On December 9th I got a call from my midwives. Their license was still not in hand for the new birth center and they called to ask me if I could for sure commit to a home birth. It has always been in the back of my mind as “an option.” But we were planning on utilizing their brand new Salmonberry Community Birth Center. At this point I knew I was okay with a home birth (I really have always wanted to do it that way) but needed to talk it over with my husband. We talked through our options and I told him I’d call back in a couple hours to hear his thoughts before I went to my weekly appointment. At this point he told me he wanted me to do what I was comfortable with. I told him that I wanted him to be comfortable too. This brought forth a very interesting insight from Ben. He said, “Alex no matter where a birth is, it’s not something I would say I am comfortable with.” I really took this to heart and tried to understand what he meant. I think I really understood where he was coming from when I did. He wants to support me, but realizes that it is me doing the birthing so really I needed to be comfortable and that in the end the whole birth thing is just a bit foreign to him, even though he has seen my other two. I had to be okay with that. When I called on my way in to my appointment Ben not only said that he “wanted me to do what I was comfortable with” (which he has always said) but also thought it might just be the best option since we are a ways from town now and we really didn’t want to have an emergent feeling birth, like giving birth in a car or me having to call an ambulance if I was home alone with the kids. Being on the same page was important to me, and I felt relieved. At this point we had no idea that we literally decided on this just a little under a week before we’d actually do it!
I set to work researching and gathering the “supplies” I needed. Including borrowing a birth tub from a friend, ordering a birth tub liner (that arrived the next day). I hit up my Buy Nothing community for 6 towels, 2 sets of fresh “gently used” sheets, gathered the other supplies and thankfully I have a great online community of local moms who shed light on what else I might want to prep and have on hand. One gal sent me the “to do” list from her homebirth readiness book, another couple gave me tips via facebook and one friend who is a Doula, who has had several home births herself, added her insight. I set to cleaning my floors and bathrooms, prepping snacks, gathering post partum supplies etc. About 36 hours later I was ready for a home birth and felt great!
I texted Ben at work and said, let’s go out for dinner tonight! Pho?! And he said “sure… or you could go out with the girls and I’ll keep the boys if you want….” I jumped at that and began making plans with a friend. We were thinking “happy hour” or pedicures. I headed to my room just a little before 5 to plug in my phone. It was almost dead and I knew I would need it if I was going out. As I came back around my bed to “finish getting ready” my water broke! This was like nothing I had ever experienced, as my water did not break like that with my other two. Wow that was a different way to [officially] start the process! At this point I immediately called my husband and asked him to let family and friends know. I texted and called my sister (who has the furthest to go) and my parents who were going to be my video/camera crew. I could hear Camper stirring from nap on the monitor and knew Cashel was sound asleep having barely gone down for a late nap. This was at 5:20.
I called the midwives and let them know my water had broken. She asked if I was “having contractions” and I told her “not really.” (silly me – I really thought she meant active, intense contractions but what she really meant was “are you having any at all.”) She also asked if the fluid was clear from my water breaking. I told her yes. She let me know to call her as soon as contractions picked up and I said I would.
Then I headed out to do a few things before Ben got home. I let the dog out to go potty and took her crate out to the garage. I got a tip from a wise and more experienced friend to put them away if they won’t do well with extra people or strangers. So in her crate she went. As I went to return to the house more fluid came. TMI but at this point I stripped by the washer and dryer and realized the fluid was obviously not clear. I knew this meant there might be meconium in my water so I headed back in to call the midwives. This would be a reason for a “non-emergent transfer” to the hospital so I was disappointed knowing I might be headed to Jefferson Hospital. (Although if I was ever going to be transferred or have another hospital birth THAT is where I’d want to have it!) I let my midwife Melanie know that the fluid was not clear and she was concerned with the fluid and said she would head right there. I really didn’t even get a chance to tell her that I had had a
couple four contractions.
Another text into Ben when he was still about 20 minutes out. I let him know there might be meconium in the fluid and maybe a transfer in our future. He assured me “we will figure it out” and let me know he was getting closer. He later told me that he had no idea I could be fairly advanced in labor, which I was, because I was mentioning a transfer. My folks arrived and I asked them to attend to Camper, who at this point was loudly proclaiming he was ready to get up. SO loudly that I had needed to turn off the monitor in our bedroom so I could focus. I was having active contractions very close together and remember being a bit insistent on what I needed. My Dad disappeared at this point, later I found out he was doing some video taping outside the house, not realizing how far along I was. My mom was taking care of Camper so I found myself alone in the bathroom again. I was on the toilet when I realized, “I think this baby is coming.” This was probably around 5:40, but that’s just a rough estimate. I really did start to feel “pushy” at this point and felt a bit harried. Blurry thinking…
Then when finally my dad came back in the room I insisted he start filling the birth tub – but I had already started the water in our own bathtub. The midwives had said they would prefer me out of the tub when they arrived so they could check my progress. I was really trying to honor that request, but was realizing I couldn’t stay out of the tub any longer. My dad dutifully tried to fill the birth tub but we quickly realized the water had run cold (since I too was filling my large tub because at this point all I could think was “I need in the water.”) Enter Ben.
