I figure I had better get Emily’s home birth story written before she is 21. First of all, it was amazing. Her birth was amazing due to all the wonderful support we have in our lives… I’ll get to all that.
After several, four, horrible experiences at The Woman’s Clinic of __________, Ryan and I decided to seek out a midwife and have a home birth. We were already 21 weeks into the pregnancy and a little worried. My best friend’s sister had two home births with the same midwife team that delivered herself, my best friend, and two of her brothers. I quickly got her info, and Ryan and I met with her at Starbucks. We fell in love. Mary and Pita are a mother and daughter midwife team. Mary has been catching babies for over 30 years and exudes a calm, confident understanding of birth . We could not have felt more sure of our choice. Mary came to our home for all prenatal appointments. How cool is that?!? She has a holistic approach to health and is a firm believer that pregnancy is not an illness. Our thoughts exactly.
I will say that my pregnancy was wonderful. I loved every minute of it. Ryan and I feel lucky to have had such a great experience while I was carrying Emily. For me, enjoying the pregnancy was half mental. If you have the mentality that your body is made to create this life, you are more apt to not think of the changes in your body as an illness. I also think that getting up early, moving, working, eating well, and living life as normal as possible is so important. Our birthing classes reinforced the idea that pregnancy is natural. Our midwife, Pita, and her friend, Amber, taught our Bradley birthing class. It was a ten week series that set us up for the successful birth of Emily. (Off soapbox).
We wanted to have a non-medicated birth at home. I knew I would not be relaxed and/or comfortable in any other setting besides our home. I wanted to be free to move and labor however I felt most comfortable. I didn’t want anyone checking my progress or filling my head with fear/doubts about my body’s ability to give birth. Our birth team was behind us 100%. Not only that, but they love births. Everything about them.
OK, so our story. It was 6:15AM on March 29th. Ryan and I were slow to get out of bed that morning. We had been going full speed on the remodel of our little 1950’s bungalow. Our drywall guy was showing up at 6:30AM to finish up. Our house was EMPTY except our new room, new bathroom, and laundry room. I will refer to this area as our little “studio”. My water broke on the way to the bathroom. I don’t think anyone was more surprised than I. I said to Ryan, “What do I do?”. He replied, “Go to the bathroom.” He is so logical like that. I called my team teacher, Jois, to let her know what was up. I then arranged for another teacher to cover my first period. The 3rd person I called was our midwife. Silly. She should have been the first, but I was in denial. I was actually in denial until after the birth of Emily. I’m just saying, I had a lot to do before Emily came into this world. Funny how quickly things change.
Once our midwife, Mary, confirmed that my water had broke and that our baby was coming very soon, Ryan went to work to tie up some loose ends. The drywall guy and I hung out until 11 when Ryan got home. I showered, checked email, and made a list of the things we needed to pick up. We had zero baby items. Due to the remodel that was to be finished in three weeks, all of the baby stuff was at my mom’s house. When Ryan got home, we took off to: Costco, Cotton Babies, and my mom’s house. My contractions had started around 10:30. They were 7-10 minutes apart and mild. I wasn’t convinced that the sensations I was feeling were contractions. They were so mild. We just kept shopping, planning, and timing. Ryan was way more diligent than I was at keeping track of the contractions. Once again, he’s so logical like that.
Pita, Mary’s daughter and our other midwife, met me at my ma’s to see how things were progressing and to check Emily’s position. Emily’s heartbeat was strong, she was head down, and anterior. AKA: Emily was in the perfect position to enter this world. Pita determined Emily’s position by feeling her in my belly. It is so powerful. My OBGYN at the Woman’s Clinic had not touched me at all in the 20-something weeks we had seen her. She didn’t even measure me. Pita and Mary have such a gentle and healing touch. I cried, in the car, the first time Pita checked our baby’s position after one of our classes. I cried because I felt so connected to our baby through her touch. I also felt an enormous amount of confidence and care from Pita. The passion these ladies have for birth is amazing. OK, OK. Back to the story.
Ryan cleaned up the living room and dining room after the drywall guys left. Joe, Ryan’s dad, came over to help Ryan move in our couch, a rug, a chair, and some lamps for our birthing team. Thankfully, most of our furniture was next door in Joe’s shop. I decided to make a fruit salad and get some drinks made for after the birth. My contractions were about 7 minutes apart and still mild. TJ, Ryan’s good friend, came over with cigars. I decided to call it a night at 9. The boys hung out on the front porch. I have to say that I still didn’t think we were having our baby yet. I didn’t want to be one of those people who jump the gun. Truth be told, I was planning on going to work the following day.
