July 26, 2019
I wrote this home brith story all out on a blogger.com site I created soon after Miles was born and I guess I thought I was going to be some sort of blogger mom, haha. I wrote a couple posts and then stay at home mom life took over and I stopped blogging there and starting writing #honestmotherhood captions on some of my instagram posts instead, like “micro-blogging” or something. It was more fun and manageable. So I copied this over here and it was before I started capitalizing letters (a little bit laziness a little bit because I liked the look of all small letters), so I’m sorry if that makes it difficult to read 🙂
I feel like I need to draw a warning that this story is LONG. My labor was long, I had minor complications, only one child to take care of, and wasn’t in the thick of a photography business, haha, so I had time to write and wanted to remember the details. So feel free to read it all, skip parts, only look at the pictures at the end, or read the whole thing! I love reading birth stories and I think this one is interesting because it’s a home birth and that’s a rarity these days. I think it’s encouraging even though there were “complications” and the confidence of my midwife was paramount that day, I am so thankful for her knowledge and the time she took to educate us prior to the birth on complications and losses she’d experienced and what to expect when having a home birth. I felt very confident in her abilities and my own as a woman and felt so incredibly safe being at home during both of my births.
It’s a surreal and empowering experience. I know it’s not for everyone but if you’re even considering it, I will be your advocate, feel free to message me or drop a comment! I love talking about home birth 🙂
i wanted to get this story all written down while the memory is still somewhat fresh. i started this a week after miles was born and had almost finished it. my dad and brother were using my computer and clicked off of the tab i had it open on….. and it didn’t save (even though i had been paranoid about losing it and religiously saved it throughout. damn you blogger!), so i lost it all. i definitely cried for a few minutes while frantically searching for a way to recover it. nothing worked, so i had to start all over. i had almost finished too. ugh. ugh. i thought the memory would stay etched in my mind forever. it’s impressive how quickly so much of it has faded while the rest is still crystal clear. this may be a little long and a little boring, but it’s for me, so feel free to read as much or as little of it as you want.
i woke on thursday morning around 2 am having cramp-like contractions. they seemed pretty regular so i began to keep track of them on a phone app. excited, i was unable to sleep for a few hours. daniel got up around 5am and went to work while i got in the bath tub to see if things would slow down. maybe i was having false labor; as i had heard braxton hicks might behave in that manner. they continued on. i messaged my parents and brother, a couple of friends, and two of my closest cousins. after my bath i decided to try and get some rest as it appeared i would have a long day ahead of me. i got out of bed around 9am to have breakfast with my mom and i told her what had been going on. i texted my midwife and she said we would keep in touch throughout the day. mom and i walked around the pond and talked a little more. i decided to call daniel and tell him to come home from work after lunch. we started alerting the troops that today seems like it’s going to be the day.
when daniel got home we started getting our birthing room ready- mom and dad had volunteered their bedroom since it’s conveniently located in the house and there is a master bathroom with a big whirlpool tub. we made the bed with plastic covering to protect the mattress, warmed up the receiving blankets, and moved the bags we had packed into the bedroom from our garage apartment. two of my close friends, my cousin who’s like a sister to me, and my aunt came to hang out while we waited for things to progress. we ate chipotle and played “ticket to ride.” things had started to slow down again, but the contractions were still every 5-10 minutes, as they had been all day. we decided to walk around the pond to maybe help speed things up. my midwife called to ask how things were going and she said she didn’t think the baby would be coming today. i was confused and discouraged. as i feared i had “cried wolf,” i regretfully told my friends and family today might not be the day, even though i was still confused by the consistent waves twisting my abdomen. they slowly trickled out, returning to their homes, until it was just my immediate family again. that evening, daniel watched a movie while i laid down on the couch, attempting to get some rest.
my midwife, kellie, called again to check in and suggested i have a glass of red wine and take a bath to try and relax and hopefully get some sleep. so dan drew a warm bath, lit some candles, and poured a glass of my favorite merlot. we sat in the warm tub together, talking, he rubbed my feet, and eventually we got out to get ready for bed. as we settled into bed i tried hard to clear my mind and get some rest. as the night drug on i was unable to sleep. around midnight, daniel started timing my contractions again. my mom came in to check on us. we talked for a little while and the contractions increased drastically in both duration and frequency so mom urged us to call kellie. daniel updated her on the progress and after talking to me she determined it was time for her to come on out. shortly after my mom called the friends and family who were out earlier.
