- Posted August 4, 2010 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Giving birth at home
We chose homebirth because we wanted to avoid unnecessary medical intervention. I wanted the freedom to birth the way that felt natural and safe to me. I did not want to be strapped to a bed, hooked up to machines, induced, given a time limit, sliced and diced with a cesarean, drugged with dangerous epidurals, have my baby taken out of my arms or my sight for one second after his birth, or otherwise bullied into complying with customary medical practices like circumcision, Vitamin K shots, eye ointment, HIB vaccines, and the like. I wanted to be in the comfort of my own home, where I would feel safe and uninhibited, to experience perhaps the most intimate and pivotal event of my life. I wanted to be treated with respect and great care throughout my journey through pregnancy, which is why we entrusted our care to Linda Johnson, CNM, of Mother’s Own Birth and Women’s Center in Temperance, MI. Linda made certain that I was eating well, exercising, that we were taking care of ourselves emotionally, as well as preparing for the birth of our first child by educating ourselves about pregnancy, birthing, and parenting. She is a wealth of knowledge and has numerous connections to others who specialize in pertinent areas, including our Bradley Method of Natural Childbirth teacher, Shelley.
On Wednesday, January 6, I had an appointment with my midwife, Linda. During the entire hour and 15 minute drive to Temperance, I was experiencing regular contractions that were rather uncomfortable, so I was convinced that I was in active labor and might have to end up staying at the birth center and birth our baby that very night, even though we’d recently decided to have a home birth. However, when Linda felt my baby bump, she assured me that the contractions were merely Braxton Hicks, as the baby was not even engaged in the pelvis. I had not “dropped,” and there would be no birth that night. I told Linda that my biggest fear was not knowing that I was in labor and then waiting too long to call her. She assured me that I would know when I was in labor, and that the telltale sign would be the presence of bloody show. Linda emphasized that the majority of women are not in active labor until bloody show appears. We left our appointment and went out to eat. I continued to have the same regular Braxton Hicks contractions all throughout dinner, and all throughout the drive home. About a half hour after we got home that night, the contractions finally stopped.
Thursday, January 7, was uneventful, contractions-wise. I experienced a few Braxton Hicks contractions now and then, but nothing regular or even as painful as the previous night. At work, I felt pretty good, except the weather had me very concerned. It was snowing very hard, and the roads were getting bad. Coworkers were kidding me all day that the baby would come during this blizzard and that my husband and I would end up giving birth at home alone because of it. I laughed these comments off, because I knew from my appointment the night before that our baby had no intentions of coming out soon. Linda had said the baby hadn’t even dropped down in the pelvis yet! I figured I had plenty of time.
That night, I did not sleep well. I could not get comfortable in bed, but this was nothing new. I had not been sleeping well for weeks. It seemed as though I was getting up more often to use the restroom though. About every hour and a half, I was getting up to use the restroom, but I also knew I’d had a lot to drink at dinner.
On the morning of Friday, January 8, I got out of bed at 5:30 am, a half hour before my alarm goes off. Again, this was nothing new; I’d been doing this for the past few weeks. I went downstairs and got a bowl of cereal and made some cocoa. I ate my breakfast and checked the weather reports and the school closings. A few minutes before 6:00 am, I got the automated phone call from school saying that we had a two-hour delay. I posted on my Facebook page at exactly 6:00 am that I was thankful for the delay because I had not slept well. I continued to surf the internet, checking my email and the road conditions, when suddenly at 6:30 am, I felt horrible. INTENSE contractions came out of nowhere, and I doubled over in pain. I decided to change my position and get off the couch and walk around, wondering if the contractions would continue if I became more active. I began to pace around the dining room table so that I had a rug to walk on (we have wood floors, and I didn’t want to slip), and the contractions intensified. They came one on top of another, with no break between them. At 7:00 am, after a half hour of pacing around the dining room and debating on whether or not to wake up my husband, Zach, I caved in and managed to meander up the stairs and into our bedroom to wake him. I walked in and said, “Zach, I am having some intense contractions, and they don’t feel like the normal ones. I just don’t feel right.” Zach said, “I’m sorry” and shifted in the bed to make room for me to sit next to him. I sat down briefly, but the contractions were so intense that I couldn’t bear to sit there for more than 5 seconds. I apologized to Zach for waking him and left the room.
