lot.
When I finally got into the tub, it. Was. Heaven. The contractions still hurt, but it just felt so much better. This was probably close to 1 PM. From there I just rolled around in the tub, yelling, moaning, wailing, cursing a lot. A. LOT. It wasn't time to push, so I just had to hang out and be in pain until it was time. Let me tell you how awesome that was. It was during this time that I completely understood why women get epidurals. Contractions. Suck. So. Bad. But I was determined to have a completely natural birth and I'm really glad I stuck to that. My husband was also super amazing during this period. He'd hold up my head so I could lean back in the tub, made sure I ate and drank to keep up my strength, and cooled me off with cold compresses. He's pretty great, I think I'll keep him around.
Charlie told me I would know when it was time to push because it would feel like I had to poop. Which it really did... So weird. Starting around 3:15 PM, I would push during a contraction and feel baby move forward, only to feel her slide back when I rested. Three words people: Pelvic. Floor. Exercises. Do them. Once I remembered to use my pelvic floor, I could hold her in place in between contractions. It's a really weird feeling, but it gave me something to focus on and helped me to feel like things were progressing, since she was no longer sliding back.
About 45 minutes - 1 hour later, I was holding my baby. I have heard horror stories of long labors, so I'm so thankful that my entire process, from my water breaking to birthing her, took only 13 hours. The cord was wrapped around her neck, but Charlie unwrapped it with ease and I reached down to grab my screaming baby and bring her to my chest. I didn't have to worry about holding her for too long before any doctors or nurses would whisk her away for this or that. The midwives left the cord attached and uncut for several minutes while baby and I bonded, skin-to-skin. It was the best moment of my life.
Postpartum, I had absolutely no complications/infections and a very smooth recovery. The best part is that my husband's feelings about a home birth completely changed and we are both planning on another with Charlie for our next child.