I want so badly to write, in 400 words or less, a beautiful and encouraging birth story for you all, but if I'm honest, this will be more for me than for you -- and there's no way it's happening in less than 400 words.
But so many of you have been interested in hearing about the birth of sweet Mattheus and I can remember the phase of pregnancy where all that I wanted to do was sit around and read the real stories of the real women that were having their babies at home. So here we go.
You know, I didn't always want to have a home birth. In fact, we didn't switch from an OB to a midwife until I was in my third trimester. (This book changed my mind and this documentary changed my husband's). It wasn't an easy decision and it wasn't always well received, but ultimately, it was the right one for our family.
Also, in hindsight, we wouldn't have been able to do what we did without reading this book and taking a Bradley Method childbirth class. Seriously. I vividly remember hearing Miles say, "I wouldn't have been able to do that if we didn't do the Bradley classes," or something along those lines like immediately after Mattheus popped out. So there's that.
On Friday when I started having contractions I really tried to think nothing of it. We all thought Mattheus would be coming a week or so late, I had been having Braxton-Hicks for a while by then, and I honestly just didn't want to get my hopes up. I went out to coffee with some friends, went shopping and had lunch with one of them... and around 4:30 when she dropped me off, my contractions were still lingering. They definitely felt a little different than the Braxton-Hicks, but when you've never felt a real contraction before that moment, you don't really know.
Anyways, Miles got home around 5:30 and we decided to take the dogs on a short walk around the block to see if my contractions would go away. They didn't. So, we went out to pizza at a restaurant we'd been meaning to try and then out for pizookies after that.
When we got home around 9:45 my contractions were still happening and I was pretty uncomfortable, so we decided that it was best if we went to bed. Rest.
Rest never came for me. My contractions were about 10 minutes apart and lasting about 45 seconds to a minute. I was able to move to the couch and cuddle with the dogs at one point and get about two hours of sleep, but not enough. I decided to text my midwife around 3:45 am and let her know what was going on.
By 11 am on Saturday, my contractions were about six minutes apart and a minute long, and dang they hurt. My midwife came over at that time and her and my husband set up the birthing tub while I laid on the couch. I got into the tub for a bit and that was glorious. The buoyancy took so much pressure off of my aching back and the warm water was so comforting.
Because my water hadn't broken, we decided to have my midwife check me. Ugh. I was only 2cm dilated and about 50% effaced. Definitely not very encouraging. She took me to the bed, rubbed some essential oils on my feet and chest, and told me to try and rest--to call when my water had broken or if things changed. I cried when she left. I couldn't believe I was only a two.
**It's important to note that even though I was a two, I was progressing, and really, that number doesn't matter much. Don't get checked until you feel like pushing. That number plays mind games for sure.
From that point I don't remember much. It's funny the way your brain creates this amnesia around labor so that way you will still eagerly have more babies. God definitely thought through every aspect of the curse.
Miles was such wonderful support for me. He kept food in me and he kept me super hydrated too. He reminded me of how long we had waited for that moment, what was to come, that the contractions would end, and massaged my back and tickled my face. We even tried to watch a movie at one point to "distract" me. A for effort haha. Holy smokes I love that man.
I really did try to rest. But at some point my contractions became even more painful and They began to induce vomiting. I believe I vomited upwards of twenty times, according to Miles. Glorious.
Let me tell you, contractions are doable, they just outright suck. They're like climbing a mountain. You feel a small sensation that it's coming and then they begin getting worse until finally YOU'RE AT THE PEAK OF IT, and then you descend down the mountain-contraction and you get a break. Doable. You know it will end.
So, we labored. We took each contraction as it came, sometimes with vomiting, and sometimes not. Miles fed me and rocked me, and I was really convinced I only had one meltdown (my midwife's assistant informed me otherwise after boy was born -- EL OH EL).
Miles called the midwife to come over again around nine. My contractions were three mintues apart I think...and I truly don't know how long they were lasting. She came over and I labored for a while in the tub, but after a while I got cold and so I got out. We decided to see how (and if) I progressed at all. She checked me. Still a 2. But 90% effaced. I cried. Probably an ugly, loud cry, upon hearing that I was still a two. All that I could think was, "if I'm only a two it still has to get so much worse."
Same deal. She tucked me back into bed after oiling up my feet and chest. Told me to get rest and told Miles to call her if my water broke or when things got really bad.
So, we labored. I hung onto my husband and rocked, I bounced on the yoga ball, I took hot showers (that pounding, scalding water felt awesome on my back), I cuddled my dogs, and I puked.
I can remember falling into a light sleep at some point in the night on the bathroom floor after a bout of dry heaves. Miles brought me a pillow and a blanket and then some for himself and he fell asleep next to me.
