I’m sure that many of you are waiting for the scoop on how our birth went, especially with it being our first home birth.* So, here’s our story!
On Friday (March 5th), I had my usual midwife appointment. She proceeded to strip my membranes, which were already mostly stripped, and then had me come back in the afternoon to do it again. That evening, I had some strong-ish contractions, and spent some time walking around the block. The contractions were strongest while walking, so I did that as much as I could. However, I knew that I couldn’t walk the baby right out of me, so I didn’t get my hoped up. Saturday proceeded with little excitement – intermittent contractions, but nothing building and nothing regular.
By the time Sunday came around, having mild contractions every 5 minutes for the morning didn’t seem like a big deal. They stopped by early afternoon, and we had the midwife stop by. She brought me a lemon cocktail to drink that is supposed to help bring on labour within five hours, but it really didn’t seem to do much… other than make me go to the bathroom. The mild contractions from earlier came back intermittently, but nothing building and nothing regular. Also, she said that I wasn’t in labour because my contractions weren’t strong enough – I could talk/laugh/joke through them, and that just means that you’re not in active labour yet. Mom had come over to help with Kitten, but we sent her home just before bedtime, as it was obvious that nothing was going on.
So at around 10:30 pm on Sunday night I took a nice hot bath – something that I had been doing a lot of during the last part of my pregnancy, just to relax. I had two or three contractions that were strong enough that I had to breathe through and once told Rob to stop talking because it was distracting me. But it was only one or two contractions, and I didn’t want to bug the midwife only to have her come out and the contractions stop (which has been pretty much the past three weeks for me – just as soon as a rhythm was formed in the contractions, they’d stop). We went to bed. Around 11 pm, I had a few more contractions, ones I had to hum through. At this point, I was wondering if maybe things were starting. I had Rob call my mom and the midwife.
As I was laying there, I heard/felt this huge “SNAP POP” from inside my body. I had a chance to say “owwww, that really hurt, the baby moved” or something like that, and then it was GAME OVER. I was officially in labour – and not just labour, but transition. This means that I went from having no contractions, to having contractions back to back with 30 second (or so) breaks between. I don’t know how long the contractions lasted for – it felt like an eternity. I finally had a short break, and I felt like I had to go to the bathroom, so I moved to roll over to get out of bed, and my water broke. I rolled back on to my left side, just as another contraction started. And this contraction just didn’t stop. Rob got back on the phone with the midwife, and went downstairs or out of the room (I’m not sure which). I was yelling through the contractions at this point (mainly just an open “o” vowel noise), and both he and the midwife could tell that I was in hard labour. The midwife was out the door and on her way at this point (she lives about 15-20 minutes from me).
While Rob was downstairs, I started pushing. It wasn’t at all like they say in the book – like you feel like you need to poop. Oh no – it feels like you have a baby in your vagina and you have to get it out. Maybe they say it feels like needing to poop so any men who hear it have something to compare it to. Anyway, the midwife could hear over the phone that my yelling had changed in pitch and intensity (let’s be honest – I think I started to shriek) and told him to go back to me… and as he walks in, I heard him say “OH MY GOODNESS, I CAN SEE THE BABY’S HEAD! THE BABY IS COMING!!!” So my midwife (who is a gem and a doll and I love to death), coached him over the phone on how to catch the baby.
Kitten had been sleeping up until this point, but she woke up here and started to cry and call for me. I was trying so hard to pant through the urge to push – to put off pushing until the midwife got here. But something instinctual inside me refused my logical brain at this point and said “Look, your other baby needs you – finish your job with this one, so you can go to the older one”, and there was no holding back. I couldn’t *not* push. So I pushed as Rob walked in to the room.
Now understand, I was laying on my side, so there wasn’t anywhere for the baby to “fall”, but you do still have to support the head as it comes out. So Rob had to juggle a few things (I won’t go in to detail to spare you the mental images), including the phone, to support his baby’s head as it came out. I was in a totally different place at this time – I couldn’t move, I couldn’t do anything other than get the baby out. I do recall hearing Rob give the midwife updates over the phone as things were happening. Like “the head is out!” and “I can see the mouth”. I remember telling him to check the neck for the cord, because it’s in EVERY childbirth text that I’ve read… but it was a non-issue. Birdie started to breathe at this point – not even born, and she was squalking away. Rob said it was the weirdest thing, and I believe him. After her head, the rest of her was born super fast and was super easy. Rob grabbed lots of towels and we wrapped her up to keep her warm, while she cried and squalked away.
