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Introducing Eleanor: Our Homebirth Story

Honesty hour: this posts title was originally Our Homebirth Story + The First Two Weeks. And now it’s been two months! And that pretty perfectly sums up being a new member of the “mom of three” club. Oh well! Overall, the first two months with number three has been really great. We have been taking things slow and just letting our family slowly and naturally adjust. Well, as slow as we could with school starting, fall sports, and a new baby within days. But I am getting ahead of myself. So let’s back up to 2 AM on August 31.

Our Home Birth Story

For weeks I was having 3-4 mini contractions every 15 minutes around 11PM. They were probably Braxton Hicks but I am still not really sure because I didn’t have that experience with either of my other pregnancies. When I woke up at 2am to go to the bathroom one night and started contractions, I waited a long time to make sure they were real. Around 3:30 am I shook Ben to let him know…it’s baby day.

I called the midwife at 4am to let her know that I was pretty darn sure I was in labor. She told me to call her again when the contractions were 3-4 minutes apart for an hour, lasting at least a minute each.

This is where this labor gets…weird. That never REALLY happened. My contractions were very irregular for hours. A few would come in a row, five minutes apart. But one would last a 1:15 and one would last only :40. These contractions were not strong. When I called the midwife at 8:30ish, I wasn’t even sure if I really should be calling or if my body was faking me out. I was way too calm to be in labor.

The kids woke up around 8 am and were so excited when we told them, “It’s baby day!”

One of my best friends arrived with Chick-fil-a breakfast, which I am newly obsessed with. And my in-laws were just behind her. No one could believe I was in labor. I was hanging out on the couch, talking, drinking my water and smiling.

Our midwife arrived just after 9am and we headed up into my bedroom so she could check me and see where we were at. When she said I was already 7cm I could not believe it. I looked at Ben when I got back downstairs and even he couldn’t believe it. I was too relaxed. I had only had 2, maybe 3, strong contractions that I couldn’t talk through.

Our midwife went up into our room and set everything up so that we were ready to go. With how quick and easily I got to 7cm, we were thinking it would be pretty quick.

And then it wasn’t! Around 11am, my contractions had all but stopped. So we went on a walk to kickstart some activity and man did it work! I had 4 STRONG contractions just walking a few houses down. After the walk, our midwife suggested I lay down, turn out some lights and really let my body get back into labor mode. I jumped in the shower first, let my body relax, and then laid in my bed. Contractions came on fast and hard at that point, and I was quickly in the transition stage of labor. Baby was on her way!

Before I get to the actual birth, I want to really emphasize how relaxing my labor was. I was so calm my labor almost stopped! This was good in one sense, there was no fear and barely any pain. On the other hand, you kind of want baby to come on out. I probably needed to do a better job of staying in birth mode but overall, she still came within 12 hours and it was just such a relaxing experience overall!

The Birth

After laying in bed for a half hour, things happened QUICKLY. I started to feel pressure down there and Ben raced to fill the birthing pool while the midwife’s student checked me. 10 CM! It was just about time. I laid on the bed while they filled the pool, breathing through every contraction and trying to stay comfortable.

If you haven’t taken a birthing class, tensing up is the WORST way to deal with these strong contractions. Staying loose and just letting that contraction crest over you is the best way to go. And as a “pro tip” just reminding yourself that each contraction brings you closer to holding your baby can really keep your mental capacity up to the task of combating the pain. Because…it is pain my friends.

The birthing pool was filled just in time for me to really start feeling that pressure that lets you know baby is coming. I thought it was pushing pressure, looking back I’m not so sure it was so soon. This was my first birth with ZERO drugs and that alone made the whole thing brand new.

I got on my knees first, leaning over the edge of the tub as I worked through each contraction. Ben sat with me the whole time and then, when I finally rolled over to a more sitting position, he held onto my arms and pushed with me.

I pushed for a long time. WAY longer than my first two. With my first I pushed and he was out in 18 minutes, my second was only 24 minutes. Number three was a good hour of pushing but…most of that was not actual pushing. I had a really hard time figuring out where the heck to push again. Sitting in the tub instead of laying in a bed is a whole new world and I had a hard time finding the right “spot.”

Here’s a hint: push like you’re really constipated and need to get a poop out.

I finally found the “spot” when the midwife put her fingers right on my perineum. With that contraction I actually pushed and made progress getting my baby out. My water had not broken and there was a long time where I was pushing on the “Balloon” of waters. Ben could see it thinks it was so freaking wile to see.

After awhile of little progress and a bag of waters ballooning in and our of me, the midwife’s student popped the waters. This was a HUGE help in me feeling and pushing correctly. Next time around I will definitely have them break my water before I start pushing in the pool, if it hasn’t broken already.

(which it probably won’t because I have never had my water break on it’s own)

At some point, as a contraction ended and we took a break, I heard Ben say, “Her arms are really strong!” and saw him stretching out his arms and back before gearing up to help me through the next contraction. And that still makes me laugh!

We pushed through probably 10-12 contractions and then suddenly I was burning down there.

“Get her focused!” The midwife called out to the student, who was at this point leaning way into the tub with me. I don’t know how her back was able to handle that alongside me! The midwife’s student locked eyes with me.

“Kayla, look at me, look at me,” she said, “You are not going to tear. You are going to go slow and let her stretch you.”

