On Monday August 28th, mid morning, I realized my mucous plug had broken. Excited, I phoned my doula and my midwife who asked me to keep them posted throughout the day for any other changes. So, I carried on the day getting things ready to possibly give birth that day, but with no particular urgency.
All along, the plan was to have a home birth, since my first birth with Aiden was without any complications. Not completely satisfied with the hospital birth and my caregivers, I was moved by the stories and experience of friends who had successful home births, and I longed to have a more peaceful and gentle birth in the comfort of our own home. With the support of my husband Craig and a team of amazing midwives and a doula, I got my wish...
By lunch time, not much was happening. I felt some very minor contractions every 30 minutes, but didn't notice any progress. I called Craig and put him on notice to clear his desk, buy extra groceries and not come home late. At 5:30pm we sat at the kitchen table talking about what to make for dinner. Then, a giant burp erupted from my uterus and gush! my water broke on the kitchen floor. Within 15 minutes, I was getting contractions every 5 to 10 minutes, but the intensity of them led me to believe we had a long way to go still.
My midwife (Kat) came to the house shortly thereafter to check me. I told her I was fine, and that the contractions were, on a scale of 1 to 10, a 4. At least, to me, this was the scale in comparison to the contractions of Aiden's birth. So, for the next half hour, I folded laundry and got the birthing supplies ready. Kat kept a close eye on me, noting each contraction and their duration. I insisted I was doing fine. My doula called me back to check on my progress. I told her I was fine, but she said she was coming over anyways. Finally, Kat said "Suzanne, I want to examine you because I'm having a hard time determining how far along you are". So, after the next contraction, she examined me and said "you are at 9 centimeters!" (at 10 cm, you are fully dilated and ready to begin the pushing stage of labour).
We were both surprised. By the next contraction, I felt the urge to push. I said to Kat nervously, "I need to push and I don't know what to do!". She calmly said "just let your body do the work". Then, she got on the phone to call the back up midwife on duty. Within 15 minutes, 4 more people arrived at the house: Craig's sister Elaine to help take care of Aiden, my doula Alexandra, and 2 midwives, Janice and Beth. Shortly thereafter, Amy, the midwife on duty at 8pm was on her way. I was surrounded by a wonderful support team ready to coach me through the most powerful experience of my llfe. And what a change from the hospital scene four years ago where an army of people were poking, prodding and testing me; telling me I needed intervention and an episiotomy. Instead, my home team was encouraging me and telling me to trust my body. So I did.
With Craig's help, I worked through each push. I moaned "aaaaaahhhh" sounds each time. Beth said it sounded like I was singing out the baby. Alexandra and Kat gave me lots of encouragement, telling me I was doing great and to breathe and think "soft". Aiden wandered in and out of the bedroom to check on me. He walked between Craig and I and held my belly to give me support and encouragement. It was incredibly hard to work through the pushes by only breathing, as the urge to bear down and push was incredibly intense. But, I was determined to do it and not risk tearing. My legs were shaking, as I stood and leaned on Craig for support. Finally, Kat told me to feel the baby's head. I reached down and felt it. On the next push, Janice said "the baby's head is out". And with the next push came one shoulder, and finally the whole body. Kat caught the baby and wooshed him to my chest so I could hold him. A blue skinned baby looked at me, and within seconds took a breath and turned pink. He let out a small cry and I was instantly beholden. It was 8:30pm, 3 hours from the time my water broke. It happened quickly, intensely, yet gently.
Next, I asked Elaine to get Aiden, for it was his job to tell me the gender of the baby. Aiden walked into the room where I said "come see the baby and tell me if it is a boy or a girl." We looked together and he said "mommy, it's a boy!" We soaked up the moment as a new family. The midwifery team checked me and the baby, weighed him, and said we were all doing great.
Within a few hours, the house was tidied and the team was gone. We were ready for bed and couldn't sleep. How wonderful it was to be in our own bed as a family. It was the home birth experience I was hoping for. Thank you to all who said their prayers and were part of making this happen.