About our perfect at-home water birth

Guest post by Brenna Harvey

Our daughter Emma Grace, taken by Brenna Harvey
My due date of April 2nd came and went with little fanfare. I’d somehow gotten it stuck in my head that my due date was the 4th, so little surprise that I woke up at seven that morning with period-like cramps. I texted my midwife and a few nurse friends to verify that these were indeed legitimate contractions. Around 10am I started having bloody show, but no actual mucus plug yet. I called my husband and told him what was going on so far, prefacing the conversation with, “Don’t freak out.” I told him to finish up his day at work as my contractions weren’t that painful yet.

I continued on the same until he got home after 5pm. He started timing my contractions and they were about five minutes apart. A friend brought over some snacks and a yoga ball — THE most amazing thing ever. I was having painful back labor so I spent most of the evening alternating between laying in our bathtub and crouched over the yoga ball with a heating pad on my back. I was pretty much out of it, with contractions coming every 3 minutes. I went into my own world and concentrated on making it over each wave. My in-laws came by to take our dogs for the night and my sweet mother-in-law tried to have a conversation with me. I wasn’t in the mood and I told her, “I just really want to be alone right now.”

We called Tara, our midwife, and she came around 11pm. She checked my dilation: a four (a FOUR after 16 hours of contractions? That’s it?!) and at this point I was bummed. I had been ready to go in my head. Tara suggested that I lay down in bed to try for some sleep. Laying down, contractions were even more painful. I tried walking and ended up back at my friend the yoga ball with husband rubbing my back. Around 1am, Tara checked me again and we were in business! Finally time to hop in the birthing tub set up in the middle of our kitchen, a large inflatable thing akin to a kiddie pool but much taller. The water felt divine and took quite a bit of pressure off my body.

Tara said my body was showing signs of wanting to push around 3am, so with the next contraction I pushed. My water broke on the second push with an audible sound and the pool filled up with some blood and vernix — such a bizarre feeling. My mucus plug was next. It hit me at that point that this was really happening — I’m having a baby and we’re past the point of no return.

Pushing was miserable, with so much pressure down there. I was able to reach down periodically and feel bulging, Tara and the supporting midwife encouraging me, telling me that she was an inch away. My husband was holding my hands and putting pressure on my back. Sometimes I’d feel down there and the bulging was gone — she went back in.

We continued this dance for over an hour. I was so frustrated and exhausted, crying into my husband’s chest. At this point, I know if I’d been in a hospital, I’d have been asking for an epidural (obviously too late) and forceps — I was that done. “I can’t do this. It hurts too much,” I repeated over and over. I started talking to the baby, asking her, begging her to come out. I finally got mad and started bearing down even more when I pushed, pushing regardless of contractions — and it worked. The pain changed and so did my whole world: she started crowning.

All of a sudden I knew we were close, it didn’t hurt the same so I was making progress. Finally! I had that major realization: the only way this is going to stop hurting is to push, push, push! I looked straight at my midwife in a moment of clarity, “I can do this.” Two pushes later, I held a beautiful little baby girl in my arms at 4:25am.

She didn’t breathe immediately. I was counting fingers and toes when she finally took her first little breath. It was just a little peep, no screaming like in the movies. She looked so tiny and precious. We migrated to the bedroom, placenta in tow. The midwives checked everything on the baby, all 7lbs, 6oz and 21.5 inches of her.

The midwives cleaned up the tub and ran the laundry while we basked in the blinding glow of this beautiful little being that we created, Emma Grace. They left our new family of three around 6am, snuggling on the bed where she was conceived, in the recently purchased house where she was born.

Together we breathed in our quiet little moment of peace on our daughter’s birthday.

Comments on About our perfect at-home water birth

  1. What a wonderful birth story, it’s reassuring to hear that it’s gets easier after a horrible hump of “I can’t do this”

    Congratulations to you and your family

  2. What a beautiful story! As an aspiring midwife, I always tell people that my greatest joy is witnessing that moment when a woman changes her perception from “I can’t do this” to “I can do anything” – and then brings her baby into this world. Congratulations! Doesn’t it make you feel like you can do anything after that?

    • During labor with my daughter it became apparent after over 2 hours of pushing that I would need a bit of help with an episiotomy and vac-assist. The doctor said to me, “You are going to have to do most of the work, this does not mean that I will deliver her without you.”

      I responded, “I can do it.” He thought I said, “I can’t do it”, and started in on a speech about how he needed me to give my all. Well I got PISSED! No one was going to tell me I could not do it! So with that next push here came my daughter.

      I am about to give birth to my next child, and I wonder if someone telling me I can’t do it could be what I need to hear to get me angry enough to push like hell again, hehehe.

      • Well I hope this next one is easier on you! I just got so frustrated because I could feel her close & then she’d go back in, so all the pushing had to be re-done. It seemed like forever! But only an hour & a half of pushing.

    • Y’know, prior to having a baby & experiencing pregnancy, I’d always felt awkward in my body. Now I’m full-blown woman and I embrace it. It’s so amazing to me that we were made to do this.

  3. This birth story resonated so much with me! I just gave birth to my baby a month ago, and can completely relate to the feelings you expressed here. I remember thinking to myself that the only way the pain was going to go away was to push. At one point I was in the tub and said to my mom that I totally understand why some women take the drugs! It was exhausting for sure (I had a 30 hour labor).

    Great birth story; thank you for sharing!

    • 30 hours?! You’re a champ. Mine was only 22 hours.

      The friend who brought me the yoga ball, she labored for 30 hours at home before she had to go the the hospital with her first. Lucky for her, her second was only a couple of hours, so quick that the daddy delivered her, as the midwife wasn’t there yet! So maybe you’ll have the same karma next time!

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