we decided to go for a walk around the pond. we slowly made our way down the pathway, pausing with each contraction as i held onto daniel for support (later, daniel told me he didn’t see the moon out and took that as a sign we would not be having a little Luna of our own that night). we had almost made it to the bridge when we saw headlights coming down the driveway. it was amanda and elizabeth. i was unsure how long it would take me to make it all the way around the pond, so we made our way back towards the house as amanda and elizabeth walked out to meet us. we all went back into my parent’s bedroom, where daniel and i would be staying for the next couple of weeks. i labored standing up, holding onto daniel during each wave. i attempted to sit on the exercise ball, but i couldn’t find comfort, so i stood back up into the sanctity of daniel’s arms. kellie arrived with all of her supplies about thirty minutes later. she got herself set up along the wall that lead to the bathroom and then came over to me. she put the doppler probe on my belly and for about thirty minutes she sat on the floor next to daniel and me as i labored, listening to how the baby was handling the contractions. he was doing great. kellie checked on him intermittently throughout the night and into the morning. he did great the entire time. dad asked if anyone wanted coffee and quiet laughter filled the room in response.
i retreated into myself and moved around freely, listening to my body. remembering the breathing technique i read about in an ina may book. with every exhalation left a deep moan-like sound that came from my chest. these breaths were soothing, calming, relaxing, and meditative all at once. i clung to them like a life vest during each wave. i sat on the edge of the bed with daniel behind me and my mother in front of me. my mom massaged my belly and attempted to distract the discomfort by pressing her thumb firmly into the webbed part of my hand between my index finger and thumb. daniel offered me water. i made my way onto the floor, my mom followed and sat across from me. i said i didn’t like sitting on the floor because it made things more uncomfortable. kellie hinted that the discomfort might be a good thing. so i surrendered and stayed on the ground with my knees bent under me for a while, rocking side to side on my hips. kellie suggested someone make a protein shake for me to drink. my mother stood up and my dad took her place, he held my hand through the waves. my brother followed shortly after and sat on my other side and put his hand on my knee. i placed my hand on his during my next break. mom returned with the shake and i chugged half of it to get it over with. my free arm was tense, supporting the weight of my body. kellie noticed how tense i was while she was checking on baby boy and lightly touched my shoulder and told me to relax. i did instantly and felt so much better. i hadn’t realized how tense i was and the gentle reminder was an amazing gift. i kept her simple reminder in my head and it would pop into my mind when i seemed to need it most.
daniel asked if i wanted to get in the tub and get some alone time for a little while. i sat through a couple more waves and downed the remainder of my protein shake before he helped me up and we made our way to the bathroom. as soon as my feet touched the cold tile floor the contractions got a little more intense and a little closer together. three rhythmic contractions made the short distance from the door to the toilet a little longer than i had expected. i was able to quickly make it from the toilet to the tub during a short break. the warm water met my skin and my whole body instantly relaxed. i sat with my back against the side of the tub and basked in the level of relaxation made available by the water around me. daniel sat on the floor across from me, holding my hand, watching me carefully, and offering the occasional sip of water. the door opened and the photographer came in to take a few pictures while it was still just the two of us. the lights were dim and there were tea candles lit inside little tree branches that we had cut for the baby shower a few months prior. my mom came in quietly with another shake and a bowl of fruit. we smiled at each other as she gently offered forked pieces of bright red fruit to my mouth, followed by the straw of my water cup. kellie came in to check on the bug, and the door to the bedroom remained open and swiftly filled with loving faces.
i changed positions a couple of times. as the waves grew bigger, both in intensity and duration, my body grew tense again. my breaths grew deeper and with a couple of exhalations “fuuuuuck” gently escaped. mom offered me water, and though i didn’t want any i drank it anyway, remembering kellie talk about staying hydrated in our birthing classes. i began to feel a little overwhelmed, the breaths i had been relying on were escaping me, turning into short, quick, panting-like breaths, with no sound. i asked daniel to join me in the tub. he was not expecting this but quickly and carefully made his way into the tub. he folded his legs and sat indian-style across from me and continued to hold my hand as i looked into his eyes, still at a loss. kellie told me to deepen my breaths, i did, and this helped calm me yet again. “relax” i remembered, and listened. i pressed my head to daniel’s chest and breathed deeply for a moment.
