First things first: I’m not a “granola type”. But if you heard me talking at times…you might think otherwise. For example, I’ve convinced my husband that the terms local, grass-fed, organic and pastured need to be on our food. We even recently bought a hybrid car (wait…how did this happen??). All MY ideas. The idea of a home birth though…actually was my husband’s believe or not. He has someone in his family that had birthed 4 children at home and so it was far more “normal” to him than it was to me. I’m pretty sure I was extra scoffy at the idea. But I guess having that idea on the horizon led me to do some research. Plus, my husband dropped some line about respecting people who do things the hard way (he’s so Midwestern and WEIRD) or something like that so I started investigating.
I did a lot of investigating. And the good ol’ internet just leads you to so many resources that some topic can start to consume your life. We watched The Business of Being Born and learned about Ina May Gaskin and doulas and orgasmic births (uh, still, what??) and blah blah blah and one day I just decided that I was going to do a home birth. I read about what the naysayers had to say and learned about what the advocates had to say. I wasn’t convinced that home births were not safe if you are healthy, well-prepared and have qualifying attendants. I was convinced that I didn’t want to be in a hospital, have unnecessary interventions or pay some outrageous hospital bill. Well…I ended up with 2/3 of those. And if you keep on reading, you will find out how.
We had an excellent midwife. She is an RN, CNM, MSN who knows. her. stuff., and she made sure that we did everything we could to be prepared. We purchased the Hypnobabies home study course (my idea–figured it couldn’t hurt, hehe), attended Natural Child Birth classes, breastfeeding classes, bought books on midwifery and being a good birth partner, etc. If it sounds like a lot–it was. The one thing we weren’t prepared for (and how could you be?) was the marathon labor session that ensued.
It was around 12 am on April 16 that I started feeling contractions. I had downloaded an app on my phone to track the contractions because I was determined to not be the one that called the midwife too soon.
Well, that didn’t last long.
We called a few hours later because the contractions were quickly closer together than what we expected and I was thinking, Cool, I’m going to be one of those lucky ladies that has a quick birth. WRONG.
Our midwife told me to try get some rest (yeah, right) and that she would come over that afternoon to check me. The contractions had been like every 3-5 minutes up to that point so I thought I was progressing well. After 12-15 hours, I was checked: I was 1 cm dilated. ARE YOU KIDDING ME?
Eventually my labor became erratic. Hours went by and it was evening. That’s when our midwife called for back-up. A doula arrived that I had never met or heard of. Why did we not just hire a doula?? People are not exaggerating when they sing the praises of having a doula. Thanks to the horrible positions she made me get into (her fave involving the toilet seat), I finally got into “active labor” and measured at 4-5 cm which was still like, ARE YOU KIDDING ME, THAT’S IT?????
It was April 18th, and afternoon when the midwife started suggesting I go to the hospital because I wasn’t progressing enough and she figured my uterus just didn’t have any more to give. I begged her to let me keep trying. Uh, what is wrong with me? But that’s how bad I did not want to go the hospital. The doula couldn’t stay with us because she had other clients. My husband and I just kept trying the strategies we knew–he was an AMAZING “birth partner” and I don’t know how he didn’t develop carpal tunnel from all of the hip squeezing. But Hypnobabies?? Um, that pretty much never entered the picture, but maybe more on that in a different post.
So what was the problem? Why wasn’t I progressing? It was the dreaded first time mom, posterior labor.
But I can be as stubborn as a mule, even in labor apparently. Our midwife let me keep trying to get the labor going consistently again and then finally, FINALLY in the late evening, I was able to lie on my side and get my bag of waters to break with some pushing. Then I was fully dilated.
So why did I end up in the hospital?
Welp, baby girl passed meconium and the midwife, who has never, ever lost a baby basically forced us to go to the hospital at that point. She didn’t want to risk it. I was not happy but we hurriedly threw some stuff in a bag and off we went. No I did not have a hospital bag prepared, tsk.
The car ride was as horrible as you can imagine for someone that had been laboring for nearly 2 days and was 10 cm dilated. The hospital that we went to was a half hour drive away and I’m pretty sure I accused my husband of purposefully going over bumps in the road to make me hurt more. He also did not speed so that half hour drive was literally a half hour drive.
We quickly got a room, doctor came in and I expressed my annoyance at being at the hospital and no longer having control over my birth as if it were their fault that I had landed there! I knew about what they did at hospitals and I didn’t want any part of any of it. Doc tried to reassure me but of course I was hooked up to an IV, had that fetal heart rate monitor thing going, and was forced to remain stationery in a bed. Our midwife explained everything that had happened up to that point to the staff which was very helpful to me. Oh and did I mention when they checked me at that hospital, I was back down to 8 cm dilated?
After a couple of hours, I met Epidural and Pitocin. Fortunately, they kept the Pitocin on a very low dose. I was able to rest for a few hours because of the epidural. Both my husband and I had been awake that entire time, about 48 hours. Then, around 6 am on April 19th, our baby girl was born. The total birthing time from start to finish was about 54 hours.
I definitely learned a few things during this time:
- God answers prayers in the way that He sees fit. Even though I was praying praying praying that I wouldn’t have to go to the hospital, I still did have to. But instead of being gloomy about it, I should have recognized sooner that God was taking care of all of us and that we were blessed with the ultimate blessing: a super sweet healthy girl.
- Follow through with helpful advice! Like I mentioned earlier, we were educating ourselves like crazy! But that means nothing if you aren’t consistently practicing what you know may be helpful. Do your prenatal yoga ladies! Eat and drink right! Get those prenatal massages!
- Making sure that your husband is knowledgeable about the birthing process is H.U.G.E. My husband read a book called The Birth Partner and he made posters about each stage of labor. He knew about how to help me be as comfortable as I could during labor and I would not have lasted as long as I did without him.
- Even if you are super confident about your home birth (like we were), you still need to be prepared for a hospital birth. You may be thinking, well duh, but I really thought everything would be fine. I didn’t have that hospital bag packed and we hadn’t set any money aside to pay for a hospital bill. I didn’t even know anything about that hospital we went to. Fortunately, everything worked for us, but it would have been a little easier had we been prepared.
So, would I consider doing another home birth? Absolutely! Our midwife said that I would have ended up with a C-section more than likely had I not labored at home for so long. I liked being in my own home. She also said that it is typical of first time moms to have an experience like mine. I feel confident that the next time around, it will be a much better and EASIER journey.
Now that you have read about my experience, do you have any similar experiences to share? Any advice for me or first time moms considering a home birth? Let me know!