I never dreamed of having a home birth. It was not something that was ever on my radar. In fact, I didn’t think I was the kind of mom who would do the whole home birth thing. I’ve had multiple people say “you’re so brave” when they found out we decided to have Arden at home, but now I truly believe any low-risk mom is not only capable of it, but would love the experience!
Our decision started as a financial choice; our original provider required 100% payment by 36 weeks and was unwilling to work with us on a payment plan. With a high deductible to hit, there was just no way we could swing it without putting in on a credit card (not an ideal scenario). We started looking at other options and since I had Haven and Abel naturally and was low risk, we thought “what about a home birth?” I’m SO GLAD we did!
Halfway through my pregnancy when we started considering a home birth, my doula suggested we meet with midwives, including Carrie of Hatched to ask questions and get a feel for what making the change would be like. Clarence and I talked afterwards and decided to go for it. Here are a few things, for us, that make a home birth totally worth it:
* More personal care. I was not just a number in an office. I met with Carrie personally for each of my prenatal appointments and was never rushed in and out. She took time to get to know me and chat about life. Not only that, I knew she would be the one there to deliver my baby. It would not be a guessing game when it was time to deliver. Additionally, I have her phone number and am encouraged to text or call any time I had a question or concern!
* Being in your own home is so nice! I did not have to pack a hospital bag, endure a painful ride in the car to a hospital, stress about being sent back home to labor longer, get hooked up to multiple tubes/IV’s, experience pressure to intervene if things weren’t moving at a certain pace, etc. I loved the benefit of everyone coming to me! I was comfortable at home, had anything I wanted at my fingertips and could roam about the house in whatever way felt best during labor.
*I had a small group of people there supporting me and my birth. They weren’t there dictating what I needed to do, but allowed me to labor and then assisted me whenever I needed it. It felt so intimate and personal.
*I got to move right to my bed after Arden was born and start right in on those newborn snuggles. Walking a few feet is way nicer than getting in the car and driving 30 min home.
*Statistically, home births for low-risk women have lower rates of cesareans (5.2% as opposed to 31%) without an increase of adverse outcomes for mothers or babies.
Ok, let me get off my home birth soap box and actually tell you about Arden’s birth!
Like all of my kids, #3 took her own sweet time coming. Though at 8 days past the due date, she was still the earliest! I went into labor around 3am on Sunday, April 28th. I’d had some contractions off and on over the past week or so, including Braxton Hicks, but these were falling into a regular pattern and I knew it was time. I was going to have a baby today! I texted my birth team to let them know and continued to time the contractions. Around 6am, I was starting to feel some fear and anxiety. The baby is coming….oh crap, I have to do this again. There’s literally no turning back. There’s only one way she’s coming out. I asked Clarence to wake up (he’s lucky I let him sleep that long 😉) and told my doula I was ready for her to come and help support me too.
I walked around, swayed, and worked through the contractions for a little over an hour. Shortly after my doula arrived, my friend Tiffany came to pick up my kids. She had so graciously offered to take them to her house whenever I went into labor. Her kids are my kid’s best friends, so I knew they would have a blast and were in good hands. I definitely didn’t want them around so I had to hear “mommy, mommy, mommy” constantly while I was trying to labor. Not to mention, I didn’t want to scar Haven, my sensitive child, for life. 😂
Around 7:30am, my midwife arrived and checked to see how far I was dilated. She didn’t say anything right away and I walked back out of the room with whispers behind me. I told Clarence, “She’s probably telling them I’m a zero”. Come to find out, when she first checked, I was only dilated to 1cm, but as soon as she touched my cervix, I opened up to 5cm!
The next few hours are mostly a blur. I spent a lot of time in the birth tub, moaning through contractions and trying to stay relaxed.
(All Photos Credit to Eternal Instants Photography, Jenny Davis)
I got out a few times to go to the bathroom or lay in my bed, trying to find the most comfortable position.
