Thursday, April 9, 2009

The WHOLE homebirth story

Don't say I didn't warn you. It's LONG. It's DETAILED. Skip it if you don't want any of that stuff. There are NO nude pictures of any kind. (I know, bummer, right?)

So, here it goes:
The WHOLE story:

I really didn’t want to be pregnant anymore. This particular pregnancy had been difficult and felt very long. Between a miscarriage, then immediately getting pregnant again, moving to a foreign state, etc, it had just been a long pregnancy. So, knowing that both my boys came a day before their due date, I prayed I wouldn’t be 42 weeks when baby #3 decided to show himself.

I always have contractions off and on all day every day starting around 35 weeks, and this pregnancy was no different. No clue why my body gears up so early, but it does, and never results in early preterm babies or anything. The only trouble is it makes knowing when I’m ACTUALLY in labor very difficult. So, the weekend of General Conference (first weekend of April), I decided I was done with being pregnant and prayed that I’d have our new baby soon. I asked all who would listen to hope for the same. I was due on Wednesday, April 8th, and did NOT want to see that day still pregnant. Both Henry and Spencer were born one day before their due dates. I wanted that trend to continue.

And then, Friday night, STRONGER contractions with a peak of pain at the end. I waited and they didn’t stop! YAY! Maybe labor!
Then, 10:00pm on the dot, Henry had an allergy attack that caused him to wheeze, gag, throw up and basically, not be able to breathe. Upon the attack, the contractions stopped. The same thing had happened to Spencer a few nights before, so I wasn’t terribly surprised when Henry started up. I was super bummed though. I told the baby, “Sorry dude, not tonight, I’m too tired!”

Saturday night, the exact same thing happened. I got up to attend Henry and immediately, the contractions melted away and I got to tell our little unborn to wait a bit longer still. Derek and I stayed up until the wee small hours trying to solve the problem that is severe hay fever, researching on the internet how to relieve symptoms.

Sunday, we watched Conference, and then took our ox in the mire to the store where we bought Hepa filtered air purifiers and new a/c filters. I needed my kids to breathe!

Within a couple of hours of setting up our new air cleaners, contractions resumed. I told Derek the baby would be coming that night, hopefully. He very obediently set up the birth tub we had rented. (Sidenote: What the books says will take 10 minutes took over an hour WITH my assistance. Good thing we didn’t wait until active labor…)

Derek setting up the tub at 9pm on Sunday night.
From April 2009

The finished tub, sans water.
From April 2009

I called my sister Kelsey, who is three hours away, and had agreed to come tend my kiddos should I need her. I told her I thought I was in labor and to assume I’d be calling her at 3am.

The contractions were nothing serious, so we went to bed, and I was disappointed. I was feeling yucky, but not necessarily “labory” anymore. And I was SO sure I’d have a baby before the week started. And yet, here I was going off to sleep.

Until! 1:00 am (Monday, April 6th): I woke up hearing the kids coughing. Uh-oh. I sent Derek to check, and they were both fine. Derek supplied water for them, and all was quiet. Weirdly, I was having good, strong, but not painful at all, contractions, and shaking uncontrollably. It was bizarre. It was like I was suffering from hypotherma, but I wasn’t cold in the slightest. We turned on the TV for a bit and at 2:00, I called Kelsey. She and Brian (her husband) would be on their way. Derek started filled the tub. I was fine, and not needing water relief yet, so I figured it was in plenty of time.

We were having a baby!

At some point, I told Derek to turn off the dang TV, and he realized I was REALLY in labor.

2:20 am: I called Kim (the midwife) and told her “No rush, but I’m in labor.” I knew active labor had started because the contractions were super strong, but not really hurting. Kim knew better than to listen to me and said she was on her way. As soon as I hung up with her, contractions suddenly started to hurt. Harumph. I was offended. I hoped for a peaceful labor, with no pain. HA!

We ran out of hot water and the tub was only half full. Dang. I kinda wished we had a bigger hot water heater. I figured it would be hours of labor still, so I just told Derek not to stress and labored away, working hard during and just sitting on my ball in between.

3:00 am, Kim arrived. It was a relief to have her there. It meant we were DOING THIS! And it started to hurt, A LOT more than it even was before. I could not find a comfortable stance for contractions. Standing killed, sitting was intolerable and laying down was OUT of the question. I settled on sitting on the yoga ball in between and then leaning over the bed and rocking back and forth during. And it was unbelievable how strong the contractions were. I do not remember them ever being so painful with either kid. I was really unhappy. I just couldn’t seem to figure out why I was struggling so bad.

