My (Unplanned) Home Birth

In honor of Mother’s Day, I’m adding my birth story’s to the blog. Starting with our sweet, middle son, Tristan. I’m also hoping to inspire mothers during this global pandemic needing inspiration during their unplanned home births. {Using Hypnobirth language}

Just a backstory to catch you up on why we planned for a natural birth…

I decided to go with a Midwife with my second child because of my birth experience with Adon. I was induced (per Doctor’s urgency) at 41 weeks, even though Adon received a 10 out of 10 on the fetal non-stress test. They had their reasons, and I wasn’t educated enough in the subject, so I trusted them. Really determined for a natural birth, it became an extremely painful, unbearable experience as I tried to labor for 8 hours straight…unmedicated… and induced. I was having surges (contractions) every 30 seconds, lasting 3 minutes. I can’t even describe the trauma! Blake was obviously wearing down mentally and emotionally also as my ‘Daddy Doula’ and after checking how far I had progressed after enduring 8 hours unmedicated, the nurse said that I was, “Maybe ½ a centimeter TOTAL(!).” I was going to die. So, at this point I begged for the epidural and although it was heavenly relief, tons of complications and a rush of medical staff followed. Unfortunately, several interventions were necessary and right as they began mentioning the possibility of an emergency C-Section out pops our firstborn, Adon.

September 9th, 2017, when Adon made me a mother at Mercy Hospital in Baltimore City.

This time around, after my first visit to the OB at 6 weeks pregnant, the nurse practitioner asks, “So what date would you like to schedule the induction?” I said thanks, but no thanks.” I think I’ll try something new this time. With my medical insurance, the only other option was the complete other extreme… A birthing center. So, Blake and I decided… let’s give it a go! Lord willing, I’ll be able to use my hypnobirth breathing techniques this time and have the natural birth we planned with Adon (although, I admit, I was totally nervous the entire pregnancy about not having access to pain medication! It really was heavenly relief.).

My mom snapped this of me because I wasn’t even aware of how ridiculous (or amazing?) I looked.
{39 pregnant weeks with Tristan}

That takes us to Thursday evening, July 13th 2017…

Message on my LUNAbar the night I went into labor ❤

4:15pm– Three days shy of 40 weeks, I dropped Blake and Adon off at Crossfit and went to Lakeside Village for a pedicure. I was actually hoping the acupressure would induce labor. Everyone at the salon was worried I would go into labor and I responded each time, “I sure hope I do!” I did. .

5pm– The surges start mildly during the pedicure.

6pm– After the pedi, I started walking around to different shops, purchased slippers that I needed for labor at Bed Bath & Beyond (which I would never use). In the store, and even at check-out, I had a few surges that required me to stop and focus (about 20 min apart). Folks were concerned that saw me, and because of all the false labor surges I had with Adon I said, “Oh, don’t worry. This baby isn’t coming today.”

6:30pm– I picked up B and A at Crossfit, surges were 15-20 minutes apart and coming pretty regularly. I stayed on my feet around the house, tidied up, ate a big taco dinner, and the surges kept coming… I still fully believed they were just “pre-labor warm-ups”. No baby tonight!

8:30pm– We put Adon to bed and I took a shower.

Labor prayer from ‘In His Hands’ home birth kit.

9:30pm– The surges were 10 minutes apart at this point and still very bearable. I wasn’t able to talk during them, but focusing on the hypnobirth breathing I had practiced throughout pregnancy kept the sensations mild. They were actually more exciting than painful. I decided to call my Midwife and fill her in just as a precaution and she said, “It’s hard to tell at this point. The baby could come tonight… or in a week! Eat a full dinner, take a bath, and go to bed. You’ll need lots of rest if he does come tonight.” She said to give her a call if/when the surges are 5 minutes apart (I thought this definitely wouldn’t be the case.) She said I would leave for the Birth Center if/when they were 3 minutes apart.

10:30pm– Blake packed up the car just in case (I thought it was a silly idea) and we went to bed.

Laboring all along…

11pm-3am– I labored in bed having 3-4 surges every hour and falling asleep for 10-15 minute cat naps in between each one. I focused mostly on my hypnobirth relaxation techniques such as the breathing methods I had practiced throughout pregnancy, as well as affirmations and scripture:

  • “Riding the wave” with each surge
  • Imagining my cervix as a flower opening perfectly in its own time
  • Women have been doing this for all of time and there are sisters in this with me even right now· Release your jaw, relax your mind
  • You can do ANYTHING for one minute· Each strong surge is bringing you closer to your baby
  • Matthew 11:28 – Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
  • Hebrews 13:5 – Never will I leave you; Never will I forsake you.
Daddy Doula’s list of affirmations

Unbeknownst to me, I was successfully “opening up” with each strong surge. I remembered the importance of staying hydrated and emptying my bladder often during each “rest” period. Adon came to bed with us twice and Blake had to take him back to his room each time. Blake slept next to me as I labored in our quiet, cool, dark room in my comfy nightgown. It was exactly the setting my body needed to focus.

Side bar: Reflecting later, it’s fascinating how a woman’s primal instincts kick in during labor. I had all these plans for Blake to use the massage techniques and gentle caressing we had practiced. I even wrote out a whole script on what he was to say in each moment/scenario, and in the end, all my body desired was to be left completely alone, completely untouched, and without a soul in the world to know that I was in labor. Just me and God.

