I have been a "lurker" on these boards for a long time now, and thought that one day I would get around to posting my birth story. Here I go...
I was given the amazing experience of delivering my little girl alone at home. Although I would have loved to plan a homebirth with a midwife in the first place, I was talked out of it due to the fact that I had Group B strep present and I had a medical birth the first time due to preeclampsia. I guess in my heart and soul I resented the idea of a hospital delivery (I was absolutely against the mandatory penicillan treatment for Group B mothers)- which may have had something to do with my quick labor that started as soon as I was left alone.
I think about this a lot- did I go into labor because my daughter and I felt safer being alone?
On that Sunday afternoon, I started having light contractions about 15 minutes apart (I had never experienced natural labor since I had a pitocin birth the first time) and told my husband that he should take our son over to his parents (about a half hour away).
He asked me several times if it was ok to go- and I brushed off his concerns. “Yes, of course- go!” “The baby is definitely on its way, but I am not even having bad contractions yet” At 4:30, I was alone in the house as the car backed out of the driveway. The sun was getting low, and the house was quiet.
I called some girlfriends on the phone, and started to gather my things as I kept track of contractions. 4:30, 4:37, 4:41…ok, they were getting a lot closer, a lot faster! But still not nearly the intensity I was anticipating. I paced the house, squatting and breathing as the contractions came, returning to the kitchen to write down the timing. In my mind, I had to have this contractions document as proof that I was in labor when we got to the hospital! I could see myself holding it up to the admitting nurse- “Read it and weep! I’ve got your 5-1-1 right here!”
At 4:59 it had been 6 minutes since the last contraction, and I was wondering if I was slowing down, when…POP!
“So that’s what it feels like when your waters break naturally!” I thought. Amniotic fluid all over the kitchen floor, and my hospital outfit (sweats) in need of the laundry. My mind shifted into high gear. I knew from my first birth that I had 5 minutes before the REAL contractions came. I still cannot believe what I accomplished before the first big contraction- I stripped off my clothes, ran to the bedroom, put on new underwear with a cloth diaper to catch the remaining fluid- put on new sweats and socks, CLEANED up the floor (no idea why!), and telephoned my inlaws. “Please send my husband home immediately- no chatting, my water has broken and we must get to the hospital.”
The birth took a total of 6 contractions within 40 minutes.
In hindsight I realize that being alone allowed me to labor how my body needed, without worrying how anyone else would react to me. If my husband had been there, he would have tried to “fix” things, and could not have stood by as I vocalized. He would have been pained to see me in pain- which would in turn have made me more aware of how I was being perceived. (Not to mention the fact that he would have shoved me in the car, and I would have delivered somewhere on the way!)
My ability to make the sounds I needed to, to pace, squat, and stay on my hands and knees through contractions made my labor faster and easier. I was completely focused.
The first contraction hit as the house began to darken. I was thrown to my knees, my hands and head gripping an easy chair as I hummed louder and louder as it progressed. Now I was in active labor- and starting to feel fear.
I ran back to the bedroom to get the bag, preparing to meet my DH outside for the ride to the hospital, and the second one hit. On my knees and face down in another easy chair, I sang with all my lungs- my voice going higher and higher and louder and louder- edged with panic as the contraction went on. I wondered if the neighbors could hear me.
The phone rang before the next one, my husband calling from the road, saying he was 20 minutes away. I remember looking at the clock- it was 5:10. I remember telling him, “You have to help me, I can’t get my shoes on” I spent the lull talking to him, and hung up right before number 4.
I went to the couch and lay on my left side- remembering that laboring on one’s side or back could slow things down- and was THROWN to the floor and back on my hands and knees for the next whopping contraction in which I felt my body pushing. What? Pushing? No- our bodies don’t do that themselves! We have to hold our knees and force those babies out, with doctors and nurses yelling at us!, right?
"Oh, I must just need to go to the bathroom. This can’t be the baby!" I was still on hands and knees, contemplating this when number 5 came. Number 5 was really the point of no return. Number 5 made sure I was going to deliver this baby now- no help, no doctors.
I was in the hall, heading to the bathroom, when number 5 came barreling down on me like thunder. I felt sort of like Dorothy in the spinning tornado house as I lost control of my situation and screamed the scream of a perineum splitting, the scream of every woman who has been stretched to her breaking point, the scream I had just heard on a videotape of a girlfriend’s homebirth, a scream to the dark hallway of my empty house. I floated outside myself and thought “This is not a normal contraction, this is not part of active labor. This baby is coming now.”
I headed to the bathroom on my hands and knees, reaching inside my pants to find what felt like the top of a warm wet tennis ball coming forth. I hastily pulled down my sweats as I made it to the bathroom rug and flipped over to a reclining seated position. There was no more pain or panic, and the world seemed to stop silently as the next contraction pushed this new life into the world.
Amelia never touched the ground as I held her head and neck with my right hand, her back and legs with my left, and guided her up onto my chest. As she came out, she turned her head to look at me. Her eye was dark with flecks of yellow, and through it I saw-like a hall of mirrors -every new baby who had looked at every mother to the beginning of time.
Her look brought me calm and confidence, her look said “I trust in you completely to care for me”. She then let out a loud cry, full of life and energy as I brought her to my breast and held her close. It was as if a lightswitch has been touched, in an instant I felt no pain, no panic, no fear, and no longer felt myself- just the baby.
I examined her as she nursed, and found that yes, she was a girl! Her yellow skin was turning pink fast, as I wrapped a towel around us to dry her and keep her warm. She and I sat there for a while, with me marveling over her perfect little body as she cooed a bit at my breast. It was about 5 minutes until my husband came home. Those minutes of solitude with my new baby will always be the greatest moments of my life.
He called to me as he walked into the house, and was answered by the baby’s cry. He thought I was vocalizing through a contraction as he approached the bathroom, keys in hand. Standing in the doorway, his jaw dropped, and he rushed over to see his new daughter and confirmed that we were both glowing and healthy.
But of course, the serenity was burst by a call to 911 (we didn't know what else to do). After determining that the baby was healthy (the paramedics clamped the cord and my husband cut it), we were loaded up on a gurney with my baby girl still at my breast, and taken to the hospital. No sirens or drama. I had to birth the placenta (which is buried in our front yard now) and get some stitches at the hospital. A rather quick stay, and we were home again.
Sometimes when I am in the bathroom I just sit down and remember her birth. I truly believe that this was the birth Amelia wanted for herself- to come into the world with just her mother to catch her.