We had planned a home birth with our first son, Dexter, but when I went into labor at 36 weeks and 3 days (a due date I didn’t agree about) we knew this was not going to be an option. We ended up with a beautiful and healthy baby, but I’m not going to lie and say that everything was great and that we had a good hospital experience. I labored for 32 hours (25 at home), and being in the hospital made me feel like an inmate. No, there was no traumatic C-section or episiotomy (although I did end up getting an epidural… which I needlessly beat myself up about for a couple of years afterwards), but nothing was on my terms. There were a million (seemingly) strangers around during the birth,empathy devoid nurses were bossing me on how to labor, and after the birth we weren’t allowed to leave for 2 days because our perfectly healthy 6 lbs 14oz, (9 on the APGAR test) baby had been termed a ‘preemie’, (Don’t even get me started on the car seat test)
When we got pregnant with Titus I knew I wanted to try again for that peaceful, intervention free birth I’d dreamed of. We very quickly chose Seven Cities Midwifery, there was no question Terri and Jenn were the perfect fit! I also knew I wanted to be a lot more educated so I could speak up if I felt the need, or to deal with unplanned eventualities if they should come up; so Nate and I enrolled in a birth class. We were the only couple who weren’t first time parents, which frequently made me feel silly for being there, but it was incredibly helpful and empowering, and actually kinda felt like a date night since we were child free and in a bonding environment.
The overall pregnancy was similar to the first: easy and uneventful… no morning sickness, no Braxton Hicks contractions, no heartburn or food aversions. I just kept praying that this baby would stay in until 37 weeks!
That was my undoing! Pregnancy might be a beautiful miracle, but it’s not fun at the end! It’s waddling, and constant discomfort and aches, and not being able to sleep, and peeing every five minutes, and not being able to put socks on by yourself. At 37 weeks, I was ready to be done and hold my baby in my arms! …. after 28 days of painful anticipation, (every day waking up thinking “This is going to be the day!”) I finally went into labor. (I had gotten to a point where I was asking Nate if it was possible to be pregnant forever, and I was feeling really defeated and convinced we were going to have to go to the hospital to get induced.)
I was one of 3 ladies at our church due in a seven day period (I was due first), and one of them had already delivered her baby 4 days earlier, and I’d just heard that the other one was in the hospital 7cm dilated. At 9pm, I put out a prayer request that I would go into labor naturally before the 42 week mark.
At 9:30, we had just put Dexter to bed, and I was putzing around the kitchen and chatting with Nate (who was about to go to bed)
when I started thinking maybe I was feeling something, but since I had felt this way a dozen times in the previous 4 weeks, I didn’t say anything, I decided to let Nate go to bed, then I’d sit down, relax, and get a good feel if anything was going on.
Nate went to bed at 10, and I almost immediately started feeling real contractions. I didn’t want to get to excited, so I just downloaded a contraction timing app on my phone and decided I’d time them for half an hour to see if it was worth waking Nate up. It was! I got him up, and suggested he take Dexter over to the friends who had agreed to watch him. He asked if we should wait, and I told him we should just do it now while it was still decently early, instead of trying to drop him off at 4am when things got real (in my head I was anticipating at least 8-10 hours of labor, IF I got lucky). Then I called the midwives to give them a heads up that things were happening.
Terri answered the phone, and I let her know I was feeling contractions. She asked how long/frequent they were, and I told her five minutes apart (although looking at the contraction timer in reality they were all less than 3 minutes apart and most close to a minute long… for some crazy reason I felt the need to downplay what was going on. I even had a couple contractions while on the phone with her and tried not to show it in my voice). Terri said she’d let Jenn know and to call her back in 2 hours or if anything changed.
