A Home Birth Story (in words)

8:47 PM

At long last, I can tell you that the baby has been born! Praise the Lord! We are now the proud parents of a new little boy - Dorien Valor. He was born at exactly 12:00 pm on Thursday after a ridiculously short and altogether pretty awesome labor. Here's the story...

I was 39 weeks on Tuesday and as the clock ticked by, it became apparent that Tuesday would pass without my going into labor. I was officially past when I gave birth to both Brooklyn and August (both right at 39 weeks). And I was really hoping that didn't mean I'd actually make it to my due date. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but I was just so ready to have this baby! 

A (minor) concern during this pregnancy has been that the baby would be born posterior, or sunny-side up, meaning I'd probably have back labor. Do-able for natural labor, but not preferable. I was pretty sure the baby's back was running down my left side, meaning we were in good position, but sometime on Wednesday, I suddenly felt like it was in a different position. I called my midwife in training, Holly, who happens to live super close to me and asked her if she could swing by and feel the baby's position. She dropped by on her way to work at the labor & delivery unit that evening. From what she could tell, the baby's position was still good. And she said it looked like it had gotten lower, but could I please not go into labor that night since she was working, but maybe tomorrow?? I made her no promises. :) 

Around 4am Wednesday morning, I woke up to go to the bathroom and thought I was feeling some achiness in my lower back. Given my worries about back labor, I got down on my hands and knees to do some pelvic tilts, hoping to make sure the baby wasn't moving back around. I felt fine otherwise, no real contractions, nothing to make me think anything was really brewing. I sort of had a feeling that maybe, just maybe, that back achiness was a sign of early labor, but I was definitely not getting my hopes up given the two previous nights of solid contractions that turned into nothing.

I crawled back in bed with August (my sleeping buddy lately) and went back to sleep. I awoke at 6:00 am to the sound of a pop. Puzzled, I lay there wondering what it was. I vaguely recalled reading the day before in my Bradley book that when your water breaks, it can sound like a balloon popping. Skeptical, I got up to go to the bathroom and immediately, a gush of fluid confirmed my suspicions. My water had broken! 

I told Kyle and then texted my midwives. Holly was just getting off work and Mary said to let her know when contractions began. I went back to bed to try to rest some more. Around 7:15, contractions began. Not too bad, but definitely not Braxton-Hicks. They were around 20 seconds long and 5 minutes apart. I called my mom and dad and said, today's the day! Kyle and I woke the kids up, packed them a backpack to spend the day at DD's and next thing I know, Mom had walked over to my house to get the kids, Holly was at the door to check on me and we were off and running.

When Holly checked me around 8, I was 70% effaced and dilated to 2. She went back home to get some sleep herself after her night shift and said Mary would be checking on me shortly, but that if things drastically changed, to call her immediately. Meanwhile, just do whatever I wanted! (Let me insert here how lovely it was to know that I didn't need to rush off to a hospital. I was in my comfort zone and it felt completely right).

So I ate an orange, started a load of laundry, took a shower, tidied up the house, Kyle and I put the plastic shower curtain liners on my bed and Brooklyn's bed and put old sets of sheets on each bed (I wasn't sure which bed I'd be more comfortable in when the moment of truth came) and I had Kyle vacuum the house for me.  As I was doing all this, the contractions were getting stronger and longer and a little closer together. About 2 minutes apart, 30 seconds long. 

Mary texted me around 9:30 and asked how I was doing. She said she'd cleared her schedule for the day and could come over whenever I was ready. I wasn't sure what to tell her...I was worried that if she came now, then she might have hours to wait while things progressed. This being my first home birth, I wasn't sure what usually worked.  Mary said, well, when your contractions are 60 seconds long and about 2-3 minutes apart, I need to be there. They were headed that direction, so I said, come on over! Holly actually got there before Mary, around 10. She walked up the stairs to find me slumped against the laundry closet riding out a contraction. I was no longer smiling and talking - we were getting down to business. 

