Maryland Area Homebirth Options

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Birth Stories

The Homebirth of Massimo

Posted on August 3, 2011 at 9:21 AM

I have been working on this birth story for some time. For whatever reason, I can't ever be happy with it. Nothing I put in these paragraphs can do this experience any justice. I am now an even bigger advocate for women being able to choose the way in which they give birth. When done the way YOU intend, the journey is the most remarkable and rewarding of your life. Here is the story of how Massimo came to us on a beautiful Sunday morning- on Father's Day.

~ * ~

I was four days overdue and after two false alarms, I would've done anything to have this baby. I woke up early that Saturday and headed to the farmer's market with my son, my mom and my sister. I needed the fresh air and thought the walking might aid in getting things moving along. Plus, a farmer's market on a beautiful summer morning always makes me feel happy.

~ * ~

We came home, made fresh basil pesto and snacked on cheeses, crackers, and hummus. Shortly after our snack, I headed to the bathroom and noticed I had lost my mucus plug. Finally! Progress! This was a good sign. It made me feel a great sense of relief. No more wondering when our baby would make his entrance. The suspense and anticipation had been killing me. I was certain I would be meeting my boy before the weekend was up.

~ * ~

That evening we prepared our fresh pesto for dinner by tossing it over whole wheat pasta, chicken and tomatoes. It was so good and I was starved. At 6pm, just as I cleared my plate I felt a contraction. It was bearable but I took notice nonetheless. A little over two minutes later I got another. I was hopeful this was the real thing but only time would tell. After all, I had thought I was in labor twice before this. I wasn't going to call my midwife again unless I was certain.

~ * ~

By 8pm I was still having contractions about two-and-a-half minutes apart. They weren't too strong but they were regular which led me to believe this might be it. I called my midwife to give her a heads up so she could get some rest. There was really nothing for me to do but wait. All the birthing supplies were in order, the bed was made up with a fitted sheet, then a plastic sheet, then another clean sheet on top(once you have given birth you can just strip the bed and there is a clean sheet underneath all ready for you to rest on). My Mom and I just sat in the living room talking and anticipating the what next. I had started to get worried around 10pm or so that it was yet another false alarm. I was still having contractions but the intensity had decreased and they were further apart and less regular.

~ * ~

"I will just die if this was another false alarm. What woman doesn't know when she's in labor?!" The idea of a woman not knowing for sure if she's in labor is still baffling to me. Yet, practice labor is pretty tricky.

~ * ~

I decided to walk. So, here I am walking up and down my street by myself at 10:30 at night. My mom sat on my front stoop just watching me. I was so antsy. Is this it? Is it not? I walked and walked hoping it would get things going again. At 11 o'clock I decided to go to bed. If I was about to have a baby, I would need the energy. Prior to lying down, I did my bathroom routine and noticed a little bit of spotting. Yup, we're definitely close to having a baby.

~ * ~

Surprisingly, I got some decent sleep that night. I woke around 3:30am to stronger contractions and what I thought was leaking water (I found out later, my sac was still intact). I paced my room and tried to mentally prepare myself for what was in store. This is it. The moment I have been waiting for. I knew it was time and that I was going to need strength. I was about to start a journey. A journey that will be one of the most difficult of my life. Yet, I also knew that it would soon be over and with it would come my sweet baby. I was ready. I was confident.

~ * ~

It's funny how in the weeks leading up to birth you can get so nervous. You think of the pain and the exhaustion. You think of all the things that could go wrong and a million reasons why you should be scared. However, when the times comes you are at peace. You are ready to take that leap. When I finally did go into labor, it all seemed so natural. Everything was just as it should be and I trusted my body would do everything it needed to safely deliver our son. I had faith.

~ * ~

We called my midwife at 4 o'clock on Sunday morning and told her I had had some bloody show. My contractions were still 2 minutes apart but they were certainly more intense. It felt good to sway my hips and walk around. I bent over during every contraction and whoever was closest would apply pressure to the small of my back. That last thing I felt like doing was sitting and it actually made the surges more painful. Moving around was something I hadn't been able to do in my first birth since I was confined to a hospital bed. The contrast in the two births was remarkable.

~ * ~

By 5am I was in quite a bit of pain. Everyone has their coping mechanisms. Mine is moaning. LOUDLY. A deep, whale-like moan is the only thing that got me through the contractions. I had to expel that energy and moaning was the most natural, innate way to get through those surges. My sweet son woke to my noise. My mom carried my groggy little boy into my bedroom, rubbing his eyes but smiling widely. You're brother is on his way dude.

