Eric's Birth Story
When I found out we were expecting our first baby, I knew I wanted a midwife who had a lot of experience and would do everything in her power to make it a safe and sucessful homebirth. We me with Faith and were impressed with her wealth of experience and levelheadedness.
I also appreciated Faith's emphasis and encouragement on health and nutrition. I worked very hard to eat healthy throughout my pregnancy (avoiding most sugar, and eating lots of protein and taking vitamins), drank a lot of Raspberry Leaf Tea, and made sure to do squats every night before I went to bed (along with some other exercises).
For the seventh and eighth month of my pregnancy, we traveled 30 out of 60 days (for my husband's work), and when we got home from our last trip one month before my due date, I was SO GLAD to be home.
My plan for the next month was to set up the nursery, have a baby shower, and of course focus on exercise and nutrition!
I started out that week with no contractions or anything abnormal. Faith and her girls came Thursday for the home visit. I was 36 1/2 weeks, and the baby was healthy. But around midnight that night, I felt a gush of water. I called Faith, she told me to use the swab from my birth kit, and sure enough, it was amniotic fluid. My water had broken! My husband, John-Clay, and I were kind of in shock but ate a snack, and went to bed to try and get some rest before labor set in.
I woke up around 4am with contractions (felt like light menstrual cramps). I sat in bed (laying when I am cramping always makes me feel worse) and timed them, napping in between. They were 10-14 minutes apart and 60-90 seconds long. Around 5:30, they were under ten minutes apart but not consistent.
It was starting to sink in that we were going to have a baby, 3 1/2 weeks early! The contractions continued throughout the morning, and I sat on the couch, dozing in between.
Around noon, there was over an hour break between contractions. I was nervous because I wasn't sure if my body was ready to have the baby, but Faith assured me that the baby should come now, since my water had broken. We decided if it didn't pick up, I would take herbs to move labor along. I tried squats, which helped, but I only had contractions when I was in the squatting position. Eventually, my contractions did kick back in, but they were not getting closer together and still weren't consistent.
I started taking the herbs (mixed in water) every 15 minutes for three hours - I was feeling waterlogged! At 7:30pm, I had a really hard contraction and threw up everything. I was covered and so was the floor, so I got in the shower to clean up.
The contractions were quite uncomfortable so I didn't get out of the shower because the heat was masking some of the pain. I eventually moved to hands and knees with my arms around the birth ball. For the most part, my contractions had been in front, but now my back ached constantly, and when the contractions came, they wrapped all the way around. After about an hour, we turned the shower off and instead John-Clay laid a ziplock filled with hot water across my back.
During the contractions (still a few minutes apart, I was extrememly uncomfortable and
I wanted to moan through them, but tried taking deep breaths instead. I had the urge to poop, and wondered if I was feeling "push-y". Faith kept texting and saying that these were good signs and I was progressing. I felt like, "Faith needs to get here. If I had to guess, I'm thinking this might be getting close to the end of active labor!"
It seemed like she would never get here, and I was working hard to breathe through contractions. The minutes literally DRAGGED by. My husband kept updating me on how long until Faith arrived, but it seemed to take FOREVER. These contractions were really hard and painful.
Around 9:15pm, Faith and her assistants showed up and Faith came into the bathroom. The contractions were very painful and I was moaning/attempting to breathe through them. I really wanted to know if I was progressing or still had a long way to go, so after a few more contractions, I got out of the shower and she checked me.
"Your cervix is almost gone." I asked her for numbers and she said, "9-9 1/2 cm." That was a VERY happy moment! I had made it through transistion! No wonder those last contractions were so hard!
Around 10pm, I got in the birth pool and it felt so good to be immersed in the hot water. I expected to only push a few times and we would have a baby. But not so!
Faith explained how to push through the contractions. For a while, I kept my eyes closed, trying to concentrate. My husband was right next to the pool encouraging me, and Faith was on the other side, watching the progress and checking the baby's heartbeat. She said I was
pushing well, but progress seemed slow. By now, my contractions had slowed down, shortened, and were less intense. We started trying different positions. At one point, during a break, I opened my eyes. I was really impressed by the assistants - so quiet, yet atentive to whatever needs they could meet. I drank water and ate a few bites of yogurt as John-Clay wiped my forehead with a cool cloth.
