Maryland Area Homebirth Options

Information, Resources, Midwives for Maryland and surrounding states.

Birth Stories

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.

The Homebirth of Mary Katherine

Posted on July 13, 2011 at 9:36 AM

With our first two babies, we took Bradley Method childbirth classes and birthed in a freestanding birth center. This time, we planned a quiet birth at home for our third baby with a midwife and as hands off as possible. We wanted our baby to be welcomed by friends and family including Baby's two older brothers, ages 3 and 2. Just over a week before Christmas, my husband and I left to go to his company Christmas party just hours before labor began. At the party everyone asked when we were due and we said "tomorrow" and everyone joked I'd go tonight and the host even said we could give birth in her jacuzzi tub. It was all fun and cute but I really thought I'd go tonight. I kept feeling Braxton-Hicks contractions that were strong and long and just felt like labor was coming. I told my husband my "feeling". He and I hung out for a few hours watching the Ravens game and he drank a few holiday spirits with his friends while I sat in a chair feeling like I couldn't move except to get up and go to the bathroom and had him bring me lots of food and refills of orange & cranberry juice. I drove and we got home at 10:30PM and I went straight to bed as I was exhausted.

~ * ~

At 2:45AM, I awoke with very painful contractions. I tried to rest through them at first but after 15 minutes or so, I realized these were pretty powerful and frequent so I decided to time them. At first I just timed by lifting my head up to see the clock on the cable box after the contraction was over with and I used my husband’s Blackberry to record the time and then would fall to sleep between them. I was laying on my right side. Contractions were 3 to 5 minutes apart.

~ * ~

At 3:30AM, I switched to my left side for awhile to see if this changed anything but it didn't. The contractions were still strong and consistent. So, I decided to time the length of a few of them to see how long they were. They were 40, 50 and 77 seconds long by my count. I decided this might be it, so I got up to go to the bathroom to see what would happen. I stopped on the floor and did some pelvic rocks to help with my back/hip discomfort I have every night but to also get baby in a good position if this is really it. I got back into the bed on my left side.

~ * ~

By 4AM, contractions went from around 6 minutes apart to 2 minutes apart all around 30 to 40 seconds long and they increased in intensity. The pain was felt all low and in the front. I knew that today was the day!! :) I started to feel the need for heat to deal with the pain and felt hungry and woke my husband up. I timed contractions using my laptop on my night table and the www.ContractionMaster.com software at this point.

~ * ~

At 4:14AM, I sent a text message to my doula about contractions and emailed her the notes of the contractions I had logged so far for her to look at. By 4:25AM, contractions were 3 to 6 minutes apart, 30 to 60 seconds long and getting so intense I wanted heat to soothe the pain. I was starting to vocalize during contractions. I remember feeling my baby move and knew then Baby was OK.

~ * ~

By 4:45AM, I began having longer contractions that reached one minute in duration. They were 3 to 5 minutes apart. I called my doula and asked her to come over. It would take her over an hour to get to my house so I wanted her to come now in case things progressed quickly. I decided to get out of bed and go use the bathroom again.

~ * ~

During that time up to 4:53AM, I was having contractions on the toilet that were 1 1/2 to 3 minutes apart and 30 to 50 seconds long. I started to get nervous this was going too fast. My husband phoned my midwife (a CPM) to give her the heads up, at least, that's what I intended but she asked him if I was ready for her and he said yes so before I knew it she was already on her way to our house.

~ * ~

At 5AM, I was back in the bed and my husband was downstairs. I didn't know at the time what he was doing but he later told me he woke up with a hangover from the party the night before and the room was spinning so he went downstairs and drank a ton of water. :) I kept timing and contractions were 3 1/2 to over 5 minutes apart and 30 to 55 seconds long. The two boys were still co-sleeping with us during part of the night and were right beside me in bed sleeping soundly as I labored.

~ * ~

I had my first 1 1/2 minute long contraction at 5:45AM. I thought this wouldn’t last much longer at this rate. Fifteen minutes later, my doula arrived and my midwife arrived at 6:30AM. Over the next hour, however, contractions were really starting to space out to 4 to 6 minutes apart and then to 8 minutes apart but staying over a minute long consistently. I realized quickly my anxiety that labor had begun was relieved when my birth team arrived and my uterus relaxed and my pattern of contractions slowed.

