I wanted to write about my home birth while it was fresh on my mind.
Pregnancy for me is consistently depressing. My best friend and I have named it “pre-partum depression”, because I am wildly different when I’m pregnant. My body goes from tired, to sick and throwing up, to gaining 50 pounds, to weepy depression, to feelings of extreme loneliness and isolation, to fear and eventually lack of faith that God will pull me through. My entire being is burdened physically, emotionally and mentally when I’m pregnant. It’s not fun, but I try to cope with it by comfort eating and reading books about faith and endurance. My faith does always die by the end of my pregnancies, they have all been marked by extreme changes in my life. My first pregnancy was right after we moved away from my family and I changed my business to another state while Josh was finishing college. My second was two weeks after a move to another town, house, job and then transitioned to birth 6 weeks before another move, job and business change. My third was right when we were getting settled here in KC and now we are moving states, jobs and businesses again. My kids have always been 12 months old when I get pregnant with the next (we are done having kids now! PTL!).
We are looking forward to a time of peace and rest in our lives as we move back to Lubbock and settle back down near our family and put down roots. Our journey has felt like the people of Israel wandering through the wilderness, but at the wonderful cost of learning life’s most valuable lessons the most true way, through obstacles and trials. When we left Lubbock 5 years ago I remember going on this journey with God and asking Him to take my pride down step by step instead of letting my prideful fall come crashing down on me all at once. He heard my prayer and began working to show me how to trust in Him and not in any person, finances or earthly success. I knew that I wanted to truly understand the meaning of life and it’s greatest joy and contentment, but also knew that it would come at a price- humility. Humility for someone who knows the extent of their own pride is a scary thing to give over to God.
So back to the current condition of my pregnancy. Sam was 10 days overdue and I had warm up labor since 37 weeks. I spent the next 5 weeks expecting to go into labor at any moment. I exhausted myself with long hikes, labor dances, and even short jogs trying to force things to happen. I couldn’t wait to be “un-pregnant”, start losing weight, be able to walk around and not ache and feel normal again. My emotions went from bouts of crying, feelings of boredom and loneliness as a stay at home mom, and a few moments of peace that God would come through at the right time. At 41 weeks and 1 day (when I went into labor with Silas) there was no evidence that I was going to go into labor soon. My cervix was closed and high at my 40.5 week appointment with the midwife and I was worried that because of him being turned the wrong direction that I would never go into natural labor and have to have a hospital induction or a c-section at 42 weeks.
I chose a home birth again because it was the obvious cheaper route than a non-insured hospital birth. I was willing to take that pain again knowing that the comfort of my own home and experience of it all, was a better choice financially and emotionally for me. I ended up finding a midwife through a friend’s referral and just felt “right” about choosing her although she was the most expensive midwife I had come across. I just had this “yes” in my spirit when I met with her.
At 41 weeks and 1 day overdue I had a breakdown and was just crying for a long time and Josh told me to take the night off, so I went and got a purple sparkle pedicure (Solomon loves when I paint them sparkly), had a phone date with my long time mentor to build me up, and then went to get Sheridan’s frozen custard. It was a relaxing night and I gave it over to God. Josh had called his mom that afternoon and asked her to come early just to keep me company. He told me that he had called her and told her to come while I was out at my pedicure appointment and I just burst into happy tears. I needed someone to be there with me.
After she started driving up Josh started cleaning the house, he just felt like it was the right time to have the baby. I got a few things organized, but mainly played with the kids. I decided to take castor oil at 3 Pm when she arrived so that we could get this show on the road.
At 3 I took 2 Tbsp of castor oil.
Nothing happened for 3 hours, until what was supposed to happen, did!
I felt miserable after all of that and thought that it was a waste of time. I went into the living room and started to fall onto the couch when I felt a gush. Then when I hit the couch I felt another gush. I got right up and went to the restroom, my water had broken twice.
I began texting my doula, who I had hired out of fear that I would have bad back labor and have no idea how to cope. Sam had been malpositioned for over a month. She didn’t think it was real amniotic fluid at first, but I knew. My midwife called 15 minutes later and while we were about to hang up the phone I had three more gushes. She quickly told me to go to bed (at 7 PM! No way!) and told me she would go to bed also.
Contractions started about 30 minutes later while Josh was getting the boys to bed and I started to fret about babies position and him coming out sunny side up. I was laying in all of these weird positions to try to get him to turn and it made my contractions moderately painful and 1-2 minutes apart.
I texted my birth photographers that were waiting to decide who could come, and told them about the situation and how close apart my contractions were. I was worried that I would have this baby super fast because of my water being broken already and it being my third baby.
Allison French decided to quickly come while I took a bath and my contractions got lighter and spread farther apart. I felt horrible for having her come so early.
I leaned over the birthing ball to try to get him to turn again and they quickly got more intense and closer together.
They stayed 1.5-3 minutes apart the rest of the 7 hours I was in labor, but only lasted 30-45 seconds each. That part threw me off, but I could feel them getting more intense and so I could tell that things were happening.
I sent everyone to bed while I went to the room and labored on the birthing ball. Josh setup the pool because I knew that things were about halfway complete based on how I was coping with the contractions. I remembered how I coped at the last home birth and that helped gauge how far I thought I was in dilation since I only had 1 cervical check the entire birth process.
