A Home Birth – Birth Story
When I was pregnant the first time, I convinced myself that Charlotte would be a 42 weeker.
As a first time mom, babies rarely come early.
To my surprise, at exactly 39 weeks, Charlotte was born.
So when I found out I was pregnant with Caroline, and was banking on a similar timeline, if not even a bit sooner.
Since we were having a home birth, I knew I had to make it to at least 37 weeks so my midwife would agree to a home birth. If this baby would have come prior to 37 weeks, I would have had to go to the hospital.
Once I hit 37 weeks, I had daily conversations with Caroline. I was fat, miserable, and just downright over it. My feet were swollen, they ached, and trying to get comfortable in bed was impossible.
I was ready to have this baby.
When 39 weeks came and there was no sign of Caroline, I was getting discouraged. I needed to find some contentment that I could potentially see my due date and still be pregnant.
On Monday the 18th, I had a chiropractor appointment with Dr. Brechbill scheduled. I had seen him throughout both pregnancies now, and I was hoping one last adjustment would do the trick. I even scheduled an adjustment for Wednesday morning just in case Caroline was still cooking.
I told Josh that evening, I was having more pressure than usual, and it was only a matter of days. At least I was hoping.
Right before bed, I had my first tell true sign that my body was finally getting prepared for labor. I was beginning to lose my mucus plug.
With Charlotte, it took a full 36 hours before labor kicked in. So when I sent my “get ready” texts, I thought I still had at least one more full day before anything would get started.
1:45 am on the 19th, I woke up with what I thought was a stomach ache.
I crawled back in bed, fighting my way back into my spot that was stolen by a Rottweiler. For whatever reason, Josh was wide awake at 2 am when I had a second cramp. I wondered to myself if I was having contractions or if dinner the night before was not sitting well. I asked Josh what time it was. A few minutes later, another cramp.
By the third or fourth time asking Josh what time it was, it clicked for him. He rolled over, put his hand on my arm and asked if I was having contractions.
It was a little before 3 am. Josh would have to start getting ready for work in the next 30 minutes.
We had a decision to make. And either choice felt like a risk.
Does Josh call into work telling them I’m in labor? With the chance that it could be false labor and he burned a day for nothing.
Or? Does he go to work and potentially be 2-3 hours from home and miss the birth of his second daughter if this was the real deal?
After our usual “What do you think I should do?” “What do YOU want to do?” exchange, he called work. We agreed it would be better safe than sorry. After all, my labor with Charlotte was only 12 hours, and I was banking on my second labor being even shorter than that.
Together, we prepared the house for our home birth. From the start of the day, we were a team.
While Josh was busy making breakfast, contractions kept steadily coming, 7-9 minutes apart, the intensity growing.
I called my mom (who lives an hour and a half away) at 4 am. “It’s go time. Get your stuff.” The night before I called and told her there were some signs that it could be any day and she should pack her bag in case I call in the middle of the night. At least with a 4 am call, she got some sleep the night before.
At 4:50 am, I text my midwife.
“It’s baby day. 🙃
Consistent contractions since 1:45. About 7-9 minutes apart. Bloody show”
At 6:48 am I text again:
“Contractions are getting closer together and more intense.
Pool is filling now so it’s ready when I want to get in”
Unlike with Charlotte, Josh was awake throughout the entirety of my labor this time. Last time, contractions started at 10 pm the night before. I labored all night while he got his beauty sleep.
Laboring with Josh by my side the second time around was so helpful. Sometime around 4:30 am, I told Josh to apply counter pressure to my hips. That counter pressure was a godsend. It helped with the intensity of contractions, and some of them were even shorter.
“I’m not sure my forearms are ready for this” is something I remember him saying early on. But he didn’t miss a single contraction.
By 7:30 my mom arrived. I could still talk through contractions, but they were definitely getting harder to focus through.
By 8:30, Randi (my doula) and Jamie (my right hand on wedding days and birth photographer for the day) were here.
At 8:45 am, Josh left my side for the first time and went to wake up Charlotte. A few minutes later, they came down together. Charlotte, a bit shocked to see a house full of guests, was rocking her crazy bedhead. The night before I laid in her bed, cuddling my oldest daughter. Our only daughter on this side of my stomach. 12 hours later, she woke up not fully understanding what was about to happen.
Contractions at this point were on top of each other and there was no talking through them.
At 8:57, I text my midwife one last time
“Contractions are on top of each other”
Jess replied that she was 10 minutes away.
Knowing that she was so close, and knowing how uncomfortable I was getting, I was ready to get in the pool.
The water felt amazing on my contracting stomach. I didn’t have total relief, but I wasn’t as uncomfortable as I had been.
Mimi was keeping Charlotte busy with her “homework” book, paints, and crayons. Until I had a decent contraction that left out a bit of a louder moan.
