Today, my sweet boy turns two. TWO!!! I can't believe it has been two years since his birth. And even though it has been two whole years since my labor and delivery, it still feels like yesterday. When he turned one, I told myself I would sit down and write out his birth story and my home birth experience. And now he is two. It is definitely time. The whole experience is still so vivid to me, it likely helped that I have had the opportunity to tell it so many times- I was even a guest speaker at two home birth info nights for St Jacob's Midwives. If I had to describe my home birth experience in one word, it would have to be Magical.
My pregnancies, however, not so magical. I am one of the unlucky women who suffers from extreme nausea and vomiting. I am pretty sure it's partly karma (since I used to be a 'why would someone go on meds? It's just some nausea') and partly nature's personalized form of birth control for me. Seriously, I love being a mom so much I could be like 19 kids and counting. But 19 pregnancies and counting, no way.
During my first pregnancy, I thought, 'how long could this last? It will be better next week'. At 38 weeks, I was still vomiting. And I lost a lot of weight in the first and start of second trimester. And yes, as an ND, I tried it all. ALL. And nothing helped. So this time around, as soon as the nausea started, right on cue, I called my midwife and went on Diclectin. The first day I was on, it was like magic, and a good thing as I was standing up in my best friend's wedding. I actually said to my husband that if this was how the rest of my pregnancy was, we'd be having more than 2 children. Then day 2 on Diclectin came and the nausea was back full force. I will say it did allow me to control the urge to vomit, though there were still weeks where I could barely get out of bed. So, not shockingly, I felt the shorter my pregnancy, the better. I also knew that I was determined to have a home birth. My first attempt did not go as planned- you can read about that here, but this time, it was happening.
I started labor induction acupuncture on myself around 37.5/38 weeks. I had my first stretch and sweep at 38 weeks. Nothing happened. I continued acupuncture and at my midwife visit at 39 weeks, I had my second stretch and sweep. That got things going. I had to run errands after my visit but by the time I got home, I knew I was going into labor. It's funny, the first time, one of my biggest concerns was whether I would know I was in labor or not. This time, I knew. I spent the afternoon doing lunges and rolling on my exercise ball with my 2 year old daughter copying everything I did. Even getting her bouncy ball so she could roll on it like Mommy. All the signs of labor were there. When my husband called on his way home from work at 6pm to tell me there was a breakdown and that they wanted him to go to another plant and fix it, I told him he could do whatever he wanted but I was going to have a baby and was just waiting for him to get home before doing acupuncture just in case it pushed me into full active labor. His response, "Oh, uh, well maybe I should come straight home then..."
After putting my daughter to bed, I did more labor induction acupuncture. Things seemed to be moving along nicely, however, I knew it was still early, so I went to bed and slept. Around 3am, the contractions were strong enough to wake me so I got up and did a bit more acupuncture and lunges/pelvic rocks to just help make sure baby was dropping into place. I went back to bed but started to time contractions, dozing in between. I learned the hard way how important getting as much rest as possible is in my first labor. By 6am contractions were quite regular and consistent so I called my midwife and messaged my one ND doula friend, Corinne, who had attended my first birth.
The midwife came over to assess my progress and also brought all of the home birth equipment. It literally covered our dining room table and we have an 8 person table. I originally planned to labor in our spare room (which is quite small), but we ended up just moving the mattress into our living room/dining room because there wasn't enough space for all the equipment. I wish I had taken a photo!
By this time it was around 7:30am and I was about 70% effaced and 1-2 cm dilated. Which was great. Gaby left and said to call when labor progressed, it was still very comfortable labouring. Corinne also woke up and saw her message around this time and called to say she would head straight over (she lives in Stoney Creek, about an hour or so away). I told her not to worry, there was no rush. She said I should have called and woke her up but I knew we had time so there was no panic. I continued to labor, do some squat/lunges while my husband straightened up the house. Corinne arrived around 9:30am and by this time my daughter, Lily, was awake as well. I also called my other ND friend who had just taken the doula course and wanted to attend, so she headed over as well though she is local and only a few minutes away. Joseph ran out for Tim Horton's for every one.