~ * ~

My midwife came in my room to talk to me and used the fetoscope to listen to the baby's heart rate – it was perfect! At this point, contractions were really spaced out and I felt like this may just fizzle out. I told my midwife and doula I wanted to just get some rest and that they could lay down too in our guest bedroom or downstairs until things picked up again. My midwife had no problem complying with my request and went to lay down in the guest room. I continued to rest and time contractions with the spacebar without even opening my eyes really for the next hour and my contractions spaced out to 6 minutes and to as much as 10 to 12 minutes apart. They were still well over a minute long and quite painful. At some point, my doula also left us to rest. At 8:25AM, I stopped timing and just fell asleep. I slept deeply in the bed while my husband also fell asleep in the oversized chair in our bedroom.

~ * ~

I woke up sometime after 9AM and eventually made my way downstairs for a change of scenery and to see my boys and eat breakfast. I labored downstairs watching Mickey Mouse Clubhouse between contractions with my sons snuggled up with me on the sofa. My midwife watched me labor while my husband made us all breakfast. The sofa no longer was comfortable so I switched to hands and knees on the floor over the sofa.

~ * ~

We sat down to eat breakfast - eggs, bacon, toast. I sat on the birth ball but had to lift up during contractions and they were very intense! I was ready to go back upstairs after eating and had several contractions on the way. I couldn't make it up the stairs without pausing and contracting every few steps.  At 10:52AM, I decided to take a shower and use the heat from the water to help deal with the pain of the contractions while my sons played with their train bath tub toys beneath me. During contractions, I had to lean on the wall and focus to get through them as they were quite intense. My birth assistant arrived and she and my midwife sat in our bedroom hanging out at a distance while I labored. I wanted my space unless I needed them and they were very respectful of that request.

~ * ~

When I got out around 11:25AM, my doula picked out my hair while I contracted in hands and knees on my bed. I then went into the bathroom to dry my hair and when I came out, I labored in hands and knees on the floor. At one point, my youngest son came out of the shower and brought me his trains and told me they were "wet". He was so cute and I was amazed how I was able to talk to him between contractions so well. (11:41AM)  A few nights before the birth, I made a wrap to go around my breasts for labor with a piece of material and my sewing machine. I tied it in the back and used it for the rest of my labor to cover up with. It was perfect!  

After drying my hair, I really wanted to put on some make-up so I didn't look so ghostly but I never had the energy to do so. I was getting overwhelmed by the intensity of the labor and decided after the shower and drying my hair to lay down for awhile.

~ * ~

At 12:09PM and over the next hour, my husband started calling my friends who were sent invitations to my homebirth that now was the time and we wanted them to come to our labor and birth. We needed help with the kids at this point because I needed more of my husband's sole attention. I later decided I wanted to get into the tub to labor. I asked for the water to be at 98+ degrees so it would be effective in helping with my pain but I remember getting in and it was lukewarm and not comforting at all. :( I kept telling my doula and birth assistant I had a thermometer somewhere and we turned the hot water on but it was just not what I needed and I got frustrated. This was one of the things I imagined would be the most relaxing for me but it was quite the opposite. It would have been a great time for my relaxing music on the bathroom counter to be played but that was never done either. In my birth plan, I had made a list of all of the things that relaxed me the most on it and what I wanted done. I'll just have to make sure that is followed through better next time around as the little things can be so very important. Especially quiet. I really just wanted quiet and to be left to deal with my labor alone and with my husband and if I needed anyone else's assistance, I'd ask for it. My "unassisted as possible" birth wasn't exactly as I wanted it in part because I got everyone to my labor too soon. Finally, though, I was left alone with my husband and we were able to labor together just the two of us. :) (12:57PM)

~ * ~

In the tub, I knew things were changing and not going as they should. My labor was starting to move into my back. I could also tell by the contraction pattern that something was off with Baby's position because the labor shouldn't be dragging on this long and the contraction pattern shouldn't be so inconsistent. I asked my midwife to come in who by the way was great at respecting my wish for an unassisted as possible labor. She came in and we talked and I asked her to see where I was. It was sometime after 1PM. It was the first cervical exam I had all pregnancy and labor. Surprisingly, I was 8 cms dilated. I was so relieved and so was my husband! I remember telling my birth assistant that I thought this was another compound presentation baby (head and hand coming out together) just like my first baby was. The birth was just too similar in the way I was contracting, the back labor and my gut feeling was so strong.