I had a lot of fear leading up to this birth, because I knew what was going to happen to me. My last home birth was my first unmedicated birth and so I had no idea what to expect, this one I was completely aware of the endurance and surrender needed. I was NOT looking forward to it.
The good thing about natural labor is that it is slow, gives you breaks and “boils the frog slowly”. You gain endurance with each contraction as they get harder and as soon as you get to the point where you can’t handle one contraction, you are just a few away from being “complete”. I reached that contraction and remembered that. It wasn’t but a few more when I started to push.
The doula arrived around 11 I think and she couldn’t tell by my coping if I was really in active labor. I wanted in the pool. I told her that I could cope until I died if I needed to, and that I knew that I was about a 6 or 7.
She did an internal exam and right after that things got much worse. I told her I was getting in the pool. She let me go with my gut feeling.
Right after that I started to feel pushy. I told her to call the midwife and tell her to leave NOW!
They arrived 30 minutes later and I would guess that I was about an 8. Things were moving slowly in transition compared to my previous birth and I think that was due to the castor oil and my water being broken. Silas flew out about 30 minutes after my water broke with my last pregnancy, and transition to delivery with Sam took much longer.
I remember saying “this would be a good time for the rapture” after a hard contraction to make everyone laugh. I didn’t want to be all serious, and kept trying to think of funny things to say to keep myself and the situation light hearted.
Things got pushy and they started having me try to pant towards the end, but oh my I could not! Debbie, my seasoned midwife, just told me to listen to my body. I started pushing and it felt like forever! Oh my, it was so painful, much more painful than with Silas (he had a 14 1/2 inch head!). I think I coped with it better this time though because I knew what to expect and wasn’t afraid in the moment. I kept thinking “this will all be over in an hour”.
When he finally was born he was covered, COVERED, in vernix and had dark hair! They wanted me to catch him, but I was in to much of a daze and remember him swimming in the pool for a moment as they were attempting to grab his slippery body. I’m not a super bondy kind of mom and haven’t cried at any of my births, I’ve always felt bad about that, but think it’s just my “pre-partum depression” hormones. They handed him to me and I was just SO happy that it was all over!
I just wanted to sit in that tub for an hour and relax. I was exhausted, I’m getting to old for this!
After I delivered the placenta, the birth assistants (one was my doula who was training with Debbie) took it in to examine it and then called the midwife into the bathroom.
It had a rare thing called Valementous Insertion of the Cord and could have been very life threatening to both of us. The midwife came out and told us about it and said it was such a miracle. She said that having a home birth probably saved the baby’s life. She said that since the sonograph didn’t detect this abnormality, that if I would have gone in for a 41 week induction at a hospital without knowing about this and they would have forcefully broken my water with an amnio hook and grabbed ahold of one of those misplaced blood vessels that the baby would have died immediately and I would have hemorrhaged. She said that having a natural home birth (and not forcing a medical induction at 41 weeks) had most likely saved both of our lives. WOW! Who would have ever thought that a home birth was actually safer than a hospital birth? She said that it was the worst one she had ever seen and that the umbilical cord was attaching to the middle of the amniotic sac instead of directly to the placenta. It had giant, unprotected blood vessels reaching out towards it to supply life to Sam from the placenta, those blood vessels could have ruptured at anytime and killed both of us. She also said that it was a miracle that Sam wasn’t malnourished because of it. I chalk that up to my 55 pound weight gain on Mcdonalds… he was bound to have gotten enough nutrients with my overkill of calories over the last 9 months.
She also showed me where the water bag burst on it’s own and it was right next to one of the giant vessels. Again, she said that it was a miracle. I was still dazed and emotionless about it all, but today I’m feeling much more gratitude to God about his hand of protection for keeping both of us alive through the process. He showed Himself strong and faithful in my life through the home birth.
I felt like I was more of a warrior during this labor and having endured it once and then doing it again prepared me more to take it like a warrior instead of a panicky first timer. It was awesome, empowering, painful and OVER!!!! Can I get an AMEN??
The home birth experience was awesome. The midwife team and doula were awesome. My birth photographer was awesome! God came through and protected us and was AWESOME! The pain was really bad, but surrendering to it and knowing that it produced endurance, character and a wonderful gift at the end made me stronger. I felt like a beast at the end and was really “proud” of myself and the strength that God gave me.
I am now extremely happy and ALL of my “pre-partum depression” is gone. I am SO HAPPY! YAY!!!
My verse for this pregnancy to get me through was from my doula and I took it as a way to be funny, but also to encourage myself to endure:
” I shall not die, but live and declare the works of the Lord.”
I now think that it is such a verse of irony instead of humor since we could have actually died, but did not! God is so kind, and I am beyond THRILLED to not be pregnant anymore!!
Baby Samuel James was born at 3:24 in a birthing pool weighing 8 pounds, 7 ounces and was 21 inches long. He has beautiful dark skin and a head full of dark BROWN hair!
Here are two photos from my birth photographer’s blog post! You can see the full post from her blog HERE
Or watch the video she surprised me with HERE
Birth Photographer: Allison French with Allison Corrin Photography
Doula: Rachel Schwepler with Arise Doula
Midwife Team: Debbie Perry with Natural Birth KC