When I got pregnant with my son in 2007, I knew a hospital birth just wasn't for me, but I wasn't sure what other options were.
I began doing a lot of research on the internet...birthing centers seemed like a good idea, but there weren't any near where we were living at the time in AZ.
After reading countless stories about midwife-assisted homebirths (even the scary ones), and learning all about the glorious Ina May Gaskin, I realized that homebirthing was exactly what my heart had been searching for.
It felt so right to me, despite my family's disbelief and worry. Even Fireman was skeptical at first (he wasn't yet a Fireman at the time), but he quickly understood and agreed upon the truth my heart had known all along: peaceful, go-at-your-bodys'-pace, non-intervened birth is best for mother and child, if it's a normal, healthy pregnancy and safe for both to do so. Hospitals and doctors have their place, of course, and i've been grateful for their medicine and technology numerous times; but low-risk, healthy pregnant women are typically able to do what their bodies have been made to do: give birth naturally.
I began the search for a midwife, and after personally meeting with 2, I chose Pam. Pam has been delivering babies at home for over 30 years, has 4 daughters of her own, and just felt RIGHT. I loved that she was my mother's age, that she had so much experience, and that she had only transported 2 out of her hundreds of moms to the hospital, both of whom survived with baby.
I had already begun prenatal care with an OB/GYN, but by month 5 I was seeing Pam for monthly checkups. She and I both chuckled when the OB office faxed her my file...the cover sheet said "Care being transferred to a midwife - patient wants a 'natural' birth." Is there anything else?
Visits with Pam were like visiting an old friend. Her home office was cozy, with a bookshelf full of pregnancy books to borrow as you please. We chatted about my diet, how I felt, the baby's movement. I stepped on a scale and then laid on a massage table so she could measure my belly and feel the baby's position.
My pregnancy was wonderfully easy (please don't hate me - #2 was harder!) - no real morning sickness, healthy cravings (cabbage and strawberries), so I just assumed I'd reach my due date or even go past it.
That's why the birthing tub I'd borrowed from Pam for a waterbirth was not set up when I went into labor.
It was 3 days before Christmas, and both Fireman and my families were ready to drive out to AZ from CA to visit us in shifts, since I was too far along at 38 weeks to be traveling to see them. Fireman and I went to the grocery store to stock up for our guests.
In the car on the way home from the store, I felt a pop and a gush, and out my water rushed all over the seat of the car...my reaction: "Oh, shit!"
I got a little teary-eyed and panicky because my mind instantly went to what Pam had said about water breaking. She had mentioned if your water breaks and there's no progress in 24 hours, then she may have to transport a mom to the hospital, and that was the LAST thing I wanted to happen. Fireman calmly reassured me and unloaded our groceries as I began labor on our couch.
It was 1pm. We had alerted Pam (who told me to rest as it would be a loooong night) and our families, and my parents had begun the 6-hour drive almost immediately...my mom is a bit of the frantic, worrying type, so I can only imagine what my dad had to hear during that long car ride. My contractions steadily lengthened and got closer together, and by the time my parents arrived around 8pm, I was thinking I wanted the midwife there.
My mom took one look at me and all but screamed, "Why isn't your midwife here?"
Pam was waiting for her husband to get home and stay with the kids, but she could tell I was getting nervous and wanted her there, so she asked if her assistant-in-training could stop by and check me. I agreed, and was relieved when she arrived half an hour later. She checked me and confirmed I was getting close to active labor, and called Pam. I could tell by their conversation that Pam was surprised I had progressed so quickly, she had thought I'd take longer being a first-timer. She arrived around 9pm, and all of us in the house breathed a little easier.
I had moved from the couch to our master bedroom, and as the rushes deepened, I laid over the side of our bed, and then a big exercise ball. I decided to get in the bathtub, and as I did, the first intense desire to push hit.
I yelled, "I want to push!" and turned over onto all fours.
That was the beginning of 4.5 hours of pushing. Elephantitis-of-the-genitals, anyone?
I truly thought my never regions would never, ever be the same.
I pushed on the toilet, in our closet, on the bed, on all fours, on a birthing stool, hanging from my husbands neck...you name it.
In hindsight, I know exactly why my baby was stuck: as I pushed, my husband's parents arrived, then my brother and sister-in-law, then my husband's sister and boyfriend.
I was totally distracted.
