I began thinking about the birth of my second baby almost immediately after the birth of my first. Her birthday empowered me. It made me a mother, and gave life to a love in my heart like no other. Every birth should be celebrated, and hers was. However, this doesn’t discount the complete confusion and terror that I felt at the hands of my doctor during third stage labor. For months I had flashbacks of the trauma I experienced. Yes, my baby and I were healthy. Yes, I was able to achieve a natural birth. But the way I was treated during delivery and after her birth also matter, and that experience is what lead me to my decision to choose a home birth for my second child. This is his story.
The morning of October 12th- the day before my son’s due date, I was almost certain my bag of waters had broken. I wasn’t sure, but I called my birth team to give them a heads up that labor might be starting soon. This little guy seemed to be showing up “right on time”! At 2:00 that afternoon, I felt a gush. My water had definitely broken! I did a few last minute things to prepare my birth space, lined up my daughter’s child care, and told my husband he should come home from work. Everything was ready, and I began to feel steady contractions about an hour after my water had broken.
My contractions continued to grow in frequency, intensity and duration throughout the day. At around 10 p.m., I felt like things were consistent enough to have our doula come over. She thought we were making good progress and by about midnight, she called our midwife to be with us, too. Unfortunately, after a few more hours, contractions slowed and my body (along with everyone in the room) was telling me to rest.
The next morning, our birth team went out for breakfast and gave me instructions to begin using my breast pump to bring on stronger contractions. At this point, I was getting discouraged. Contractions were powerful but would not continue consistently without the breast pump. My midwife suggested a vaginal exam. I consented, and she was able to tell me that I was almost 8 cm dilated. The bag of waters was in front of my baby’s head, so she offered to break the bag in an effort to speed things up. Once it was done, contractions were strong, and I was allowed into the birth pool. I just knew he would be here soon! But again, labor slowed. It was SO discouraging to get out of the water without my baby.
My midwife suggested that I try pushing during contractions to help bring him down. I labored on the toilet from that point on. My body was SO tired. With each contraction, I pushed. With each push, I roared. This was totally unlike my first birth. With my daughter, I never made a sound. But this birth required something different.
Around 8pm, I knew I was done. I SO wanted to get into the water, if for no other reason than because of the weightlessness I knew I would feel. My husband and doula listened as I made unreasonable demands. I asked my husband to bring me ice, but when he tried to, I told him to sit down. I told my doula that I wanted to be in the water repeatedly, but refused to move. I knew in my rational mind that I was in transition, but the bigger part of my brain was saying this baby would never come out, and I would end up doing talk show interviews as “the eternally pregnant woman”.
I finally agreed to try to move to the bed to be checked. I went as quickly as I could hoping not to be stuck on my feet during a contraction. As soon as I crashed onto the bed I was flailing around to find a comfortable position. It was at this point that I said, “I’m out of control!” (Welcome to Motherhood, right?) My doula grabbed my hand. She reminded me that my baby’s perfect time of birth had ALREADY BEEN APPOINTED. She told me that if I didn’t calm down I was going to miss the birth I had been waiting for. Her words were the perfect mix of a stern “get it together” and loving encouragement. They brought me back.
I was checked and my midwife told me it was time to get into the water.
As soon as I was in the pool, I knew this time was different. With each contraction, I pushed. I felt such support from everyone in the room. I remember watching everyone moving around to get the towels, charts, and birth kit ready. I even told my husband, “It looks like they think he’s actually coming out!” A few pushes in, I reached down to feel my baby’s head crowning. With the next contraction, I told my midwife I wanted my husband to “catch”. She helped him guide his shoulders out, and then, at 10:34 pm on my baby’s due date, my husband brought my son up to my chest and our eyes met for the first time. 8 lbs, 6 oz of perfection.
I was surrounded by more love and support than I could have hoped for, and my perfectly healthy baby boy was in my arms at home. After he was born, we could see one side of his head was a bit misshapen from his position. He had been coming down at an angle which had caused my labor to be longer. He self latched and began breastfeeding just a few minutes after he was born. I stayed in the water as he nursed, soaking up the first moments of his little life. It was beautiful and uninterrupted. We were allowed to just. be. I am so thankful for that time, for our gentle birth team, and for the beautiful baby boy I have the privilege to love.