3:30 am, Hot water had returned! I continued to think I was going to die. Not cool! I kept thinking, “This is SO weird! Why is it hurting so much?” Again, after two other children and relatively fast labors, I couldn’t figure out why this was seemingly like such torture.

Then I threw up. Yuck. May I state that throwing up DURING hugely painful contractions is most unpleasant?

4:00 am, Tub was full! It was a bit hot, so I waited while Derek put some cold in. Finally, perfection! The water was bliss. It most certainly did not take the pain away completely, but the relaxation I was able to feel in between made me more able to prepare for the new contractions. My only complaint was that my arms and legs were starting to get tingly, which they have done EVERY time I have a baby and I hate it.

4:30 am, (I think that’s what time it was) I was completely not handling contractions well. The pain and intensity seemed beyond me, I absolutely could not maintain a focus or control beyond just coping and moaning my little heart out. What the heck?

It must be stated now, that I have never experienced a true feeling of “loss of control” during either of my other labors. It was simply that I handled the pain of contractions fine, until upon a cervical check, I was declared 10cm and told to push. I never felt an urge or uncontrollable need to push, I simply did as I was told. I didn’t know any different, so when I did push, it was horrific torture and the most painful part of both labors. I disliked that. So, with this baby, I told Kim early on in pregnancy, I was NOT pushing this baby out until I had to. I wanted to work with my body and allow the baby to come when he was ready. She was happy to agree.

Turns out, that is what was happening. The horrific pain I was feeling was cured by allowing the baby to COME OUT! Pushing was painful, but it was nothing compared to the pain I felt if I held back. I remember thinking, “OH! That’s what it feels like to HAVE to push.” Amazing. Oh, it hurt, but the pain was useful, not torture. I tried holding back a couple of times, for comparison’s sake, and not pushing was terrible. I did declare that I was afraid and didn’t want to push, but both Derek and Kim banished those thoughts immediately. The only way out was through.

So, I pushed, and yelled. :) Yelling helped. Amazingly, my children never woke up. I imagine the neighbors were awakened though. Oops. I huffed and puffed and was able to know what I needed to do. It was interesting because as badly as I wanted it to be OVER, I absolutely could not force myself to just blast the dang kid out! I had to go slow. And that stunk. The only really awful part of pushing was waiting between contractions when the pressure was still unbearable, but my body simply waited. When the baby’s head was out, I knew I had to wait. At that point I really wanted to just force him out. But I didn’t! (Go me! With the other two, it was always at that point where I said, “Screw it if I tear” and then pushed WAY too hard to be done. And I tore both times.) I believe I informed Kim and Derek that this was the “ring of fire” and that it hurt REALLY bad. I desperately didn’t want to tear, so I knew I had to wait, even though allowing the stretching was less than comfortable.

5:15 am One more contraction and a force from myself, and the baby was free. Hurray! The relief that comes from one moment being pregnant to suddenly not anymore is perfectly indescribable. Being two humans in one, to suddenly two separate people is, well, truly a miracle. And the pain stops, which makes it all worth it.

The baby was born in the caul, which means my water never broke. He came out under the water, in the tub, in a fully intact amniotic sac. It’s pretty rare for that to happen in this day and age, when people have their water broken artificially by the doctor at some point in labor to “speed things up.” With my other kids, my water broke when I started pushing. Actually, I assumed at some point my water HAD broken, and I had just missed it. When Kim saw him emerging she told me he was still in the bag of waters, and I was quite surprised.

So, I reached down and grabbed, a very slippery balloon, which broke as soon my hand gripped it, and pulled up a baby! A real baby! And complete relief on my part. Phew!

An asleep baby. Babies are usually active, and awake participants in the birthing process. However, at some point in all this, my baby got tired and decided to take a nap and didn’t wake up before he was born.

Kim checked him and rubbed him and declared him healthy and fine, with good tone and color. But, he simply would not let out a single cry. Snore, yes, cry, no. It was hilarious. I kept asking if he was all right, and Kim kept saying he was, just asleep. About 20 minutes later, he woke up and was probably completely shocked! One minute he was napping and the next moment, he was in alien world. Poor baby.

