I gave birth to my first son in ’06, in the hospital, after being induced because I was a week “overdue”.
At that time I just felt like I was sick of being pregnant and the OB/GYN said I should be induced so, hey, go ahead! Oh boy I regret that now. At the time I didn’t think it was an altogether bad birth, I just though that’s how it was – birth isn’t the good part, having the baby was. Well, I ended up lucky in that I did not have a cesarean. The agony of induced contractions led me to get an epidural after which I dilated fine and gave birth after a relatively short labor to my 9lb 5oz son. I tore pretty bad, was in a whole lot of pain for a few months, breastfeeding went horribly for about 6 weeks, then everything came together and got happy.
Fast forward a couple of years and I was ready to give Willie a little brother or sister. I had the Mirena in so I had them take it out and we got pregnant right away – then miscarried. Then got pregnant right away – then miscarried. It was a pretty sad series of events so we decided to take a break for 6 months. Then I got pregnant and the rest is history.
As time went by after Willie was born I did more digging here and there into birth and alternatives to the not-so-fulfilling scenario I went through the first time.
I come for a very liberal part of California and lots of my friends have had all of their kids at home, so I new homebirth could be safe and that it was possible – I just didn’t know how far out of my way I wanted to go in order to have one myself. The deciding factor was running into Luna, one of my best friend’s midwives. She wasn’t the wooshing, hippie dippie touchy feely type I had expected. In fact I felt an instant connection to her and homebirth quickly become a more tangible, realistic prospect in my mind. To make a long story short, I decided to use a regular OB/GYN where I live for my prenatal care, then transfer to Luna just before Boone was due.
I spent 9 months in the care of an OB/GYN, thanking goodness after each and every five minute appointment, every discussion in which I was made to feel like a child, and every overdramatic scare tactic that I was not going to let this man deliver my baby! At the very beginning I broached the subject of homebirth to him and was told he’d seen women and babies die attempting it and he wouldn’t do it unless it was in an RV in the emergency room parking lot.
Add to this my experience with my OB/GYN during my first pregnancy: I asked him about different positions for delivery, like squatting – I just wanted to be sure I’d be able to move around a bit. He responded that squatting would not be a good idea since the floors at the hospital were concrete, did I want to give my baby a sub-dural hematoma? Perhaps you can see how I’ve come to have a less than stellar view of OB/GYNs! In the end I decided to rely on my own research and not discuss my plans further with the doc. Whenever I had concerns I phoned Luna and she would spend hours on the phone giving me her honest and balanced opinions.
Fast forward again to the beginning of August, I got my records from the doctor’s office “in case I went into labor while I was on vacation” and headed to CA and got settled in at my parent’s house.
Luna stopped by for scheduled appointments and we’d all sit around my living room, having tea, discussing how baby and I were doing, getting weighed, examined, but most of all just shooting the breeze. My due date came and went with no mention of induction. In fact I was the first one to voice any concerns, as I worried my husband might not make it in time for the birth as we were walking a fine line with him traveling back and forth so he could work and still have some time left to spend with me after the baby came.
At one week over my due date, my examination showed no great progress – hardly dilated, very few contractions, etc. It was a thursday, and we all agreed Saturday would be an ideal time for this baby to show up. The midwives (there are three in the group – in case one is on another birth, there’s backup – but they all come to appointments so you get to know each of them) left and we planned to reunite on Saturday.
On Friday I had a glowing, beautiful, sunny, breezy, brilliant day that can only be had on the Northern California coast.
The day is burned like a brand in my memory.
My husband and Willie and I walked miles around the ocean, around town, and back to my parents house. Then we went to the harbor and had a delicious seafood meal. That night I sat in my Dad’s big comfy chair listening to my hypnosis tracks (for more info see hypnobabies website).
Around 8 I started to get a tiny bit crampy. I went to bed at 9 and slept til midnight
when the crampiness got uncomfortable enough that I woke up. I went to the kitchen and called Luna who was happy and figured things were getting started, said to get some sleep and call her when I felt I needed to. I brewed some red raspberry leaf tea and went back to bed, listening to my hypnobabies track about today being the day I was going to meet my baby.
I slept for another four or so hours, at which time the contractions were taking on a more distinct pattern, where I felt I could actually time them. So I got out the imac and tuned in to contractionmaster.com I think it’s called and started timing them. After two at 5 minutes apart I woke my husband and he was able to time one or two more, at which point my water broke all over the bed!
Then it became quite the blur – we woke Willie up and he began to chatter nonstop about the fact that there was no sun outside.
He was super excited about that. We woke my parents, I went into the bathroom, the birthing pool started getting filled (unfortunately with silty water! my parent’s water tank had just been filled that day, but thank goodness it had, or my water birth could not have happened!) Luna got called, friends who wanted to be there got called, I had a couple more contractions in the bathroom – it was only at this point that they actually started to hurt, and things were moving so fast I hadn’t really gotten myself into hypnosis so yes, they did hurt. Getting into the warmth of the tub was absolutely AMAZING! I held on to the side while my husband rubbed my back. Luna showed up and just was her little angelic presence, not saying much, but setting up and telling me I was doing great.
At one point I remember saying I couldn’t do it, but at that point I felt like I might have hours and hours to go! I think the very next contraction my body started pushing. This was blessed relief as it gave me something to do and I knew that I was close! I was chanting “aaaaaahhhhhh” like the sound you make when the doctor says “open your mouth and say ah” and repeating “peace” in my head – a hypnobabies prompt to relax completely (worked – my midwife said I didn’t have a single muscle flexed the entire time)
I pushed for maybe a half hour?
I’m not sure, but right on schedule, at 6:21am on Saturday my “little” (10lb even, 24″) man, Harvey Boone was born into the world roughly one and a half hours after my water broke. As soon as he came out the pain went away and, aside from a few afterpains, I didn’t feel another bit of pain even with being stitched for a minor tear and all the healing my body went through after the birth.
I got a little shocky after I had a rough time delivering the placenta and lost a lot of blood, but the midwives handled it quickly and confidently and I spent the rest of the day in my bed with my baby, surrounded by loved ones. I ate whatever I wanted when I wanted (the sandwich shop in town knew I was due to pop anytime, and gave my mom a celebratory free salad for me when she went to pick it up!)
No bells, no whistles, no pagers, no doctors to page! Instead of feeling like a caged and frightened animal, I felt like a peaceful and powerful mama lion, cozy in her den with all she ever needed in life surrounding her. It was truly beautiful.
I love to share my homebirth experience with other women who may not realize that it is even a real option for them. You don’t have to be a super woman, I’m a real sissy when it comes to pain. I’m being honest when I tell you this was many times less painful than my experience in the hospital, epidural and all!
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