Hey y’all! I am SO excited to share this post! If you didn’t know this, I had an awesome homebirth with my son Gabe last September and I am super into homebirth stories! Reading homebirth stories while I was pregnant was basically my favorite pass time. Anytime I was nervous or anxious I would google them and read some and it would always help ease my mind and give me a broad idea of what I would be going through when my time came. It also helped me to see birth as a normal human function and not something to be afraid of. I’m passionate about normalizing birth, and I want to bring more awareness to homebirths and how they can be a safe, peaceful option for any low-risk mama. I loved the freedom and peace of birthing at home and want to encourage others who may be curious about it. To do this I’ve started a new “Homebirth” section of my blog and will be sharing guest posts from mamas who have had home births! I hope to build a nice collection of great, uplifting, positive birth stories here that can be a resource for other mamas who are thinking about or planning their own home birth. The first story I’ll be sharing is from my little sister MaryBeth who gave birth to my first nephew Hank a couple weeks ago! This is her story in her words. If YOU had a home birth and are willing to share your story with the readers here, please please send me an email and we can chat! Here’s MaryBeth’s birth story!
Hank’s Homebirth Story, by MaryBeth
Having a home birth was something I never really questioned. It was the thought of having a hospital birth that scared me more, especially after watching my sister’s
home birth. I already hated going to the doctor—very rarely would go. I choose
natural, homeopathic alternatives to medicine whenever possible. Once I learned about the drugs, the unnecessary interventions, etc. that are so common in hospital births, there was no question in my mind if I would birth at home or not. Home was my comfort zone, and definitely the option for me!
We welcomed baby Hank into our lives on March 27, 2018 at 6:20am. Born at home,
he weighed 6 lbs, 14 oz, and measured 20 inches long. As every labor is unique and
different, mine starts a couple weeks before I ever actually gave birth to Hank. The last few weeks of my pregnancy were pretty tough on me mentally. He came almost a week after his due date, and throughout the whole pregnancy, I’d been secretly hoping he would come at 39 weeks since that’s when my mom had both my sister and me, and my sister had her first baby, Gabe. Well, this was not in the cards for me, and as time went on, I became more and more impatient. Luckily, I had a really great pregnancy. I felt great physically and was very active up until the day Hank was born.
Early labor didn’t really feel like real labor to me. As I had been so impatient, I was a
little on edge all the time, wondering about every little feeling I had. Several days
prior to labor, I had Braxton contractions that would grow very regular and timeable, and when nothing ever came of them, I felt like I had ‘cried wolf’ many
times at the end. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect or feel because everyone is unique and labors uniquely. March 26 was no different than any other day at the end
of my pregnancy. I went grocery shopping, spent a good amount of time outside
with my dog Zander, cooked dinner (Mexican…which I would later regret). I walked three miles that day. I was feeling good. Except for the slightly uncomfortable
contractions I was getting once or twice an hour. I honestly didn’t think they were
real contractions. Each day came with new aches and pains here and there, so I
didn’t think anything of them. (Deep down, I hoped and prayed for it to be labor, but
my hopes weren’t high).
After our decently spicy Mexican dinner, my husband and I put on an episode of
‘Better Call Saul’ like any other normal night. I was sitting on the couch when all of
the sudden, I felt a pop. I’m pretty sure I heard it, but it could have been the
sensation. I said “Oh my! Something’s not right.” Logan paused the show and I
waddled up and said “I think my water just broke.” I had had no other signs of impending labor, so I was still so unsure of myself. I knew something was going on
down there, but didn’t even want to tell my midwife for at least a few minutes, so I
could be a little more sure of myself. So I waited. And I had another mild contraction. And then another about 6 minutes later. Then another about 5 minutes later. I decided to text my midwife since she lives about an hour from my house and it was about 8:30-9:00pm. My uncertainty was clear in my text, and my midwife called me, and asked a bunch of questions. She assured me it was my water that had broken, and to just hold tight—if the contractions built up and grew, let her know. If they slowly fizzled out, let her know—in one hour. So we waited about an hour to an hour and a half, and the contractions continued about every 5 minutes. I remember doing a few dishes between one or two of them, but they quickly grew strong enough that I wanted to spend my ‘breaks’ in between contractions focusing on relaxing. My nerves kicked in, and I realized how anxious/excited/nervous I was for this process.
Pretty much when my water broke is when I consider my ‘active labor’ to have
started. While I was excited for a brief moment, I quickly grew serious about
relaxing. I remember Logan taking a few photos in the beginning, and I think I
smirked for one or two of them. But pretty quickly, I just shut my eyes and spent all
my mental energy concentrating and praying and listening to Logan’s encouraging words. I could hear and comprehend, but I was also pretty zoned out at this point—in labor land. I was unable to keep track of my contractions, but Logan did so we could inform our midwife of their frequency when she arrived—and that was around 11pm. I can remember her presence and feeling a bit more nervous when she arrived. It was the real deal. I completely trusted my midwife in some ways. She has been doing this for 10 years, birthed 6 kids herself, and was a nurse midwife with a lot of knowledge about labor and delivery and potential problems. But for some reason, we never clicked on an emotional/mental level. I learned through this experience that it’s important for me to feel connected to my midwife on a slightly deeper level so that I’m able to remain calm and relaxed through the process. When she arrived, I was 4cm dilated. I wasn’t overly thrilled with that number because I was only half there, but I don’t remember dwelling on that. She told us my contractions were long and strong and really working for me, which encouraged me.
