In my last semester of law school I found out I was pregnant and it came as quite a shock. Luckily my husband was super excited because I was not. I was sick, heading into my last set of finals, and a baby wasn’t part of my plan. We figured we’d have kids eventually, this was just sooner than I expected.
Our first child
The first thing I did, after telling my husband, was a Google search for midwives in my area. None of my friends had had kids yet. Several had been trying unsuccessfully for years, and here I was accidentally pregnant — so I had no one to ask for recommendations.
Why was midwife my first thought? Aside from growing rates of intervention in hospitals. I’m not fond of hospitals, and the thought of spending my first few days with my baby in one was not appealing. Also, my mom had as many miscarriages as she had live births, so based on family history, the doctors were going to be nervous and want to do lots of tests. I’d rather just be left alone.
I found one home-birth midwife and one midwife birthing center in my area. Birthing centers are more closely affiliated with hospitals and have to follow a lot of their rules, so I opted for the midwife as my first call. A couple of days later, my husband and I drove out to her in-home office, and we talked for at least an hour. She’d been practicing for over 30 years and had no problem answering all my questions.
With our first child, we opted not to find out gender so we never even did an ultrasound. I had monthly visits, which changed to bimonthly and then weekly as I got closer to my due date. I even told her to expect a call on my due date — because that’s when I’m due, right?
As for tests, I had one round of bloodwork done (at which everything looked perfect), weight checks, belly measurements and checking of the baby’s heartbeat at every appointment. Each appointment with the midwife was at least 30 minutes. She would ask how I was feeling, what had I been eating, if I was exercising (as in, walking or other light exercises to stay active). Maintaining good health, including exercise and eating habits, is very important to a successful home birth.
She walked me through the birth process for the gazillionth time, because if you’ve never done it, you really have no idea what’s going on.
At 10 a.m. on my due date, I called and told her I suspected I was in labor. The Braxton Hicks didn’t seem to be going away. When she arrived at our house, I was dilated to three centimeters. She had another woman in labor, so she told me to rest and that she would be back in a few hours. She came back after lunch, and things had picked up, but I was still only three centimeters, so we took a walk around the neighborhood. She told me to make sure I ate some extra protein and went back to check on the other pregnant woman, who was delivering her third child.
A few hours later, she came back and decided to stay because I was now way further along than the other lady and was actually dilating rather quickly. Around 5 p.m., I was fully dilated, and she said I could start pushing. If you’ve never done this before, pushing actually takes a few minutes to figure out. She walked me through breathing and when to push. We tried different positions, in part because I was having terrible back labor. As the baby got closer, she broke my water, but it was green.
At that moment, I was very grateful I had chosen a home-birth midwife. The water was green, but the baby’s heartbeat was still perfect and nobody panicked. I continued to push, and 30 minutes later my daughter was born. After the head, I had to stop pushing because she had her hand by her face and the midwife had to move her hand down so we didn’t break her collarbone when her shoulders came out. Now we know why my pushing had been so hard! She was beautiful — perfect and oh so sweet.
During birth, the midwife did monitor my blood pressure and the baby’s heartbeat so we would know that everyone was OK. I was allowed to drink (red Gatorade), eat if I wanted and move around as needed. After the birth, my husband heated up some dinner for us, because I was starving!
Our second child
I really enjoyed my first home birth, so when I became pregnant with my second child I called the midwife again, all excited. I opted for a water birth this time, because that’s supposed to help with back labor. The only thing I don’t like about home births is there are no pain medications. I would have really liked them — I’m not a fan of pain — but to give birth to your child in your house and sleep in your own bed is just heavenly. Besides, it seemed I have short labors. About an hour and a half after I called the midwife, our second daughter was born. I had pushed twice.
She was four days late, born on my fifth anniversary. I had steaks set out and an anniversary meal planned. My midwife cooked it all up for us and served us dinner before she left. A steak dinner right after giving birth! I considered stealing my husband’s steak because I was so hungry!
I’d heard of getting the shakes after giving birth, but no shakes for me. I was just extremely hungry.
My third home birth
This little guy was in a hurry — and I finally got my boy! He was born less than an hour after I called the midwife. She lives about an hour away, and even though she rushed over, he was born about five minutes before she arrived. I didn’t push at all. He was in a really big hurry, and at 9 pounds, 1 ounce, he was my biggest baby.
When my son arrived, my husband and mother-in-law were there to help. The midwife was picking up the older two kids and didn’t get out the door quite fast enough. If I had been trying to go to the hospital for this baby, he would have been born at the end of our street — in the car. I do prefer the nice water birth in my bedroom. Of the three of us present, I was the only one not panicking, because I had listened and I had been empowered.
When the midwife arrived, I was relaxing in my birth pool, with my little guy on my shoulder. She helped me out of the pool and let me start nursing him right away while she delivered the placenta.
Why I loved my home births and would do them again
They’re empowering. Having a baby is about allowing my body to do what only it can do: Grow my child. Home birthing gave me the chance to learn to work with my body. Most of all, I liked being in control of it. My midwife was all about making sure I knew how to do things: what foods were good to eat, what kinds of exercise was good, how to maintain good health. Most important, she made sure I knew and understood what was going on.
More: 10 reasons I am not a supermommy — and don’t want to be