~ * ~

My midwife, and birth assistant arrived at 5:30am and by then I was in intense labor. She checked me shortly after her arrival and I was thrilled to hear that I was 7cms. It wouldn't be long. My son was starting to get freaked out by my behavior and the various sounds I was making. We thought it would be best if my dad could come and get him for the day. He is just a baby and it was all a little too intense for him. It wasn't something I could explain to him and I was relieved when he was gone because I didn't have to hide my pain.

~ * ~

My midwife checked the baby's heart rate and my blood pressure. My blood pressure was a little elevated so they decided to give me the epsom salt concoction. I hadn't eaten and despite everyone's encouragement to do so, I just couldn't do it. The epsom salt egg mixture hit my stomach and immediately I knew it wasn't looking good.

~ * ~

"Grab a trash can!" I said as I fought back vomit. I threw up for a little bit, mostly from what I had just ingested, but partially because I was entering into intense labor and was a little sick to my stomach to begin with. My midwife whipped out her bag FULL of homeopathic remedies and gave me a few pellets to lower my pressure. Thankfully, it worked and we were able to stay home for the remainder of the birth.

~ * ~

I continued to walk around the house and labor as comfortably as possible. At one point my mom and my birth team left the room so my husband and I could be alone. I was laying on the bed with him holding me from behind. With every moan, he would join in, like a birth serenade to our baby about to make his entrance. That moment was my favorite part of the home birth experience. At that moment I felt so close to him. We were a team and together, we were about to welcome our second child. While we were moaning in unison, my mom made midwife and birth assistant scrambled eggs. They sat together at the breakfast table and got to know one another.

~ * ~

It was at that moment I felt a force, an urge to bear down that was nearly impossible to ignore. Mid-moan I let out this fierce grunt, my body ready to push. It's simple and utterly fascinating how your body really does know exactly what to do. It sounds simple and I guess it is really, but when you leave the process alone nature does exactly what it is supposed to. My midwife heard the sound of that uncontrollable grunt and knew it was time to push because she came to me immediately.

~ * ~

She and my birth assistant began to prepare the birth supplies around me. They took off my pull up and placed chux underneath my bottom to protect the bed as much as possible. With each contraction I began to give into the pressure to bear down and push with everything I had. It must have been a few seconds into pushing that I asked if they could see the head. It had felt like an hour.

~ * ~

"Not yet, it's a process." my midwife said "You're doing great."

~ * ~

A few more pushes and Massimo began to crown. My sac was still intact and you could see his hair floating in the water like seaweed on the ocean floor. My mom held a mirror so I could see but honestly, I was having a hard time focusing enough to actually pay attention. In hindsight I wish I would have video recorded the experience. I do, however, remember that I reached down and felt the sac bulging. My midwife took a pair a scissors and punctured the bag releasing the warm water my son had been living in all these months.

~ * ~

I continued to push to the encouragement of all the wonderful people surrounding me. My midwife kept telling me how nicely I was stretching. It made me feel more secure to keep pushing with all my might. I was worried about a significant tear. My mom would pour vitamin E oil on my miwife's hands and she continued to massage and aid the stretching of my perineum so that Massimo's entrance would cause as little tearing as possible.

~ * ~

All of a sudden I heard, "Grab your baby. Grab your baby."  I reached down and pulled this slippery little boy onto my chest yelling, "MY BABY! MY BABY!"

It was the most intense and rewarding moment of my life. I had worked so hard, endured so much. I was so proud. " I did it. I can't believe I did it!" And to top it off, I did it at home surrounded by people I love.

~ * ~

After Massimo was here I felt one last contraction. I delivered the placenta with it still connected to my baby. Once the cord had stopped pulsing and Massimo was able to receive all that blood, my husband was able to cut it.

Massimo weighed 10 lbs and was 22.25" long. He is healthy and strong-just like his Mama.

The Homebirth of Kai

Posted on July 15, 2011 at 9:28 PM

From the moment I felt the first contraction, I knew Kai's birth would be different.

~ * ~

Thirteen months before, his brother was born in a 27 hour labor that nearly defeated us both. But this felt different. Smoother. Less torturous.

~ * ~  

"I think I'll come over now. Just in case," one of my midwives, said to me when I called to tell her my contractions were three and a half minutes apart. She sounded nervous: She lived 40 minutes away and it was a rainy Thursday evening rush hour. I didn't blame her.

~ * ~

Most women just hire one midwife, but we were planning a homebirth with one of the busiest solo midwives in central Maryland. Because I'm a worrier--and because I believe three minds are better than one when the unexpected happens--I hired a second nurse midwife to be her back-up and assistant. It was a bit excessive but I needed it. Emotionally, I mean.

