“You want to do what?!” “Will there be doctors there?” “Why would you want to do that?” “What about what happened to (insert an unknown to me name here)”?
These are just some of the questions and reactions I got when I decided to do a home birth. Some people just could NOT grasp the fact that for me, there was no need to be lying up on a hospital bed, in an unflattering hospital gown, being poked and prodded. I know how many hospital births go down because I have had that type of experience with my first-born.
While it was not necessarily a “bad” experience, it wasn’t until I took to researching home birth, that I came to feel empowered about it and knew it was the right decision for me and my family. This is how it was going to be and after dragging my husband to a “home birthing” seminar that was run by my Midwifery clinic, I finally had him on board (sort of).
At thirty-nine weeks pregnant I had some Braxton Hicks contractions. It was a Friday evening, so my husband comes home sporting a six-pack of beer to celebrate the end to another work week. I warned him today might be the day, but I wasn’t sure.
By 11:15pm, I start to time the contractions. They were still not painful in the least, but were now 11 minutes apart. I went to sleep, but awoke at 2:15am with what is DEFINITELY a real contraction. Suddenly it came back to me just how much this will hurt. Even with an epidural, I remember how intense contractions got. I went to the restroom and returned to bed, assuming it was going to get MUCH worse and I should try to sleep it off.
I woke my husband and we casually started packing a bag and sorting through all the things my son will need for his sleepover at my in-laws. My contractions began to intensify, so we picked up the pace. I woke up my son, tearfully said my goodbyes, and prepared myself for the unknown of how he will be with the baby when he returns.
I got on the phone with my midwife — I was speaking calmly but the pain was steadily increasing. She assured me it is going to get much worse and suggested that I go have a shower and call her with any changes. I hung up and followed her directions. She didn’t think I was far along by how calm I was on the phone, and I started to panic. At this point I was alone.
My husband arrived back home from dropping off our son at his parents’ house. I got out of the shower and informed him of all the pressure I was having. He called the midwife and looked outside: SNOW. Of course there was snow. No snow all winter, and we get the one snow storm of the year.
By 3:45am my husband was frantically boiling every pot of water, hooking up hoses to every faucet upstairs to fill up the birth tub, and occasionally checking in on my contractions. He was sweating and I was packing my “emergency hospital” bag in between contractions when my midwife arrived.
She could see I’m progressing nicely and had given me step by step instructions over the phone as to what I should do if I delivered before she could make it due to the snow. She knew labor was going faster than we both anticipated. She checked me and I was 8cm dilated. I stood up and my water broke. I could not believe I was this far along and was relieved that I was almost at peak for pain. Here I was, in my bedroom, no meds.
Contraction. Breathe in. Breathe out. They are strong and close.
The tub was somewhat warm enough now for me to get in. I waited for this contraction to pass, and climbed in. The water was cold and my midwife informed me that I could sit for the time being, but would not be able to deliver in the tub because it was not warm enough for baby.
My husband was still frantically running the stairs with boiled kettles and pots of water. I broke the bad news that his efforts were not sufficient — time was something we did not have. With every contraction I lost control of my body. The baby was coming and coming fast. Thankfully we prepped the bed with a painter’s tarp, so I climbed out of the tub.
I didn’t know where to go, or how to be. Did I stand? Did I lie down? My midwife could see I was stumped and told me to get on all fours. Great — the one pose I did NOT want to end up in. I was still wearing my robe so I felt less insecure about the vulnerable situation.
My husband was up by my head encouraging me. I realized I was chewing gum and suddenly trying not to lose my tasteless gum started to distract me from the burning of pushing. I couldn’t stop and my body was telling me what to do. I pushed through the pain.
Our daughter was born at 4:18am — my baby girl. From the day I found out I was pregnant, I had anticipated and planned this moment. I was already head over heels in love with this little lady and she was mere minutes old. I laid with her on my chest for hours. Looking at her, analyzing her features, loving her in the comfort of my bed.
We made our calls and everyone was shocked that the entire “event” lasted two hours. Nobody knew I was in labour and here I was, on the phone, holding the new family addition.
I could smell the coffee brewing downstairs. It was needed.