One truth about birth: it will always surprise you. I heard Zoe's story earlier this year, and I couldn't wait to share it with the readers of cord. Without further ado, here are Zoe's words!
My first son was born in the hospital via induction due to pre-eclampsia. When I found out I was pregnant with my second baby, I knew I wanted a completely different experience so I hired Candace McCollett as my doula in hopes to have a completely natural birth. My plan was to labor at home as long as possible and get to the hospital right before it was time to push. Towards the end of my pregnancy I started wishing that I was planning a home birth instead of a hospital birth but I felt like it was too late to switch.
I was thirty-six weeks and one day pregnant when I went to bed on November 29th, 2014. I had no signs that labor was starting soon and I was completely expecting to go to work at 5:30am the next day at Starbucks. That next morning, however, I woke up at around 3:30am feeling crampy. The cramps were enough to wake me up but nowhere near strong enough for me to consider them to be the possible start of labor. I drank a lot of water and tried to go back to sleep. The cramps came and went for about an hour. When my alarm went off at 4:30am I noticed that the cramps were getting more intense instead of better. This was when I started thinking that maybe these were contractions. I texted my doula and she told me to do some pelvic rocks and to get in the shower or bath to see if they would go away.
I got in the bath while my husband was getting ready for work and getting our toddler Fable ready for Grandma's. Josh asked me if he should call off work but I said "No, it's okay. Just leave your phone on you."
I was in the bath when all of a sudden my contractions became extremely intense. After being in the bath for about thirty minutes, I had my husband text my co-worker from my phone letting her know that I may not make it to work that day.
I told him to write "I am having contractions from Hell so I'm trying to figure out if I can come to work today".
Meanwhile, my husband was texting my doula letting her know that I didn't feel like this was very gradual. We timed a few and they were about 50 seconds long and three to four minutes apart. She said we would see what happens in the next hour. I think my language and weird positions in the bath made my husband finally text my co-worker at 5:15am letting her know that I would not be making it to work.
The whole time I was thinking that I was absolutely crazy for thinking I could have a natural birth because I thought I was only in early labor (if in labor at all!). If early labor was this intense I couldn't imagine what active labor would be like. Not to mention, my husband was standing in the bathroom next to me telling me that I'm only thirty-six weeks so these are probably "practice contractions." At around 5:40am I didn't think I could handle any more. I remember saying "I'm going to die," "I don't want to do this," "I think I'm going to throw up," and "Call Candace please." Looking back on it, this was transition but I didn't know it at the time.
My husband called my doula and I honestly don't know what he said to her because I had just started pushing and I had just felt my water break in the tub. At this point I knew that our baby would be born right there but hadn’t communicated that to him. Luckily, my doula asked him on the phone if I felt like pushing. When my husband asked me directly "Do you feel like pushing?" I was able to say yes. She told him to hang up and call 911.
I told Josh that I felt the baby’s head and he asked me what I meant by that. I said “As in I touched his head!”
When my husband called 911 he sounded very calm (even though later he told me he wasn't). He said "Hello. I think my wife is having a baby in the bath tub and I would just like to know what to do." That's when my baby's head came out. They asked my husband on the phone if he could see anything and that's when he looked behind me and saw "a baby head coming out of your butt!" as he puts it. Josh supported the head with his hands while his phone was between his shoulder and his ear. We waited for the next contraction and meanwhile “his instincts told him to drain the water because he didn't want the baby to drown”. (He didn't know that babies are born in the water all the time.) During the next contraction the shoulders came out and it only took one more contraction after that for my baby to be born in the water into daddy's hands. As soon as he was born I told my husband to put him on me and he did.
Dash Axel West was born at home at 5:47am on November 30th, 2014 only about two hours after the start of labor. He was 5 pounds and 18.5 inches long.
The paramedics showed up at 5:49am (two minutes after birth). At this point I was laying in an empty bathtub with my baby, Josh was with me, and Fable was just watching TV in the living room. One of the paramedics was a regular at my Starbucks and when I saw her I said "Oh don't I know you from Starbucks? I promise I'm not crazy!" and she said "Oh yeah I recognized you!" After a few minutes I let them take a look at Dash in the living room and wrap him in some blankets while I waited to deliver the placenta. Once I delivered the placenta I rinsed off in the shower, got dressed, and sat on the couch with my baby. That's when Candace arrived and the paramedics left. They asked us if we wanted to transport to the hospital with them but I said no because Dash and I were doing well.
I ended up nursing Dash with the help of my doula and a few hours later we headed to the hospital just to get checked out.
My birth was absolutely amazing. People always assume it must have been terrifying but it wasn’t. I felt completely confident following my instincts and I am so happy that I got to birth exactly how my body wanted to. I truly feel like I had the home birth that I was always meant to have (with just a little more excitement)!