~ * ~

As the back labor got more serious, my husband began applying pressure to my hips to help me cope with the pain. As he worked hard, my midwife helped him by putting cool compresses on his head and neck. She was great! (1:52PM)

We moved from the bathroom to the bedroom. I wanted to stand and did that for awhile with my midwife behind me. As contractions got really intense in my back, my husband began applying hip squeezes to help me cope through the unexpected back pain. At one point, my doula and birth assistant tried to take over doing the pressure squeezes during contractions but they were not as effective as he was. I wanted to feel his touch. Just like with my first son's labor, my husband got quite a work out as my pain was severe and my contractions were long. He was a great labor coach to me always listening and never giving up on me even when I yelled at him if he was too high or too low or not pressing hard enough. :) (2:05PM)

~ * ~

I eventually got into the bed and labored on hands and knees. I was in intense and severe pain in my back with each contraction. It was so overwhelming internally I was thinking how can I keep going but my mind kept reminding me there's no way to stop the pain, there's no way to go backwards, that now, I can only go forward and the only thing that will end this back labor is to push my baby out. So I asked for my midwife again and asked her what we could do that I was ready to push. At around 2:25pm she checked me and I was 9cms. She said she could break my bag of waters which had not broken yet, not even a little trickle of water yet, so I said OK, "let's do it". At this point I was on my back which I hate more than anything during labor especially during back labor as it makes the pain much more intense and she went in to break my bag with the amnihook and stayed in there for awhile getting out as much of the forewaters as she could to get baby's head down on my cervix and get this back labor closer to ending! I was relieved because the back pain was so severe and all I wanted to do was push.

~ * ~

When she finished, I got back up to hands and knees and she encouraged me to bear down with my contractions to try to push baby down more with each contraction even though pushing contractions were not there yet at all. I could finally feel my baby's head moving down the birth canal. I was so relieved because I knew that meant this back pain would end very soon!! My midwife got in position behind me and my husband was near the bed but after the kids were brought in to witness the birth by my request, they wanted their daddy so he couldn't be right beside me in the bed or catch the baby like I wanted. A couple of my friends were in the room but not all of them as some were still downstairs and didn't know I wanted them all in the room to view the birth but they weren't invited to come up. :( I prepared a list of those invited to view the birth but no one asked me for it and I was mostly out of it and unable to remind anyone of what I wanted and had my eyes closed most of the time. I was glad at least a couple of my friends were able to view the birth. I started to push in hands and knees for the next 40 minutes even though there weren't any pushing contractions yet just to do all I could to help baby move down faster and end this severe pain. Finally at about 3PM or so, I started feeling pushing contractions and I could feel Baby's head moving down my birth canal. I just screamed begging for Baby to "get out of me". :) I was so ready for this back labor to be over with!! (3:03PM)

~ * ~

Soon Baby's head came out and I felt some relief but then wondered why so much time was passing and the body wasn't coming out even when I pushed again. I asked if the head was out and they said yes and I wanted to know why the body wasn't coming out yet. (3:10PM)  Because the body wasn't coming out yet, my birth assistant asked me to put my leg up.  My midwife had to go up inside to see why her body wasn't coming out yet and found a bit of a "sticky" shoulder. The shoulder was dislodged and Baby's body started coming out.  As Baby's body is mostly out and we see the hands are both down (not by the head), so no compound presentation. Baby was born at 3:12PM!  My midwife passed Baby underneath me to my hands.  I picked up my baby!!! I stared at Baby’s face and my husband brought the boys over to see Baby up-close.  And 3 minutes after the birth, we finally thought to check to see the sex. It's a...

*

GIRL!!!!!!

*

We were both so excited!!! I was in disbelief so I looked again - yup, a girl!   We enjoyed the first few minutes together with her and I needed to just rest and catch my breath as my bottom was still very sore from the painful back labor and pushing adventure.

Just minutes old, my baby girl was a vigorous nurser! (3:31PM) It was time for the birth of the placenta. My husband cut the cord that was no longer pulsating and very white a few minutes later. After the cord was cut, I was free to get up and my midwife suggested I soak in an herbal bath to help soothe the pain in my bottom which was quite sore. I took Mary Katherine with me and together we got into the warm water (it was the right temperature!) and enjoyed a bath together. I decided to wash her hair with some baby soap to get the gooey out of it. :) It was a nice time of bonding followed by more nursing! (4:02PM)

~ * ~

My oldest son came in to see the baby and talk to her. It was a priceless moment. Soon after, my husband’s parents arrived and came in to meet their granddaughter. They were elated that we had a girl! At 4:44PM, my husband held our daughter for the first time wrapping her in a pink satin blanket that would later become the “blank-blank” she carried everywhere and slept with every night while sucking her thumb.