This is potentially a "gross" picture as stated by my little sister, but too bad. It's seconds after Oliver was born, and he's napping.
From April 2009

Placenta came soon thereafter, and Derek cut the cord. I showered and we all just snuggled in while Kim did paperwork. I didn’t tear but Kim said there was a “Paper cut” that didn’t require stitching. What an improvement over the last two with stitches.

Stats: Oliver Willis
8lbs 12 oz
19 inches
Born at 5:15 am

Cool homebirth scale for weighing our new guy. (Kim, our awesome MW is in the background.)
From April 2009

My sister and her husband arrived to be with the kids just about 15 minutes after the baby was born. And the kids woke up to meet their new brother about 6:30. I brought the baby out to the living room about 8:00 and my poor sleepy husband took a nap. I sat around with Oliver all morning while Aunt Kelsey ran around entertaining kids and cleaning. What a nice sister.

So, really, “labor” lasted for days and days, but real, true, active, painful labor was only about 3 hours. My body is paying for the quickness now, with a lot of soreness and pretty crazy after-pains which feel like I’m still in labor. Oliver is nursing pretty well when he can be troubled to wake up. He’s a good sleeper, which probably won’t last. Henry loves him and Spencer is mostly indifferent, but does seem to like him all right.

On homebirth:
I’m very very glad to have been able to have him at home, in the water. Both of my previous labors/deliveries were wonderful, good experiences, but each had draw backs, such as having to drive an hour in active labor, or no water birth option, or having lots of cervical checks, and doing it at home was just so… different. I never had a single cervical check. (who needs ‘em? J ) I pushed when I felt like pushing. I did it my way. Derek was wonderful support, and the privacy that was just the three of us was really peaceful, my noise included. The only drawback to a fast labor (I use “fast” as a comparative word, I know people who’ve birthed babies much faster than I did) is that I had trouble deal with the mounting intensity. I wasn’t ready to escalate as quickly as I did. Since I hadn’t ever had that happen before, I was afraid it would remain at that crazy pace for 20 hours or something horrible. It didn’t. Thankfully.

Much of what bothers me about hospital births is simply that things are the way they are due to procedure; procedures that are unnecessary at the worst, and could be done differently at best. Babies are poked and prodded immediately upon birth just because that’s HOW it’s DONE! C-Sections happen far too often due to “procedure.” And those procedures exist because of malpractice liability. I simply have no interest in that. I don’t like being away from home (I’ve always been a homebody, ask my mom…) and I don’t like being away from my kids. At my house, I could wear my clothes (not done too much in hospitals), eat what I wanted, not have people poking me or prodding me. (Kim monitored the baby’s heart rate efficiently and without bugging me.) My house, my way.

Studies show that for those who are low-risk (good blood pressure, no diseases, etc) and have proper, trained attendants (midwives who carry proper equipment such as O2 and resuscitation equipment) homebirth is a perfectly safe and plausible option. Oliver and I are proof of that. I’m not crazy or a glutton for punishment. I just knew that for me and my family, home was our best, safest option. I’ve never had any desire for an epidural or any other interventions in pregnancy so, going to hospital seemed a bit unnecessary. J If ever, for any length of time, there had been a question as to the health of either of us, we would have transferred to the hospital with ZERO second-guessing.

I get a lot of “but it’s so messy!” comments. Truthfully, yeah, it was. Most of the mess was contained in the tub. But, I didn’t clean any of it up. I nursed my little dude, and Kim did the laundry. My bathroom and bedroom were cleaner after than when we started. The guy to ask about the mess is Derek, actually. He had to clean up the tub, but he swears it was not bad and no big deal. By the time we went to bed that night, you’d never know we’d birthed a baby in my room. The tub got picked up the next morning, and all was well.

Assuming we always have low-risk pregnancies, I don’t see ever having a baby anywhere but at home again. It’s just nice.

Thanks for reading. Sorry it's so long.


carly said...

Oh Morgan I'm so glad you posted your story. You're amazing. I love this quote, "The relief that comes from one moment being pregnant to suddenly not anymore is perfectly indescribable." I totally agree.

And I happen to think that picture is BEAUTIFUL. Not gross in the slightest. And I still think it's hilarious that he was asleep! My goodness!

You go girl.

Erin said...

He must be related to kelsey...are you sure he's not narcaleptic?(love you kirby!) And, I agree, the picture is not gross; what's gross about a baby? Anywho-thanks for sharing the story. :-)

Kathleen said...

what an amazing story! I am glad you got to have your baby at home.

manhattandoula said...

