Friday, January 28, 2011

Coming Home: Our Home Birth Story of Little J

13 years ago I had a wishful thought while laying in bed pregnant with baby #3, wouldn't it be nice to give birth right here in my own bed and not have to go to the hospital and deal with all That. It took 3 more children, 3 more hospital births and lots of unacceptable treatment for me to find the resolve and courage to fulfill my dream. Simply it started this pregnancy with being tired of fighting- tired of having to fight to be treated normal and to have a natural pregnancy and birth, to convince myself and husband this was the right choice for us this time. I am not sick nor is this an emergency- I was doing what I'd done 6 times before and had done well each time. I could do this without labels or fear. I could do this how I felt I was supposed to- peacefully at home with loving husband and supportive midwives. I could birth how nature intended me to.

(waiting for contractions to start)

It started much like you see on TV (but the ending was not one of us rushing out to the car and to the hospital, and into a room with frantic staff. It was a normal home birth, with us relaxed and able to take it as it came and in our own way)- I woke to my waters breaking at about 12:45. I thought to myself "I can't be peeing myself", sat up and felt a much larger gush. "Nope, not peeing." I stood up to go down to the bathroom and the floor at my feet got soaked. I had a passing thought of letting my husband sleep a bit longer- thinking it'd be awhile till things really got going, but quickly changed my mind, when I found I couldn't take a single step without huge gushes of water streaming down my leg. I needed help and needed to ask for it, and that's what he was there for.

"C, I'm pretty sure my water broke". "Oh!" and he was up! We made our way downstairs, to be welcomed by my eldest still awake. "Are you having the baby?" were her first words to me. I ignored her, even think I said "no" just so she wouldn't get to worked up and wake up all the other children in the house. But just a few minutes later we had to admit the lie and fess up that indeed my water had broken, and we were calling my midwife.

C put the call in at 1am. My water had broken, E (my midwife) asked a few questions to make sure that was what is was and concluded as we did, suggested we try and lay back down and rest, since contractions hadn't started yet and to call her when they did.

(contractions start 1:24 am)

1:24 am the first contraction, or rush, as I tried to call them during my labor, came on. Not the hit you like a train kind but the ones you'd imagine having- the "oh this is really it" kind. They came on their own time and in their own time frame, starting at about 5 mins apart, 1-2 minutes in duration, and steadily got stronger. The rushes never got much closer together until the very end but the intensity definitely got stronger! lol

At about 1:45 am C called E back to let her know the contractions had started and they were about 5 minutes apart. She thought there would still be some time before things really got moving and stated she'd call back in an hour- or if things started moving faster we could call her back. That hour seemed to go by fast, with contractions getting stronger with each one and lasting longer in duration, they were still about 5 minutes apart though, so they did give me time in between to relax and calm (much different than the camel back contractions I had thanks to the Pit I had with most-5/6, of my other children). I started to feel like I needed to be out of the family space of the downstairs and back upstairs in the safety and quiet of my own bedroom. So we migrated there.

(meeting my boy 4:34 am)

We knew little C would have to moved out of our room, in the hopes he'd continue to sleep (no such luck!), so my C carried him down and into our eldest's bed. There she laid with him till giving up on putting on Diego for him. She was a trooper, caring for him for the next 6 hours, until finally she was ordered to bed and our middle daughter, P, took over and she finally got him to sleep.

During the migration up the two short flights of stairs to our bedroom the rushes started coming harder, thank you stairs. And I found I also am grateful for our bedroom being in a finished attic- those dormer walls came in really handy in helping support me through some of the worst. I tried every position I'd seen or heard of to get and stay comfortable but there were only two that worked well- standing/walking while holding onto the walls and sitting on the edge of the bed or this bean bag tree stump thinging we have. Hands and knees rocking didn't do it. Laying down brought back memories of the hospital and squatting hurt my knees. Gravity was my friend.

(loving support from one of my midwives)

It's about 2:45 am when E calls again to see how things are going and C tells her the contractions are closer and stronger now, with even less time in between. She's going to call her back up and start getting her stuff together and making her way over. I feel better knowing she's soon on her way. I had been feeling a bit like I had to wait, that I needed her here before letting go and moving much further ahead.