My mother had been assisting me, trying to rub my back and fetch water or whatever else I needed, but her nervousness and worrying were more of a hindrance, so I suggested she wait out with the rest of the family. I had been afraid she'd be hurt that I didn't want her with me, but she was visibly relieved to leave the room, which relieved me a bit.
Then my mother-in-law, who desperately wanted to be at the birth, peeked in the room to say hello. I mustered a gruff "hi" in between grunts and saw a look of annoyance flash over my midwife's face. There was way too much going on in our little one-story home, and it was distracting me.
My baby was stuck on my pelvic bone. Luckily his heart rate was steady, but my fatigue was kicking in. At one point, I decided to take a cool shower and was resting my forehead against the cool glass of the shower, when my midwife came in and said, "Kim, you really need to be working hard at this point, you're in active labor, you need to push that baby out."
I thought to myself, "What the HELL do you think i've been doing this whole time?" and also began worrying and doubting myself that maybe I wasn't going to be able to push this baby out.
Pam had mentioned that we didn't want to push too close to the 24-hour mark or else I'd have to go to the hospital.
I was so tired so I decided that if I couldn't make the baby's head drop down a bit in the next 3 big pushes, then I would allow myself to be taken to the hospital. I was on the birthing stool at this point, and told this to the 3 people assisting me: Pam, her assistant, and my husband.
My husband, bless his soul, said, "Honey, you can do this. Going to the hospital is exactly what you didn't want." His words literally lit a fire in me and gave me the boost of confidence that I needed.
With the next 3 pushes, the baby's head dropped lower!
I continued pushing harder than I ever thought my body could push. My head and body felt as though it was going to explode, but I persisted. My nether regions felt like they were grazing my knees...I was sure I would never again wear a bathing suit. But at least I'd have a healthy baby! As I pushed, Pam and my husband got excited, saying they could see his head and hair and encouraging me on.
I gave it my all, and finally, out slithered my tiny baby boy: 5.5 pounds, 20 inches long, and all cut up on his little head and forehead from being stuck against my pelvic bone. His face and lips were so swollen, and he had a massive cone head, and I tearfully asked the midwife if he'd "be ok." She assured me he would.
They all helped me to the bed, and I collapsed with my gorgeous baby on my chest. It was 4am, and had been 15 hours of labor.
Little did I know I had A LOT more work still to do.
The last thing I wanted to do was push more, but the placenta wasn't birthing, even with Pam gently tugging on the cord.
After an hour, my husband helped clamp and cut the cord, and Pam told me she was going to have to reach up in me and manually extract the placenta. She explained this is what they would do at the hospital, too, and that she had done this before successfully, although it sure wasn't going to feel good.
She was right.
It was maybe even more painful than pushing the baby OUT. I could feel her knuckle bones scrape against my horribly bruised pelvic bone as she reached up inside, and she had to go in 3 times.
She said the placenta was stuck to the sides of my uterus, and it was quite mottled, so she had to be sure to get all of it or else I could get an infection and/or hemorrhage. After she felt confident she got it all, I STILL wasn't done.
Pam had to stitch me up.
I had torn pretty good, and needed 6 of them. At this point I really was numb from all the trauma to my privates, so I hardly felt the stitches. My husband could no longer keep his eyes open, and fell asleep in bed beside me and our baby boy. Pam and her assistant cleaned up, put my placenta in a plastic bag in the freezer, and headed out as the sun came up.
I fell fast asleep next to my boys wearing nothing but my lovely Depends.
I'm happy to report my parts did, indeed, go back to normal, miraculously!
And Son had a pretty decent ridge on his head from where all the pushing had moved his malleable skull, but thankfullly that disappeared by the time he was 2.
Gosh DARN, our bodies are INCREDIBLE, aren't they? At this point in my life, I was not yet into homeopathy, but had been into natural/holistic healing and medicines for quite a few years. So, to assist in my healing I used the following:
*Hemorrhoids: a witch hazel-soaked washcloth over an ice cube - heavenly! (Stick up there a couple times a day while you lay down with baby, or as often as you can.)
*Vaginal Healing: Earth Mama Angel Baby's New Mama Bottom Spray - can spray upside down and be used as a facial toner when you're all healed! So cooling and refreshing!
*Doughnut Pad to sit on - a must for stitches down there!
*Sore/Cracked nipples: Motherlove's Nipple Cream - works SO fast, is organic and safe for baby to ingest.
What did you use to heal from birth? I'd love to hear from you!
Love and light~