~ * ~

It was 6 pm and my husband was still battling traffic on his way home. My contractions had gained momentum but something made me hold my assistant midwife off. Even though she insisted second labors are much quicker, I still didn't feel like it was time. "You could be like this right now and a few hours from now you could be holding your baby," she warned before I hung up the phone.

~ * ~

Unconcerned, I sat down at my laptop with Facebook and a toasted bagel, reveling in the fact that it was finally time for our baby boy to arrive. Like many overdue women, I was convinced I would never go into labor: I would continue to toddle around as an off-balance, unwieldy pregnant lady forever, the baby continuing to gain an ounce every day until we both exploded. But that morning, eight days past my due date, I'd woken up and spent half the morning vomiting in the bathroom. The other half I'd spent rearranging the kitchen cabinets, which my husband had explicitly warned me not to do. He had claimed the kitchen in our new house as HIS domain. (Nonetheless, the thought of organized cabinets pleased me so much that I devoted at least two hours to relocating breakfast bowls and stacking dinnerware.) After setting the last teacup in place, I called my craniosacral therapist who is also an acupuncturist, a midwife and an all-around birth guru, and scheduled an appointment for the following Monday so that if I were still pregnant, she could work her magic and possibly send me down the path toward labor. She assured me that the morning-in-the-bathroom bit was a good sign and I seemed to be headed in the right direction. We'll see, I thought.

~ * ~

It was a gray drizzly day, the kind that always threatens to drive me insane. My son was "on vacation" at my husband's aunt's house and I missed his company but was grateful for the break. Around noon I decided the best way to battle the dreariness was to go take part in it. I grabbed my umbrella, shopping bag and jacket, and headed out on a long walk through our hilly neighborhood. Destination: the seedy Giant. After nodding politely to at least 10 well wishers and one elderly man who suggested I was having twins, I carted myself and the groceries home, unpacked the animal crackers and 64 ounce orange Gatorade and got ready to leave for yet another non-stress test to see how the baby was coping with his extended stay in my uterus.

~ * ~

That's really when it all started. My midwife and I decided to do an internal exam – the first one I'd had all pregnancy – to see if my cervix was softening and amenable to something like castor oil or cohosh to get my laber started. Just before the exam, she said that if I was dilated at all she could try to strip my membranes, or sweep her gloved finger along the tissues that attach the bag of amniotic fluid to the inside of the uterus. The process sometimes releases hormones called prostaglandins that bring on contractions. I said sure, hoping for at least 1 cm so we could finally get things moving. Turns out I was 4 cm. "No, wait," she said, feeling around. "Four to five." Five! Laa!

~ * ~

Now, several hours later, I finished the last of my bagel and typed my excitement on Facebook. Soon afterward, my husband came through the door with raindrops beading on his hair and jacket. "I'm in labor!" I announced. "Oh no," he groaned, then smiled. Our life was about to change forever. Again.

~ * ~

But not as soon as we thought. By 9 pm, my contractions had slowed to every 20 minutes. Over the phone, my doula encouraged me to get moving – try going up and down the stairs, try sitting on the exercise ball, try walking around, she said. "You've come so far! You don't want to lose this momentum, right?" But less than 10 minutes later, my midwife assistant called to say I should throw in the towel and go to bed. "Just let it go," she urged. "Otherwise it will be like trying to roll a boulder uphill. If it's not the right time, don't force it. Get some rest."

~ * ~

In the end, I did both. I went downstairs to get a snack, stopping for a few lunges and hulas on the ball, then came back upstairs and got ready for bed. I laid on my side while my husband placed gentle pressure on my hip and inner thigh, performing the muscle and ligament releases my acupuncturist had recommended to help Kai descend in the best possible position. Afterward, we started to watch an episode of The Office but I drifted off halfway through. Briefly, I wondered if it would be possible to oversleep and wake up so far into labor that it would be too late for the birth team to arrive. Nah, I decided. If it were that easy, all women would take a nap and wake up holding their babies. So much for sweeping my membranes, I thought, melting into sleep.

~ * ~

I dreamed about dark dungeon corridors and hot iron swords being thrust into my back. When I finally woke and felt through the darkness for my cell phone, it was 2:32 am. I realized the swords were contractions, and they were coming hard. I crept downstairs to start making calls, then went back up to let my husband know he didn't have to wake up right away but people were going to start arriving soon. Of course he leapt out of bed. Coffee was brewing in no time.

