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!