Pregnancy is a normal, natural process.
If you had told me five years ago that I would have a home birth I would have looked at you like a crazy person. My life journey it has led me down this path, from watching The Business of Being Born, being a yogi, and someone who strives to live a more natural lifestyle. The biggest selling point for me for home birth was freedom of movement. I am a yogi and in tuned with my body, the idea of being strapped on my back freaks me out.
When I first found out I was pregnant I went to my regular OBGYN for my first appointment. From that appointment I knew this guy was not going to be delivering my baby. He asked me how I was feeling and confirmed my pregnancy. I told him I had some nausea and inquired about the things I “could/couldn’t” do/eat. He basically made me feel stupid for asking then proceeded to give me three prescriptions. “Really”, I thought, I am pregnant - not sick. I picked up the prescriptions “just in case”, but I never took them.
The hunt for a midwife began.
I originally wanted to give birth at a birth center, but unfortunately, Las Vegas does not have a birth center facility. Though I had reservations about home birth, I decided to go that route and hire a qualified and experienced CPM.
I had low risk/normal pregnancy with some minor issues that ended up resolving themselves. I never got sick. I maintained low stress, calm and relaxed lifestyle. I practiced yoga and mediated daily, mindful of my diet, drank tons of water, and got regular massages.
My expected due date was April 20, 2014.
April 19 rolls around and I had been experiencing contractions all morning. I was sure that my little one would be arriving soon. April 20 came and went. I was so disappointed. I went to work that following anxiously awaiting his arrival. I ended up working that entire week.
Labor begins April 29, 2014.
I woke up around 4:00 a.m. to use the restroom when I noticed I lost my mucous plug. (Also referred as “bloody show”, it’s a mixture of blood and mucous which helps keep the baby sealed in your uterus). Hooray! I was so excited! I immediately told Sean, my other half, which he then instructs me to go back to bed. No way! I was way too excited.
5:00 p.m. rolls around…still no baby. Starting to feel upset and frustrated, I call Haley, my doula to come over for a reflexology session to help get things going. We go about the rest of our evening as normal with no sign of baby. Before bed, Sean suggests we try some nipple stimulation (because that is what good baby daddy’s do). After a few minutes in I had to tell him to stop because I was having an intense contraction. I couldn’t sleep after that I was way too uncomfortable. We decided to go downstairs and watch some television.
Baby arrives April 30, 2014
After about an hour of contractions and poor Sean falling asleep on the couch, I felt like things were starting to get real. I texted Haley to come over. Haley arrived at about 1:30 a.m. giving Sean and I some needed support. By that time I decided to get in the shower for some relief. Sean gets in the shower with me allowing me to rest my body against his. After showering, I didn’t have the energy to walk down stairs where I was planning to give birth. I put my robe on and continue to labor sitting upright on my bed. My contractions start getting stronger and closer together. I get up to use the restroom and end up throwing up all over. My doula calls my midwife *Elizabeth to send over her assistant. *Clara, the midwife's assistant arrived at 4:30 a.m. to observe my progress.
4:45 a.m. my water broke. At that time Clara tells me that my contractions are going to start getting more intense. This freaks me out a little bit. I was starting to feel envious of all those planned c-section moms. I asked Clara if it was safe for me to take a bath since my water had broken. She looked at me and gently says, “Your vagina is not a vacuum.” Touche.
The change of scenery was nice, but I could not get comfortable in the bathtub. During that time the tub lady had arrived to get things setup. I make my way downstairs and continue laboring standing up in my living room. Once the birthing tub was setup, I got in and immediately laid my head against the railing. I had observed that Elizabeth had arrived. I don’t remember her coming in but I knew she was there. At that point I was beyond tired and I wanted to get this baby out and sleep. The dogs where running around the tub and driving me crazy. I couldn’t focus on this process going on with my body. I had pleaded to get the dogs out of the room.
Elizabeth had then suggested I try squatting in the tub. I tried the change of position but I was too tired to hold the squat. Even though I squat all the time in yoga, it made me feel a bit scared. I was afraid my vagina was going to bust open. (It never did.) I had tried laboring in the restroom but I couldn’t get the urge to bear down and push. I needed guidance. With all the restroom breaks I had, I don’t remember actually peeing once. I come back to the living room and it setup for me to start pushing on the floor.
I start pushing on my side since my baby’s head is not quite facing all the way down but rather sideways. At one point Elizabeth tells me to stick my fingers and feel my baby’s head. I refuse which confuses everyone. I have this phobia of touching my insides because of my nails – I don’t want to scratch myself. I push for two hours on my side and my back. I start feeling frustrated and feeling like I am never going to get this baby out of me. Elizabeth then tells me, “You have to get mad.” So I get mad.
Finally I start feeling him crowning. It scares me a little bit. Elizabeth was generous with the olive oil to help prevent tearing. I had asked her to help me when I make that final head push which she applied pressure. (I thank the Goddess everyday for that.) I never experienced that ring of fire feeling. I felt intense stretching feeling and feeling like I am going to lose my clitoris and pee hole. (I didn’t lose it.) Once I got his head out and I could feel him hanging out there. At that point I was determined to get the rest of him our right away. It was all smooth sailing from there. Elizabeth put him on my chest and let him pulsate on the cord. He was crying, covered in cheese, and perfect.
After over eleven and half hours of labors, two of those hours of pushing - I am exhausted and starving. My first post labor meal was a big bowl of oatmeal. I ate like a wild animal and then threw up immediately after. I spend the rest of the day glued to my couch admiring my new little person.
About home birth.
I am not going to sugarcoat it – home birth is no walk in the park. From beginning to end - women who choose home birth do not walk into it lightly. (It freaks half the people know you out). You end up learning a lot about the birthing process so if you’re not into knowing all the details, this might not be the right choice for you.
People have this image of childbirth as “Oh my god, my water is breaking”, lots of screaming and chaos. This is far from my birth. I learned that birth very quietly. My midwife commented that this was one of the quietest births she had been to in a long time. I only made noise toward the end because she told me to. (I am an internal processor so this makes sense). I thought I wouldn’t be comfortable on my back, but I ended up preferring to push on my back. I knew everyone at my birth – no strangers or people I just met.
Giving birth was the biggest physical workout of my life. Did it hurt? Sure it did. It was uncomfortable but not unbearable. I think there are things in life much more painful than childbirth and recovery. Car accidents with airbags, teenage love, tonsillitis was also pretty shitty. Then end result of it all is nothing but pure love.
*Names have been changed to protect identify of birth professionals.