Despite 3 previous attempts at an out of hospital birth and three previous transfers to the hospital during labor, I decided to plan for a homebirth for my 4th (and most likely final) birth. My body had already birthed three children, and I trusted its ability to do so. My midwives had always guided me safely through birth, stepping in to get me the care I needed when things were beyond their knowledge or ability, and I trusted that this baby would be born when and where he needed to be. If I needed to transfer during labor again, I was fully prepared for that as well. But I dared to hope for a homebirth. A waterbirth would be great, I thought, but just being able to stay home would have been wonderful. I dreamed and prayed it would be so.
As usual my pregnancy was very low risk and without incident. As I neared my due date, I waited for labor to begin in earnest. Beginning at 39 weeks 4 days I would have consistent contractions every evening for several hours, but they usually fizzled out by the time I went to bed. On my due date, Saturday, May 13; I was having contractions in a regular pattern with lots of pressure in my pelvis but I didn't get my hopes up. Sure enough, they were gone by bedtime that night. Sunday morning, May 14 was Mother's Day, and I woke up and noticed I had lost my mucous plug. I knew from my experience as a doula it could mean labor was still days or even weeks away. But I was hopeful that it at least meant all those contractions and prodromal labor were causing some cervical change. That evening I went out with my family to get dinner and celebrate Mother's Day. I began having contractions again, but I chose to ignore them because they felt the same as the previous few days. I told myself I would ignore all contractions until they forced me to pay attention, and I trusted myself to know when it was time. We went home and put the big kids to bed and I noticed a lot more discomfort in my back and hips during these contractions. I told my husband we should get some sleep, so we got in bed. The contractions slowed down significantly, but did not fizzle out completely. They continued to come and wake me from my sleep every 30 minutes or so with lots of pressure. I would acknowledge them and go back to sleep when they were through. Finally, around 4:50am on Monday morning, I had two contractions that woke me up and seemed much closer together than the previous contractions. I got up and sat on my birth ball and listened to a hypnosis for childbirth track and timed a few contractions. They were 4 minutes apart and well over a minute long each!
The hypnosis track I listened to encouraged me to breath in for the count of four through my nose and out for the count of six through my mouth. It gave me something to focus on as each contraction came. I focused on fully relaxing my pelvic floor muscles and being limp and relaxed during each contraction to allow my body to do the work of bringing my baby into the world, surrendering to the power of my body. Around 5:30am I decided it was time to wake up my husband and start making calls because I was sure this was the real deal, finally! My third birth progressed fairly quickly so I wanted to make sure everyone had time to get to me.
We called my mother in law June first, so she could start heading our way and take care of the kids during the birth. Sometime after 6am we called the midwife and I called my doula, Krystle. My middle son, Callen woke up around 6:30am and wandered into our room as he usually does at that time. He was startled to find both Matt and I dressed and moving about. He sat on the bed while I leaned forward on the bed whilst sitting on the ball and he held my hand through a couple of contractions. I continued to do my counted breathing to help me relax. When we told him baby Evan was coming he got very excited. Just before 7am June arrived and took Callen to watch a movie and take care of the kids for us so I could labor and birth in peace.
Mandi, my midwife, arrived just after 7am and took my vitals and everything looked great. Evan's heartbeat was strong and steady, and a quick exam revealed that I was 6cm dilated and fully effaced already! I was delighted when Mandi asked, "do you want me to set up the birth pool?" The answer was a resounding yes! Matt was doing counter-pressure on my lower back during each contraction while the other midwives arrived and they set up the tub. Krystle (my doula) arrived and made sure I ate something and did counter-pressure so I could lean into Matt and relax.
Around 8am the pool was set up and ready! I got right in. The warm water was an amazing relief to my lower back. It was a huge milestone for me, as I had to leave so quickly during previous births for the hospital and there was no time to set up the tub. I focused on my breath during each contraction and the water made it easy to relax. At this point contractions really picked up in intensity and frequency. I could tell I was reaching transition. I started letting out low moans during each contraction and leaned forward to bury my face into Matt over the edge of the birthing pool. Matt encouraged me with a, "you can do this!" I looked at him and said, "can I? I'm not so sure anymore." I knew as soon as the words left my mouth that I could and that I must be very close to meeting my son. I was alternating between hot and cold, and Krystle put some cold washcloths on my neck.
Over the next few contractions I felt Evan move further down and started to feel a lot of pressure in my bottom. My body started bearing down and the midwives could hear the change in my vocalizations. Abby (the student midwife) said she was going to quickly check and see where he was. He was very close to crowning, and as soon as Abby said she could feel a bulging bag preceding his head I felt it give way. The amniotic fluid was clear and I was thrilled! Immediately he was moving down and with the next contraction he was starting to crown. I changed to a seated, reclined position and pulled my legs back. I pushed into the burning and intensity, and the midwives guided me to slow down and breath to have a nice, slow crown. In just a couple of pushes his head was born, and then one more and he was out!
I couldn't believe it! I looked down at Evan and he looked right up into my face. "We did it!" I told him, as he arched back and looked at me. "We did it baby!" As I sat holding him in awe, we invited his big brothers to come in and look at him for the first time. They were so excited to see him! They couldn't wait to hold him and touch him. When the time came to weigh him (after plenty of skin to skin time with me and his first feeding), we invited the boys back in to watch the midwives do his newborn exam. Liam and Callen held his hands while Declan studied him carefully. The boys were delighted by the grasp reflex and exclaimed, "look he's holding my hand! He likes me!" It was precious to see how they took to him immediately.
Evan was born at 9:17am on May 15, 2017 after just 4.5 hours of labor. He was born at home, into water, right in my bedroom! He shocked me with his size- at 21 inches long and 9 pounds, 2 ounces he was my biggest baby, and yet I had no tears to repair. I could not have imagined a better birth experience! My midwives and doula made it such a beautiful morning, and I felt so much peace and closure about my last birth. I'm so glad I trusted the process and didn't give up on homebirth!