As the night went on, the pressure of each surge grew more and more intense.

3:30pm– As the intensity of each surge grew and the closeness between each one shortened, I woke Blake to start tracking the length of each surge because I was losing the ability to track the time that had passed before the next one began. Adon was currently in bed with us again, so Blake succumbed and let him stay. I had the shakes for a bit but zero restless legs discomfort (which was horrifying in my first labor and completely distracted me from any ability to relax). I’m not sure if I didn’t experience it this time because I wasn’t induced? Or if it was because I had taken a large dose of Cal-Mag supplement right before bed. Maybe both? Either way, I was so thankful.

3:30-4am– Blake (half asleep) started tracking my surges as coming every 5.5 to 5 minutes, lasting at least 1 minute. I had to yell at him to wake him up most unkindly, only a couple of times. After 4 VERY intense surges that included deep, loud, guttural groans sounding like the mooing of a cow (that I’m shocked didn’t wake Adon) my membranes release (water breaks)! It was instant relief! But only for a moment… It was at this point that I realized I was actually in labor and about to have this baby.

Nearing Completion (Transition period)…

4am– As my membranes release in bed, I’m in shock and start to freak out a bit as my wonderful husband jumps right into go-mode as my “birthing companion”. Blake calmly says, “Everything’s okay. This is great… Tristan is coming! Go to the bathroom and take off your wet gown.” Blake then carries Adon to his bed yet again, strips the wet sheets off of our bed, and puts Knox in his crate. I undress from my wet nightgown and sit on the toilet (which is actually a very common birth position because it’s naturally relaxing). I use the bathroom and lose the uterine seal (mucus plug). Blake calls our friend Lindy to come over (who had very thoughtfully offered just a few days prior to come over and stay with Adon in case Tristan happens to come at night – a prospect I hadn’t considered) and then he calls our Midwife to tell her my surges are 4-5 minutes apart and my water broke. The Midwife asks if I want to go ahead and come into the birth center or wait until they’re 3 minutes apart… we decide to leave now.

But all of a sudden, I feel the urge to start breathing the baby down (pushing)! I tell Blake to call back our Midwife and tell her she “HAS TO COME HERE! I’ll never make it to the car!” The very idea of getting dressed seemed more impossible than any other task I had ever faced. Although Blake didn’t believe that the baby could possibly be coming now, he [very intelligently] didn’t mention his doubts and calls her back. As our Midwife is on her way to the birthing center, she receives Blake’s call and pulls over to make sure she has “home birth” supplies in her car (which she typically doesn’t carry if it was a birth-center planned labor), by God’s grace she does. Only with help from Blake, I was able to move from the toilet to the bathroom floor on all 4’s in “polar bear position” to begin breathing the baby down.

The hard, cold, tile floor was actually very soothing as I near completion. Loud yells were coming out of me that I couldn’t control as my body took over guiding Tristan down the birth path. I experienced extremely intense sensations – incomparable to the surges I had just experienced in bed. I remember wishing I had practiced more hypnobirth breathing methods specifically for breathing the baby down.

Blake’s running around the house to get all the birth supplies that were packed away in the car, giving directions on the phone to the Midwife, and letting Lindy in and explaining to her what’s going on… all while I pitifully scream for him to come back for every surge. At this point, I desperately needed him next to me to survive each surge by applying hard counter-pressure with his fist on my sacrum, against the baby’s head. I remember thinking as he applied the pressure, “I’m so glad he is strong or I would literally not make it!”.

4:33am– I have a total of about 3-4 incredibly intense surges after getting on the floor and then the Midwife arrives!

4:35am– One severely powerful surge later I managed to yell, “Here he comes!”. Out pops half of Tristan’s body! Blake and Tristan lock eyes as Blake receives him. A special bond that’s already undeniable and I’m sure will last a lifetime.

4:39am– I give an intentional push (at the guidance of my Midwife since I wasn’t feeling a surge approach) and Tristan’s full body is out. He’s instantly placed on my chest and Blake cuts the cord once it has stopped pulsating.

After my Midwife and birthing assistant drew me a warm bath, I moved to the bed for bonding (the absolute ultimate high). We nestled close with dad for the golden hour. This brand new babe moved closer and closer to my breast on his own accord, and eventually began suckling. An hour later he weighed in at 7lbs 11oz, measuring 20 inches.

The recovery this time around included zero tearing, no need for any of the “healing supplies” I had purchased. The enjoyment and comfort of home with my new family of four right after delivery was irreplaceable and felt like the only place in the world I belonged.

I was amazed. I was amazed at what God created the female body to endure and what a miraculous gift it was to experience this in its full, natural form. Like all women, for all of time. I never thought I’d get the opportunity for a natural birth, much less a home birth (in fact, I was in denial for 90% of the experience because it felt so natural!), but what a humble reminder that we can make our plans but the Lord establishes our steps (Proverbs 16:9).

Motherhood is the one thing in all the world which most truly exemplifies the God-given virtues of creating and sacrificing. Though it carries the woman close to the brink of death, motherhood also leads her into the very realm of the foundations of life and makes her co-partner with the Creator in bestowing upon eternal spirits mortal life.”

David O McKay