Morgan, thanks so much for sharing that! I'm so glad you got to have a homebirth -- sounds wonderful. Beautiful story.

Harvest Moon Homestead said...

Morgan, that is such an amazing birthing story! I am so glad you posted it with pictures! I love to watch the families I know personally grow and I hope I can learn from their experiences. I love the picture of you and the baby. It is beautiful. I hope one day I can have my next child at home in the water. Congrats!

Roxi and Ephraim's Family said...

I just want to say, "Way to go Morgan!" Having babies is absolutely hard work whether it is at home or in the hospital...there is no getting out of God's plan! Believe me, I have tried and tried to make things easier, but all four of my kids were just plain hard work. I am glad everything went well. I was getting a little nervous when I read about throwing up and shaking and tearing, but it looks like things worked out. Congratulations again!!! Olive looks beautiful and I liked seeing pictures of you guys together! Really nice.

Alisa and Jared said...

WOHOOO!!! You know I SOOOO agree with your style!! A friend of mine has this quote on her blog, and I LOVE it: "We have a secret in our culture, and it's not that birth is painful. It's that WOMEN ARE STRONG." (Laura Stavoe Harm)

You are STRONG, girlfriend, and home birth is an AMAZING opportunity! I'm so glad you were able to do it!! WOHOOO!!! Congrats on the little cutie! It is so much easier to recover without a big tear!

Manda said...

That was an awesome story! And I just have to say, you changed my opinion on home birth. I used to think that was something only crazy people did :) I'm glad it was such a great experience, and what a cute baby! I still can't believe he was asleep. Congrats again! I hope you are getting some rest.

Alice said...

Seriously this was so interesting. And btw, it wasn't even gross at all, if you ask me. It did however make me very nervous to ever have children, but I am nervous anyway. I liked it! You go girl and I am so excited to see you guys this next week. Derek, you the man....way to be such a good husband and help clean up! :)

Nay said...

You're amazing! Do you think that this labor was so hard because your waters weren't broke? When I had my second I almost had her in the bag, but the dr. broke it right before I delievered. And that was by far my worst labor. My third I had my waters broken right away and it wasn't as terrible. I've never taken pain meds even if I get a lecture from the drs and nurses. So I see your benefits to a home delievery. Thanks for sharing!!!

Morgan and Derek said...

Thanks ya'll. :)

Denay- I don't know... honestly. It was just so different. With the other two, my water broke at the VERY end, so who's to say. Maybe it's just third babies. :)

The Watts said...

Congrats Morgan, that's an awesome story. He makes a super cute addition to your family.

BloggingBills said...

Boo Boo:
Since you weren't born in a hospital, but in the doc's clinic over an hour from a hospital I'm not surprised by your home choice.

Also, you came in less than 2 hours of active labor, more like one big ouch for one hour! I woke up in active labor with you at 4 am and you were born around 5 am. And you're right, going from 0 to 60 real quick is a pain, but it's over so fast!

I'm proud of you and can't wait to see you all in a couple of days.

By the way, Bill Cosby told his wife, after the birth of one of their kids, "Congratulation, you've birthed a lizard."
Ollie is much cuter than that!


Anna said...

Congratulations Morgan!!! He is cute, and I think he resembles your older two boys!!! What a cutie!!! I just have to say I'm very glad the tub didn't leak. :) Can't wait to see more pictures.

Tuttle Family said...

Thanks for sharing your story Morgan. I wish you were closer, I need a doula like you for my next one (no I'm not making an announcement yet) - :). Happy Easter.

Melissa said...

Morgan, Everything's already said but I also wanted to congratulate you on your home birth. You are an amazing woman and mother. I wish options such as this were more readily available here in Manhattan. I would love to have a home birth with my next one (crossing fingers that will happen at some point- we're trying). I'm sooo happy that you decided to share the entire story. I also love the picture. You'll cherish it forever. Not that I need to tell you that!

Sam said...

Hi Morgan! What a wonderful birth story! I love reading the stories where the mothers admit their frustrations and challenges! Wonderful!!

I am working towards becoming a midwife, and as part of my workstudy I am collecting birth stories for

Would it be alright if I added your story to our site? I would include a link to bring readers to your blog, of course.

Thank you for considering!

Morgan -Ing said...

Sam- sure. Just email me details at :)


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