I bet many of you don’t know that I had both my daughters at home. It’s not something that’s in the front of my mind since they’re 7 and 10 now but it was definitely something that defines me and put me on this wellness journey. I thought I would share my story with you because I support home birth and would not have changed a thing with how I did it despite catching a lot of heat at the time.
I accidentally got pregnant with Sofie (10). I was in a rocky marriage that had literally been on the brink of divorce a few times even though we were only 2 years in. I have always known I wanted kids but never liked kids. Plus, I had a crippling fear and disgust for birth and breast feeding. God knew the only way I was going to have a baby was if He took it over! So when I found out I was pregnant, I wasn’t mortified but I also wasn’t excited.
In my first trimester, my mother ran into an old friend from church who’s daughter had had 3 home births. Her first baby was not a home birth and if I remember correctly, she had a nightmare of a birth. She firmly believed in home birth and her mother shared with mine all about it. Before that point, I had no idea you could birth at home but the moment my mother told me about her conversation, I knew it was for me.
By that point I had been to my OBGYN who insisted very firmly that she would induce me at 40 weeks, PERIOD. While I understand why, her tone and attitude and the fact that I had no choice in the matter unnerved me more then words can say. First of all, we weren’t sure when I conceived. She determined how far along I was by how big the fetus was. At that point, I did know I wanted to be as natural as possible and I knew that inducing meant a drug called pitocin that would most likely make contractions unbearable leading to an epidural. I had so many friends that had got on the pitocin/epidural rollercoaster and ended up having an emergency c-section. Second, I had several friends who’s doctors liked to schedule c-sections in order to plan their schedule and my particular doctor had an extremely high c-section rate.
Meeting with the midwife was about what I expected. She had long flowing hair, no makeup and dressed in what I would call “hippy wear”. Lord knows I’m no stranger to hippy wear and was probably sporting an embroidered mumu of my own so I felt right at home. She was knowledgable and highly experienced and made it very clear that as long as my blood work and blood pressure came back proving I was healthy and their were no underlying issues, this birth was in my control. I continued to see her every month until 7 1/2 mos. along. At that point I went weekly. She monitored my vitals, monitored Sofie’s vitals and answered all my fear based questions I had. Besides going outside of my midwife for ultrasounds, she was equipped and capable of handling the rest.
She reminded me often that God made my body to give birth. That giving birth was natural and not typically an event that required a doctor. She also reminded me that a birth without drugs is what is best for both the mother and the baby. She informed me that laying flat on your back (which is customary in a hospital) is not how the body was made to give birth. Squatting opens the hips allowing birth to occur with a bit more ease.
My first pregnancy was by the book. Everything was normal. I had about 3 months of morning sickness that lasted all day but I never threw up. I was tired the whole time and overly concerned about stretch marks! I gained about 30 lbs. and had a lot of indigestion.
Dec. 5, 5 A.M. I woke up to my water breaking. I couldn’t believe it because I was 2 weeks early! I had light contractions for probably around 4 more hours. Around 10 a.m my contractions were getting painful and I was getting anxious. My midwife came to my house and promptly got me in the tub. Water births seem awkward to me but let me tell you-water calms contractions and eases pain like you wouldn’t believe. I labored in the tub until 3 p.m! By that time I knew it was time to push so we left the bathroom and there was that birthing stool. If I hadn’t been in immense amounts of pain, I would’ve cringed and possibly opted for another option but at that point all I wanted was to GET THIS KID OUT! After 1 1/2 hours of pushing, Sofie was finally born. That kid had her arm raised making it really hard to push her out. Oh the foreshadowing! The immense relief that I had done it and it was over was the best feeling. I honestly did not know what to do with Sofie though and somehow I didn’t get the memo that I had to birth the placenta as well! Once Sofie and I got on my bed, the midwife massaged my stomach to encourage the placenta which was nothing compared to actual birth.
The next few days were a blur. I was overwhelmed, full of weird feelings and hormones and terrified to nurse. After 2 days I finally put her to my chest and BOOM, milk dropped and that little hoover went to town! Let me tell you, I did not cry once during that 12 hour birth. I cried several times during the early days of nursing. It took me and a breast feeding coach quite some time to figure it out. Sofie turned out to be tongue tied and so nursing was very challenging. I’m proud to say that I pushed through the discomfort and awkwardness and was able to nurse her for 1 year. Boy was that a sacrifice that was so worth it. I luckily was blessed with a good milk supply with a little help of the herb, Fenugreek and could pump bottles for others to feed her as well.
I lost the 30 lbs. quickly and thanks to nursing, went back to my normal weight within weeks.
