For some background, I was pregnant with our 6th child. My first two were vaginal births at the hospital. The first was a highly medicalized, very bad pregnancy and birth. It left me with permanent scars, both physically and emotionally. My second, different OB and hospital, was a bit less managed, but still ended up with an induction at 38.5 weeks for a “large baby”. He was 8 lbs 10 oz.
My third was a scheduled c/s at 37 weeks because she was transverse and I had mild PIH. I was still naive, and still scared to be in confrontation from all knowing OB’s. I consented..she was only 6.6 and obviously too early. We moved and naively, I just thought out 4th would be vaginal..afterall, the 3rd was a random thing. Nope. The hospital had a VBAC ban, and I was still learning about natural living, so never knew about homebirth being a REAL option for me…so I had the section and suffered a severe, 5 day in the hospital post surgical intrauterine infection at 5 weeks PP. I nearly lost my uterus..
Next pregnancy I knew there had to be a better way, so I found ICAN! I had an amazing VBA2C at the hospital with a “crunchy” OB. However, I knew there had to me more..more meaning less…less management, less sterility, less doctor-ness! Since we were natural and home centered in all other realms, then why not this way?
I found a midwife, despite the new licensure and unfortunate VBA2C illegal stigma for homebirths. She believed in me to risk everything for herself. On Labor Day 2010, I had a relatively easy HBA2C of a 10 lbs 9 oz baby boy, illegally, with a great midwife. Here is my story!
On September 6, Labor Day, I was 41 weeks and 4 days pregnant. I would turn 42 weeks on Thursday, at which time my midwife-(we’ll call her Angela to protect her innocence), would have to transfer my care to a hospital and OB.
All through my pregnancy, I told myself that if I had to transfer care to a hospital and OB, it would be only because I needed that level of care. I would be open to that, willing and thankful to have whatever intervention it was that I needed. However, I never thought I would face transfer for going overdue. I guess I just supposed I would go no more than a day or so past my “due date”.
Sometimes Angela continues care beyond 42 weeks, with a good bio physical profile, no other risk factors and a very cooperative mom. However, my blood pressure always tends to rise at the end of pregnancy, I was measuring 43 weeks for a while, stopped gaining weight (can be normal, can be bad) and I am a VBA2C which means my uterus was already maxed out so to speak.
My water broke around 10:45 in the morning. Jeff had taken all of the kids with him to Walmart to give me a few minutes while he looked for some supplies for an old camping trailer we have. Angela arrived for our scheduled visit where we were going to discuss the use of castor oil and she was going to strip my membranes. I had already tried homeopathics for a couple of days, and a 3 different day attempt with the cohosh sisters. Neither of those worked and I was dead set against using castor oil..
Jeff got home and the kids were playing in the yard. He came to see how our appointment was going, and I told him my water broke. I don’t think he really believed me! Angela verified, and we went about our day. I thought I felt a mild contraction here or there (and probably did) but really didn’t want to think about it, as I was afraid of getting myself all set to birth, only to have to require some “help” to go into labor. My mom arrived around noon, and I still wasn’t feeling much of anything but soaks of warm water. With much reassurance I would call her immediately upon a change, Angela left to have some lunch and study at a friends house about 3 minutes away.
I ate 1/2 of a sandwich and some split pea soup-good for protein and tasted good! Jeff made my laborade, while my mom fed the kids lunch. I drank strong red raspberry leaf tea, and then alternated between the laborade and water. After lunch, probably around 1, Jeff and I went on a brisk walk around the neighborhood. It was a cool day and it felt great. On the way back home, I got my first contractions that were “real” and in a pattern. They didn’t hurt at all really, but felt just like the “fake” ones I had had times before. However, I knew these were different, because my water would squeeze out and fill a pad, along with pink. I finally had bloody show! It’s funny how much you look for bloody panties after wanting a pregnancy with nothing of the sort!
We came home and I sat and rested a few minutes, and they were coming about 4 minutes apart, but weren’t painful. By about 3:30 , I was starting to pace. At one point, I breathed through one and said, “wow!” to reflect that they were actually real and powerful when it was over, at which time Henry said one of his new favorite words, “wow!”. We all laughed at his comic relief. Thankfully, they were getting stronger and becoming uncomfortable, yet I had such complete breaks between them. When it was getting close to 4, I decided I’d get in the tub. I was pretty sure things were going to go fast, and I wanted some calm. Jeff filled the tub, and I asked Angela to check me. I was just curious and felt I wanted to know just where I stood. She said I was a 6. I got in the tub and immediately the contractions picked up. My mom was with me in the bathroom, and I remember telling her, “wow, they are really coming now.” I only had enough time to take a deep breath before the next one hit. Within just a few minutes I was scrambling to get out. I said, “I gotta get out, I hate this tub”. I was surprised by that, as my bathtub is usually my most desired place to relax..not at that moment, though!
I got out between contractions and my mom went to tell Angela and Jeff that my contractions were coming hard and fast. I put on my tent dress again, but within a few minutes it was off. I was pacing and then rocking and laying on the bed. I felt like a caged animal and I began to panic from the intensity. Jeff was pressing on my back, but it didn’t help. It was like a train and nothing could stop it or even slow it down. I was a bit embarrassed by my moans and told Angela so. She gave me some gelsenium and it really helped the panic. I squatted with my head on the bed and rode the next few out until I began to panic again. This was all around 5:15, and I was having a lot of trouble coping. I said “I can’t do this” and asked to go to the hospital at one point, where Angela replied as she looked me right in the eyes, “Well, that’s a great idea..except you are going to have to get out to the car, have a couple contractions and you’ll give birth in the car”.
I asked her to check me because I was feeling hopeless. She said I was 10 but had some swelling on one side. She gave me arnica and asked me not to push until I felt ready all the way. I had one more contraction, and then…peace. It’s not that the next ones didn’t hurt, but they were SO different. I heard “Shout to the Lord” playing in the background, and it renewed me. I was able to focus and I told myself, “I am almost there..baby is coming out..feel baby coming out.” I literally threw myself into a squat and my body began pushing. Angela later told me that she turned to the assistant and told her, “that is a big head”, where she then said to me, “Do you want to try the birth stool? You are beginning to push..you may like that position”. Angela knew that it might mean some tearing, but was the best way to open my pelvis for the birth. I turned and sat back on the birth stool with Jeff supporting me behind. I felt his head descend. With the next one I felt I had to push along and the fire was so intense. I looked at the clock and it was 5:50. A couple of contractions later, and the head was out. Next, I had to work on the shoulder, as he was very large and was a little stuck under my pubic bone. Angela was very gentle in helping me and him work together, and she rotated him under the bone.
Then she told me to reach down and grab my baby and I yelled, “NO!”. I have no idea why I said that, but she yelled “Yes!” so I did. I pulled him out and I couldn’t believe how wet, warm and slippery he was. I felt all the rest of his previous life for 9+ months gush out in all the warm amniotic fluid. He was big, and a little purple. Within 10 seconds he was pink and crying! I had my baby! He later was weighed at 10 lbs 9 oz, and was 23″ long! He had a 15″ head, and a chest circumference of 15 1/2! No wonder those shoulders were a bit cramped on departure!
My homebirth happened, and I’m so very thankful! I encourage women to believe in their bodies…they are blessed by design! I pray to have more babies in the comfort of my bedroom sanctuary..just as they were conceived in love!
Editor Note: You can visit the author’s website here.