Around 10:30am, I was standing and swaying when I felt a tremendous amount of pressure and a huge push. I yelled “she’s coming” but then things backed off again right after I got back in the tub.
I spent the next few hours laboring in about the same way, in and out of the tub. Around 12:20pm, I got back in the tub and leaned forward into Clarence for support.
During a big contraction I felt a “pop” and knew my water had finally broken, which was followed immediately by a lot of pain as Arden quickly descended into position. I just remember gripping Clarence’s arms and screaming as my body took over. My birth team later said they were very surprised at how quickly it happened at the end, because I wasn’t showing any signs of going through transition, but as soon as my water broke, her head was crowning.
There was a small break before another contraction came and I screamed as her head was delivered. Thank goodness for that small sense of relief for being done with the head portion! There was another short break and I remember asking what to do because when Abel’s head was born, I was told to stand up immediately so the rest of him could be delivered. I’m not sure why that was, but was almost expecting the same during this labor. Carrie, our midwife, told me to just wait for the next contraction and then push. That’s exactly what I did, and to the sound of my lion roaring screams at 12:28pm on April 28th, Arden Le En Wong was born! Her Chinese middle name means “Joyful Grace”. (Fun fact: Arden was born on what would’ve been her great-grandmother’s 100th birthday. This is the same grandmother I got my middle name from)
It’s hard to even explain the rush of emotions that come over you. My baby! She’s here! I did it! It’s over! I never have to go through that again! haha. There is so much joy and pride and strength.
Despite Arden being super active while inside me, she had a super short cord. Since I delivered on my knees in the birthing tub, she was behind me. I had to climb over the cord so I could sit down and hold my baby for the first time.
She had so much hair, and hearing those little cries made every second of pain absolutely worth it! We sat in the tub together while we waited for the cord to stop pulsing and then Clarence cut the cord and took Arden so I could move to our bed.
We were able to have a special time of prayer over her and thank God for a healthy delivery.
I had a second degree tear (same as with my first two as well. I found that it’s not that uncommon to tear in the same place as before since scar tissue doesn’t stretch) and after delivering the placenta, being cared for, and the house cleaned, our birth team headed out. (Oh, let me not forget the torture of having my uterus massaged!! 😳😩) I had some bleeding that seemed to have stopped, but my midwife told me to keep her updated if it continued. Over the next few hours, I was continuing to pass a lot of blood clots. By around 5:30pm, my midwife suggested we go to the hospital because she was not comfortable with how much I was still bleeding so long after delivery. While Clarence was helping me to the car, I felt super light-headed and remembered Carrie saying that if I felt feverish or like I might faint, to call for an ambulance. Clarence helped me get seated while he called for one. I still felt fine (once seated) and was not overly concerned, but knew it was better to be safe than sorry.
Clarence followed the ambulance with Arden in our car, while super-friend Tiffany picked our older kids back up and took them to her house again. Once at the hospital, it was believed that I had a vaginal hematoma which was causing the bleeding/clotting. They sewed me up which was a real treat and then strongly suggested I have a blood transfusion of two bags because I had lost a decent amount of blood. We agreed and after a horrible night of sleep, headed home at 7am the next morning.
Though I would’ve preferred to stay at my house and not make a trip to the hospital, I’m thankful that we took the precaution. The multiple needle pokes, suturing, and extended recovery time were not easy, but are much preferred to the alternative and I’m thankful to those who helped me get well. I think the 5 days of bedrest and unexpected weakness were the hardest things for me. I was used to bouncing back pretty quickly after the other two births, and this was definitely not the same experience. I’m so thankful for a husband who took such good care of me and the rest of the family! He even took all three kids out by himself multiple times that first week! #rockstar
I am so glad we had a home birth and it was a great experience! My bleeding afterward had nothing to do with being at home and I would absolutely do it again (but I won’t because we are DONE). I believe birth can absolutely be a positive, natural, empowering thing and that home births should not be feared.
So that is the novel of Arden’s birth. We are so thankful that our family is now complete!