On December 18, 2015, 4:04 A.M. my beautiful baby girl was born, in my bedroom, in a tub of water! My life as I knew it had forever changed. I will always remember this day and cherish the birth of my daughter. I write this with a humble confidence, to empower other women with their birthing experience. My hope is that these words will reach you in your time of need. I hope that it can motivate and inspire you, and give you encouragement in your birthing decisions.
The home water birth of Charlie Ann Carey.
PREPARING FOR BIRTH
The moment I found out I was pregnant, I read every pregnancy book that I could get my hands on. I researched as much as possible and I tried to take care of my body and growing baby the best that I knew how.
I am a Registered Nurse and fortunately, I was able to completely stop working a couple months before my due date. At about that time, my husband’s job needed to transfer him halfway across the States. So that meant a major move for us during my third trimester! This was not very fun, to say the least.
Needless to say, the 20 plus hour car ride to my new home was pretty miserable at seven and a half months pregnant.
The first half of my pregnancy I had been seeing an OBGYN and planned on having my birth at the hospital in which I worked. After the move, my husband and I ultimately decided to go with a private midwife and have a homebirth.
This decision was not made lightly, and if you’d like to know more, check out my post 10 Reasons To Birth At Home.
We also attended birthing classes with Danielle Bergum at Esali Birth, which really helped us to become a lot more comfortable with the thought of me laboring and birthing at home.
We learned what a ‘real birth’ could look like, and began to understand the differences between that and the all-to-familiar ‘medicalized’ one that I had witnessed a few times in the hospital.
SETTING THE SCENE
I woke up on a cold Thursday morning in mid-December, feeling rested and ready for the day. My husband began to get ready for an overnight business trip that he had to take. He was leaving that morning.
I was nervous and didn’t want him to go! He was only going to be two hours away and I hadn’t had any major signs of starting labor, so we decided that it would be okay for him to leave.
I had learned that it was actually very common for first-time pregnancies to exceed the due date. Mine wasn’t for three more days, so I reassured myself that everything would be just fine. If he needed to come back, he could.
After he left, I took a long bath and slowly got ready for the day. Trying to calm my mind and stay at peace with the situation.
I went to my final birthing class that afternoon and learned a lot of helpful information about breastfeeding and the postpartum period. When I got back to my house in the late afternoon I felt tired so I lied down on the couch and mindlessly watched TV.
As I lay there, I began to feel a very mild cramping sensation that felt as if I were starting my period. These cramps would come and go and I actually started to ignore them. I figured it was just my uterus reacting to the vigorous movements of the baby. She had been moving a lot lately!
I had felt these types of cramps on and off for the past week, so I didn’t think much of them.
Before long I couldn’t help but notice that the cramping became rhythmic and more frequent. Are these what contractions are supposed to feel like?
Out of general curiosity, I began to time each one – The length from the start of one sensation to the start of the next was about 5 minutes. Uh oh!
I called my midwife and described my situation. She lived two hours away so I wanted to give her plenty of heads up if this was really happening. She reassured me and said that she would be there when I wanted her to be.
My husband had literally just arrived at his hotel room when I called him. “Uh, honey. I think I’m in labor, and you should probably come home now.”
We both just kind of laughed and agreed that he probably should.
When I could no longer focus on the TV show that I had been previously enjoying, I began to realize that the cramping sensations I was having were in fact, contractions.
I turned the TV off and began to pace back and forth in the kitchen, attempting to stay as calm as possible. I really didn’t like the fact that I was laboring for the first time in my life, all alone in my house!
Well, I did have my two dogs by my side, which gave me a bit of comfort. Not like they could help me if the baby actually did try and sneak out early!
Although my mind was still in a bit of denial, my body continued to labor, and labor.
I called my mother and each one of my sisters on the phone, letting them know my current situation. I would have to pause our conversations, as a contraction would hit, so that I could breathe through it.
Suddenly, I became aware of the fact that I had not eaten much that evening, so I decided to make myself a small snack to keep my energy up. I didn’t know how long this would last so I wanted to eat while I still could.
I, however, did not have much of an appetite and was only able to eat a few bites. I just really was not in the mood to eat and I didn’t really feel hungry.
At about 9 pm, my contractions continued to become stronger with less and less break in between. At this point, they were about three minutes apart and lasting almost one minute long. Some were stronger than others, and some lasted longer than others.
They were not perfectly rhythmic like I had imagined them to be.
It was about this time that I called my midwife again. I told her that I felt like I was definitely progressing and that she should start heading my way.
About two more hours went by, and my husband finally arrived home. I could not tell you the relief I felt in that moment. My midwife and her apprentice arrived shortly after.
We were all in my bedroom by this point. This is the place I felt most comfortable. The birthing tub was already set up next to the foot of the bed and my husband began to fill it with warm water.