~ * ~

My doula arrived first. After a quick hug, she went to work setting up the birth pool in our living room, in front of the bookshelf where my husband's butterfly collection was displayed. I stayed on the glass porch, rocking back and forth on the exercise ball and staring through the misty windows at the yellow auras of the streetlamps.

We had moved into the house three weeks earlier and, just as my husband had claimed the kitchen for himself, I had designated the glass porch my happy room. Icicle lights were strung in the windows and Ben Harper was singing with the Blind Boys of Alabama. Rain beat against the windows, surrounding me on three sides. My contractions were frequent and intense, but between them I laughed with my husband and enjoyed the warm, bright haven we had created. I felt relaxed. Confident. In charge.

~ * ~

Less than five minutes after my doula arrived, I saw more headlights in front of our house and my assistant midwife came to the door. I escorted her to the porch and we sat on the chaise while she took my blood pressure and temperature, and listened to the baby's heartbeat through a few contractions. My midwife arrived about an hour later, fresh from another birth. I watched as she rolled her supplies up the sidewalk and onto the porch. Homebirth midwives carry nearly everything necessary to cope with an emergency situation long enough to make it to the hospital, including neonatal resuscitation equipment and medications like pitocin to control hemorrhaging. It took a few trips to get it all in the house. The home-to-hospital transfer rate for second-time moms is low, hovering somewhere less than 2 percent, but just in case the need arose, we had a bag packed and three sets of directions to our local hospital, five minutes away.

~ * ~

The next hour or so kept my husband busy, fetching various supplies for my midwife and helping everyone set up for the birth.

~ * ~

To my husband, my midwife said, "I'm going to need a wire coat hanger," I heard her say while I was in the bathroom. A wire coat hanger? Hello?! What was this?! "Dude, what the...?" I called to my doula, who was standing just outside the open door. We laughed. Turns out, she needed the hanger to suspend the bag of IV antibiotics. I had tested positive for group B streptococcus, a bacteria that resides without incident in the vaginal flora of up to 40 percent of women. But there's a 0.5 percent chance that the bacteria could infect the baby during delivery and cause meningitis or pneumonia, so most providers like to administer a single dose of ampicillin a few hours before the birth. The jury is still out on how effective or necessary the treatment really is, but I opted for it anyway. We had enough complications after my first son's birth to last a lifetime.

~ * ~

After the last drops of the IV vanished into my forearm, I stripped down and slid into the birth pool. The water was a therapeutic 99 degrees. My husband went to find his swim trunks, then sat in the pool behind me. There's a reason birth pools are called "nature's epidural": The contractions that had grown considerably more intense over the past two hours were suddenly bearable again. For a few precious minutes, I regained the ability to converse and asked my assistant midwife to replace my Ben Harper cd with Ladysmith Black Mambazo. But soon the waves started coming so close together that I only had a few seconds of relief before the next one hit. I felt as if my life depended on my husband placing counterpressure on my sacrum – in just the right place – during each contraction. Eventually not even his help was enough to escape the pain. I felt nauseous. My doula found some dried rosemary in the kitchen and rubbed it beneath my nose. But the effects were short-lived and she soon had to drop the rosemary for an empty pitcher.

~ * ~

"Maybe it's time to try something new?" my doula asked. I nodded and my husband went upstairs to grab my robe so I could get out of the pool.

~ * ~

On my way to the bathroom, I was hit with another intense contraction and I grabbed onto the nearest tall object, which turned out to be both my assistant midwife and doula. The pain was so intense, I wanted to wrap my arms around the whole world and squeeze the globe until it popped. "Just get out of its way," my doula cooed and I tried to dissociate my body, or at least my mind, from the pain.

~ * ~

Transition hit as I was sitting on the toilet. Suddenly I felt out of control. Nothing felt good. Every movement triggered a worse contraction. I was losing it.  I whimpered out the door to my doula, willing her to come make everything go away. "I just don't know. Just can't. Anymore. Please!"

~ * ~

"Do you want your midwife to break your water?" she offered, helping me to my feet.

~ * ~

"Do you think it will make things go?" I felt drunk. My tongue was thick. My mouth was dry. The pain was blinding. I leaned into the sink and clutched her hand.

~ * ~

"I do, I really do," she said.

~ * ~

"Okay."

~ * ~

I heard her sing out to my midwife as she left me there, gripping the doorframe. "I think she wants to ask you about breaking her water."

~ * ~

"You know I don't like to do that," I heard my midwife say. Shit, I thought. How much longer is this going to go on? My doula came back and steered me to the living room.

