My first son was born 10 days before his his EDD weighing 5lbs 11oz. I had prodromal labour for a week leading up to his birth and delivered him vaginally with an epidural and forceps delivery (Including an episiotomy). He spent four days in the NICU for low blood sugar and jaundice.
My second son was born 8 days past his EDD weighing 8 lbs 9 oz. labour was induced via cervadil and later with pitocin after an epidural. He was also born vaginally with second degree tearing. We were home within 24 hours.
Both recoveries were ok, not horrible but definitely had their painful moments. One distinct thing I can remember was the absolute throbbing headache I had after pushing each baby out, eight minutes with the first and twenty minutes with the second. My neck and eyes had burst blood vessels and my head was throbbing after each. In addition I hated the swelling and side affects from the epidural.
When I got pregnant with my third baby I knew I wanted to do things differently. I wanted an easier recovery and a more enjoyable birth. I wanted a drug free birth.
"My first step was to hire a doula. I knew my husband could support me, after all he had done it twice already, but I really wanted him to know how and what to do in a non-epidural situation.'
If we're being honest he took a lot of naps during the first two labours. I got in touch with a friend who is a doula and after meeting with her we mutually agreed it would be a great fit! Throughout my pregnancy my doula got me in touch with a lot of information and reading material to prepare me for natural child birth (Childbirth without fear, Birthing from within, hypnobirthing and more). The more I read the more confident I felt in going drug free to deliver my baby. As my third trimester approached I started to regret not having considered or looked into midwifery care. I voiced this with my doula but she assured me I could still have a wonderful natural birth under the care of my OBGYN.
We also decided not to find out baby's gender as we had known ahead of time with both boys and wanted to try for a surprise just once. My suspicions were that I was having another boy as all three pregnancies were identical.
I stayed very active with this pregnancy and felt wonderful throughout, gaining just shy of 20 lbs.
One night at 37 weeks pregnant I was about to get into bed and do a little surfing of the Internet when my doula tagged me in a Facebook post. It was a midwife (The midwife who had delivered my doulas babies) who was accepting a handful of clients if they had a February or March due date. I freaked out a little at the thought of changing care provides just weeks before my due date but after a quick chat with my mom(the sounding board for all of my major life decisions) and a few text questions to my doula, l decided to get in touch with the midwife. I set up an appointment to meet her the next day and barley slept a wink that night.
At my appointment the next day I met the midwife and her student and was given a ton of information and was able to ask questions. They accepted me into their care and the plan was to have a water birth at the hospital she was able to work out of. Over the next three weeks I continued to have prenatal appointments with her and stayed in touch with my doula. As my due date approached I began to get more and more anxious about going over due and requiring another induction. I felt I had come too far to have to give up my hopes for a drug free brith.
On the morning of my due date I cleaned my house and got groceries. I took the dog for a walk in an attempt to move baby down and engage the head. I thought about having a nap but felt the desire to clean up the house and prep things for valentines dinner that evening (hindsight I was very clearly nesting). That evening during dinner with my husband and kids I started to feel spontaneous contractions, not overly painful but noticeable. I was assuming I would start experiencing some prodromal labour again like I had with my first. By the time we went to bed the contractions were slightly more frequent at about a handful every hour. I decided to let my doula know what was going on just so she had a "heads up" on the situation. After watching a movie we went to bed for the night. Around 2:00 am I decided to time things for an hour to see if we were progressing at all and the contractions were about 40 seconds long every 4-6 minutes. Back to bed I went to ignore the contractions. At 4:00am I was no longer sleeping well and decided to call my doula, who arrived an hour later. She advised me to call the midwife to let her know I was in labour and to let the birth photographer know as well. My midwife was at another birth so we were put in touch with her partner who would end up being present for my birth. We decided our plan of action would be to sleep a little longer, until my boys woke up for the day. At that point we would send them off to my Mom's and then get moving to help labour along. The other decision we made was to stay home rather than head to the hospital.
By 6:30am active labour had started. My contractions were painful and I was no longer talking through them. My doula came upstairs to help me through them while my husband got the kids up and fed before my Mom arrived to take them. At this point I distinctly remember thinking how much things hurt and wondering how I was going to do this as it got worse. I decided to relax and just do one contraction at a time and not worry about what was coming. I said my goodbyes to my boys as I knelt on the stairs. My photographer arrived by 8:30 and my midwives arrived shortly after. When the midwives checked me I was thrilled to find out I was 6-7cm dilated. Things were well on their way! My husband and doula started to fill the pool and by 10:00am I was able to get in. We tried various positions to help move baby down but when I was checked again at 11:00 I was sitting at the same point, about 7cm. We then decided to break my waters in hopes that things would progress. After a few attempts my student midwife was able to break them and things got very intense very quickly. I was very vocal through my contractions which surprised me, but also helped a lot with the pain. I was fed bananas and granola bars and sips of juice to give me energy for what was inevitably coming. I was tired and wanted to be done and began to complain that I wanted things to be over. I didn't want anything for the pain I just wanted to have a baby. In hopes of distracting me my doula asked me what I wanted for lunch. Through gritted teeth I replied "a baby". I kept my audience entertained!
Not long after my waters were broken I began to feel a sensation a lot like throwing up but down south, aka "the urge to push". I was told to let my body do what it felt like doing. I was completely unaware that I was in transition and baby was on its way out. After a few contractions with this sensation my doula started breathing with me, "he he he he" giving my perineum a chance to stretch out as baby started to crown. I remember her breathing with me so vividly. It was so encouraging and helpful, and not a single word was spoken between us. Moments later my midwife reached between my legs and passed baby through my legs to me. I remember being surprised that I didn't feel immediate relief once baby's head was born. The shoulders were equally as uncomfortable to birth. As soon as baby was in my hands I picked it up and lifted it out of the water. I held it up to my chest and sat back, feeling instant relief and satisfaction. I was overwhelmed with pure joy and happiness that this sweet little thing was finally in my arms. After a moment I realized my baby was born and earth side and remembered I didn't know the gender (not officially anyway, as I was certain it was a boy). I lifted baby up, cord still attached to baby and connected to the placenta still inside of me. I saw the cord tugging on baby's belly button and thinking "penis" I declared it's a boy! My team looked at me strangely and my husband said "no its not". I lifted baby up again and looked properly to discover my sweet little one was a girl. The most overwhelming and joyous surprise! I never imagined my third boy would actually be my daughter. My husband cried and I cried and we were so happy to have our first daughter.
After celebrating and processing all that had just happened I handed off our daughter to my husband and birthed my placenta shortly after. My midwives got me out of the pool and took me straight to my shower where I cleaned up while my doula made me a snack. I got immediately into bed while the midwives checked baby and then me. We visited for a short while and revelled over all that had just taken place that morning in our very own home and within in a few short hours everyone was gone, leaving my husband myself and our new baby daughter alone for some bonding time. We napped skin to skin all afternoon and then began to call our family and closest friends to share the good news.
"Having a baby at home was the most amazing and unexpected experience I could have ever imagined. I felt so empowered and strong bringing my baby into the world, without any drugs or interventions and in the comfort of my own home."
The care we received from our midwives was so wonderful and comforting and the support my doula provided was indescribable. She pushed me to explore a part of myself I didn't know was there, and allowed me to accomplish a birth I never thought I was capable of. My husband, my doula and my midwives were the greatest gifts in the birth of my daughter, I could not imagine a more beautiful birthday for our sweet little daughter.
Special thank you for sharing your birth story with us.
Past Full Circle client, Jami McLaren whose doula was Vanessa.
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