As many of you are wondering how it is possible that we…….
as well as how and why we decided on a home water birth, I though that I would tell you the story. Five years ago we did this…..
then nine months ago we did.… oops, you didn’t want that information. By the way, our entire birth story is ahead so if you don’t want to hear about it then don’t read on!
We’ll start with a few months ago. Adam and I decided to come down here to Arizona for work. This decision was difficult since we realized that this would mean that I would be giving birth here in Arizona as opposed to Ottawa. In Ottawa all childbirth costs are taken care of through our medical system and in Arizona we would have to foot the bill of a birth on our own, a very pricey endeavor. However I found a freestanding birth center here in Phoenix that I thought would fit our needs perfectly. I had wanted a natural birth, and I am weary of doctors performing too many medical interventions on normal births. This birth center had a couple of OB’s as well as 7 midwives, was located close to the hospital in case of emergency, and was not too expensive to pay for ourselves. It seemed to be the perfect option.
Upon arrival in Phoenix we attended our first prenatal visit at the birth center and were extremely disappointed to say the least. In Canada our OB was extremely friendly and never too busy to spend time with us. She would never make us wait for our appointment and the entire atmosphere of her office was amazing. Not so at the birth center. We waited in their old gross waiting room forever before they got to us. We were only seen by a nurse, when I had been told that we would be meeting with our midwife that day, and the nurse was not very friendly. At this point we did not feel like we had any other choice so we just decided to stick it out with the birth center. Then, in the middle of June, 3 and ½ weeks until my due date, I called the birth center for something and was told that they were closing the birth center at the end of June. I was completely shocked and horrified. What in the world were we going to do? The only option I saw us in having been to transfer care to the hospital that the midwives from the birth center had rights at. This option did not make me at all happy but I felt that we had no choice.
Separate from having a natural birth we had decided to use hypnobirthing as our birthing method. A friend of my moms had suggested this method and after a bit of research it seemed perfect to me. Hypnobirthing combines self-hypnosis techniques and breathing to create a calm, natural birth without drugs or other medical interventions. Generally, using the hypnobirthing method makes for shorter labor and calmer more alert baby. As soon as we came to Phoenix I found a hypnobirthing practitioner who had classes that would work with our crazy schedules. Within these classes we watched a lot of different births, many of which were homebirths. I had considered a home birth previous to this, however I thought that the purpose of a home birth was to make you feel at home while in labor and delivery. The apartment we are in is not home. The furniture is not ours and none of our stuff is here, and the thought of giving birth on the super uncomfortable bed that I don’t even like sleeping on totally turned me off. That was until we did a visualization technique in our last hypnobirthing class. At this point I was 38 weeks pregnant and getting ready to have the baby any day. During the visualizations we were told to imagine the birth the perfect way we wanted that special day to go. For some reason I imagined giving birth in a pool in our front room, not at home in Ottawa but here in this little apartment in Phoenix. At that point I knew that we needed to change our plans quickly.
The next day I started calling midwifes in the area, attempting to find one that I would feel comfortable with and would take me at such short notice. Within a couple of days I found one that I was happy with and had no problem with me being due in two weeks. The only problem was that she was going to be out of town for a few days before my due date. I expected me to go over my due date so this did not deter me at all. We gathered all the required home birth supplies and set up a kiddy pool in our front room in preparation of the big day.
On Friday July 6 I went about my normal routine, I went swimming in the morning, to lunch with Adam, and then went to get a pedicure. At the salon everyone kept telling me that having a pedicure could put me into labor. I assured them that I was perfectly ok with this prospect; in fact I would be joyous if this were to occur. Besides, I had not been able to touch my feet for a couple of months so I desperately needed the attention. During the pedicure the woman next to me told me that if I really wanted to go into labor I should scrub my bathroom, it had apparently always worked for her. Well, my bathroom definitely was in need of a good scrub so I decided to try it.
