Henry is already 10 months old, but I really wanted to post this story because reading stories like this one is what gave me the confidence that I really could do it!
This story really begins 20 months ago with Miles' birth story. We really wanted to have a "natural" childbirth with no drugs or interventions, but ended up with an induction (which was probably unnecessary), pretty much every intervention and drug they can give you for childbirth, and a c-section. After the surgery the Dr. told me that I would never be able to have a natural birth because my pelvis is malformed and a baby would "never fit through".
While I was happy that both Miles and I were 'healthy', I was still very disappointed by the whole experience. Even though at the start of the pregnancy I thought we had chosen the right caregivers (a team of hospital midwives), I started to question whether all the things that happened to me and Miles during his birth were necessary, and whether they really were able to have my best interests in mind when working in the hospital environment. Giving birth naturally was an experience I really wanted to have during my lifetime, and even though the Dr. told me I couldn't I was determined that I would try.
I started to do some research about cephalopelvic disproportion (baby's head too big to fit through the pelvis) and medicalized birth in general. After lots and lots of reading I decided the safest place for our baby's birth was at home. We found a homebirth midwife that we really liked and felt very confident in her abilities. Then we just had to grow a baby and wait.
Now, on to the actual story.. Sunday, January 18th: Around dinner time I started feeling some cramping which I thought might be contractions, but I didn't think it was actually the start of anything real, mostly because I was just over 39 weeks pregnant and not expecting this baby to arrive until at least a week after my due date. After we went to bed I started noticing that the 'cramping' was definitely regular contractions, but they were still pretty easy to handle so I just stayed in bed to try to get some rest. I was still thinking that this was just 'practice' labor, or that if it really was labor it was the start of a 3 day ordeal. Around 11pm or so they started to get stronger so I'd have to get on my hands and knees and rock through them, but I still stayed in bed and rested in between. By 2am I had to get up and go puke in the bathroom.
At that point I was pretty confident that real labor had started, but still felt like it was probably very early in labor because I puked during labor with Miles when I was still only 1 cm dilated. The contractions were coming every 3-4 minutes, but this also happened early with my first labor. Although I still felt like I needed to rest for the impending 3 day labor, I just couldn't get back into bed. Ron got up and started doing some preparation stuff, like getting me some food and drink, turning up the hot water heater, locking out the doggies, etc. I listened to my ipod and continued to work through the contractions. They were coming closer together now and were intense, but manageable.
By 4am I felt like I wanted to try getting into the tub just to get a little relief and rest between contractions. I still felt like it was early labor and figured that it might even be good if the tub caused the contractions to slow down a little. The tub felt great, but my contractions started to change when I got in. I felt almost like I was pushing involuntarily at the end of each contraction. I was confused because I was sure I was still only 1cm dilated (still hadn't even lost mucous plug) and thought maybe it was just a change because of the change in pressure when I got into the tub. I asked Ron to call Beth (our midwife) because I felt like I needed some suggestions to help me not push when I wasn't ready. Before I was pretty silent when I was having contractions, but in the tub I was very vocal. This also felt kind of involunatry, like the contraction just made me do it. After a few more contractions like this I really could tell that I was pushing. I was still very confused since I felt like it was too early, but I just couldn't help it.
After one really hard contraction I reached down and felt the baby's head! Holy crap!! I was so surprised, relieved, and excited. Once I knew I was actually ready to push I started to push for real. On the next contraction I felt the 'ring of fire' and it totally is a ring of fire! I knew I should be careful and back off on the pushing to avoid any tearing, but I couldn't take the ring of fire so I pushed through it and out came the baby. "It's our baby!" I announced to a surprised Ron, who claims that he didn't even know I was pushing. (So much for my malformed pelvis Dr. Kozak!) I pulled him up to my chest and noticed he was still in the amniotic sac. So I just brushed it off of him and checked the gender. "It's a boy!" I announced to a still in shock Ron. Henry was very pink and squirmy and let out a few wails so we knew he was doing just fine. We just stared at him in awe for a few minutes and then got a towel to keep him warm. We also took a few pictures and some video and called Beth to let her know she missed out on all the action.
Beth arrived about 20 minutes later and helped me deliver the placenta and then helped us up into the bed to snuggle and nurse for a while. Her assistant Abra came soon after and they cleaned up and cooked us some breakfast while we hung out with Henry in the bed. After about an hour Ron cut the cord and they did a quick newborn exam and checked me for tears. Henry checked out just fine- they said he was more like a 40-41 week baby based on his muscle tone and skin condition (it was dry and peely and all the vernix was gone) even though he was born around 39 weeks. And I had no tears- whooo hoo. By that time Miles was up so we brought him into our room to meet his new brother. He was a little confused, but also excited because he knew that the new baby was bringing him some new Thomas trains.
Beth and Abra did a little more clean up and laundry and then were on their way out by 8am.
I'm still in shock about how perfect the whole thing was. It was the complete opposite of our birth experience with Miles. I felt strong and in control. Henry's birth was a celebration between Ron and me in the comfort of our cozy warm bedroom, rather than a medical event with strangers in a cold operating room. I know that some births do require medical assistance and Im so grateful that we have that available, but I do think that the majority of healthy women could experience birth as we did. Even though Miles' birth was not ideal, I'm thankful that I had that experience as well. If we had had a "good" hospital experience we probably would have never pursued a homebirth. Henry's birth was truly a life changing event for me and I feel so grateful and blessed to have had the experience. And thank you to Beth, Abra, and Ron for believing in me and supporting me!