This is the story of the midwife attended, homebirth of our fourth baby, Liberty Sage, born May 15, 2006. My first three were also born at home, with the assistance of midwives.
My first child (who is now nine) was born after six to seven hours of labor and was "caught" by a close friend of ours, who is probably the most well known and experienced (and most wonderful) midwife in southern Nevada.
Our second baby was born two years later in a state (Virginia) where midwifery (with the exception of CNMs, within a hospital birth center) is illegal. So our wonderful friend flew up to play catch again. This time we were quite lucky to have a midwife across the hall instead of across town because from first mild contraction to nursing baby was just an hour. This birth was somewhat less than straightforward as our baby was not breathing right away and her cord broke in half as she was coming out. But because of our friend's extensive experience these things really went by without a hitch.
For the birth our now 3 1/2 year old, our very wonderful and very well traveled (thanks to us) friend flew yet again, this time to Connecticut (my hubby was in law school there) but this time the baby was just not ready yet. So we called on our local back up midwife, who was still an apprentice, and asked her to attend the birth. The birth went well but the baby was posterior and the pushing was difficult. I think a more experienced midwife would have had me move around and try to get the baby to turn anterior but she was new and still learning. Things still went well and after five hours of labor we had a happy new baby.
I did, however, suffer a mildly prolapsed bladder from pushing so hard. And while it was mild, I found it very frightening because it really feels like everything is falling out even when it's just a slight bulge. (You know all those stories you overhear as a kid--"Aunt Bertha's uterus fell right into the toilet."
"You don't say!"
"Yes, just like cousin so and so's did.")
Because of this, I decided three babies was enough. Although, the problem was solved by becoming Kegel obsessed.
Fate, of course, had other ideas.
With baby four on the way, our very wonderful and very well traveled friend was also very busy with babies and more babies and a phone that kept ringing. So we opted to find a local midwife. This was easy to do, with the very uptight law school in Connecticut behind us, where almost all the midwives are being threatened with prosecution for giving pitocin to hemorrhaging women, and the D.C/Virginia rat race where homebirth is basically illegal also behind us, we were now living in a "normal" place (Montana) where you can actual have a baby without a surgical team on hand.
We found a fabulous, knowledgeable, and experienced midwife whose apprentice was also very fabulous and knowledgeable and experienced. They were also hopeless coffee addicts, so while I couldn't drink the stuff at least I could take in the aroma at appointments.
My due date of May 8th came and went and so did the days after it without much of anything going on. My other babies had been with a day or to of "the date" But I tried not to get impatient. More time to clean the house, I could always use that.
By the 11th I started having some contractions, three or four of them, but then they stopped. Then I lost a little mucus had a few more contractions and then they stopped. I made red raspberry tea and mixed it with ginger tea. It didn't bring on contractions but it did taste good. On Mother's Day, the 14th came the calls. "Happy Mother's day" and, of course, "Have you had that baby yet?" This did not bother me as this was baby four and all I had to do was think of all those poor women, three weeks overdue with their first baby and the phone just ringing off the hook. I did think it was funny, though, that people really do call and say that same thing, again and again just like I always read about.
I lost a little more mucus and a little more blood and thought, "Hooray" and then wondered why I would think that, I mean we are talking about childbirth here.
That Sunday night my husband had tons and tons of work and stayed up all night typing away while I slept. I woke up with a few contractions and by about four in the morning I noticed they were every twenty minutes or so and I had to breathe a little with them. At about 6AM I had to get a little vocal and that's when I told my hubby to stay home from work. He had to drop off the work he had done that night at the office. I told him no problem, as these contractions were like twenty to thirty minutes apart. As soon as he left, the contractions stopped. It took him an hour and a half to get back and I had not a single contraction the whole time. When he got back, I started feeling crampy. And when he asked what he could do, I said sleep as much as possible (he had been up the whole night). He wanted me to sleep too because he said he felt guilty sleeping while I was cleaning like a maniac. Our other three kids were still in bed. They are homeschooled and we had taken the week off.
After hubby fell asleep I snuck out of bed to clean, of course. Like the baby or the midwives care if my towels are folded. And the contractions went the same, some cramping, some contractions that were mild, and then every hour or so a whopper. I was calling our midwife periodically to update her. She is an hour away and was a little worried because of the speed of my other labors.
At about 3pm I lost my mucus plug and thought, "Here it comes, baby tonight, for sure". But still, the pattern stayed the same. My "real" contractions were still an hour apart. Soon, though, they started coming every thirty minutes. This is when hubby woke up. And by 6:30pm they were every ten minutes. This is when I told hubby to call the midwife. He had had the phone in his hand for some time now--"Can I call her now? How 'bout now? I really think we should call. If you think it's too early, I can just tell her to bring a book."
By 7pm I got worried (a word of thanks to hubby here for not saying, "I told you so"). I could tell I was headed for transition and that this labor was starting to feel very much like my second baby, with the one-hour labor. Contractions on top of contractions, no breaks at all, and double, triple peaks with each one. I started to feel like I had to go to the bathroom and I thought, "Oh no, not yet." But happily when I did try to go, it was my water breaking and not a baby coming out.
By 7:20 the midwife flew into our driveway. I knew I was in full transition when she got there. She checked me and baby. Baby was good and my cervix was like butter, with just a lip. I started pushing a little. And soon, I started to feel that burn. That burn was just as intense as the fire I felt when my first baby was born. I believe that was the result of my Kegel Mania, my desperate attempt not to wind up like everyone's great aunt, with her uterus in the toilet.
I was standing at this point. I had been pacing until I decided to push. I was facing the window and just clutching the curtains. But when I felt that burn, I thought," I can get this baby out. And I don't need to wait for any contractions." So I squatted down. And just pushed and pushed and pushed. I had not even felt the first pushing urge yet. I just thought if I pushed and pushed, as long as I could feel that baby moving, I could avoid, at least, experiencing five maybe six contractions. So I pushed on contractions and between contractions. And the whole time that burning was just overwhelming. But I took it as reassurance that I had done enough Kegels and my bladder was not going to fly out across the room as it did in my nightmares. During this time, I was screaming and screaming and screaming until my voice quit, and then I was screaming in a whisper. And at this, I was glad because I wanted to hear any instructions the midwife might have as the baby crowned. I heard her asked me to go on all fours and I thought, "Almost there." Then I heard her say blow, so I knew the head was out or almost out. Then I pushed again, and she was out. She was born at 7:52pm, the midwife had been there thirty minutes. My kids were all in the room. And it was wonderful.
I realize the word empowering is sooooooooo overused but nothing else fits as well. I carry my homebirths with me always and when faced with running an extra mile (literally or figuratively) I looked to them to push me on. This birth was really the icing on the cake for me and I know will inspire me on through any obstacle in the future.