Before we begin, a few friendly disclaimers…
1. There are tasteful images of me nursing my daughter in this blog post. If you are someone’s husband, please respectfully ask your beautiful wife to preview and approve this blog post for your viewing.
2. This is quite the story and some of the wordage will be descriptive and graphic. If you are squeamish and the words “placenta” and “crowning” bother you, please head back to the last website you were visiting.
3. We made a very educated decision and chose to have our baby at home. If you are judgmental, this is not the place for you.
I never expected my daughter to make her way into the world like she did, furiously fast and with intention. We had a plan: candles to light, birth affirmations for the walls, people to call, a photographer to capture every beautiful moment, laboring positions, a warm and inviting birth pool in which to welcome our baby. We also thought that we would be meeting our new son or daughter a few weeks early, just like his/her brother and sister. As the weeks crept on, and I stayed pregnant, we knew that this Little had his/her own plan.
At 39 weeks, I had my first cervical check. I was 2-3 centimeters and 70% effaced. It was at this point that everyone kept asking when I was going to be induced. While I’ll admit that I had many nights of crying over contractions that just wouldn’t get regular, I know that every single day that my Little spent inside me was one more day of growing, developing, preparing for this world. We walked every night, I ate spicy food, I bounced on a birth ball, Scott and I loved on each other quite a few times, and still no baby.
At 40 weeks, I had grown quite uncomfortable and frankly, I was terrified. I knew this baby would be our biggest baby yet, and we were delivering at home, with out any pain medication. I had an epidural with both Aden (it was wonderful) and Ava (it was horrific), and we had decided that hospital or not, another epidural was not an option for me. I told all of my friends, family and my midwife that my biggest fear was giving birth to a 9 pound baby. Aden was 7 pounds 9 ounces and my recovery with him was long and very, very painful. Little did I know…
When I saw Quincy (our incredible midwife) for my 40 week checkup, she asked me if I’d like her to strip my membranes (separate the amniotic sac from the back of the cervix).
At that point I was about 4 centimeters and 80% effaced. I began taking blue cohosh for 8 hours to stimulate contractions. I felt quite crampy for the rest of the day and had plenty of bloody show, but still, no baby.
Waking up on Wednesday morning, still pregnant, was hard. I felt defeated. I was officially overdue and it was becoming continuously difficult to hide the fact that we were planning a home birth. “Don’t they admit you at 4 centimeters?!” “Stay close to the hospital!” “Why don’t you just go get put on pitocin?” “Who is your DR and why aren’t they doing anything about this?”…as if still being pregnant was actually a problem…
At 11:30 PM on Wednesday, October 30, I woke up in the middle of a strong contraction. I couldn’t move, I couldn’t roll over, all I could do was breath. Once it passed, I quickly and quietly got up to use the restroom. I hadn’t even had a chance to get off of the potty when the next one hit. I sat, breathing, wondering…
4 more successive contractions confirmed that not only were they painful but they were regular, and they were only 2-3 minutes apart. I called our midwife and told her I thought this was it. She decided that we should give it another 30 minutes to make sure they stayed regular, and then she would head my way. I didn’t know this at the time, but after we hung up, she got dressed and headed to our house right away. She decided not to wait the extra 30 minutes knowing that this could be fast. Her intuition was spot on! I woke up Scott and told him we were having a baby. He sleepily smiled and said, “Of course we are, because it’s bedtime”. By now I had been having contractions every 2-3 for almost 30 minutes. I called my mom and sister in law to give them a heads up, still thinking that we would have hours and hours of labor to get through. Neither of them answered.
I remember walking into the kitchen for some water and being shocked at how painful it was. Suddenly, I found myself squatting next to the sink in my blue, silk robe, breathing and moaning like a crazy person. I felt Scott kneel behind me and start massaging my hips. As soon as I could speak again, I told him to fill up the birth pool, now. He quickly rushed around the house, getting plastic tarps, towels, the pool, attaching the hose to the shower and constantly checking the water temperature. During these last 15 minutes of my labor, I semi-paniced internally. I thought that I had hours of this intense pain ahead of me. I thought that we had made a mistake. I thought that an epidural sounded like a fantastic idea. I assumed that I was only 5-6 centimeters and was going to go crazy before I finally had this baby. I thought there was something wrong with me-I have a high pain tolerance-but this pain was incredible.
