October 17, 2011
Home birth with midwives


We had come home from our last Healthy Birth Choices class and I was relieved to lie down after being unable to get comfortable through the whole class.  We left Rhonda’s at 10:30pm, spending some time after visiting and chatting.  Though we did not have the first due date in the class, there was a feeling amongst us all that we would deliver first.  I went to bed that night wondering how close to our October 29th due date we would come. 

There was some excitement right around Thanksgiving that ended us up at the Birth Centre the week before that to see if my water had in fact ruptured, but were sent home and had no other signs of imminent labour after that.  In fact I was pretty sure that my little baby would come after my birthday, and my best guess was the weekend of Oct 21, one week early. 

At 2:30am, after that last HBC class, David came to bed after staying up to make lunches for my stepkkids and to do some laundry.  Perhaps he knew something deep down all along.  When he came to bed, I got up to use the washroom and on the way back to bed, there was a small gush of water.  I asked David for the time, just in case it was something getting started, although after the excitement just before Thanksgiving, I thought it also might be nothing.  Pretty immediately I began to have what felt like a moderate menstrual cramp that quickly got more intense.  It wasn’t too bad though, and there wasn’t a beginning and end to it, so I was pretty sure they were not contractions.  I told David what was going on, and he calmly told me this could just be a warm up and things may not happen anytime soon.

The older kids were sleeping down the hall and I tried to rest, but things were picking up speed and I was soon able to identify a beginning and peak to contractions.  They got into a rhythm and I began to move around the house.  I didn’t look at a clock at all during labour because we were told in class that it could be over twelve hours for a first time mom, and I can be impatient.  I didn’t want to work against myself, so David watched the clock, timed contractions and decided when to call Nana to get the kids and the midwives.  In fact, I wanted to let the midwives sleep until 7 before calling, but David told me after we couldn’t wait that long. 

I moved around the house, changing positions and David was there for each one, supporting me physically and emotionally, offering me water, snacks, and sweet words as the intensity built.  In between contractions, he ran around the house and tidied up.  He knew I would be stressed out if the midwives came over and the house was a disaster, so he took each opportunity he could to straighten up.  My mother arrived around 7:30 am, and Helen, my midwife arrived shortly there after.  Dave woke up the kids to tell them their little brother or sister was going to be born to day and they quickly got ready for school.  Dave finished their lunches and things for me ramped up even more.  At this stage I was labouring alone as Helen set up and Dave got the kids organized.  It was one of the hardest parts of labour for me which just speaks to how amazing my husband was through out and how much I needed him. 

Finally the kids left for school and Helen had a chance to check me.  I was 5 cm dilated and fully effaced!  I was thrilled to hear that.  After the kids vacated, I no longer needed clothes and I could moan and groan with more comfort.  That really helped release some of the energy in my body.  Over the next hour, I used all of the positions Rhonda taught us, got into the shower and finally the tub.  By now David had fetched the beads for me that all of the women in my life had given me, and I had found the rock I bought years before that said ‘believe’.  I rubbed the beads, gaining strength from other women who had birthed babies before me, and the rock to keep me grounded.  Once I was in the tub, I closed my eyes and didn’t open them until it was to see my new baby.  David kept encouraging me to direct my energy and breath into my belly.  Each time I breathed in deeply, my hips and lower back burned like they were on fire, but I reminded myself that this is exactly what my body was designed to do and soon I would meet my baby. 

A few times I had to ask David to tell me to calm down, as the intensity of the contractions was scaring me a little.  By the end of the hour, I was in the tub, on all fours shaking and I asked Helen to check me again.  She kindly told me it had only been an hour, but I insisted she check.  I didn’t think I was in transition, because although intense, I thought it would get worse before I could push.  I was growling a lot at this point.  I remember saying out loud that I sound like I am possessed by demons.  David and Helen laughed at that.  I was surprised and thrilled to her that I was 9 ½ cm, with a small anterior lip of cervix.  I can remember hearing that and recalling what we learned in class and quickly flipped onto all fours, hoping the pressure would help out.  After a couple of contractions there, the lip remained but I was getting a stronger urge to push.  Helen helped move the lip and told me I could start pushing anytime. 

The second midwife, Julie had not yet arrived and Helen ducked out a few times to call her – things were moving fast!  The first few pushes didn’t result in much, and I wasn’t exactly sure where to push, but man did pushing feel good!  It was as though the pain of the contractions disappeared when I pushed and I knew I was going to meet my baby soon, plus Dave cheered me on each time, reminding me of my breath, breathing with me, supporting me physically as I held my knees while in a modified squat in the tub.  After a few contractions I really got the hang of it!  I couldn’t believe it when Helen told me to reach down and feel my baby… the first time I touched him.  I couldn’t believe we were there already.  I told them I felt a lot of pressure and my husband explained that was the ring of fire feeling.  I remember thinking, ‘that’s it?  That is the ring of fire?!’  Soon they were telling me to huff through the contraction, and again I am thinking, ‘we are already at the huffing?!’ and then with the next contraction out squished his wet, slippery body.  They quickly put him on my belly and I saw HIM for the first time as I beamed, felt a sense of relief and the biggest rush I have ever felt.  I DID IT!  WE DID IT - The three of us together. 

We stayed in the tub to deliver the placenta and to cut the cord, which after much back-and-forth David decided to do.  We moved over then to the bed.  Julie was there now, she arrived as he was crowning, but I was too busy to notice.  I needed some stitches after a couple of little tears.  This was something I was most afraid of, but it was really not a big deal and the healing was quite quick too. 

As I sat in my bed, I breastfed him for the first time.  It was strange and awkward… I didn’t know how to hold him or even know his name yet!  We had really thought he was a girl, but had one boys name picked out and it seemed to fit just perfectly for him.  It had been over an hour and a half since he was born, so it was time for daddy to hold him for the first time and to be checked over and cleaned up a bit.  After he and I were checked, the midwives tucked us into bed and we drifted off to sleep as Dave got the care instructions from Helen. 

What a gift to have him at home.  Every time I lie in my bed I think back to that morning when I first nursed him as Dave watched close by – no hospital gowns, no machines, no needles, just my body, my husband and my baby.  There is a quote I love that says, “We have a secret in our culture, and it's not that birth isn't painful. It's that women are strong." (Laura Stavoe Harm)  Having a baby at home, naturally, the way my body was designed showed me the strength of myself, my husband and our partnership. The experience is a blessing I am thankful for everyday.  WE DID IT!