Posted by: babybumper | February 23, 2012

My Home Birth Story

The plan was to deny I was in labor for as long as possible, but there was no denying when my water broke at 6am on Valentine’s Day! I went back to bed to act like I was sleeping and pray my husband would get as much sleep as possible. I was having some contractions, so I tried to relax my whole body during them like I had practiced for months. I was surprised by how badly they hurt and I thought, “I understand why women get epidurals,” even though I was fine with them at that time.

When James woke up, I told him what happened. We guessed the baby would be born in the wee hours of the next morning, on the baby’s due date. We went to Cracker Barrel for breakfast, and planned out some things we could do to take up time. James said the whole pregnancy that hoped not to have a son on Valentine’s Day, so we laughed about that possibility. Our midwife, Marilyn (you can visit our midwives’ website here) said to let us know when I needed someone. We talked again mid morning, when nothing serious was going on. At about that time, we unplugged/covered all the clocks in our house. We watched The Voice and straightened up around the house, and I finally got to eat my prepared “labor snacks.” My contractions were getting stronger all day. I tried to lay down to watch a movie we rented and do my practice relaxing technique. Laying down was the most painful position for me, so all that total body relaxation practice was a waste J. My back labor gave me the urge to be leaning forward during each contraction. I spent a lot of time leaning over an exercise ball on my knees. Contractions felt like back pain that wrapped around me, by the end they were more painful than I ever imagined.

About 5 pm I got to the point that I needed James’ undivided attention. At this point I guessed I was 5-6cm or so. I moved to my bed, still hands and knees leaning on pillows. We turned on my “labor music.” James rubbed my back and comforted me with his words, made me a smoothie and offered it to me between contractions, and began to fill up our birthing pool, that we rented from 9 Months and Beyond (They are fantastic! We’ve used them for other services as well). Our midwife, Bobbie, called at 6pm intending to say they were going to come on and try to get my labor started with some herbs. James told her my contractions were 3.5-4.5 minutes apart, the closest they ever were to each other. While he was on the phone, I had a contraction that I moaned through; she heard it and said they were going to come on to the house. About 7pm the tub was ready so I got in. It was awesome.

Looking back, this was my favorite part of my labor. I felt so thankful to the Lord for how things were going. I was thankful that my pregnancy lasted to full term, thankful that labor started and progressed on its own. I said, “Thank you baby for moving for your mommy,” every time I felt kicks, which was my entire labor, so reassuring! I said often, “Things are going so well; I am so thankful.” I told Jesus thank you between almost every contraction. “This is what I want,” I verbalized. James was encouraging me and offering me water. I ate half a hardboiled egg. Between contractions I was fine, and my contractions were pretty spaced out. During contractions I leaned over the side of the awesome pool, James poured water on my back, and I started having the urge to grab onto stuff. I kept grabbing onto a trashcan, and I was very vocal- James says it was a loud groan. I guessed I was 7 cm or so (but I was probably more). I was glad the midwives were on their way; I could tell I was really progressing.

Bobbie and Chelsea (their assistant) got here at 8pm. I was having a hard time looking at them, but I told them what I was feeling. Bobbie said she was fine not checking my cervix, I said, “Good, I don’t want you to.” She did listen to the baby and take my blood pressure, all while I was still in the tub. They started getting all their supplies ready. I heard them moving around, but I was very inward focused, I think I could hardly open my eyes. Bobbie reported to Marilyn. When Marilyn showed up I couldn’t understand a word she said, or hardly look at her. I made a sound that I have heard other woman make in labor, and I guessed I was in transition. I think Bobbie told me I had a 2 minute long contraction, and I said, “I thought they were long.” But they were never close together, which was awesome.

At 9pm I said, “I think the baby is in my birth canal.” They said, “Oh!” And Bobbie wanted to check my cervix. I said despairingly, “But I don’t want to be disappointed!” Marilyn said, “We don’t give disappointing news.” “Anything less than complete (10 cm) will be disappointing,” I replied. She checked and said all she could feel was the baby head (so I was complete), but she thought it may be asynclitic (coming down crooked). I said, “I don’t care, I am pushing.” I asked, “Does it feel like a boy head or a girl head?” She said, “It feels like a girl head!” and called the baby a girl from that moment on.