Concerned, my three-year-old walked over to the side of my pool, rubbed my arm, and gave me her hand.
Charlotte wasn’t the only child in my house concerned Tuesday morning. Our six-year-old, “vicious” Rottweiler provided her own way of comfort.
Ten minutes after getting in the pool, at 9:08, there is a text in my phone that Josh typed out to Jess: “Just come on in”
I’m assuming this is the point when she arrived. I remember hearing Jess walk in the front door. I remember her walking back out. I remember being aware of a few large bags being placed close by. And I remember a little unpacking.
Honestly though, at this point of labor, things begin to get pretty fuzzy. What I do remember is just bits and pieces of the next hour and a half.
Now relaxed in the birth pool, placed in the middle of our living room, my focus was on breathing through contractions, and my husband’s hands holding mine or touching my arms and shoulders.
Once again, just like Charlotte, I knew when I hit the part of labor called transition. I remember looking at Jess, begging for her to tell me it was almost over.
“Please tell me she’s close! Please tell me I’m almost done!”
Any woman having a natural birth will tell you that this is the part of labor that we all question why we opted to do it without pain management. Why in the hell do we want to feel what we’re feeling? Why in the hell are we doing this to ourselves?!
Contractions during transition are intense. They’re long. There is very little resting in between each of them.
At one point, I remember cursing into Josh’s arm. Here comes another one. I’m not ready. I need a break.
There were a few times that Jess had to remind me to get my moans low. That the high pitch scream wasn’t helping move the baby down the birth canal. To slow my breathing down. And of course, she provided so much encouragement. Even if at the time I thought she was full of crap. I didn’t feel like I was doing great. I didn’t feel like I was doing wonderful. I just wanted it all to be over.
In total, I switched positions three times in the pool. I started off on my knees. I was there for a while until my right leg fell asleep. I then moved to sitting on my butt. I was there until I felt the urge to push. Then I went back to my knees.
This was completely new for me. I pushed from my back with Charlotte and pushed for an hour and a half. There are plenty of studies that prove pushing from that position is more difficult and less effective.
This time though, I felt more in control of my pushing from my knees. Pushing felt more effective. At the end of it, Jess said I pushed for only about 25 minutes. This was a HUGE win in my book. (With Charlotte, I pushed for an hour and a half!)
At 10:34 am, Jess said “Grab your baby, she’s out!”
And sure enough, I looked down in the water and there was our second daughter floating to the surface.
I grabbed her, put her to my chest, and sank into the water.
Relief. It was over. I just birthed a second beautiful little girl in the comfort of my home.
I was a mother to a second beautiful daughter. A tiny little girl with a head full of hair. 39 weeks and 3 days, Caroline Lynn Jackson was earthside. My womb was void of a baby. My ribs were no longer punching bags for her feet.
Caroline and I sat in the pool for a period of time. I studied her face while she rested skin to skin on my chest. Her daddy, standing over top of us, relieved that it was over and everything went as planned.
We eventually moved from the pool to the couch, in hopes that my placenta would be encouraged to disconnect from my uterus and come out.
Unlike a hospital birth, a home birth midwife wants to see the fourth stage of labor occur 45-60 minutes after the birth of a baby. Hospital policy – 15 minutes.
With the help of a little gravity, my placenta finally dislodged at 11:10.
With the placenta out, it was now time to cut Caroline’s cord. Just like with Charlotte, Daddy did the honors. If you’ve never heard of delayed cord clamping and the benefits that come with it, I highly recommend doing a little googling.
Shortly after 1, Charlotte came home from the neighbors house. It was time to meet her baby sister for the first time.
Somehow I managed to keep the tears at bay when Charlotte walked in the front door. She was immediately sweet as can be with her sister and wanted to hold her. Many top of the head kisses were given.
The rest of the events for the day were pretty straightforward and lacked the excitement that occurred earlier in the day.
Caroline would eventually latch to the boob and breastfeed. There was a minute (or several minutes) that I was concerned our journey with breastfeeding was going to be a difficult one. She had a hard time latching on the right side.
Because of having regular chiropractic adjustments throughout both pregnancies, and having Charlotte adjusted as an infant, I knew that getting Caroline adjusted was a must. At 25 hours old, her and I walked into Dr. Brechbill’s office in Belden.
Birth is a traumatic experience for babies. They have to work their way out of a small space after being tucked away in a womb for 9 months. Gentle chiropractic adjustments are so important for their little bodies, too.
My momma gut was right, and Caroline’s latch issues were 100% associated with her vertebraes needing to gently be put back into place. Her very next latch was perfect. And since then, she’s been a nursing champ.
We’re now nearly two weeks into being parents of two, and aside from a typical sassy three-year-old, and sleepless nights with a newborn, we’re loving life.