~ * ~

"Your midwife wants to see how far along you are," she said.

~ * ~

I laid on my side on our cheap brown couch, over a shower curtain and several layers of Chux pads. I remember feeling incredibly relieved that the exam didn't hurt. My midwife was good at what she did and I was so grateful.

~ * ~

"Almost there," she said, feeling my cervix. "Nine... and... here we go, here we go. She's complete."

~ * ~

As she was talking, I felt the gush of warm amniotic fluid as it pooled under my body. Thank God for the shower curtain.

~ * ~

Then, silence. I knew there was a problem.

~ * ~

"Can I get back in the tub now? To push?" I asked.

~ * ~

"There's meconium in the fluid, sweetie," my doula said, so matter-of-factly that I wondered if it was a problem at all. This had been my one fear. Meconium is the baby's first stool; it accumulates in the intestines during the last weeks of pregnancy and normally isn't released until after birth. But stress can cause the baby to defecate in utero, contaminating the otherwise sterile amniotic fluid. In the rare event that the meconium-stained fluid was thick like split-pea soup, we'd have to go to the hospital immediately. There's a very real risk that the baby can inhale the sludge during labor and develop pneumonia or enter respiratory distress. If we transferred, my labor would likely end in cesarean section. Definite NICU stay. Not at all what we had envisioned.

~ * ~

"Do we need to go?" I asked, opening my eyes to look at my midwife. She shook her head. "It's not very thick. I just need to be able to suction Kai's mouth as soon as his head emerges."

~ * ~

I felt the contraction build in my pelvis and said, "It's coming! It's coming! Help me push!" I moaned a deep moan that rose into a near-screech as I stumbled over the pressure. This is where I screwed up last time and ended up pushing for nearly 5 hours with little progress.

~ * ~

"Honey, you can vocalize if you need to, but it's best to keep all that power inside and direct it down, down. Use that power to push your baby out," my doula said, grasping my hand in hers and looping her other arm under my knee so she could hold my leg back during the next contraction.

~ * ~

While I pushed, my assistant midwife used the Doppler to listen to the heart tones. I could tell they were on the slow side. "Nineties," I heard her call out, loudly.

~ * ~

"Ok", my midwife responded. "During this next contraction I'm going to need you to take a rest. Don't push."

~ * ~

I opened my eyes. "He ok?"

~ * ~

"The baby is ok," she said. "He just didn't like his head getting squeezed. Let's turn over on your other side."

~ * ~

Ugh, I thought, lifting my back so I could turn. We can't wait five hours this time. Out loud I said, "It's coming! Help!" I grasped around for my doula's hand.

~ * ~

Not pushing is like not throwing up when you have a stomach virus. Once the impulse hits, it's nearly impossible to ignore. My husband sat behind my head and coached me to breathe lightly through the pressure. I tried to match him as closely as possible, giving in once or twice to a pushy groan.

~ * ~

"Sounds good," my assistant midwife said, lifting the Doppler off my abdomen. Heart tones were normal. Thank God. "He was probably going under the pubic bone."

~ * ~

"Can I push this time?" I asked my midwife, whose response I couldn't hear. "What did she say? What did she say? It's coming!"

~ * ~

"You're good to go," my doula answered, squeezing my hand. "Wait for it... let it build... now nail it! Here we go!"

~ * ~

As Kai's head bulged against my perineum, I felt my midwife place a warm compress against my skin. "Nice stretching, good, good, keep going," I heard her say. "Come on, push!"

~ * ~

"Does that mean he's crowning?" I asked, knowing full well he wasn't, but willing us to be farther along than I'd thought.

~ * ~

"Uh, no. Not yet, hon. But you're doing really great. Really great," my husband said. "You're doing this!"

~ * ~

Just a few pushes later, he was crowning. And there was the ring of fire, which stung terribly but meant we were almost done. My midwife told me when to push and when to rest so that I could avoid tearing. She massaged the area with Vitamin E oil. When it was time, I pushed through a contraction and then between one because I wanted it to be over and suddenly it was. Kai was born.

It was 8:35 on a Friday and the sunlight was streaming through our windows. Despite the rainstorm the night before, the sky was clear and blue. It was a perfect autumn morning.

~ * ~

Kai was pink and plump but didn't cry at first. My midwife suctioned his mouth quickly, then placed him on my chest and covered us with a warm blanket. "Talk to your baby," she said, giving him a brisk backrub as someone's hand--my assistant midwife's, probably--came in and released a few drops of herbal Rescue Remedy into Kai's mouth. My midwife didn't need to tell us to talk to Kai; my husband and I were more than happy to exclaim over his little face and rub his tiny hands. So here's who had been kicking around my belly for so long; who had shocked us with his presence one stressful Monday afternoon a few weeks after Valentine's day. We're so glad now; so glad.

