Jenny’s Healing Homebirth
I remember my first call with Jenny. We had a nice phone chat and then met a few days later. Jenny had her first baby in another country but knew she wanted a different birth story this time. I was excited to support her as her doula and learned a lot from her. Getting to know this woman and having the honor of witnessing her take control of her experience is something I will forever be thankful for. Here is her story.
I enjoyed being pregnant. It was my second time, and I felt beautiful and healthy. However, due to Covid-19 and our older daughter’s interest in participating, we switched our plan to a home birth at 32 weeks. Fortunately, we had a reputable home birth CNM midwifery practice nearby.
Despite enjoying the pregnancy, I was very impatient to deliver. I tried different methods to stimulate labor, but eventually, we decided to let nature take its course. On June 30th, at 40+ weeks, during my routine visit to the midwife, she did a membrane sweep, and later that day, Tom did some massage and cupping meant to stimulate labor and loosen tension in my hips. That evening the contractions began while I was driving. I texted my doula Ashley as I made my way home and called my midwife when I got home.
At around 11, active labor started, so my doula and the midwife were called. I was relieved that it would be Vicki coming to my delivery since I had met her several times and the other midwife only once. Also, I knew it was her birthday on July 1st, so she and the baby would share a birthday!
As Tom started boiling the water for herbs and inflated the pool in our bedroom, I labored on the bed, with the contractions intensifying. But it was a familiar feeling, and I felt able to work through them quietly and take advantage of the rest in between. We decided it was best for Adrienne to sleep at my dad’s house. Even though part of the dream home birth had involved her being present, I worried that I wouldn’t be able to focus on laboring. We woke her up, and she came into my room to witness and ‘help’ with a few contractions. I think it was a good decision because she got to feel like she was there for the birth but didn’t see anything that might upset her, and I didn’t have a potentially problematic distraction.
Preparing for Delivery
Vicki and her assistant arrived around midnight, and Ashley arrived shortly after. Everyone got their things arranged, and Ashley helped Tom with the pool. I continued to labor on the bed, but things were moving faster, and I felt that birth haze coming over me, where everything else just melted away, and I could start to feel me and the baby working together. I went to the toilet and got in the pool around 1 am, which felt fantastic. Tom poured water on my back during the contractions, Ashley played some music, and I had a bit of cold watermelon and coconut water, which was wonderfully refreshing.
I remember some awkward joking, which is definitely in character for me – trying and often failing at humor – as a way to diffuse tense situations. But there was not much time to be embarrassed because the second time Vicki checked my cervix, I was 8 cm dilated, and my water broke shortly after the exam.
It Was Time To Push Before We Knew It
Sooner than expected, I felt the urge to push. I don’t remember the transition from wanting to give up, cry, kill my husband, etc. I just started pushing during the contractions.
I was on my knees leaning over the edge of the pool, but Vicki suggested I turn over. I didn’t think I would like being on my back, but it was actually a fine position for pushing since the water took the weight off my body, and it made it easier to monitor the baby with the Doppler and get a view of my progress
As I pushed the head out, I thought we were in the home stretch, but my midwife was having trouble getting the shoulders to come through, so she instructed that I be lifted out of the pool and placed on the floor. It was one slightly stressful moment in an otherwise calm birth. I don’t mean calm in a peaceful, silent way since I was definitely vocalizing a lot but calm in an organic way. No strangers coming and going or bright lights of a hospital room, and most importantly, confidence that everything was going according to plan.
Tom lifted me out of the pool and placed me on the floor, where Vicki told me to stop yelling and focus my energy on pushing! After a minute, the baby was out and placed on my chest. I felt totally overcome with warm happiness and a mix of relief and pride. When we finally remembered to check the sex, it took Tom a couple of tries to get it right since the swollen vulva looked a lot like testicles, but we had a girl! The placenta came, and I opted to just stay on the floor holding the baby while getting my small tear stitched.
Afterward, Tom cut the cord and held the baby so I could go to the bathroom to take a shower. It was a little difficult to urinate, so I stood in the shower for a few minutes just processing, stretching my lower back, soothing my adrenaline, and then I put on a comfy dress, took an ibuprofen, and got into bed.
In The End
It was only about 3 am after all was said and done. Everything after that is a cozy blur of midwives cleaning up my room and checking the baby, starting to nurse, being fed a sandwich, getting a “tour” of the placenta, and snuggling in bed with my husband and our new daughter! I slept a little between nursing and diapers, and Adrienne came back around 8 am, very excited to meet her new baby sister.
This birth story was honestly perfect in every way. I wish all mamas could experience the same sense of safety and comfort during labor and delivery that I felt, regardless of where they birth and what interventions are needed. I truly believe that all birth is “natural,” but the healing of trauma, the empowerment, and the smooth recovery from this unmedicated birth at home are the parts that make me feel lucky and truly grateful.