I expected pushing to be the best part of labor. I anticipated pain relief. Many women don’t appear to be in any pain when pushing. So I started pushing and I was shocked and dismayed, “It hurts!!!” I would instantly have the same back pain I felt all day. I was so upset; this was the most difficult part of labor. Bobbie tried encouraging me, “come on now push, 1, 2, 3…” I interrupted, “Please don’t count!” She said, “ok.”  I got out of the tub at their suggestion, hoping it would make my pushing more effective. I tried a few different positions (squatting, leaning) but stuck with leaning over the exercise ball as I had in the morning. The midwives basically let me figure out the pushing thing, which I am so thankful for. Looking back it was so sweet how well I was taken care of, even though this was by far the most difficult part of labor. I was SO HOT. I kept saying despairingly, “I am HOT!” James took at book and fanned me ferociously. Between contractions he would give me water. Bobbie asked if we had any massage oil — we only had vegetable, so Chelsea got some vegetable oil and rubbed my back. It was AWESOME J. This is when I started crying out, “I can’t DO this!”  After I got over my despair that pushing was painful, I just worked through contractions and pushed a bit only as much as I felt like it, I am sure it was not very effective. I basically was laboring down. No one told me what to do, I just did what I felt like, and they supported me. At some point I felt downward progress. I began to realize that although initially pushing caused me the back pain of a contraction, if I pushed past that point I could feel the baby moving down. The progress cancelled out the pain, and I finally got determined and pushed with all my might.

I said, “I must be crowning.” I wasn’t crowning, but the baby was starting to stretch my skin. Bobbie said, “Why don’t you either get in bed so we can see to try to prevent you from tearing, or if you want a water birth, you need to get back in the tub.” I was indecisive. Marilyn said, “You better go ahead and move.” So I got in the tub. I felt a lot of the baby’s head and I was shocked to feel a ton of hair. They showed me in the mirror once, but I couldn’t focus on it, I was too busy pushing. I Pushed for 1 contraction, and then said, “I am just SO excited to have this baby!!” I pushed the next contraction and felt the ring of fire. I felt like I was going to split in 2, and it was very scary; I screamed. James says this was obviously the most painful part, but I can’t even remember it anymore.

Then my baby was born at 10:49pm. I lifted her up to my chest with Bobbie’s assistance. There was so much vernix (looks like white cheesy stuff on the baby) and a full head of hair! Someone said, “what is it?” I said, “I don’t care I just want to see it breath! James, what is it?” I was staring at her face. He said, “It’s a girl,” with some uncertainty. I said, “It’s a girl?!?” I verified. We were both shocked (we think we would have been just as shocked to have a boy). I kept crying, “My baby, my baby!” I started checking her out, feeling the cord pulse, seeing if she had a tongue tie, checking her tone, etc.

Every few minutes I would check the cord. We wanted it to stop pulsing before it was clamped and cut. Well, even after 10 minutes or so it was still pulsing. Bobbie asked if we could go ahead and clamp and cut so I could get out of the tub to keep an eye on my bleeding. I was totally fine with that. I cut the cord, and then we handed the baby off to James, who held her skin to skin. That is the most touching mental picture I have, my husband holding his daughter for the first time. She looked so tiny in his arms.

Leila Esther was 7#8oz, 19 inches long. She had a tiny bit of capit (swelling) at birth that was not centered on her head, but it was gone in an hour. I had a 1st degree laceration that needed no suturing. Although I technically pushed for 2 hours, I had no swelling and no pain after delivery. I have had more soreness and pain from nursing (from a bad latch and bad posture) than I did in recovering from giving birth. I attribute all of these things to me being able to just listen to my body, my birth went so smoothly. Everything was so healthy and normal.

It is hard to describe labor. Primarily it was painful and joyful. It was more excruciating than I could have imagined. But I was only in serious pain for a few hours, and only every 5 minutes or so, and between those I was fine. For a few days I felt scared of labor, but in review it wasn’t that bad, and I already look forward to having another baby (in a few years!). My labor was exactly what I wanted. If everything went well, as it does most of the time, I wanted to be left alone and let things go as normal. Labor is normally a healthy process and a healthy labor only needs monitoring. I was empowered and in charge of my labor. It was by far one of the greatest days of my life. Thinking back on it makes me weep as I remember with joy how my beautiful daughter came into the world, how I was so supported and empowered. “Can’t help falling in Love” by Ingrid Michaelson played in the background while I became a mother to my Valentine’s Day baby; I am floored by the love that is drawn out daily as I get to know this little one.



  1. Beautifully told Angelica. Congrats on your sweet little blessing. I just know you and James are awesome parents!

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