I tried my best to follow the Bradley method for this birth. The idea is total body
relaxation through each contraction, which takes an immense amount of mental
concentration. But we found it to be beneficial. I labored in different positions
throughout the night—leaning on the bed, crouching down on all fours, squatting. I
even tried a bath because my midwife thought it may calm me down. I gave it a
whirl, but only lasted 1-2 contractions. I just don’t like baths. I never really have. I
had considered a water birth, but pretty early on decided that probably wasn’t for
me. For the bulk of my labor, much to my surprise, I laid in bed on my side with a
pillow between my legs. I did not expect or plan to labor that way, but again, according to the Bradley method, that’s the way to go—how else are you to completely release and relax every muscle in your body? The idea is to let every muscle relax so your uterus can be most efficient and effective.
The False Alarm
At some unknown time in the night, I felt I had to push. I voiced this, and my midwife checked me. She told me I wasn’t quite there yet, but didn’t give me a number. But she did tell me I could start ‘bearing down’ with each contraction rather than push. So I got into a squat position for maybe an hour, bore down with each contraction, and nothing. She checked me again and said I was a 6 now and that part of my cervix was swelling because I was pushing before my body was really ready (even though the urge was really real). So at this point, she suggested I get back into bed and labor some more. This was the start of my self-doubt phase (which according to the Bradley method is synonymous with the transition phase of labor). I was discouraged greatly. I couldn’t ignore the urge my body felt, and it took
every fiber of my being and mentality to fight that each time—every 2-3 minutes.
Every few contractions, I would involuntarily push—I literally couldn’t control it. I knew pushing was bad and would hinder my progress, but it was involuntary. This part was by far the hardest part of the whole labor for me. Finally, by 5am, I was ready to push for real.
The Pushing Part
Turns out, pushing a baby out without any intervention or drugs feels like the
biggest constipation ever and pushing went against my intuitive logic. It felt like
nothing could ever ever come out that way in a million years. Even still, I felt some
satisfaction because I knew I could actually physically work during this part. The
pelvic floor muscles include the sacrum and I knew Hank wasn’t coming from there! But surely that’s what it felt like. So it took a few contractions and some coaching for me to push effectively. Much to my surprise again, I pushed on my back in bed! With each contraction, I would grab my knees and pull back as if doing rows. About half way through, my midwife informed me the umbilical cord may be around his neck or possibly knotted because he was making some progress, but then slid back up a good amount. Indeed, we found out later there was a knot in his cord! I knew he was an especially squirmy baby in the womb!
Pushing offered me some mental relief that the fighting was over. But if I’m honest, I
was quite unaware and doubted my progress. I thought my midwife may tell me his progress in more detail. But all I remember was that one of the contractions brought an intense burning sensation. I remembered the ‘ring of fire’ and I let it ride even though my gut said keep going. It was extremely uncomfortable. Extremely. There came a point where I couldn’t not push continuously, so I went with it—just wanting him to come out. And then, he did! I never wanted to feel his head or use a mirror to see the process. I was pretty detached during the labor—too focused on keeping my cool and doing the best job I could. And I get grossed out easily.
Birthing the body felt weird. Not painful, just wiggly, squirmy, slimy. Suddenly, Hank
was a real person who could live and breathe on his own. His whole world had just transformed majorly, and so did mine. My midwife laid him on my chest and he let out his first cry. I don’t know if there is a word to describe that moment. But it’s a
big part relief, a small part exhaustion, a huge part thankful. It didn’t seem real for
the better part of a day. This took so much from me mentally and physically. I have
never been a night person. I think I’ve only ever stayed up all night twice in my
life—with the help of energy drinks! I didn’t eat throughout the whole labor. I tried to drink often, but my throat was always so dry. Once Hank was born, I wanted some tea with honey, a banana, and almonds. And it took me the better part of 5 hours to eat/drink that! My brain was so pumped full of adrenaline, confusion, spaciness, exhaustion, and happiness. The long awaited process was over, and the long awaited boy was here! In the few days after delivery, my body felt physically sore, but I recovered very quickly since I tried to stay in bed constantly and sleep when possible (which was usually in 20-30 minute increments until about day 5). I did not tear at all and I think this made recovery a lot smoother for me.
I’ll wrap up this long story by saying this: This was a very good thing I did. Choosing
a homebirth over hospital eased my mind SO much. Had I been in an uncomfortable
environment, I don’t think I could have handled it all on my own sans drugs and
interventions. I’m incredibly grateful to my midwife and her assistant. They held me
up physically and mentally toward the end when I needed them most. I’m most
grateful for my husband, Logan, who held my hand for 9 months of pregnancy, eased
my mind during labor, eased my body during delivery, and captured my heart fully and again at the sight of him holding his son, Hank.