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Thursday, March 8, 2012

My First Homebirth Experience

      I was pretty sneaky posting those two pregnancy posts when I did. :) What can I say? Chronological order is important to me. Now that everything has happened, and I've finally been able to get on my computer, it's definitely time to document and share what I experienced and went through. The word surreal has been used by both Ty and myself, several times, to describe it all. I still feel as though I just woke up and all of a sudden there's a beautiful child in my responsibility.

      February 11th was my Estimated Due Date and when it came and went without any sign of labor I'll admit I was a little sad. At the beginning of the week I had felt and predicted she would come that week. However, we were very prepared for the unexpected.

Monday 2/13 3:00PM
      During my 40 week appointment, I had a cervical exam and found that I was 3cm dilated and 80-90% effaced. I knew all that uncomfortableness I had been "enjoying" wasn't just typical pregnancy discomfort.  We went home and I texted two of my sisters-in-law and my mom and all three were sure this baby would be coming very soon.  This had me excited, but I still didn't want to keep my hopes up for the possibility that things could still move slowly.

Tuesday 2/14 3:00AM
      At my 3 AM potty break, I lost my bloody show, but still knew that things could still take awhile to progress so I didn't get myself worked up.  This being Valentine's Day I really wasn't keen on having my baby born on a holiday, though everyone else seemed to think it a cute idea.  I'm really not sure that Valentine's Day would be that big of a deal, but I just wanted to avoid it if I could.  Fortunately for me, I went throughout the day without much happening.

      Ty and I went to Safeway before dinner to gather a few things and luckily it was a fairly short visit, but it felt like hours.  My feet hurt, my legs hurt and I simply felt like standing was a burden.  I couldn't wait to get back into the car so I could sit down.  We got back home and had our dinner and spent the rest of the night watching TV while I tried timing the few irregular contractions I had, but faded away.

Wednesday 2/15 3:30AM
      Once again I woke up to go to the bathroom at 3:30 AM and was unable to fall back asleep.  This wasn't unusual, but then I started feeling contractions again at about 5:30 AM, which can be best described as menstrual like cramps (this description is mostly for women as men will know nothing about this kind of pain).

      Contractions started to become more regular lasting for about one minute with roughly a 10 minute break in between.  Rest was now impossible to find.  As much as I had heard that I should try to rest because "you won't get any later", I couldn't.

Something I wanted to make sure of was that I was still getting enough protein and ate lunch.  Another thing that I wanted to do if this was the real deal was to take a shower.  Who knew when I'd be able to next?  About 1:00PM I talked with Ginger on the phone and let her know what had been going on within the last 24 (or more) hours.  I let her know what was happening with my contractions and from my description she derived that I was not yet in Active Labor since they changed with my activity.  For instance, I always felt a contraction when I got up from bed.  She said that she would be in my area later that day and if things drastically changed to give her a call.

      My contractions had become closer together and regular despite my changing positions.  Again, though I tried to relax and rest, I simply couldn't sleep.  I laid down and closed my eyes and despite my sleepiness, it never came.  Back labor had already started and at some point that was how I knew a contraction was beginning.  Starting in my back and then wrapping around to the front where I would start to feel the menstrual-like cramps.

      Up until this point, I had been upstairs, in our bedroom riding out each contraction trying to distract myself.  I finally decided I needed my husband with me and was ready to be comforted through the pain I was feeling.  Since he works in the basement and I had resigned myself to our bedroom two floors up, I gave him a quick call hoping he would be done soon.  Unfortunately, he still had some work to finish and then had his chiropractic appointment to get to after.  (Before you go judging, I absolutely wanted him to go to that appointment because he needs it and we really didn't know where I was at with labor.)  So, I continued to bear through the pain on my own and hoped the time would pass quickly so that I could have my companion

      Ty had come back home and though I was worried about jumping the gun, having just experienced a nine minute period of several waves of contractions on top of each other, I decided we should call Ginger and give her an update.  I had no desire to be on the phone so Ty did the calling for me while I went through another contraction.  Ginger made the decision to come since things were obviously progressing right along and instructed Ty to start filling the birth tub with hot water.  Oh my goodness!  This was getting serious.  :)  I remember Ty asking me if I was hungry and wanted any dinner, but a meal didn't sound great and I decided against it.  Looking back, I should have tried to nibble on some protein.

