Friday, October 19, 2012

Piper’s Birth Story

I had been carrying the baby very low for a couple of months already, but Monday evening, she seemed to drop even lower. I felt a lot of pressure in my pelvis and my lower back. I did some pelvic rocks and sat on the birth ball and rocked my hips back and forth through an episode of Downton Abbey, but the sensation never let up. It wasn’t painful, but it felt like a point of no return. I knew the baby would come that night.
I went to bed around 10, but was wide awake. I listened to a couple Hypnobabies tracks, but still couldn’t fall asleep. I got up at midnight to get something to eat and check the phones.

[The day before there was some yet-to-be-explained outage and all the landlines and cell phones and cable internet services stopped working. Our internet still worked since we have broadband over our power line, but we had no idea if my midwife had phone service. If needed, our plan was to send her a text via internet and hope she had cell service in her area (she lives about 25 minutes away) so she could receive it. If she didn’t respond, my mom would drive to her house to let her know I was in labor.]

At midnight, the phones still weren’t working, but I wasn’t in labor yet, so I wasn’t worried. I might have slept a few minutes here and there between 12 and 2. By 2, I was having an argument with myself. Part of me was so excited that tonight was the night, but the other part of me was still not convinced and was just annoyed that I wouldn’t go to sleep.

By 2:45, I was definitely feeling crampy in my lower abdomen in addition to the pressure in my pelvis. I started watching the clock and noticed the cramps seemed to spike every 11 minutes, although they never fully went away in between. At 3:15, the phones started working again. Sometime during the next hour, I told Jared to send Bernice (the midwife) a text to give her a heads up, although I figured I still had a long way to go. Close to 5:00 AM, I asked Jared if Bernice responded and he said he never texted her. I told him contractions were now 6 minutes apart, so he should skip the text and go ahead and call. Right about the time he called her, contractions sped up to 3 minutes apart, then 2 minutes. They were only about 30 seconds long and were still quite manageable, but I was surprised at how close together they were. I had been lying down in bed with a hot rice pack on my stomach most of this time, but now I had to get up. I went to the living room and leaned over on the birth ball for the next hour. I listened to Hypnobabies on my ipod and zoned everything else out. I focused on counting up to 4 with every inhale and backwards from 8 with every exhale.

Bernice arrived sometime after 5:30 and her assistant, Boo, arrived just after 6:00. Around 6:10 or so, I got into the deep kiddie pool we had bought for the birth and set up in our living room. The water wasn’t quite deep enough (word to the wise: those pools take forever to fill up), but it was enough to cover my stomach while I leaned over the edge onto an ottoman. Jared poured warm water over my back, which really helped, too. Immediately after getting in the pool, I noticed the contractions change to pushing contractions. I couldn’t believe I was really that close to pushing, but there was no denying that my body was starting to push involuntarily. Then I heard Bernice say that I’d need to take off my “undies” because I’d start pushing soon. I hadn’t told anyone that my contractions were changing, but she obviously noticed and it felt so good to have confirmation from her that it was nearly go-time.

My contractions still weren’t much longer than 30 seconds (I never actually timed them, but that’s my estimate) so I really only had time to get in one long push with each contraction. I was listening to the Hypnobabies track called “Pushing Baby Out” and I tried to just do what my body told me to do. I took a deep breath at the beginning of each contraction and said “Ohhhhh” as I breathed out. A couple of times I felt like I couldn’t catch my breath and had to gasp for the next inhale, but most of the time, I felt in control. Once, I almost yelled out “I don’t want to do this anymore” but I told myself to stay in control and instead I asked “how close am I?” Bernice said she couldn’t tell from her angle and told me to reach down during the next contraction and see if I could feel the baby’s head. I did and I felt a huge bulge.

During one of the next contractions, I remember saying “it really stings” and feeling like I was going to rip all the way up my belly button. But soon enough, her head was out. The baby’s hand had been up by her face (just like Libby’s had been when she was born), so Bernice worked to get her hand out of the way while I waited for the next contraction. Two minutes later, at 6:51 AM, the rest of her body was out and Bernice swam the baby under my body towards my stomach and I picked her up out of the water. I turned over and sat down and immediately thought “I am so glad that’s over.”  I stayed in the pool until the placenta was out and we cut the cord. I had planned on cutting the cord myself, but I was so tired that holding a pair of scissors just seemed like too big an effort at that point. I did feel the cord while it was still pulsing, and that was cool, but I asked Jared to cut the cord.

I moved to the couch and held the baby skin to skin. She nursed for a while and then Bernice checked the baby out while I was still holding her. We put the baby in a sling and attached a hanging scale. Jared had the honors of picking up the scale and calling out the weight: 7 lbs 12 oz. She was 20 inches long. Her Apgar scores were 9 and 10 – super healthy!