I showered again to try and let him rest. But then I woke him up. Remember those breaks I described in between the contractions? They get shorter. Eventually it's climbing one peak and then heading up to the next. I think this is the point I told him I couldn't do it anymore, through tears. It hurt too bad. It took too long. I wasn't progressing. I was tired--no, I was exhausted. But, he reassured me: I could.
We labored on the couch for a while, and then there was this monumental moment where I was on all fours, holding onto the yoga ball, Miles was squeezing my hips together with his knees and pressing on my lower back through a contraction, and when the contraction ended I had to puke so I began crawling towards the bathroom. I remember feeling tangled in the blanket I had and the robe I was wearing and then feeling like I peed a little. Except it wasn't pee. My water broke. It was just a trickle, not the GUSH you would imagine it being like, but it broke. Even if it wasn't my water, in that moment I convinced myself it was and told Miles to call the midwife.
I got back into the tub but after a few contractions I was convinced I had to poo (HELLO, I'M GETTIN REAL NOW), so Miles helped me out of the tub -- but I couldn't go. I realized that the feeling must have actually been the "grapefruit in your booty" feeling that we learned about in class and that I was actually just experiencing the urge to push.
Except I decided to wait on that urge because after knowing I wasn't fully dilated and effaced with the last visit, I didn't want to start pushing and cause swelling if my body wasn't ready for it. My midwife showed up around 1:30 am on Sunday the 24th and she checked me and I was 9 1/2 cm and like 95% effaced. She told me to try and pee and I did and then I got back into the tub.
Again I felt that grapefruit-push feeling but was still a little scared of going in the tub so I had Miles help me to the toilet. Again, I couldn't go, so when the next contraction came, I pushed. I pushed with two contractions on the toilet.
My midwife suggested we get me back into the tub, quickly, so we moved. I got into a squatting position of sorts because I remembered that that opened the pelvis and birth canal. My feet were against the wall of the tub and Miles' hand was behind my back. I kept my chin tucked to my chest and my back rounded for contractions, holding my breath with the push but then breathing regularly for the rest.
I'm not sure how many contractions I pushed through, but I remember them telling me that I was doing a great job. I remember feeling pressure and then an eventual burning sensation (aka the "ring of fire") when Mattheus began crowning. My midwife told me to reach down and feel my baby. I opened my eyes briefly and felt his slimy skull but then quickly turned to Miles and cried, "it burns." I think they all laughed a little and told me how close it was to over.
Pushing was the best part. Imagine, you're laying around for twenty nine hours just accepting these contractions, but then a moment comes when you get to push and fight them back; it's awesome.
I felt like I was pushing for hours, but only for 10 minutes on the toilet and then 27 in the tub. Pushing is great, but it's definitely exhausting.
I remember hearing the midwife tell Miles to reach down and catch our baby, feeling his support leave my back, and then the absolutely amazing feeling of him pulling Mattheus' body out of mine. I cried. I was so happy. It felt so wonderful.
Mattheus was laid on my chest. Miles and I cried and kissed and looked at our baby. After some time I delivered the placenta and Miles cut the cord after it stopped pulsing. I found his amniotic sac floating in the water since boy was born "en caul". (We actually saved it for like two weeks because we wanted to see what it would look like dry and then became emotionally attached to an air bubble that was trapped inside.)
The midwife took Mattheus, and Miles and the assistant helped me out of the tub and into our bed. I fed our baby and he pooped and peed in the sheets (haha). After an hour or so Miles took him so that I was able to eat some and then after that skin time with dad, the midwife weighed and measured our boy and gave him his second APGAR. Then, Miles took him and dressed him while I showered.
I felt pretty on top of the world at this point: my baby and husband were in the nursery, I was all fresh and clean, feeling sore, but walking around my house... and then the midwife asked if I was ready for my stitches.
Bleh. Miles held baby and I held both of their hands as I got stitched up. Second degree labia minora tearing. That's no joke and no fun.
After the stitching, my midwife and her assistant packed up and Miles and I went to sleep, in our own bed, with our son in between us.
People always ask me if I would have changed anything or if I wish I would have been at the hospital and my answer is always, "No."
I honestly can't imagine laboring like I did anywhere but in my home with my husband and dogs and then sometimes the midwife and her assistant. It's hard work. I'm also fairly certain that I wouldn't have labored as long in the hospital and that my bag of waters would have been artificially broken long before it actually broke.
Then I'm always asked if I'll have our next babies at home, and honestly, I just can't imagine doing it any other way. So yes, as long as home birth is an option, it's our preferred one.