birth at home

Recently several people have asked me about my home birth, so I thought I’d post the story again.  I wrote this a few weeks after the birth so I could remember the details as time goes on.   I know most people aren’t interested in reading about the gory details of birthing, but I personally love to hear labor and birth stories of other women.  It’s an amazing thing; no one can argue with that!

Hudson Mack Chou
December 9, 2008
5:20 PM
7 lbs 14 oz
20.5 inches

My first child was born in a hospital with no medication and I was planning to do the same with my second.  However, we moved out of state when I was six months along and had no health insurance.  I saw an advertisement for a homebirth midwife in our new community’s newsletter and started considering the possibility of a homebirth.  Our home is in the mountains and somewhat isolated, so it seemed like a great place to give birth.  I had no concerns about my pregnancy and since my first labor was relatively quick and easy, a homebirth seemed like a good option for me.  I called the midwife and we met to discuss the details.  She was an intern midwife with 30+ years of nursing experience prior to pursuing her registry in midwifery.  As an intern, it was required that her preceptor attend all births with her.  I talked it over with my husband, who is a licensed EMT, and we decided to go for it.

Hudson was due December 13, but I was hoping he would arrive a little early so his birthday wouldn’t be too close to Christmas.  My first child was born four days before her due date so I was wishing for the same the second time around.  On Monday, December 8, a very wintery, snowy day, my midwife called to check on me.  Another of her clients was in labor and she suspected the pressure changes from the snowstorm had brought it on.  I was having semi-regular painless contractions but I didn’t think much of it because I’d been having Braxton-Hicks for months…so I told her no worries!  That evening the contractions became more regular, around 11-12 minutes apart, and I started thinking maybe the storm was having an effect.  My husband called in to work and left a message that he might not be coming in the next morning. That night around 3 AM I got up to use the bathroom and discovered I’d lost my mucus plug and I was also displaying some bleeding.  I figured it was just the normal ‘bloody show’ and went back to bed.  I woke up around 7:30 in the morning and was contracting every 10 minutes, and these contractions felt like the real thing.

After vegging in bed for a while with our 2-year-old daughter, we got up and started cleaning a little, and I made some breakfast around 10 AM.  I emailed my mother (who lives an hour away) to let her know this could very well be delivery day!  The contractions gradually became closer together and more intense, and I was still bleeding as of late morning.  This concerned me so I called my midwife.  She chalked it up to bloody show and said not to worry.  I was mostly concerned because I knew my placenta was lower than what is considered normal (although it was not covering the cervix) so I thought the bleeding might be related to my low-lying placenta.  The midwife’s reassurance helped a little but I still thought it might be a problem.

Shortly after noon my husband and I started arranging the bedroom for the delivery and getting supplies in order.  Around 1:30 PM I decided to take a shower and as soon as I got out, my contractions went from 6 minutes to 3 minutes apart.  I thought it was probably a fluke so I drew a bath for my daughter (as I always do after I shower) and tried to bathe her.  The contractions weren’t letting up so I called my husband upstairs to finish bathing our little girl.  As soon as she was out and dressed, we put her down for a nap.  I was in fairly hard labor at that point so I called the midwife again and told her breathlessly that my contractions were 2-3 minutes apart and lasting almost a minute each.  She said she would let her preceptor know and be on her way.

I dealt with the contractions by kneeling next to the bed and having my husband provide pressure on my lower back.  I’ve read Dr. Bradley’s “Husband Coached Childbirth” several times and I practiced slow, steady breathing and attempted to stay relaxed through each contraction.  I was bleeding fairly heavily and it was bright red so I was still concerned.  Looking back now, I think my concern was distracting me from concentrating fully on the contractions.  I didn’t feel like I had enough support kneeling, so we propped up some pillows on the bed and I sat in a semi-reclined position on the edge of the bed.  My husband held my legs during the contractions, but I still felt unsupported and I kept sliding off the pillows.  The lack of support (in addition to feeling weak from blood loss and not eating since breakfast) was tiring and frustrating, but I was still feeling excited about being so close to delivery.

The midwife arrived around 4 PM and my parents showed up shortly after.  By that time I was unable to carry on any conversation as the contractions were almost on top of one another and becoming intense and painful.  The midwife seemed nervous and kept herself busy setting up her supplies.  My husband and mother were very supportive but I was feeling so tired that I barely knew what was going on around me.  I felt a strong desire to sleep in the few seconds between contractions.

