I’ve been dreaming of writing this post for what seems like forever and now that the time has come I don’t hardly know what to say. Birth rocked my world and changed me forever. It was nothing like what I imagined, it was nothing that I could have ever prepared for, it was truly nothing short of a miracle. One big giant miracle.
Preston was due on the 25th of April. So when I started having some pretty good surges during the first week of march we were concerned. I was watching tv with my mom when I felt the first one. It felt exactly like what I had imagined and prepared for. It started as a crampy feeling in my lower back and increased with intensity as it wrapped around my belly and washed over me in a way that made a surge a really good word for it. Than it stayed for a while and retreated the way it had come. After a few of these I started timing them. They were coming about every 10 minutes.
After about 90 minutes I told my mom what was going on and asked if she thought I ought to call my midwife. She suggested that I try taking an herb that she was familiar with that has been very effective with stopping premature labor. I took it and the surges stopped. I called my midwife the next day and told her what had happened. She came and checked me and found that I had dilated to a 1.
When I started leaking amniotic fluid the next day we decided that I needed to do bed rest. I stayed down for the next 6 weeks or so and then at 37 weeks we felt it would be safe if I were to have the baby. I expected him to come any day. I felt crampy and achy and had sporadic contractions every day. But no baby came. My due date came and went and at 40 weeks and 5 days I went to see my midwife and we decided to schedule a natural induction for that weekend.
That night the surges started again. This time they were just 8 minutes apart. I was excited. They continued for about 5 hours and then stopped. I went to bed disappointed. That weekend I drank castor oil, we stripped my membranes, used essential oils and messaged pressure points. I took black and blue cohosh. The surges started around 6pm. They were exactly 4 minutes apart and continued that way until about 10:30. At that point they started coming about every two minutes. I thought we might be getting into active labor. Around 2 AM just as the surges were starting to get intense enough to hurt they suddenly stopped.
My midwife went home and we decided to just wait awhile and see what happened. At 41 weeks and 6 days I called my midwife in tears. I felt I couldn’t take another minute. The cramping and aching and pain I was feeling was just more than I felt I could handle much longer.
She agreed that if I had not had him in two more days we would try a natural induction one more time if it didn’t work this time we would go to the hospital. I really had my heart set on a home birth and so I sat and talked with the baby for a while encouraging him to come.
Many people have asked me why I was so set on a home birth. I will try to explain.
I think the first reason is simply that I have seen (not actually SEEN, but been aware of and close to) hundreds of home births that all went just fine. One of my moms was a midwife and I was used to seeing her head out to deliver babies and come home to tell us that so and so had given birth to a beautiful baby boy or girl.
I had watched my mothers, sisters, friends, cousins, in-laws you name it. Everyone around me has been having successful home births for as long as I can remember. It makes it difficult to buy in to the fear that home birth is dangerous when it is so common place and successful in my experience. I have not personally known of one case where either the mother or baby was seriously harmed or died in attempting a home birth.
I had seen a few who attempted to do a home birth but found they were having complications and decided to transport. But I was comfortable with that idea.
The concept that birth is a natural function of biology came easily to me. I am not anti doctors I just like to use doctors for medical emergencies not for naturally occurring and healthy processes, which I consider birth to be.
Another reason that I was set on home birth is because of the comfort. No where is more comfortable than at home in my bed, with my music, my clothes, my family and my smells around me. To not have to get in the car and go somewhere when my time came and to not be at the mercy of hospital staff coming in at all hours of the night for routine check ups and blood work, to be just a part of a process, and decisions made based on protocol seemed like a pretty good reason.
Another reason was that I wanted to labor and give birth in the tub. I had read so much and talked to other woman who had done both and they said that the water birth was significantly easier and more comfortable. I just couldn’t stand the thought of giving birth on my back with my legs pulled up under my chin, the space in the birth canal reduced by 20% and pushing till I’m blue in the face. I had seen many videos where the woman gave birth in a tub and she seemed so calm and peaceful, you could hardly notice her pushing as she carefully “breathed her baby down and out” and that’s what I wanted.
I did not want an epidural, I did not want pitocin, I did not want to feel rushed or that I must progress at a certain rate. I did not want to be “checked” for progress throughout the labor. I just wanted to have my baby in peace and quiet of my own home.
Also one of the biggest reasons is that I wanted to have time with my baby un interrupted after he was born. I wanted skin to skin time with him as soon as he was delivered. I did not want his cord cut or to have him weighed, measured, bathed or anything until I had, had several hours with him.
I had taken a hypnobirthing class and had been listening to the recordings and practicing since the day I found out I was pregnant. I felt SO prepared and excited for this experience. I believed that fear causes tension and tension causes pain and I felt like I understood what was going to take place in my body, and I was not afraid. I was so excited to finally be experiencing for myself this incredible experience of childbirth.
An important part of the preparation was choosing a midwife. I talked to a friend who was a doula and asked her to recommend a few midwives that she felt were good. I was looking for a couple of specific things. It was important to me that I have a midwife who was confident in her own skills. I wanted a midwife who was willing to work through difficulties. I wanted one who knew how to handle complications so that our only option wasn’t to just transport. I asked my friend which midwife she had seen in the scariest situations remain calm and have solutions and pull of a successful home birth in spite of complications.
It was also important that I had a midwife who wasn’t too prideful to realize when she was in over her head. I needed someone who I felt confident would know when and how to get medical help if I needed it. For both of these my friend recommended Rochelle. I wanted a midwife who would encourage me in my decisions when I felt like I couldn’t do it any more. I wanted one who would push me beyond my limits or what I believed my limits to be.
When I called Rochelle and spoke with her I told her of the Ugandan doctors prediction that I would not be able to give birth naturally and that I would have to have a C-section. She assured me that she believed in my body’s ability to birth this baby. When I met her in person my initial reaction was to want to hug her. I knew right away I had found my midwife.
Joseph was a little hesitant at first, mostly just unsure of how the whole process would go. But when we did the home visit and skyped him in to meet Rochelle and her assistants he was sold. We knew we had found a team that would see us through whatever would come. Once we knew that Joseph wasn’t going to be home in time for the birth we had decided that my friend Renae would attend the birth to help me. She took the classes with me and was prepared to help me remember the relaxation skills that I had learned. My sister Hannah would be there to take some sweet photographs that would capture the beauty of the birth. And my mother and other sister planned to be present as well. We had it all planned.
I wanted a birth that was comfortable, safe, and loving for my baby and I wanted a birth with as few interventions as possible for myself. I know that in birth as with everything in life things rarely turn out they way we expect them to. I couldn’t have ever anticipated how my birth would actually turn out.
To Be Continued…