My wish for a Mother’s Day baby came and went, and I woke up the next morning six days postdate. I was extremely excited to finally meet our baby and couldn’t wait to go into labour. I’d had so many false labour alarms, so I didn’t want to get my hopes up when I started feeling some surges around 4 am. They didn’t feel very different from the practice contractions I’d been having for weeks, so I just went back to sleep and hoped for the best. I continued to have some surges all morning, but they weren’t regular at all and were very gentle. I still thought they were likely practice labour, or perhaps very early labour. I called my dad (who had the day off) and asked if he wanted to hang out for the day to get my mind off the waiting. He took my two-year-old son, Jackson, and me out for lunch and we ran some errands. I continued to have irregularly spaced surges; some were more intense than others, but I was still not 100% sure I was even in labour. At about 3pm, we decided we better head back home because the contractions were feeling stronger and were now about 5-10 minutes apart. At this point, I started finally feeling sure I was actually in labour, so I was pretty excited! I called my husband Brent to tell him he should come home within the next hour or two, and I emailed some friends saying this was hopefully the real deal and asked them to send positive birthing vibes my way! I also called my doula and midwife to tell them I thought I was in early labour, and that I’d call back when I thought they should come over. We were planning for a midwife-attended hospital birth, but our midwife, Bridget also planned to come to our home to be with me from when I was in active labour onwards.
When I arrived home around 3:15, I sat in the rocking chair and felt very comfortable relaxing as I rhythmically rocked back and forth. I kept visualizing a smooth and easy birth for our baby and kept repeating the phrase “be open and relaxed” in my mind. I decided to go into the tub around 4pm and it felt amazing! I instantly felt much more relaxed, but at this point, the surges were still fairly gentle and I felt completely fine in between them. In fact, I was reading a magazine while I was in the tub. I got out of the bath because I heard my mom arrive, and was visiting with her for a bit while I continued to rock in the rocking chair. At this point I decided Karen (my doula) to come over whenever she could. I also made a phone call to Bridget (my midwife) and asked if she could come over, just to check me and see if I really was in active labour after all. She said she could either come right away, or if I felt okay to wait, she’d be about an hour. At this point, I felt like I was definitely many, many hours (maybe even all night) away from giving birth, so I said an hour would be fine.
My husband arrived home right around 5pm as well, and I decided to go back into the tub. The surges started getting more intense, and Brent suggested we go to the hospital. I wanted to wait for Bridget and Karen to get there and since I wanted to labour at home as long as possible, I definitely didn’t want to head to the hospital yet. The surges were now about 5 minutes apart and fairly strong, but Brent poured water over my stomach and I felt very relaxed and comfortable. In between surges, I still felt great and very excited to meet the baby! (and find out its gender, which we’d left as a surprise). Karen arrived around 5:30 and came up to meet me in the bathroom. My dad and step-mom also stopped by to visit me on their way out to supper. We were chatting in between surges, but during one, I needed to focus breathing and remaining relaxed. Karen reminded me to keep my jaw soft and breathe deeply, which I found really helpful. Again, I continued to visualize the baby being born smoothly and easily, and kept picturing baby moving down the birth path with ease.
All this visualization must have done the trick because I had two or three extremely strong contractions in a row, and things started moving really quickly. My family left, and pretty much the moment they walked out the door, I had another extremely intense surge and felt a tremendous amount of pressure. I started getting a little worried because the feeling of pressure and the need to push suddenly became so strong. Karen suggested that maybe it was just my water about to break, but I knew the baby was coming, and said we needed to call Bridget immediately and get her ETA. We called and she said she was nine minutes away. By this point, I could actually feel the baby moving down without any active pushing on my part, so nine minutes seemed like an eternity! Brent was still trying to convince us to go to the hospital immediately, but Karen and I were both too concerned about the possibility of having the baby in the car. Karen suggested I get out of the tub and asked, “OK… where do you want to have this baby?” We decided to make our way to the bedroom and wait for Bridget, Karen instructing me…whatever you do, DON’T PUSH!! On a funny side note, after I got out of the tub, I got fully dressed, including bra and underwear! Not too sure what I was thinking… Karen gently asked, “are you sure you need your bra on?” and pointed out that Bridget would probably need my pants and underwear off to deliver the baby! It was really amazing that even though I was so close to giving birth, I was still very mobile, felt great in between surges, and was even able to tidy up my room a bit before Bridget arrived!