The midwife checked my dilation and then called her preceptor (who was reportedly on her way but delayed due to the icy, snowy roads) to tell her I was about 4 cm dilated.  Four centimeters!  I knew I was just minutes away from pushing so she was either wrong or I went from 4 to 10 cm in fifteen minutes!  Soon after she got off the phone with her preceptor, I started feeling the urge to push and said so out loud.  The midwife replied “oh really?”…but my husband said “all right, then push!”  On the next contraction I fought the urge, but halfway through I couldn’t resist any longer and started pushing.  I pushed again on the next contraction and then my water broke quite forcefully.  On the next contraction I pushed again and Eric reported he could see the head.  On the fourth push Hudson’s head popped out but the cord was wrapped very tightly around his neck and his face was a shade of blue!  The midwife and my husband both tried to loosen it with their fingers but were unsuccessful.  Eric said we needed to cut the cord and the midwife said she would go get her scissors.  Eric didn’t want to wait for her so he grabbed his trauma shears and hemostats and started clamping the cord.  I DID NOT want the cord to be cut so early and I had read in another homebirth story about this sort of thing happening.  The mother had gone animalistic and pushed like crazy to get the baby out so the cord wouldn’t have to be cut.  I decided to do the same.  With all the strength I had left, I started pushing immediately with the next contraction.  At 5:20 PM our little boy caught air as he came out!  Eric and my mother both helped catch him and he started crying right away with no need for suctioning.  Amazingly enough, I didn’t tear at all but had just one little “skid mark.”

A few minutes later, my midwife’s preceptor walked into the room and was shocked to see that she missed the birth!  Hudson’s cord was very short so I was unable to nurse right away.  I delivered the placenta about half an hour after he was born.  As I was sitting there on the bed watching the bustling around me, I started to experience some dizziness and extreme weakness and I told the midwives I felt like I was going to faint.  They immediately made me lie flat on my back and gave me oxygen through a rebreather mask.  I was given some herbs to help slow the bleeding and I had some water and a few saltine crackers.  My mother took Hudson and the bagged placenta over to the rocking chair while the intern midwife checked his vitals.  The preceptor tended to me and I gradually started feeling a little stronger and less dizzy.  Eventually I was able to nurse Hudson (lying down) and he was a natural.  We cut the cord soon after and the midwives saved some cord blood for the lab to see if I would need a Rhogam shot later (which I did).  Then he was weighed and measured…7 lbs 14 oz and 20.5 inches.  My daughter was only 6 lbs at birth so I was surprised to have a near-8 pound baby!

The midwives instructed me to stay in bed for the next two days as I had lost so much blood and was still quite weak.  Apparently my low-lying placenta was an issue; the lower half of the uterus doesn’t contract as efficiently as the top half, and this had resulted in excessive bleeding.  Despite the slight complications of Hudson’s umbilical cord and my bleeding and faintness, my husband and I both feel strongly that our homebirth was a positive experience and we definitely plan to birth at home in the future.

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-Abby

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13 Responses to birth at home

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  3. Casey says:

    Abby~
    Thank you for publishing this! It’s great to read it from start to finish, uh, I think. I’m a little more apprehensive about my homebirth now though. One comfort for me is that my midwife lives only 10 minutes away and I’ll probably call her pretty early. 🙂

    • lettucepraise says:

      Don’t worry, you’ll be fine! Second births are statistically the fastest, and chances are you won’t have a big snowstorm in November to delay your midwife! And the cord around the neck thing is actually fairly common and not a big deal. It was scary for us just because our midwife was nowhere to be found!

  4. laney says:

    your story is like top 2 of any crazy story i have heard. i’m not sure what the other story is off the top of my head. so you’re probably #1. 🙂
    hudson is so completely scrumptious. i was just staring and staring at his picture. ashon sucks his fingers like that too, and i love it! miss you.

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  6. imawildflower says:

    I just read this and was curious about the “bagged placenta,” so I started researching and found information about a “lotus birth” where you leave the cord & placenta intact after birth. Is this what you did? I find this all so interesting! 🙂

  7. imawildflower says:

    p.s. I love the part that says “the mother had gone animalistic.” Thank you for sharing your story!

  8. lettucepraise says:

    You’re welcome, thanks for reading it! 🙂

    We didn’t cut Hudson’s cord until several hours after birth. The midwives put the placenta in a bag and kept it next to Hudson so he could continue receiving oxygen and nourishment from it as long as possible. In a hospital delivery, the cord is generally cut right away and the mother is forced to deliver the placenta immediately after birth. Both of these actions can be detrimental to the baby and the mother!

    -Abby

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