SIDENOTE – with my other births I had labored at home for a couple hours until I felt like I had made good progress and then we headed to the hospital (I arrived there with my first at 7 cm dilated or so and with my second I was even further along). And all the laboring at home happened in my tub. It is just my happy place. Okay now back to the story at hand…
I asked him to try rubbing my back, and promptly about as soon as his hands touched me I said… “nope. stop. not helping. I need to get in the water now.” In I dove. Quite literally. The moment I hit the water it all got a lot better. The warmth and buoyancy really is helpful and like I said the tub really is my “happy place” in labor. Still a bit “crazed feeling” I started to splash water on my stomach and immediately realized that helped me relax. The water is supposed to cover you completely but since the water had run cold everyone was frantically (in the other rooms) trying to tap a sink or the laundry machines that run off a different hot water tank. Not happening quickly enough, but Ben also tried putting on a large pot of water to boil. Like he filled our crab pot and was firing up the propane burner… but there just was no time for it to boil. I just kept telling myself, “you need to relax, you need to relax…”
I told Ben somewhere in this 20 or so minutes that this “baby was going to come before anyone (meaning the midwives) arrived” and also right around 6:15 I told my mom and dad that they better start taking photos and video or they wouldn’t have any. At this point they all focused in more on me in the tub. Mom started taking photos, Ben started pouring water on my stomach while also trying to call the midwives to tell them I was having the urge to push. (Maybe around 6:17). A few minutes later I really was having the urge to push, but made myself relax and wait out a
few contraction s or two. It felt like much longer then it was. Again another contraction or two later I looked at my mom and said “get Ben now, this baby is coming.” In runs Ben, back from a very brief conversation with the midwives, to join my parents.
A large contraction came I had pushed Corban’s head out so he knew the baby was coming. Midwives call and Ben takes the call. I had a minute or so in which I was really focused on Corban. I was talking to him, “Okay baby we are going to get you out.” ” He doesn’t like being face down…” (I could feel him reacting/moving and it didn’t even occur to me that my prayers had been answered he was face down instead of sunny side up!) I also shot a prayer heavenward, “okay Lord give me another contraction.” I knew it was okay for Corban’s head to stay in the water as I have watched many many birth videos on YouTube, but was really ready to just have him here.
I start to have another contraction (a choice word “d***” escapes my mouth) and say, “I don’t care who is on that phone, get Ben now.” He runs back in and I literally push Corban the rest of the way out. My body really did it and I believe it was because I had waited and held off until my body was totally ready. Corban came and I pulled him onto my chest in just two pushes and 1 hour and a few minutes.
Then I remember saying to Lauren, one of the student midwives on my birth team, that it was good I had watched all those “unassisted births” and water births. She said, “you probably gave him the idea!”
They immediately started asking follow-up questions and the midwives helped get him covered with a wet towel to keep him warm.
I am so grateful for my brother-in-law Jerod and sister-in-law Emily who cared for my kids. I had planned for Emily to be in the room, but there just wasn’t space/time. (Next time I’ll fill the birth tub immediately because it was placed in such a way so more people could be a part of the delivery but since I used our actual bath tub there just wasn’t any more room for people to watch the delivery.) She was so gracious and understanding. Next time around she’ll be there!
My parents got amazing pictures and a video that truly leaves me feeling like I’m watching someone else… My sister raced there and met Corban at just 30 minutes old, plus took the most amazing newborn and family photos when he was just 20 hours old. My midwives were incredible and I would refer any and all to Salmonberry Community Birth Center and the Gumnut Blossom Midwifery team. They cared for me like I’ve never experienced, loved on my little boy tenderly, and embraced the large crowd that streamed in from his birth until about 10pm when we headed to bed – IN OUR OWN BED!
Our big boys joined us in bed and got to meet their brother with the grandparents and aunts and uncles there to witness such a special moment. (not possible in our local hospital that has a very strict visitor policy). Family and friends were there to see him weighed and measured, some even were there when I got a “tour of the placenta” which sounds gross/crazy but was absolutely incredible to see the sack my baby had lived in for 10 months and the amazing thing that cared for and fed him all that time. Plus this all took place after I had had an hour or more of nursing and skin-to-skin time with our boy and after Ben also got to have some skin to skin time with him while they cared for me and transferred me from the tub to the bed. I never had that much quality skin to skin time with my other boys right after they were born as Camper was quickly taken to measure and wrap up and Camper spent the first few hours of his life being monitored in the nursery since they had suctioned him after birth. Really this birth was what I feel like they should all be like. A picture of family, warmth, and love. Truly a beautiful blessing. All my births have been so special and no one trumps the other but being at home really was the best thing for me in this time of my life and with our family makeup.
Cashel send in this little “gift” for Corban that he had collected from the playroom. He sent it in ahead of him with an Auntie and later joined us in bed to give each item to his new baby brother. Just warmed this Momma’s heart.
I love that our birth was like our life. Filled with people we love coming and going. One friend said… “I love that at your birth people were in your home eating pizza and drinking beer.” And boy was I glad. Our people were a part of this special day!
And those that couldn’t be there in those first hours were there soon after, another perk of a home birth. We were in complete control of our time, pace,and life.
About 4 hours after delivery I was deemed stable so the midwives said goodbye and we were left with just a few family and friends. They too eventually trickled out and we were left as a family of five in our own home for the first night. Truly incredible.
My midwives returned at 24 and 48 hours to check on me and the baby and do all the follow-up newborn tests we opted to have. Plus they also worked with me on nursing at the 48 hour mark. We actually did that visit slightly later – closer to 56 hours – so that my milk would be in and they could really help if I needed it.
I just can’t explain what an incredible experience this was and what a blessing our birth story, and our sweet Corban is to our family. I’ll be posting some insider tips that I learned during my time with my midwives. I will tell you this. I learned more about my body, pregnancy, delivery, and recovery in my 3 months with their team then I have in almost 3 years of pregnancy with my other boys and the start of Corban’s pregnancy. I also saw them 4 times as much in those 3 months as I did my normal OB. My OB/GYN is so good at what she does, but she is so slammed with so many patients and was on vacation both times I delivered in the hospital. It just was such a different experience this time.