|Kate and Abigail
A Home Waterbirth
It was the day before my due date and I was sore, tired and very ready to meet the little girl or boy who would be joining our family. The previous day, I had gone shopping and bought all the last-minute things I would possibly need for the birth and the days afterwards, but all the walking I had done had left me worn out and more than anxious to not be pregnant anymore.
It was a Saturday in late March, and, though tired I had been cleaning all morning and part of the afternoon, mostly a result of an uncontrollable nesting instinct. Since we were planning a homebirth, things had to be as clean as possible and I wanted my surroundings to look clean and peaceful. At around 3 pm, my two older children, Gabriel and Celeste, had decided to take a nap, and I took the opportunity to head upstairs and play on the computer for a while. I was having a few Braxton-Hicks contractions - nothing major, just the same ones that I had been having for a week, triggered by a UTI I was on antibiotics for. An hour or 2 of relaxing usually made them stop, so I sat around playing solitaire and generally wondering when I would finally go into labor. While I hadn't hit my due date yet, both of my other kids were born at 38 weeks, so this was by far the longest pregnancy I had had.
At around 4 pm, a friend called to chat and check up on me, and to tell me what her work schedule would be like for the next week. She worked shifts, but was my number one choice out of all my friends to come and watch my kids while I was giving birth to their sibling. She had that evening off, too, and we were chatting about her plans for it - an evening in with her boyfriend, a good friend of mine. We hung up and I went downstairs to go to the toilet and see off my husband, Stefan, who was running out to the grocery store to grab a few supplies. As soon as I got into the bathroom I noticed that I had lost my mucous plug, and I told Stefan to hurry home.
Stefan got home bearing groceries, the kids woke up, and I was starting to feel very restless and cranky. He told me to go and rest, just in case this was the start of the real thing, and I headed back to play on the computer a little while he prepared dinner. He called me down for dinner a few minutes before six, and as I got to the bottom of the stairs I was hit by a monster contraction that doubled me over. Immediately, they started to come every 5 minutes, and though I sat at the table and watched my family eat, the idea of eating anything myself made me queasy.
After about 45 minutes, I told Stefan I thought we had better call my midwives. At the time, we were living in Holland, where the use of midwives is the norm for pregnant women, and homebirths are very common. My last birth had been very quick - 5 hours - and though I badly wanted a homebirth this time, I wasn't quite ready to have an unassisted one.
Stefan called Hilda, the midwife on duty (there were 3 in the practice I went to) and she agreed that it would be a good idea for her to come over and check me out. I called my friend to let her know what was going on, and she promised to grab the things she needed and run out the door to come and look after the kids.
Hilda arrived just after 7, examined me and assured me I was well on my way and would have a baby during the evening. I was still managing to be very calm and breathe through the intense contractions, but wanted very much to get into my nice warm pool of water, so Stefan got to work inflating and filling it while Hilda ran out to eat a very quick dinner. While she was gone, my friend arrived with her boyfriend and pre-teenage daughter in tow, who sat down to play with my kids while my friend held my hand and rubbed my back for a little while. Knowing my kids were in safe hands enabled me to relax more than I had been, and I walked around and concentrated on my birth visualizations and breathing. When it got really tough, I reminded myself that I had been here before and made it through with two healthy children, and I could do it again. Hilda returned and we talked a little bit between the contractions as she prepared my bedroom, and reassured me again that I was handling things very well.
At about 8:30 pm, we decided that she would check to see how far dilated I was, because in Holland when you have a homebirth, your insurance company provides a nurse to assist at the birth, and we needed to know how much I had progressed. I lay on the bed so she could check me, and lying down was so painful I told her to hurry, which thankfully she did. I was at 7 cm, and it was indeed time to call the nurse.
I got into the pool, which was absolute heaven. The warm water helped the pain and tension melt away and while the contractions still hurt I felt very empowered and able to manage them. I moved slowly around the pool while Hilda finished preparing, and then the nurse arrived to help her. I was very thirsty so we all had a cup of tea, but I couldn't finish it since the pain was starting to get much worse. The contractions themselves had not gotten any more severe, but my waters still hadn't broken and they were putting a lot of pressure on my pelvis. I told Hilda this, and we spent a few minutes, in between contractions, discussing the pros and cons of her breaking my waters for me. The conversation took longer than it should have because I was having a difficult time concentrating on words and wanted only to crouch in the corner of the pool, but after a really huge contraction in which the pressure was almost unbearable, I told Hilda I did want my waters broken. We agreed that since I was so far along and progressing so well anyway it wouldn't increase my chances of infection or anything, so I got out of the pool and lay down on my bed so she could do it. It was about 9:50 pm.
Before she broke my waters, Hilda examined me and told me I was at 8.5 cm and it probably wouldn't be too much longer. When my waters broke there was a HUGE gush, followed by an extremely intense contraction. I sat up so I could get back in the pool and felt myself dilate the rest of the way and was overcome by an urge to push. I told Hilda and she said "well get back in then, or you won't get your waterbirth!" I got right into the pool and Stefan came running from the kitchen to support me under my arms as I squatted. Another contraction came, followed immediately by another and another - one long minute of contractions during which I couldn't have stopped myself pushing even if I had wanted to. BUT, after only one minute of pushing, my baby girl was born into a pool of warm water in my bedroom, with my husband supporting me and my closest friends and family in my living room just waiting to hear the news.
Abigail Isabella Kailani K. was born on March 23rd, 2002 at 10:56 pm, and weighed in at 7 pounds
exactly. She is now a happy, healthy breastfed 7 month old, who is always cheerful and ready with a giggle. She is active and sweet and adored by her family - a very special birth for a very special baby.