I will be 11 weeks postpartum tomorrow.
Originally I wanted to wait a month before creating another blog post but I now realize that was a little ambitious and I actually needed almost three months. So here we are! I wanted this post to be a more detailed version of my birth story here for those interested in our story and for those who are considering the option of a home birth.
Let’s go back to May 14th, 2020. I was 41 weeks pregnant and had already gotten my membranes stripped once (where they sweep the inside of the cervix in order to start labor). My mom was one day away from flying back to FL and I was getting a little desperate to get things going. This was the day I was getting my “non stress test” in order to see the baby’s heart rate and check my my fluids to see if my placenta was functioning properly.
Frankly, I was not happy about this appointment. It was this appointment 4 years ago that lead me to an induction during Flora’s pregnancy. I was terrified it was going to flunk me out of my home-birth landing me in a hospital again.
The non stress test was inconclusive. I was hooked up for almost an hour (normally it takes 15 min) and they could never get a clear read because the baby was jumping around so much. My fluids were plentiful but unfortunately the baby was still really high up in my pelvis and his head wasn’t even close to my cervix.
I got my cervix stripped again (ouch) and once again given the homework of having sex, stimulating my nipples, and trying to “relax”. I would be scheduled for another non stress test in a few days and possibly be sent in to a hospital to receive it. Once I heard the word “hospital” come out of my midwives mouth I made a nearly unconscious internal decision to try the castor oil approach if labor wasn’t happening in two days.
For those who don’t know, castor oil is one of the oldest tricks in the book to induce labor. Long gross story short- it gives you insane diarrhea which in return stimulates your uterus into contractions. Not glamorous, but pretty effective- and I needed effective.
So I did my homework and prayed and cried and even got accupuncture and chiropractic work- still no baby. May 15th arrived and after a walk, 5 cups of red raspberry leaf tea and still no baby, my mom and I walked to the beach to enjoy what I felt would be my last day there with just my girls.
At this point I had tried everything I knew to stimulate labor. I tried the Miles Circuit, red raspberry leaf tea, birthing ball tricks, acupuncture, chiropractic care, eggplant parm, and lots of “cuddle time” with the hubs. None of it worked. So, May 16th, after a beautiful morning walk to Little Creek, I did it- at 9:30am I made a castor oil milkshake (2 cups of turkey hill peanut butter chocolate ice cream and 1/4 of a cup of organic castor oil).
The diarrhea wasn’t as bad as I expected. In fact, I felt so “ok” I truly thought it wasn’t going to work. In between going to the bathroom I spent the morning cleaning my house, organizing and tending to my garden. It wasn’t till about 12:00 when small light contractions started.
They were so gentle and mild I didn’t want to get my hopes up so I decided I wouldn’t tell anyone. We all just went on with our days until around 3pm. This was when I realized I was getting uncomfortable and started thinking about how I could relieve the pain. Within an hour I was on the phone with my midwife, Cindy, and Cam was inflating the birth tub.
I was confused. My contractions were only lasting 30-45 seconds but they were coming every 2-3 minutes. I didn’t think I was in labor but Cindy reminded me not to focus on numbers and instead pay attention to my body. I remember looking at the basket that had been sitting next to my bed for weeks. It was stuffed with little new born onesies and carefully folded blankets. It was the basket I started at every night before I’d fall asleep and dream of my baby. I picked it up, and left my bedroom knowing the next time I would walked up those stairs I would have a newborn in my arms.
It was now 5:15pm and I was saying goodbye to my girls. I took an extra second to hold Clementine close to me, she would be my baby for just a little longer.
Moments later Cindi and her birth assistant, Deborah arrived and set up shop. Contrary to popular belief, home birth midwives are actually equipped for birth very well with plenty of medical equipment and tools if needed. My midwife comes very prepared. She has an entire portable cabinet with her with everything she could possibly need accept for blood. I know this is a very reassuring aspect of home birth for my husband.
Soon after they arrived I felt the urge of privacy and wanted to labor in the shower- this was a reassuring sign that I was indeed in active labor. The piping hot water from the shower was exactly what I needed to lean into each of my contractions. For the next hour and a half I would switch from my shower to my birthing ball. Cindi and Deborah went for a little walk so I didn’t feel “watched” but I knew what needed to happen. My water needed to break. And in order for that to happen I needed to leave my comfortable birthing ball and start laboring on the toilet.