Meanwhile, I got out of the tub and took a quick shower to feel fresh and clean. After my herb bath and shower, I got dressed in my comfy PJs and held my baby girl again. 

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My midwife then took her so they could do the newborn exam.(4:54PM) She bundled her up in a blanket and put her on the cloth scale to weigh her. She weighed 7lbs, 14oz (and that's after a major meconium poopy on her parents bed when she was born!) Our birth assistant performed the rest of the newborn exam. Mary Katherine didn't like the cold air and missed her Mommy. She checked out her body, listened to her heart, lungs and bowel sounds, reflexes, measured her, etc..., and she was perfect!

~ * ~

I got her back a few minutes later and I put on her first diaper. (5:02PM) Then, I gave her to my husband so he could let his mother hold her granddaughter for the first time. My husband popped a bottle of bubbly and we all toasted our baby girl. We then went downstairs to eat a large spread of food everyone brought with them. I started out trying to sit at the table on a cushion but my bottom was so sore, I had to move to the sofa instead to eat. (5:20PM) For the last hour or two, the boys were napping. My oldest woke up and came down to see us and my husband reminded him about his baby sister being born. (5:30PM) I finally had a break to call my family to tell them the news...parents, siblings and grandparents over the next 45 minutes! At about 7:30PM, everyone started to leave and I was getting tired and ready for a nap. I snapped a picture of her first to text message to my family and friends.

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I loved giving birth at home and I loved my midwife and her gentle ways. She was very hands off which is exactly how I like things. I loved not having to drive anywhere and to do whatever I wanted at any moment during my labor and birth without being told what to do or where to do it. I wasn’t planning to have any cervical exams or my water broken but I enjoyed being able to be the one to decide that I did want those done and I requested it only after labor was in an unusual pattern and quite intense. I didn’t expect to have another back labor. I’ve learned I mentally lose it when labor pain goes into my back. I’m not the same logical thinking person any longer and emotionally I got frightened and it led to me feeling very moody. I started to anticipate the pain of each contraction before it began. Severe back labor certainly is not a pleasant and romantic labor but it still was done on my terms and in my home. I enjoyed the presence and labor assistance of my husband and I hope to work it out so he can be more involved in the birth aspect and closer to me physically at the time of the birth next time around. I loved that my children could witness the birth of their baby sister. I’m so thankful for all of those present who worked so hard to help me have my homebirth and were there to welcome our little girl into the world.

~ * ~

Mary Katherine grew quickly on mommy’s milk. At my second postpartum visit done by midwife in my home on her first week’s birthday, she had gained from 7lbs, 14oz to 8lbs, 9oz - an 11 oz gain! She’s continued to grow and at 3 weeks she is over 9 ½ lbs gaining 1lb, 11oz since her birth. Thank you for reading our story! I hope it inspires you and any woman to have the birth you want!

The Beautiful Homebirth of Sarah

Posted on July 13, 2011 at 7:36 AM

Much the same as my second child, I had been having Braxton-Hicks contractions thru most of this pregnancy. Towards the end, some of them were painful, and their intensity and frequency continued to increase. On a Tuesday in the late spring, in the afternoon, I started with bloody show and contractions were more painful and a few times an hour. I tried to nap, as was normal for me the last couple of weeks, but wasn’t really able to so I just got up and rested on the couch with my kids instead.

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My husband came home about 7pm and I left him with the kids to go to David’s and Target. I wanted to get out of the house and walk around as well as pick up the last few items I needed. Even though I wasn’t positive, I felt like this was “it” and that I needed to be ready. The bloody show increased every time I went to the bathroom into the late evening/night and contractions were still painful, just not “regular”. I would have them every 6-8mins or so, then not again for 20-30mins. I was having some significant pain around my pubic bone, so around 1130pm I called my midwife to check with her about it. She said it was totally normal and to try and get some rest. I laid down on and off for 3hrs and finally fell into a restless sleep after 2am. I had contractions while I slept and at about 330am decided I’d had enough and got up. I went into our bedroom (I’d been sleeping on the couch in my office for months b/c it was much more comfortable than our bed) and woke up my husband and told him I thought it was time for baby and wanted him to start filling the tub. We both headed downstairs and he got started right away with two hoses- one coming from the bathroom down the hall and the other coming in the window from our bathtub upstairs(directly above the room where the tub was). At 4am I called my doula, my midwife (a CPM) and my birth photographer, in that order. I told them all I thought it was time. My doula and birth photographer came right away. I knew I needed help getting thru contractions(which at that point I had guessed were about 6mins apart) so I asked my doula to come right then, and photographer lives over an hour away so I wanted to give her plenty of time. My midwife told me to time them for another hour and give her a call.