I was really frustrated because I didn't want it to take this long. Finally Faith said, "I can see the head! Do you want to see it?" I said no, and then yes. It was there, but still very much INSIDE. I grunted through pushes, thinking that might help. Faith encouraged me to hold my breath and put all that energy into the push. We realized that I was having trouble making progress because of the lack of long/intense contractions. I could hardly get two pushes per contractions. Discouraged, I thought, "I wouldn't have to tell them I'm having a contractions and could just rest through some of these." But I wanted to finish labor, so I knew I better not! Part of me just feared that this would never end.
This was definitely the hardest part of my labor, but I was so grateful that my team was patient and encouraged me to keep working. The baby was doing fine, and we just had to give my body time. After the birth, I ended up with very little tearing and I attribute much of that to Faith's willingness to work at my body's pace.
Between contractions I verbalized my fears/frustrations to Faith, and she did a wonderful job explaining what was happening. "You're baby's head is molding to fit through your pelvis, and we don't want to force it." John-Clay was very calm and supportive, reaffirming Faith's explanations and reminding me that my body was made to do this. I had the perfect birth team!
Finally, Faith said, "well, it's almost midnight, do you think we will have this baby before then?" I was encouraged to realize that I had less than 30 minutes to go. I was so close, but wasn't continuing to make progress, so I moved out of the pool onto the birth stool. Faith placed the mirror so I could see the head. I was tired, but I wanted my baby! I started pushing, even when I wasn't feeling much of a contractions.
After a few pushes, the head started to push through. It burned! Now I wanted the burning to stop and the baby out! A couple of strong pushes later and out came the baby's head. The rest of the body followed easily and before I knew it, Faith handed me my baby! John-Clay checked and announced - "It's a boy!" He had the biggest smile on his face as
he said, "You did such a great job! I was smiling pretty big too. It was 12:08am.
Suddenly I had a big gush of blood. Faith quickly moved me off the birth stool and had me lay on the floor as she started massaging my abdomen. That was a tense moment, but she handled it quickly, and the bleeding stopped. Our little guy began to cry and as I hugged him close I said, "It's ok, Eric." I was going to add, "Sarah is here," but I realized that I was his mommy! "Mommy is here."
A little while later we moved to resting in bed and I got situated so that I could feed Eric. A few times Faith asked me if I was having cramps that might indicate my placenta was ready to deliver, and I noticed a few small ones, but nothing much. A few times she had me try pushing it out, but nothing really happened. I wasn't bleeding anymore, and my vitals were stable, so I kept resting in bed, skin to skin with my baby while he nursed and we cuddled.
A while later Faith gave me some herbs to see if that would help get my uterus in gear to help deliver the placenta. Still not much happened except that it reminded me of the the herbs I had to take for several hours earlier to help keep my contractions going.
After a while though, it got annoying to have not delivered the placenta yet, so we handed Eric off to John-Clay for some daddy time, and started working to get the placenta out. I tried pushing on the bed again, but nothing was happening. My uterus still wasn't cooperating by giving me any cramps or contractions. Faith gave me some more herbs to try again to encourage my uterus to cramp, and then had me get up to stand by the bed to see if gravity would help. I was pushing strongly while she gave some traction on the cord, and then the cord popped off. I still wasn't bleeding at all, and Faith was certain the placenta was detached by how my belly felt and by what she could feel just inside, but for some reason it wasn't coming out.
Finally, she had me lay back down again and checked more thoroughly inside. Again, she said it felt it was clearly detached but obviously needed some help delivering. She asked if I wanted her to remove it, and I decided I would much rather have her do it than transport to the hospital for the exact same procedure by a medical staff who doesn't know me. It was painful, but after having a baby, it wasn't near the pain of childbirth!
Faith got it out, reporting in the process that it was very slightly still attached to my uterus at the top, though the rest of it had been detached as we thought. She examined it, and said it looked aged, so perhaps we had my due date wrong? I still don't know if that was the case, but I do know that God's time for little Eric was at 36 1/2 weeks, and he was healthy and strong, so I didn't have any complaints.
After a few stitches (which really didn't hurt - Faith numbed the area), an herbal bath, and some postpartum instructions, the midwives left.
The three of us climbed into bed - Eric laying on his daddy while I got some sleep. I couldn't have been happier. I had a healthy, adorable, little boy (6lbs 7oz) and was HOME.
I am so grateful for Eric's safe, natural, peaceful birth. Was it hard? Yes. Impossible? Definitely no.
Looking back, I would have been upset and frustrated in a hospital. The comfort of home, the low light and peacefulness, and the reassuring birth team were just what I needed.
I worked throughout my pregnancy to stay healthy, build a strong baby, and create the best scenario for a successful home birth. I am so grateful for Faith's skill, care, instruction, and assistance on how to have birth AT HOME.