      Ginger had arrived!  I was surprised at her energy considering she had two births in a row in the two days previous.  When she got here she asked if I wanted a cervical check and I did.  I was about 8 cm dilated!  Um, holy cow.  What this meant to me was that I definitely knew my body and could trust my instincts.  Also, that in a short time, I would be holding my baby.  After the exam, I stopped keeping track of my contractions since I didn't see the point.  Now, I knew it was time to call my mom and let her know she needed to come.  I called her answer.  Gah!  Of all the times to not answer your phone, this was not a good one.  I called my parents house and my youngest brother answered and I asked where my parents were.  My mom was babysitting my brother's kids while my sister-in-law came to Tri-cities to pick up my brother from the airport and my dad was at work.  GAAAAHHH!!  Would my mom be able to make it in time?  Didn't they all know we were on Baby Watch 2012 here?!  Next, I called my dad and he answered.  Yes!  He asked what I was doing and as nonchalantly as possible, while enduring another contraction, I said, "Oh nothin'.  Just in labor and having a baby soon."  Just as calm he said that he guessed that meant that they needed to head our way.  My parents were able to leave my brother's kids with my grandma next door and were on their way.

      The tub had been filled, but the water was just a bit cold, though it still felt good to be in.  Ty spent a good amount of time emptying out water while we let the water heat back up and let a pot of water boil downstairs.  Once the hot water was put in and the temperature started to rise, it felt sooooo divine.  Then, a contraction came and I would assume position to let someone put pressure on my low back.  Being that I've had issues with my hips and alignment, I knew it was a strong possibility that I would have back labor, but that doesn't make it any less painful.  At some point Ty asked me if I wanted to watch a movie and I was all for any kind of distraction.  I decided on Get Smart and Ty set up the laptop so that I could watch it from the tub with everyone sitting around me.

      Mom and Dad had arrived!  I was so glad to finally see my mommy.  I knew neither one of us wanted her to miss this and I wanted her support.  She laughed at us as she came in to see that we were watching a movie.  :) If anything it was keeping my spirits up.

      Even though my dad had brought my mom, I didn't want him upstairs since I wasn't very modest at the time.  However, one thing that was really important to me was that my dad would be there to assist Ty in giving me a Priesthood blessing.  I put on my robe and sat on the yoga ball while my mom and Ginger held my hands and braced my legs in case a contraction came and I could have something to resist against.  By now, I had started making noises to help me release tension during each contraction and was worried that I would ruin the spirit of it.  However, I felt so calm during the blessing and knew that I had my Heavenly Father with me and that everything would be fine.  I also had the love and support of family and my midwife and her assistant.  Knowing this helped to carry me through each contraction.  Though, I will fully admit that I understand the appeal of an epidural.

      I'm kind of guessing on time a little bit here because I'm having trouble remembering.  After the blessing, I got back in the tub and I remember everyone finding things for me to snack on.  First, it was an Otter Pops (Ty asked me what kind I wanted and I really could have cared less.  Haha.  I just wanted it cold.), Applesauce (really glad I bought that the day before), and Vanilla Greek Yogurt for some protein.  During the process of my labor, every so often, Ginger or Marcile (the birth assistant) would use the doppler to read and monitor the baby's heartbeat.  She was doing so good.  I can't remember when (I think between 10:30 and 11:00), but Ginger asked me if I would like another exam to see how I was doing.  I said, yes and we moved to the bed.  I had now progressed to 9.5 cm and was fully effaced.  However, my water had yet to break and Ginger asked if I wanted her to try and do that.  I gave my consent, but my cervix was still posterior and the sac was so tough she was unable to do so.  So back in the lovely warm water I went.

      My contractions were increasingly more painful and the groans I had initially used had grown into yelling.  I was also growing more exhausted.  Remember, I had been awake since 3:30 AM with no sleep in between then and this point.  Though I wanted so badly to rest and sleep, the contractions prohibited me from either.  I remember saying that if I wasn't about to have a baby, I'd be getting the best sleep ever after such an intense workout. 

