Bare Naked On The Internet: Our Home Birth Journey
I decided to write my home birth story not just to share the magical wonders of the birth of our son, but to show other women that birth isn’t something to be afraid of and to encourage each one of them where support may not necessarily be available.
Exactly 4 years prior to my pregnancy, I was diagnosed with uterine fibroids after a trip to the ER one late night that ultimately led to a successful myomectomy, albeit with a recommendation for a c-section if/when I do ever get pregnant. I was pretty distraught and upset with my ob-gyn, who I saw regularly, that she didn’t catch this even though I saw her 2 months prior to this diagnosis. It took me 3 months and 4 doctors to research and find not just the right doctor but the right procedure to mitigate the fibroids. This process left me exhausted, skeptical and downright afraid of the healthcare industry. Three of the doctors I consulted with lacked compassion and all proposed a hysterectomy purely based on my age – old, frail, on my death bed at 38 🙂 Scouring the Internet revealed that lots of other women were having the same experiences. So when I learned I was pregnant, I was madly ecstatic, but I was also very cautious about how our baby would make his entrance into this world.
The myomectomy doctor-recommended c-setion hung over my head, instilling in me a fear that I had no choice, and so when I was doing my initial research all I was looking for was an ob-gyn and a supportive doula. I found a highly recommended ob-gyn and at our first consult we both found her to be a very pleasant person and a really good listener. However, on subsequent visits, we started to see the cracks in the walls; the impersonal nature of her staff, the ‘just a number’ vibe, her scare tactics/untruthfulness, just to name a few. The straw that broke the camel’s back was getting a call from one of the staff members to inform us that the doctor will only deliver our baby by c-section, no discussion. Wow! Really? The fact that she delegated this very delicate information to a staff member was the last indicator we needed to look elsewhere for an ob-gyn. It was during this time that I stumbled upon CHOICE and what an amazing find this was!
After our first informational visit at CHOICE, we decided to hire a Monitrice while we continued our search for an ob-gyn. A Monitrice is essentially a doula (provides labor support) who also gives clinical support e.g monitoring the baby’s heartbeat, check dilation etc. Having a Monitrice is said to decrease chances of birth intervention at the hospital. During our meeting with Jess, she recommended an ob-gyn who has a lot of confidence in the birth process and doesn’t push for unnecessary interventions. The ob-gyn turned out to be quite accommodating with our needs. He didn’t see the need for a c-section and was accepting of us trying to have this baby with no intervention at all. No IVs, no epidural, no induction. Nada! We met both, separately, once a month then as we neared the due date, twice a month, then once every two weeks and eventually once a week. At the same time, we took some amazing eye-opening childbirth education classes offered by CHOICE. One of the classes we took was HypnoBirthing, taught by Sharon of Sacred Beginning. Sharon helped quel my fears by teaching me to believe in myself, my body and its ability to do what it is meant to do. We also took an alternative birth class with Tanya Rable-Collins that was extremely informative, especially as first time parents. We were so empowered by all the information we received at CHOICE that we made the decision to have a home birth! We watched a lot of water births in class and I was sold that this was going to be how our son would arrive. So we rented our tub from CHOICE and practiced the breathing exercise we had learned in the Hypnobirthing class as often as we could in preparation.
It was a Monday evening, 3 weeks after my ‘due date’ when I first had twinges that I thought were gas but were actually contractions. I was in early labor! They were very mild and I slept with ease. The next day things got intense by late afternoon and my husband timed contractions at about 20 minutes apart. We called Jess to check in and as the evening progressed, so did the contractions. I didn’t want to get in the tub too early so my husband waited until about 6 pm to fill it with water. I held off, laid on our bed until almost 9 pm. It was such a relief to step into that tub of soothing warm water. The contractions weren’t as intense but the longer I stayed in the tub, the less effective it was. So I decided to alternate between the tub and the bed. Jess arrived right on cue at midnight to find me on all fours in the tub with the urge to push. She was amazing! She reminded me not only to breathe but did it with me. She held my hand, fed me water, reassured me, massaged my lower back and told me to push whenever the urge was there. Let me just say, all the breathing exercises went out the window! My water broke a little after midnight while I lay on our bed, raising the intensity to another level! Midwives, Kelley Daniel and Tanya, arrived shortly after, and with their help, I attempted to push every time I had the urge while in the tub. After a lot of trying, it seemed like I just didn’t have good positioning in the tub, so we moved the party to the bed. I tried pushing in different positions on the bed with no luck. Tried the birthing stool and that just pinched my thighs. Over the toilet, no luck. All this time Tanya was continuously massaging my perineum to help prevent a tear and my husband was dabbing my forehead and neck with a cold towel. After 3 hours, we took a break, I ate some chicken, fruit and drank more water and took a quick lie down on the bed. I then asked my husband to help support me in a squatting position over the birthing stool and that did the trick! A little after 5 am, I felt Baby S slide out and an overwhelming joy befell me. Kelley handed me our precious gift and I was overcome with happiness and disbelief that I was able to do it! My husband was beaming with pride. A few minutes later I felt the urge to push again and my placenta was out. We got into bed and snuggled with our baby boy while the midwives cleaned up and gave us a little privacy to take it all in. An hour later, my husband cut the umbilical cord and Tanya did a quick check to make sure I had no tears. What an amazing experience!
It was one of the best experiences of my life. I felt the love and encouragement of everyone who was there during our journey. I was so happy I birthed my baby naturally, maybe not in water as intended but naturally at home on a birthing stool. I would certainly do it again in the same exact way!