The midwife and her assistant stayed at my house until about 9:45. They cleaned up, put the dirty laundry in the washer, and helped Jared empty the pool. He and I were both surprised and pleased with how easy the cleanup was. Having a baby at home is really not as messy as you might think. It all went so smoothly and we have no regrets.

For those that are curious what happened to the placenta (I know I was beforehand), Bernice took the placenta to donate to some people she knows who use them to train search and rescue dogs. I find this insanely cool.

I'd love to answer any questions people have about homebirth! It was awesome and while it may not be for everyone, I want people to know it's not as scary as you might think. I LOVED being at home for the birth and especially these few days afterwards. I have been recovering so much faster than I did with Libby. And there's nothing like sleeping in your own bed and having access to your own fridge. Anyway, ask away if you have any random questions!


  1. Way to go, Mama! We should talk when things settle down for you you. I am VERY curious about home birth. Thanks for sharing your story. I delivered both our babies naturally in a hospital and have concluded that with the next baby I want a midwife. Anyway, despite the weird faces I get from friends and family I have also been very interested in home delivery. You provided some great insights. Thanks. When I know the questions to ask, then I'll ask you. Still have some time to read, talk, and ponder since we aren't even pregnant yet. Again, beautiful story, Jenn and congratulations!!

  2. I am so PROUD OF YOU! I'm actually mostly curious as to what and why made you choose to go with a homebirth and a midwife? I think that in the future that's the way I'll go... The more I read about it, the more... natural it seems. And comfortable! Unless, of course there are circumstances that would really warrant a hospital. But having a baby is not an illness, it's part of nature, right? :) Anyway, congrats to you, Jared and Libby :)
    On a coincidence note, SaraJean and Mike Newton had their second baby girl this week also. SO COOL!

  3. thanks for sharing. my random question is how do you fill up and empty the pool? bring in the hose from outside? (no, that would be freezing) Haul buckets from the sink?

  4. I love that we had our second babies so close together. My own second birth is so much fresher in my memory.

    I do not think I'd ever do a home birth, especially since both my babies have had to go be observed right after being born. (Felix was even put on a CPAP machine for an hour or so.) But, I do think next time I'll try to find a midwife again. I liked that experience so much better, and I felt like I knew her really well.

    I also *might* do a natural delivery next time. Maybe. I've often said that if I could guarantee that everything would go really fast, then I'd probably be willing to try it. Felix's birth was super fast, and it would have been faster if (a) the epidural had not slowed things down a bit and (b) the doctor had felt a more urgent need to be in the room. Since I had the epidural, I'm sure he kind of felt like he could just deliver more on his own terms instead of doing what my body said. (That being said, I didn't dislike the doctor who delivered Felix; I just won't be going with the same practice next time. Unless I end up being really, really, really lazy and go to them again by default.)

  5. AND because my comment wasn't long enough.

    Can I just second the idea of being in your own home? I was ready to leave after being in the hospital for one night, and my doctor gave me the go-ahead, but Felix's doctor wanted to keep him in for one more night to keep an eye on him. I was so ready to get home to my own bed and own food. Okay, the end for real.

  6. You are amazing! What a story! Great job, and Piper is beautiful.

  7. Is BOO the other lady's name or are you just calling her by her sweatshirt? hahaha.

    Ah. This story makes my insides hurt but from your wording I'd say this time wasn't as painful as the last? Maybe next time Jared will feel ready to C-Jane it. (joke. this is a joke.)

  8. By the way I read recently that birthing a baby is the second most painful thing you can do. The first is being burned alive. So...

  9. Congratulations Jenn! You are one brave woman. I just couldn't do it. And Kyle certainly wouldn't manage. I loved my epidural in the hospital with Hailey. But I'm pretty much a whimp. I definitely applaud you for the home birth and I'm glad you had such a great experience! It would be so nice to be in your own home immediately after the birth. So much more comfortable!

  10. Sounds like a "great" experience. I feel funny saying great --because it was obviously very painful too. But I'm so happy that everything went so well--and quickly!! Beautiful. So proud of you. Way to go Jenn.

  11. A friend in my ward has had all 4 of her babies at home, and she just loves it. There are so many great perks. I think it sounds pretty sweet, but my hubby would never go for it :) Congrats, and what a beautiful baby you have!

  12. Vanessa, to answer your question about the pool: We bought a drinking water hose (like one you'd use for an RV, though a brand new clean garden hose would work, too) and hooked it up to our kitchen sink using a waterbed fill & drain kit. We also boiled water on the stove in case we ran out of hot water. The nice thing about using the waterbed kit is that it pumps the water out of the pool when you're finished, too. We just ran the hose outside and drained the water into our front yard. Jared said it was surprisingly easy to drain the pool. Once it was drained, he just rinsed it out with the hose and sprayed some disinfectant on it...good as new!

  13. Lalis, your question deserves its own post!