We had decided to birth at home this time for a few reasons. Raynor (my first) had been born out of hospital at a freestanding birth center. We enjoyed his birth there a lot but there was a lot of turnover in the midwives there that we didn’t know anyone even from 2 years before when I was there for the first part of Dalton’s pregnancy. I was attracted to the idea of building a relationship with a midwife and having her there for my birth. Also the idea of not driving anywhere while in labor was a plus! Research shows that for low risk moms and babies, out of hospital birth is a safe option. We were also only 7 minutes from the nearest hospital which helped to reassure me.
As the end of my pregnancy approached my pelvic pain continued to worsen. I was having a hard time walking at work. Around 36 weeks I started to have a few short episodes of prodromal labor, then at 37-38 weeks, it worsened. One night I had waves (contractions) for 6 hours but it didn’t progress! I was a mess and was exhausted. It was so demoralizing thinking each night that baby would be born and then the waves would fizzle out by morning. At 38 weeks and 2 days after a long night of prodromal labor I called my midwife crying and she told me that with my pelvic pain and the prodromal labor that I needed to stop working. I was unsure about this since I didn’t want to take off extra time but I followed her advice and was able to get a medical leave for my time off before baby was born.
Being off work helped alleviate some of my stress regarding getting enough sleep to be able to go into work but unfortunately the prodromal labor continued. It was a test in patience and I was frequently in tears frustrated that I had not gone into true labor yet. I tried to take time to rest, take naps and enjoy time with my family. We went swimming with my boys and to the indoor playground at our community center.
I laid down to bed the night I was 38 weeks and 4 days. I was listening to my Hypnobabies tracks trying to fall asleep when I suddenly felt wet. I got up and saw that my water had broken! This was my second experience with term PROM (my first it happened as well). It was 10:35 pm. I called my birth team to update them and then went to sleep. I woke up the next morning and felt fine. I had some mild birthing waves but nothing intense. Most of the time babies will be born by 24 hours after waters breaking so I mentally planned for a birth that night. Our doula recommended trying to relax so Brent and I watched the Guardians of the Galaxy. During the movie I was having mild waves every 10-30 minutes but they weren’t getting more intense so I went to bed. Then I woke up at midnight with more intense waves. They continued for an hour so I woke up my husband and he started to fill up the tub. Then at about 2 am the waves completely stopped. I was disappointed but knew it was important to sleep so I went back to bed. I woke up the next morning very frustrated. I was also now worried about the tub since we filled it the night before. Brent had covered it with a tarp and several blankets so we were hopeful it would stay warm enough.
I called Kari, our midwife, in the morning at 7 am frustrated that baby wasn’t here yet. We talked about our options, either castor oil or a membrane sweep. I opted for the castor oil since I had used that successfully for my first birth and didn’t want to chance infection with a membrane sweep. Brent went out to get the castor oil which took him a while since he had to go to 3 stores to find it! I took the castor oil “midwife’s brew” which consisted of castor oil, peanut butter, and orange juice. I finished the castor oil at 8:45 am. About 3 hours later I started having bowel movements. At noon I started having diarrhea and cramping. At 12:30 I started having more regular waves that were getting intense. We called our birth team around 1 pm and they arrived around 1:30 pm. I was still unsure if the waves were the “real thing” or if they were just from the castor oil. My doula, Laura, reassured me that she thought they were real birthing waves.
It was a beautiful sunny day with a light breeze. We had the windows open and with our birth team there and us chatting in between wave it felt like a gathering of friends. The atmosphere was just joyful and relaxed.
My waves were about every 5 minutes when my team arrived but gradually became more intense. They did feel like a warm hug which is one of the images Hypnobabies used. I was listening to my Hypnobabies tracks out loud which was helpful. I sat on the birth ball, walked around and got up to use the bathroom every 30 minutes or so. I had two waves that were more intense and some downward pressure that brought tears to my eyes. Laura, my doula, reminded me to breathe deeply and breath all the way down to my pelvis which helped to relax me. After that I had to go to the bathroom and my doula was talking about getting into the shower. My waves started getting more intense so she suggested the tub instead.
I got into the tub and it felt wonderful. Brent had been keeping an eye on the tub’s temperature, we jokingly called it his “tub baby” since he had to do so much work to fill it and then make sure it wasn’t too cold or hot, but when I went to get in it was too hot so we had to add ice and cold water. In the tub I felt very relaxed and leaned back for a short while but then ended up on my knees because I felt instinctively that this was a more “productive” position that would help my baby come out. I did have to get out of the tub several times to go to the bathroom (thanks castor oil!) and one time did get hit with a wave while I had one leg in the air trying to step out, ouch not comfortable! My birth team said that all the asymmetrical moves getting in and out of the tub was probably very helpful with my labor progress.
I am so proud of all of my births but Otto’s birth is very special as it was really a dream come true. I was well rested, at home, I had a sunny daytime birth and my whole birth team was able to be there. I really couldn’t have asked for a better birth. As I told my birth team afterwards, “I felt fine until the last 5 minutes”, which I would say is a success!