Here I want to inject a bit of praise for my husband. My man is absolutely the perfect man for me, in childbirth and in life. He knows how to anticipate my needs and support me (both emotionally and physically) fully. He knows when I need something and brings it to me, even when I don't- he never left my side during a rush. And in between he run to get what was needed- ice, gatorade, water, the tree stump. He knew to set everything out the MWs needed, and to make the bed in the 2 sets of sheets and plastic curtain. He knew when to get close to help me through a rush, or step back and not touch. He was in sync with me and I knew he was always there. All I had to do was say his name, even in a whisper. More to come on his heroic (to me) deeds.

(love his smell)

I think very soon after this I moved from active labor into transition. I was swearing up a storm and very aware of the difference between earlier and then. Also aware of the stages of labor and when I thought I was. During my hospital births I felt disconnected from my thoughts and body, not remembering what was supposed to happen next. At home I was just more aware and able to keep in step more, no fear to creep in.

Oh I am not saying I was clear headed in the least- because I was not! I was trying to communicate my thoughts and needs but I couldn't string two words together. I was being suggested to try different positions but couldn't say "no, that one doesn't help" all I could say most of the time was f**k. But it was clear in my head. I moved from my wall support to C and stayed there. He now became my wall.

I started to feel pushy- even more than the poop feeling I had been having since my water broke. (I really needed to go but my body wouldn't let me.) And asked C to call E and see where she was. He told I was feeling ready to push and she was on her way already, this was about 3:30 am. I held it back a few more contractions, tried sitting on the edge of the bed to slow things down a bit but that didn't last long.

(bonding time)

I was back up on my feet. E was calling saying she was just looking for a parking spot (living in the city in the middle of a very snowy winter there's only parking on one side and the spaces are very limited). Before I knew it she was there and breaking out our supplies. C was holding me upright and I so ready to be pushing. Now I'm sure there are things I don't remember and things that were said but hey I was giving birth, so I have a good excuse.

I decided I needed to sit. I couldn't articulate the thoughts to words that were in my head. I was feeling like everything I was trying wasn't working, comfort measures wise. And all I could get out was "I don't know what to do." C and E were so supportive, telling me yes I do I've done this before. But I was a little frustrated with myself, only because I couldn't verbalize what I wanted to say. I tried again, that I didn't know what to do as in positions and breathing. That I had been trapped in my hospital births, made to stay in bed on my side or back and being free to move and find my own positions was what was "wrong". Granted I didn't say it as eloquently as now- it came out in broken sentences, in between rushes.

(Da holding his boy for the first time)

E set out the chux pads, and prepared for baby's arrival. C was always right there within arms reach. I was still sitting on the edge of the bed and E suggested I lay back because I wouldn't be able to push him out with the lip of the bed in the way but I knew I didn't want to be laying so mustered the drive to stand and tried to hook my arms around C's neck. I couldn't hold back the urge to push anymore, and followed natures lead.

(a wonderful thing about HB- Da can do skin to skin with J)
I remember the first push and feeling the "ring of fire" and stating it out right. Just one more push and he was crowning. I don't know why but at that moment I felt the need to step closer to the bed, maybe to use it as a support, maybe I was fleeing. C says I almost fell and he had to hold me tighter, evidence of this was seen on my bicep a few days later! lol Another push and his head was out. E asked C if he wanted to catch the baby, which had been the plan, but at that moment he knew he couldn't let go of me and forfeited his right to keep supporting me. (My Super Man) Just as babe was crowning J (E's mentor and back up MW) arrived and slipped right into where she was needed, on the bed, there to support me when needed. One last push and little man was there!

I was turned around and sat down into the waiting arms and lap of J. Who held me as I held my new son. This was again exactly what I needed when I needed it. The calm, love and confidence J was emitting I soaked up quickly. Little J was here and indeed a boy. He was a bit blue and having a hard time getting out the gunk in his lungs (this is nothing to worry about- with fast pushing stages the little ones body and subsequently their lungs don't get squeezed enough to get it out while being birthed. Generally in a hospital this is when they whisk away babe and start using suction to clear baby's throat, mouth and lungs.) in our home birth he was left on me with J rubbing his back and us getting him to cry. To naturally help him do it on his own. He cried big cries.
I was still feeling really tender and uncomfortable in, on, my bottom area, E took a look and saw that my placenta had already detached and was partially sitting on the lip of my birth canal. She asked me to move to the end of the bed, push once and out it easily slid. Oh the pleasure of delivering the placenta. Baby was left on his placenta for, as I recall, at least 30 minutes- even though it had stopped pulsating. He got all of his blood back, something we really wanted to wait for. I laid in J's arms a bit longer than moved up to my pillows, to love on and bond with my new son.

