NatureAmy

caring for creation while caring for family

Tag: home birth

My Fourth Birth Story: Our Accidental Unassisted Home Birth (Part 2)

If you missed my previous post on the details leading up to labor, be sure to read up here.  This is the rest of the story…

It was 5 AM and I lay in bed, realizing that I was having consistent contractions that were starting to hurt.  They were not too long, yet, but they were low in the front of my abdomen and felt like painful menstrual cramps.  And they came every few minutes.

“Hmmm…” I thought to myself. “This feels real – like I’m going to have this baby today…” and I started to think of all I had planned for the day and how much I could get done before I got to intense labor…  I continued to think about that until 5:45, when I finally got up to go the the bathroom and realized that my underwear and pants were a little too wet.

Had my water broke?  Nothing was actively leaking, but unless I peed my pants without realizing it, my water seemed to be broken.  I also had bloody show.  So… I got up, got dressed, and proceeded to make some breakfast before my husband, Mike, left for work.

Things were rapidly getting stronger and I had to dance around and sing through my contractions that were coming in waves with less than a minute off between them.  But I had always taken so long in labor with my others, that I really didn’t think that baby would come too soon.  Still, at 6:30 am I called one of my home birth midwives, Cindy, to let her know I was in active labor.

“Should I come now?  Or should I wait?” she wanted to know, but I was indecisive.  I kept thinking of the hours I spent in active labor with my others, so she decided that I should lay down for a bit and see how things were in 30 or 45 minutes.

I did know that my husband should NOT leave for work, though, so I told him he had to stay home.  He believed me (unlike my 3rd labor – LOL – read that story here) and started to send out emails to his students and colleagues letting them know he would not be coming in that day.

I decided that a bath would be relaxing, so I ran a hot bath.  The night before I had turned the water heater to high so that we could practice filling up the birth tub the next day.  But still thinking I was hours away from birth, I only got into the regular bathtub.  My contractions were so low down in my abdomen still that the hot water covered the most painful part and felt very good.

I knew 30 minutes had passed when my kids got up at 7 am, like clockwork.  I let them know that they were going to have a baby that day.  My oldest, Clayton was nervous about it. My second, Micah, was super excited and started dancing around the house.  Our youngest, Addamay, really didn’t know what to expect…

At that point, I felt like the intensity of labor was ramping up even more.  I knew the midwives needed to be on their way. It was 7:10 am when I called Cindy back and told her to come.  She had gotten ready and was waiting to hear back from me.

“Okay,” she said. “I’m on my way.”  No questions asked, which was nice, because I couldn’t talk much at that point.

I called my mom next, only to discover that she was snowed in (she lives over the mountain from us).  She wouldn’t be able to come for hours until the roads were open.

My brain raced with all the things I was planning to do that day, and what I wanted to do before the baby arrived.  Should I call a friend to come get the kids?  Should I call my photographer friend who wanted to take pictures?  Should I call the kids school to let them know they would be missing their home school classes that morning?

All of these things flew through my head, along with everything we still needed to prep before the baby arrived, but they all flew out of my head quickly.  I was way past the point of calling people and arranging anything at that point!

I curled up in a ball on the floor, letting the contractions roll over me, one after another , after another.  I could barely catch my breath before the next one hit.  I pictured ocean waves and boogie-boarding at the ocean (the closest I’ve ever come to surfing).  The water crashing over me and the pull of it down, and the slight panic of wondering if you will ever make it to the surface again before resurfacing, and the water rushing back out again.  I remembered Ina May Gaskin, the famous midwife’s,  description of rushes and waves for contractions and focused on riding each one out.

I know that my husband knew that baby was coming today, but like me, he had a hard time believing it would come quickly.  These things take time… but apparently NOT fourth babies… When he saw me in fetal position on the floor of our room, he knew we were getting really close.  I had to be in transition and he recognized the signs.  Mike was rushing around trying to get things ready for baby’s eminent arrival.

I was giving him the instructions of how to cover the bed with a sheet, a plastic shower curtain, and another clean sheet.  He made sure our oldest was getting breakfast for his siblings and they were all watching Netflix in the living room.

Next he hooked up the hose to the hot water spigot behind our washer machine and started to fill up the birthing tub.  It holds 150 gallons of water and we were told that we would likely have to fill it up with one hot water heater’s worth of water, then wait as the heater filled up again before adding more water.  Thankfully we have a pretty big hot water heater.  After 1 tanks worth of very hot water, and then letting the cold water continue to fill up the tub so it was not too hot, the tub was about 2/3 full.