A few minutes later, Zach found me in the bathroom, sobbing uncontrollably. I apologized to him again, and Zach said it was fine. He asked if he should call Linda, and I said, “No, I haven’t had any bloody show. She’s going to say I’m not in labor!” I told him I wanted to walk around the dining room table again. We made it downstairs and I began to pace again. Zach got his watch and notepad and asked me to help him time the contractions. I tried to help him, but since the contractions were on top of one another, I couldn’t tell when one had ended a new one had begun! I told Zach I needed to go to the bathroom. We walked back up the stairs and I sat on the toilet. The contractions continued in frequency and intensity. I checked again for bloody show, but there was none. I couldn’t believe it! Zach asked again if he should call Linda, and again, I said no. Several more times, I said I needed to go to the bathroom, and finally, I experienced loose stools, which I remembered from my class as an indicator of active labor. Still, there was no bloody show. Zach asked if I’d like to take a bath, and I said I did. Zach ran a bath for me, and I got in. The contractions slowed a bit; they were still just as intense, but now there was a break in between them long enough for me to brace myself and catch my breath for the next one. Zach asked again if he could call Linda, and he was much more insistent in his questioning this time. To appease him, I said yes. He assured me that the worst Linda could say was that it wasn’t active labor and that we should call back when we saw bloody show. At 7:37 am, Zach finally paged Linda. She called back soon after and asked Zach to put me on the phone. During the 30 seconds I spoke to Linda, I had two hard contractions. Linda quickly asked me to hand the phone back to Zach. She instructed him to find the directions for how to birth a baby at home without assistance, and to call 911 if he felt the need to. She said we’d potentially waited too long to call, and she would try to make it to our house in a little over an hour. Linda told Zach to keep me in the tub, as it would hopefully slow the progress of labor enough that she might be able to make it in time. Suddenly, I felt I was going to be sick, and I asked Zach to grab the trash can for me. I soon was very sick, and I was now convinced that I was in active labor.
It was an agonizing wait for both Zach and I. I could tell things were progressing really quickly, and I was secretly afraid that I would get to the point where I needed to push before she arrived. I used the toilet again, and finally at 9:10 am, there was bloody show! Zach sat on the toilet and watched out the window for Linda, since we have view of the highway from our bathroom window. I continued to try to relax between contractions, laying my head down on a towel at the edge of the tub, closing my eyes, allowing myself to go into the “duh” look, and even falling asleep briefly a few times. Finally, at 9:15 am, Linda arrived. I was relieved to see her. Linda asked if it would be ok to check me. I said yes, and she asked that I get out of the tub and into bed so she could check my cervix. I was already at 5 cm. When asked to get back into the tub so I could continue to labor in there, I stated that the water had been too cold, so Zach added hot water and I got back in with assistance from Linda and Zach. In between one set of contractions, I fell asleep and woke up to Linda trying to keep my head from falling forward and hitting the front of our bathtub! Soon, the birth assistant, Erin, arrived. I continued to labor in the tub, asking Zach to apply hard counter pressure to my lower back, and later, to pour hot water on my lower back to relieve the pain. At the point, the only words I could muster were “Zach…back.” Thankfully, he understood and dutifully took care of easing my back labor pains so I could concentrate on breathing and relaxing through each contraction!
Soon, I arrived at the point where I was looking at Erin and Linda and moaning, “I can’t do this anymore” and apologizing for “being a wimp.” I was assured that not only was I not being a wimp and that I didn’t need to apologize, but that I was in transition and I didn’t have much longer to go. At 10:15 am, Linda asked if she could check me again. She said I could stay in the tub, and instructed me to lean back so she could check. Linda informed me that I had an anterior lip, meaning that I was 9.5 cm dilated. It was nearly time to push! It wasn’t long before I said that I needed to push. I pushed a few times in the tub before I mentioned that I wanted to get out of the tub. Linda asked if I’d like to sit on the birthing chair, and I said I did. I sat on the birthing chair and continued to push. Soon, half of the bag of waters was out, but the bag was not breaking. Linda checked me again, and she informed me that the baby’s head was an inch away from the vaginal opening, but that the bag and the fluid was holding him back. She asked if she could break the bag, and I said yes. As soon as Linda did this, labor kicked into full gear. With another hard push, the baby began to crown. I began to express fears of tearing, so Linda asked if I wanted to get back into the tub. I said that I did, and everyone helped me back into the tub. I began to push again, and two pushes later, the baby’s head completely emerged. I gave another half push, and his entire body emerged. I caught the baby and immediately brought him out of the water in my arms and laid him on my chest. According to Linda’s watch, Sullivan Patrick Riley was officially born into the world at 12:33 pm. Zach said I pushed for 30-45 minutes total. I was in labor for only 6 hours!
Linda and Zach helped me out of the tub, and the three of us got into bed to snuggle and bond as a family. I delivered the placenta soon after, and after the cord stopped pulsating, Zach cut the cord. I nursed Sullivan and we called family soon after to share our wonderful news!
We officially registered Sully’s birth as a water birth. We are so grateful that we were able to have a home birth, and we are forever indebted to our wonderful midwife and birth assistant, Linda and Erin, as well as our Bradley Method teacher, Shelley, for making it possible! Birthing at home was the most amazing and joyous experience of our lives, and we look forward to birthing our future children at home with Linda. We wouldn’t choose any other way to peacefully welcome another baby into the world.