Michael is my third child. My first daughter was born in a hospital, the second one in a birth center with a midwife. With my first child I was induced with Pitocin after my water broke, with my second one my membranes were swept eight days after my due date. The first baby was born a few days before 37 weeks and considered premature, the second baby was born at 41 weeks and 3 days.
With my third child I decided to give birth unassisted at home after disliking the midwives I found. I received some prenatal care up until 20 weeks when we found out that it was a boy. My husband was supportive of the idea of giving birth without a midwife present, but we did not tell too many other people. The pregnancy was uneventful, although I kept having irregular (Braxton-Hicks) contractions starting at about 39 weeks of pregnancy. When I was 42 weeks and 2 days along I panicked. I thought I was never going to go into labor on my own, either because my body did not know how or because the baby was transverse (horizontal) breech. We actually went to the hospital that day, because no doctor or midwife would see me being so far along.
At the hospital they confirmed that the baby was heads down. That trip also helped me wait him out, because it brought back memories of my first birth. I knew that I did not want to give birth that way again with all those interventions. More waiting, wondering and worrying followed. On October 18th we took our daughters to Grandma’s to celebrate my oldest child’s birthday. The kids stayed there for a sleepover and that night I finally went into labor.
At midnight I woke up with contractions and started walking. I really did not want them to go away as they had before. By 1 a.m. they became regular and were 3 minutes apart. At 2.30 a.m. I felt confident that this was true labor and I woke up my husband Josh and asked him to get our bedroom ready. He laid out the tarp and blankets to protect the carpet and sterilized the umbilical cord scissors. At 2.45 a.m. I had some spotting which excited me greatly, because now I felt very sure that our baby was ready to be born soon. At around 3 a.m. my husband went into the girls’ room to build a Lego house for the girls as he had promised them. This kept him busy until 4.45 a.m. The entire time I was pacing the hallway and at each contraction I would kneel down and breathe. I could feel the intensity going up. My husband’s random chatter (he is funny when he is tired) kept me entertained. Around the same time as he was done with Legos I was done walking around. I was tired and I was not afraid that the contractions would go away anymore.
The pain got more intense and I couldn’t talk during contractions and Josh commented that the contractions seemed to be getting closer together. Then after a while I started getting the urge to push and I also felt like I really needed to have a bowel movement. During the entire night I had gone to the toilet to pee every 10 minutes. At this point it was very uncomfortable to be in the bathroom during a contraction. I tried to tell my illogical mind that it was fine to eliminate on the comforters and tarp on the floor if I had to, since that’s why we got them. When the urge to push was irresistible I started bearing down during the contractions, which now seemed to last forever. I screamed during the pushing stage and I think my husband was worried about the neighbors. It did not last longer than 10 minutes and our baby boy was born at 6.16 a.m. In one contraction before the baby was born my water broke. It was kind of neat to watch the little waterfall. I heard and felt the water break, it was a little bit like popping a balloon (much quieter though). Then I felt his head crowning and in the same contraction his head came out and his entire body followed in one swoop. My husband saw his hand after his head came out. I try to grab a hold of the baby, but he was so slimy I couldn’t. He landed on the comforter beneath me and since I was on my knees with my hands resting on our bed he didn’t fall far at all.
My husband said afterwards it was like a personality change in me. As soon as the baby was out I was gushing over him saying how cute he was. My husband had a warm towel ready and we rubbed him and wrapped him in it. Our baby cried immediately. Unfortunately, the umbilical cord was very short and after a few minutes of cuddling him by my legs without being able to sit up properly we decided to cut the cord. I then got back on all fours to see if the placenta would come out, but it was not ready. Then I nursed the baby to help the placenta along. It was weird to have the cord hanging out with shoestring attached (that’s how my husband had tied it off). I also couldn’t sit upright for some reason. Our baby latched on right away and after he was done nursing I handed him back to my husband. This time the placenta came out easily and painlessly. It was interesting to look at and I checked it out to make sure it was complete. Everything seemed fine and I decided against keeping it. The original plan had been to put it in the fridge for a day or two in case we needed to have someone check it out.
I really wanted to cuddle with my baby, but I was a mess. During pushing I had pooped and with that and the blood my socks were ruined (which is all that I was wearing at this point) and my legs were really messy. I went to the bathroom and took a shower to clean up. Then I went to sit on our bed with plenty of pads under me and cuddled our new baby. During this time my husband cleaned up, which was really easy to do. He just rolled up the comforters and tarps and put it all in a trash bag. After he came back from the garbage we realized that the umbilical cord scissors got thrown away with the rest of the stuff. We boiled another pair of scissors in order to shorten the baby’s cord some more. We then used the clamp we had bought.
This birth experience was wonderful. My next baby is definitely going to be born this way as well. It was lovely to be able to decide what to do and when. My husband was wonderful. I think it would be difficult to have a baby without someone there. I didn’t have to worry about having things ready and looking at the time when our baby was born. He took care of all of that. And it was great to share this miracle with him and to have someone to talk to about it afterwards.
Our son Michael only weighed 7 lbs 10 oz, which seems awfully small considering the length of my pregnancy. And the due date was accurate, the ultrasound at 20 weeks had confirmed it (it was only one day off by measurements). I feel greatly vindicated that I waited and did not go to the hospital to get induced. Clearly he was not ready to be born. I feel bad for trying to make things happen sooner (I took castor oil a week earlier) and I am glad they did not.
Next time I will be so much more relaxed knowing that babies come when they are ready even if they have to cook a little longer. I probably also won’t tell anyone my due date since part of the problem was people asking constantly if I had the baby yet.
Author of "DIY Motherhood's Guide to Childbirth"
"My husband was wonderful. I think it would be difficult to have a baby without someone there. I didn’t have to worry about having things ready and looking at the time when our baby was born. He took care of all of that. And it was great to share this miracle with him and to have someone to talk to about it afterwards."
Your husband sounded really helpful and prepared as mine has always been, and I love that free birth makes fathers relevant in birth, since they truly do help the process along with their loving support in practical ways. Beautiful story, thank you for sharing.
Mine helped out a lot too, the biggest thing also being to reassure me and cleaning up. Have fun with your precious LO!
Wow!! Awesome story!! Thank you so much for sharing it with us!! I think you lucked out w/that size of baby at 43 weeks! I was expecting you to say he was much bigger than that!!