At about 7:45, I moved from the floor to the bathroom and labored on the toilet briefly until the tub was ready.  At this point, the contractions were not any more intense than they had been on the floor, but I wasn’t sure how much more I could take.  Wave after intense wave hit me with barely a chance to breathe before the next one.

“Please God,” I remember praying desperately.  “Please let this baby come soon.”  I didn’t realize how quickly He would answer that prayer!

“It’s ready,” Mike said from where the tub was outside the bathroom door.

Taking advantage of a quick break between contractions, I got in the tub, stripping down to just my bra.

Oh, wow, that water felt amazing.  The heat brought instant relief.  It also brought the longest break between contractions that I’d had in over an hour. This longer break often occurs when labor switches from the end of transition (fully dilated at 10 cm) to the pushing stage.  When the next contraction hit, not only did I feel like I finally had a chance to catch my breath, but I also I felt the urge to push.

At this point it was almost 8 am.  I knew the midwives would be here very, very soon.  I also knew that I had never pushed for less than 20 minutes.  It seemed safe to just go with the flow and start pushing.  Surely the midwives would arrive before baby made it out!

So I pushed once. It felt so good, but I figured I should tell my husband, who was right there with me, that I was pushing.

“Are you at 10?  Should I check you?”  Not that he knows what 10 cm feels like or what he should be feeling for, but he put his hand down to see if he could feel anything.

“Uh, Amy,” he said, kind of in shock. “That’s a head.”

I knew that was the head, but it wasn’t crowning yet.  It could still take some time.

However, with the next push I could feel the baby move down, start to crown, and as I put my hand down, the head popped out.  My husband’s hand was right there with me.

“The head’s out,” he said, sounding apprehensive.  “Push the rest out.”

So I pushed and he lifted the baby out of the water and onto my chest.  The baby gave a quick cry – Thank you, God – but then stopped.

“The cords around the neck,” my husband noticed before I did and quickly unwrapped the cord and the baby cried again.  The crisis averted, I took that time to move the cord from between the legs to see-

“It’s a girl!” I cried, absolutely overcome with joy.  We wanted another girl – a sister for Addamay.  As if on cue, Addamay came into the room.  She had heard the baby cry and came in to see what was going on.

Our baby, Bethany, was slightly purple, but started to turn red.  She was still very quiet and Mike was concerned she couldn’t breath.  Neither of us was sure what to do next, but I knew that since she had cried, she must be breathing.  But why wasn’t she making any more noise?

At this point, only about 1 minute after Bethany’s arrival, Cindy, the first of the midwives to arrive, entered the room.  The look on her face was priceless.  She expected to see us laboring in the tub, but instead saw me with a newborn in my arms.

“Oh!” she said, surprised.

“She’s here…” I said.

“She?” Cindy asked.

“Yep, it’s a girl.”

Cindy came to the tub and checked her out.  Everything was perfect and she was breathing fine.

The boys were still in the other room, mesmerized by a show on Netflix, so we called them in.

“Come meet your baby sister” Mike said.

“A sister?”

“Yes. This is,… Bethany?”  I looked over at Mike to make sure he had not changed his mind.  He nodded.

“This is Bethany.”

And it was perfect.  We were surrounded by our three older children, gazing at this perfect baby girl in my arms.  Covered in vernix and still attached to her thick long umbilical cord.  Her little eyes squeezed tightly shut.  She was tiny, but chubby.  She was everything we ever dreamed…  She was our rainbow baby, born right there in our bedroom.

I stayed in the tub to deliver the placenta.  I kept thinking that I wanted to keep all the mess confined to the tub.  That worked perfectly.  Afterwards, we moved to the bed – my soft and cozy bed!  That was amazing!

babysis

Bonding with Bethany

No hospital gowns, no IVs, no needles.  No constantly monitoring the baby or being poked and prodded.  No strange nurses coming in and out at all hours.

Our midwives were there, but by then they were like family.  They busied themselves cleaning up and doing everything that they needed to do.  Our family was able to cuddle on the bed and bond with sweet Bethany. I am convinced that home birth is exactly the way to go and I am so glad we decided to switch in the last trimester.

Because of her very fast arrival, and the fact that it was only my husband and I, we did not get any pictures of the birth, or even soon afterward.  We did take some pictures when the midwives were there, but due to a faulty SD card, those did not make it.  These pictures taken 1 or 2 hours after her arrival are the youngest we have, but they will have to do!

All four kids enjoying getting to know one another!

All four kids enjoying getting to know one another!

I am beyond thankful for our little girl and her fast and safe entrance into the world.  From the first contraction at 5 am to her entrance at 8 am, she beat her siblings records by well over 13 hours!  Two of those hours were painful, but only 45 minutes were what I would call intense.  I am so very thankful we were home and NOT on the road to the hospital!