The midwife arrived about 5-10 minutes after the baby was born. So if you’re following along at home – this puts us at about 30 minutes from start to finish… as in, from when we first decided we were actually in labour, to when Birdie was born. I am so grateful that we had planned a midwife-attended home birth. There is no way that I would have even made it down the stairs, let alone to the hospital before she was born. It was so great to be able to just sit there after the midwife arrived and look at Birdie, as well as knowing that I wasn’t going to have to go anywhere (unlike if we had planned a doctor attended hospital birth, where we would have had to call an ambulance to come and take us to the hospital).
The next few hours were cutting the cord (my mom did it, as Rob was comforting and attending Kitten at this point), delivering the placenta and getting stitched up. I regret not asking to cut the cord myself – I wanted so desperately to cut the cord myself when Kitten was born (Rob did it then), I don’t know why I didn’t think to say that I wanted to. However, I am thrilled that my mom got to participate in the delivery in some way – she arrived at the same time as the midwife and missed the birth itself.
Getting stitched up wasn’t too awful. They carry a spray that makes you completely numb down there, and then they use a needle to so some more freezing. I have to seriously sing my midwife’s praises – my stitches haven’t hurt, they haven’t pulled – I wouldn’t even know that I have the three I do if I hadn’t been there. The worst part of the whole stitches thing was how much my back hurt (whether it was afterpains, or from the shift in my pelvis, I don’t know, but my back *still* hurts). The midwife even went back to fix a stitch when I told her that one was pulling a little bit. She was so thorough, and has great talent.
After all that was done, I had a shower and we did the rest of the baby stuff that needed to be done (weighing, checking vitals again, getting her Vit K shot and eye drops). Finally, everyone left, and we were set to go to bed… at 4:30 am. Kitten even managed to get back to sleep!
To the best of my knowledge (it’s as limited as a 2.5 year old’s vocabulary and comprehension), Kitten isn’t too scarred from the event. She was very upset when she heard me screaming – and who wouldn’t be, coming out of a dead sleep to that! Even if I had woken up to Kitten screaming, it would have scared me. The only difference is that I could immediately go check her and get her and know that things are all right. Kitten can’t open her bedroom door, so she had to wait a few minutes (less than 3 or 4, really) until Rob was able to go to her. I do recall calling out “mommy is ok!” to her once the body was delivered and I didn’t need to push any more. Once Rob opened her door and brought her in to see me (before the midwife arrived – so RIGHT after the birth), she stopped crying and was more confused about what was going on. She was fully prepped on child birth – she knew that babies come from the mom’s vagina and that things were OK after the baby was born. Plus it helped that I was able to look her in the eye and speak to her. She did look at Birdie for a minute, but then my mom arrived, and things got busy again – she left my room at this point and I don’t know where she went (Rob was with her).
We have talked about what happened, and she expressed that she was scared when Mommy was crying. She knows that it’s ok, and we tell her that it’s not going to happen again – the baby is here, and that’s why I was crying. She’s absolutely over the moon for her new sister, and requests that Birdie sleeps in her bed (ha ha!) for naps, and loves to kiss her head and be near her. I’m glad that she’s adjusting well. I didn’t really worry about it – Kitten is one of the easiest going children on the planet (for the most part!), so I didn’t forsee a lot of resistance to the little sister thing.
I’m still processing a lot of what happened. I had a very different image in my head of what birth, our home birth, was going to look like. I had not expected my reaction to both the pain and the pushing phase of labour. I did NOT expect to be doing it on our own, knowing that Rob wasn’t thrilled with the idea of catching our baby (during our discussions, I always told him that I would catch the baby – but I was stuck on my side and not in any frame of mind to be able to catch her). I didn’t know what to expect emotionally in how my feelings towards Kitten have changed, or the overwhelming guilt I would feel at having the baby intrude on our family of three. I’m very weepy, and I know that it’s going to get worse before it gets better. I didn’t expect Birdie to be so… different… from Kitten in temperment and routine. I feel like a first-time-mom all over again, and this isn’t a place that I was expecting to revisit.
In the end, I’m very grateful for our experience. I’m highly aware that we were incredibly blessed that nothing went wrong. The baby came out, just as God intended, without a single scratch/bump/bruise on her. She’s a perfect specimin, and was from when she was seconds old. I’m so thankful that there was nothing that needed to be intervened on in my aftercare (minus a few stitches), and I’m grateful that she’s healthy and that I am healthy. I am so thankful that I had a birth that I can look back on and think that while it wasn’t the birth that I had planned – it was still my Mt. Everest. It was my Boston Marathon. And you know what? I did it. I made it to the top. I got my finishing medal. I did what I felt like I needed to do, and while I know that I’m not completely at peace with how FAST it happened, I know that I will be one day soon.
*This is not a declaration of our intentions to have more kids. It’s merely that this was our first time having a baby at home, vs. going to the hospital.