Just a quick warning: I wanted to share Myles’ birth story exactly how it happened. So some things may seem like “TMI” and perhaps the photos are a little graphic for some. For us, though, it was beautiful and incredible. If you’re squeamish about blood, you may want to skip this post (though I promise, it’s not that bad). I feel very passionate about our choice to have a natural home birth and I hope you enjoy reading about it. Please feel free to comment or email me if you have questions. Home births certainly aren’t for everyone, but for me it’s hard to put into words what it meant to me. I feel like it was the most challenging and rewarding thing I’ve ever done, and I wouldn’t trade the experience or the memory for the world.
The look on my face here says it all — I’m looking at my mom or Mike
(I can’t remember which), overwhelmed with emotion.
It all started at about 3 AM on Wednesday, April 17th. I woke up to go to the bathroom and I felt like I had a painful gas bubble trying to work its way though my stomach. I also saw some blood and a tiny part of me wondered if maybe this could be my mucus plug, but I figured I was just being an alarmist and it was all in my head. The pain passed, and I went back to sleep, not thinking too much about it.
I woke up a couple more times with the same pain, but each time I wrote it off to gas or constipation (TMI, sorry!) and went back to sleep. At 7 AM, I woke up and realized whatever was wrong, I was too uncomfortable to sit at a desk all day at work. I sent a text message to my boss and said I would drive in and get my laptop, and work from home instead. I also sent a text message to my midwife, letting her know about what was going on. She suggested I stop at the pharmacy and get magnesium, which would help stop my contractions, if that was indeed what was going on. (The 1000mg dosage she recommended would also act as a laxative, if that was really the problem.) So I drove myself to work, got my laptop, then went to Walgreens and got magnesium supplements. I almost lost it on the overly-chatty cashier when she was telling me all about treating her migraines with magnesium, and a contraction hit me while standing there listening to her go on and on … but I smiled and listened to her finish her story.
Meanwhile, Mike was on his way to take his board exams for his cosmetology license. I got home and settled into our big blue recliner chair and texted him wishing him good luck and told him to text me when he was done. I wasn’t about to tell him I thought I might be in labor; I didn’t want him to worry while he was taking his test!
I managed to work from home on my laptop till around noon, which was when I couldn’t concentrate on work anymore. Mike passed his test (yay!) and came home, and I filled him in on what was going on. My midwife, V, arrived at 2 PM … I was still not 100% convinced I was in labor at that point. I really thought it was all in my head. But when V checked, I was already 5cm dilated and 70% effaced! I was shocked. We talked about staying home versus going to the hospital.
At 5 weeks early, Myles was outside what they prefer to do for a home birth, so we talked about the pros/cons. Ultimately, I knew if I went to the hospital, with being so early, there would be a lot of interventions I would NOT be ok with and it would be likely he’d be whisked away from me the minute he was born. I felt great and felt confident in my ability and Myles’ ability to make it at home, so with Mike’s blessing and V’s reassurances, we decided to continue with our home birth.
The rest of the afternoon and early evening were very relaxed. We chatted and watched TV (Myles wound up being born during a marathon of River Monsters – haha!) and I mostly hung out in my recliner. I was laughing and talking and smiling. V timed my contractions on her iPhone. My parents came over; my dad picked up Gracie-dog to take her home with him temporarily, and my mom stayed with us.
This was one of the first photos taken after Myles was born.
I couldn’t stop staring at him, and saying “Oh my God” over and over.
As the evening went on, the contractions started to make me more uncomfortable. V and Mike set up a pool in our living room and filled it with hot water. I got into the pool around 9PM when the contractions were starting to really bother me. It was instant relief and I got a second wind immediately. I was back to talking and laughing and smiling again for another hour while I soaked in the warm water. My second midwife, J, arrived around this time also. It was SO great to have such a fantastic birth team there with me.
Around 10PM, I was reclining on my back in the pool when I started to feel like I needed to push. I loved this about my midwives and home birth: no one was telling me what to do; they trusted me and I was allowed to trust my body to do what it needed to do, when it was ready to do so. V told me if I felt like I wanted to push, to go ahead. I spent maybe 40 minutes on my back pushing and didn’t feel like I made much progress. (In reality, it was a good thing because I was gradually stretching things so I wouldn’t tear later on.)
