In this month's Ask the Midwife Newsletter, Anne discussed having family members at your birth. (Sign up for our newsletter here.)
The following is the homebirth story of Jacki Wolfe and her second son featuring this month's topic:
The night before I went into labor was my due date. I made jerk chicken for dinner and had pineapple for dessert, secretly hoping that the spicy and acidic foods would coax our little boy to come! I was mentally ready to go on the journey of birth - I was not afraid; I knew I was taken care of and that every step had been taken to ensure our safety and wellbeing.
I woke up on the morning of Saturday, March 14th around 3:00am with mild contractions. We'd already had a few episodes of what my midwife calls "positional contractions" which turned out not to be "real" labor, so I had learned to wait and see where they went. Previously, they would come for a few hours, not increase in intensity, and then go away suddenly.
I got up and rushed to the bathroom after several contractions in a row, which made me wonder if we were finally ready to meet our baby. I couldn't help but lie there in bed, unable to go back to sleep due to the intensity of the contractions, thinking about how cool it would be for the baby to have his birthday on Pi Day - 3.14. Pi Day on the year 2015 is even more special because it is accurate to more digits - 3.1415.
After about half an hour, the contractions were strong enough to make me decide to start timing them - I hadn't yet let myself believe that we were in labor "for real" because I wanted to wait and see if they increased more in intensity and frequency - that "false" labor that was plaguing me wasn't going to fool me again!
However, soon after that I decided that I had to treat them as if they were "real," because they were real to me in that moment and were intense enough to require my full attention. So I went on timing them until about 6:00am, when I decided to wake up Mike and see what he thought. It took us another few hours to see a pattern in the contractions - they would get closer together, then space out, but every time they cycled through that pattern, they would get closer together. I mostly labored in the living room, kneeling on my yoga mat.
Mike was right there with me, amazing husband that he is.
We FaceTimed with my brother and sister-in-law who live out of state. My brother led us in prayer - a very special moment.
My mom arrived around 9:00 a.m., and my dad came to get Eli, our first son, and spend the day with him. By about 1:30 p.m., I was ready to have the midwife and our doula head our way. Mike started to inflate the birth pool in our bedroom, running out to the living room to be with me for every contraction.
They quickly went from pretty intense to really intense, and I instinctively knew that I was transitioning to active labor. As soon as the birth pool was ready I got in, and I instantly felt more in control. Being in the water was very soothing. Maggie (our midwife) arrived just after I got in the pool, and Erin (our doula) arrived soon after that. Mike, my mom, and Erin busied themselves making sure I was comfortable and talking me through contractions, while Maggie was checking vitals on me and the baby (using a Doppler that can go in the water - no fetal heart rate monitor to tie me down!)
At one point my doula said to me, "Not every mom belongs at her daughter's birth, but your mom does." It's true!
At this point the timing gets a little fuzzy for me. I know I got in the pool around 2:00 p.m. and that I didn't get out until after the baby was born, but when I remember that time it's only in bits and pieces. I remember Maggie regularly checking our vitals and reminding me to take long, deep breaths (at one point I started to hyperventilate after a particularly strong contraction). I remember getting a glorious head massage from Erin. I remember my mom heating up water to keep the pool warm. I remember some wicked hot flashes.
Right before I felt the need to push, a song by Rend Collective Experiment came on my playlist. I focused on the words to the song: "No eye has seen, no ear has heard what is coming...you are coming." Typically those words mean something different to me, but right then they were about my baby boy - up until that point, nobody but God knew what my little boy looked like, but that was about to change. I knew that I was about to bring my boy into this world!
Then all of a sudden I needed to push. And when I say needed, I mean NEEDED to push. I didn't voice this need, but everyone knew! I was kneeling in the birth pool with my arms over the side at this point, and the baby started to descend rather quickly. I'm told I only pushed for about 10 minutes. At some point during this time I felt the need to tell everyone (or rather scream at everyone) that it hurt (not that they didn't know that, but I still felt the need to say it!)
Mike cut the cord with the help of the midwife and took the baby for some skin-to-skin time so I could move to the bed and get cleaned up.
He weighed 8lbs 8oz - the same as his big brother!
And that's the story of how our little boy came Earthside - about 11 hours from start to finish!