Ever since I was a little girl, I knew I wanted to have a home birth. My mom had four home births and ever year on my birthday she would snuggle up next to me and tell me the story of my birth. My mom never lied about birth, but she always had such a beautiful perspective. As I grew older and began to understand more about birth I would ask her if it hurt. She would gently reply that it did hurt at times, but it was completely worth it in the end. My mom could not have been more right.
On Friday July 11, 2014 at 2pm I began having light contractions. This was the first time I had contractions that started while I was sitting down. My husband, Jeremy, and I would take evening walks that would start Braxton Hicks contractions but this time the contractions started spontaneously while I was sitting on the couch talking to my friend Bethany via FaceTime. These contractions were very light, but I still couldn’t help but wonder if it was time! They continued into the evening and slowly became slightly more intense. I tried helping them along by moving into different positions. Unfortunately, when 9pm rolled around, my contractions faded and eventually stopped. I still had hope that we might have a baby in the next few days. My husband and I stayed up late that night. We talked, snuggled, and savored what we hoped would be one of our last nights as just the two of us.
Sure enough around 2:30am I was woken up by stronger contractions. I got out of bed and continued moving in different positions, hoping that the contractions would progress. Around 5am they became uncomfortable and I thought that getting in the birth tub sounded nice. I decided to wake Jeremy up and ask him to set up the tub. After he graciously set up the tub, I got in around 6am. The moment I got into the water my contractions stopped completely. I was frustrated and knew that I had to get out of the water immediately. Once I got out of the tub I dried off, dressed, and went for a walk with Jeremy and our dog, Bear. The contractions came back but they were very light and I wanted so badly to feel the more intense contractions again. After our walk, my husband and I were completely exhausted and I was frustrated, so we decided to take a nap.
We woke up around 8am and my midwife called to see how I was doing. I told her what happened and she asked if she could swing by for a visit. She came by around 8:30am and checked me. I was dilated to 4cm and 50% effaced. She suggested that I try and get some rest and then go for another walk to see if the contractions come back. My husband and I took another nap and woke up around 11:30am. We decided to drive down to Old Colorado City to walk around the farmer’s market. The contractions came back slowly but surely and I could tell they were progressing into the contractions I had felt earlier that morning. After the farmer’s market we went to see a commercial property for my husband’s work. While we were walking around the property I noticed the contractions had intensified. Once we left, our midwife called and asked how I was doing. She suggested I start timing the contractions and give her a call back in an hour. I timed them and they were lasting for about 45 seconds and were 2-3 minutes apart. I was also noticing more pressure in my lower back. She asked if it would be ok for her to come by again. Of course I said, “yes.” When she arrived around 3:30pm she asked if she could check me again, and I agreed to it. I was still at 4 cm but she noticed that my sack was really bulging. She recommended breaking my water so that things could continue to progress. I agreed to her breaking my water, but I was not prepared for what would happen next.
After she broke my water, contractions hit hard and fast. I stood up to go clean up a bit in the bathroom and the next contraction brought me to my knees. These were by far the strongest contractions I had felt thus far. I was excited for the progress and finally confident that our baby girl was going to be born that day. I tried putting on pads and changing pants, but the water continued to flow. I felt as though I was peeing my pants and couldn’t stop it. Once the amniotic fluid stopped flowing, I remember trying different birthing positions with little success. I only wanted to curl up into a ball on my bed. I tried to stay focused and to remember to breathe through the contractions. After about an hour of hard contractions, I remember feeling like I wanted to escape my body. Although I had no sense of time during labor, I now know that I went from 4cm to 10cm in about an hour and a half. I never imagined that I would transition so quickly. During transition, I remember thinking that I understood why women wanted epidurals. Luckily, I didn’t have that option because I was in the comfort of my own home and not the hospital. I was curled up on my bed wishing that the discomfort would stop. I felt as though each contraction came one on top of the other. I just needed a small break so that I could recover. It eventually did slow down and then I felt as though I needed to have a bowel movement. I told my midwife and she suggested that I try to use the restroom and if nothing comes out then we should start pushing. My husband and midwife began to prepare the birthing pool. After I had no success using the restroom, I crawled into the tub and began to push with each contraction. These contractions were not nearly as intense and I had a much longer pause between them. However, when I started pushing, I felt like I was doing something wrong. I didn’t feel like I was pushing the right way. I didn’t know where to focus my energy and I was also starting to feel the exhaustion from not having slept or eaten much that day. I began to fall asleep in between contractions. I remember that my husband was constantly offering me water to help me stay hydrated and my midwife was checking the baby’s heart rate and offering me cold wash cloths. After two hours of pushing in the tub, my midwife suggested that we try laboring on the toilet to allow gravity to help us out a bit more.