Ryan came inside to shower and snuggle into bed around 11. He woke me up after he washed off the stanky cigar to see how the contractions were coming along. We were to call Mary when the contractions were five minutes apart. Ryan got his phone out to time everything accurately. The contractions were between 4 and 5 minutes apart and much stronger. Ryan wanted to call Mary right away. I, however, wanted to establish a pattern before making any calls. Thankfully, Ryan called Mary.
Nancy, Mary’s intern, arrived first. She checked things out, got set up, made sure all the supplies were available, and waited for Mary and Pita to arrive. Pita brought her twins who were 15 months old. They are adorable. Our midwife team knew Ryan and I wanted to labor alone. They hung out in our living room for the four hours I was in “hard labor”. Pita came down to help me through two contractions while Ryan was filling up the birthing tub. The contractions were very manageable if I was standing and walking around. Lying down was a whole different situation. Ladies, DON’T LIE DOWN WHILE IN LABOR! Mary checked my progress once. It was the worst. It was the worst because I lost it mentally. By “lost it” I mean I mentally freaked a little when Mary said, “I can’t tell how many centimeters you are, because the baby’s head is right there.” Remember, I was in denial about the whole having a baby thing that night. The fact that the head was right there was a little startling. I also started to have a contraction… lying down. Once the contraction passed, I jumped in the pool. Ahhhh, sweet water relief.
I hung out for about twenty minutes in the pool. The contractions were getting more intense. I went through the transition part of labor quickly (thankfully). Ryan was with me the entire time. I can’t express what a great birthing partner he was. I knew he would be great, but I didn’t realize how much I would need him. I needed him to just be right in front of me, and I needed him to allow me to just hang on to him and look at him. He was an equal participant in Emily’s birth. I couldn’t have done it without him.
After about 20 minutes in the pool, I needed to go potty. Just potty. Much to my chagrin, Ryan went with me. I did my business, had a contraction, and then decided that I needed to really go to bathroom. I asked Ryan to give me some privacy, but Mary was in the bathroom before I knew it and checking things out. She asked where I wanted to have the baby. I suddenly had no idea where I wanted to be. Ryan stepped in and reminded me of our plan for a water birth. So, back to the pool we went. We were going to have a baby.
Now, this whole labor thing, for me, was totally mental. Ryan and I were so well prepared that we knew exactly what my body was doing and why. This is why I was able to keep it together. I also strive to be connected with my body and to listen to my body. I truly believe that a woman’s body is made to give birth. I trusted that. While in the pushing stage, I could feel Emily coming down the birth canal. During the first contraction while pushing, I felt her come down and then go back up a little once the contraction had passed. I decided that wasn’t happening again. On the next contraction, I pushed three times and then held her there using my kegal muscles. (Yeah for the birthing exercises we learned about in class.) On the next contraction I pushed three times and out came her head. The “ring of fire” was short lived and not at all what I was expecting. Instead of painful and horrible, it was reassuring and exciting: it meant our baby was seconds from being born. Her body came out right after and she was brought to my chest. It was 3:10AM, and we suddenly became a family of three. Ryan and I were in awe. She was amazing and perfect. Emily and I stayed in the tub for about 15 minutes. Our team let us have those first 15 minutes in private as a family. We could not have been happier.
Pictures were then taken, Ryan cut the umbilical cord, Mary took Emily to check her out and get all her vitals. Pita and Nancy walked me to the shower. I then got into my own lovely bed and watched as Ryan dressed Emily to keep her warm. Our team started the one load of laundry, packed up their belongings, and took off. Ryan, Emily, and I spent the next hour as a new family in our bed. Ryan called the grandparents. The four of them came over at 6 AM. They were all so amazed and in love with her. They were also relieved that the home birth went well. I guess parents never stop worrying.
Our midwife team came back to our home five times over the week following Emily’s birth. Our Bradley instructor came to our home to give us a class on breastfeeding because we missed our last class due to Emily’s early arrival. We were, and still are, impressed by the level of care we were given by our birthing team and our birth instructor. I can’t wait to have another baby!