Birth Knot: A family centered homebirth

Birth Knot Cord

It was around 7pm, the night before my son’s due date, when my husband, Dan, and I started to really pay attention to the contractions. We timed them for the next half-hour, from the beginning of one to the beginning of the next, just like we were told. I tried calling my midwife, Heather, to let her know the wonderful, and much awaited news but her son was the one who answered the phone. He asked who was calling and I very excitedly told him that it was one of her clients in labor. It felt like forever before she got to the phone and we spent the next ten minutes debating on whether she should come over or not. This was my second home birth and I remember that the first time my other midwife took a shower and a nap before she came over. I told Heather that it was probably not necessary for her to come to the house now, but she finally admitted that she would be more comfortable coming over right away since this was my second child and second births usually progress faster. I was very happy with her decision since this was my husband’s first child and he was probably not ready to be catching babies yet. So Dan and I sat on the couch for another 45 minutes or so and timed more contractions so Heather could see the “stats” when she arrived. Then we started to putter around getting things ready, such as the tray of supplies for Heather, the crockpot for the ginger compresses, the video camera for prosperity, and the hose to fill up the labor pool, which Dan had blown up that very morning. I was so excited that I couldn’t sit still. Walking around and doing things while I was in early labor felt better than sitting anyway. 

When Heather arrived she checked me and said that things were progressing nicely. She recommended that I try to take a nap if I could but when I went in the bedroom to lay down around 9:30 p.m., my contractions became more intense. After about 45 minutes I got up and found Heather, Dan and my mom in the living room watching a horror movie while my 6 year old daughter was upstairs in her bedroom trying to sleep. We promised to wake her up for the birth but she ended up waking on her own anyway. I would have been surprised if she fell asleep at all because the energy in the house was so intense. I sat down to try and watch the movie with the rest of the clan but I could not concentrate. That’s when Heather suggested that we go fill up the labor pool. When I first got in, it was too hot so Dan took the empty garbage pail to transfer cold water from the tub to the labor pool and that made it much more comfortable. After a while the contractions were so intense that I started to arch my back through them. Maybe it was time to push but I was waiting for Heather to tell me it was okay, and at the same time she was waiting for me to tell her when I felt the “urge”. After a couple of intense ones she asked if I was ready to push yet and that’s when I finally let my tension go. I guess I was waiting for permission to push because with my daughter’s (the first) birth the midwife told me when it was time. I pushed for awhile sitting on my bottom and then Heather suggested we try a different position, maybe the toilet. I did not want to walk that far at that point (it was only the next room over) so I got on my hands and knees in the water. When a contraction came I grabbed my husband around the neck and used him as support and leverage. At that point, he was not allowed to leave my side for a second because the contractions were coming so close together. All the while my mother was fetching things and my daughter was putting cold washcloths on my forehead. Heather thought that the baby was going to come before her sidekick, Donna, got there but she finally arrived with 45 minutes to spare. 

Soon the “ring of fire” developed as Kale started to crown and at one point when Heather was stretching my perineum, I cried out, “I need a break!” Upon hearing me, my daughter became upset and had to leave the room and my mother followed to comfort her. I started chanting, “Baby, baby, oh baby,” as I was pushing Kale’s head out, it just felt good at that point to start vocalizing through the contractions. Sophia and my mom came back just in time to see Kale’s head come out and when it did Heather had to slip the cord off his neck. I kept on pushing even after the contraction was over and he “swooshed” out into the water. I turned over, lifted my leg over the umbilical cord and they placed Kale on my chest. I just kept on saying, “Oh thank God,” over and over again because I was so glad it was over. It took him a little while to start breathing on his own, he was blue for what seemed like forever, but I was not terribly concerned, as he was still connected to his umbilical cord. 

We covered him in a receiving blanket and kept pouring warm water over his back. Eventually his silent crying face turned into the real thing and it was so nice to hear his voice. He pinked up immediately but it is so weird to look back on the still pictures that were taken and to see the different color changes he went through. Sophia came over and cut the cord and then exclaimed, “Ew, blood!” I passed the placenta easily and the midwives placed it in a bowl for later inspection. After a few minutes they wrapped Kale up in a dry blanket and gave him to Dan as I got out of the pool and into the shower. I came back into the bedroom feeling hollow and tired and lay on the bed next to Dan so I could try nursing. I felt awkward at first, like I had totally forgotten how to do it from 6 years ago. Kale caught on pretty quick and I just sat back and relished in the peaceful feelings that came over me, in between the after pains of my contracting uterus, of course. Heather borrowed him for a minute to weigh him and he was 8 pounds even.

Looking back it was amazing to see the family all participating in the birth of the new family member. My mom running in drinks and cold water, Sophia placing the cold washcloths and cutting the cord, Dan being my support and leverage and yes, even Shelby our dog sitting in the room totally quiet during the whole birth. Could it have been any better? I don’t think so.