We are fortunate enough that Josh has paid paternity leave from work. In total, he’s off for four weeks. Kudos to all the mommas out there that have a baby and a week later are left to keep more than that baby alive. I don’t know what I’d do without Joshua in these early days.
I have managed to get out of the house by myself with both girls. When Caroline was a week old, the three of us went for a Target stroll. We were out of the house for nearly two hours and avoided a meltdown from all three of us!
Caroline is a little doll that hates cold wipes, already takes a bottle better than her big sister, and seems like she will only sleep if she’s touching momma. This means we do a lot of babywearing and get plenty of snuggles in while we sleep.
Differences of a hospital birth compared to a home birth
If you haven’t had enough reading, I jotted down some thoughts on the differences between a hospital birth and a home birth. If you’re interested in a home birth at all and have questions, please don’t hesitate to ask me!
My home birth was such an incredible experience, and if I’m ever crazy enough to get pregnant again, I will 110% deliver that baby at home again. And it would absolutely be with the same midwife – Jess!
- Longer visits with home birth
- Minimum one-hour visits with Jess. I never felt rushed. I never felt like she was in a hurry to get to the next patient.
- No tests
- Mainstream prenatal compared to a home birth prenatal is night and day. It seemed like with every visit I had with my first pregnancy, they were drawing blood and putting swabs in unpleasant places. It is NOT like that with a home birth.
- And checking for dilation – it is NOT a thing with a home birth midwife. Anyone with any sense of pregnancy understands that dilation doesn’t mean squat until a momma is in active labor. I could have walked around 5 cm dilated with Caroline for a week before having her. Or I could have been 1 cm dilated the day before having her. Shoving fingers into a woman’s vagina to check her cervix needs to be a thing of the past. So ladies – please know, YOU CAN DECLINE ALL CERVICAL CHECKS FROM YOUR OB WHILE IN LABOR.
*Woohoo…ANYYWAYYSSSS….Thanks for coming to my Ted Talk.
- The obvious difference – you’re in your own space with a home birth. There’s no leaving and sitting through contractions in the car.
- At the hospital, you’re asked all these unnecessary questions for admittance. Depending on what stage of labor you’re in when you arrive at the hospital, you could find these questions extra annoying. When I got to the hospital with Charlotte, I was in active labor. I was NOT in the mood to argue with a nurse why we weren’t doing Hep B and Vitamin K for Charlotte, and there was no way in hell I was getting the TDap shot after delivery.
- Also at the hospital, you’re required to get an IV. I opted for the IV saline lock. I knew I wanted very little intervention and the IV lock was the extent to which I was going to consent.
- At home, I could labor in any position I wanted. I didn’t have to follow any hospital policies
- My midwife never once checked my cervix for dilation. At the hospital, I was checked numerous times
- At home, I was “allowed” to birth my baby in the water. Many hospitals only allow for mothers to labor in the water, but not actually birth.
- Because Jess never checked for dilation, she allowed me to listen to my body and tell HER when it was time for me to push.
- This also meant that even when I was 10cm dilated, I wasn’t coached into pushing. We allowed Caroline time to move down the birth canal and gave my body the chance to do what it naturally does.
- My hands were the first to touch Caroline when she was earthside. With one last gentle push, her shoulders were out and she floated to the top of the water. I scooped her up and immediately put her to my chest.
- At the hospital with Charlotte, we had immediate skin to skin, but my midwife then handed Charlotte to me.
- The biggest difference between my hospital birth and home birth post-birth was the delivery of my placenta. At the hospital, I was given a shot of Pitocin to deliver the placenta quickly. At home, my body was given the chance to do that naturally, too.
- Obviously, because we were already at home, we had all the comfort of being at home. Even though the murphy bed at Aultman Orrville was comfy, nothing compared to sleeping in my own bed with my baby by my side. Because we bedshare, I didn’t have to worry about a nurse giving me the third degree on how I wasn’t following the ABC’s of “safe sleeping”
A special thanks to Jamie – my right hand on wedding days, for spending the whole day with us. Not only photographing Caroline’s birth, but for cleaning up and making us dinner, as well.
If you ever think you’ll want a home birth and if you live in Northeast Ohio, I can’t recommend Jess Brown enough! I had the best experience with her as my midwife!
OHHHH my gosh!!!! I loved reading your words to go along with the photos!
Thank YOU for letting me spend such a special day with your family.
I love that we added another layer to our relationship. Not only “working together” but to spending special days and being there for each other!
You have been there for me through my cancer journey and to watch you birth your daughter like a champ! Loren, your special to me!
I was just sitting here reminiscing about that beautiful day! I am so glad I got to be a part of it! What an amazing experience it was! You were a champ! I can’t believe the nugget turned ONE!