A Nurse With A Home Water Birth
First, HOW COOL IS THAT PICTURE?!
A wonderful birth story, and a testament to the FACT that movement is imperative to a more comfortable birth. I too simply don't know how women do this when they are limited in their movements. Go mama!
Myra’s Birth Story
2-12-12 ~ 12:33pm
The birth story of Myra actually starts before pregnancy. Growing up I had known about home birth and it seemed normal to me. I had thought of having home birth before but had expected that I would probably give birth in a hospital or birth center with the goal of going natural. As a teenager and in my early 20’s I had read various midwife books about “catching” babies at home and thought it was so awesome that I had considered going to midwifery school after obtaining my nursing degree. But alas, life gets going and goals sometimes change.
Once my husband and I decided to try to have a baby I was non-stop researching natural birth, statistics, hospital and home birth interventions, risk and benefits. I was very quickly being drawn toward having my own home birth as long as my baby and I were healthy. So once I was pregnant, my friend referred me to her midwife, Dr. Lori, who I met and was absolutely sold on having our baby at home, naturally. I was able to win over my husband’s support when I presented him with all the information I found and after he met Dr Lori.
Throughout my pregnancy I read positive natural birth stories to help get my mind out of the Hollywood depiction of birth as an awful event and view it as a wonderful, positive, empowering event. It’s hard to keep your mind positive sometimes when presented with birth horror stories or of women who say they would have died without the epidural. I made a point to keep the mantra in my mind that labor would be hard work with a purpose. I often thought of the ‘pain’ of birth and associated it with the ‘pain’ felt when lifting weights when I had been a gym rat.
Some days the workouts were excruciating, the sprints and squats almost unbearable and the intense burning pain of pushing my body to its max reminded me that at that time I had a purpose and the pain didn’t last forever. I worked with my body and got through each workout, each sprint, each squat, curl and pull up and reached my goal. This experience helped me with my thoughts on birth and in my everyday thoughts, I purposely changed the word “pain“ associated with birth to “discomfort“. Each contraction would be hard work, it could potentially be very uncomfortable but it wouldn’t last forever and I had a goal to attain and to get there I would have to work with my body.
During pregnancy my husband and I decided not to attend birth classes. We both decided that labor was going to be an event that you couldn’t control, but needed to work with, and I could prepare through reading books. I have always felt I’m good at teaching myself and like to do things independently rather than in a group. I read the Bradley books and really liked that approach and I also read Hypnobirthing and actually practiced meditation for birth in the third trimester. It’s funny how we prepare for one thing but it totally ends up being different.
I’m glad I didn’t take the Bradley or Hypnobirthing class because for me, laying down and trying to stay totally relaxed did not work at all. Laying down was unbearable! I had to move with the contractions by swaying, squatting and having my husband push on my back. I also breathed and moaned and groaned. The one thing I can say I took away from both of these methods was to work with my body and not fight or be afraid of the contractions. My breathing and movements were what I felt I needed, not a method that I learned in a book. I did what felt right and what instinctively my body needed to birth Myra.
Now on to the good part. I stopped working at 38 weeks to get ready for Myra’s arrival. Nearing the end of my 38th week I was able to get some trim in our kitchen painted. We were and are still in the middle of a remodel of our home and getting the trim done meant I could put up roman shades. Since I would be laboring at home I didn’t want the neighbors to see a “labor peep show” if I was up at night. I joked about this but I really didn’t feel ready until that was done. So Friday I got that done and mowed the lawn, another thing on my “to do” list.
At this point I had been having stronger, non-painful contractions all week that were very irregular. I would wake up every night about every 1-2 hours with them and sometimes during the day they would take my breath away. I still appeared to carry high and had never been checked for dilation which I actually preferred, since I felt if there was nothing happening, it would make me feel discouraged. I had an appointment with my midwife Friday and everything was great! Myra’s heart rate was about 140’s and I was measuring 39 weeks.
I was due to hit 39 weeks that weekend so all was perfect. We discussed how Myra could come at any time and Dr. Lori said “Tomorrow is a good day” and I said “but I have to make some meals to freeze so Sunday is better!” We agreed that Sunday was also a good day. Little did I know Myra’s plan. That night my husband and I had dinner and went out to a movie together. It was a really nice night together. This is the last picture of me pregnant.
Saturday I prepared two meals to freeze for after her arrival. I felt ready and happy. At noon I went to the bathroom and there was bloody show and mucous plug. I didn’t get too excited, since I knew it could potentially be days for labor to really start. I called my mom that evening and told her. She said I would be having the baby in the next day or two. I still wasn’t too convinced. That evening my irregular contractions continued and at 10pm we went to bed. I woke up every hour with contractions until 3am when I could no longer sleep.
