If you have been following my blog since the beginning, you’ll know that two years ago this past February I had my first child. If you read that birth story, you will know that I had planned for an unmedicated hospital birth, and how the second I was admitted to the hospital they threw those plans right out the window.
I still had a great birth experience, and a very healthy baby, despite my best laid plans being squashed. However, I still held on to the dream of that beautiful oxytocin high I had read about after an unmedicated birth.
Well, flash forward to this summer. On July 3, 2020, after a few days of feeling a little out of sorts, I took an early pregnancy test. Two days before my missed period, a faint line appeared on a pregnancy test, and I jumped for joy.
We began this pregnancy with the same OBGYN practice I had had my last child with. I expressed to my husband my concerns with the practice. They’re c-section rate is one of the highest on Long Island, some of the doctors’ bedside manor was pretty subpar, and it’s hospital roulette to see who you get when you are admitted to deliver.
Last pregnancy I had been so obsessed with pregnancy and birth that I researched non stop! I had educated myself as much as possible. I learned about all the birthing options, their pros and cons. I watched countless birth videos, and birth stories to prepare myself, and read books from cover to cover.
At one point, early on in my first pregnancy, I had asked my husband what he thought about switching to a midwife and having a home birth. From all my research, including books written by obstetricians, I had learned that home birth is essentially just as safe as a hospital for a low risk pregnancy.
It was our first child, and my husband, who like most of us, had always heard that hospital was the safest place for a baby to be born. He quickly let me know how uncomfortable he was with the idea of our baby being born at home, God forbid anything should happen. I obliged and dropped the subject.
This time around I was much more comfortable expressing my desire to go the alternative route…. especially after one of the doctor’s from the practice started pushing a c-section at only 20 weeks. At my 20 week scan she looked at my sonogram and informed me my baby was transverse and that she was worried about her position. Did I mention I was only 20 weeks?!
To any pregnant mamas, this isn’t concerning that early on in pregnancy. Baby’s typically don’t turn or get into position for birthing until 32 weeks or after. Some don’t even turn until right around their due date. Research shows that only about 4% of babies remain breech at the time of birth.
She started alluding to me that we should discuss a possible c-section. That was my breaking point. I knew there was virtually no reason I would need to discuss, or even entertain the idea of a c-section at 20 weeks. After all, I had no signs of hyper tension, no protein in my urine and from the anatomy scan and all other tests, baby was growing quite well and healthily.
I had already had a bad taste with most of the doctors in my practice, after I brought up many times my desire for natural unmedicated birth. They had all basically rolled their eyes or scoffed at me. One even said “a lot of moms want that but we have to be realistic”.
At this point I had already been researching midwife groups, preparing information, and planning to bombard my husband with the fact that I will no longer see my OB group. He was hesitant at first, but after finding an amazing group of midwives (shoutout to Gaia Midwives), and a lovely consultation with them, he agreed.
At the meeting, they explained to him how they have the option to deliver at Stony Brook Hospital if that would make us more comfortable, or at home. He liked the hospital plan, while I secretly planned to sway him to stay home.
Home just sounded so relaxing to me. Dimmed lights, a warm tub to birth in, my favorite songs playing, being able to eat and drink whatever I wanted, and labor and birth in any position I chose, just sounded like a dream come true. It took a lot of convincing, a home birth zoom call where home birth mamas told us their experiences, oh and rising numbers of Covid-19, my husband was finally coming around. Finally, after watching the film The Business of Being Born (highly recommend), he agreed to trying a home birth.
My group of midwives Michele, Colleen, and Ashley were super supportive about either decision. Each of them assured us that if at any point in my pregnancy or labor things looked remotely unfavorable, that we would be having the baby at the hospital. That made him feel much better.
Well, once I had his blessing, my husband and I began planning for our home birth. We got a pool, snacks, packed our hospital bags just in case. I made my labor playlist, ordered some essential oils to set the mood and we made plans with our parents for dog and child care.
My due date rolled around on March 17th, and no baby in sight. I was slightly frustrated as my first daughter came the day past her due date, and this little girl showed no signs of coming. That night we blew up our birth pool, just in case. Turns out that was a good move, because my labor went quite fast as you’ll find out in a bit.
Three days later, no baby in sight I found myself very cranky and uncomfortable. The day was absolutely gorgeous out, so I demanded a long hike through one of our local trails. When we finished that I demanded a spicy lunch.
We went to bed later that night and my husband asked if I thought that night was the night. I told him “Nope! I’m gonna be pregnant forever!” I said the same thing the night my water broke with my first.
I had been having some minor contractions but nothing regular, or intense, and that had been going on for weeks. I went to bed around 9pm, pretty confident I would be pregnant for at least another week.
At 10:45pm that night I woke up from a contraction. I lay in bed a few minutes to see if another would come. Sure enough 5 minutes later I had yet another painful contraction. I waited again. The next one was so painful I couldn’t lay in bed any longer. I got up, called my parents, and sent my husband to drop our dog at their house.
My next call was the midwives. Thankfully, within a few minutes Michele picked up and assured me she would be on her way and at my house within the hour. That was music to my ears because I could feel that things were happening fast. I called my doula next, she helped me breath through my next contraction and told me that I should fill my pool immediately because it sounded like that baby was coming quick.
