The story of my son's birth wasn't originally intended to be a homebirth. Originally, we had planned to have our son at a free standing birth center, but due to circumstances beyond our control, the midwife who owned that center decided to close it down and we were left with three choices:
- Continue our care with said midwife, but deliver in the hospital
- Find a midwife in our area willing to take us into her practice at 36 weeks gestation
- Stay with the other midwife from said birthing center and plan a homebirth
We decided on the third option, since we had gotten to know this other midwife quite well and trusted her. The way we saw it, the whole point of us planning a birthing center birth was that we wanted to have our baby outside of the hospital, but weren't sure if we would get moved into our new apartment in time for a homebirth (spoiler alert: we did).
It was quite the whirlwind experience, those last two weeks. All of a sudden, we were planning a homebirth we didn't expect to have to plan for. Fortunately, I have some amazing people in my life and was able to borrow a birthing tub for free, which really took a lot of stress off of us. So now we waited.
The day of our son's birth started early and unexpected. With our older child, I gave birth at exactly 38 weeks and here I was at 38 weeks 3 days, thinking to myself, "I was spoiled with my first pregnancy. This kid is going to go past his due date." I had no signs of labor like I had with our daughter. No contractions, no mucus plug, nothing...until the wee hours of the morning he was born.
I woke up at around 2:30am having some pretty intense contractions, but figured, I would just breathe through them because with my luck, I'll wake everyone up, get my midwife here, and everything will just stop because that would totally happen to me. I let my husband sleep and just quietly breathed through my contractions, timing them. They were about 10 minutes apart. You would think I would've woken my husband up by now, but you'd be wrong. When his alarm went off at 3:45am (he worked first shift), he woke to me breathing through a contraction and asked, "Am I calling in to work today?" I said I wasn't sure.
He said, "Well let me know by 4:30 because that's the latest I can wait to get ready."
I got out of bed to get in the tub, as my contractions were more intense and about 8 minutes apart now. I called my husband into our bathroom and told him, "You are definitely not going to work today." So he called in and got our birth tub all set up in the living room, in record time, I might add. I figured I should probably call my midwife now, so I called her and she headed our way, which was about an hour from her house. I sat in our bathtub, pouring water over my belly, changing positions, and listening to my Celtic radio station on Pandora. At one point I had to pee, so I sat on the toilet and even after I peed, I continued just sitting there for about 10 minutes because the design of a toilet is actually quite beneficial to the progression of labor and, man, did it feel great!
After our tub was all set up, my husband came in and asked if I needed anything.
"Can you go to the store and buy some grapes? I want some red grapes."
"Are you serious? You want grapes right now? Are you going to be okay if I go?"
"I'll be better once I have some grapes."
So he left to go to the grocery store at 5:30am for red, seedless grapes. Apparently, when he got there, the produce clerk was stocking the red grapes and watched my husband awkwardly grab a bag of grapes from their freshly stocked display. On the way back home, he called me and I had several contractions during our phone call.
"Babe, you know those were only about 3 minutes apart, right?", he said.
Oh, I was aware. This kid was coming fast.
When my husband got home, I was in our living room, wearing my husband's robe, kneeling on the floor, leaning against my birth ball, just rocking my hips, and riding every contraction out, reminding myself to breathe. He brought me some water and the grapes I requested, which were amazing, by the way. Probably the best grapes I've ever had. He also set up my birth affirmations that my friend made for me to remind me of all the things I was capable of. It might seem kind of silly, but seeing those mantras written out truly helped me stay focused and centered in my birth process.
By this point, it was about 6:00am and my midwife arrived. She asked if my water had broken yet, which it hadn't, so she made a quick run back to her car for one more bag she left out there and my husband went with her, so she could get back into our apartment building.
They probably hadn't even made it to the parking lot yet and my water broke. And when I say it broke, I mean BROKE. I literally HEARD it pop and there was a massive gush of amniotic fluid, paired with a pressure relief that one would need to experience to understand. Shortly after, my husband and midwife walked through the door.
"My water broke."
"Are you sure?" my midwife asked.
"Oh yeah. I'm sure. And honey, it kind of soaked your robe."
"First my shoes, now my robe." my husband said.*
*When my water broke with our daughter, it soaked his shoes. Apparently, my aim is impeccable.
At that point, upon my request, my midwife checked my dilation and I was already 8-9cm, so my husband helped me climb into the birth tub. Let me tell you, if anyone is ever on the fence about whether or not to birth in a pool, try it! I officially endorse birthing in a pool. Wow! I instantly became so relaxed and continued breathing through my contractions, entering an almost hypnotic state. With contractions on top of each other, I kept reminding myself to surrender to the pain and ride it out. Fighting it was useless and energy draining, so I allowed my body to sink into the water, deeper and deeper as I delved into each wave.
As transition took over, I began to lose my focus, crying out for my midwife to just "get him out!" and even biting my husband's hand as a knee jerk reaction to the pain (sorry, my love!) But my husband, with his naturally calming demeanor and gentle tone, said in my ear, "You are strong. You can do this."
And you know what? He was right.
I repeated those words to myself and remembered just who the fuck I am! I am a mother, a warrior, a goddamned sacred vessel of life and I can do this!
Upon my midwife's suggestion, I reached down and felt my son's head as he was making his way to our family. I knew he was ready and so was I.
I breathed through one more contraction and finally was ready to bring my son earth side. As I pushed, I imagined my body opening up to help my son find his way and I breathed down and into the depths of myself. With a few solid pushes, my son's head was out and my midwife had me stand up for my final push, as my son's umbilical cord had a marginal insertion, which means it was attached more to the side of my placenta rather than the center like it usually is, so she wanted to carefully guide him out.
With one more deep breath, I pushed and felt my son enter the world at 7:40am. All I could say was "I did it! I did it!"
As I sunk back into the warm pool, I cradled our son, kissing him over and over, memorizing his scent and etching that experience into my memory. We waited until the umbilical cord had stopped pulsing before clamping and cutting it. My husband cut our son's cord, as he had with our daughter, something he describes as "trying to cut through a garden hose." After 15 minutes (I think, really, I'm just estimating timelines), my husband held our son for some skin to skin time as I laid on our couch to deliver my placenta. I don't really recall feeling anything. I was preoccupied with admiring my husband become a father for the second time and riding an intense surge of oxytocin that made me feel like I was floating. I guess that's what they mean when they say "on Cloud 9".
After I delivered my placenta, my husband brought our son over to be nursed and he latched on instantly and camped there for a good hour or so, as my husband and midwife took the birth pool down. We then got his measurements (8lbs 5oz; 21in) and my husband made eggs & toast for me. After all the excitement died down, my midwife loaded my dishwasher (because she's a gem and a half) and helped me wash my son's hair, which we then covered with the very hat put on me when I was born. Once my midwife was confident we had it from there, she congratulated us again and went home. We all just kind of sat there, my husband, our daughter, and I, admiring our new addition and taking turns loving on him.
After it was all said and done, I just kept telling my husband, "I can't believe I just did that."
"You're so fucking metal." he said.