I went to the bathroom and had more bloody show. At that point I went out into the living room and sat on the couch. They seemed much stronger and close together so I started timing them on my phone app and found they were about 5 minutes apart and 30-60seconds long. I suddenly felt starved and ate an english muffin with peanut butter. I stayed in the living room for two more hours and eventually had to start standing and swaying with the contractions. I’m so happy I had these few hours by myself. I knew if this was the real deal that I wanted Andrew to sleep as long as he could since I knew it would be exhausting for both of us.
I thought about Myra, labor and the past 9 months preparing for her birth. It was quiet and I labored silently with soft moans and deep breaths in the dim light of the living room while my dogs slept and occasionally woke up to look at me and place their heads back down in peaceful slumber. Then at about 5am the contractions were definitely more intense and frequent so I decided to try and lay down again to see if they would slow. I went back to bed where Andrew slept and moaned through each contraction. Lying in bed was awful! All I wanted was to sway and move with them.
I have no idea how women lay in a hospital bed and endure contractions laying down. I would want and epidural too if I had to do that. My moaning woke up Andrew and he rubbed my back and asked what was wrong. I told him I’d been having contractions for over two hours and he was said “really?” and was instantly awake. My contractions did not slow in bed and so I decided it was time to get up. Back into the living room I went and through one contraction felt shaky and nauseous. This made me wonder if I was farther along that I thought, since I remember nausea can occur later in labor as the body is transitioning. I still wasn’t convinced I was that close.
At around 6:30am I called my midwife, as they were getting stronger and about 3-5 minutes apart. She said she could come over if I wanted, but to call again if anything else happened. I thought it was too early still and figured I would be laboring all day. She suggested I eat something and we set up the birth pool. I also called my mom who asked when the midwife would be over. She was convinced it was going to happen very soon.
While on the phone with my mom I could no longer talk through the contractions. I was in the kitchen eating cantaloupe between contractions and leaning on the counter swaying and breathing through each one. My mom said I’d better call my midwife again and we got off the phone since I had a hard time talking anyway. At around that time I ran into the bathroom feeling nauseous and projectile vomited somewhere near the toilet. I felt so bad that Andrew had to clean it up from the floor and walls but I did manage to get some in the toilet.
So Andrew started setting up the birth pool and called our midwife for some instruction and told her that I had vomited. She said she would send over her assistant, Jamie, who lived in our town and she would be on her way. This must have been around 7:30 or 8am. Jamie arrived and I would guess around 9am Dr. Lori arrived. By this time I was swaying, squatting, sitting on the birth ball and rotating my hips and deep breathing through each contraction.
Either Jamie or Dr. Lori checked my blood pressure and Myra’s heart rate intermittently. All was great. Andrew continued to be amazing and held pressure on my back where it was so tight and painful through each contraction. Through one contraction he told me my lower back muscles felt hard as rocks during the contractions and I believed it because of the discomfort! Eventually it was too uncomfortable to sit on the ball because of the pressure in my bottom, so I knelt on the floor and draped my body over the ball or against the couch.
Through each one I kept my eyes closed and focused inward on the start, peak and the relief of the contraction easing off. I remember thinking at one point, that I now know why women get epidurals if they are offered. This labor thing was very hard work and the most intense sensations I had ever had in my life. I reminded myself not to think negatively about the pain and discomfort and remind myself of all the women who have done it naturally. My body was made to do this. I started going through a list of women who had natural births, starting with my mom.
Around 10am Dr. Lori suggested she check my progress. I layed on my bed and as she checked she stopped then said “Do you feel pushy?” I said “No” and she then said I was fully dilated! No lip and she could feel the bag of water! I was SO surprised and excited. So they left the room and went to get more supplies ready. My hubby and I hugged and I said “this is really the last time it’s just us” A little bittersweet but we were excited to meet our baby. Dr. Lori suggested I try getting into the shower and have some warm water on my back.
That sounded great, so I went into the shower with the hot water on full blast. Andrew continued to provide pressure on my back and Dr. Lori reminded me to relax my shoulders and upper back by massaging the muscles. While in the shower I felt a little pop. I said a surprised “oh!” and saw some bloody mucous in the shower floor. I went through another contraction and then turned and said “So that was my water breaking.” No one realized it broke since it was nice and clear which was perfect. Another check of Myra’s heart rate proved she was doing beautifully with the water broken. Eventually the hot water ran out and off to the living room I went again, and labored some more near the birth pool. Andrew sat on the couch and I squatted and leaned back against his legs, but then my legs started to get very tired, and it felt like a ton of weight was pounding down on them. I opted to get into the pool at that point.
Into the pool I went and I don’t think I would ever do it again without that warm water. I first faced the side of the pool and draped my body over the edge while on my knees. Andrew was at my side draping a warm wet towel on my back over and over again. I felt weightless, and my legs and feet felt much better with the buoyancy of the water. During pregnancy my legs became so swollen that it was difficult to squat or even sit on the floor because of the swelling. At the very end I wore sneakers constantly to keep the fluid out of my feet.