Skip forward to Saturday July 7 at 2 am. I had been sleeping on the couch for the last few weeks since this was the only location where I could get somewhat comfortable. At 2 am I awoke with a strange tightness in my lower abdomen. I thought that this was just gas and went to the washroom, came back to my bed couch and attempted to fall back asleep. Exactly 10 minutes later I had the same strange pain. Up until this point I had not had any contractions and had no idea if this was what they felt like. I continued to try to sleep but every 10 minutes I would feel another bout of tightness. At 3 am I started to actually write down when each of these pains would come so as to determine if I was actually in labor or just have a practice session. They continued the same. At about 4 am I awoke Adam and asked him to take a walk with me outside to see if the tightness would subside. As we were walking I experiences another episode. I this point I began to digest the prospect of actually giving birth that day. After arriving home Adam went back to bed and I set my self up a movie to watch. I could not fall back asleep because the surges were getting closer together and more intense. Around 7 am we went for another walk and decided that we should probably call our midwife even though she was still out of town. At this point I was having surges every 5 minutes and they were more intense than previously. Our midwife had her student assistant come over to check me out, to see if I was actually in labor. Both her and I thought that I was probably not very far along, however after an examination she discovered that I was already dilated to a 6, this was at 9 am. Nedra, our midwives assistant began setting up her stuff and called the back up midwife to come over. Adam went to work filling the pool with water from the back of the washing machine.
As soon as the pool was ready with warm water I got in a tried to relax. After a few hours the midwives checked me again to discover that I had dilated more but the baby was not moving down very far. They suggested that I take a shower and try some other labor positions, which would allow gravity to help move the baby down. I found that sitting on the toilet was the most comfortable for me and there I sat for another couple of hours. At about 4 pm the midwives told me that the baby had moved down quite a bit and that I was fully dilated so whenever I wanted to get back in the water I could and if I felt like pushing that was ok too. I got back in the tub and waited until I felt the urge to push.
Adam was amazing through the entire labor. He would stand or kneel in front of me so that when I had a surge I would push on him and use his body as leverage. He stayed with me the entire time whispering encouraging words into my ear and keeping me breathing properly. He was extremely tired and starving because he kept feeding me but not himself. Every time he would try to get himself some food I would have a surge and he would run back to help me. While I was pushing in the pool, I was most comfortable on all fours with my arms resting on the side of the pool or pushing into Adam. He sat in a chair on in front of me and put his legs in the water and let me lean on him and pull on his arms during each and every surge. I actually don’t know how I would have made it through the entire delivery without his incredible help. He kept me calm and relaxed throughout the entire process.
Anya was amazing as well. Even though it took a long time for the to descend down and get out, her heart rate did not change. She stayed strong the entire time allowing her delivery to occur as I had imagined. The worst part of the whole delivery process was waiting for her head to crown. With each surge she would stretch out a little bit more. In between each surge the midwives would help in stretching my perineum a little bit. The midwives told me that after the head had come out I would need to get up into a more kneeling position to deliver the rest of the baby. This would be much easier than trying to deliver the entire baby while I was on all fours like I currently was. During my last surge I was pushing really, really hard when the midwife told me to slow down, but at that point I could not hold back, my body just kept me pushing with everything I had. All of the sudden the yelled frantically that the baby was out. I moved quickly into a kneeling position and scooped up Anya into my arms, while Adam moved the umbilical cord from her neck. I sat down and held our sweet baby for the first time and looked to see what sex she was. As I held her and Adam stroked her, the midwives were attempting to get her to breath better. As she had come up out of the water she had swallowed a little bit and was having a little bit of trouble breathing. They brought the oxygen tank over to her and held it in front of her nose and then suctioned her mouth and nose. She continued to have trouble so after the umbilical cord had quite pulsating the clamped it off and cut it. One of the midwives sat in a chair with Adam next to her and literally sucked the mucous out of her throat. She put a tube down and sucked on it, spitting out the gunk that come up. Within a very short amount of time Anya was fine and Adam was holding her. While this was happening with the help of the other midwife I birthed the placenta and went into the bedroom and got into bed, where Adam brought baby Anya for me to hold. The three of us spent about an hour together as the midwives worked on cleaning up and emptying the pool.
The entire birth experience was amazing. I loved being able to catch my own baby, and hold her immediately after birth. Adam thinks that it could have been a bit calmer and more like the hypnobirthing ways we had learned. The problem was that with getting midwife at last minute did not allow us time to fully explain our wishes. However, I felt comfortable the entire time and am extremely grateful that the birth went so smoothly and the Anya was so calm and healthy. I am also grateful that Adam was such a support for me. He has joked since we found out that I was pregnant that he would not be in the room during delivery, yet he stayed the entire time and was the best support I could have asked for.
The amazing thing about a home birth is that you don’t have to deal with the hospital staff getting in the way of you bonding with your baby. We were able to sleep as a family in the same bed from the first night on. There was no separation from the baby as there would have been in the hospital. Even though I only held her for a few minutes immediately after birth she was always in my sight and Adam was touching her the entire time.
Next time I would practice my relaxation more frequently and try to have a midwife from the beginning of our pregnancy, other than that I would not change a thing.
6 Days old