It had been an exhausting week, and I was 38 weeks and 5 days pregnant.
My husband Daniel and I were looking out the window, waiting until there was more light than dark in the sky to call my midwife again. We didn’t want to bother anyone, but we thought things might be happening.
My contractions weren’t quite 4 minutes apart on 1 minute long contractions for 1 hour (4-1-1), but I was getting pretty close. After talking to me during one of the contractions, she agreed to come check on me. We also called our labor support, my friend Sheena, who also began making plans to arrive.
And like that, the homebirth really began.
This was my first pregnancy and I was about to have a baby in my home with only 3 other people present, and the thought most forward on my mind was worrying that I wasn’t in true labor and was wasting everyone’s time.
Once my midwife arrived, we started out talking on the couch. She checked vitals and timed a few contractions while we spoke. Earlier on the phone Daniel had asked her if we should prepare the house for birth, and she said to wait until she had assessed me since I wasn’t 4-1-1 yet.
Shortly after timing a few stronger contractions, she checked to see that I was at 4 centimeters. She had Daniel and Sheena begin preparing.
They filled the labor/birth pool with water. They cleared off the dresser for the various birthing supplies. They fixed the bed with old sheets and protective covers, while my midwife began unpacking the birthing kit we ordered as well as her own supplies.
I was encouraged to eat, walk, do whatever I felt like doing as long as I remained hydrated. I was constantly told how awesome I was doing.
I talked to myself a lot. I thought about how I got there, the first positive pregnancy test, the first time I heard his heartbeat, the first time I felt him move. I rubbed my belly, remembering how it grew, protruding more and more, and how it would soon be gone.
I thought about how I felt, how I wanted to finish strong. I compared labor to how other things felt, trying to determine where labor fell on the scale of suck. I was still sure that it sucked nowhere near as much as mono and that I had had many periods worse than it.
When the pool was ready, I got in and though it was nice, but I couldn’t get comfortable. In my mind I couldn’t be any more than 5 cm, so I got out and went to the bathroom where I then decided I wanted a hot shower on my back.
In the shower, I found myself moaning deeper, and I said to myself, “You’re going to have to buck up because you can’t be more than 6 cm now, and if you’re going to make it through transition this afternoon, you have to find a way through this.”
I demanded that my back be rubbed, continuously, very deeply, and woe to the person who stopped. I didn’t want anything to drink. Do not ask me again. Do not stop rubbing. I drained the hot water heater and decided it was time to get out.
My midwife offered to check me, and she said I was nearly ready to push. I had just gone through transition without realizing it. I walked back to the living room and got the first urge to push. I wasn’t sure if it was ok because my midwife had said I was almost ready, but she assured me that if I felt the urge to push I should do so. So I walked until I felt the urge and pushed.
In between pushes, she checked his heart tones, but things did not sound quite right. They were up and down, not consistent like they had always been. She let me know that we had to get his heart tones better and get him out, so I took a deep breath and waited for the next urge to push.
When it came, I pushed and in the little movement of that push whatever was pressing against him stressing him out stopped, and his heart tones were better.
I felt like moving again, so we went to the bathroom, and after a few more good pushes, he was crowning. I thought to myself, “So this is the ring of fire. This isn’t really that bad. I expected worse.”
All the while my midwife was supporting my perineum with fresh warm hand towels and using olive oil along inside and out and around his head. She let me know when to push and when to wait as she supported and assisted stretching and made sure the cord wasn’t around his neck. Then my midwife told me it was all clear, so I pushed and out came his head and then his body.
He didn’t come out screaming. He was calm with eyes wide open. I tried to take him all in but my eyes felt inadequate to see all that he was. His skin was light. He had hair. Lips more like mine. Eyes more like Daniel. He was long very long.
There I was standing in my bathroom, having just delivered a baby, and it wasn’t even noon. We relocated to the bed where I nursed for the first time watching these bright eyes look back at me. I didn’t count toes or fingers. I just let him grip my hand.
After the cord stopped pulsing, Daniel cut it, noting it was much tougher than he expected. Then it was time to deliver the placenta, which was the only real hiccup. While it came out, I bled more than normal, though thankfully with my midwife there, we were able to get things under control through nursing and massage. After that, the focus switched to getting my energy levels back up with food.
Not 24 hours earlier, I had gone to bed unaware that by 1:30 a.m. I’d be in pre-labor; by 3:30 a.m., I’d have contractions to time; by 7:20 a.m., we’d call my midwife and labor support; by 9:30 a.m. I’d be 4 cm; and around 11 a.m., I’d be a mother, my husband a father, and our family happily expanded from the comfort of our own home. We had a homebirth and we loved it.
Alicia is currently living her plan C or maybe D or F in a small college town where she divides her time between family, travel, work, and the internet.