My home birth story begins with my first birth story. With my daughter’s birth I had planned a natural hospital birth. I decided to get induce around my daughter’s “due date” because I had previously had a knee transplant before my pregnancy that was failing and needed to be redone. I was in a lot of pain and just wanted to meet my baby. Even though I had wanted a natural birth with her, I don’t think I fully understood the risks to having an induction. After 36 hours of hyper-stimulation labor, I delivered my baby girl by c-section where it was found that my due date was “off” and she was actually 3 weeks early. I struggled bonding with my baby girl due to my birth and I decided long before I got pregnant again to have a homebirth.
I had a few weeks of prodromal labor and although I was committed to waiting for this baby to arrive, I was getting emotionally frustrated and wanted to meet her. We had two ultrasounds during my pregnancy that both confirmed we were having another girl. We were excited and prepared for Avalyn Ann’s arrival. Just before 39 weeks I had another evening of strong, constant contractions. These seemed a bit different than the ones I had been having but I tried to relax and take a bath. It was late Wednesday night and I was up most of the night dealing with contractions that wouldn’t get stronger but wouldn’t go away.
Thursday morning I sent my husband to work and my best friends came over to help with my daughter and so I could try to rest some. Things were not stopping but still were not picking up. By Thursday night we went to the store and eventually sent our friends home. At around 11pm on Thursday night I knew this was real labor. We called our friends back over, and I labored through the night.
My husband rested some and I tried to remain calm and relaxed. In between contractions I baked my baby a birthday cake. By Friday morning, my amazing doula Jessica came over to help me through contractions. I had amazing support throughout my labor, but my doula was irreplaceable. By Friday evening I was feeling pushy so I decided to get into the pool. The water felt amazing and helped to relax me. We had been updating my midwife on my progress and I felt like it was time for her to come since she lived over an hour away. The pressure I felt was very confusing to me. I felt like I wanted to push but I just was not sure. As a doula myself, you would think I would know what to do. When my midwife arrived she listened to a few contractions and told me I could push if I wanted to. I of course wanted to because I just wanted to be done. It had been 48 hours and I was exhausted. I was never checked for dilation because it is a poor indicator of progress, can introduce infection, and break my waters prematurely and my midwife encouraged me to listen to my body.
I spent a few hours pushing but I just knew something was off. I felt a ton of pressure but I never really felt the poop like pressure. I went to be alone for a bit, and actually look my midwife’s suggestion and listened to my body and my baby. I knew I so badly wanted to meet my baby, I knew I wanted this to be over and done, but I also knew I was not ready to be pushing and that I emotionally just wanted to be ready even though my body was not physically ready.
I asked my midwife to confirm that I was not ready to push. This may seem weird that I didn’t know if I needed to push or not but I had never been through real labor before and the pressure I was feeling was foreign to me. I told my midwife that I did not want to know the number of my dilation but instead just wanted to know if I should push or not, even though I knew. She checked me and I could tell on her face it wasn’t time. My heart broke.
Suddenly all the fears and emotions from my daughters birth came flooding back. I felt like a failure, I felt broken. I felt like I just couldn’t do it. Even though I didn’t know my dilation number I was sent back in time to being checked in the hospital, with little to no progress. I felt like I was headed back to that place and I was terrified.
We decided we needed to be alone. We sent everyone home and my husband and I labored alone throughout the night. Contractions remained 2-3 minutes around lasting 60-90 seconds. On Saturday morning my parents came to pick up my daughter and take her back with them because it was getting hard on my husband to help me and take care of her.
My husband played his guitar and sang worship songs as I labored Saturday away. I threw out all the “norms” that floated around in my head from being a doula. I forgot what my body “should” be doing and just listened to what my body was doing. It was a beautiful and intimate time between my husband and I. By Saturday night, I had been in labor now for 72 hours with any breaks. I was exhausted but God kept renewing my strength and revealing Himself to me in new ways.
Saturday night I labored in the bathtub with candles lit that friends had made at my Blessingway just a week before. My husband laid on the bathroom floor beside me, holding my hand as we listened to music. One song that we listened to over and over was called “Worth It” by Rita Springer. This song got be through some hard contractions.
Saturday evening I just needed some rest. My midwife suggested I have a glass of wine and try to rest. My husband came back from the store with vodka! I had a small drink and rested for a few hours. The contractions picked up in intensity in the middle of the night and we slow danced through them until POP! My waters broke all over my husband’s feet, and our bedroom floor!
We called our doula to come back, and updated the midwife. Sunday morning I walked and tried to eat and rest, and tried different positions to get baby into the best possible position for birthing. By Sunday afternoon though I hit a wall. I was exhausted and I was done. I began to break down to my doula and I told her that I couldn’t do it anymore. I felt like a failure and broken. I wanted so badly for this to be a healing birth and here I was ready to go back to the hospital.
It was then where God spoke to my heart through Jessica. She said, “Abby you want so badly for this birth to heal you from your traumatic birth of your daughter, but this birth can’t heal you, only God can heal you.”
I got it. I was ready. Although I didn’t want to go to the hospital I accepted going in wasnt a failure. Throughout my labor my midwife had been checking on me and baby and baby always looked wonderful. It was hard for me to be okay going to the hospital because medically we were perfect. We decided to have my midwife come back to check me again before I went just to be sure I wasn’t “almost there”.
I was checked for the second and last time during my labor and I was “stretchy to a 7”. This may not seem like much, but when she had checked me before on Friday I was only a 1! I made it past the 4 I got to before my c-section. Although a 10 would have sounded better, it was the push I needed to believe in myself and my body. I agreed to stay home and “see how it goes”. I smelled lavender oil to help relax me and had a good healthy meal, Wendy’s burger, fries and a frosty! A few hours later I KNEW I was ready to push. I got back into the pool, which had been filled and emptied about 6 times over the course of 4 days.
At 9pm I began to push during contractions. Since it had been over 100 hours, on next to no sleep, I was beyond exhausted and my pushing abilities were limited. I pushed in the water, I pushed on the toilet, I pushed on the stairs, I pushed in a squat, I push on my side, on the floor, on the couch, I pushed for 6 hours straight and finally I surrendered my last bit to God, all my fears, worries, and expectations I surrendered.
After 108 hours of active labor my sweet baby was born into my hands on my living room floor. I did it! I was NOT broken. I had a baby OUT OF MY VAGINA AT HOME!
I held the baby to my chest and all I could think of was ripping off my bra and allowing the baby to meet the breast that would nourish it.
After about 15 minutes of cheers and “you did its” I decided to remove the towel to get a good look at my second daughter. PENIS! What?! There was a penis. How could there be a penis? I was having a girl! No wondered he took 5 days to come out, I was calling him a her! My sweet baby boy weighed in at 7lbs and gave us a huge shock!
You can watch the slideshow of photos here: