A birth story starts a long time before the actual birth: all the preparation, physical and mental, is an integral part of the story. For Nick and me, there was much anxiety and doubt before the calm and excitement about homebirth set in. Sometimes it is good to be anxious and doubt on the journey, so when we arrive at our destination, our vision is clearer and heart is lighter.
After months of Braxton Hicks I had a period of calm and I felt like I was disappointing people around me every day when they checked on me. Then I had a couple of days when Braxton Hicks were strong and all through the day. It meant nothing to me since little one (LO) actually moved back up. At my appointment with my midwife, Natalie, I felt like I was the problem, just not mentally ready for the birth. I was preparing myself for a long hard labor, since with my first birth my contractions did not pick up and with Pitocin it took hours.
November 1st was my due date with Natalie, which was based on my charting and not my last missed period. When I got home from work, I decided that I REALLY did not want to go to work the next day and was really ready for the LO to come. I even had my son Nathaniel tell his little brother to come. That evening we took Nathaniel to a playground, I was swinging for a while, then we took the long way home and I walked as fast as I could. We ate dinner and put Nathaniel to bed as usual, nothing exciting. I took a shower and started watching some TV with Nick around 9pm. Then, I noticed real contractions, with a build-up and a peak and release. I though little of it until I realized I had 3 during a 20 minute TV show episode. I told Nick that we might have a baby that night. He looked at me strangely and I told him I’ve been having contractions for the past 40 minutes. He freaked out a little and downloaded an app to time the contractions. It was a bit challenging because I started running off to the bathroom with an upset stomach. Having contractions on the toilet was not fun.
Nick asked if he should call Natalie and I said we should wait, even though each contraction was closer and closer to the previous one. I just could not believe this was the real thing and I that I was timing contractions correctly. Just in case, I decided to go ahead and make the birthday cake I was planning on making during my long labor… I figured worst case scenario I would have to make another one on a different day. By this point I started walking circles around the house during contractions. Nick asked if he should start filling the birth pool just in case, but I was just not sure. He did decide he should run to the store to get ice and a veggie tray for snacks. He started filling the pool and called Natalie about 10:30. I told her that we might have a baby that night, but did not want her to come because I was not sure this was the real thing. I had contractions while on the phone with her, but held conversation; Natalie asked if I had any blood (no) and told me to take a bath and see if contractions would stop. Nick left to the store and I finished the cake between contractions and ran a bath. By then I gave up timing my contractions, last time I did they were 3 min apart. Before the bath I went to the restroom and noticed some blood. I texted Natalie about it and she said she was coming to check me. She would rather make a trip for nothing than miss the birth. I got into the bath, had one horrible contraction when I could not move around and promptly got out. I wanted to shave and put on some make up, but my contractions were strong and close together, so I mainly leaned on the couch and swayed and squatted, which made it more intense, but felt more productive. Thinking of a flower opening, like I read in birth stories, made it more intense.
Nick was still at the store when Nathaniel started crying, so I had to go to his room even though I was scared how he would take it if I had a contraction in front of him. As Ina May stories mention, my contractions just stopped cold turkey while I was in his room and I felt silly that Natalie was on her way. Once I left his room 5 min later, contractions picked up where they left off, fast and furious. Holding on to the couch, I thought that I might not be able to make it through hours of “this” and realized that I was probably in transition. That scared me and I decided to lay down to hopefully slow things down until Nick got home. It worked for a few blissful minutes. Then another contraction came and I grunted a little. That really scared me more because I realized I was starting to push. Then Nick came home and tried to ask me something and instead heard me grunt. He knew what it meant. I asked him to call Natalie and see where she was. Thankfully, she was on our street. I moved to the toilet because I felt like I had another round of upset stomach. I definitely started pushing hard once there. Next thing, Natalie was there with huge eyes telling me it was ok, she was there. I told her I was not sure if I was supposed to push, all confused about how in the world I was pushing already!!
Poor Natalie had a procedure done on her wrist that day and was not supposed to get it wet. But, there was no time for the back-up midwife to show up, so Nick wrapped tape around the glove the best he could and she checked me. The baby was “right there” and she told me to go to the birth pool right away if I wanted to deliver there. I was not sure what I wanted to do because I did not want her to get her hand wet. So we argued a little (somewhere in there I told Nick to get the camera). Another contraction hit and pop, my water broke. Natalie and I just paused for a second and I dashed to the birth pool. Nick had changed into his swim trunks when he got home and realized how close we were, but he never got into the pool. I pushed for a total of 10 minutes after Natalie came and Miles Ethan was born. I felt the head pop out, then the shoulders and the rest of the body slide out. I never felt these things with Nathaniel’s birth because I was overwhelmed by Pitocin contractions. When his head came out, Natalie checked for the cord and then took over the camera while Nick caught the baby. Miles cried immediately once he was out of the water. I sent Nick to wake up Nathaniel. He came to meet his brother and was super excited and gave him a kiss. The placenta was delivered. I moved to the bed and took pictures of Nick and Nathaniel cutting the cord together. Miles was 8 lb 4.5 oz, 21 inches long with 14+ cm head born at 12:48am.
The back-up midwife and Nick’s mom came shortly thereafter. Nick got his wish, a private birth, and I got mine, Nathaniel was at home with us. Nick was also right about a short labor – under 4 hours. There was a lot of paperwork, breastfeeding, some stitches, herbal bath and champagne in the next few hours.
Miles’ home birth gave me the biggest “high”, I could not even sleep. It was such an amazing experience, even though Nick was not there to help me with labor and Natalie barely made it. It was fun and it was amazing!