something unexplainable changed in the contractions. i sat up from the comfort of dan’s chest and felt my eyes grow wide as i pressed myself further away from dan and onto my knees. i knew a wave was coming so i drew in a deep breath. kellie noticed the change in me. from the corner of my wide eye i saw her press up to her knees, gather the supplies she had waiting close by, and get the attention of her assistant as they stood up and disappeared from my view. i slowly exhaled, remembering again the breaths ina may had taught me. a few contractions came and went, they were different than the ones before, but had become my new normal and i soon forgot what the ones before them were like. on the next contraction “i feel something!” i exclaimed. looking back i’m not really sure what i felt. kellie checked to see if she could see the head, there was nothing. i think it must have just been him finding his way further down. i hadn’t begun pushing just yet.
labor continued. the contractions took it up a notch, as they had before, not always as noticeable. i opened my eyes wide, searching for relief in dan’s, as i floated to the top of that wave and back down again, finding solace at the bottom. the next wave swooped me up and i was relieved to notice how quickly i had become accustomed to this new intensity. i remember this happening at least twice.
the next change in contractions was a different feeling entirely. when they say you’ll know when to push, they aren’t lying. the cramp like contractions i had grown to know so well suddenly changed to an intensely primitive urge to push. my body took over completely and all i could do was comply. i arched my back, tucked my chin, and pushed as hard as i could, letting out a long grunting breath. it was the strangest feeling. after that wave i burst into laughter as i imagined the faces of those around me and what they had to be thinking. i was sure they thought i had to be in an immense amount of pain, and that i looked completely ridiculous. so as i laughed i said that i probably looked like i was in so much pain, but that i really wasn’t in any at all. these contractions weren’t painful in any way and they replaced the old waves for the remainder of my labor. i continued pushing and soon began feeling the pressure of his head descending and making it’s way out of the birth canal. during the breaks i could feel his head slowly making it’s way back up towards my womb. eventually the back and forth motions stopped and the top of his head was out. kellie said i could reach down to try and feel his head. i waited for a little bit before i did, i felt the soft furs on his head beneath my finger and my tired heart melted a little. i looked up into brown eyes, daniel and i smiled at each other. i kept pushing and could feel his head come out even more. kellie then said we could look in the mirror she was holding to see his head, i never found a time that felt right to look.
with a last push i felt his head come out very quickly followed by his body. as that last push left me i instantaneously sat up so that we could catch our baby boy as he finished his own journey and joined us earth-side. daniel and the midwife pulled him out from under the water. he was wearing the cord around the back of his neck like a warm scarf. kellie and daniel fumbled around trying to get the cord straightened out so it wouldn’t pull on me too much. daniel and i held our new baby boy with tears in our eyes. kellie grabbed the suction and began using it to remove the liquid he had in his nose and mouth. he never really cried. kellie had to suction a little more. after a few minutes i started feeling the urge to push again and wasn’t sure if i was supposed to follow my instincts, so i asked kellie and she quickly responded “yes yes, push.” so i did and she helped lightly tug on the cord to help the placenta find it’s way out as miles had done before it. kellie inspected the placenta inside and out to make sure it was all in one piece and there wasn’t a part still inside of me. they put the bright red blob of tissue my body had spent so long making in a ziplock bag. still attached, slippery, pink with life, twisted like an old phone cord, miles could continue receiving it’s nourishment a little while longer. i had read about delayed cord clamping and it’s benefits and was frustrated that it’s not a common practice in the hospitals. i really wanted to keep miles attached for as long as possible and was relieved to find that it’s a common practice in midwifery.
the bathwater grew crimson. kellie and daniel helped me onto my feet as i stared at the wet creature in my arms. they handed me warmed receiving blanked to wrap him in and threw a warmed towel around me. kellie and her assistant helped me step over the edge of the tub onto the tile floor. daniel ran, dripping wet, back over to our house to get a dry pair of shorts. i stood there staring at our baby while my mother and the midwives helped dry me off and got a potty pad beneath me so we could make our way to the bed. i laid on the bed, with miles in my arms, daniel back at my side. kellie’s assistant, pamela, helped me get miles latched on so he could nurse.