We spent the morning chatting, they ate Tim's and played with Lily. It was a very easy, relaxed labor- completely different than my first! We did acupuncture when we found things seemed to be slowing down a bit. Timed contractions here and there. When contractions got closer and more consistent, we called Gaby and she headed back over to assess again. This time I was fully effaced, about 3-4 cm dilated and she said she could feel the bag of water. At this point she stay and told me we could break my water and get things moving, she would just have to call in the secondary midwife first. I told her, since labor was still so easy, I wanted to wait and dilate a bit more so I would have less to go when it did get bad. It was around 1:30/2pm now. Joseph went out for Chinese take out, though I didn't eat during labor. So we sat around, chatted and ate Chinese food. Gaby said the head still seemed a bit high so we did some acupuncture/acupressure during contractions which dropped the head- you could actually see the head dropping, amazing. And then around 3:30pm/4pm I decided I was getting bored and ready to be done so I asked to break the waters. Steph, my secondary midwife was called to come over and she asked if she could bring a student midwife with her. I said sure. Honestly, after having your first baby, your modesty goes out the window- the more the merrier!
Everyone arrived and I was reassessed- a good 4.5 cm. I was warned that if there was any meconium in the amniotic fluid I would be transferred via ambulance to the hospital- my worst nightmare, mainly because every neighbour on the block would be out on their driveway watching. Pass.
So at around 5:30/6pm, they broke my water.
It was clear! Yay.
Then all hell broke loose.
It was like the water provided a cushion between my cervix and baby's head. When the cushion was gone, it was direct pressure and almost constant, incredibly intense contractions. I was able to have Nitrous Oxide (laughing gas), but it did not get rid of the pain. I did find though, that it allowed me to relax almost instantly between contractions, which was good, since there was only seconds between them. I snapped at Joseph more than once. And then 45 min later I was 10 cm and ready to push.
With my daughter, I pushed for 30 min. I was actually told to stop pushing because the OB hadn't gotten there yet to catch. No such luck with my son.
I pushed for an hour. We did multiple position changes including using a birthing stool. I said multiple times "I don't want to do this any more." Like I had a choice. It was painful. They told me to reach down to feel my baby's head. I did not care. I just wanted him out. And then with a final, "I'm done" push at 7:42pm on April 18th, 2014, Good Friday, Caden was born. The midwifes said, "Oh, we weren't expecting that!", as he came out whole head and a shoulder in one push. Just lying waiting to be picked up. He weighed almost exactly what was estimated- 8 lbs 11oz.
Lily was there for the entire labor and birth, and still talks about it sometimes. It was extremely helpful to have our doulas to help keep her entertained and calm while Joseph was able to give me all of his attention. I cuddled Caden and delivered the placenta. Then the midwives took him to weigh and measure him. Lily was only slightly excited. We joked about how he had Joseph's ginormous head and I should have considered that before deciding to procreate with him- seriously, Joseph was 2 weeks early and they still needed forceps to get his head out. Caden's head was in the 90th+ percentile- the reason for the hour long pushing. Then Gaby gave him back and he rooted and started to nurse. Gaby did my stitches, while the adrenaline rush was in full force. Your entire body feels like it's vibrating. Then after a while, Steph took Caden to do his newborn exam while Gaby helped me into the shower, towelled me off and helped me into bed. Steph brought Caden in for me. It was about 9:30pm. they said if I didn't have any more questions they were going to head out, but someone would be back tomorrow to check on us, of course if anything came up to just page them. I told them it wasn't my first time at the rodeo and we would be fine. We said goodbye, while I cuddled Caden on one side and Lily on the other. After they had left, I got Joseph to bring me a big plate of Chinese food and ate it in bed, with my newborn and 2 year old, completely nausea free.
My entire home birth experience was spectacular. Having had an epidural/pitocin birth and a natural home birth, without question, if we were to have a third (which we are not), I would have another home birth. The next morning I told Joseph to just toss all the sheets and not bother washing them, they were only Ikea any way, but they were already all washed, dried and put away- the midwives had done it all. There was zero mess left behind. Gaby came to check on us, as promised, the next day and every 2 days after that for the first week. Caden and I didn't leave the house for the first week. Being able to be in your own home, in your own bed, with your own things was incredible. The care and support midwives provide is indispensable. It really was the perfect birth and I wouldn't change anything about it.
Disclaimer: Naturopathic Doctors strive to provide individualized health care. The information contained in these topics is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, it is provided for educational purposes only. This information shouldn’t take the place of seeing an ND for individualized health recommendations.
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