When I wrote my last pregnancy update, I didn’t expect I’d be waiting another five weeks to write my homebirth story. Babies are unpredictable!
On my due date, my husband and I took his mom for high tea at the Empress Hotel. Then in the evening, we went for a belated birthday dinner for Sunshine at Red Robin’s with friends of ours. I thought perhaps having two reservations would convince baby to come, but nope. The next day, I came down with a bad cold and spent the day in bed.
On Monday, I still felt exhausted. Lily and I saw the doctor about our colds, then went to see my midwife, who told me women rarely go into labour when they’re sick. So I had to get myself healthy. My midwife did give me two doses of verbena oil to help encourage labour. I took those on Wednesday and Thursday. Nothing happened.
My husband’s parents (who’d come out for Sunshine’s birthday and stayed to help with baby) came down with the cold on the weekend and decided to return to Alberta.
On Monday, I was back at my midwife’s for the second just-in-case-the-baby-doesn’t-come appointment. They asked how I was feeling and I said, “Impatient.” Mostly because everybody I ran into was asking, “No baby yet?” Nope, obviously no baby yet! So my midwife swept my membranes and sent me home with a labour cocktail.
On Tuesday morning, I drank my cocktail (active ingredient: castor oil) and waited. I soon felt nauseous from the castor oil and tired from the Gravol (which only took the edge off the nausea), so spent a few hours laying on the couch with Sunshine (who also wasn’t feeling well) watching Lily play. Around 1:30, light contractions started about five minutes apart.
My husband got home around 2:00. At 3:00, I decided to go to my class, as my contractions were still light. I spent the class timing contractions and discussing the plots of the four stories we were workshopping. I slipped out right after class, without talking to anyone, and came home.
My husband made supper, so we ate and then he took the girls over to my friend Val’s for the night. (One of my biggest questions in preparing for a homebirth was where the girls would go while I had the baby. Thankfully, they were happy to have a sleepover and Val was happy to have them.)
I let my midwife know I was in labour, and we called our parents. As I was talking to my mom, I was pacing up and down the hallway and my contractions started getting harder and three minutes apart. I hung up on Mom and called the midwife again, and she got here around 9 pm. Then we waited, and talked, and waited…
My husband and I went for a walk in the drizzling rain. I bounced on my yoga ball a bit. And the contractions seemed to slow down.
The second midwife arrived as I taking another dose of verbena oil to try to encourage the contractions to speed up again. I was a bit disappointed; I’d wanted this to be a short, quick labour, and I had three ladies sitting in my house just waiting for the baby to come. But by 11:30, my contractions had pretty much petered out to nothing and my midwives got called by another lady who’d gone into labour. So I had a nap for an hour while they went to check on the other mom.
At 1 am, my midwife came to listen to the baby’s heartbeat. I was laying on my side in bed when suddenly I felt a pop and warm gush and after a few seconds, I realized my water had broken. I stepped into the shower. My contractions got stronger then, still five minutes apart but I had to breathe deeply through them. After about half an hour, I got out of the shower and put my TENS unit back on. However, most of the pain was across my abdomen, so I’m not sure the TENS helped.
For the rest of labour, I was in my room as I’d planned all along for my homebirth. I’d do deep squats beside the bed when a contraction hit, then lay down and rest between contractions. All the midwives were back, sitting quietly with me and checking the baby occasionally with the Doppler. When the pain started getting bad, I knew I was getting close to the end, but I still felt like crying—it was hard.
I looked at the clock at 2:30 am and thought to myself, “I want this baby out by 3.” I knew I shouldn’t set deadlines like that, so I went back to labouring and tried to ignore the clock.
The urge to push came slowly. I felt like I had to poop at first, but I knew that wasn’t enough yet, so I kept waiting. Then something switched and I got onto the bed on all fours. I expected pushing to be quick and easy, like it had been with Lily, but it wasn’t. My first pushes felt like they did nothing. Then everything hurt and I could feel the baby coming out, but it seemed so slow—and the push went away.
So we waited, with baby halfway out, until the next urge to push came. I felt like I had no energy left and everything hurt and it was so hard.
Then, with a last push with all the strength I could muster, the baby squiggled out between my knees at 3 am. My midwives helped me lay down and hold her, while they rubbed at her and we waited for the placenta to come.
We discovered she was a girl and picked her name—we’d been playing with three or four names, but one seemed to suit her now that she was here.
I wrapped up in a blanket and tried nursing her, then my midwife checked her over. They packed up their stuff (although I don’t remember that) and we fell asleep. I think this was the best part of the homebirth — simply being able to crash afterwards, in the comfort of my own bed, without the noise of a hospital or nurses checking on me or wondering when we’d get to go home.
Baby Jade nursed like a pro — I was seriously amazed at how easy breastfeeding her was. We slept until 11 am, when I got up to have a quick shower while she was still sleeping. Then my cousin was her first visitor, stopping by to give us some baking. I slept for the afternoon, while my husband had to go to class.
Just before supper, my husband went to get the girls. They came back with a hot supper from Val, as well as balloons and flowers. Lily walked in the door and saw me holding her new little sister and said, “Wow, baby!” Later, she was running circles around the living room, saying, “I’m so happy! I’m so excited!”
Sunshine wanted to hold the baby right away; she sat on the couch and put her arms in a circle.
So now we are a family of five.
Love this birth story? It’s included in Beginner’s Guide to Growing Baby: Tips to Help You Through All Four Trimesters, a book about pregnancy, birth, and baby’s first three months. Written with my good friend Anna Eastland (mom of 9 kids!), Beginner’s Guide to Growing Baby is an honest, practical look at pregnancy and beyond. We share what’s worked for us in growing, birthing and loving thirteen babies.
Beginner’s Guide to Growing Baby is available on Amazon.