All of the birth supplies had been laid out on the window seat for three weeks now, waiting to be used.
I continued to pace around and as each contraction swept over me I would let my body do what it needed to in that moment. I could not describe the sensation to you any other way than a very intense period cramps.
I would try various positions to see which ones brought the most relief to my laboring body. I found that getting on my knees, on the bed, while leaning over a yoga ball was very relaxing and calming for me, so I did that through a most of my contractions in the beginning.
I remember I tried lying down on the bed, on my side with my husband curled up behind me, supporting me. After just one contraction in this position, I realized I was extremely uncomfortable and moved quickly to another.
My contractions became more and more intense as the labor went on. I did not pay attention to the time or the length of them. I was “in the zone” so to speak, and concentrated on my body and my baby.
I started to make deep moaning sounds through each contraction. Making noise felt good to me, so I just went with it. Each time I felt a contraction coming on I closed my eyes, took a deep breath, and relaxed my body as best I could.
Resting on either a yoga ball, my dresser, or my husband, I continued to remind myself that I could do this! I was born to do this!
I would sway my hips back and forth and pictured my body slowly opening up and my baby dropping down, with each contraction.
WATER, OH SWEET WATER!
It took a while but eventually, the tub was full and I was ready to get in. My husband helped me over the edge of the tub as I slowly put one leg in and then the other.
The moment I submerged my bottom and belly, I instantly felt better. As the water washed over me I remember feeling amazed that it almost completely took the pain away.
I moved to the side of the tub and got on my knees. I rested my elbows on the edge and grasped my husband’s hands tightly. My contractions began to get stronger and I felt that I was not getting much of break in between each one.
My husband appeared to be very cool, calm and collected throughout all of it. His demeanor helped me to stay calm. He continually offered me sips of ice water between contractions and remained very supportive the entire labor.
I had to pee, what felt like every 15 minutes! It was so annoying to me to have to get in and out of the tub so often.
My midwife suggested that I just go in the birthing tub!
But I just couldn’t stomach that idea (Even though urine would not hurt the baby). So, back and forth I went, from the tub to the toilet.
Sitting on the toilet was the worst and most uncomfortable position for me. I had a lot of pressure near my bottom at this time so I basically had to squat while trying to relax and pee (easier said than done!)
My contractions started to grow even more intense as the hours passed. The internal struggle to remain calm was definitely increasing but I maintained my composer and continued to remind myself to just let go.
Let go mentally, physically, emotionally of everything and just let my body do the work. I focused on my breath and pictured each contraction washing over me like a wave in the ocean.
AND THE PUSHING BEGINS…
I was starting to get a little anxious and my body began instinctively and automatically bearing down. I began to make grunting noises with each push and I could feel the baby drop down.
I remained in a hand-and-knees position in the birthing tub and reached my hands up to my husbands each time I would feel a contraction starting.
It felt good to be vocal. With each contraction and push, I let out loud, deep groans and it helped me tremendously. I had no concern, whatsoever, about how I sounded. I just did what felt good.
Then, I reached down in between my legs and I felt my babies little head peaking through! This got me excited, but I was also nervous about the proverbial “ring of fire” that was to follow.
I took one long, slow push with my next contraction and I could feel her head slowly sliding down. It took everything within me to slow this transition as much as I possibly could, to help prevent tearing.
Finally, her head popped out! I sighed with relief. No tears.
After just a couple more pushes I felt all of the tension finally give, and my little baby girl was born.
THE MIRACLE OF LIFE
Instinctively, I reached down, gently grabbed my baby, and immediately pulled her up out of the water and brought her to my chest.
She made a few cooing noises as she began to take her first breath in this new world outside of the womb.
WOW! She was beautiful and we had done it!
I remember looking up at my husband and seeing tears roll down his cheeks as he held the two of us over the side of the tub and longingly looked at his new baby girl.
We shared a kiss and I began to cry. All I felt was pure joy and relief. I don’t think I have ever been so content and happy in one single moment.
A true miracle had just taken place and we were elated.
I know some women may hate me for saying this, but I’m going to say it anyways. – Labor was really not all that painful, honestly.
I remember, literally waiting for it to get worse, and it never did!
When I really think about it, the moment I started to feel like panicking was basically right when my daughter was born, and then it was over.
I never experienced anything that I could not handle in the moment. I truly believe that God will never give us anything that we cannot handle.
It was WORK! Don’t get me wrong. But it was not this horribly painful, wanting-to-die type of experience that is depicted in the movies.
It was extremely beautiful and honestly, life-changing. I have never felt more empowered and that is why I chose to share my story with you.
I’d love to hear from you! Tell me your stories in the comments below. How do you feel about home births? Have you had a home birth or considered one?