Thursday 2/16 12:15AM
      By now, through intermittent watching, the movie was over.  I was still in the tub, now really letting loose through the contractions.  I kept thinking my neighbors were going to call the police on us for domestic violence.  We hadn't told them our birth plans after all.  My midwife had finally made the brilliant decision to turn the light off in the room and letting the light from the other rooms give the little illumination we needed.  It was as if it changed my entire labor.  Suddenly, I felt like I could rest in between contractions.  And then, finally, I felt that sensation to push, which is similar to feeling like you are having a bowel movement.  I continued in the tub and during one of my breaks, Ty looked at his phone and showed me the time and announced that our baby would definitely be born on the 16th, the day before my birthday.  This is quite funny considering anyone who talked to me about her due date knew that I didn't want her to be born on my birthday.  It just figures that she wanted to be born the day before.  :)  Of course, I wasn't really laughing right then.

      After pushing for awhile, I could tell that something was keeping me from progressing.  Not that anything was wrong, I just wasn't getting anywhere.  Ginger suggested trying to push while on the toilet because then that pushing feeling is more natural.  I figured it couldn't hurt and was worth a try, so I left the blissful warm water, though it had started getting cool, and headed into the bathroom.  In case you are wondering, I forgot about keeping up my dignity and pride long before and wasn't too concerned with "what it looked like".  Still, I must admit that because I was screaming my lungs out during each contraction I was still a little worried about what my neighbors would think of me.  Not enough, to keep me from belting it out though.

      This position of pushing while on the toilet seat was definitely making a difference.  I could feel my baby girl moving down into the birth canal.  Ginger said that if I wanted I could reach down and feel the head, since she thought that my water had broken while I had been in the tub.  I reached down and felt something, but it didn't feel like the head.  I described it to Ginger and my water had in fact NOT broken.  Once again, Ginger tried to break it and this time succeeded.  Now we were back in business.  I felt for her head again and then felt something quite different than before and knew it was her little head.  Ginger asked if I wanted to deliver in the bathroom or if I wanted to go back to the tub and I really wasn't sure.  In the end, I decided to stay in the bathroom since I couldn't imagine moving and so awkwardly.

      Pushing was really progressing and everyone (except Ty, who stood in front of me while I clutched his hands during the contractions for support) was getting things together in preparation.  Suddenly, I felt the Ring of Fire, though I don't know that I would have called it a ring, but there was definite burning.  Ginger came into our small, narrow bathroom and instructed me to get off of the toilet and go down to the ground on all fours and asked Ty if he wanted to catch the baby.  He said sure, but I don't think he knew what he was getting himself into.  :)  I love hearing his perspective, so I'm going to let him share what he got to experience first.

Ty's Version:
      It's a difficult thing to see someone you love in pain and not be able to do anything about it.  I did my best to stay by Jenny's side, to try to comfort her as best i could, and to meet her needs in any way possible.  Mostly that meant applying pressure to her back during contractions and hauling boiling water up the stairs to keep the tub warm.  When the tub got too full I would scoop the water into a mop bucket with a pot and then empty it in the tub.  It was a long, slow process and my back and legs paid the price, but it felt good to be able to contribute in some way.

      Once we moved to the bathroom, I could tell things were getting close.  I tried to stay close to Jenny to support her any way I could while still staying out of Ginger's way.  Jenny would have preferred to return to the tub for the actual birth, but things were happening to fast and I think she just wanted to get it over so she delivered on the floor in the bathroom.  There isn't a lot of room in there.  Ginger and I were behind her while her mom and Marcile were in front.  Now that things were really getting down to business, I was ready to just get out of the way and let Ginger do her thing.  She had a different idea.  While helping Jenny to get situated she asks me, quite casually like it was no big deal, if I wanted to catch the baby.  I wasn't expecting this and didn't really understand what all that implied, but I said, "Sure".

