I had started the pregnancy determined in my mind that we could have the birth at home.
My husband, Ian, was iffy at first about the home birth idea. I won him over with my charm and good looks (and informing him on the safety helped, too. Ahem.).
Home birth midwifery care was positively glorious. We spent an hour talking to each other face-to-face every few weeks about anything and everything. The midwife helped me focus on preventative care--things the "medical model" of maternity care never bothered to coach me on with my first two pregnancies. I could have the healthiest, most comfortable pregnancy and no interventions would become necessary.
Baby had been flipping between breech and transverse for weeks, but had finally successfully gotten stuck in the perfect head-down position for birthing at around 36 weeks. (Thank you, spinningbabies.com and chiropractic care!)
We were now approaching the final stretch. It was the before my due date, and I had recently published a blog post on not worrying about due dates. I had just come to an agreement with my birth photographer friend, Brezi. I felt some rushes that I had to "sound through" when I awoke that morning. I knew that meant this could be the big day, but I wanted to ignore it and not get overly-excited in case it was not the real deal.
I went to my prenatal appointment that was scheduled for that morning. I was feeling good; talked with Midwife Emily about what was going on. She asked me how I knew I was in labor the last time. "Well, I woke up in the morning with contractions that I had to sound through."
During the appointment, my daughter had to use the restroom. In an especially stubborn mood, she threw her pants in the toilet. I ended up taking home a crying little girl wrapped in a borrowed blanket. Life with a three-year-old.
Fortunately, when we got home, she napped. What a blessing.
I texted Emily that afternoon that I was having more "hurt-y" contractions. At some point, I think I took a bit of a nap. Glad I was rested up, because things were about to get really real.
By 5 pm, I was texting with Emily, Brezi, and my friend Emily P. that I was sweating, rushes were coming at closer intervals, and I was sounding through some of them.
By about 630 pm, the rushes were lasting about 1 minute.
Ian set up the birth pool as people were starting to arrive.
I was feeling relaxed that the house was clean & organized and I didn't have to worry if someone was there to help with the older kids. Brezi, Emily P. and Ian were all pitching in.
I applied ClaryCalm (a mixture of essential oils) to my abdomen and just kept trying to breathe & feeling relaxed.
Things were moving faster and faster. "Here comes another one, press on my back." Counterpressure had helped tremendously with my second birth. It was good to have everyone know in advance that I wanted it again.
This is where things start to get really fuzzy and time seemed to disappear (as it tends to do during birthing). I remember trying to listen to the Hypnobirthing tracks, but I couldn't sort it out with all the voices in the room.
I moved around a lot that evening, rocking on all fours, sitting on the ball, or swaying my hips. It really helped! There was a part of me that felt a little awkward doing these strange things in front of everyone, but I felt at peace with these women whom I had formed relationships with. I was doing what I had to do to move the baby down and out.
Brezi reminded me that it would feel so much better once I got into the tub. I knew that in my head, but hearing her say it to my foggy brain gave me hope.
Fast forward to me in the birthing tub in our living room. The water felt great. I was feeling fine between the rushes--talking and watching everyone. "Babybabybabybabybaby," I was saying. Whenever I caught a glimpse of my kids' faces, I was trying to remember that I was looking forward to the new little person that I would love. That's about all I can remember until it was pushing time! Later, my midwife recalled, "You sang through transition. No particular tune, but so melodious and powerful." I stopped saying, "Ohhh," and began using REALLY BIG, deep, animal sounds to move the baby down. (Think Tarzan) I was on all fours hugging the side of that big, squishy, inflatable tub for what seemed about forever. Yet, somehow it seemed like it was only a minute.
I closed my eyes and shut out all the faces, only listening to the voices. My friend Jennifer (the midwife assistant) was reminding me to "push it out my bottom". Okay, that really helped! My friend Ramona (another midwife) was taking turns with Ian to do counterpressure on my back and give gentle encouragement. I remember hearing Emily P.'s voice cheering me on.
I didn't want to move from that spot, but things were getting really intense and Emily the midwife knew it. They needed to make sure we were doing well--to check the baby's heart beat. I got repositioned floating on my back in the water. Emily could feel the bulging bag of waters. I was really bearing down thinking that the pushing was taking forever.
Someone gave me a few breaths of oxygen.
I felt the warm, bowling ball head starting to FINALLY emerge and knew it was almost over. The sac finally broke as the baby's head entered the warm bath water. Phew! (as soon as the head was out, the rest of the body slipped right out.)
Someone put the baby into my arms, and I was clutching the baby reclining in the water together...earthside...at last. Relief.
I checked between the legs and announced to Ian, "It's a boy!!" Baby was crying and hollering. "Good job, Baby!" I said.
I wasn't done being noisy yet, myself. "Someone sing something. Sing Amazing Grace." And we all did.
We had to use that window of opportunity where I was feeling elated to get me to the bed. I didn't make it to the bed before we had to deliver the placenta. The midwives had me covered and made sure we weren't leaking fluids around the house. We carried the baby and placenta with cord intact to my bed. The midwives had set up my bed with a shower curtain covered by an old sheet and bunch of comfy pillows and chux.
I was enjoying the feeling of holding that warm little body against mine. Daddy also took a turn holding the baby. Ramona offered me lots of fluids and snacks. The midwives spent time with us making sure we got the baby to latch, that I could urinate, that I wasn't torn, taking our vitals, Motrin for the afterpains, and they gave Ian lots of good instructions before tucking me in for the night with Baby.
He was born 6 lbs. 6 oz. (about 2 pounds smaller than siblings!). The time was 9:47 pm, just hours shy of his due date.
Marcia prepares new parents through pregnancy, into babyhood. She also supports parenthood journeys in other ways; She is an artist, seamstress, Lemongrass Spa consultant, and CAPPA certified childbirth educator. Marcia lives in Colorado with her husband, three children, and their dog, Calamity Jane.