I discovered I was pregnant with baby #3 in August 2007 with a due date of April 28, 2008.
I had seen my OB/GYN with my previous two babies, and was happy enough with him and his care, and my two natural hospital deliveries. He is a laid-back OB, accepting of my birth plans and was great during the deliveries; I had two low-risk pregnancies and non-confrontational hospital deliveries.
But, during this journey of motherhood, I had made several friends who had homebirths and an idea/desire began germinating in my head. During my two previous low-risk pregnancies and uncomplicated hospital births, I hadn’t really needed anything from the hospital or staff – I had myself, my husband and my doula and I trusted my body and the birth process – I could do the same thing at home, right? Then I’d be able to avoid the torturous drive to the hospital (don’t drive so fast, why is this road so bumpy, I hope my water doesn’t break in my car!!), avoid the intrusive after-effects of hospital delivery (nurses prodding & poking, someone coming in the room all the time, horrible hospital food) and just enjoy my new baby in the comfort of my own home with my family around me.
So, I started researching and then broached the subject to my husband when I was about 10 weeks along.
His first reaction was “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” because our hospital births had been “fine”, but then as we talked about it, he realized that we didn’t really need the hospital, that pregnancy is not an illness, and if we do need to transfer to the hospital, it’s only a few minutes away by ambulance. And that was that! We interviewed two local homebirth midwives and while both were obviously very well-qualified (having been attending births since the early 80s), I clicked with Linda (she reminded me of my mom, who passed away when my first child was 7 weeks old, and my kids & dog took to her immediately!).
By this time, I was just past 20 weeks and at my last OB appointment, I had to break the news that I was leaving his care to switch to a hb midwife. Both the nurse & my OB were a bit taken aback, but were still nice about it. My OB agreed to be my unofficial back-up, should I need to be transferred, and agreed to take me back, should I develop some high-risk condition that required the specialized care of an OB. It went well, much better than I expected, based on some of the horror stories I’d heard from other moms who switched.
My pregnancy continued uneventfully, with me looking forward to my regular home visits from my midwife.
She would spend at least an hour with me (much longer than my usual 15 minutes w/ the OB), and she focused much more on nutrition than my OB ever did! She got my other kids involved, and would let them listen through the fetoscope to the baby’s heartbeat. We talked about how to prepare my older kids for the labor and birth. I felt very well cared for, and confident about the upcoming birth!
In the evening of April 23, my dad & step-mom stopped by, and I commented to them how I was just absolutely exhausted that evening, and was planning on going to bed very early because I just couldn’t keep my eyes open. On April 24, I had a few contractions in the early morning (3am-ish), I got up, ate some cereal, browsed the web, and left a voicemail for a work colleague (I was supposed to be at a meeting at 8am that day, and thought I should give her a head’s up in case I WAS in labor!), but they tapered off and I went back to sleep.
Paul had to be at work early (6:30am), so by the time my alarm went off, he was gone and I was feeling out of sorts and knew I wasn’t going to work. So, I slept in a bit longer and then got the kids up, dressed, fed & took them to daycare. I was having mild, irregular contractions at that point, and I wasn’t totally convinced that I was actually in labor (my other 2 labors had started fast with contractions 5 min apart), so I just left a quick voicemail for Paul giving him a heads up that I *might* be in labor. When I got home, I took a bath and then sat down to do some knitting. I also had my computer with ContractionMaster.com up to track my contractions.
Well, around 10am they started getting more consistent at 10 minutes apart and requiring some breathing through them.
I started to get a bit nervous, because I was totally by myself. So I called Paul again, he didn’t answer his work phone or cell phone and I left a message saying “You’d better start wrapping up and head home”. Around 10:30 I called my mw, and she said “Are you ready for me to come?” and I said “Well, my ctx are still 10 minutes apart”, and she said “Well, I think you sound a bit breathless, I’m packing my bags now and I’m coming,” and she hung up (she had a 30 minute drive).
Then I called my doula, Kerry (yes, same name as me!), and my dad (he & my step-mom were coming to take care of the kids). Right after I talked to them, my contractions jumped to less than 3 minutes apart (!!!). Then I tried Paul again (no answer), so I called his boss and said “This is Kerry, Paul’s wife – can you track him down for me because I’m in labor, and he needs to come home NOW!” and he said “I’ll find him!!” and slammed the phone down.
Then I called my best friend. She said to me “Are you by yourself????” and I said “Yes, and I’m a bit nervous because I can’t get hold of Paul” and she said “Why don’t I come over and sit with you?” and just then the call-waiting went and it was Paul (whew) saying he was on his way.
He got home around 11, mw & doula showed up around 11:30, my dad around 11:30 (the neighbors must’ve thought we were having an impromptu lunch party with all the cars at our house!).
We sent him to pick up the kids from daycare and by then labor was really going. The kids just kind of came and went, and Claire was really sweet, trying help me by stroking my hair, and saying “It’s okay mama”. Linda kept trying to get me to sit on the toilet to move the baby down, but I just couldn’t sit down at all! I did try once, but the first contraction saw me shoot straight back up again. I did almost all my laboring standing & swaying with Paul or on my knees, leaning on the bed. Linda & Kerry were great, supporting me, but also just letting me do what I needed to do.
Paul and I just worked together for the next hour and half; somehow he knew exactly what to do to help me. I was so focused that I didn’t really notice anything going on around me. When I started crying, saying I wanted my mom, saying I couldn’t do it anymore, we all knew I was in transition!
Then just a little while later, around 1:15pm I asked my mw to check me (I felt pushy), and she said “You’re complete and the bag is bulging – it is going to break soon.” So I lay down on the bed on my side, and started pushing. With the first push, my water broke, and Paul yelled out for the kids to come up right now! They ran up (along w/ my dad & step-mom)- 2nd push, baby’s head crowned, mw told me to go slowly while she applied oil, so I paused, pushed again, head came out and his eyes were open and he started crying and he wasn’t even fully born yet!! Another push and out he came at 1:24pm!!!
The kids’ eyes were the size of saucers!
Linda handed him to me, and he opened his eyes and looked straight into mine – love at first sight! Oliver Colin arrived 4 days early, after only about 4 hours of labor, and he was my smallest babe (the other 2 were slightly late) at 7lbs 6oz, 20″.
It was a beautiful, perfect birth & I felt wonderful! Within a couple hours of the birth, everything was cleaned up, Oliver was successfully breastfeeding, I was having a homecooked meal with my new baby in my arms and my family around us. My step-mom commented on how calm & quiet everything & everyone had been and how amazing Oliver’s birth was. And I agreed.
Back to Home Birth Stories