MY UNPLANNED UNASSISTED HOME BIRTH STORY
If you would have told my ‘pre-Mommy’ self that one day I’d have an unassisted home birth, I would have laughed in your face. Third baby, meaning there were already two? Natural, meaning no drugs? At home with just my husband, meaning no OBs to keep me ‘safe?’ Nope, nope and nope.
And then it happened. On accident. And it was the most EMPOWERING experience of my life.
The last few weeks of my pregnancy were challenging, physically and mentally.
Physical - I was in more pain than I’ve ever experienced in a pregnancy. My baby was pressing on nerves, causing shooting pains down my legs and butt.
Mental - There is a unique mindf*$k that C-section moms experience as subsequent births approach. The anxious feelings are real. Repeat Cesarean or a ‘successful’ VBAC. Uterine rupture. Estimated due date. Baby’s estimated size. Advanced maternal age (for me, anyway). Pressure to induce. The waiting game. And more… so much more.
At my 41 week appointment, I met with an OB in the group of (mostly) midwife providers. Upon entering the room, she said, “Hi Nichole I’m Dr. X. I understand that you’re 41 weeks today. Given that you’re over 35 years of age and now 41 weeks, I recommend that you go ahead and begin an induction.”
I politely turned her down. I also asked not to have my cervix checked. And not to know the estimated size of my baby. I only wanted an ultrasound to confirm that my baby had a healthy amount of fluid and was doing well. She was doing great.
The doctor seemed a little confused by my decision to remain pregnant, as I walked folded in half out of her office (due to the pain in my legs).
I left her office around 11:30a.m., went home for lunch and my water broke at 12:30p.m.
I notified my doula and got ready for labor. Similar to my prior two labors, contractions began within about 30 minutes.
I went to the bathroom (potty #1 - good sign!) and at 1pm, my contractions began with enough intensity and consistency (2-3 minutes apart) to begin timing.
My plan was to have my husband support me (I’m a doula and I’d guide him through it) until my doula arrived. Then we would decide when to head to the hospital.
I began working through my contractions on a birth ball, leaning over a stack of pillows on the side of my bed. My printed birth affirmations were spread out on the bed in front of me and Hypnobabies tracks were playing in the background. I asked my husband to try several of my different ‘doula bag’ massage tools with a few contractions. In that moment, I didn’t find massage comforting. Breathing techniques and his presence were working and I labored in this position until I had to go to the bathroom again.
Back on the toilet (potty #2 - WHOAH!), I felt the intensity of my contractions pick up. It was around this time that my husband began suggesting that we start making our way to the hospital. No thanks, I’ll wait for my doula to arrive. The last thing that I really wanted to do was manage contractions alone in the back of the car on the way to the hospital.
I ran a bath, hoping that the water would be relaxing and buy me some time until the doula arrived. Unlike my second labor, this time the water intensified contractions. I only lasted in the tub for a few contractions. My husband was now holding a pair of my pants, asking me to please get dressed. I’m not getting dressed until she’s here and we’re leaving (as I pushed the pants away)! I was so deep in labor land that I couldn’t even consider the idea of putting clothes on.
Back on the toilet (potty #3 - HOLY LABOR!), my husband stepped away frequently to make phone calls (to the midwife and doula) and had our nanny bring me a pair of pants in another attempt to dress me. I’m not getting dressed!
As I sat on the toilet, I felt gravity pull my baby further down into my pelvis. My contractions intensified, again. I felt a rush of new, different, hormones. My voice changed. I felt hot. Transition. I knew it. I put my hand down there and felt her head. Shit, my husband is going to freak! I grabbed his arm and pulled him down to my level. Sit down, stay with me, hold my hand and talk to me!
He saw her head beginning to crown and stayed surprisingly calm. I knew she was coming and that we wouldn’t make it to the hospital. Help me get on the floor. I wanted to birth in a side lying position, so my husband helped me move to my bedroom floor. I laid on the yoga mat, where I did pelvic tilts earlier that morning. Grab some pillows and prop me up. Hold my leg up. No, too high. No, too low. Grab my peanut ball. Okay that works.
For a moment, uterine rupture crossed my mind. What if my uterus ruptures? How would we know? She’s coming, there’s no point in worrying about that now. I went deep inside and held faith. I felt safe.
Then, I felt an uncontrollable urge to push. I kept my mouth open. I moaned. I roared. My legs were shaking. God help me.
She was crowning. Within a few pushes, I birthed her head. FUCK, this hurts!
I was afraid of the pain from pushing her body out, but I knew that… 1) it had to be done, and 2) it would be over soon.
Shortly after, I felt a calm presence behind me and hand on my shoulder. My doula is here. I felt supported, relaxed.
I looked up and a crew of EMTs rushed into my bedroom. My husband must have called 911. “Ma’am, we’re going to need you to push her out with the next contraction,” they told me. My husband and doula agreed with the EMT. “Nichole, breathe like you’re blowing out candles,” she said.
With the next contraction, my body took over and did all the work. God help me! I cried. I yelled. I cursed, a lot. I felt like a lioness. I felt like a Goddess.
One of the EMTs wanted to be helpful and put his hands down there to ‘help’ her come out. Get your hands out of my vagina! Yep, I yelled that. “Okay, okay ma’am,” he said. I knew that my baby and I had made it this far on our own, and we were going to finish this on our terms. Also, he really didn’t need to put his hands in there to ‘help.’
My doula held one of my tan striped bath towels against my perineum for counter pressure. The ‘butt hug,’ as I’ve since called it. The butt hug felt amazing and supportive.
And with the next push, her body came out. I felt a rush of hormones. So this is what a birth high feels like. Holy shit, I just DID that! Give her to me! My husband was sitting near my head as I pulled her up to my chest.
I saw an EMT headed toward the umbilical cord with a scalpel (or scissors, I’m not entirely sure). Don’t touch it, I’m waiting for it to finish pulsing! Once my doula confirmed that it was finished, he proceeded.
Leaving my bedroom on a stretcher and getting in the back of an ambulance felt surreal. That just happened! I DID that!
My baby girl was born at 3:20pm, less than three hours after my water broke. She was 8lb. 15oz. She was perfect. Aside from some hemorrhaging, I felt great. No tearing. No pain. By far, my easiest recovery yet.
Start to finish, my 3rd birth was under 3 hours. I accidentally had my baby on my bedroom floor. It was just my husband and I until the last few minutes.
Here I am... arriving at the hospital via ambulance. This is my “I just had an unplanned unassisted home birth after a vaginal birth after Cesarean!” face.
That red bag? It’s holding my placenta, which I birthed in the ambulance. And later had it encapsulated into happy pills.
In preparing other Moms for birth, I was also preparing myself. Everything I’ve done - classes, support, encouragement - played a part in my creating this birth experience. I remembered what I knew all along - that my body was designed for this.
Photo by: Grind & Press