I give Stephanie Soderblom permission to share this and whatever pictures I have sent her on her blog.
This is long and I’m sorry for that but I wanted to share my experience with hospital births to show how I came to decide on having a home birth.
My first two births were in a hospital. My first birth I was induced because my husband was on leave and had just got home from deployment and we really wanted him to be home for the birth. When I went in I told the nurse I wanted to do this all natural and that I would not sign the epidural paper and she laughed at me and said “we’ll see” her words were full of doubt. Her words pissed me off and hurt my feelings. My induction seemed to take forever and they would not let me get out of the bed. I did end up getting the epidural because the Pitocin contractions were horrible and I could not breathe through them. A day and a half later they had me start pushing when I was 9cm, I pushed for an hour and was given an episiotomy without my consent. I didn’t even realize I had been given one until the doctor told me I ripped the stitches out when pushing the placenta out. The doctor also kneaded the heck out of my belly to “help” get out the placenta which hurt like hell! After I was all stitched up again it was time to hold my baby but I just could not do it. Jacob was born at 6:59 am weighing 8lbs 1oz. I was exhausted and felt on the verge of passing out and I was scared that I would drop him. I think about an hour after the birth I finally had the strength to hold our sweet baby. I feel like I didn’t get to bond with Jacob the way I should have because I was so out of it and sleepy. I knew after that birth experience I never wanted to be induced again!
With my second birth I felt I would go into labor before my due date so I was able to get my husband to get his leave (he was deployed again…) to be home for the birth. Two weeks before my due date I went into labor at around midnight, by 2:30am I was ready to go to the hospital to be checked. Once I was 5cm they broke my water. I asked if I could go walk the halls and the nurse laughed at me and said no. Not being allowed out of the bed made me feel very out of control and panicked. I eventually ended up getting an epidural again and cried about the decision. My friend who was videotaping said “it’s not like you’ll get a trophy if you do it without an epidural”. I wanted to hit her. It wasn’t about getting a stupid trophy it was about letting my body do what it needed to. I needed her support and instead she laughed that I was crying because I didn’t want to get one. My husband and mom were there too but they just supported whatever I wanted to do and I needed someone to tell me that I could do it and I didn’t need the epidural. (I didn’t realize that’s what I needed till afterwards). This time I only pushed for about 12 minutes. Just as the doctor was about to give me another episiotomy without consent, I tore and out came our baby boy. I had a 3rd degree tear. Owen was born at 7:02am 8lbs 1 oz. I was able to hold our baby boy as soon as he was cleaned off and because I had gotten the epidural only about an hour before he was born I was not exhausted and all drugged out. My labor was about 7hours from start to finish. Over all it was better than being induced but I felt so vulnerable and scared. Five days after giving birth I got the world’s worst headache ever while feeding Owen, immediately I knew something was wrong. I went to the ER and they just said I had a migraine and sent me home even though my blood pressure was high. I went to the ER again the next night for the same issue and was sent home again once my headache faded. On the third night the headache was back and my blood pressure was sky high. This time I went to a different hospital and they decided to keep me for observation, I told my husband to go home and get some sleep and see the kids. Shortly after he left I ended up having a seizure. I did end up having some reversible brain damage from the seizure. Apparently I was suffering from HELLP syndrome (Google it) but no one in either ER knew what it was. I was later scolded by my OB for not going up to labor and delivery. How the hell was I supposed to know what was wrong with me and that I should have gone to labor and delivery. My OB also told me that I should not have any more children because it could kill me or put me into a coma. I was devastated, but was smart enough to get two other opinions that said it was fine to have more children I just needed to monitor my bp.
My third birth is very different than the two previous ones. Before even becoming pregnant I had stumbled across the documentary “The business of being born” I cried while watching, wishing I had known sooner that giving birth should be wonderful and not scary. Armed with this new information I was determined to have our next baby with no pain medication what so ever. When I became pregnant again I was excited to see what my options were. At the time I was living in WA and had to be seen on the military Base with the doctors there, lucky for me I would not be delivery there because we would be moving to AZ before I was due. Shortly after becoming pregnant a friend of mine had liked a link on her Facebook (I believe it was Stephanie’s blog about the cord turning white). Once I was on her blog I began reading all her past blog post and the birth stories that had been share, I was hooked! I knew right then that I wanted a home birth. I immediately emailed her to see if she would take my insurance. I was devastated to find that my insurance didn’t cover it. I knew in my gut I wanted Stephanie to be my midwife but I did not think we would be able to afford it. I decided to try and interview the one CNM I found that did home births and was going to try and get my insurance to cover it as an out of network provider. As soon as I moved back to AZ I called to make an appointment to interview the CNM and also made one to interview Stephanie. As soon as I got off the phone with Stephanie I called my husband and told him that I wasn’t even going to try and interview the other lady because even just after a phone call with Stephanie I knew she was who I wanted. We figured out a way to make it work and I was SUPER excited to finally meet Stephanie. By this point I was about 28 weeks along. I got more and more excited each week as we got closer to my EDD. I also was busy reading up on homebirths to try and prepare myself more. I absolutely love Ina Mays guide to child birth! I made a mental note to myself to remember to kiss my husband between contractions and to blow air through my lips to make horse noises.