kellie began to check to see if i was still bleeding. she pressed firmly on my abdomen to push out the clots that had formed in my womb. there were quiet a few and it felt strange when they came out. she continued pushing and was worried she wasn’t getting them all out and told me she was going to have to manually evacuate them. i remember discussing this in the birthing classes and i remember her saying “… and you will not like me very much.” that part was honestly the most traumatic portion of the whole evening and morning. i did my Ina may breaths as my body tensed up again. it was not pleasant. she pressed on the outside of my abdomen with one hand while she scooped out the clots from my womb with the other. she told me she was worried my body had stopped contracting like it needed to in order for the vessels that were attached to the placenta to close off. she asked if she could give me a shot of pitocin to cause contractions to start up again in hopes to get the bleeding to stop. i said that was fine. pamela came over soon after with a small amount of a clear liquid in the syringe and injected the pitocin into my right thigh. kellie said she thought she had gotten most if not all of the clots that were in there out and would leave me alone for a bit to give the pitocin some time to work and to let miles nurse. she and pamela went out to the porch to give us some time with each other and our family & friends.
daniel and i gawked at each other and at miles. admiring the plump little fruit. one hand holding miles to my breast and the other intertwined with daniel’s, soaking in the love that surrounded us. miles was making this adorable snorting noise when he was rooting around to nurse, like a little piglet. there were a lot of people in the room but it felt like just the three of us. daniel quickly texted his parents to come meet their first grand baby. his dad, who lives close by, showed up about fifteen minutes later. his mom and her husband came with a bouquet of flowers about an hour after he was born. tears in their eyes they admired their grandson, hugs and kisses for the three of us. my mom was watching from behind dan. exhausted, i laid my head back and shut my eyes for a few minutes. miles nursed for about two hours. i let kellie know i thought he was done or close to done. she was boiling water for our herbal bath. she checked on my bleeding and said it appeared to have subsided.
kellie got the supplies to cut miles’ cord. she made two knots with a thin piece of cloth a couple of inches apart. she gave daniel the scissors and instructed him on where to cut. surrounded by friends and family, he cut the cord that was now dry and white after offering all it could to miles. he cried a little. i comforted him as i wondered if it hurt him at all. i handed him over to kellie so she could take measurements and inspect him. she brought him to the foot of the bed measured his head and length, he was twenty-one inches long, just as i had been the day i was born. kellie then took him into the bathroom, and the crowd followed while i stayed, stuck, on the bed. he weighed eight pounds and seven ounces. daniel took miles into the living room so that kellie could access my tears and the bleeding, the crowd followed.
it was just kellie, pamela, and i in the room. it was quiet and calm. kellie said i had two decent size periurethral tears and i would need three to four stitches on each side. i softly began to cry as i imagined the pain that might accompany those stitches. kellie comforted me, telling me that we didn’t have to do the stitches if i really didn’t want to. she told me of another woman who recently had similar tears and she chose to wait and see how going to the restroom went, it burned too much and she chose to get stitches at that point. the memory of kellie having to manually evacuate the clots was still so fresh, and the uncertainty of it being needed again was still present. so i decided we would see how going to the restroom went. kellie and pamela helped me to my feet and slowly off the bed. one foot at a time, kellie held my arm to help support the weight of my new body and achy bones, as we made our way to the bathroom. i sat on the toilet and used a squirt bottle, filled with the herbal bath solution, to dilute the urine as i went to the restroom so it wouldn’t burn so bad. it burned pretty bad. but i determined i could deal with it for a week.
i got my heels under my hips and lifted myself up. i quickly sat back down because i began to feel light-headed. kellie had been urging me to tell her if i felt light-headed or anything remotely abnormal. she squatted down in front of me as i sat on the toilet for a minute, trying to get ahold of myself so i could get up and go into the warm herbal bath that was waiting for me. she told me to rest my head on her shoulder, so i did for a few minutes. a couple of times i lifted my head only to quickly bring it back to the safety of kellie’s shoulder. i was aware of my mom coming in, she sat down on the floor nearby and softly held my hand.