(Back with mama)

Little J was born on Thursday, January 20th, 2011 @ 4:34 am. Under the full Wolf moon, on the cusp of Capricorn and Aquarius. The 7th child. 7 lbs 14 oz. 19 3/4 inches long. Peacefully at home, after just 3 and a half hours of labor and 4 pushes.

(Our placenta~ we kept it to bury come spring, hopefully under a new tree)

He and I laid there for a while together, him on my chest. He started the "boob crawl" (as my husband calls it) or "milk crawl" as more widely known. And I tried to bring him to breast but my after pains were as intense as many of my rushes and I couldn't concentrate enough to help him get a good latch. With each after pain, like during labor, I swore like a sailor. I was encouraged to try and pee (Success!) and drink some liquids, both of which helped, more than the OTC pain killers I took. C was right there with gatorade and ice chips, knowing how each was important and how much I needed them but wasn't remembering to ask for them- reading my mind again. I finally was able to let go and turn little J over to Da to bond. And watching C with his new son made me bond to them both even more. C was able to do skin to skin with J, something he didn't get to do with lil' C. And they just sat there soaking in each other and their scents.

(6 am getting checked out)

Time was an illusion. What felt like minutes was more like an hour or more. It was time to check J out. His lungs were clearing, and breathing was better- nothing to be alarmed about anymore. He had all ten fingers and toes. Both testicles were descended (something C and I looked for because lil' C had one at birth that was not. Lil' C's has since dropped and is no longer a concern.). His heart rate was good and his color was better. His body was pink but face was still a bit blue. I loved watching him being weighed in the traditional "fish scale" way- so fun and made our whole home birth seem more real and concrete. Our boy may be a bit blue but other wise perfect.
(a little gunk in his lungs but healthy otherwise)

7:30 am and the other children were coming in to meet the newest member. First was P, who's the little mama of the girls. Then R, who you could tell was over tired and overwhelmed with all she was taking on- she was ordered to bed and her responsibilities handed over to P. Then T, B and O came together (the only one that slept through all the excitement was B- everyone else was up by 5 am). All thought their new brother was the cutest thing! Last came lil' C, and having everyone else come first was good because C thought J was a basketball and tried to palm him! Not what anyone was expecting.
(Fish weighing!)

E and J made sure I was doing well and had my needs met. Prepared compresses and tea, bath soaks and cleaned up. E made sure I knew how to use the golden seal cord care on J's stump (oh by the way in the hospital they use those plastic clamps on the umbilical cord- E used string! Love it!) and J told me what to watch for with J's breathing and to keep him on his side in case he spit out some of the gunk that was in his lungs. Then they were gone. And J and I napped and cuddled and successfully got him on the breast.

(less blue)

I was in a content and dreamy place for the next few days. I did it! I had my home birth and it was good. Yes fast and it took me awhile to be able to process it but healing and wonderful. I was so aware the whole time, never had that foggy haze. And remember so much now, more than the others. J is a child born at home, to a mother who most health care professionals would say took a danerous risk but as I see it I am a success story. Able to break free of fear and generalizations to do what came natural and trust myself and my body. I thought I wasn't able to go into labor on my own, or keep labor going (this is what I was told after my first child was born after induction at 42 wks and carried with me for the rest of my babes.) but I can and I did. No holds barred I did it naturally!

(not our 1st feed- missed a pic of that, but a beautiful one in his first day!)

Thank you to my wonderful Super Man husband- who for the first days after J's birth did EVERYTHING I do normally and some better than me! Who lost his job to care for us. Who is the best man for me ever. Thank you E and J- for being there exactly when they were needed and knowing exactly what to say and do and when to say and do it. For believing in me and treating me with respect and listening to me, when others weren't. Thank you to my girls- for stepping up and taking on what I knew they could. Thank you to my mother- for all her help. Thank you D- for your love and support and for trying your best. Thank you to all my mama friends- you're love and support have helped get me through, not just this birth and babymoon but life for the past almost 3 years. I love you all!


  1. This was beautiful! Thank you for sharing and congratulations on the wonderful birth of your new son :)

  2. Aww, that made me all teary. Thanks so much for sharing your birth story, and congratulations on your amazing home birth and your sweet little baby!

  3. I wish so much that I could have done something like this with my kids! I'm so glad you got to experience this, it sounds so amazing. You have such a wonderful family!!


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