My EDD was June 5th 2012; my husband was getting impatient and tried so many things to get me to go into labor. I was happy to just wait and let things happen but loved letting him rub my feet and the random kissing he was giving me. June 6th I woke up at 4:09am to a wet feeling in my panties. At first I was excited thinking hey maybe my water is leaking, when I went to check it was just more mucus. I started to contract but I just brushed it off as Braxton hicks contractions and tried to get some sleep. After about three more contractions I decided I should get up and walk around to see if they were the real thing or not. In the past my bh contractions would stop as soon as I walked around. My contractions were coming at about 3-4 minutes apart and were slowly getting stronger. I was losing more of my mucus plug so much so I had to change my panties 3 times. At around 5:30 I texted Stephanie to give her a heads up that I was losing my mucus plug and having contractions. I walked around the house and fed my two other children breakfast when they woke up, pausing for contractions and swaying my hips. Most of my contractions were in my back. At around 8am I had my hubby start to blow up the kiddie pool and start to fill it up.( I had not planned on a water birth but wanted it as an option). The contractions were getting stronger but not unbearable. I started to get a little dizzy after the contractions so I called Stephanie to make sure it was ok and give her an update, it was around 8:30 I think. Stephanie asked if I was ready for her to come over yet I said no not yet I’m waiting for a change but I’ll let you know when I’m ready. I still was not convinced I was in true labor and didn’t want to have her come and it not be the real thing. About 15 minutes later (I think) I had three very strong contractions very close together and I felt a change, I told my husband to call Stephanie and have her come over.
She got to my house at 9am and as she arrived I had my husband fill up the rest of the pool because I was ready to try it out. At this point my contractions were still coming at about 3-4 minutes apart like they had from the beginning. I’m not sure why but in my mind I thought they had to be closer together before things were really going to be happening. At 9:30 I got in the pool and Krystel arrived. The pool was wonderful and warm I loved it. In between contractions I was still talking and laughing. My youngest son came in to see what the fuss was about and was trying to get into the pool with me and didn’t understand why he couldn’t swim too. I started out in a sitting position but that only lasted for two or three contractions then I felt the need to move to my hands and knees, it was easier to breathe through the contractions that way.
Here is where things get fuzzy for me. The contraction that came as soon as I was on my hands and knees was the biggest and most painful one yet I believe my words were “holy shit”. As soon as it was done I remember saying “oh this is going to suck” only to have Stephanie say “No this is going to be Wonderful” so I said “ok let me rephrase that, these contractions are going to suck” which sent everyone in the room into laughter. In my mind I was thinking oh man I still have a few more hours of this, so far it had been easy to breathe through the contractions and even with this big one I got through it and didn’t feel like quitting. I felt that I had much more pain to go through before she could be born because well that’s how labor is supposed to be. Then the next contraction came and oh man that one hurt, again the “holy shit” came out of my mouth. I was having a hard time breathing through it, for a split second I told myself “you are such an idiot why did you decide to have this baby at home”. At this point I think I made an AAHH noise because I was starting to lose it and my husband came over to sit by my head and he caressed my hair and said something like “you got this babe, you are doing it”.
Then I remembered I needed to make horse noises and bam, just like that, making that silly little noise got me through that contraction like it was nothing. On came the next contraction and out came the horse noises again and wow some pressure so I say “I feel pressure” and two seconds later” I need to push” and as I said push my body started to push on its own and I fought with my body. I didn’t believe it was time to push and tried to stop my body I kept telling myself it’s too soon to push its supposed to take longer. These loud (or loud to me) animalistic grunts came out every time I pushed it shocked me that my body was making this noise all on its own and that it was going to push on its own. After my grunt noise I reminded myself that I needed to just let my body do what it needs to do and go with the flow instead of trying to control it. Once I felt the urge to push all the pain went away. I could feel her head pass through my cervix and down the birth canal. It was the most amazing thing to feel! I don’t have the right words to describe how it felt. Then I could feel her shoulders slide over the lip of my cervix and make their way out.
“Am I done?” I said, everyone replied “No not yet” and with one last push out came Alejandra. She swam into her daddy’s hands and he passed her through my legs to me. At first I was just shocked to see these feet coming from between my legs (he passed her to me feet first).
I quickly spun her around and picked her up and held her to my chest while crying and exclaiming “I DID IT! I DID IT! I DID IT!!”. I couldn’t believe it was done already and she was in my arms. I always thought I had to feel a burning ring of fire but I never did, not once. Pushing was completely painless. I pushed for 6 minutes and I didn’t even tear!
Alejandra was born at 9:54am and weighed 8lbs 2oz and was 20.5 inches long.
I delivered the placenta shortly after and then got out of the pool to rest in bed a while. When it came time for Stephanie and Krystel leave I was not ready for them to. I’m not sure why but I felt like everything had gone so smooth and utterly perfect that something was about to wrong like at any moment I would end up having a seizure. It took a while for it to set in that I had indeed just given birth to our precious little princess.
Eventually I was okay to let them leave and just carry on with our day. It took a few weeks for it to really sink in that she was here. It seemed like there should have been a big production of her birth instead it was quiet, fast, easy and PERFECT! I really thought it all would hurt more and never thought that pushing would be painless. I am so glad I decided to birth at home! I did not have any blood pressure issues either! I never felt vulnerable or out of control, I knew I was running the show and that I had all the support I could ever need. Later that evening my husband said to me “I almost want to go door to door telling people they should have their babies at home”. I truly wish that I had known about home births and been more informed before I gave birth the first time. Giving birth to Alejandra at home is one of the most wonderful moments in my life and I will never ever forget it. Thank you Stephanie for helping me get out of my own head and helping me let go of what happened in the past so I could focus and experience the present. I truly believe that is why I was able to keep my bp down and breastfeed with no supply problems.