My husband was gone all of 15 minutes, and by the time he was back in the door my contractions had gone from every 5 minutes to every 2 minutes and gotten very intense. He began filling the tub, and applying counter pressure on my back through my contractions.
I remember looking at him right before the midwife walked in the door, knowing I was in transition and feeling my baby girl descending. I said to him “this is the point in my last labor that I wanted the epidural! I honestly don’t want one at all right now!”
Now, if you have read my first birth story, you’ll have read that I had been put on pitocin, artificial oxytocin, to speed up my labor. If you have even been on pit, you will have experience the crazy contractions they produce. I like to refer to them as contractions on crack.
My natural contractions were nothing like them. They were intense, don’t get me wrong, but my hypnobirthing breathing techniques helped me through each one with ease. I was also laboring in any position that felt good to me, unlike the last time where they wouldn’t let me leave my bed or a chair. If you’ve ever labored sitting or laying down… it feels like down right torture. This time I was on my knees, with my arms and head draped over a birthing ball, and it was so much easier in that position to breathe through it.
Around midnight my angel midwife and the doula walked through our front door. My husband told her that I wanted to get in the tub. What I hadn’t told my husband was the increasing pressure I had been feeling on my cervix and perineum, because why make the man nervous until the midwife arrived?
Within about ten minutes or so of Michele arriving, I exclaimed “I feel like I have to poop!” If you’re a mama, you will know that means baby is almost here and it’s time to push. She gently asked if I wanted to have the baby on my living room floor or in the tub.
I jumped up in between contractions and hopped in the warm water. It was like instant relief. The pressure eased up, and the contractions became so much more bearable.
I’m fairly certain in between contractions I looked at Michele and said “oh my God, this is awesome! Why doesn’t everyone do this?!” It is literally the home birth epidural, which is exactly what she called it.
Within what I would say was 10 to 15 minutes in the pool, I felt something absolutely amazing. My body began pushing all on its own. I had an epidural with my first so never got to experience the Natural Expulsive Reflex I had read about in all my natural birthing research. That’s right mamas… your body will push your baby out all on it’s own if it’s given the chance! It is awesome! My midwife encouraged me to lean into it, and do whatever my body felt like doing.
A few pushes later, at 12;57 am on March 21st, my baby girl was born. Michele caught her and gently passed her to me under water, and seconds later she was on my chest letting out her first cry. I felt the wave of oxytocin wash over me just like I had read about and suddenly I was in new mama bliss. That afterbirth high is so real and so amazing.
Within 30 minutes I birthed the placenta, I cut the cord myself (which was pretty damn cool too), and we were whisked off to my bed to recover and check our vitals. My husband got to do the honors of weighing our daughter, Michele took her measurements, and check mama for any tearing. I checked out well! No tears except for two small abrasions that required no stitches. Baby girl weighed in at 8 pounds 4 oz. and a whopping 22.5 inches long! All had gone smoothly and beautifully, and in only 2 hours and 12 min total.
It was possibly the greatest experience of my life thus far. I felt the most strong and powerful I had ever felt. I hope every women gets a chance to feel that way at some point in life.
I highly recommend researching, reading or watching positive birth stories, and birth affirmations to any pregnant ladies out there. In my experience, I truly believe birth is 90% mental and 10% physical work. Every time I slowed my brain down during a contraction and focused on my breathing, and relaxing my body, it was 10x easier to get through.
I would absolutely tell anyone looking for alternative care, to look into midwifery. My experiences were night and day. My midwife team made me feel listened too, empowered and cared for at every single appointment. Gaia Midwives have just been absolute pregnancy fairy Godmother’s to me. They’re a text away when I have any questions or concerns, and take their time to check in and make sure I’m comfortable and doing well.
Instead of one 6 week postpartum appointment, I have already had two within my first week and am scheduled for two more. Their level of care is unparalleled in my opinion. They are highly educated, give you all your choices, and allow you to make your own informed decisions, because it is your body and your pregnancy. That level of respect felt amazing to me.
I just want to say, that no matter how you birth mama, know that it is beautiful, and wonderful. All birth is beautiful, and everyone has the right to choose how and where they feel most comfortable birthing. For me, that was home this time.
Would I choose home birth again? Absolutely. It was the most empowering, beautiful, experience of my life. Is it for everyone? No, and that’s ok! No matter which way you choose to go, make sure it is safe for you and baby, and one that makes you most comfortable. That is top priority.
I had one medicated hospital birth, and one blissful home birth experience, and I am beyond proud of and loved both. In the end, all that matters is having that sweet baby placed into your arms, and the lifetime of love ahead of you both.
Birth is a beautiful miracle. I feel so blessed to have gotten to experience it twice, and in two completely different ways. I hope reading my birth story is helpful to any mama considering home birth, and to any mama with fears around birthing at all.
To any pregnant mamas worrying about birth, just know that you got this mama. Your body was literally made to hold life and birth it. It may not look exactly how mine did, because literally every birth is unique, but it is possible.
Women, you are amazing, and absolutely magical. Never forget that, and if you need a reminder, search “positive birth videos” on YouTube. So, now I’m off to nurse my new little baby, and probably watch the video of her birth for the 100th time this week, to remind my very tired newborn mama self the exact same thing.