Immediately I began interviewing local home birth midwives and after one meeting, Shaun and I knew that we’d found the woman who was going to help us have our home birth; her name was Maggie. Maggie has been a midwife for over 35 years and was a pivotal part of the movement that legalized midwifery in the state of California. She’s a wise woman and recognized as such in the community and all over the world; she’s even a published author. I knew that I was in good hands in choosing her to be my midwife and felt that the Lord had brought us to her area to aid us in the birth of our next child. Maggie also practices the art of apprenticeship and we felt equally as confident in her apprentice, Carol. They seemed a perfect fit for us.
At 40 weeks 2 days gestation, January 27th, I had my very first contraction at 9:30 p.m. These continued all night and were irregular, but were strong enough to wake me up at times. I knew then that this was really “it,” but it could be a while based on my experience with my first child. These contractions continued, but were still irregular for most of the day.
At about 3:00 a.m. on Sunday, January 29th, I was awakened by some pretty strong contractions and was shocked to find out that they were only about 5 minutes apart and were lasting for over a minute. Again, I figured I still had lots of time so I tried to get some more sleep, but I couldn’t so I decided to get up and listen to my Hypnobabies birthing affirmations and prepare myself for the day ahead.
I had bloody show for the first time at about 4:00 a.m. and called Maggie at 5:30 a.m. to let her know that things were happening, but told her that she didn’t need to come just yet because I felt we were a ways off and I was doing okay. She told me to call her back in an hour and let her know how things were progressing. I also called my friend, Andrea, who was going to be coming to photograph/videotape the birth for us.
There was more bloody show at 6:20 a.m. and that’s when I lost my mucous plug as well. I called Maggie again at 6:55 a.m. to let her know that my contractions were about 3-4 minutes apart and lasting for over a minute. I asked her and Carol to come and she said they would be over around 8:00 a.m. unless I needed them sooner.
Around 8:00 a.m. Maggie and Carol arrived, and then shortly after, Andrea arrived as well. With everyone present, I felt I could really relax and focus on allowing my body to do its work and open up to allow my baby down. The apartment was bustling with excitement and preparation for the birth. I was breathing through contractions in bed while everyone was preparing the birth pool, getting out supplies, making coffee, and watching the morning news. I continued to listen to my birthing affirmations and relax my body.
After some amazing encouragement and coaching from my birth support team, I finally began to make real progress. I was crying out to the Lord to give me strength and Andrea was praying for me out loud. Maggie and Carol were telling me not that I could do it, but that I WAS doing it. Shaun was my rock and was ever so loving and encouraging through the whole process, and his excitement was contagious. Around 5:35 p.m., the baby’s head started to crown. To my surprise, I never got the “ring of fire,” but the only burning sensation and immense pain I felt was in my swollen urethra. It took what seemed like forever to have another contraction so I could push the head out, but in reality it was probably 2-3 minutes. I began praying for another contraction to come so I could relieve the pressure and get the baby out.
A few minutes after the baby’s birth, Carol said we should cut the cord because she thought I was bleeding a bit too much and I needed to hand off the baby to Shaun so we could get the placenta delivered. I ended up not bleeding much at all, but it did take 28 minutes to get the placenta delivered. I sat on the toilet for a while waiting for contractions to start up again and eventually got 2 shots of Pitocin and then lay on the floor in my room where I delivered the placenta, which the midwives said was one of the largest they’d seen. The placenta was completely intact and had no irregularities.
Upon examination by Maggie and Carol, I was found to have no tearing, which they thought was due to the length at which the baby’s head was crowning because it allowed for gradual stretching of the perineum. Within a few minutes, I was cleaned up and sitting in bed with my baby girl, whom we named Emma Faith, in my arms. She immediately turned for the breast and latched on right away with her big sister lovingly stroking her head and holding her hand. While I spent time bonding with my girls, the apartment was getting cleaned up. An hour after the birth, you would have never known that anything happened there.
Before leaving, the midwives examined Emma and made sure that she was nursing well. We talked for a bit about the day and I thanked them for all they had done and for believing in me even when I didn’t believe in myself. We all toasted with champagne to the beautiful new life that was in our midst, and then we were left to enjoy our new family of 4.
During the whole process, not once did I feel in danger or afraid that something bad was going to happen. I knew the whole time that I was in completely capable hands and I trusted Maggie and Carol knew what they were doing, and I trusted that my body and baby knew what they were doing. If I had been at the hospital to have this baby, I would have most definitely been forced into a repeat cesarean for a number of reasons. I’m so grateful for the choice that Shaun and I made to have our baby at home and to trust this body that the Lord gave me and the process of birth. So many people thought I couldn’t do it, and especially at home, but I had my home birth after cesarean and now I feel like I can take on the world. I pray that someday home birth will be more normal than hospital birth and that women begin to trust the innate intelligence of their bodies and not the educational intelligence of doctors (unless absolutely necessary, of course). It is my hope that all women get a chance to know the incredible joy that I feel when I remember the birth of my daughter, Emma.
If you'd like to share your birth story please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.