I am sure my eyes were the widest they have ever been.

“Okay,” I panted. “But it burns. I definitely had an epidural with Addie!”

“I know it burns. You are not going to tear, you look right at me!” The student said. So yeah, me and her will ALWAYS have a very special bond! The midwife just beside me then let me know now was the time to reach down and feel my baby’s head. And guys, I’m just saying there is something really incredible about touching your baby’s head while she is still inside of you!

I did just as I instructed, Ben at my back holding me and and pushing with me. I still like to joke that I could feel him pushing through my vagina as we worked together on this.

With one last push, her head popped out in one big rush of relief.

We took a breath at that point, and let her turn herself for her shoulders to come through. Let me tell you what, that was the weirdest part of it all. I could feel her kicks on the inside of my belly AND felt her shoulders turning in the birth canal. As the final contraction started, I pushed one last time and that baby exploded the rest of her body out of me and into the pool.

Eleanor came into this world with a full head of dark hair, and announced herself to the world.

My mother-in-law and best friend called the kids up and Adelaide came running. She was in the house for the whole thing and could hear me yelling my way through this birth. She walked into our room and her face just lit up as she saw me in the pool. My beautiful three year old patted me on the shoulder and said, “It’s okay mommy, it didn’t hurt.” Which just made everyone laugh as I informed her that heck yes it did, but mommy is okay. And then we focused on her new baby sister.

“Can we put a dress on her now?” Adelaide asked very quickly after meeting her. She was very excited about getting to dress her sister up.

Through the birth, Isaac had gone outside with his cousin and my father-in-law. He heard a few groans of my pain and the boys were out of there. They played in the backyard but came inside quickly to meet the baby. But, just before they walked in the room, the placenta came out (so easy) and then all they could focus on was the placenta floating in a bowl.

Little Miss Eleanor arrived at 2:44pm and is my biggest baby to date, weighing 9lbs 2oz! Oh, and her head circumference was in the 98% so…I’m a rockstar.

Now let’s get into all of the after birth stuff.

The Hours After Birth

I am not really sure how long I stayed in the pool, but it was not super long. The midwife had Ben take off his shirt and do skin to skin with her while they helped me out of the pool and into bed. I took her back right after I got comfortable in bed and started nursing. She latched really well, albeit a little too strong, and we laid in bed for a long time just nursing and doing skin to skin.

Honestly, I can’t believe how long I just sat there naked and gross but it was grossly magical.

As we laid there the midwife and her student cleaned everything up. They were incredibly efficient, within a few minutes it was like we never had a baby right there in our room!

After awhile, Ben took the baby back while I went to try to go to the bathroom. I wasn’t able to go right away so instead I jumped in the shower and got…birth off of me. I then laid down so the midwife could check me out down there and see about any tearing. And guess what? I didn’t tear AT ALL. With a dang 9lb baby! That was honestly my whole goal this time around, and I tell everyone I run into that I didn’t tear. That is the HIGHLIGHT of my homebirth story!

I was finally able to go to the bathroom, which was the final thing that needed to happen before the midwife could head out. They both gave me huge hugs, congratulated us while I thanked them over and over and over again.

At some point in here my friend ordered and picked up Chipotle for us, but I cannot remember if that was before or after the midwives left. But man, eating good food so quick after birth was really nice!

I also cannot remember if the kids came in to hold the baby before or after the midwives left, but at some point they were snuggled up in bed with us taking turns holding her.

My in-laws stayed around to make sure our bigger kids ate and got ready for bed while Ben catered to my every need since I was under strict instruction to stay in my room for the next two days.

That night, as Ben and I laid in bed watching a show before going to bed, Ben looked over at me and asked, “So are we going to do a homebirth with number four?”

“If you had asked me a few hours ago,” I admitted, “I would have said hell no I’m getting an epidural. But yes, absolutely.”

And I still stand by that. In the hour after she came out, I know I would have said drug me up next time! Because it was hard, I won’t lie. When they say “ring of fire” they literally mean ring of fire. As Eleanor crowned I was positive that my vagina was ripping in half, and not just that. I thought my clitoris was ripped up and all I could think was that we were never going to have a good sex life again. But then our midwife confirmed that I didn’t tear at all, and that made every second of fire worth it.

Beyond that, I was so relaxed all day! There was no stress of going to the hospital. No one trying to check my dilation every hour or so. I was able to sit there skin to skin and nurse my baby for almost two hours before any “tests” needed to be done. To top it all off, I was in my own bed that night and I didn’t have to miss my bigger kids or be left alone while my husband went home.

And yes, we know it is crazy that we were already talking about number 4 hours after giving birth to number three. But I think that goes to show how amazing the home birth experience was.

And again, the no tearing was HUGE. By day two I was having a hard time “taking it easy” because I felt back to normal. Other than the cramping while nursing, I felt like me. I didn’t feel like my body had just been through this huge thing. It was just such a direct contrast to my first birth, and somehow even BETTER than my second.

So, yeah, we are totally team home birth over here and will be doing it again for number 4! If you have any questions beyond what I said in this story, I am open to talk about it in more detail or just answer any questions. Because if you are thinking about it, I would totally encourage you to look further into home birth as a possibility.

Now it’s time for me to go feed our two-month old. A new post will *hopefully* be up soon detailing Eleanor’s first two months, and our transition from 2 to 3 kids!

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