A Perfect Home Birth- With A Hospital Transfer

Love this story.  This is what happens with good midwifery- when patients need it they are transferred.  A good midwife doesn't ignore the warning signs.  Home birth is safe even when a transfer is needed.  Know your midwife.  Know what she can do at home.  Know for yourself what is safe and what isn't.  

I woke up at 3am with a big contraction.  I knew this was different then the normal braxton hicks I was used to having.  At the same time Thatcher woke up and decided it was time to play and so I was awake with him from 3-5AM.  My contractions were about 5 minutes apart and still pretty mild.  I went back to sleep and when I woke up at 7:30 they were still going. 

I text family and midwife and decided to get the kids ready to go to my in-laws in hopes that I would labor throughout the day.  I spent the morning packing bags and snacks, making breakfast, cleaning, getting everyone bathed, dressed, hair braided etc… I would stop every five minutes and just sway my hips and breathe through the contractions that were about 30 seconds long.

The kids left with family around 10 and I decided to rub castor oil on my belly and pump in hopes of encouraging active labor to start.  I didn’t really see a change- just 5 minutes apart, mild contractions.  Wade and I decided to go for a walk.  It was the most gorgeous, perfect day!  I just wanted to stay outside. 

It was sunny but not too bright, and probably between 75-80 degrees with a nice little breeze.  With the other two kids we took this same little labor walk, but with the other two it was in the middle of snow storms.  We had to load up in boots and coats to go outside, and then had to walk through 2 feet of snow and slippery ice in freezing temperatures!  Let’s just say I was SO thankful to be living in Arizona this time around!  We just spent the walk talking about our family, being so thankful to the Lord for how far we’ve come in the past few years, and all the ways he has blessed us.

When I got home my Midwife Anne Marie, asked me if I wanted her to come over and I was hesitant.  I am always worried about “crying wolf”, and since I tend to have long early labor periods, I feel so bad for getting everyone excited and then having DAYS of labor.  Finally, I just asked for her to come and check on the baby, and then to come back when I was in active labor.

Around 2PM, she checked the baby, and all was great, and then asked if I wanted to be checked.  I normally would have said no, but I wanted her to confirm what I thought- that it was still “early”.  If it was, then I was planning on taking a trip to Target to distract myself from contractions, and maybe take a nap.  She checked me, and I was 80% effaced, and 4, stretching to 5 centimeters along! 

I was shocked!  I was expecting to hear I was at a 3.  I think those herbs I took helped- I remember one of the benefits to them was early dilation without pain!  For a girl that had very long and very painful early labors with the other two, this was just the greatest thing ever!  Anne Marie decided to stay near by, saying that she thought things were happening… so she went to Target across the street and shortly after she left my contractions became REALLY strong and I got in the tub.

This labor was different then my last two in a few ways.  The first being that I decided to MOVE through my contractions.  Before, I managed my pain by completely relaxing from head to toe, similar to hypnosis, and I didn’t want to move AT ALL.  This time, I relaxed and surrendered but I also moved.  I would sit on the ball and sway my hips, or sit in the pool and move in circles.  I changed positions often, not being afraid of getting stuck in something uncomfortable when a contraction came, but trusting my body to move in the way that it needed to.  I not only surrendered to the pain, but I surrendered to my body, it’s power and however I needed to move.
Contractions were difficult and I sort of felt like my “transition” lasted for hours.  Ya know the contractions that are intense, close together, and make you want to scream “I can’t do this anymore!  I’m done!”?  In some ways this felt like my hardest labor, and in others it felt like my easiest.  I guess I just coped better then before.  Although, I did not have back labor- and that made all the difference!  Wade didn’t have to sit in the tub and push my hips together with each contraction (poor thing was sort of bored!), I didn’t need the water high and boiling hot, and it was easier to move. 

Good little girl stayed anterior the whole labor and never went posterior.  I was so thankful!  Around 4PM I threw up with a HUGE contraction and it was pretty memorable since Wade had followed me around with a pot, and then I asked him to get me water and as he took a step away I yelled “Pot!” and he ran to me and missed me by a half second.  After this I could feel her move down quite a bit (one of my favorite parts of laboring naturally- although painful- SO cool!).
My amazing Doula/Midwife Assistant Amara helped me so much through my labor.  Early on I asked her to read me my birth affirmations.  She whispered them softly in my ear as I lay over the tub.  I just focused on her words.  Then she started taking a washcloth and dipping it in the water and rubbing it around my neck, down my arms, over my face etc.. She would fan me with it too. 