~ * ~

"Heart tones sound great," my assistant midwife said, just as Kai gave a sputtering cry that turned into the high-pitched screech that we've since come to love and fear.

~ * ~

The rest of the morning is a blur. My husband cooked blueberry pancakes, eggs, veggie sausages, fakon, and oatmeal. Kai learned to nurse, the midwives weighed him on our old antique baby scale...

 ...and then on my midwife's hanging scale that looked like it should be used for weighing fish. After breakfast, my assistant midwife helped me upstairs and into the shower, while my midwife and husband performed the newborn exam on our bed.

My doula cleaned up so well it was impossible to tell I had just delivered a near-10 pound baby on our living room couch. We took lots of photos. Not like we could ever forget. It was perfect.

~ * ~

My doula was the last to leave, just as we were snuggling into bed together, exhausted and estatic. As she slipped out of our bedroom and closed the door, Kai smiled in his sleep – a huge, contented grin.

~ * ~

Life on Earth was good.

Kamlyn's Homebirth Story

Posted on July 13, 2011 at 2:13 PM

Let me start by saying I am not a first time mom. Kamlyn was my second birth, but I never expected things to be so unpredictable. With my first daughter, I never once made a trip to the hospital thinking I was in labor. The day we drove to the hospital, I knew it was the day. About 18 hours after, we had ourselves a baby girl. Pretty cut and dry.

~ * ~

Kamlyn was different in so many ways.  At 36 weeks, 6 days, I swore I was in labor. I even texted my midwife to tell her, "Soon." 6 hours later, nothing. I texted her the next morning disappointed. 38 weeks and 39 weeks again, the same thing. Then everything was quiet. Not even a braxton hicks contraction. 40 weeks came and went. Nothing.

~ * ~

At 40 weeks and 4 days I had an appointment with my midwife. I told her I was done. More done than I thought possible. My first daughter was early, why did this baby have to take so long? I asked for any "natural" induction thoughts she had. Some were ridiculous, like standing in a freezing cold shower for 15 minutes without making any noise. I'd rather be pregnant a year than do that! We talked about herbs and thought that might be a good choice. Then she checked my cervix (at my request) and said a stretchy 4 cm. I thought great, maybe I won't need any help after all. I went out and bought the herbs anyway. My midwife was optimistic. She said in the next day or 2. I really didn't want her to be born Thanksgiving day, so I felt good about that.

~ * ~

Since labor hadn't started, I started the herbs bright and early Tuesday. A few mild contractions, but nothing serious. I stopped at 4pm, since they didn't seem to be working, and I didn't want to labor all night.

~ * ~

Wednesday morning at 4AM, I had the "its time" contractions. I stayed in bed about 15 minutes, but with each contraction I was sure I was going to groan or make some loud noise and wake up my husband, my daughter or both! I finally nudged my husband and said, "its today". He mumbled something incoherent, and I said, "Don't worry. Go back to sleep. I'll wake you when I need you." I stumbled out of our bedroom in the dark and paced the hall for a few minutes. Contractions kept coming. And I was thinking, "These really hurt, this MUST be real."

~ * ~

I woke up my mom and asked her to fill the birth tub. First she had to blow it up and the pump was insanely loud. We should have planned better, but it was too late. My daugher and husband slept through the noise anyway. Finally it was full of air and we started filling it with water. Contractions were still coming. I was sure it was a good sign. I brushed my teeth and contemplated a light breakfast. I settled on a bowl of cereal. By 7:30, sunlight was shining through the window and the pool was mostly filled with water.

~ * ~

Shortly after, my  daugher woke up. She saw the pool with water and asked if the baby was coming today. I told her probably as the contractions were still coming. She asked if she could go swimming and I said after breakfast.

~ * ~

Slowly, the contractions trailed off. By 10:30 I was on the phone with my midwife practically crying. This was torture. Either get labor going, or leave me alone I wanted to scream. She encouraged me to try the herbs again. I used them for over 2 hours every 15 minutes. Nothing. Not a single thing. I was disappointed, discouraged, and just tired. I took a shower and took a much needed nap.

~ * ~

When I woke up, mom had dinner ready. I ate, but didn't really feel hungry. I forced it down, knowing that not eating wasn't going to get the baby out any faster. After dinner, the water in the birth pool was freezing and it only made sense to drain it. Mom said she'd take care of it, but wanted to take a shower first.