Big sister Addamay is already smitten. In typical 2-year-old fashion, she has claimed the baby as hers and does not want to share...

Big sister Addamay is already smitten. In typical 2-year-old fashion, she has claimed the baby as hers and does not want to share…

She has already become a wonderful addition to our family and we could not imagine life without her!

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Leading up to my Fourth Birth Story… (or Part 1)

I know that you’ve been waiting to hear the full story of baby Bethany’s fast entrance into the world, but the story, it turns out, is not so fast.  So, I’m writing it in two parts.  The days leading up to labor starting and then, of course, the birth itself.  So, here goes…

I’ve never had fast labors.  At 48 hours, 22 hours, and 16 hours, none of my labors could count as short, although the 16 hour labor felt like a breeze compared to the others!  I really don’t mind longer labors, as long as the super intense part (transition) is not too long.  It gives me time to mentally prepare myself for the arrival of our little one and get the hang of riding out the contractions as they slowly intensify from uncomfortable, to painful, to intense.  You can read about my first, second, and third birth stories here.)

From the beginning of this pregnancy, I just had a feeling that this little one would come early.  And when I was already 3 cm dilated at 35 weeks and lost my mucous plug at 36 weeks, I was starting to get nervous that he or she might come too early!  I was also concerned that when the baby did decide to come, I would  already be dilated 5 or 6 cm and labor would be too quick for anyone to get here in time!  My husband works 35 minutes away and the midwives were 50 minutes away…

At 338 weeks, getting ready for a last date night before baby comes!

At 38 weeks, getting ready for a last date night before baby comes!

I made it through weeks 36 and 37 without going into labor (I was told I should “take it easy” for week 36, which is a very hard thing for me to do).  But once I hit 38 weeks, I was ready to be done.  I had early labor consistently all day the day I turned 38 weeks, but then my contractions stopped and only came sporadically the next few days.

Thai food and finally deciding on names for this little one. We decided on a girl name, but were still having trouble with the boy name...

Thai food and finally deciding on names for this little one. We decided on a girl name, but were still having trouble with the boy name…

On Monday, I was 38 weeks 3 days and I was exhausted.  I thought I was exhausted before then, but apparently I wasn’t…  I hit a wall, especially emotionally, and I was on the verge of tears all day for no reason at all.  I pushed through homeschool with the boys and was ready for a nap by 10 am.  Somehow I made it through the day, by the grace of God…

I recognized the emotional state I was in because I’ve been there 3 times before, always within 24 hours of going into labor.  So I wondered if, and hoped that, I would go into labor that night…

Like the many nights before, I had sporadic contractions through the night, enough to disrupt my sleep, but nothing “real”.  The next day, Tuesday morning, nothing had changed.  I was still exhausted and emotionally at my wit’s end.  Again I pushed through school and took a brief nap before loading all the kids up to head to my midwife appointment that afternoon.

The birthing tub (or water trough) all ready in our room. The kids thought this was a great new play thing!

The birthing tub (or water trough) all ready in our room. The kids thought this was a great new play thing!

Cindy and Kathy, my very experienced midwives, listened to me talk about how emotionally and physically I was just done.  They encouraged me that my emotional state was indeed a very good sign that my hormones were gearing up for labor.  I felt validated and encouraged (and not like I was just going crazy, which is what I suspected) after spending an  hour with them.

They checked me, only because I was curious what had changed in the last 3 weeks since they had last checked me.  And, surprisingly, not much had changed.  I was now 3.5 to 4 cm dilated and about 90% effaced, but nothing drastic.  I was more relieved than frustrated about that – I didn’t want to go into labor too far along because of my fears of not having someone there with me.

I took the kids grocery shopping on the way home.  We, of course, got lots of questions about when I was due, to which I replied, “Whenever baby wants to show up!” I loaded up on plenty of snack food and frozen food to make feeding the kids easier in post-partum – the kids were surprised and thrilled!  They never get food like that at our house, so it’s a special treat. And to top off the terrible food, I bought frozen Orange Chicken for dinner.

That night, I had more energy than I had in several nights.  I cleaned up the living room and kitchen, even sweeping the floor.  I had a good talk with my husband and we went to bed about 10.  Unlike the previous nights, I slept like a log until five AM when my husband’s alarm went off to get up for work.

That’s when things started to get exciting, but this post is getting awfully long already, so you will have to continue reading Part 2 for the rest of the story…

 

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Why We’re Switching to a Home Birth

In my last pregnancy update, I hinted at a big change in our birth plan coming up.  As you can see from the title, we’ve decided to switch from a hospital birth to a home birth.