Finally, after the longest nine minutes of my life, Bridget arrived at 6pm (exactly one hour after our initial phone call). I have never been so happy to see someone in my life. I remember just grabbing her hand, saying, “Please help me. The baby is coming right now”, and feeling so extremely relieved that she was there. She got out what supplies she could, and sent Brent for towels and blankets. She checked me, and quickly realized I was fully opened and the baby was right there. Obviously there was no time to make it to the hospital, so she instructed Brent to call 911 because it was an emergency home birth with no second attendant. (Home births require two midwives and at this point, only one was employed in Regina, so home births were not an option).
Even though a home birth wasn’t our plan at all, I felt completely confident I’d be fine in Bridget’s hands. I just breathed a sigh of relief that she was there, and asked for a pillow to lay my head down on. Pretty much as soon as I laid down, feeling completely relaxed, Karen excitedly told me that the baby’s head was out. We did have a quick moment of panic as the cord was wrapped too tightly around the baby’s neck for Bridget to slip off. Within a minute though, the baby was completely born and Bridget was able to free the cord. Brent actually missed the moment of birth because it happened so quickly. He came back upstairs, towels in hand, to see a baby lying on my chest. We both looked at each other, like “what the heck just happened?!” After twelve hours of labour, including FOUR hours of pushing, vacuum, forceps, and a fourth degree tear with my first born, I simply could not believe the birth had happened so fast and so easily. We then remembered to check the baby’s gender, and we elated and surprised to see she was a beautiful baby girl! She weighed 8lbs, 2oz and was 21.5 inches long. She was born on our bedroom floor around 6:08pm, although no one is really sure on the exact time because we forgot to check! One neat thing about her birth is that she was born with the amniotic sac still covering her. My water didn’t really break and must have just been leaking slowly while I was in the tub because there was never a large gush of fluid. So she was born with the sac still surrounding her, but not within the waters.
The ambulance arrived about 25 minutes later, which would have been a long time to wait had anything been wrong, but we were all perfectly fine. So it was almost a blessing in disguise because it gave us more time to bond uninterrupted with out new baby. It also gave Bridget a chance to deliver the placenta and do my stitches (I had a minor second degree tear). The paramedics checked us out, and helped us get ready to go to the hospital once they arrived. They determined we were both 100% fine, and there was really no need to go in an ambulance. So we strapped our one-hour-old baby into her carseat, and off we went in our family car! The funniest part was arriving at Labour and Delivery, carrying the baby in the carseat. We beat Bridget to the hospital, so we just walked up to the desk and said “Ummm.. Hi. We just had a baby. Here she is!”, holding the carseat up proudly. They whisked us to a room where I got some lovely warm blankets and a snack. I felt great, but we were left to decompress a bit after the shock of the last hour. Our family came to visit us, including my dad and step-mom, who had arrived at the restaurant after leaving our house and got the call that the baby was born before their food even came out! We all had a great time bonding with the baby and laughing over her extremely fast arrival into the world. Brent and I also decided on the name for our beautiful baby girl: Calla Juliette. She is a true blessing and joy in our lives, and has been since the moment I learned I was pregnant with her.
I feel extremely grateful to have my new daughter, as well as to have had such a wonderful birthing experience. I felt completely relaxed during labour, and I totally trusted that my body knew what to do; I think that’s partly the reason why everything happened so quickly and easily. Giving birth at home was so intimate and calm, despite Calla’s quick arrival. If we decide to have a third baby, I plan to have another home birth (a planned one this time!); it was a truly amazing and empowering experience.
Written by Sara H, of Regina Saskatchewan, July 2011