kellie asked if she would get my water cup for me so i could drink some water and maybe eat some fruit. i took a few big gulps of water to help replace some fluids in my body. after a minute, kellie asked if i wanted to try getting up again, my breath quickened and my heart raced at just the thought of getting up. so i said not yet and took a few gulps of water and ate a bite of watermelon while i attempted to catch my breath and calm my heart. once my body felt back at ease, i tried to get up again and i stood for a second before having to sit back down. i was frustrated with myself for not being able to get to the bathtub. also, i was worried that the way i was feeling might mean i could be in some danger. as if she heard my fears out loud, kellie told me calmly that everything was okay. she suggested we slide over the padded bed that was still on the floor for me to lay on and relax. i nodded and my mom and pamela immediately got up to slide it closer to me. kellie stepped aside, eyes on me, as i moved, eyes on the pad. i crawled onto the pad like a helpless newborn kitten while kellie, pamela, and my mom rustled pillows beneath my head and in between my knees. kellie fed me brightly colored pieces of watermelon and pineapple, one by one. someone had made breakfast for everyone earlier, so mom brought me some of the omelette and bacon. i ate a couple pieces of the crisp bacon in between fork pierced fruit, all without lifting my head from the pillow.
after a few minutes kellie asked if i wanted daniel to bring miles in to lay down with me. i nodded as i felt a lump in my throat and water in my eyes. i didn’t know how much i wanted them until she mentioned it. pamela went to get daniel and he brought miles in and laid him next to me against my breast. i nursed him again, still laying helplessly on my side. daniel sat on the floor next to my head and watched us both carefully as he held my hand. miles let go and i looked at him with tear-filled eyes as he looked around with long blinks in wonderment of his new world. a few minutes later kellie asked if i wanted to try for the bathtub again. she said i could just crawl the short distance and they’d help me climb into the tub. i moved my head to look up at the tub and gauged the distance, feeling determined, i agreed. daniel picked miles up from the pad and held him while i made my way to my hands and knees. i crawled to the tub, lifted myself up, and dipped my feet into the warm bath one at a time. with my moms hand around my arm for support, i sat down slowly and let the healing waters of the herbal bath surround me. the earthy aroma the water gave the room was so calming.
kellie instructed me on how to hold miles in the water, one hand holding his head and the other his hips, making sure to keep his umbilical cord submerged in the water. the herbal baths would help both miles and me heal quicker. she took miles from daniel and handed him carefully to me. i lowered him gently into the water, he seemed to enjoy it. he’d jerk his arms up out of the water every now and then, fingers spread out wide, then lower them slowly back into the water. his eye lids flickered as he soaked in this foreign place he would call home. my cousin kristin arrived and came in to see us. my eyes lit up with joy to see her. we both cried and cooed over miles. i was so so grateful to be at home.
it was time for us to get out. kellie brought in the towels that were in the oven being warmed, one for me and one for miles. kellie gave daniel a warm towel and i handed miles over. i wrapped the sides of the towel around his body so he would stay warm. kellie handed me a towel as i stood up and offered me her hand for support while i stepped over the sides of the tub onto the cold tile. my mom and kellie helped me get dried off and dressed while i laid on the floor, still feeling weak. pamela helped daniel get miles dressed in the bedroom. i heard him cry and like a mama bear, was ready to make my way to him. i lifted up to my hands and knees and crawled back to the room, climbed into bed to be reunited with my cub.
i sat on the bed, propped up with soft pillows on my back. i nursed miles for a little bit while kellie talked to us about keeping track of feedings, wet and dirty diapers, and instructed us to take miles and my temperatures a couple of times a day. she talked about a few other things i can’t remember. she said her goodbyes and was to return the next day to check on us. shortly after, daniel’s mom, her husband, and daniel’s dad all came in and said goodbye, so we could get some rest.
things were calming as daniel and i sat admiring our new baby boy. my mom brought in a bowl of oatmeal and daniel brought spoonfuls to my mouth like a mama bird to a yearning chick. my mom brought the straw of my water cup to my lips as she had countless times before, making sure i stayed hydrated. after breakfast, i laid down next to miles and nursed him. daniel laid down with us and shortly after the three of us were asleep.
in a foggy blur, i remember my grandma, linda, and nancy coming in the room to say “hi” and meet the newest addition to the family. when miles woke up from his nap i nursed him while my mom fed me pieces of fruit followed by sips of water. when he went to sleep again mom brought him into the living room and my family took turns holding him while daniel and i went back to sleep. once he was hungry again my mom brought him back to be nursed. he slept with us for a while longer.