If you would have asked me ahead of time if I would have liked this, I would have told you a big fat NO.  I can’t believe I liked it, but it was AMAZING, and I wish she was at all my births.  It is the benefit of having a great Doula- that they can be intuitive enough to know what you need when you need it.  She is an experienced massage therapist too, so the way she moved and rubbed the wash cloth was so soothing.  She also did some EFT tapping the whole time, and I KNOW that it helped me emotionally.
The other part of my labor that was very different was that before, each time a contraction came I fearfully anticipated the pain.  I could relax a half of a second later, but I never could enter a contraction surrendered and relaxed.  That tension and fear in the beginning of the contraction caused me pain until I could let it go.  This time, instead of focusing on relaxing I focused on the baby. 

Each contraction I visualized her moving down, and I kept talking to her in my head saying things like “Come to me baby girl”, “I want to meet you”, “Come down and out sweetheart”.  I repeatedly talked to her through the whole contraction and visualized my body opening up and pushing her down.  Because of this I embraced the pain of the contraction instead of fearing it. 

I could FEEL everything and when it was painful it was because my body was opening and she was moving down.  I was actually disappointed when I would have a weak contraction that didn’t hurt!  The whole time my biggest frustration was patience.  I just couldn’t wait to meet her, and I wanted to see her face NOW.  I didn’t think of laboring this way ahead of time, it was just instinct.  Because of this, I didn’t have fear or tension when entering a contraction, I was relaxed from the beginning so the pain was so manageable.

A few times my midwife showed me how to “check” myself.  I really didn’t have any idea what I was feeling, but I did it again another two times and could totally tell the difference between the first time.  That was such a cool experience!
I have always found my labors to be an intimate experience with my husband.  Sure, there are other people in the room, but this is OUR time, bringing OUR baby into the world… a baby created out of our love.  Before, he was in the tub with me pushing on my back, holding me.  I longed to be close to him the whole labor, and he took care of me the whole time.  At the end, he held my hand, and I just loved his presence.  He is so my love and my rock.  It makes me sad for all the women a generation ago that had to labor with their husbands in the waiting room.  I don’t know what I would have done without him there.
It wasn’t long and I was squatting and feeling a little pushy.  I was expecting a break in contractions before that point, but everything was still 2 minutes apart and 1 and a half minutes long!  With the other two I never got the urge to push, and I think my body was just telling me to rest and prepare.  Instead of listening to my body I just pushed even though I didn’t want to, and had very long pushing stages. 

I HATE to push, and it was the same this time!  So now that I had the urge to push, it scared me!  I voiced this to Anne Marie and Amara.  I told them that I was so used to relaxing through my contractions as a way to cope with the pain, that I was afraid to push through the contractions (instead of relax), and face that pain.  My midwife (who is also a ND and a Homeopathic doctor) gave me a couple of homeopathic remedies for fear. 

At the same time Amara was surrogate tapping (EFT) and said, Carrington, I want you to say “Trixie is worth it”.  It was exactly what I needed to hear, and went right along with how I had been laboring, giving all my focus to her.  She WAS worth it.  She tapped, and I said those words.  Then Anne Marie said “Why don’t you just try a little grunt?  A little push, just to see how it feels?”.