Any amount of time on my feet proved to be painful for my poor feet so laboring while squatting and standing was eventually taking a tole on my feet. After a while of laboring in the pool, Jamie came over and asked if I had the urge to push at all. I said no and she said that was ok, but it must have only been 5 minutes later and the most overwhelming urge came over me and my body started pushing! I had no control over it and found myself bearing down with each urge and grunting low in my throat. That was when Jamie, Dr. Lori and Andrew were all gathered around. I could feel more and more pressure in my bottom with each push, and eventually Dr. Lori suggested I turn around and lean back against the pool. I did that and Andrew was behind me supporting my arms and back. I remember thinking that when the baby started crowning I didn’t want Andrew behind me. I wanted him to be able to watch and knew he wanted to see her born.
So after some time he went to my side outside the pool and I hooked my arms over the pool edge and leaned back. I could feel her coming down and felt the most intense stretching and pressure in my bottom. As she crowned I experienced the stinging “ring of fire” and I kept thinking that this was the most awful necessary feeling I had ever felt. I then went back to my list of women who birthed naturally, and remind myself I could do it. Just push through the pain and it would be over, someday. I remember hearing Dr. Lori keep saying “push, breathe, you’re stretching, nice and soft here, stretch, push” to guide me through each push.
She also told me I could feel her head if I wanted to. I reached down and felt her hard little head coming out. Andrew later told me I smiled when I felt her head, but I don’t remember smiling about anything at that point. I do remember thinking that I couldn’t believe this was happening and that was really her head! Dr Lori massaged my perineum with vitamin E and once Myra’s head crowned and forehead started to come, she told me to breathe through and not push, to allow for gentile stretching.
That was so difficult! Not pushing when I felt the need to push. Finally I could resume and Dr. Lori announced that her forehead was through, her ear, her eyes, nose and then her head was out! I sat for seemed like forever with her head out until another urge came. I then pushed with all my tired strength with lots of encouragement from our team and one shoulder came through and then her body slid right out after the second shoulder. I opened my eyes and she came to the top of the water. It was all so fast and I grabbed her and pulled her on my chest.
I DID IT! I couldn’t believe it. I think I remember saying “oh, baby, baby, baby!” Andrew was at my side and put his hand on her little body. He was teary. We sat there just marveling at this little baby. She was pink and cried after a few seconds. A hat and blanket were placed on her and we relaxed in the water.
As a little side note I have to talk about my dogs. They were in the living room the entire time just hanging out. When I started pushing, Andrew told me that Dahlia (Doberman Pincher) ran and hid in our bedroom. She must have been afraid of all the groaning and grunting I was doing. I do remember opening my eyes after a push and saw Progress (Great Dane) watching about five feet away. I laugh now, and I thought it was funny then that my dog was watching me push out Myra. Right after she was born Progress walked up and sniffed her over. For a few weeks he would run over to her when she cried and has been very protective of the house since she was born. Dahlia sniffed her when Andrew was holding her and took a week or so to get used to her. She was more concerned with me while I was recovering. She is a mama’s pup. She would follow me around, and be at my feet and was unusually calm that first week of recovery.
So after the cord stopped pulsing Andrew cut it and I handed Myra to him. He took her and sat on the couch and gazed at his new baby girl with all her little ten fingers and toes. He then went into our bedroom since I was headed there soon. I delivered the placenta which required some pushing and I felt so relieved once it was out! I stood up and immediately started to shake all over, to the point my teeth chattered. Dr. Lori and Jamie helped me into the bedroom where they prepared our bed, and I layed down and was covered with towels and warm blankets. Luckily the chattering stopped and I warmed right up. We laid there, I drank some orange juice and Myra christened her daddy by having her first poop in his hand. Yes, we even took a picture of that. She will hate me for it someday.
Our family just went from 2 to 3 in one day. We laid there just absorbing what just happened and how this little baby was really here! She was weighed and measured right on Andrew and she never left our sight. She was 7lb 10oz and 22 inches. I nursed her and we made a bunch of phone calls to our family and sent out picture texts. After a few hours I ate the sweet potato and red pepper soup I made the day before and Dr. Lori stitched me up. I had some tears which required stitching and Andrew even watched that.
So was natural homebirth painful? Yes. Was it worth it? YES. Would I do it again? Absolutely! I am so thankful for the way Myra’s birth unfolded. I knew birth would be challenging and yes, it was painful. I am so thankful that I was able to birth in water, not be hooked up to monitors, walk right after and be in my own home. I loved that Myra was in my arms and Andrew’s arms the entire time. No one took her to weigh or measure her. It was all done right on Andrew as we layed in bed. I am forever grateful to Dr Lori and Jamie for coming to our home to be present in our birth and for their knowledge, love and patience during the most empowering and vulnerable time in my life.
That evening we lit a candle on a birthday cake and sang happy birthday to Myra. We intended to do it with our amazing birth team but forgot all about it until that night. So here we are, our new little family. Welcome Myra!