Editor’s note: This is part of an ongoing series of birth stories submitted by readers and fellow bloggers, featuring a diverse range of women and their birth experiences. All birth stories and all birth experiences matter. Hanneke is a nurse and prenatal educator at Preparing for Parenting, so it only makes sense that she’s sharing her home birth story with us this week. If you would like to share your own birth story, please visit this post to learn how. ~Olivia
I was just over 38 weeks and in the middle of writing my graduate school comprehensive exams. I had been given two weeks to finish two papers; my goal was to have two 20-page papers written in a week and a half, and use the remainder of the time allotted to edit and potentially have a baby. Well it turns out planning ahead paid off.
Wednesday evening I finished my drafts. It was a huge relief to have at least something written down. Step 1 complete!
Thursday morning I woke up, said goodbye to my husband and before I could do much else there it was, a contraction! Being my first child the first one or two made me wonder, “Is this it?” But when they kept coming it became clear. My husband hurried home and the rest of the day became “that day” – the day that summed up everything that had happened in my life, everything that brought me to that moment, and the day that everything changed… and the day I felt like a super hero!
As a maternity nurse and a prenatal educator, I felt prepared, although the “what if” feelings were alive and well! Strangely I had convinced myself that for some reason my labour would stop, and we would need to wait longer to see our lovely little girl. As much as my life was immersed in maternity care, I could only remember two things: water and breathe; so that is what I did, I breathed and sat in a tub.
We were having a home birth and as the day continued there was a gradual progression: longer and stronger. A progression that I did not enjoy and only when I started pushing did I actually believe that there was an end in sight. I remember thinking to myself, “This keeps getting worse, and it’s not ending.” But I was not in it alone. I had my husband and a wonderfully positive doula who we could relate with. I am sure my husband worked just as hard as me; I felt like we were truly partners. His support was what got me though the hardest parts. Holding his hand was probably the best coping strategy that I could have asked for.
Once I started pushing there was a bit more of a rush to ensure that the midwives would arrive on time, and that I was ready to push. I had no measure of time. Time was no longer measured in minutes, but rather contractions. The midwives arrived and sure enough upon doing an assessment, said that I might need to relax a bit with the pushing since I was somewhere between 8-9 cm dilated (honestly I think I was more 8 and they included the 9 just to make me feel better). But I had reached the point of no return. I NEEDED to push. So little pushes to help me cope was the answer.
I pushed for about 2 hours before Maaike was born. This portion of my day I probably remember the most! After I got the hang of it, I could tell when I had “effective pushes.” After each push a cool face cloth appeared on my forehead and a big bottle of water was offered to me; wonderful! When someone pointed out that I had been in labour almost 12 hours, I had a new goal, this baby would come out before 12 hours was up. As silly as it may seem, that gave me something to focus on. With each contraction I knew that I had work to do so she would come.
Once her head was in full view, my midwives offered a mirror and I looked. My response: “It looks exactly how it feels!” Fortunately that feeling did not last long. After a few more pushes, she was out. Her squashed little face, tiny fingers, and toes, and even the 8 cm circle on her head (that’s what happens when you have the urge to push at 8cm) were adorable. Our first little bundle of joy had arrived and would leave a mark on us like we never imagined.
As for my exams, I handed them in and passed.
Hanneke is a registered nurse in British Columbia and teaches prenatal classes. She is also the mom of a 4-year-old aspiring midwife and a 1-month-old. Hanneke’s goals in her work are to ensure that her clients are informed and prepared to make the decisions that are right for them for childbirth and caring for their newborn. She believes that providing up to date information and local resources are essential to aiding growing families. Her website Preparing for Parenting provides more information regarding her work. You can also connect with Hanneke on Facebook.