At 6:45, with the next contraction I gave a tiny push and a grunt and all of the sudden my water just burst through…. the water!  With it came my mucus plug and bloody show- neither of which I had lost yet at all (even being a week late!).  It was so cool to me that it completely distracted me from my contractions.  I think I even said “Whoa, that was really cool.”
Two minutes later another contraction came and I thought I would try just a little push again.  I just loathe pushing, and it also scares me, but I wanted to see my baby SO bad.  When I pushed a little I was shocked at how much it moved her that I kept pushing and her head came through!  I don’t think anyone else in the room realized how close I was, or that she was coming that fast and I heard Wade exclaim, “I see her head!  I see her head!”.  I was squatting with one knee down and one leg up.  After her head came out, I wanted to be done SO bad that I just fully committed, accepting whatever tear or pain was going to happen and KEPT pushing until she came out!  The next push (and same contraction) she was out!  Oh gosh, it felt so amazing!
I had voiced that I wanted to catch her, or have Wade catch her, and so when I pushed her out so fast, I just reached down and grabbed my baby girl.  With Thatcher I delivered him behind me (standing up), and I hated the feeling of not being able to see him, or grab him.  Grabbing her as she came out was so incredible empowering and amazing.  I pulled her to my chest and she let out a big cry.  She quickly turned a little gray/blue and my midwife came up behind me because her cord was wrapped around her neck.  She was also grabbing her cord like it was her little lovie, and was refusing to let it go!  Anne Marie had to pull each little finger out of the tight grip and pulled the cord around and she instantly pinked up and let out another cry!
I kissed her, kissed my husband, kissed my mom and couldn’t believe how TINY she was.  To many other people she was probably huge, but to me?  She was soo tiny! Her brother was almost two pounds heavier!  Her tiny features!  Oh, she was so beautiful and reminded me so much of Capri and Thatcher.
We waited until the cord stopped pulsating and then clamped it and Wade cut it.  After we cut the cord, I handed her to Wade who swaddled her up and held her.  I got out of the tub and sat on the birthing stool to deliver the placenta with the midwife in front of me.  It came out fast, along with a bunch of blood clots.  She noticed the bleeding was more then she liked, so she gave me a couple of homeopathic remedies and two herbs- shepards purse, and blue cohosh.

  We waited a few minutes and she kept massaging me.  It wasn’t stopping and so she decided to give me Cytotec.  With Capri I had some bleeding, and they gave me pitocin and cytotec right away (without my permission) and I still passed out after the birth trying to go to the bathroom.  The doctors never mentioned my bleeding, and so I had no idea that was why I passed out.  I just wasn’t informed, but looking back I understand what was happening. 

With Thatcher, I had a lot of bleeding, and was given cytotec as well by my CNM, and after a lot of massaging clots out, and getting some food in me, I eventually felt better (although I felt like I was going to pass out).  Knowing this might be a “thing” with me, I spoke a lot with my midwife about it ahead of time to make sure she had what was needed on hand, and I took TONS of herbs to prep my body in hopes I would not have any hemmoraging.
I started to feel a little better and asked to go to the bed to lay down.  We went into the bedroom, she massaged more clots out and then I sat up and was nursing Beatrix.  We sat in there for a little over an hour, talking about the birth, nursing etc.. Then, I started to feel super weak again, and gave the baby to my mom and laid down.  I told Anne Marie I was feeling really weak and she checked my blood pressure- it had dropped drastically (sorry, I can’t remember what it was at- but let’s just say it was dangerously low).  She asked me, “Do you feel like you did with Thatcher, or worse?”  I said, “Worse”.
Then I passed out.

At that time it was just Jordan (my good friend who was there taking pictures for me), and the midwife in the room.  The midwife yelled for Amara to call 911 (Jordan just did), and Jordan yelled for Wade as my midwife ran to get one of those things you snap to wake people up, are they ammonia?  I don’t know what they are called, ha!  Before she left she rolled me on my side and told Wade to talk to me and get me to wake up. It was only about 20-30 seconds that I was “out”.

I woke up on my side in my husbands arms with him yelling my name and my midwife back and yelling my name.  It was the weirdest and most confusing thing ever.  I had no idea I passed out.  It felt like I had just fallen asleep.  You know when you are up late chatting with a friend and they are talking and you accidentally fall asleep until they say your name to see if you are listening?  That’s what it felt like!  I didn’t understand why everyone was running around, etc.. Then, I felt instantly better!  Blood pressure went back up, and midwife is holding my legs up, and then people are feeding me coconut water, yogurt, broth, etc..  By this time the paramedics had already arrived (I swear, they were there in like two minutes!  Nice to know I live so close to them!)

So, I started talking to the midwife about transferring, and asked her what they would do for me at the hospital.  She said they would give me fluids, and more cytotec and pitocin to stop bleeding.  I knew that SHE had all those things on hand as well, and since my blood pressure was stable, did I really have to go?  I didn’t want to leave my baby, and I really, really didn’t want to go to the hospital!  I had just had the most beautiful experience, I didn’t want to leave my home. 