At 10:15, Holly checked me again and I was still dilated to 2, but 100% effaced. She said for me to fully efface in that short of time was pretty quick, particularly since I still didn't feel I was working all that hard. In previous labors, I'd done most of the laboring lying on my left side in the Bradley "running man" position, but this time, I was waiting for contractions to get really hard before doing that - I wanted to use gravity as much as possible. So I sat on an exercise ball and draped my arms over a stack of pillows while Kyle sat behind me, digging his fist in the small of my back when a contraction hit. Intermittently, I was going back and forth to the bathroom as the baby moved down and my bladder was smushed! I would go in there and immediately be barraged by a series of really strong contractions. Around 10:30-10:45, I sensed Mary had arrived, but I was too focused on my contractions to even indicate that I noticed her. She was her usual, efficient self and just started setting things up, documenting how things were going. I'd say it was right about then that I hit transition. 

I stood in the doorway of the bathroom completely unsure what to do next, whether to sit on the ball, climb in bed...I was frozen.  In the back of my mind, I recognized this as a sign of transition, but was too focused on relaxing completely during contractions to think further. I do remember thinking, I really hope this doesn't go on all afternoon! 

Around 11:15 or so, Holly checked me and said I was dilated to 6-7. I was having really hard contractions and barely had time for her to check me before having to shift over to my left side to relax during the next one. They were checking the baby's heartbeat with the Dopplar and suddenly I sensed a feeling of concern in the air. Apparently, I was moving so fast that my uterus wasn't letting up and giving the baby's heart time to recover. It's heartrate was dipping pretty low. Mary said, Ashley, I need to check you again real quick and then we need to get you in a different position. This was about 2 minutes after Holly had just checked me and I was now 8-9 cm dilated. 

They had me get on my knees with my upper body draped over the exercise ball on my bed while they brought an oxygen tube up by my nose to let me breathe some good oxygen. After a few deep breaths, which were hard to do when trying to focus on relaxing during contractions and you feel a baby's head moving lower and lower....the baby's heartrate picked back up. 

I had one contraction in that position and then I suddenly had the overwhelming urge to push! Kyle was at the head of my bed with me, holding my hands, whispering encouragement to me. I could tell Holly and Mary were completely shocked that I was already ready to push, and I sensed rapid preparations being made to greet a baby! 

I had one pushing contraction and, per the Bradley method, took 2 deep breaths without pushing, then pushed hard on the next 2 breaths.  On the first push, the baby crowned...the second push, the head was almost out. I actually had about 30 seconds of rest between that push and my next contraction. I concentrated on breathing and thinking, we're almost there...we're almost there....

The next contraction, I pushed hard and then relaxed and out popped a head! The next breath I pushed and a lovely little body slithered out. I looked down to see a little body with boy parts! I was completely flabbergasted! This was a boy!!!! Not at all what I was thinking! 

And it was done. My son, Dorien Valor, was born exactly at 12:00, making my serious labor only an hour and 45 minutes long.  It was hard, but fast. Intense and challenging and incredibly rewarding. 

I got to hold Dorien's body against mine for awhile, still connected to each other by the umbilical cord. When it finished pulsing, they cut the cord. Dorien latched on and started nursing and a little bit later, I pushed out the placenta. The rest of the afternoon passed in a blissful blur.  My midwives cleaned up, changed my sheets, brought me warm towels, drew me an herb bath, assessed my little baby, stitched me up, brought me a snack and all in all, made my whole experience absolutely perfection. 

By the time they left, Kyle and I sat alone in our house, holding our new baby, just resting and praising God for such a beautiful experience. It was the most beautiful way to have a baby. Perfection.

And now, I have been pleasantly surprised to find out the extent of the after-care provided by the midwives. They came back over to check on me and Dorien 24 hours later, will come back tomorrow, in a few more days and within a week. I am in really good hands. I cannot tell you how incredible this whole experience has been. It has been such a blessing to both me and Kyle. He's as sold on home birth as I am! 

Sigh. So, now I apologize for taking so long to tell you all about my home birth experience. And I say good night, because I hear my little man calling my name upstairs. Time to nurse! 

Good night, all...

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  1. Sweetie, thank you for sharing that wonderful experience! I'm so proud of you and delighted for you!! Much love!

  2. Congrats on Dorien!! What a beautiful name!

  3. Love the name. He's a big guy, and all three of your children look alike to me-so beautiful! And you, mommy, are my hero! What a woman, what a strong, brave and wonderful woman! I hope you are getting some rest, and if you aren't, so what-I know you know it is all worth it, every single wonderful moment! Can't wait to hold all three of your dolls! Send our congratulations to Kyle too!