I was starting to get frustrated and I had a half a second where I questioned if I could do it at all. I quickly realized it was a little late to not follow through on natural birth (ha!) and I remembered how very, very close I was to meeting my son. I briefly remembered reading birth stories where people said they had to hit a wall and just give in — and that was my moment. I knew the the home stretch was going to be hard, but I was so close and COULD do it.
Myles’ poor head was so cone-shaped! My midwife, J, assured me before I saw him that it would be FINE – and it was, it went away in a couple days. My knees stayed red almost as long from kneeling in the pool for so long!
V suggested maybe I try changing positions. I flipped over so I was on my hands and knees, and I rested my head on the side of the pool. When my next contraction came and I pushed, I could tell I was making progress. It was SO much easier. (It makes me wonder how I’d have done in the hospital, where I’d have had no choice but to be on my back!?) After a couple more pushes, I got really determined and wouldn’t stop.
I suddenly remembered something: when I had told Mike I wanted more children, he teased me and said he’d ask me when this baby was crowning if I felt the same way about wanting more kids. He hadn’t asked, so mid-push I picked my head up off the side of the pool, looked him straight in the face, and said, “And I would do it again!” Everyone started laughing. I didn’t realize it at the time, but Mike was recording it all on video, so it’s all saved for future reference (ha ha).
V tried to break to break my water, both with her fingers and then with the hook-implement (whatever it’s called), to help things along, but it wouldn’t break. It never broke till moments before Myles was born.
I continued to push and at 10:55pm, he was born. There was an audible POP and I felt the pressure ease up. V told me to reach down and grab my baby. I was baffled for a fraction of a second, but then I reached down between my legs and felt the cord, then the baby. Kneeling in the pool, I pushed one last time, grabbed him, pulled him to my chest, and then sat back in relief and exhaustion.
I kept saying “Oh my God” and “I love you” over and over to him as he started to cry. I can’t explain the feelings that washed over me, except that it was instant and complete love at first sight. I also felt love and gratitude for everyone there with me: my midwives, my mom and of course Mike. It was amazing having them there to experience it all with me.
Daddy holding Myles for the first time.
My other midwife, J, warned me before I saw him – “Don’t worry – his head is FINE.” She laughed later and said in the thousand births she’s had, he had the best conehead she’d seen. (And the poor little guy really did — but it was gone in a couple days, thankfully!)
After it stopped pulsing, Mike cut the cord and held Myles while the placenta was delivered and then they got me out of the pool and cleaned up. I felt great; I wanted to hug and kiss everyone there that had shared the experience with us. I also felt so strong and so empowered. There was something so powerful and incredible about being the first person to touch and hold your baby from the moment he entered the world. When I think about it, I still get emotional. More than anything, I was overwhelmed by my love for my newborn son.
We still don’t really know why Myles arrived early. His heart rate was consistently between 120-130 during the entire birth, and he didn’t have any problems breathing (thank God). He was small — only 5 pounds, 10 ounces — but other than that, we were blessed with a healthy and strong little guy!
The evening before Myles’ birth, I’d had one of my regular checkups with my midwives, and I had told them that I felt like he was going to come early. I’d had dreams about it. J assured me that for a first baby, I’d probably be looking at 40 or 41 weeks. Little did any of us know, he’d be born just over 24 hours later!
Reflecting on the birth, I’m still shocked that people fear the pain of child birth. I found it to be more like extreme pressure than pain. Pain, for me, is sharp and stabbing — like having a tooth drilled without Novocaine or getting a tattoo. (I’ve done those two things and childbirth was much less painful than those, in my opinion.) Childbirth wasn’t that type of pain. It was similar to having a kidney stone (which I experienced about 8 years ago), but not quite as bad. Not to mention, the pay off (a beautiful baby) is way better than passing a kidney stone. Ha! Labor is tiring, and it’s uncomfortable, but it is absolutely manageable without painkillers. I didn’t learn Lamaze, the Bradley Method, or Hypno-birthing. I just remembered to stay calm, breathe and I smiled A LOT because I remembered every contraction, every moment of discomfort, was bringing me closer to meeting our son, and that’s all that mattered.
I am SO glad we made the decision to stay home. There was always the chance that there could have been problems, but I felt very confident in my midwives and knew that the hospital was only a very short drive away if we needed it. Thankfully, everything went picture-perfect and I have so many happy memories. I can’t imagine having done things any other way.