Last weekend was Kay’s first birthday. We had a nice little ladybug-themed party with our family and some close friends. Kay napped through half of her party, but she was awake for the important parts – the cake and presents! Of course, her favourite presents were the Minnie Mouse wrapping paper and her birthday card with the puppy on the front.
In celebration of Kay’s first birthday, I want to share the story of her birth. This was my first home birth. (I had actually planned a home birth with my oldest daughter, but we couldn’t make it home in time and accidentally ended up with a hospital birth instead!)
On the morning of Friday, August 10, 2012, I woke up with some mild contractions. Hubby and I visited Anne, our midwife, in her office. She examined me and told me I had a multips OS and she couldn’t tell if the baby would be coming that day or in two weeks. I had a strong feeling that the baby would be coming that day though, so I asked Chris to stay home from work. Together we watched almost the whole season of Freaks and Geeks that day. We didn’t know this baby’s gender, and I remember thinking that it wouldn’t be long until I’d find out!
The midwife came by at lunch time to check my cervix again, but there was no change from the morning. She came over again around 7:00 pm, and again there was no change. I had been experiencing mild contractions every 7-10 minutes and cramping all day, so at that point I decided I was going to take a more active role and help the baby come. I started pacing around the house and rocking on the yoga ball.
Around 11:20 pm, I suddenly felt a hard contraction. Was this finally real labour? After a second strong contraction four minutes later, Chris called the midwife to come. Then he phoned his mother to come and pick up our toddler. The plan was for Tee to spend the night at Grandma’s.
I went upstairs, and the contractions started coming faster and stronger. Back then, Tee’s bed was still in our bedroom. She slept through the first few moans, but I was afraid she’d wake up and be scared at seeing me in pain. Everything was moving so quickly! Within 20 minutes, I could feel transition coming on but neither my mother-in-law nor the midwife had arrived yet!
Between contractions, I gasped out that I was going to have to push soon. Where was the midwife? Chris told me later that he started mentally preparing to deliver the baby himself if Anne didn’t arrive in time. Luckily, both Anne and my mother-in-law arrived at the house right then, saving him from having to become an emergency midwife. Chris grabbed the midwife’s bags and practically chased her up the stairs to our bedroom. When Anne finally came in, she took a look and matter-of-factly said, “Oh yes, there’s the bag of waters.”
I felt an unstoppable urge to push, and I could feel the bag bulging out. Anne got on the phone with the second midwife to tell her to come now. All of a sudden I felt completely alone. Hubby was still downstairs bringing in the midwife’s gear and putting Tee in his mother’s car. I wanted him with me right away! That was the only moment I felt overwhelmed and panicky. I felt a sudden surge of anxiety, and for a few seconds I was worried that everybody had forgotten about me. I remember shouting to Anne, “Do something!”
Chris came back into the room and Anne passed him the phone to give the second midwife directions to our house. She patted my arm and told me everything would be fine. Anne broke my amniotic sac at that point. Chris held my hand and assured me that I could do this, and I felt okay again.
I continued pushing for about 5 minutes but wasn’t making as much progress as expected. The baby moved down well while I was pushing, and I was able to touch the head for the first time, but as soon as I stopped bearing down the baby slipped back up the birth canal. The midwife took a closer look and saw that the umbilical cord was on the short side and wrapped around the baby’s neck. During the next contraction she slipped the cord over the baby’s head, clearing the way to come out. I think it was at this point the second midwife arrived, having let herself in the unlocked door, but it’s all a little fuzzy.
At 12:25 a.m. on August 11, 2012, Kay slipped out and into Chris’ arms. He looked at me with tears running down his face and proudly announced, “She’s a girl!” Tears filled my own eyes as I held out my arms for my beautiful, healthy little girl. She was so pink and wriggly. She cried, and then the very next thing she did was poop on me. I held Kay in my arms while Chris cut her umbilical cord.
I had a small tear that needed a few stitches. You’d think after everything that had just happened down there, a few stitches would be no big deal. But I hated it. I really wanted to focus on my new baby, and I couldn’t do that properly with both midwives discussing the best way to sew me up like I was a shirt with a popped seam. I remember I couldn’t stop shivering despite it being August in the middle of a heat wave, and I just wanted to curl up under the blankets. I hadn’t eaten much all day so Chris brought me some peanut butter on toast and I started to feel a bit less shaky.
Once I was all put back together, Kay latched on and breastfed for the first time like a pro. We nursed and rested in bed together while the midwives cleaned up and did their paperwork. They left about three hours after Kay’s birth, and she spent her first night in this big, wide world snuggled up, safe and loved, with her mommy and daddy.
The next morning Kay met her big sister Tee and her grandma Sherilyn for the first time. They both held her and marveled at how small and perfect she was. Tee seemed pretty excited to see the baby, but I don’t think she quite realized Kay was coming to live with us forever!
I feel blessed that everything went so smoothly and according to my ideal birth plan. My first delivery with Tee was under two hours, so I was pretty sure that this baby was also going to come quickly. I felt so much better prepared the second time around, and the pain was much easier to manage this time too. While it was intense, I knew it would be over quickly. My healing and recuperation time were noticeably quicker this time as well.
During my pregnancies with both of my girls, I researched my birth options, safety outcomes, and the relative risks and benefits of each. As a low-risk pregnancy within minutes of a specialized pediatric and maternity hospital, I felt safe and comfortable in my own bed and in my own home. My personal perspective is that hospitals are for when I’m sick or injured, and I wasn’t either of those things. Barring any complications that would make me reassess the risk/benefit ratio, I would definitely choose a home birth again.