“Z” came into the world on September 9th last year. 6:08am. To the mingled chagrin, horror, and awe of our friends and various members of our families, we elected to have her at home. We chose this path for many reasons (none of which I feel are really necessary to go on about here) and it worked quite well for us. This however is beside the point: for the earnestly and grotesquely interested of you out there, I wanted to relive the process of my home birth. It’s interesting stuff.
Noon: I ate a muffin from Costco. One of those giant ones. It seemed to hit my stomach pretty hard, which I thought was odd. My stomach performed what felt like an actual slo-mo flip flop after I gobbled that bad boy down. Weird behavior for a muffin. Maybe I ate it too fast?
5 minutes later: I ate a spicy turkey sandwich anyway.
5pm: I met my family for dinner at Islands. A big, fatty burger sounded amaaaaazing. And it was. And so were the endless fries.
7pm: I started to feel period-like cramping. No wait, it went away. No wait, it came back. Huh.
8pm: I started timing my weird twinges, as a result of a conversation that went something like this:
Sister: You’re in labor.
Me: I’m not in labor, it’s just cramping.
Husband: You’re in labor.
Me: I’m 37 weeks! And first babies come late. And you’re both dumb.
10pm: My “cramping” solidified into gentle contractions with a discernible pattern. I called my midwife to let her know things might be going down that night. She told me to call her when contractions were 5 minutes apart, and to go rest.
5 minutes later: I shaved my legs. For some reason, it was very important that I not give birth with hairy monster legs. Husband teased me.
11pm: We got to bed. I couldn’t sleep. The contractions weren’t painful, but they were distracting. And I was all pumped up. And the shower curtain liner I’d placed under the fitted sheet on my mattress (in the eventuality that my water broke spontaneously) made my bed feel weird.
Midnight: My midwife came over. My contractions were really more like 7 minutes apart, but lasting about 2 minutes each. And whatever, she actually lives down the road from me. Convenient. I was at 4 cm and managing well (thank you Penny Simkin!) with walking, standing, and breathing deeply. Husband was a great support. He let me lean on him. And didn’t once say “I told you so” when labor really got going.
2am: I started to efface. Contractions became a bit difficult. Making some noise with the in-through-the-nose-out-through-the-mouth breathing began to seem very necessary, even though I definitely thought I wouldn’t be vocal about birthing. Ha ha.
3am: My body spontaneously pushed for the first time. It scared the crap out of me, but I was assured that I should be doing just exactly what my body was telling me to do. I also recalled the enormous amounts of food I’d eaten that day and was seriously concerned about pooping during birth.
4am: I thought I’d give the birthing pool a try. At first, it was wonderful – all glorious, hot comfort and a brief reprieve from contractions. I was tired by now, so it was nice to be off my feet. But then everything started up again. Sitting flat on my butt was incredibly uncomfortable and I briefly wondered how other women who have given birth in water managed it. It felt unsteady. It didn’t work for me. I tried getting on my knees. My body was telling me to push in earnest now.
Half an hour later: My water broke. I believe it was this point where “vocalizing” morphed into “bellowing like a Viking about to charge a battlefield.” I needed counter pressure on my low back with every contraction. I started to overheat in the pool, and cold washcloths were placed on the back of my neck. It was suggested that I labor on the toilet. “Ew,” I thought. But then again, I had been cleaned the bathroom recently. Hurrah for nesting. At any rate, the supported squat position being on the toilet provided was much more efficient than being on my knees.
5am: I was really pissed off by now. People told me about the “fight or flight” response during childbirth and I’m pretty sure I wanted to put up a hell of a fight.
6am: Two really big contractions evoked some choice words out of me. My midwife checked me and then told me to reach down and feel my baby’s head. My husband tells me my reaction to feeling Z’s head was pretty comical. They tried to coax me off the toilet at this point. I did not want to move. I wasn’t gonna move. They couldn’t make me move. No way. I remember feeling extremely petulant in this moment until my husband gently persuaded me out of the bathroom. I don’t know how he did it, but in my most primal, cornered-animal-feeling moment, I trusted my husband. I guess that speaks pretty well of him!
6:05am: I was led to the birthing stool my midwife brought. Up until this point, she had been very observant and fairly hands-off (aside from periodically monitoring the baby’s heartbeat). She wanted my body to figure out what it was meant to do and give my husband the opportunity to get me through the pain. Now, though, she got me on the stool, set up a mirror right underneath me so I could see (“Ew,” I thought again, but wasn’t really inclined to quibble over it), and told my husband to hold onto my hands.
6:08am: The contraction that delivered Z’s head and the contraction that delivered the rest of her came in rapid tandem. I barely had time to register the little white-blond fuzzy head that emerged, blinking, before the rest of her was delivered. Tiny baby Z. She was put onto my chest. I was finally able to relax.
6:30am: My placenta was delivered. I got a couple stitches. I honestly thought I would feel it if I tore, but I don’t remember feeling a thing.
After an hour of bonding, Z’s umbilical cord was cut, she was weighed and measured, she nursed for the first time, and I was able to take a shower. It was definitely the best shower I had ever taken in my life. We were presented with my placenta, which we elected not to keep (“Ew,” I thought once more). I got to eat (I demanded breakfast pastries from Panera). I drank a quart of organic grape juice. I got to snuggle my new little stranger and bask in the high of having a baby.
It was awesome.
In all, I would do it again. I plan on doing it again, barring any medical reason that I shouldn’t. It’s a very different picture than a lot of us are used to seeing in terms of childbirth but it is one that is becoming increasingly prevalent (again). Though I know that it’s not something everybody will gladly embrace, I believe it is a valuable option to consider.
I’m Kelly, a stay-at-home wife and mom. I hold an MA in Teaching – Speech and Theatre with which I thoroughly intend to do something productive (someday). For now, I am content to occupy my days playing with baby “Z”, and spending time with my husband, as well as getting up to all kinds of culinary shenanigans.