For background purposes, my previous births were DD (hospital induction with epidural at 41 weeks due to being "overdue" - 9 pounds), DD#2 (hospital induction with epidural at 38 weeks for gestational diabetes, 8 pounds, 8 ounces), and DS (hospital induction with epidural at 38 weeks - 8 pounds, 2 ounces.)
This baby is my DH's first biological child, and first time being at a birth.
After several days of prodromal labor, and hitting almost 41 weeks pregnant, my midwife stripped my membranes at my 40 week appointment (Monday, 1/2), then we thought I was REALLY in labor on Tuesday night, but the contractions petered out again, so my midwife stripped my membranes again on Wednesday. Then another round of contractions led to her offering to stop by on Saturday in the late morning after a prenatal appointment to do another strip, wait an hour, and follow it up with a second membrane stripping. By Saturday afternoon, I was 3cm dilated and 70% effaced.
She left, but hung around the area. Contractions hit, and she asked if I wanted her to come back over, to which my reply was, "I have no idea." I had had enough false alarms that I didn't want to call this one too early. She said she'd call her assistant and another midwife that attends births with her, and they'd head over.
Having never had a homebirth before, never had an unmedicated birth before, and never not been medically induced before, this was all brand new territory to both me and DH. The second midwife, who does a much more, er, vigorous membrane stripping as a rule, dug in when she got here and declared me 5cm dilated. Things kind of petered out at 6cm, a few hours later. Walked up and down the stairs, suffered through contractions in bed, bounced and rolled around on a birthing ball, got in and out of the shower, and did some hanging out. At midnight, my dad and DD (age 6) went to bed in her room, there were midwives settling down all over the living room on air mattresses, and DH, DS (age 3) and I got in bed (DS had fallen asleep in our bed about an hour earlier), under instructions to get some rest and give it a go in the morning.
Somewhere around 1am, after whining through some particularly hard contractions and waking DH up in the process, I wandered out to the living room to beg to get into the bathtub. My midwife joined me in the bathroom while I breathed my way through several rounds of incredibly painful contractions. (Well, they were the most painful things I'd ever felt...yet...)
My water broke in the tub somewhere around 2am, and since I didn't want to give birth in the tub, DH moved DS to the living room with a movie (since he woke up when he was moved), and the midwives and assistant started getting set up and got me out of the tub and onto the bed. I ended up on my knees, propped up on a stack of pillows, but my head kept ending up below my butt, so they moved the birthing ball to the bed. DH held the birthing ball still while I screamed my way through some pushes (and apologized to my dad through the wall for screaming like that...he's been to 2 of the other 3 births, complete with epidurals and no yelling), screamed at the poor women trying to help me get the baby out, and clawed at DH and probably traumatized him for life. It's a good thing everyone around me was telling me what a good job I was doing and that I COULD do this, because I was screaming at them that I could NOT. And I totally believed it. I am SO not the poster child for natural birth. My back felt like it was literally on fire. I'm not exaggerating when I say that I yelled and screamed through every bit of pushing. I'm not proud of it, but that's the honest truth.
At 2:30-something, Eleanor Ruth was born. (Someone wrote down the time, but neither DH nor I can remember exactly when it was.) I was able to get her head out, but she apparently got stuck at the shoulders (I didn't even realize that her head had gotten out), and after a lot of tugging by the midwives (OUCH!), they ended up flipping me onto my side, pulling up one of my legs, and between me pushing and them pulling, she came out. The next thing I knew, one of the midwives was blowing into my newborn's mouth, the other one was asking for the oxygen, and they were vigorously trying to get her going. She was making some noises, but not breathing and not crying. It was admittedly a smidge scary at the time, though I was still exhausted from the entire ordeal.
For the record, she was 10 pounds, 7 ounces and 21 inches long. And they all marveled at the size of my placenta.
I credit the amazing women who were stationed in my nether regions for making the entire experience a good one, despite the pain, despite me screaming, and despite me swatting at them. (Not gonna lie...it was pretty painful! But 10+ pounds of baby will do that to anyone, I think.)
The best part of a homebirth? Having someone run a hot bath and filling it with herbs, loading me into it, changing all the sheets on the bed and getting laundry into the washing machine, bringing the baby into the bath, and then setting me up in bed. Then I got to hang out in my own bed with food and drink while we all guessed Baby Ellie's weight (DD's initial guess was 40 pounds, until my dad talked her down from that) and watched her get checked out. And after all of their equipment was packed up and coffee was made, everyone let themselves out and I didn't have to leave my bed. Nobody bothered me throughout the night to check how often I'd been nursing on each side or count dirty diapers, DH, the kids, and my dad could go anywhere in the house and weren't stuck in a tiny hospital room across town with uncomfortable chairs, and I could snuggle with my new baby without anyone reading me the riot act about needing to put her in a plastic box.
And when I saw my kitchen this morning, well, I was floored. It hasn't been that clean since we moved in.
So now we're happily hanging out with our new sumo-wrestler of a baby, DH is happy that she's NOT tiny, because that makes her a little bit less scary to handle, I was fed breakfast and flowers in bed, and the kids are over the moon about their new baby sister.
I'm not planning on ever giving birth again (we're in the process of an international adoption, and I am a horrible pregnant woman) but if I did, I can't imagine doing it any other way. It was worth every bit of pain to do it at home (though I wasn't saying that when I was pushing!)
DD 06/05, DD 02/07, DS 02/08, DD 01/12
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