After an early hemorrhage led to scary medical figures like, “50% chance of the pregnancy continuing,” we went through twelve ultrasounds and numerous medical appointments over the early course of the pregnancy only to discover that our little girl had no plans of going anywhere! When the hemorrhage healed at 14 weeks, the remainder of my pregnancy was filled with hiking and was as healthy as can be. We knew then to trust in our little baby’s infinite wisdom. I had always wanted an out-of-hospital birth. Birth was a natural process, and if we were deemed low-risk, I wanted to offer our baby the most natural start possible. We immediately switched to the midwife model of care.
My husband and I were taking classes with Julie when the notion of a homebirth came to mind. I had always loved the idea, but why didn’t I know any first-time moms having homebirths? What was the taboo? At that time, we were set-up with the birthing center and midwife model of care. Still, what was that relentless little voice in my head that kept repeating that a homebirth for myself, a first time mom, sounded like a good fit? However, if the same level of medical care as the birthing center could be offered at home, why not have a homebirth? With a homebirth, I would be able to develop a relationship with the midwife/birthing team that would help our baby enter the world, I could have my baby within the peaceful home environment, there would be no race to the birthing center, no possible stressors or set protocols that might lead to interventions being needed, and our midwife team would know everything about my personal health history and wishes far before labor even began. Nonetheless, there seemed to be so many unknowns.
With Julie’s help, we set up a meeting with Carrie, a homebirth midwife, when I was around 29 weeks pregnant. A homebirth was not something supported in my family. I wondered if I had lost my mind to pregnancy hormones, but then there was this little voice in my head again. The voice of our baby girl entered my head each evening, reminding me that at home, the risk of medical intervention would be lower. It was more peaceful, natural, and it would give us the best chance of our baby entering the world naturally, as healthy babies have since the beginning of time. I tend to be especially sensitive to medications and my environment, and I just knew if we started in a hospital, we would have very little chance of avoiding a chain of medical procedures. I couldn’t even lie on my back since 20 weeks without feeling faint! How were we supposed to fit into the structured protocols and time windows of the hospitals? I also came to understand that with a homebirth midwife, like Carrie, you not only have the chance to develop a very personal one-on-one relationship during your pregnancy, but also she would also be there for 6 weeks of post-partum care and home visits. I could feel comfortable contacting Carrie with questions or concerns at any hour! It was a dream come true! She also had contacts with the best experts in their fields: pelvic floor specialists, lactation consultants, chiropractors, etc. If a medical issue beyond Carrie’s wealth of expertise and certifications should come up (or if I ever desired), we would have a medical consultation or could transfer to the hospital. The hospital transit time from our home, approximately 30 min, would be similar to the time they would need to set up a surgical suite, etc. Carrie explained that if any point, there was the slightest bit of concern, we would transfer just to be safe. True time sensitive emergencies are extremely rare, but she was prepared to handle anything!
Around 1 am Saturday morning, I awoke surprised that my water seemed to have broken. Our girl wasn’t due for 5 more days, and everyone seemed to suggest that first babies like to come late (I would later learn that this was just the start in preparation for my water truly breaking). I immediately called Carrie. She said our baby would be arriving soon! I had a few light pressure waves that fizzled away by morning. At 12 noon on Saturday, my water actually broke, feeling like a balloon popping inside of me! This was unmistakable compared to earlier. The plan was that labor needed to start shortly, or we would have to consult a doctor (it is preferable not to see a women’s water break first and then for the pressure waves to stop). We were all set up to take a “labor inducing cocktail” when the pressure waves returned around 8 pm and were 8 minutes apart. After we contacted Carrie with the update, my husband and I took this time to look over birth affirmations, “dance” to music, and work through the pressure waves together as we had learned in class. It was very peaceful, but also exciting! I was so pleased not to have to worry about driving somewhere! As we wanted to be certain that the pressure waves would continue and strengthen this time, we chose to keep the lights dim in the house and to take this time alone. Not to mention, my planned doula was out of town. Luckily, Julie was our backup! Our little girl seemed to know early on that she would not be abiding by her due date, and we had made plans for Julie to cover us if she should come early. Another somehow instinctual knowledge!
By around 11 pm, Julie and our midwife team of Carrie and Jenn arrived at the house. At this point, I had moved myself to a hands-and-knees position on a blanket within our master bedroom closet. It was dark and the quietest place in the house…perfect for laboring! I was breathing through the pressure waves and still able to communicate between each one. I was 100% effaced and 2cm dilated. Luckily, my birth team didn’t tell me I was only 2cm dilated at this time, or I would have thought that I was progressing too slowly, and there was still a long, long way to go! I was having back labor, so we tried the birthing tub and warmth to see if it would help.
By around 2 am, I had moved to the birthing tub, and was on my hands and knees in the water. My birth team gently poured warm water on me and held their warm hands on my back where I had the most discomfort. It made a huge difference! I was in active labor and insisted that the room remained dark due to my increasing sensitivity to light. I had to keep all external sensory stimuli constant. Therefore, the same music also had to be kept playing, and I was extremely sensitive to touch and smell. I even tightly held a toothed comb in my hand against pressure points in my palm through the entire birthing process!
It was at this point that the “unknowns” of being a first time mom spun doubt into my head. Could I really do this? I was shaking uncontrollably and questioning myself. I even asked about hospital transport, which was something I knew deep down that I definitely did not want, but my sense of doubt was taking over! I sent my husband on the pointless mission to “pack necessary hospital items.” In all their wisdom, my birthing team decided it would be a good time to check how dilated I was currently. My husband remained supportive and explained to everyone that I mentally needed to know there was always the “option” to go to the hospital. It was always my choice! I was surprised and invigorated when Carrie announced that I was 8cm dilated. I remember saying that it must still be too soon to push (after all, I was not at 10cm), but within minutes, my body took over and spontaneous pushing began. Within approximately 3 hours, I had gone through active labor to transition and was now pushing! My laboring had been fast and strong! I had no idea what pushing actually felt like until my body took over. My birthing team gently coached me. I enjoyed pushing much more than active labor, as I felt I could now actively partake in the progress. I had moved out of the birthing tub and was now standing and supporting myself with the bed or the birthing ball. My body took over, and I lost all sense of time. I roared my way through each push. Before I knew it, Carrie asked me if I wanted to feel the baby’s head crowning. Feeling our baby’s head snapped me back into the moment. I felt strong and determined knowing how close our baby was to being in our arms. I was in awe at being able to finally touch the little person that had been inside me for so many months. I would meet our baby girl soon! I was ready to meet her! With each push, I chanted, “Come on baby!” At 6:37 am, our girl entered the world from a standing birth position. She was 8 pounds 10 ounces and 20.5 inches.
I had the homebirth I so desperately wanted, and I wouldn’t change anything about it in the world. Having Carrie, Jenn, and Julie help welcome our baby girl and support us through this journey was one of the best decisions we have ever made. We not only avoided medical intervention, but a homebirth also allowed us to develop personal relationships with our birthing team and allowed our daughter to enter the world in the most peaceful, loving, and skilled hands possible. Although I faced the mental challenge of the “unknown” during my laboring, my birth team and husband knew me well enough to offer the support and guidance to help me through this period. I could do it! Needless to say, the support and wisdom of Carrie, Jenn, and Julie during my pregnancy and postpartum time has been priceless! We are already ready to “sign up” for another homebirth!