Monday, June 6, 2011

Birth: Putting Things Into Perspective

My Homebirth Story
by Carrie

I’m mostly a “modern” kind of girl. I met my hubby on eHarmony, I keep my iPhone on my person at all times, and I have been known to whiten my teeth from time to time. I like all the interesting advantages that technology affords me. So why, you might ask, when I peed on that stick and got the happy tidings of an impending infant, did I immediately begin researching midwives for an all-natural old-fashioned home birth? Honestly, the reasons are simple. I’m not a fan of hospitals, particularly in a situation where I’m not ill. I have a “don’t fix what ain’t broke” kind of philosophy when it comes to the process of labor. My disclaimer—of course—is that hospitals do have an important place for emergency or high-risk situations. But a hospital birth was not what I wanted.

My reading of natural childbirth information taught me that the routine interventions of a hospital labor & delivery are often themselves the cause of issues. I won’t go into a soapbox lecture about the pitocin-riddled overly-litigious mess that is current obstetric practice, but I will just say that I am so grateful that midwifery care is still alive and well in my area of the United States. I only wish that it were more available elsewhere. For those who aren’t familiar with the research, in a low risk pregnancy, home birth with qualified/trained caregivers is as safe as hospital birth for both mother and baby. Knowing this, I was very happy to take bumbling interns, grumpy nurses, intercom pages, IV needles and super-germs out of the equation and enjoy the comfort of my own home while going through labor. I could eat what I wanted, drink what I wanted, and move around with complete freedom.

After interviewing three different midwifery services, my husband and I agreed that Catherine and her associates would be the best fit for us. My pregnancy was a tough one. At about 20 weeks I began to experience the excruciating pain of symphasis pubis dysfunction (basically my hip and pubic bones began to grind together) which only got worse as my baby grew inside me. The smallest of movements were almost unbearable. I had to mentally prepare myself to swing my legs out of bed or maneuver myself out of the car every day. My monthly midwife visits with Catherine were so encouraging. I got the kind of care that every pregnant woman deserves: long chatty prenatal appointments, no wait time, full access to a qualified professional and a wonderfully experienced caregiver.

Fast forward to 40 weeks + 6 days. At last, I woke up to REAL contractions at 4:30am. I attempted to return to sleep, as I knew that first pregnancies take an average of 20 hours of labor before birth. But the contractions were just annoying enough that I could not get back to dreamland. I got up and took a shower and then found an iPhone app that helped me to time my contractions. Eventually I awakened my husband to tell him “today’s the day!”. I was vastly amused to watch him charge into action. He vacuumed the house, set up the birth tub, raised the temperature on our water heater, and then asked me what else he could do. I put him in charge of music and food.

The day kind of floated by in 5 minute intervals. The contractions weren’t killer, just exhausting. They gained in strength gradually, so by midday I needed to concentrate through them. Before that point, I mixed up a box of funfetti cake mix and popped it in to the oven for a Birth Day treat. The midwives arrived at noon and assessed me at about 4 centimeters dilated. They made themselves comfy on our couch with snacks and crossword puzzles. I labored however and wherever I wanted…and where I wanted was the TOILET. Yes, I spent hours in the bathroom with the lights off, breathing and mooing and chanting “down down down” to encourage my baby’s descent. Catherine listened to the baby’s heartbeat every half hour or so using a Doppler. I got into the birth tub and loved it for an hour. Then I hated it. I felt light-headed (as I often do when I hot tub or take long baths). I got out of the tub and returned to my old friend the toilet. My husband perched his bony tailbone on the edge of the bathtub and stayed with me as my resolve began to falter. “I don’t think I can do this,” I whispered to him at one point. “Um, you ARE doing it” he replied. I was seriously doubting him so I summoned the ever-helpful Catherine to check my dilation again. 9 with a lip of cervix! With my permission she broke my water.

I pushed for almost an hour. I moved around the house to try and find an effective position. Turns out that the living room was where Merit would emerge into this world. So many people and books had talked about the “ring of fire” that accompanies the baby’s crowning, but I never experienced it. My baby basically popped out, which caused my nether regions quite a bit of damage. She weighed in at 9 pounds 8 ounces, hearty and strong. I was a bit of a wreck however; there was a lot of blood on the chux pads beneath me. My husband was not given the opportunity to cut the umbilical cord; it was snipped and clamped in an instant and I had a faint idea that perhaps there might be something awry.

Here’s where the “experienced birth professional” part of home birth comes in quite handy. My brisk but gentle midwives assisted me to my bed, stitched up my extensive tears, administered an injection to slow my bleeding, and helped me to feed my baby for the very first time. Catherine and her team made sure that I ate, peed, and was completely stable before they left. They assessed the placenta, typed my baby’s blood, performed her APGAR scores, weighed her --and she was never more than two feet from my side. Not only did my midwives take care of my medical needs, they departed my house leaving it spotless. The next day I had a checkup visit at home, when I received my rhogam shot and got to ask all kinds of questions about baby care and my birth experience. I felt so cherished and safe and special.

My daughter’s home birth was an absolutely life-changing experience. That day of labor will forever be embedded in my identity as the day I entered motherhood. I will absolutely choose home birth with all of my future low-risk pregnancies.

Merit Claire turned one last week, and we celebrated with funfetti cake and lots of balloons. She walks and signs and has a double-dimpled smile that delights my heart.
**Please let me know if you would like to share your birth experience and be apart of my blog series, "Birth: Putting Things Into Perspective" Feel free to contact me via email at This will not only give someone the opportunity to have a voice, but to educate someone on their options as a woman and mother.**


  1. Love your blog. Can we follow each other?

  2. Thanks for stopping by Always Just a Mom!!! I'm a new follower now for your blog and I look forward to learning more about you and your family!

    I would be interested in sharing my birth story so just drop me an email and let me know when/what you're interested in!!!