Once I was on the toilet, I knew I wouldn’t last long there. The cold seat beneath me was not inviting at all. I also felt as though I could not get comfortable between contractions and my lower back was throbbing. I tried moving into a standing position with a slight squat, as well as placing one foot on the toilet with a modified squat. Although I felt as though we were progressing more, I didn’t have the energy to continue in these positions. I requested that we move into the bedroom and try pushing on the bed. Once in the bed, I felt so much more comfortable, which helped me to fully relax between contractions and allowed me to have more energy to push with the contractions. I still had no sense of how much time had actually passed. I looked out the window and noticed that it was completely dark outside. I asked my midwife if my baby girl was still going to be born on July 12th. She assured me that we still had plenty of time and my baby would be born on July 12th. At this point, I didn’t feel like I was making much progress. I continued to place my hands down to feel if baby was crowning at all. With each push I knew that I was getting closer to seeing my baby girl, but I needed some physical proof as well. My midwife was wonderful at coaching me through the process. She would apply pressure on my perineum and show me where I needed to be focusing my energy. I pushed with every ounce of my being. I would talk to my baby girl and tell her that she was doing a great job too. Even though I had no sense of time, I knew that I had been pushing for quite a while. I began to feel weak and asked my husband to bring me a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Between contractions I would take small bites of the sandwich along with small sips of juice. I really felt that the food gave me the extra boost I needed in order to finish strong.
I could tell that we were getting closer to meeting our precious baby girl. My midwife told me that she could see her head. I was so encouraged by this progress! I felt a new rush of energy and continued to push with everything I had. I could see the slow progression I was making on my husband’s face. Baby girl would come out with my strong pushes and go back in when I relaxed. I could see the excitement on his face every time he could see her head. I knew one way or another, she would eventually come out. Soon after, I felt a burning sensation and I actually thought that I was tearing. I pushed as hard as I could. This was the only point in labor where I was really vocal. I remember having a desire to really groan with the last few pushes. Then I remember looking down and seeing my baby girl’s head sticking out. Everything else was a blur to me. I didn’t hear my midwife coaching me through the next few steps; I just pushed with all of my might. I then remember that feeling of relief, I had actually done it! I gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. Then I snapped back into reality and heard my midwife telling me to reach down to grab my baby. When I did, I noticed the funny shape of her head. She was born sunny side up and was also in a position called, “military.” Instead of having her head tucked in the birth canal, baby Riley was straight up and down which caused her head to have a big knot on top of it. I felt so bad that she was in the birth canal for so long. Even though her head looked silly, I was over-joyed! All I could do was kiss her and tell her how beautiful she was. I then suggested that my husband call her by name, since her name had been a secret during my pregnancy. Everything in that moment felt so perfect. I was on cloud nine and forgot all about my exhaustion and hunger. Holding my baby girl for the first time was the best feeling I have ever had. Child birth for me was not excruciating or horrific like many people have described it. It was a miracle and the most precious experience. If I had to describe child birth in a few words, I would say that it is hard work, but extremely worth it in the end.
Having a home birth was a dream come true. My midwife, Jessica Nipp, with Holistic Home Birth, was amazing. She was so encouraging and supportive through the whole process. She didn’t let anything phase her and remained calm through it all. She didn’t make me feel rushed through my 4.5 hours of pushing. Also, after giving birth, I bled a little more than Jessica thought was normal. She calmly explained that she was going to give me a shot of Pitocin to get my uterus to start contracting. Everything she did was so calm and peaceful. I felt extremely cared for and comfortable. I am so in love with our baby girl and I look forward to the day that I have the opportunity to give birth again.
How did the difficulty level meet your expectations?
I would say that the level of difficulty did not exceed my expectations. I was preparing myself mentally for hard work and pain. However, the pain of transition was so short, the majority of birth, for me, was just hard work in the sense of pushing.
What was the best thing you did to prepare?
The best thing I did to prepare physically was walking. My husband and I would walk 1-3 miles every evening. The distance depended upon how tired we were and how much sun light we had left. The best thing I did to prepare mentally was writing down encouraging things and posting them around my house. I wrote down hopes I had for my birth as well as positive beliefs.
What was your most effective form of pain control?
The most effective form of pain control was the birthing tub. I found that the warm water was very comforting. Also, the cold wash cloths that my midwife brought to me were very relaxing.
Would you do anything differently?
Honestly, if I could change one thing, I wouldn’t have gotten into the birthing tub the first time I did. I didn’t realize that it would stop my contractions completely because I wasn’t far enough along. Other than that, I wouldn’t change a thing about it!
Do you have any advice for pregnant moms?
I would encourage pregnant moms to try not to feel stressed about their birth. Your body will know what to do and it’s amazing to experience when your body takes over.