I waddled back into the bedroom to find that the birth pool was inflated, but not yet full of that warm and welcoming water. I longed to dip my pained body into hot water for some relief! Suddenly, I felt sick to my stomach and ran (well, “quick waddle” is probably more accurate) into the bathroom and shut the door. As I sat down, a contraction hit me and I felt the need to push.
“There’s no way this is the baby, I just need to use the restroom! I’ve only been in labor for a short time!”
I breathed and moaned through that awful contraction and decided to poke around to make sure I couldn’t feel the baby descending before I tried to use the restroom. I’ll never forget what I felt when I reached down. I initially thought it was the baby’s head, just an inch inside, but soon realized it was my amniotic sac. I screamed for Scott and told him the baby wanted to come out and he needed to move me. He helped me get up and we made our way around the corner where I ended up squatting in between the bottom of our bed and the birth pool. I ripped my silk robe off, thinking, “This is my favorite robe! I don’t want to get it dirty!”
By this time, my contractions were right on top of each other and there was no time for rest in between. Our midwife hadn’t arrived. I knew it was time to have a baby. However, Scott thought I was being a bit dramatic. Surely, a baby can’t be born after just an hour of labor…right?
I remember Quincy saying that when the baby would crown, we would use hot packs and support my perineum to prevent tearing. We would try to “pant” through crowning and not push unless I felt the need. It would be slow and beautiful. With this in mind, I used my hand to support my lady bits and in an instant, my water broke. I let out a little scream because I was so startled by the hot water on my hand….and the carpet. Scott was standing behind me and I yelled, “My water broke!”. All he could say was, “Katie, get in the pool! Just get in the pool. You need to get in the pool.”
And then, it was time to have a baby. I couldn’t get in the pool, I could not move. The instant my water broke, her head descended and she was crowning. I was still using my hand to apply pressure when I felt her head hit my palm. “I can feel it’s head! It’s coming out! Scott I can feel it’s head!” I screamed.
His response? “You can’t feel the head!” That’s when I started getting loud and knew that it was time to push. He ran in front of me and saw her crowning. In one, fast and excruciating push, her head popped out. Scott dropped to his knees and felt her neck for the umbilical cord, at which time I screamed, “Don’t touch me!”. I feel like I sort of screamed her into this world, eyes shut, feeling this horrendous pain but working to overcome it. Once more moment of bearing down through the pain and out popped her shoulders! She shot into Scott’s arms, slippery, warm, and perfect. We lifted her into my arms as I sat down on the floor.
She was here. She was crying. Her color was beautiful. Her muscle tone was great. We had a baby on the floor of our bedroom! Scott covered us in a towel and we just held onto her, smiling, laughing and crying. It didn’t even occur to us to see if she was a boy or girl for a good 3 minutes! Since no one was with us, I told Scott to go find the purple paper…the “you just had a baby and no one is there with you so here is what you need to do” paper. He couldn’t find the paper, so eventually we decided to get me and the baby up and into the (finally filled) pool to wait for the midwife.
I felt like I was on top of the world. It was the most beautiful high I’ve ever experienced. Carolina and I sunk into the warm water and just held each other for the most serene and blessed 20 minutes of my life. She latched on right away and nursed and nursed and nursed. We did not cut her cord, we did not forcefully suction her mouth and nose, we did not rub off her vernix. I just held her on my skin and drank in the moment. She was calm, peaceful, alert, and perfect.
Scott made sure we were safe and sound, and went to work on the floor (whoops…had a baby on the carpet…my bad) and our midwife and birth assistant showed up shortly there after. I delivered the placenta about 30 minutes after her birth. She was able to recieve all of the blood that rightfully belonged to her because of our decision to delay cord clamping.
Quincy and Karen were amazing, accessing me and making sure I was stable (I had some extended bleeding that needed a good deal of attention) and conducting Caolina’s newborn exam. Scott woke up Ava while we were still in the birth pool and let her meet the baby. She then cuddled in our bed and got to watch the night unfold. An hour or two later, Aden heard our commotion and stumbled into the bedroom to meet his new, baby sister. We spent the night loving on our 3 babies, in our bed, in our home, receiving the best care possible. I’m forever grateful for this experience. I’m forever grateful to Quincy and Karen for their care, their calm demeanor and the special attention they paid to me when I needed it. I’ll be blogging our reasons for a home birth and more information on our midwife soon 🙂 For now, enjoy a few, post birth images.
(this is probably one of my favorite images from this night. After we learned that she was so large, Scott quietly came over to me for kisses and sweet words. Her size had been my biggest fear, and her size was perfect. Noelle snuck in this shot and I cried when I saw it!)