I walked around for a little bit, leaning on counters every time I had a contraction, already not able to do anything but breath through them. Then I decided to get in the shower. It felt SO wonderful! I angled the water to that if I leaned against the far wall the hot water would hit my lower back, and I closed the drain so that if I felt like a bath it would already be ready. When Nate got home at 11:30 I was laying in the bath just letting the contractions roll over me. He suggested I call the midwives, I told him no, it was too early. And he started setting up the birth pool and laying out plastic sheeting like a mad man. At midnight, he came back in and suggested again we call the midwives. I told him we needed to time contractions first, so he downloaded the same app, and I got out of the bath. Within the first couple contractions he told me we needed to call… that they were over a minute long and really close together. I told him the midwives would want us to time them for half an hour. (This was a lie… I was for some reason really fixated on waiting the 2 hours Terri mentioned before calling). So we waited, and at 12:30 Nate called and I went to lay in bed for a bit.
Nate was in and out of the room checking on me and still trying to finish getting the pool ready. The contractions were starting to run together, and a couple of times I thought “I can’t do this!”, but then I told myself that I didn’t get to say that for a few more hours. I focused on just breathing and staying relaxed, not letting my body tense up at all, especially when Nate would hold my hand not letting myself squeeze. I started dozing off in between contractions, thinking “I should really be walking around, and doing squats, and getting on all fours, and going up and down the stairs. When the Terri and Jenn get here they’re going to make me do those awful things, so right now I’ll just let myself lay here.”
They showed up at 1:20 (I found out later… my concept of time was nonexistent at this point) and started getting ready. Jenn was trying to listen to the baby and check my blood pressure in between contractions. I decided I needed to pee and Nate helped me move the torturous 15 feet to the bathroom, pausing and supporting me when I had contractions. I peed, and noticed a little bloody show. I was trying to tell Nate that they would want to know that when all the sudden I grunted and by body started pushing involuntarily. It was the biggest sense of relief I’ve ever felt; the pain of the contractions was gone.(This was 1:40 I later learned). I was ready to be told not to push, that I needed to be checked to see how far I was dilated, but instead Jenn came in and very calmly and assertively said “Hey, let’s meet your baby!”. She told me we could have the baby in the bathroom, but suggested that I might be more comfortable if I could make it back to the bed. (I never even got to see the birthing pool).
I made it back and with help got up into bed and flopped on my side as another contraction hit. Jenn asked if I wanted to deliver in this position, I felt a lot of back pain this way (pressure from the head she said), and wanted to try to sit up. After a couple more contractions I was finally in a comfortable position semi reclined and in complete shock that this was already happening. I even asked “What TIME is it?!?”, someone replied “I’m not sure!” Everything was just happening so quickly! With each contraction I continued to involuntarily push (like throwing up, but in the opposite direction), and I kept waiting for the mind searing pain I was sure was about to come. My water broke, which I only registered because someone announced it. Then Jenn was putting my hand down and I could feel the head bulging out, another contraction and I felt it come out more. It was the most incredible thing I’d ever felt! And still no pain,but still a very intense, slightly uncomfortable sensation. I kept trying not to poop, but during a strong contraction I decided to let that go and actively pushed and suddenly the baby was crowning! Jenn told me to slow down, but that was impossible at this point, and then his head was out. Still no pain! Terri told me not to push, to let him turn. It was amazing, I could feel his body turning and his shoulders moving forward, and once again my body involuntarily pushed and Titus shot out of me. Jenn put him on my chest, and Terri called the time at 2am exactly, and I was was still in shock that my precious baby was already in my arms,that his birth was so fast and that my body had done it so naturally! I was in awe at how beautiful the experience was! I almost wanted to ask if we could do it over just for the chance to actually process what was going on!
He stayed on my chest as the placenta was delivered and he was suctioned. He was only removed for a good rubdown to get him to give a strong cry. I got to snuggle Titus in the comfort of my own bed as everything was cleaned up around me. (You’d never be able to tell the delivery happened there, they even started a load of laundry!) They waited to weigh and measure him (7lbs 8oz & 19 3/4 in) until I needed to go to the bathroom, and he was promptly put back on my chest. I just felt surrounded by comfort, support, love and care!