Eight years ago, on the night of August 8th, I stayed up late sewing. I had ordered myself a burger as a push present and was rockin’ to my birth playlist while working on a stack of burp cloths. I would be 39 weeks, 6 days at the stroke of midnight.
Around 2 AM, I settled into bed. I tossed and turned and struggled to fall asleep despite the wee hour. Then I felt a little twinge. I tried to ignore it, but then, another twinge came, stronger and fuller.
I pulled my contraction timing app and logged about 20 minutes of steady contractions. Then, at 2:20 AM, my water broke.
I guess things were getting real.
A Different Kind of Birth
I woke my husband up and we decided to let my midwife know my water had broken, but still try and sleep. After all, my first labor lasted a whopping 40 hours long.
Within a few minutes into this labor, however, I was already in the bathroom—things were really speeding up. My husband alerted our midwife that she should head to the birth center and we would meet her there. We were both 45-60 minutes away from our destination, so time was of the essence. He also reached out to our doula, who lived locally, and our friend and photographer who was lined up to take pictures.
Everyone was in motion. And I was well into the throes of labor.
I showered until we ran out of hot water then dried off and parked myself on the toilet. TMI, but as baby descended, everything was leaving me to make way. I stayed on the toilet for a good 30 minutes, and when our doula and photographer arrived at our house to help my husband pack the car with supplies, I realized that I could not imagine getting off that toilet.
I started crying and my doula, god send that she was, wrapped her arms around me and reassured me. “We will just tell the midwife to come here instead,” she said.
At that moment I released all the stress, all the worry, and all the fear that I had been holding onto. I know that is when my body gave way to the primal experience of birth and fully dilated. I was free to birth here and now—I was free to let my baby come into my arms.
Getting Ready at Home
By then my husband was back inside. We updated him and he rushed outside to unpack the car. Our midwife was on the phone, listening to me vocalize with each contraction, and began to brief my husband on the steps he and our doula would need to take to safely support me and our baby. She was en route, but too far out to ensure that she would arrive for my little one’s grand arrival.
My doula encouraged me to reach between my legs and tell her what I felt. “It’s hard,” I replied. “That’s your baby’s head,” she confirmed.
This. Was. Happening.
“My doula encouraged me to reach between my legs and tell her what I felt. “It’s hard,” I replied. “That’s your baby’s head,” she confirmed."
Standing in our bathroom, leaning on the counter, I bore down and my baby’s head emerged. With our midwife’s guidance, my husband and doula helped me lay on the floor and raise my knees to my ears to encourage the rest of his body out. In that position, I gave birth right on my bathroom floor.
My doula passed my baby to me and I cradled him in my arms. Our photographer snapped a photo of the clock to chart his arrival: 4:41 AM. Just two hours after my first contraction, a far cry from the 40-hour labor I had experienced with my first.
A True Birthing Team
Our midwife and her team arrived within the hour to assist with my postpartum care and to this day we are forever grateful for her calm guidance over the phone. And I truly credit my husband and doula for my son’s smooth arrival. They never wavered in their calm support, they never heightened my emotions, and they acted with cool, reasonable steps.
I’m grateful that there wasn’t an emergency and that together, we witnessed and participated in a beautiful birth. My body knew what to do and we had all available hands on deck to see him earth side.
“I’m grateful that there wasn't an emergency and that together, we witnessed and participated in a beautiful birth."
Oh, and did I mention that my son was ten pounds? I birthed a ten-pound baby at home, virtually unassisted. Talk about a redemption story on the heels of my first 40-hour labor.
While our experience turned out perfectly, I have to say that let my story be a reminder that it’s always a good idea to have some kind of birth essentials prepped at home, especially if you live a distance away from a hospital or birth center.
In addition, choose your birthing team wisely. Not only your primary care provider, but a doula who is well-versed in what to do swift situations. Although doulas are not trained as medical providers (they offer emotional and physical support during birth), they can make all the difference.
Especially during the unexpected.
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