I gave birth in the home I was raised in: a Southern home birth tale

September 11 2013 | Guest post by whitney
Photo by Genevieve Stewart.

So I'm sitting on my couch the morning of January 21st about to cry, again. I'm 42 weeks pregnant. I've had "false labor" and these "pains" for weeks now. The pains are hard to describe but I know that they are in the realm of normal pregnancy discomforts. The closest I can get to describing them is to say it feels like the baby is trying to wedge its head down town and it just can't quite figure out how to get comfortable.

I wanted my baby to choose the day it came into this world, I wanted everything to happen naturally, the way nature, my body and my baby intended however, on Monday the 21st at 42 weeks pregnant things were starting to seem hopeless. "Was there something wrong? Am I making the right decision? Can I stand another night in that much pain? How hard will I have to fight the doctors on the next visit?" These were some of the many thoughts going through my head on a daily basis.

With the encouragement of my mother, my husband and a few close friends I was reassured that this is normal and I need to stay on the path that I set out to travel. I talked to the baby everyday, I kept busy, I stopped the busy and turned inward, I relaxed, I walked but still nothing. Every morning that I woke up still pregnant I thought about a few moms I know personally, these women would have given anything to have carried their baby full term but for different reasons had a premature baby and spent weeks and months in the NICU, out-of-town and away from their homes.

The days and weeks leading up to the birth of my beautiful son were spent with natural labor induction methods, nothing extreme just the usual, walking, spicy food, sex, more walking, baths, the yoga ball, pineapple, eggplant, red raspberry leaf tea, primrose oil, etc. Nothing "worked" and I just figured baby was not ready.

On extremely rough nights with no sleep, lots of hands and knee positions and lots of tears my husband would get up with the kids, make me breakfast and coffee and let me rest once everything subsided. He was my rock, every hour of the day. The man I love supporting me with every ounce of himself and truly believing that we are doing the right thing.

At 41 weeks I started to see an amazing lady named for acupuncture. I told her I was on the clock, I had an appointment with the doctor there on Wednesday January 23rd and I knew that day would be the doctors "limit." Once you go past a certain point in pregnancy you can no longer schedule appointments with your midwife, you have to see a doctor.

Cheryl set me up with a series of three sessions, Thursday, Friday and again on Monday. On the days in-between I met with a local chiropractor who just happened to go to high school with me. He is wonderful and seems to believe in a lot of the same life style practices as my family. Everyone asks me if I think these are the things that sent me into labor — I do think they may have helped but if nothing else I physically felt lovely, refreshed and relaxed after my acupuncture and chiropractic sessions and plan on going back with the whole family once we get back on our feet.

My only sister flew all the way in from California and had planned her trip weeks prior. Oh how wrong we all were. After a weekend filled with sisterly love, homeopathic remedies, acupressure, and more of those "pains" I had to say goodbye to my sister and send her back home with no baby.

Monday morning the 21st I was at a breaking point. I began the day with coffee and belly binding. For this process I used my Sakura Bloom ring sling and tightened the top around my abdomen and left the bottom loose in hopes to help baby move down. After that I did a series of lunges, squats and stair climbs.

I then broke off for an acupuncture session. As soon as I got back home I started herbal remedies, cotton root and blue cohosh along with some delicious castor oil smoothies. Yes, I went there. I never thought I would, but never say never. I have to say, I've had worse.

Around 6 pm I called my mother to come over and help with the kids and I told her I might be in labor — I was having contractions but nowhere near the type of contractions I was expecting from "real labor." They were manageable with some wonderful positions my own mama taught me. Looking back I guess that was "real labor contractions" and I was just able to work with my body through the pain not against it.

By 9 pm we had been timing contractions that seemed to be all over the map, from 2-3 minutes apart to 7-8 minutes apart to 10-12 minutes apart. With the contractions getting farther apart I was getting super discouraged and feeling sick to my stomach. I retreated up to my bedroom where I had projectile vomit in the bathroom sink then headed straight to my bed where my husband joined me. We laid there me in the fetal position while trying to fight back my tears, discussing what we thought the next few days would be like and trying to think of a way to avoid induction and asking ourselves how long will we let this go on, what are we personally comfortable with.

Twenty minutes went by and I rolled over and said to Adam, "It's been 20 minutes with no contraction, this is not "IT" about 15 seconds after that statement, BAM the flood gates open and my water broke like it's never broken before. I'm not talking trickle like with the two kids before, I'm talking water gushing out all over my memory foam mattress. I yelled out in shock and we knew it was on. At this time it's 9:30.

I laid in bed soaked through two extremely intense contractions not able to move and as soon as I saw the opportunity I stood up and waddled to the bathroom where we turned on the bath water. Realizing how fast things were happening and the fact that there was no way I was going to be able to get down the stairs, I hopped in.

A few contractions passed and I look at my mom and say "How long is this phase?" with the response of "It varies." This time is best described by the word intense, in all capitals INTENSE. I knew it was time to finally meet this baby we had been longing to meet for so long. I listen to my body and push when I feel the urge. Two pushes down.

Something didn't feel right. The tub was smaller than I remember and I can't get my legs right. I suddenly think that I need to get out, that there's no way I'm going to be able to birth this child in the water. I used a small stool right beside the tub to squat down, just like millions of women have done hundreds of years before me. One big push, the ring of fire and a head. Push two, an entire body falls out into my husbands hands. 10:33 pm.

Adam lifts the baby up just a tad and says "The cord is around his neck." We both knew from all of our research that this does not mean emergency or immediate danger. He looped the cord up and off of the baby's head and lifted him up to my chest. Baby starts to cry. I hold him tight and stand up straight. Adam yells "It's a boy." Carrying my new son, I walk to my bed (sheets had been changed), and I laid down and immediately our son Jasper latched on and started to nurse. Right before the hour mark of skin to skin and nursing I feel the urge to push again. It's the placenta.. and I'm done. We all sit, smiling, laughing and re telling what just happened over and over.

Surrounded by my husband, my daughter, my mother and a dear sweet friend we welcomed our last puzzle piece into our home. Born at the home his mother grew up in, the home he was made in and the place where we will let love grow for the rest of our lives. Jasper was born in our very own bathroom back here in North Carolina. It was right for us and I wouldn't have it any other way. Go figure: my body's not a lemon.

  1. My brother was born at home (planned, but still) – and he has always felt a special connection to our childhood home where my dad grew up and then we did, too. I hope your son will come to cherish that special connection with his family home as he grows 🙂

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