~ * ~

I joined my husband in the basement to watch a movie. It was an okay movie, but I simply felt distracted. Mom must have taken the longest shower on the planet, as by the time she got out, there was no hot water. I helped mom rig up the hose to drain the pool thinking it was such a waste to have spent all that time filling it up. She started draining the pool and I went back downstairs to watch the movie. My daughter asked me for an ice cream cone, and I thought, "What the heck." And got up to get it. I brought one for my husband too, but didn't want one for myself. That should have told me something, but instead, I just figured I was disappointed.

~ * ~

Suddenly I felt a twinge, nothing more. I helped my daughter with her ice cream and felt another, only more intense. I went upstairs to see how the pool draining was going and had a contraction strong enough to make me moan. Mom asked, "Should I stop draining the pool." I said, "No, I'm sure it’s just another false alarm." We joked about how it would just figure that this baby would wait until the water was empty. Mom said she'd stop, just in case. There was maybe 4 inches of ice cold water in the pool.

~ * ~

I went back downstairs again and another contraction. This one, I couldn't ignore. I got out my birth ball and tried rocking. That felt wrong. I leaned over it, and felt my baby turn so her face was to my back. The relief on my back was almost enough to make me forget the next few contractions. But, I was still watching the movie, so it wasn't bad yet. I realized I had to pee, and waddled my way to the bathroom. As I tried to get back up from the toilet, another contraction hit me, and I cried out for my husband. I didn't know what else to do, I was suddenly scared and sure this was it.

~ * ~

It hurt. Hurt so much I wanted my midwife, now! My husband, I am sure, thought I was either over reacting or faking or something. This all happened in less than an hour.  I told Kevin I needed to go upstairs and that he needed to call the midwife. He looked at me like I was crazy and told me, "We have time." The next contraction I was hanging from his neck moaning, tears streaming from my eyes. Transition hit me like a freight train, and it was time.

~ * ~

I am pretty sure my husband panicked. I told him to grab my cell phone, but he said Mom could call the midwife. She however, was still upstairs and probably didn't know what all was going on. I could hear her cleaning the kitchen as she has been known to do when nervous. Somehow, we managed to get my daughter upstairs, bring my birth ball and grab both Mom's and my cell phone (they look the same) between contractions. I had just enough time to get upstairs and throw my phone at my mom. I said, "call my midwife." and then cried through another contraction. My husband still seemed a bit shocked.

~ * ~

Another trip to the bathroom and again I found myself dangling from my husband, thinking, "Why was I in such a rush to get here?!"  It seemed like days before my midwife arrived. But since she lives 15 minutes away and I only remember 2 contractions, it was probably more like 20 minutes. She brought her stuff in and checked Kamlyn's heart rate. I remember her just standing there, watching me. Not in an annoying, staring way, but in an, "you can do this. I believe in you" sort of way. It was that presence that reminded me that I could do this, as up until then I was trying to hide from myself, if that was even possible. I had let myself begin to get out of control, but she brought me back by just looking at me.

~ * ~

I kept staring at the birth pool, praying there was enough water. I looked at my midwife and said, "Is there enough water?" She laughed and I stripped off my clothes and got in. What really is "enough water?" anyway.  That pool was my safe haven. I was still crying, moaning and groaning and crying. At some point, the other midwives arrived. I heard them whispering and someone finally said, "Low sounds. They will help the baby come." Something finally clicked in my head. I stopped saying, "I can't do this." I stopped screaming in my head, "I want a hospital." Someone else said, "You are already doing this."

~ * ~

I was in transition and couldn't even bring myself to admit it. I was so sure that I had hours left of this torture and I forgot to see the experience for what it was. I rationalized in my head that the 30 minute drive to the hospital in the car would be far worse than enduring this for a bit longer. I finally quieted myself. The house actually became silent. I focused like I didn't realize possible. Occasionally I would moan, but there was no other way to know when a contraction was coming.

~ * ~

I asked for someone to rub my back and like magic I had my focal point. I passed the contractions counting how many times that hand on my back made a circle. Ridiculous maybe, but I relaxed. I focused. I was "in the zone."  Aside from the immense strength it took to maintain my focus, I only remember a few things during that time. 1, I remember screaming at my husband for talking to me during a contraction. Every interruption forced me to refocus and find my happy place. I would moan through a few contractions trying to find it again. 2, I remember crying when someone told me I should go to the bathroom. I didn't want to get out of the water, but I was too chicken to pee in the pool. The contraction I had in the bathroom was horrible! But then I was back in my nice warm pool, ah, bliss. I also remember someone bringing me cool towels and water. What a relief they were. Finally, I remember saying, bring a bucket, I think I might puke. I never did vomit, but that let me know, I was there. I had reached the worst part (as vomiting was my worst fear). As long as I didn't vomit, I knew I could do this.

