(Feature image credit: Four Bees Photography)
Thank you Becky for sharing the story of your two births. Each story is unique and beautiful in its own way and it’s an honour to hear about both of your experiences.
Becky is also a Sleep Educator located in Oakville who can be found at Well Nested
Two very different home births
In preparation for my first baby I researched about the more natural side of birth, took many prenatal classes including Hypnobirthing, had a doula and midwives as my birth team, and planned a home birth with the comfort of knowing we were close to a hospital if it was needed.
We were two hours from home at my parents’ house when I awoke at 2:00 a.m. with contractions and decided to drive back to the city. It was an uncomfortable drive; my contractions were 4 to 5 minutes apart and strong enough that I was concentrating to breathe through them. Once we were settled at home though, labour slowed down. Our doula spent most of the day with us and I spent most of it on my hands and knees, lying on a yoga ball, or curled up in bed trying to rest. In hindsight, I wish I had moved around more and eaten more to maintain my energy. Labour progressed slowly.
Around 8:00 p.m. my contractions were close enough together to call the midwife. She arrived and assessed me; I was 5 cm dilated. This was great news as I’d been weighing options in my head and thought that if I was less than 5 cm at that point I would consider going to the hospital. My contractions became stronger and closer together but I decided not to get in the birth tub we set up because I was afraid it would slow labour down again. In hindsight, I really wish I’d used the tub to relax.
Around 11:15 p.m. my water broke and the contractions became very intense. My midwife checked and I was fully dilated other than the anterior cervical lip, which is commonly the last part to dilate. She told me not to push but the strong urge had kicked in and my body was on auto pilot. I wish I’d had the confidence to go with my body, but instead I focused on fighting my instincts and trying not to push. The midwife checked the baby’s heart rate and it was dangerously low. She then had me change positions, checked again and it had gone back up. A repeat check a few minutes later showed a very low heart rate again which created a bit of panic. The midwife called EMS and told me I would need to push as hard as I could to get the baby out…NOW.
All of our plans and Hypnobirthing techniques went out the window. There was no “breathing baby down”…it was knees to chest, hold your breath and PUSH. I pushed so hard that I broke blood vessels in my face. My midwives had me try the birth stool but with the change in position I came close to passing out. They gave me IV fluids which I’m sure kept me conscious enough to keep pushing.
Running on almost no sleep and no food and after 22 hours of labour, I’m amazed my body was able to do what it did. After 30 minutes of pushing and with paramedics waiting in the doorway, my son was born. My midwives cut the cord immediately and began resuscitation. I was on the bed and couldn’t see any of this. He had a heartbeat but was not breathing on his own. After 10 minutes of resuscitation, his breathing improved enough for him to be transferred to hospital by ambulance. I still hadn’t laid eyes on him.
My midwife went with my son in the ambulance and cared for him throughout. The paramedics assisted with the transport to hospital but were not involved with his care. This is something I always mention when telling my birth story; midwives have the knowledge, expertise and equipment necessary to handle emergencies.
My dad and my husband followed the ambulance to the hospital while my secondary midwife as well as my mom and my doula stayed with me. I still had to deliver the placenta, have a few small stitches, and make sure I could empty my bladder before I was able to go to the hospital.
It was like an out of body experience to have just given birth but not be with my baby. I felt numb. About 2.5 hours after his birth, my mom drove me to the hospital to meet my son. He was perfectly fine and breathing on his own but he’d been given antibiotics and fluids and hooked up to monitors. I had to wait another hour before I was allowed to hold him.
Having him in my arms for the first time was pure bliss. The second his cheek touched my chest he relaxed and fell asleep. Later that day, at about 15 hours old, I was able to try breastfeeding. I’m so fortunate that breastfeeding went smoothly as it helped us bond after missing out on all that initial bonding time after his birth. The 48 hours we had to spend in the hospital for monitoring were especially tough because I was not admitted as a patient so we were in the pediatric wing, sleeping in fold-out chairs. Not great for a newly postpartum mother!
I’m so grateful that my son and I were healthy in the end but I still had a lot of emotions following his birth. My midwife told me that they think he was an asynclitic presentation, meaning he was descending with his head tipped to one side. I’m so grateful for the care the midwives provided but I wish I had the chance to work with my body, to start gently pushing with some coaching when I felt the urge, and maybe that could have lessened the stress on my baby. I couldn’t help but feel disappointed that I didn’t get the birth I was hoping for and heartbroken because I missed out on touching or even seeing my son as he was born. Then, of course, I dealt with feeling guilty because of my disappointed feelings. People say a healthy mom and baby is what matters most but a mother’s feelings about her birth do matter. It’s okay to feel the range of emotions that come with the experience of birth.
The Second Time
My second birth two years later was an absolute dream. I was lucky to have had a great pregnancy and felt well up until the end. We’d moved to a new house in a new city and planned another home birth with midwives. I discussed my previous experience and concerns with my midwives so we all planned to err on the side of caution and were open to transferring to hospital if there were any concerns.
A week before my second’s due date I started feeling a bit crampy and asked my husband to stay home from work. The day went on as usual; I just felt crampy and tired. I took a nap that afternoon and woke up around 4:00 to some stronger cramping and felt a big kick from baby and almost felt a “pop”. I thought to myself, wouldn’t it be funny if the baby just broke my water. Then I sat up and felt a gush of water. I burst into the office where my husband was working from home and told him my water had broken so he quickly finished up his conference call! Our midwife came by for a quick check of baby’s heart rate, which I really appreciated, and then we called my parents who were coming to look after my son.
I had no contractions after my water broke, very different from my first birth. At about 8:00 p.m., my doula arrived and my contractions started picking up, becoming more regular at about 4 minutes apart. In the next hour, the intensity increased but they still weren’t becoming more regular or more frequent. I rested and listened to Hypnobirthing affirmations, the first time I had done so in the entire pregnancy! At around 9:20, I went to the bathroom and had a few really strong contractions very close together. My husband called the midwife and she said she would be there in 20 to 30 minutes. I laid back down in bed and suddenly felt the baby shift way down. I told my mom and doula, “The baby is coming, RIGHT NOW!”
I was quite calm; I recited birthing affirmations, moaned a lot through contractions and breathed through each urge to push. I didn’t fight the urge to push or push forcefully; I just went with my body and what it was doing. With each surge, I could feel baby moving further down the birth canal. My midwife arrived at 9:50 and checked the heartbeat; it was nice and strong! Having my midwife there was a huge relief and I was able to relax and have her coach me through crowning. My beautiful and healthy baby was out in two small pushes at 9:59 p.m. I’ll never forget the moment she was placed on my stomach. I reached down to adjust her, and lifted her up just enough to see that she was a girl! Everything checked out and we blissfully cherished our skin to skin time, bonding, breastfeeding and introducing our daughter to my parents and her big brother. Her birth was everything I’d hoped for, and truly the most incredible and empowering experience of my life.
Sincere thanks, Becky, for sharing your story!
If you’re reading this and you’re interested in sharing your experience with others, check out our #REALTALK Birth Stories main page.