~ * ~

My doula arrived at about 430am and by that time contractions were 3mins apart. My husband blew up the exercise ball and my doula and I used that for a little while. She was such a blessing! My lower back was killing me, so she pushed on it pretty much my whole labor.

~ * ~

A little after 5am I really wanted to get into the tub. All the hot water in our water heater had been used, so my husband had been letting it reheat. When I started getting anxious he went ahead and turned the hoses on for a few more minutes to use what was in there but it wasn’t nearly enough. I told him to get water heating on the stove and with that he filled it high enough for the heater in the tub to be turned on. A few minutes later I got into the tub and he poured more water in there while I was laboring. My doula stayed by my side telling me to breathe and pushing on my back to help with the pain. It wasn’t long before I started feeling the urge to push but my midwife wasn’t there so my doula helped me breathe through the contractions. The pain was quite intense and I don’t know how many times I said “I can’t do this”, but my husband and my doula were wonderful! They kept me focused on each contraction individually and helped me through them.

~ * ~

My midwife and her birth assistant arrived right before 6am, just after my photographer arrived. My midwife told me to go ahead and push if that’s what I needed to do and she got everything set up. My oldest son got up about 615 and came around to where I was in the tub. He was excited that the baby was being born and wanted to stay with me the whole time. He sat on a couch in front of me and we reassured him that I was ok despite how I was acting.

~ * ~

My midwife and her birth assistant checked the baby’s heart rate about every other contraction and she was doing great. I pushed for a bit in the tub but things weren’t progressing as quickly as I’d hoped. I kept asking my midwife if she could feel baby’s head, if she’d moved farther down, etc. At this point, my midwife suggested that I get out of the tub and try the birthing stool. I stood up and did a couple pushes standing in the water with my knees bent. Gravity really helped and I could feel the baby more. My husband and doula helped me out of the tub and onto the birthing stool where I did the rest of my pushing. He sat behind me supporting me the rest of the time. During these pushes I screamed….alot. My midwife helped me focus my screaming down into my pushes to send that energy where it would have more effect. It worked for some of the rest of my pushing, which was only about 20mins or so. It was incredibly painful and I made sure everyone knew by screaming it. But feeling my baby come out was an experience I will never forget. And it was totally worth every single pain I went through. Before I knew it her head was coming out and I looked down and saw her. I couldn’t believe that there she was! My midwife checked for the cord, which was around her neck, so she gently loosened it. I waited for another contraction to push the rest of her out but it didn’t happen quickly enough so I just went ahead and pushed anyways. She came sliding out and my midwife caught her. She was absolutely perfect and beautiful. My midwife immediately handed her to me and a blanket was put around her. My husband helped me off of the stool and I was led to our couch where I laid down with my gorgeous baby. I was in awe. I had actually done it! There was nothing brave or pretty about it, but it was the most incredible and beautiful experience of my life.

As soon as I was settled on the couch my midwife asked what I wanted to eat. I said a donut, haha! So orders were taken and my doula went out to pick the food up. After a little while we moved upstairs. My husband and midwife had made the bed with clean sheets and pads while her birth assistant helped me up the stairs. I got in the shower to clean up real quick and boy was that nice! The birth assistant helped me get dressed after I was out and then I got into bed. The food came so I picked out my donut(my favorite one from a local bakery!!) and my husband got a drink and plate for me. I ate my food and then my midwife checked me and the baby. I had a small tear but really didn’t want it sutured. I was so sore! Since it was small and not deep, my midwife told me I would just need to keep my legs together for a week so it could heal well. Then she got all the measurements on our baby girl, Sarah. 6lbs 4oz and 19.5in long. Perfect size. After that the birth assistant and my midwife brewed up my sitz bath tea and went over the postpartum instructions for myself and Sarah.

~ * ~

I absolutely loved having a homebirth. I never had to go anywhere, everyone was extremely supportive and helpful, no one took my baby away to do anything to her, I was in my own bed within an hour of giving birth, and my kids were there to watch their baby sister being born. If I am blessed with any more children they will definitely be born at home!