When I found out I was pregnant with my first child in September of 2016 (two weeks after my husband and I tied the knot…no joke), there was no question as to whether or not I wanted to do a hospital or home birth. I was home birth all the WAY! And so, my journey began with Heidi at 6 weeks pregnant.
Fast forward through nearly 25 office visits, one ultrasound, one birth class, not enough luxurious and always-too-short back and hip rubs, weeks of at-home perineal massages from my husband (ladies…if you don’t know, now you know…and you’re welcome) and it was May 14th, the day before my son was due. I was pulling a trailer with our 1978 Ford flatbed, vigorously rubbing my nipples as the sun was slowly setting after a day of work (read: heavy vibrations and lots of intentionally jostling myself around) in the skid steer with the hopes that I would get to meet my kiddo the next day.
I concocted the spiciest meal I could think of. My husband and I had sex…I was ready.
As if on cue, I woke up at around 2am to intense cramping. I quickly realized that I was having contractions. I scrambled around our house looking for the papers that Heidi had given to us early on detailing what we should and should NOT do when we begin to panic about having contractions in the middle of the night, and the advice was that if they weren’t close together, SLEEP. So that’s what I tried to do.
At around 7am the next morning, I was FaceTiming my sister who was in Dublin at the time when I felt like I got a swift kick to the you-know-what and thought, “Well, it must be time to go!” I thought my water had broken…so I called Heidi and said we would be down shortly. When I ran back inside to grab my heavy pads for bleeding and bent down to pick up the bag, my body let me know that my water had not, in fact, broken when I thought it had. Apparently, the kick in the you-know-what was my mucous plug breaking, and the difference between that and my water breaking was stark. Let’s just say I had to change my pants…
What normally takes about an hour to drive we accomplished in approximately 40 minutes. We were nervous and excited…and speeding. But when we got there, Heidi was as cool as a cucumber, checked my dilation and told me to go enjoy the day, to not have any sex, and to drink a lot of water because I had time to spare. This was at around 10:30am or so. So, off my husband and I went to Safeway to snag some coconut water, and head for Sinks Canyon to check out the raging spring runoff in the Popo Agie River. It’s safe to say that almost immediately after leaving Safeway, my contractions grew significantly closer together (about 2 minutes apart) and I did NOT want to be in a vehicle or around anyone I didn’t know. So, back to Sweetwater Midwifery we went.
I don’t remember how long I labored out of the birthing tub, but I do remember that by the time I got IN the tub, the water was a welcomed support as I moved through contractions. The most comfortable position for me was on all fours, but my arms grew tired quickly and I had to rely heavily on my husband to hold me up. Poor guy, he was so curious to see what was happening down below, but his services were need up top!
Several hours after I returned to Heidi’s birthing center, I gave birth to a beautiful baby boy. The umbilical cord was relatively short, and I had a labial tear. I remember the stinging feeling I had while holding my newborn before the cord was cut and the placenta birthed, and honestly, the worst part about the entire birthing experience was getting the lidocaine shot so I could have a couple stitches (or maybe just one stitch? I don’t recall!). I remember the joy and confusion of the first few hours of being a parent, learning how to nurse, weighing him, wondering about shots, circumcision, what and how I was going to eat, and the brief pangs of sadness about no longer being pregnant. It was truly a beautiful experience.
My second child came very much in the same way, although more quickly and almost two years after my first. This time, I chose to be hooked up to an IV drip of antibiotics because I tested positive for Group B Strep and was concerned about passing it to my baby. Besides that one new change, I arrived to the birthing center more prepared for what I was going to experience – ready to vomit up my breakfast, poop in the birthing pool and rely heavily on my husband’s strong arms.
Between arriving at Sweetwater Midwifery around 8 or 9 that morning and 11am, I was in and then out of the birth tub because my contractions had slowed down and become less intense, perhaps as a result of the warm water’s relaxing effects. Once I was out of the tub and walking around, they kicked into high gear. I remember kneeling on the bed about an hour after drying off and donning a dress – I was breathing through a contraction when my legs started shaking from exhaustion. That’s when I knew that I needed the support of the water again. So, back into the tub I went. After one more contraction, my waters broke. 12 minutes later (yes…TWELVE), I was holding another baby boy, feeling the familiar sting of a labial tear (this time accompanied by a minor perineal tear as well – DO THOSE PERINEAL MASSAGES, LADIES!) and knowing what was in store for us next – the worst part…a lidocaine shot.
Home birth (or as close to our home as we could be to have this kind of intimate delivery setting) was exactly right for my husband and I. Our birth team consisted of Heidi and her assistant, and the two of us. We couldn’t have asked for a calmer environment with the right people to support and usher us into parenthood.
I remember with fondness that after my first birth I said to Heidi, “I’m tired.” She responded, “Well, you basically just ran a marathon.” And I said back, “I think that was way easier than running a marathon.” She asked if I had ever run a marathon, and the answer was, “No, but I never want to.”
And I’d still rather birth a baby at home than run 26.whatever miles any day.