That’s always a hard place to get to in labor. Realizing that things need to get “harder” to more intense in order to progress.
6:30, My contractions were strong and purposeful. I felt confident, excited and focused. As the waves of pressure would come I went inside myself and imagined my baby slowly descending. Visualizing meeting my baby is just about the only thing I could focus on and it worked well. One of the best pieces of advice I was told was to thank Jesus for the “breaks”. Meaning, when I would have a break in between my contractions I would practice gratitude and really force my body to breath and rest in those moments instead of anticipating the next contraction.
When I started laboring on the toilet I went from quiet and controlled to vocal and unbridled. I tried to keep my groans deep and my jaw open and relaxed in order to avoid tensing up my body. Fear and tension are enemies of labor! This was a sure sign to my birth team that I was hitting transition (when the baby drops into the birth canal). My mom and Cam filled the tub with water and my midwife came back inside.
I had 6 or 7 strong contractions on the toilet but my water was still not broken. I could actually feel it bulging as I would contract but it just did not want to break.
7:00pm and I was ready for the tub. It wasn’t quite hot enough for me right away so my mom had to boil a few pots of water on the stove and by 7:15 I was given the green light to get in! I literally plunged into it. Heaven… That tub felt incredible. I had 3 maybe 4 strong contractions before my water broke.
The moment I felt my water break, I felt the baby’s head crowned into my hand. I’ll never forget it. Literally with one gush of my water I felt the baby’s head. It was the first time I touched my baby. I felt a rush of confidence, excitement and intense pain all at once. Instinctively, I leaned back as my body started laboring the baby out without my assistance.
Cam was in front of me and I could hear the excitement in his voice as he said “I see his ear!- I see his cheek!” I remember thinking how bad we would feel if this baby was a girl but before I finished that thought the babies whole head was out.
You would think I would be in a world of pain at this point but truthfully- I wasn’t! I was excited, I even remember smiling and looking up at Cam with a giggle.
“You might actually need to push the shoulders out” my midwife suggested. I wasn’t not used to “pushing” since I had experienced FER (fetal ejection reflux) with my last birth and the beginning of this one, but during my next contraction I worked with my contraction and pushed with my body. One “push” and it was over! I did it. We did it
Cam guided my sweet soft baby out and up to my chest. Hearing my mom gasp, my eyes darted to Cam’s and he said the words I had been waiting to hear for 9 months. “It’s a boy”! A boy… Theodore Warner Thompson. My son.
Time stood still for just a few minutes as Cam and I cried tears of joy over our new gift.
My midwife and birth assistant helped us up and out of the tub and into our prepared recovery bed. Theo and I were both assessed, I delivered my placenta, and got a little running stitch for a slight 2nd degree tear. Theo was latching, I was beaming, and Cam was ordering pizza. All was right in the world.
Maybe half an hour later my sister brought the girls in to meet Theo and for the first time, we sat together as a complete family. Excited was an understatement. The girls were over the moon excited to meet there little brother.
For me, one of the best parts of homebirthing is this moment right here. The non glamorous shot of me, nearly naked and in bed with my brand new baby, the excited siblings clawing up the sheets to get a better view, the proud and relieved dad with a beer in his hand and the beaming grandma in the background talking to eager family members about the news. It’s all I imagined it to be and it was perfect. Well, almost perfect… the pizza took a little longer then I expected lol.
Theo weighed a whopping 9lb 12oz (same as me when I was born). Cindi stayed to monitor Theo and me for a bit as Deborah emptied the birthing pool and cleaned up all of the “stuff”. They really do run like a well oiled machine- when they left it looked like nothing ever happened! They packaged my placenta and placed it in my fridge and we said our goodbyes. By 10pm the lights were off and my mom rocked Theo to sleep as I passed out on the coach next to them. It was the perfect birth. Redemptive in every way possible. I couldn’t have imaged a better way to usher new life into our family.
Theodore means “gift from God” and that’s exactly what he and his birth was to our family. A gift. The absolute best gift!