a guest post by Corrine Wetherbee
When I became pregnant with my first daughter, it was only natural for me to call up the midwife who had attended the births of my last four sisters.
After 39 weeks and 5 days, I gave birth to my daughter at home.
I labored through the afternoon at work, came home, cooked dinner, took a few baths, continued walking around and cleaning up the house through my labor, and when my midwife arrived I was at 10 cm. It was a peaceful, quiet birth… and then my husband and I laid our newborn between us and wondered how in the world we were supposed to sleep with this little person to watch!
It came as quite a shock, therefore, when I was transported to the hospital with my second birth.
Unlike the last labor, this one was quicker than I could have expected.
I wasn’t even convinced I was in labor until my water broke and I suddenly had the urge to push. When my midwife arrived twenty minutes later, I was once again at 10 cm. and began pushing.
It was then that my midwife discovered that the baby had turned, and she was breech.
You can imagine the thoughts that go through your head as an entire fire department rush the bedroom while you are wearing nothing but a tank top, and there is a tiny butt trying to emerge!
Was I going to make it to the hospital? Was I going to deliver in the ambulance without my husband? Could my two-year-old see any of this from the neighbor’s where she was with my mom? Was I going to be knocked out and miss the birth of my own baby?!
Most of all…was my baby alright?
Despite the calming reassurance of my midwife, my mind was racing, and all the while I was trying to follow the not-so-simple direction, “don’t push.”
Anyone who has ever had to not push knows that it is a seemingly impossible urge to ignore.
To my absolute surprise and delight (as I had convinced myself that I would be having a c-section once I crossed the line into the hospital), the doctor who walked through the doors had (back in the day) delivered breech babies vaginally for years, and he told me that on the next push, I could push my baby out.
Those words brought more relief and determination than I could have ever imagined.
One minute later, my husband rushed into the room, and with one push, Ada was born, a total of 3 minutes after our arrival in the ER. She was healthy, crying, and hungry. I could not have ever imagined being happier.
Our stay in the hospital that followed was short and surprisingly pleasant compared to what I expected.
It was not what I wanted, but it was what had happened.
My baby never left me side, and when I was told that I was not allowed to sleep with her in my bed, I found that I just didn’t sleep. I stayed up all night, wishing my husband was there, wondering how my two-year-old was handling her first night without Mom, and of course, staring at this new little person.
Of course my daughter and I were the talk of the ward, but not as I expected we would be. We were not the “home birth gone bad.”
Instead, so many of the nurses came in to check on me and to tell me that they wished they were courageous enough to give birth at home.
I was shocked.
I was not hassled as I signed waver after waver of what I did not want done for myself or my baby. At one point, the lactation consultant (who routinely visits everyone) came in to gossip about how she couldn’t believe how many moms were choosing not to nurse their newborns.
I left 24 later on an “early discharge.”
Despite my uneventful hospital stay, I was ready to be home, see my daughter, watch her be a big sister, and get my baby into bed with me where she should have been the night before.
Every birth story is one that someone will never forget, but when I stop to think about this birth, it is as if I am there again.
It was by far the most surreal experience of my life.
Part of me feels ripped off. I feel like the birth I imagined was taken from me. Then I realize that it isn’t fair to have expectations when it comes to an event like childbirth. We are humans no matter how much we plan!
In the end, I walked away from this experience with a new-found respect for hospitals and staff, a validation that home birth is certainly the right choice for my family, a newly-discovered strength in myself, and most importantly, a healthy baby in my arms.
My name is Corrine, and I live in Rochester, Michigan. I am a part-time teacher, and most importantly, a mom of two beautiful girls. I grew up in a house where four of my younger sisters were born at home, and I now find that I have no doubt that my mother’s natural parenting influences have helped shaped me into the mom that I am today.