Over the 9 mos. of my pregnancy and even after the birth, I had people giving me their disapproving opinion of my choice to home birth and even nurse. I went through several pediatricians that treated me like I had fallen off the pumpkin truck because I home birthed. I can’t explain it but God gave me the confidence to stand up to people who gave their unsolicited opinion.
Heidi was quite a different story. By the time I got pregnant with Heidi, Sofie was 2. This time getting pregnant was my idea. I am an only child and I knew I did not want an only child-lol! Because Sofie and I had survived the home birth and were better for it and had a year of breast feeding down, no one really messed with my decision to have a 2nd birth at home. It felt good that I had proven myself as a mother who was committed to doing what was right for my babies.
I used the same midwife and had a very normal pregnancy that was again “by the book”. I did gain 60lbs. despite being on the treadmill almost daily. I have no idea how that happened or where I was putting it! I also was nauseated for 3 mos. with no throw up and very tired. It was a whole other ball game to be pregnant and still have to take care of a 2 year old though. Lord have mercy!
Oct. 21, 9 a.m.(2 weeks after my due date) I felt what I thought was the need to go to the bathroom. Quickly I realized I was in labor. I called my midwife telling her how fast I was progressing and she assured me I had hours and she was going to hop in the shower and would mosey on over in the next couple of hours or so. About 9:20 I felt as if the bottom was about to drop out of me. I called my mom to come take care of Sofie and got in the bath. The contractions were so insanely intense and I was panicked because I hadn’t even been in labor for an hour. Her father came home and as he walked into the bathroom he was shocked to see Heidi was crowning. Scared and confused, I pushed her out by 10 a.m. That little thing slipped right out-no 1 1/2 hours of pushing this time! Again with the foreshadowing. She luckily came out crying so we knew she was breathing. Weeks before I had urged my x to read up on what to do if the baby comes before the midwife. Mother’s intuition in full force! Somehow I got her and I to the bed and just as I was about to birth the placenta, the midwife got there. Thank God because what the hell do you do with that monster?
Once again, I faced opinions from a pediatrician that was not my own. My pediatrician (who is respectful and supportive) was not available and we needed to get Heidi in to confirm she was healthy. The doctor we saw was awful and treated me as if I was a crack head mom. Of course, he was even more disrespectful when he found out I was 100% anti-vaccine. Long story short-baby and mom were great and I now wait for my doctor rather then go to him.
Nursing went much better with Heidi. However, I was not able to pump so I exclusively nursed her for 1 year. I actually lost those 60lbs in 2 weeks. I was shocked. I was at Target in my normal sweatpants the day after birth. I experienced about 2 mos. of postpartum depression which looking back, scares the heck out of me. I did not have weird feelings for Heidi, I had weird feelings for Sofie. I remember my mother coming to get Sofie almost everyday. I had no idea how to take care of 2! Plus, I literally sat around all day in sweats watching Gossip Girl. It was a low time. Once the hormone cloud cleared, things got better and life went on.
Do I suggest everyone have a home birth-No. I do urge every pregnant mom to pray and get in touch with her intuition. Mother’s intuition starts the minute you get pregnant. If you can tap into it, you’ll know what’s right for you. I will say that a home birth would not have been possible if I had had any heath issues before or during the pregnancy. If I (accidentally) got pregnant again I would absolutely have another home birth. Of course, the older you are, the more precautionary measures need to be taken to determine that it is safe for both the mother and the baby.
My biggest motivation for birthing at home was to avoid unnecessary medical intervention. I was floored at the amount of women around me that were stuck with a c section when they did not believe it was needed. Drugs interfere with the bodies natural way of doing things. Having a c-section is not the end of the world but it is a major surgery. I’ve heard the recovery is around 2-3 mos. and when compared to the fact that I was at Target the day after my drug free birth is a huge reason to avoid it. My heart goes out to new moms dealing with the stress of figuring out how to care for a baby all while trying to recover from a c-section and being sleep deprived on top of it! Plus, good things happen to the baby when it passes through the birth canal. C-section delivery increases the risk of childhood asthma by 21 percent and childhood obesity by 59 percent compared to vaginal delivery. Fluid is squeezed out of the babies lungs with a vaginal birth as well as beneficial bacteria is passed along to the baby. Plus it helps momma to produce more milk and lose baby weight faster.
Deciding to home birth also appealed to me personally because I am the biggest homebody you’ll ever meet! It was the best ending to both births to be in my own bed. Not to mention no hospital food, privacy, my own shower and my beloved animals!
So there you have it-my 2 birth stories in a nut shell! Please feel free to comment below and ask me questions if you’re thinking about birthing at home! If you’d rather email me my email is firstname.lastname@example.org
P.S. I watched THIS documentary early in my pregnancy. It definitely sealed the deal.