So there we were creeping on on the final stretch. This baby would be born at home, that was our plan. I followed all of my midwife’s recommendations and really enjoyed the prenatal care she provided, it was more like visiting with a very experienced friend who offered suggestions and advice but who listened intently and seemed as excited about the birth of this baby as I was! I dutifully ordered all the supplies my midwife recommended, I began an herbal birth tincture that I had taken with the last pregnancy, and I contacted the county to request my “out of institution” birth certificate paperwork. I had all the bases covered. Well, almost all. We chose not to tell our families for fear of their reaction to our decision to have a homebirth. We just figured, we would let them no later, and after all they could just come to our house to meet the new baby!
For those who may not know, a homebirth has to be completely non-medicated. Midwives are not doctors and do not prescribe medications. If there appears to be any serious complications it is the job of the midwife to be monitoring to be sure that as signs arise they will be corrected or if not, a transfer to a hospital may be required. Midwives are trained for many different situations including VBAC, breech presentation, and even a baby’s cord being wrapped around its neck. The midwife acts as a guardian to ensure that the natural process of birth progresses as it should and they watch for any concerning signs while nature runs its course.
The winter was in full swing and it was bitterly cold. Every night that I went to bed with the random contractions I was feeling, I became increasingly at peace with the fact that whatever time this baby did decide to come, we wouldn’t have to venture out into the wicked cold. However, I was becoming anxious, this was a waiting game. I believed with all my heart that this baby would make an appearance around a week or so before my due date, after all, this was baby #5 and my last birth came at 39 weeks. So, as one can imagine, when 39 weeks came and went, I was becoming more and more impatient. My midwife was not at all concerned (very unlike what I was used to with an OB who usually by 38-39 weeks began suggesting an induction). My midwife just shrugged and said, “He will come when he is good and ready.” I asked all kinds of questions and did further research and realized that dates are not exact and that the baby would be just fine until even as late as 42 weeks (something today’s doctors would not usually allow). My midwife just said “Trust the designer, and his design, the baby will be ready and come when the time is right.”
I lay down to sleep one night; sleep was such a joke by that point as uncomfortably huge as I was. I woke in the middle of the night (a normal occurrence) but when I got up to make my frequent trip to the bathroom, I kind of wondered if my water had broken (I know by this time I should have no trouble figuring that out but I am here to say, I was unsure) I laid back down and looked out the window. It was about 7 degrees and the snow was coming down so hard I could no longer see the barn. There was already 2 feet of snow on the ground and it just kept coming. I really didn’t want to call my midwife with a false alarm in this kind of weather, and it was 1am. I tried to go back to sleep. The contractions I was having at this point were frequent and had been for about 2 weeks at this point, but I could still talk through them, so I knew it was not imminent. My husband rolled over and I told him what was going on, he said I should probably call the midwife, but again, I didn’t want to inconvenience anyone in what surely was another blizzard outside. By 2am I had decided that my contractions were definitely picking up. So, I did decide to call. I actually had to set the phone down briefly during a contraction while talking with my midwife and she said she would come on over and that if it was a false alarm, no big deal, she would just sleep on the couch until morning. (That made me feel better). I also called my friend, the doula. (funny story, her husband had just come in from shoveling out the driveway, he said he just had a feeling that tonight was going to be the night).
It was within about 10 minutes of that phone call to the midwife and the subsequent one to my doula that things started picking up, and fast. Before anyone could even arrive I was in my “zone”, the “don’t talk to me during a contraction” zone. The contractions were coming as hard and fast as the snowflakes were outside, but I was in my home, it was warm, and I was not stressed out.
My husband must have been getting things ready but I think I was oblivious. We put a very large, kind of noisy, fan in the hallway outside of our bedroom and shut all of the children’s doors. The children knew what our plans were and they had been told that if they woke in the night and their doors were shut that they should just wait until daddy came to get them so they could meet their new brother. I remember all of a sudden feeling an intense wave of nausea (I later figured that was my transition phase) and when the midwife arrived I was hanging my head in the toilet (lovely huh?) But, I do remember that I still had a sense of humor and in the 1-2 minutes between contractions we would laugh about something but then I wanted silence when I was going through the intense contractions. My doula was there, reassuring me and helping me to focus on breathing (I have a tendency to hold my breath during pain) and my midwife was there talking calmly and in soothing tones as well.
I remember feeling like I needed to use the restroom one last time, but once I got to the bathroom I became paralyzed with pain. The contractions were so hard and fast at that point that when my husband and midwife told me to just climb into the tub and let hot water run over me, I couldn’t even lift a leg to get into the tub, I just could not move. It was then that my husband essentially let me put almost all my weight on him and he did the walking for me to get me back to the bed. No sooner did I make it that far (it was less than 10 steps) then the baby decided now it was time to come into this world. I remember not feeling any panic or stress, I just was ready for this part to be over, I believe I may have yelled out at this point , (okay maybe a lot) but it was so fast and then, my newest baby was here. I FELT AMAZING! As soon as he was born all of the pain was gone and it was like this intense wave of adrenaline and excitement as well as exhaustion washed over me all at once. I saw him and he was HUGE! I fully expected the midwife to do everything that the doctors and nurses did, but she just stepped back and let me enjoy this new little person that I was meeting face to face for the first time. It was almost like time stood still.
Our baby was not crying and this worried my husband, but our midwife explained that was very common for homebirth babies, there was no stress, no bright lights, no one tearing him away from mama to suction and wipe and all the other stuff. Our new baby looked at me in kind of a groggy just woken up from a nap kind of way and he blinked. We decided to allow the baby to have a delayed cord clamp. This basically means that when the umbilical cord stops pulsing blood from the placenta to baby, that is when it is clamped, not immediately on the doctor’s time. This allows the baby to get all of the oxygen rich blood from mom and allows for a less rushed atmosphere. My baby nursed and then just looked around at his new world.
My midwife had things cleaned up in the time it took me to walk to the bathroom. I wanted a quick shower so my husband held the baby while I took a hot shower, in my own home. That was priceless. I wrapped up in my favorite robe and sat down to nurse my newest baby. He was 9lbs and at least 8 oz.
It was now about 4 am (remember this all started at 2am so yes, it was FAST) There was a very faint tapping on the bedroom door and when my husband opened it my two daughters were there, so excited to meet their baby brother. Shortly thereafter my 8 year old son joined us and a bit after that my toddler awoke. We all were piled in my bed (yes it was all clean and looked just like my room did any other time) and enjoying one and other’s company. My husband went downstairs to start a hearty farms-style breakfast and my midwife kept vigil while my doula and my kids and I chatted. It was almost magical because of the peace of it all. It was still snowing outside and I later learned that the drive was a bit treacherous for both my doula and my midwife. It was beautiful for me though, I was cozy and warm in my home, with my new baby in my arms. I felt like if I could do this, I could do anything! I wish that every mother could know this kind of amazing empowerment that comes from being surrounded by other women who are there to support you, comfort you, and if needed, intervene. I felt that this was the best birth story I had yet and I felt amazing.
This picture was the one we texted to all of our friends and family, he was 5 hours old here.