~ * ~

For some reason, I suddenly left labor land. I said, "Something is wrong. This is taking too long and this baby isn't lined up right." They checked Kamlyn's heartrate again, and said she is fine, and asked if I wanted to have my cervix checked. I am pretty sure they already knew I was 10 cm, as they had been encouraging me to push if it felt right. It had only been 3 hours.

~ * ~

When they told me I was 10 cm, I was shocked, elated and thought I was ready to get this baby out. I wanted out of the tub for a bit, and they brought in their birthing stool. But, the pain was too great. Not the contractions, but the pain of something sharp trying to rip out of my belly. It was clearly Kamlyn's elbow, but every time the midwife tried to move it, I screamed, "Stop touching me." Or "That hurts too much!" The pain was so great, I wasn't pushing, no matter how I wanted to convince myself I was. I felt defeated.

~ * ~

My midwife finally had my husband get into his swim trunks and get in the pool with me. He fell asleep, something my midwife claims she has never had happen, not in 30 years of midwifery. I sort of slept too, leaning against his body. We stayed there for about 5 hours or so, with Kevin occasionally snoring in my ear. The 2 other midwives left to attend another birth. It was again silent for a while.

~ * ~

After several contractions where my body tried to force me to push, no matter what I wanted, I found myself again alert and ready to be done. I got up and said, "I'm ready, but first I have to pee." Just that. My midwife had been sleeping in one of our chairs and said okay and grabbed a bag of things she would need. As they tried to even get me out of the water, we all realized, there was no way I was going to get to the bathroom. Even getting to standing up had the contractions one on top of the other. I found myself squatting during each one, pushing my baby out, for real this time. Plus, the reality was, I couldn't pee, even if I wanted to.

~ * ~

Back into the water I went. Oh the relief. I was pushing semi reclined, in a funky bridge type yoga pose. Very unorthodox, but it felt good and was working. It felt so good to be pushing. I couldn't feel the contractions anymore. It was just me working to get my baby out. Somewhere near the end, my daughter had started to cry. She was sleeping in Mom's room and woke to find herself alone. My husband left for a moment to comfort her.

~ * ~

While he was gone, I managed to make good progress. When he returned, I remember the midwife opening up some things from her bag, checking my box of birth supplies and putting on gloves. I knew this was it. I would be seeing my baby soon. She asked him if he would like to catch his daughter. I couldn't think of anything more beautiful and was thrilled that he said yes. I didn't have the energy to show emotion about it, but my heart was feeling it anyway.

~ * ~

Kamlyn was still in the sack when she crowned. Suddenly my water broke and it floated away from her face. Her hair was floating there in the water, waiting for those last few contractions to push her out. When I finally got her head out, I wanted to just keep going and get her out. My midwife instructed me to wait, as she was trying to move her hand out of the way. She had it tucked up tight by her chin, and we never did manage to move it. She did however finally turn and I was again pushing her out. Her shoulders were out in no time, but she was still wedged in there. I remember saying just pull her out, which of course my midwife refused. One final push and my baby's hips were free. Kevin guided her into the water and then my midwife brought her up to my chest.

As soon as she cried, I heard my daughter jump off the bed and yell, "My sister is here." She was so excited to have her baby sister. It makes me cry just thinking about it. It was an especially beautiful moment for me.

~ * ~

I remember as soon as she was born feeling a bit uncomfortable with her cord. There it was, just swaying back and forth in the water. My midwife later mentioned that it was about twice as long as the cords she normally sees. That explains why there was so much touching me. After it was done pulsing we cut her cord and passed her off to my husband. Up until then she had been screaming. She settled down quickly and just took things in.

~ * ~

I delivered my placenta in the water, which made a horrible mess, but kept the rest of the floor clean. I finally got out of the water and ever so carefully made my way to the blow up mattress on the floor. After I was settled, they weighed and measured Kamlyn. 9 lbs 3 oz and 22 inches long. I am still in shock that I birthed this baby, at home, without a tear.

~ * ~

This was an experience I will never forget. For 4 weeks I said I wouldn't do it again. I wouldn't have another baby, and wouldn't do a homebirth. I guess the pain was too fresh. I have since changed my mind. I wouldn't do it any other way if I can help it.