I asked her if she could stay with me through the night to monitor me, and if it got worse, we could just call the ambulance back, but I wanted to stay.  She agreed as long as my blood pressure stayed stable that we could do that.  So, they went outside and told the paramedics that we were refusing transfer.  As they were out there telling them, all of the sudden I felt weak again.  I told her to take my BP again, and AGAIN it had dropped way low.  She looked at me SO concerned and I said “I should just go in, huh?” and she said “YES.”  So then she ran outside to tell them to come BACK.  The fire department was still there but the paramedics were just leaving, so they chased them down the street and waved them down, telling them to come back.
A minute later I’m naked on my bed and there are about 8 EMT’s in my bedroom!  The first thing they did was cover me up, and I laughed- I swear all my modesty left with childbirth!  They were all SO nice.  I kind of expected attitudes, because so many people have so many beliefs about the safety of homebirth, and I figured I would get a comment from them, but they were all so nice telling me congrats, and what a gorgeous little girl I had!  They carried me out in a sling because they couldn’t get the gurney to fit through the door way.  All in a matter of minutes we figured out that Amara and Jordan would stay with my mom and the baby at home.  Jordan would pump for the baby , and my midwife and Wade would come with me to the hospital.

Off to the hospital I went, conflicted as to whether I made the right choice to leave my baby.  Feeling thankful for being taken care of, then feeling silly for causing such a scene, etc.. When we got to the county hospital, they brought me through the ER, and I was soo hoping that they would not leave me there.  It looked like a really busy night, and I didn’t want to deal with an ER doctor.  God totally answered my prayers and after listening for a few minutes to the paramedic argue with the nurse, I was brought up to L and D and brought into a room. 

Again, I was expecting a lot of negativity, or comments from nurses/doctors about having a homebirth but it’s like the Lord chose these specific people for me this night.  They were all SO loving and kind and just above and beyond sweet, making the whole situation that could have been very traumatic for me, very smooth and easy.

They gave me more cytotec, pitocin and hooked me up to fluids (I got three whole bags that evening), and then gave me morphine so that they could literally DIG inside my uterus and get the rest of the clots out that were preventing my uterus to contract fully and thus be able to stop my bleeding.  Even with the morphine it was painful and the doctor pulled out a whole cluster of clots that had gotten stuck in my lower uterine cavity.

After that I was doing much better.  We had to stay for hours more as they ran tests.  It was SO hard to be away from Beatrix, but I knew she was in good hands with my mom (probably the only person I would have been comfortable leaving her with), and with Jordan there to pump, I wasn’t worried about her.  Actually, I think I had been blessed with a supernatural peace.  Being separated from my baby so soon after birth should have been way more traumatizing then it was. 

My midwife came with and was able to answer all their medical questions, give them my charts and all my medical history and answer all their questions.  It was so nice to not have to do any of that, and have her there for a second opinion on things!  She was amazing!  She stayed with us until midnight and then went home to do all the newborn stuff with Beatrix!  In all the crazy, she hadn’t even been weighed or measured. 

I actually was so anxious to see how much she weighed that we had Amara do it, and they text us pictures and the weight at the hospital.  8.3 pounds!  Oh my goodness! I had PRAYED for a small baby, and there she was!  Although, that weight deserves a little * by it, because she pooped like 5 times right after birth!  It’s a whole different story, in which my mom got pooped on a bunch, lol!  It was also another thing we were praising God for.  My body knew I needed to push her out right away, because I believe if I had a long pushing stage she might have had meconium in there, and that leaves risk for ingesting some, or breathing some of it in- both can be serious complications.  The Lord just had it all perfectly planned.
Wade and I spent the evening RESTING and talking.  We were giddy and couldn’t stop talking about the birth, what happened.  I loved hearing his perspective and he loved hearing mine.  It was so fun to recap the birth of our little girl.  Finally, at 6AM we were allowed to go home. Baby had been spoon fed some milk, and was doing great- sleeping.  Amara and my dad had cleaned up the tub and Amara was sleeping on my couch.  I could.not.wait. to hold her again.  Oh, it was like giving birth all over again- that moment!
I will say this- although it wasn’t perfect, and I had to transfer to the hospital- it FELT perfect to me.  I didn’t feel like my transfer experience took away from my birth experience.  I’m SO so happy I birthed at home and got an intervention free birth with a healthy baby without the need of monitoring, pain medication or surgery.  I hope my birth is an example of the awesome care I was under with my Midwife, and how the medical intervention I had was sooo wonderful, and needed and I am beyond grateful that I had it.  