I have always wanted a home birth with a midwife.  My mother had four of her five kids at home with a doctor or midwife.  I was her first home birth and I love the pictures of her and my dad and newborn me snuggled up on the bed, cozy and comfortable at home.

I’m a homebody, an introvert, and I hate hospitals.  With my three previous hospital births, I have always requested an early release and have checked out of the hospital about 12 hours after giving birth each time.  I just want to be home, in my own bed, being cared for by my mom.  No nurses coming in at all hours.  No loud sounds from the hospital coming through the walls.  No uncomfortable hospital beds.  I want to be home.

I love my bedroom - it's bright and cheery, uncluttered, and it makes me happy. I can't imagine a better place to give birth!

I love my bedroom – it’s bright and cheery, uncluttered, and it makes me happy. (This post was a perfect opportunity for a mini-tour!) I can’t imagine a better place to give birth!

I also love the relationships that you get with a midwife.  I’ve had midwives for my last two hospital births and they were both great.  However, I delivered with a midwife group, so there was very little, if any, prior interaction with my midwives.  My mom developed a wonderful friendship with the midwife that delivered my little sisters. I crave that.

My husband and I had discussed paying out of pocket for a home birth before we knew we were expecting this little one.  He was completely supportive of the idea. However, I felt somewhat selfish and guilty for spending all that money on what I wanted.  We could use that money to help pay off our school debt faster. We could use that money for a family trip to Disneyland.  I knew what I wanted, but I couldn’t get over feeling selfish about it.

I love my poppy print!

I love my poppy print!


My husband has good insurance coverage with his work and we are very blessed by the generosity of his employer, but we are limited to one insurance group and hospital.  (Not the hospital based birth center that I’ve delivered my last 2 kids in – which I loved.) I’ve been happy with my care and our family doctors, however, I have had many friends deliver at the hospital we have to use, and I know that it is NOT my ideal birth environment.

I’ve had a friend who has had two of her births at that hospital all-naturally, so I was encouraged that it was, indeed, possible.  She had to fight a bit and sign some liability forms, but she was able to get the natural birth she wanted.  So, I was prepared to fight to make the situation work.

However, a couple weeks ago, I decided to call to make sure that everything we thought was covered by our insurance plan (which said it covered all prenatal appointments, etc.) was actually covered.  I learned that although all my appointments, labs, tests, etc were completely covered by our insurance before meeting our high deductible, the actual birth was not.  We would have to pay our full deductible before they would cover the rest of our labor, delivery, and hospital fees.  So, I learned, that it would actually be significantly cheaper for us to pay out of pocket for a home birth instead of using the hospital.

I was really excited! The search for a midwife started immediately!

I love this verse from Song of Solomen 8:6

I love this verse from Song of Solomon 8:6

We live in a more rural area, so finding a midwife that delivers here, even when only a couple months pregnant, can be a challenge.  But I had the additional challenge of finding a midwife that delivered locally AND had availability in just TWO short months!  After making a lot of calls, I finally found a midwife team who could take me.  I set up a meeting with them the following week.

Before the meeting, I prayed that God would give me a feeling of peace if this was the right place for me.  In previous pregnancies, I’ve met with providers before that I was not comfortable with.  I couldn’t tell you why, but I had an uneasy feeling after our meetings.  I didn’t want that to be the case with this meeting, but I prayed for God to make it abundantly clear to me.  And it was.

The two midwives work together, are licensed and certified, of course, and have birthed over 1000 babies between them.  The meeting was relaxing and peaceful.  Addamay played happily and I talked about my previous births and why I wanted a home birth.  I felt comfortable and at complete peace with the situation.


Now it’s time to get serious!  In the next few weeks I’ll be ordering the supplies for my home birth kit, picking up one of the birthing tubs that they provide for their clients, and generally getting everything ready for our birth!

I'm planning to make my bedroom prayer corner my birth place. The table and chair will move temporarily to make room for the birthing tub.

I’m planning to make my bedroom prayer corner my birth place. The table and chair will move temporarily to make room for the birthing tub.

I’ve had friends tell me I’m brave for not having the option of pain relief during labor, but really I’m not worried about it at all.

God created women to give birth.  It is completely natural and something that women have been doing since the beginning.  I’ve given birth completely drug free twice already and my third birth was my easiest yet.

Of course, some women have high risk pregnancies and really should give birth in a hospital setting.  I, thankfully, do not fall into this category.  I have very easy pregnancies and somewhat easy births (not counting the useless interventions in my first birth).  I don’t think any birth is exactly “easy”.

I am not afraid of not having an epidural.  I’ve given birth with an epidural and without – I much prefer doing it without – but, that is a post for another day…


So – that’s our big news!  I’m so excited that I’ll be finally getting the home birth I’ve always wanted!

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