I told my midwives I planned to have a hospital birth. It never occurred to me that a home birth was an option for me or that I would enjoy it. About midway through my pregnancy my midwives (a team of three) encouraged me to learn about home births. I learned that I would be well taken care of throughout the process and that I could be transported to the hospital and seen by a doctor quickly if anything were to go wrong. After hearing the same things from a variety of sources and thinking about the undeniable comforts of home, my husband and I decided to plan for a home birth.
Instead, I ended up spending around 40 hours in labor while feeling contractions in my back (which is partly why I was confused about what they were at first). So, I did not, in fact, give birth the next day. Looking back on that day I have a warm memory of walking the mall with my husband. I was having contractions and felt ill but I was so excited by the thought of my daughter’s arrival. We bought baby clothes, chocolate, and a Pandora charm with a March birthstone on it.
That evening, I felt worn out and worried. I had barely been able to eat for the past four days (vomiting and diarrhea) and because my contractions were starting at my back, I wasn’t noticing my uterus getting hard. Had anything been happening the past day and a half?
Even though my contractions were sporadic, I called a midwife concerned about my back labor and the fact that I could be dehydrated. I didn’t know this midwife because the midwife on my team that was on-call had recently attended a birth. She tried to ask me questions, but I gave up trying to answer them and just started crying. She came to check on me at 9 p.m. I was reassured that my contractions were doing their job. I was 3 centimeters dilated, and my cervix was fully effaced. She also helped me notice my uterus hardening during each contraction.
Technically, I qualified for a midwife to stay with me, but given that it could be many more hours my husband and I opted to do it alone for a while longer. After they left, I was able to relax, and my contractions picked up. I tried lying down while my husband napped, but the only comfortable position I could find was to sit backwards on the toilet. After a little while he got up and sat behind me and massaged my back.
Two midwives and a student arrived around 5 a.m., followed shortly after by my friend. I will just say right now that I am extremely grateful my friend was there as she was able to help the midwives, so my husband could continue to hold my hand. At this point, I was freaking out that everything was going to tear from one end to the other and my insides would fall right out of me. I was reassured, a number of times, that this feeling was natural.
After a few pushes on the bed, the midwives asked me to come to the birthing stool. I agreed, but I warned them that I would be giving birth on the stool because I feared that if I had to move again my baby would be pushed right out of me. At this point something came over me. Suddenly, I was completely calm between contractions, no longer consumed with worry about the location of my bowels. When they asked for me to let my husband pull me back on the bed because she was coming out faster than they would like, I refused. I imagined that during the move my contraction would be so strong I would crush her as I landed!
With a few final little pushes my baby, Lexi Jade, was born at 6:14 a.m. The first image I saw after I was told she was born was the face of my friend calm and trying not to cry. My husband shed one tear before he pulled me back on the bed. They immediately put my baby on me, which made a splattering noise and got blood all over me. She let out two little cries.
I couldn’t believe she was mine. She didn’t look like me at all. She had the most perfect little body, and her head was covered with so much hair! Although I was just meeting her, she seemed to know exactly who I was. She seemed to feel so safe curled up on my chest. I contently held my baby while I birthed the placenta. My husband cut the umbilical cord, and I was given stitches for some second degree tearing.
After all this, I was starving. My husband fed me an unfinished muffin from McDonald’s from the day before, and it was the best thing I’ve ever tasted. Later, I was given some warm tea with honey and a fruit platter. I loved being home! I held her and nursed her for quite sometime until she pooped in my hand. I didn’t mind at all. Then it was time for her to be cleaned up a little, weighed and checked over. I guessed that she weighed 8 pounds, and she weighed 7 pounds, 8 ounces.
Upon leaving our home, our midwife told us to get lots of rest and limit visitors. I thought, Are you crazy? I have so much energy! This is so exciting, and I want to show her off! I didn’t sleep until that night. Putting my baby girl down didn’t feel right to me, so my mom stayed awake and held Lexi while I slept between feedings. Knowing how short the newborn stage is, I do wish we’d had less visitors that first week. However, they all took very good care of us during their visits, so that regret can only go so far.
It’s now seven months later, and part of me longs to hold my vernix covered baby again. There was something so magical about those first few hours of skin-to-skin. The birth was certainly painful at times and exhausting but it feels good to know that I chose the experience that was right for me. I’m fortunate that it went as planned. I plan to take Hypnobirthing classes during my next pregnancy as I would like to remain empowered and at peace no matter the method of birth.
I never imagined that I would love the birthing experience and those precious few hours afterwards so much. I’m not only amazed by myself but also by Lexi who came from inside my body to the outside world, as if she knew exactly what she were doing.
Send us your birth story! Whether you had a home birth, hospital birth, 37-hour labor or emergency C-section, we’d love to read the tale of your little one’s grand entrance. Write up your birth story (click here for tips on getting started) and email it, along with a few photos, to firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll share it on our Birth Day blog and may even print it in an upcoming issue!