My hope is that her birth is not overshadowed by the transfer- that you don’t look at my homebirth and say “Look!  Homebirth is dangerous!”  This would have happened whether I was at the hospital or not, and I had great care while I was at home to take care of me while we waited for transfer. I think my birth is a great example if you are having a homebirth and you fear, “What happens if something goes wrong?”  This is what happens, and this is what you do, and this is why I love homebirth!
So, she is two weeks old now- but let me introduce you to my new best friend…
Beatrix Anne
Born at Home
8 pounds 3 ounces 19 inches long.
Born at 6:50 (ish)


Beautiful story!!! I also transferred after our homebirth. We drove our own car and I was there for about 2 hours. I knew our daughter was in good hands at home and it was almost nice to sit and rest a bit and recap her birth.

Your midwife sounds amazing. Hearing how she came to the hospital with you and shared your medical history and her records for the doctors reminds me one more reason why I am in favor of regulated midwifery laws -- continuity of care.

Thank you for sharing your story!
Oh Carrington, this is perfection. You told your story so well. I am so glad you and baby were fine. You have such grace about it!

mcswigg said…
im curious to know what herbs u took prior to help with dilation!
mcswigg said…
ps...one of my favorite birth stories to date!love how descriptive u were!!!!thank u so much for sharing!
Darci Cole said…
I have been told that cytotec is harmful to mother and baby... like, people have died from it. how true is this? Anyone know?
Ashley said…
Darci, my understanding is that cytotec is extremely dangerous for inducing labor, but is reasonably safe when needed to deal with postpartum hemmorhaging.
Your story is a perfect example of why it IS safe to birth at home. Professional CNMs aren't going to risk their patient's lives and they will do what's best for you and your baby.
Anonymous said…
Beautiful story! Love the pictures you included, esp of the EMT guys! I really think that we are part of a large circle in this natural birth world that includes using western medicine WHEN we need to and WHEN it is helpful for us (instead of western medicine being in charge of us). Good for you!
My plan had always been "have the baby at home unless there was reason to go to the hospital". Well, after I'd been pushing for an hour my midwife said that they won't let pushing at home go more than 2 hours, since after that the chances that something goes wrong for mom or baby increase, so if things didn't pick up in the next half an hour she was going to call the hospital to get a room set up for me and an ambulance sent over (we were like 5 min. away from one of the two biggest hospitals in the city, so no worries there). My contractions continually got weaker so off to the hospital we went, where Gwen was born a little less than an hour after we arrived, and about 4.5 hours later we were back home!

The whole story is here: http://aryanhwy.livejournal.com/304537.html.
Katie-Q said…
I was on Facebook tonight, passing time. My husband and I own our own business and also have a 8 month old daughter and this week he's over 50 hours and it's only Thursday! So I was passing time waiting for my husband to come home while Savannah slept and somehow stumbled across a friend of a friends photo with a comment from someone else (lol) that linked me to this blog post! It was a beautiful story that had mw in tears reminiscing the birth of our daughter an how amazingly wonderful childbirth is!! Thank you for sharing your story and touching my heart tonight!! :)
Unknown said…
Beautiful story. Isn't God great?

I understand what you went through, I had clots after my last birth. we opted not to transfer because I didn't want to leave my baby and I was already so weak.. my midwife took out the clots at home. Praying that doesn't happen again!
mariposa said…
Wonderful story! Thank you for sharing it! Both the homebirth mama & RN in me appreciate how strong a mom you are! I look to story as as an example of what every woman should have access to in this country - compassionate and competent professionals who provide excellent medical care while simultaneously honoring the mother/family's wishes. Kudos to your midwife & her assistant!
Buffy said…
This is such a touching and beautiful story. Your perspective of grace and gratitude is simply wonderful. Thank you for sharing your experience and inspiring all of us to a deeper sense of grace.

In the end...healthy mom and healthy babe is the ultimate blessing.
About the book said…
Bless those EMTs and hospital personnel for being kind and loving to you. Bless your midwife for listening to you but also guiding you to make the safest decision for you and your baby. Bless you for being such a strong mama, having such a beautiful wonderful birth, and also knowing that you needed the best that American medicine could offer. This story is just so wonderful and perfect. THIS is what we need -- good collaboration between midwives and doctors, and real choices in childbirth. I can't stop crying after reading this.