i had to use the restroom, per kellie’s instruction because of the blood loss, i needed to have someone walk with me. i tried waking daniel up but he wasn’t budging. i gave up and called my cousin, kristin, who was in the living room, to see if she could help me while my aunt watched over miles, who was still asleep. daniel was so tired and it made me nervous to leave miles in the bed unsupervised with his hibernating papa bear. clinging to kristin as i made my way back to the bedroom, i told her not to be scared, that it’s not as bad as it looked (she’s due in december and is having a home birth as well, we have the same midwife). we both laughed. back in bed, i was asleep impressively quick.we slept most of the day. in the evening a couple of friends came out to see us and stayed for a short time. cigars and scotch were shared in celebration. in the evening mom and daniel drew up another herbal bath for miles and me. we sat in it’s warmth twenty minutes, twice a day, for the week to come. my mom, dad, and brother came and sat in the bed with us. the four of us admiring the little being that slept soundly. nuzzled against my chest on cotton white sheets with a grin threatening to show.
since he was born on a friday, the weekend filled quickly with visitors. we stayed in my parents room for two weeks. daniel moved in a little tv and put it on the fireplace. we binge watched a couple of seasons of “rules of engagement” on netflix. daniel played “halo” while miles and i slept. the big arm chair i had been sitting in to nurse him wasn’t easy for me to fit my new, fragile body, comfortably, the cushion was firm and unkind to my healing bones. nursing him laying down wasn’t working too well either. and my back began to ache. so daniel brought the glider i had reupholstered down from our house. i felt “false kicks” for a few days after he was born, it felt like he was still inside kicking. i determined it was my intestines finding a comfortable spot with all the room they had now. it was a strange feeling. my muscles were achy from being tense for so long during labor. i was having a hard time relaxing them, even for the next few days. when i remembered and tried to relax them, they wouldn’t. awkward nursing and holding positions weren’t helping either. daniel gave me a massage one evening. my aching back soaked in his firm touch and i felt my muscles soften with each wave of fingertips.
i’ve never experienced birth in a hospital. i have nothing to compare my experience to. but i wouldn’t change anything about it. i’m grateful it all went smoothly (as most home births do) and everybody is happy and healthy. i can’t imagine being confined to a bed or being pressured into receiving various medications. i had a wonderful birth experience, enjoyable even, and will chose a home birth should we decide to have more children. having my friends and family around for support was unimaginably encouraging. being in a familiar place was comforting, and i believe, is what made the birth go so smoothly. not having any pain medication wasn’t the worst thing in the world. i had no idea what to expect, but it’s not at all how they portray it in the movies and tv shows. we women are stronger than hollywood makes us out to be. sure, it was pretty uncomfortable, but there were merely a handful of instances where i’d say that i felt pain. even then, it wasn’t an unimaginable amount of pain. just a new level of discomfort that quickly became an endurable new normal. it was mostly…. very intense.
i never “suffered” from postpartum depression. i did have moments of sadness, over minor upsets. those tears came from the deepest part of my soul, the most heartfelt, broken, sobs. i also felt joy tingle through my bones, laughing to the point of tears more times in the weeks following his birth than i have in the past year, or longer. the amount of love i have for this little guy is almost too much to handle. it sometimes brings tears to my eyes. i never could have anticipated the impact he would have on my life. it’s changed forever in so many ways.
the only book I ever read about labor/deliver/newborn was Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth and I cannot recommend it enough to any women about to have a baby, whether it’s at home or at the hospital. So interesting, so empowering, so important.
Photography by: Kelly Garvey
I love reading birth stories and I think this one is interesting because it’s a home birth and that’s a rarity these days. I think it’s encouraging even though there were complications and the confidence of my midwife was paramount that day, I am so thankful for her knowledge and the time she took to educate us prior to the birth on complications and losses she’d experienced and what to expect when having a home birth. I felt very confident in her abilities and my own as a woman and felt so incredibly safe being at home during both of my births.
It’s a surreal and empowering experience. I know it’s not for everyone but if you’re even considering a home birth or natural birth, I will be your advocate, feel free to message me or drop a comment! I love talking about home birth 🙂