My first two kids were born in a hospital and while I enjoyed the overall birth immensely, I did not like being told what to do and feeling no control over my body. With my second I had come to the hospital already dilated to an 8. During the contractions I had walked and breathed deeply. I never felt overwhelmed until I found myself lying face up, hooked to various machines, looking into bright lights with strange nurses around me. When the nurse asked me if I wanted an epidural I immediately answered yes. I had my baby 45 minutes later.
At the beginning of my third pregnancy I set out to find a new doctor since I had not felt any attachment to the last one who had delivered my son; after all he was really only present for a handful of appointments and the last 30 minutes of his birth. I called a few friends asking for recommendations but was not satisfied with the results. I told my husband I was considering a midwife and having a home birth. He was very supportive.
My first appointment with Dotti was great. It was so much different from having a doctor. A whole hour was set aside just for me. I felt completely comfortable with Dotti, who is so warm and kind. I knew I had made the right decision.
During the course of my pregnancy I read many books about home birth. I especially liked Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth which was filled with great advice and wonderful birth stories. I also talked to people who had given birth at home. I remember wanting so badly for someone to tell me that it was not painful at all. Well that never happened but over and over I heard what a wonderful experience it is. Dotti told me many times that my body would know what to do. At times when I felt apprehensive about a drug-free birth, I would remember this and feel confident and excited about being in control of my birth experience.
I was due sometime around the first of May and even though I tried not to set my heart on one day, I admit I felt a little upset as I saw May 1st come and go still being pregnant! I could not remember what it felt like to NOT be pregnant. I was HUGE and very uncomfortable. The next day Dotti came to check me. It was great to see her although it would have been better if I were in labor. She checked me and said I was dilated 2 cm. That evening I was having light contractions. I called my mom to give her an update. The next thing I knew she was on her way. We picked her up at the airport late that night. There is nothing like having your mom there when you need her. It was so great to see her. However, my contractions had all but stopped by then. The next day we passed the time by grocery shopping and then went to the YMCA. I walked 2 miles uphill. It was exhausting! All day my mom asked if I was having contractions. The answer was always no.
I went to bed that night praying I would have this baby. I woke up at 2:30am having contractions. I went to the living room with my computer and checked my email, blogs etc. My mom heard me get up so she came in and we talked for a while. The contractions weren't too bad and about 16 min apart. After a while I decided to try to go back to sleep not knowing how long labor would last.. I laid down but definitely could not sleep. My contractions were getting harder and more uncomfortable. I got up and started walking around. I paced up and down the hall. Walking felt great. Around 4 am I told my mom to time a contraction. She was in the bathroom doing her hair! We didn't have to go anywhere but I guess she still wanted to be ready; she must have known that would be her only chance. She timed a contraction and it lasted almost a minute. The contractions were really irregular but strong. I woke up my husband, Sean, and told him I was in labor but it still might be awhile. He went back to sleep.
I started walking again thinking I should wait until the contractions were more regular. but I could tell they were getting harder. I called Dotti and told her what was happening. She must have known it was time because she said she would be right over. I woke up Sean again and this time said- We're having a baby. He jumped out of bed and started making the bed, picking up clothes, lighting candles and checking the water temperature of the labor pool. Dotti was here in about 20 minutes. She checked me and I was 8 cm! She told me I could get in the tub. The warm water felt wonderful! I could feel myself relax. I text my good friend Jennise and told her I was at an 8 and in the water. She came right over. Sean was sitting by the tub rubbing my back and shoulders. In between contractions I would talk and laugh, but once a contraction started it took all my energy to focus and breathe. Dotti told me to relax my shoulders. That helped a ton.
During all this time Dotti was listening to the baby's heartbeat regularly. He sounded great. The contractions were intense but with all the support I had with me, I felt ready for anything. The water seemed to be slowing the contractions, so we decided I should get out of the water for a bit and walk. I started pacing up and down the hall again. I had been walking for maybe 5-10 minutes when suddenly I felt a huge amount of pressure in my pelvis. I stood still almost feeling paralyzed when pop! my water broke! It surprised everyone. I got back in the tub and almost immediately felt like I needed to push. I was sitting with my legs out for the first push. That did not feel comfortable at all. Dotti said I could try pushing on my knees. So I got on my knees with my hands on the side of the tub. It was hard work!
After a few pushes I was tired and in pain and didn't know if I could do it. But with my mom, Jennise and Dotti all telling me how great I was doing and my husband right by my side, I felt supported. On the next push Dotti said, 'His head it out!' and Sean said he could feel his cheek! I reached down and felt his head. He had a ton of hair. After that I did not hesitate for a moment. I felt a rush of adrenalin like I have never felt before. I could hear my mom and Jennise cheering me on. I pushed 3-4 more times and he was out. I have never experienced anything so amazing. I sat in the tub holding the most beautiful baby I have ever seen. And he looked huge! He was; he weighed 10 lbs 12.5 ounces.
Having my baby at home was the best experience I could imagine. It was great being in my own room with only those people around me with whom I felt comfortable and secure.