Thursday, July 30, 2009

Charlotte's Birth Story, and Why We Chose Homebirth (Written by Sarah)

We were planning on a homebirth since before I was even pregnant with Charlotte, though this wasn't information we went around advertising. It was a very informed choice made after doing lots of research (not surprising, since Michael is very statistics-oriented), but it was also a personal choice and arguing with people who said things like "but what about all those babies who DIED because they were born at home???"* wasn't my idea of a good time, and I needed to be surrounded by positive influences during my pregnancy. If you are interested in learning more about homebirth, just ask! I'd be happy to share my experience and my research with you. In the meantime, I'll share the link that convinced Michael to give homebirthing a shot, a link to the documentary that changed my life, and my story...

Stats:
Born July 2, 2009 @ 9:30pm (due date was July 4th)
6lb 1oz 18.5 inches long

In case you haven't read Maya's birth story ~ the quick and dirty is that I was induced with Cervidil at 41 weeks (growth concerns...in hindsight I don't think it was necessary), the Cervidil put me into hard and fast labor, and she was born with no drugs (besides the Cervidil) in about 4 hours. The hospital experience wasn't bad, per se, but Michael and I knew we wanted something different the second time around. I hadn't done much research and my main reason for wanting to go natural with Maya was because so many people told me I wouldn't be able to do it, and I'm kinda stubborn :) For the record, she was 7 pounds and 20 inches long, and due to pushing too hard and when I didn't feel like pushing, recovery wasn't super fun.

When Maya was about 9 months old, I watched “The Business of Being Born”. I. love. that. movie. Seriously. I was SO EXCITED about having a home birth after that movie that I couldn't sleep. For 3 days. Oh, and I wasn't even pregnant yet. Just the PROSPECT of having a home birth was literally keeping me up at night (that and a 9 month old who hadn't yet figured out that nighttime is for sleep :)). I watched the movie 2 more times, then bought a copy so I could watch it as much as I wanted. Michael wasn't 100% on board with home birth, but I figured I'd work on him when it was actually a possibility.

When Maya turned one, we started trying to get pregnant. It had taken us 18 months, several infertility tests, surgery, hormones, and 2 rounds of clomid to get pregnant the first time. This time it took 5 days. When I was about 7 weeks pregnant Michael and I met with Pam (our midwife). He went from being totally skeptical about home birth to being very comfortable with the whole thing (thanks, Pam!!!). After meeting with a couple other midwives we decided that Pam was definitely the best fit for us. We (I :)) did lots of reading and preparing for this birth, and took a natural childbirth class that really boosted our confidence in the whole birth process. Fast forward through a relatively uneventful pregnancy...the only “complication” was the same as the first time. I started measuring small at 30-some weeks. After an ultrasound confirmed that the baby was growing fine, we determined that I just carry babies small.

Since I hadn't gone into labor with Maya on my own, I wasn't sure what to expect this time. I also had never had “early” labor with her (went straight from no contractions at all to contractions every 3 minutes). On Monday June 29th I nursed Maya around 5am, and had some stronger and slightly more uncomfortable braxton hicks contractions than I had been having. They were about 7 minutes apart and after an hour I was totally convinced I was in labor. I forced myself to go back to sleep, though, and when I woke up around 8 they were gone. I walked, I nursed Maya, I tried to be active all day to bring the contractions back, but nothing worked. The next morning, the same thing happened. And the morning after that. By Thursday I was getting used to the pattern, but the morning contractions were definitely stronger and more uncomfortable. I almost told Michael to stay home from work, but got up and took a shower first, and the contractions went away. I didn't tell him what was going on because I knew things weren't happening right then, and I didn't want him to freak out (he was excited, but tends to worry, and I didn't need that! :)). I had my 40-week appointment with Pam at 9am, and was feeling crampy on the way there. We talked at the appointment about how it was very possible that I had 2 weeks left, that it was good I was having these contractions to prepare my body (frustrating as they were!), etc. I was out and about for most of the day, and still feeling very crampy. At 3:45pm we were at home and I nursed Maya ~ while I was nursing her I started having contractions about 3 minutes apart, but they spaced to 5 minutes when she was done. I still wasn't convinced it would last, but started timing them just in case. Michael got home at 6:15pm and I was still having contractions 5 minutes apart. I was out walking with the stroller when he got home, and I had 2 more contractions before I told him what was up. We decided to call Pam, but told her she didn't need to come yet as I was still able to walk and talk through the contractions. She called us back at 7:45pm and I still wasn't convinced she needed to come. Michael looked at the contraction chart and realized that they had started being 3 minutes apart and were lasting for over a minute, so Pam thought it was probably a good idea to head our way. About 8:00pm we called our friend Sierra who was coming to help with Maya during the labor.

Sierra and Pam both arrived around 8:30pm, and at that point my labor ramped up. I was moaning through contractions and trying to rest between. By 8:50pm I wanted to get into the birth pool ~ the water felt AMAZING. At 9:15pm I had a contraction and felt my body push a little bit. I was worried that it was too soon, and I asked Pam if I should feel like I needed to push. She told me that I was probably feeling the amniotic sac and to just go with what my body was telling me. On the next contraction I pushed a little and it felt much better than just trying to breathe through it! For some reason at that point I flipped over so that I was on my knees and leaning over the edge of the pool. I had a contraction almost right away and pushed ~ I felt what felt like a big bubble and Pam said (in her very calm voice) something like “That was your amniotic sac. And we have a baby coming” (it's all kinda fuzzy at this point, so don't quote me/her on that!). She was right ~ on that same contraction Charlotte's head was born, all at once. Michael reminds me that Pam suggested I slow down...but that clearly didn't happen. The cord was around her neck so Pam unlooped it and Charlotte's body was born with the next push, at 9:30pm. Charlotte wasn't breathing on her own at first, so I was rubbing her back and Pam gave her a few little helping breaths, and then she started crying and turned pink :) After that Michael cut the cord (after it stopped pulsing), I got out of the tub and into bed, ate some soup, got checked over (no tears!), Charlotte had her newborn exam, and we got to relax as a new family of four! She latched on easily and within an hour of her being born I was able to tandem nurse (Maya wasn't really sure what to do with this new little person, though!). Being at home was everything I thought it would be and so so so much more (as cliché as that sounds). I can't describe the feeling except to say that I would do it again 100 times over. I've already told Michael that I want 10 more :) He's happy with the two we have, so I'll have to convince him one at a time :)

One last thing (since this is already really long!) ~ looking back, as much research as I did about birth since Maya was born, and as convinced as I was that birth works if we just let it, I didn't truly in my heart believe that my body would do what it needed to do all on its own. Until I had this experience, I didn't realize how much my first birth had taken away from me. It makes me sad for women who choose to put their birth into someone else's hands. There is a time and a place for interventions, and I'm glad that I wasn't one of the women who truly needs them and thankful that we have doctors and hospitals available for those that do. But, after experiencing a truly natural, intervention-free birth, I can't imagine doing it any other way.

 

*I've not heard of ONE baby who died because he or she was born at home...not one. Let alone "all those babies". And I find it highly unlikely that the majority of people using that argument have, either. Yes, babies die at home. Babies die in the hospital, too. Studies show that outcomes for low risk moms and babies are the same or better at home as in the hospital.