Maryland Area Homebirth Options

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Birth Stories

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. 

~ * ~

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.

~ * ~

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!

Categories: Homebirth with CPM, Doula assistance