I was so happy to be having a homebirth. It was what I’d always wanted, but living in rural America, and in poverty at that, paying for – or even finding – an independant midwife that would travel more than an hour was completely out of the question. I was only 16 but I’d decided I wanted a natural birth, I exercised and ate as healthy as I could afford to. I wasn’t all that knowledgeable, even though I’d done my best to research – I research everything. So when my doctor was going on holidays at 39 weeks, having already started dilating and effacing a few weeks earlier, I agreed to have my waters broken as I thought it was still “natural.” You all know where this is headed. 5 hours later I was railing against pitocin-induced contractions – I didn’t even know I’d been given pitocin – and my sister and aunt persuaded me to take a narcotic called demerol – I think it’s called pethidine here. He was born less than two hours later – all 6.1 lbs of him. The doctor cut me unnecesarily to “prevent tearing.” It was a less than ideal way to give birth, and I was numb with shock for weeks, unable to bond with my new baby.
It was a hard lesson but one I’ve never forgotten. I now have a healthy mistrust for doctors and question any recommendations until I’m satisfied. The experience also led me to travel over an hour to a hospital with a midwife domino scheme for the birth of my second son 16 months later. It was nearly perfect, my favourite midwife attended. At 7cm dilated my midwife told me that I was not in enough pain and that she wanted to break my waters. I was concerned that her shift would end before he came and so agreed – again thinking that it was a natural intervention. I spent the rest of my labour in the shower as he was occiput posterior (both of them were) and an hour later I was pushing out a beautiful 7.3 lb little boy.
Fast forward seven and a half years later, and I’m living in Ireland with my two boys and husband of three and a half years. When I learned of the homebirth scheme I almost cried with joy, and when I saw there was a midwife living not five minutes from me, I was overcome. I felt, and still do, immensely blessed and greatful to this country. Then, I met my midwife, Anne Govan, whom, from what I can gather, is something of a legend. She was even more perfect than I could have imagined. After 42 years of delivering babies, her view had become a very natural one, and we were so in tune every step of the way.
My pregnancy was a breeze, I felt amazing the whole way thru, walked for miles everyday, and only ate foods that are laid out in the book “Primal Mom’s Look Good Naked” by Peggy Emch. Her book wasn’t out when I was pregnant, but I won a copy of it and when I read it, it was essentially the lifestyle I was already following. I’ve always been very health conscious and believe that my lifestyle played a huge role in the ease of both my pregnancy and labour.
So now, The Big Day! They say lovemaking can bring on labor. It’s never a bad idea in my book anyways, but I’m definitely giving it the credit on this one. My contractions started at 12 am, and I knew the minute they started that they were not the incessant Braxton Hicks I’d been having since 18 weeks. They were in my back! I knew. Still, I tried to ignore them and go to sleep. It was early labour, and the baby probably wouldn’t come until sometime in the afternoon or late evening. Sleep was a no go though as I would have a contraction just as I’d gotten myself to calm down and stop thinking about what was coming to try and get some sleep. So I got up at around half one. What to do? I’d been too tired to clean the kitchen after dinner, but that would wake everyone up. In the end I sat on my exercise ball and got online. Luck! My Mom was awake and on facebook. We chatted for about an hour with my contractions being a bit sporadic, going from 10 minutes down to 3 and climbing back up like a ladder. I didn’t know what was going on and started to think it was false labour. At half two I told my Mom I was going for a walk. She knows me well. She told me not to go too far just in case. I told her I’d just walk around the estate… and that was my intention, it was. However, when I got to the end, it seemed silly to just go in circles, so I continued on. My contractions were 7 minutes apart anyways. I had my phone and plenty of time. One mile down the road my contractions picked up in intensity and started coming every 3 minutes. “Oh shit.” I thought and hussled/waddled it back home. Back in the estate they went back to 4 mintues, so I walked around the estate a few times, as it didn’t seem quite so silly anymore. Back inside I started to think that this baby might come in the morning afterall, so I threw caution to the wind and did the dishes as I was NOT going to give birth to my baby while my kitchen was a mess. At one point, I was swaying my hips through a contraction rinsing dishes and I realized that my contractions were coming so close, and I was just hopping around trying to ignore them to get my kitchen clean. I laughed at myself, but still…. My kitchen was nice and clean when I woke my husband up at half four. The minute I woke him up, they slowed down to ten minutes, and then went back to seven.
At five I called Anne. She had told me to call her as soon as I thought I was in labour as she thought I would go fast. I don’t think she meant for me to call her as soon as I thought I was in active labour, but I hadn’t wanted to bother the poor woman in the middle of the night. By the time she arrived at quarter to six, my contractions had changed in speed and intensity. I managed them well with walking and a hot water bottle on my back. I still thought we’d be able to see the boys off to school (I must be nuts) but when Anne checked me at six, I was a seven, waters bulging. “Oh!” I said. Kevin’s parents were summoned to see the boys off to school, and at half six they were hussled out wrapped in there duvets. Later I learned that they never asked what was going on, only remarked that “This is fun!” as they drove away from the house.
My waters broke around this time and I could feel the baby slowly descending. Anne was wonderful during this stage as she reminded me to relax every muscle in my body, to allow the contraction, to let it happen. She wouldn’t even let me curl my toes! Towards the end, I sat on the couch and nodded off between contractions as they had slowed way down again. I remember one waking me up, and looking around at Anne, her helper and my husband thinking “This is SO intense, and there is no escape. No one else can do this, I have to let it happen to me, but oh light is it intense.” It was at the last thought I tried curling my toes, some small part of me trying to resist what was happening. Then I felt the head just at the opening, so I got down on my knees, knowing this was it. Another contraction came and I was a little annoyed that I hadn’t felt the urge to bear down, so just as it was ending I gave a litte practice push to see if I was ready. It felt good! I was ready. When the next contraction started, I pushed. I pushed with all my might. The head was coming down, down, down. Anne said that it would start to go back up and that was okay, that was normal. So I stopped pushing, but then, after a few seconds I realized I could still go, so I kept pushing. Anne was shocked that the head just kept coming. Ring of fire. Stop! Blow it out, so you don’t tear. I blew for a few seconds and then I pushed, thinking “I am not letting that baby go back up, I am NOT doing all of this again!” And I didn’t. Total pushing time was one minute, and at 8:07 am my third son, Imriel Emerson was born weighing 7.5 lbs