      I could see Anna's head just starting to emerge.  It didn't look like I expected, though Ginger had explained how it all worked.  It was small and wrinkly and, it may sound insensitive, but I remember thinking that it didn't look human at all.  As the head came out a little bit further, Ginger told me to put my hand under her head and to put a little pressure downward on the back.  On the next push, her chin and mouth popped out.  It was beautiful and a little unsettling at the same time.  She still looked doll-like, not really alive.  With the next push, her arm came out with the rest of her head.  I was able to grab her by the body now and Ginger said to go ahead and pull her the rest of the way out.  What had been a strange, foreign thing was now a beautiful, screaming baby girl.  I was surprised at how strong she was as I held her there on the bathroom floor.  I had been expecting a small, fragile baby but she was big!  and strong!  Then Ginger had me slide her forward to her mother, leaving me quite dazed and overwhelmed.  It had been a long, stressful night, but it had been worth it!

My Version:
      The burning was intense and was more so when I pushed.  I had no desire to  continue with that feeling, but knew that this baby was only coming out one way.  Through the encouragement of my midwife, her birth assistant, my husband, and my mom I pushed past the pain and felt her little head emerge.  The hardest part was over, at least that's what it felt like to me.  With another push, the rest of her body seemed to just slide out.  Anna (pronounced Aw-nah) Renee was born at 1:29AM on February the 16th of 2012.  Immense relief overwhelmed me and I hung on my mom while I cried with joy that it was over and also at the sound of my baby's cry.  Ty slid her underneath me and I picked up my brand new daughter and held her against me.  I couldn't believe it.  I had just given birth.  She was beautiful and complete.  Four years of waiting for this little person and she was finally here.  The word "surreal" was used multiple times following her birth.

      Once I had her in my arms, it was time to move to the bed where an older sheet and a cover where put to protect it from getting anything on it.  The chux pad that was underneath me during her birth was folded up and held by Ginger and Marcile and we somewhat awkwardly made our way to the bed.  I continued to hold my little sweetheart while I delivered the placenta.  At 1:35AM I was technically, now, considered not pregnant.  Ty then cut the umbilical chord and the placenta was examined where all was found to be normal.  During the delivery, I sustained a minor 2nd degree tear.  Mostly it was just skin, but there was a small amount of muscle that tore.  I also managed to have some swelling.  Ginger numbed me and stitched me up.  I believe that she said I had 11 stitches total.  Four for the muscle and seven for the skin.

      After I was cleaned and stitched up, I was able to feed Anna. My dad had been downstairs the whole time, though I think he might have fallen asleep.  I finished feeding her and my dad came upstairs and helped measure her and then she was weighed.  She was 8lbs. 15oz. and 21.5 inches long.  Her head circumference was 35cm.  I knew she was a big baby!  Dad got to hold her before he had to leave for home.  Finally, everything was taken care of and cleaned up, I laid down with my baby Anna next to me and slept.  FINALLY!



  1. JENNY!!! You are amazing! Since I'm still healing myself, I actually started to ache reading about the menstrual cramp-like contractions. Oh goodness... I thought those were worse then the ring of fire any day! haha! Congrats friend! She is beautiful and you are so strong! I loved reading this! :)

  2. Such a beautiful story! I teared up when I read Ty's version. Such a wonderful thing to have all that support and love in one of the most incredible moments of your life. Well done and congrats on your lovely little girl!

  3. You are so brave. I couldn't do a home birth. Congrats!

  4. So I have a secret desire to deliver a baby still in an intact sac. So while reading your story I was rooting for it. I know I'm weird. Welcome to the natural club. Its an amazing experience.

  5. Wow! That exhausted me just thinking about going thru all that. Way to hang in there. You have one beautiful baby girl to show for all that hard work. Glad everything went well.. especially for a first birth!

  6. WOW Jenny you are totally amazing. You did it! Yay for you! She is beautiful. Being in labor and having a baby really is the craziest experience you'll ever have. Surreal is a good way to describe it. Thanks for sharing your story, I loved reading it!

  7. Way to go girl!! I'm so impressed and so happy for you and your family. She is adorable.

  8. So proud of you! So so proud. I love you and Anna so much! (And Ty, too)

  9. Thanks for sharing your birthing story. I've been following your blog and wanted to see how everything worked with the at home delivery.Great job! Congratulations on your baby girl. She is beautiful!Too bad we don't live near one another, our daughters could be great friends :)

  10. Jenny,
    I never thought that a home birth could sound so absolutely amazing. I think it is really cool that Ty was able to be such a big part of Anna's birth! Glad you have your little girl with you now! Can't wait to meet her!


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