I wanted to have Charissa at home, but being 1.5 hours from a hospital and being my "test run" we weren't sure what to expect and so we went with a doctor. Since then, to give birth at home has been my dream. I had a horrible hospital experience which left me downright embittered, spiraling down into postnatal depression and lack of bonding. I know not all experiences are like mine, but I felt completely disrespected as a person & mother. I never want to repeat that experience again.
And so when I saw the plus sign on my pregnancy test one fine late-summer day in 2009, I knew: Lord willing, this one would be born at home.
I had a generally uneventful pregnancy aside from a suspicion of gestational diabetes (I was fine) and some rather intense gallbladder attacks. I didn't gain much weight - I've decided that girls make me fat and boys make me old - I started noticing crow's feet half-way through with Brandt - hehe!
My due date was April 12th. That day came and went - but no baby. I was feeling very "maternal" on a April 15th. It was just a feeling that something was going to happen. So I called my Mom in Colorado and she started driving with my little sister, Laurel (7 months older than Charissa). Then the waiting really began.
There was a lot of stuff going on with the family currently, specifically with my brother-in-law who had become completely paralyzed with Guillain-Barre Syndrome on the 7th. At the time, it was unsure if he would live. Mom had just returned from South Carolina to help and I felt horrible that she could not still be with them. But waiting for babies the old fashioned way takes patience and a willingness to let God make the plans! We had a good visit, with lots of walks and some spicy food.
On Saturday (the 17th) I took a Tablespoon of castor oil in hopes that it would throw me into labor. Oh yummy. If you are familiar with what castor oil does, you know that wasn't a fun day. But alas, no baby. And we were back in church on Sunday, something I had hoped not to happen without a baby in my arms!
On Tuesday (the 20th) I saw Ruth, my midwife. She said my body was very ready and she was surprised I hadn't kicked into labor yet! I asked her to strip my membranes. She did a little - much nicer than the involuntary stripping I had undergone with Charissa. And then I asked her about castor oil. Apparently, I hadn't been taking enough. When you want castor oil to throw you into labor you have to take about 1/3 a cup. So the next morning (Wednesday, the 21st), I downed 1/3 a cup "mixed" with orange juice. I say "mixed" because oil doesn't combine with orange juice. It was, uh, quite an experience. Glug, glug, glug... (Hey: only do this after talking to your midwife and if your body is really ready to go! Before that, it isn't good for your baby. No medical advice here, just telling you how it happened!)
Honestly, the larger dose was much nicer to deal with than the previous. And it did throw me into labor. I don't know if it was the oil, or the membrane stripping, but I started having regular contractions that morning. I went for a walk with Mom, Laurel & Charissa. We played near the pond. I planted tomatoes and peppers in my garden. I was fully expecting to not have a baby until early the next morning. Around 4 pm, I was starting to feel the pain in my back and lower abdomen regularly. I lay down with Charissa, who wasn't feeling well, and tried to get a nap but something about snuggling with my sweet baby girl intensified my labor. At about 5 pm, I walked outside where Doug was working on a storage shed next to our home and told him I thought it was time to call the midwife.
I had kept Ruth up to date on all the happenings, so she was expecting a call from me. But another client was in labor and she couldn't leave. So she called a colleague of her's and asked her to come attend my birth.
Everyone else ate pizza while I took a shower and blew through contractions. The midwife, Charlee, arrived around 7pm. By that time I was blowing hard and it was hurting. She checked my dilation and I was already dilated to a 5. We discussed the best way for me to deliver. She said lying on my back would give her the best chance to keep me from tearing up, something I did NOT want to repeat! Of course, I wouldn't have the stirrups or restraining hands from my past experience and I could writhe and move to my heart's content.
I mostly stood and rocked, blowing and occasionally grunting towards the end of each contraction. I tried hands and knees for a while but my arms got tired. I don't think anyone suspected that I was as far along as I actually was, least of all me. Little did I know, I was going through a quick transition (the last, very intense, dilation before birthing) during the half hour right after Charlee arrived. Charlee suggested our going for a walk. I decided to use the restroom before we went and I was PUSHING! With Charissa I had never felt the urge to push, the doc just told me to push. But this instinct was powerful!!! I held Doug's hand and blew hard through each one. I moved to the bed and lay down. No walking outside for me! Charlee checked me and I was at a +2 already! Brandt was in the birth canal - good thing I hadn't gone outside - he might have been born in the grass!
Charlee asked where my Mom was for fear she'd miss the birth. She came in right then, just having tucked Charissa and Laurel into bed. My friend Angie came in, too. I had asked her to take pictures.
I lay on the bed and Charlee suggested that I blow out and then continue to exhale as much as possible - usually ending in a deep moan. I was amazed at the power this gave me and how natural the pushing seemed. This moved Brandt down quickly. As Brandt began to crown, my water broke and splashed all over Charlee. Poor lady! I guess she's used to that kind of thing...
Brandt was crowning and I was pushing, but I was scared. The "ring of fire" had ended in over 20 stitches the last time and I did not want to repeat that. Charlee listened to the heartbeat and told me, "This baby is ready to come now." Then she sensed my hesitation. "Hannah? Are you scared to push this baby out?" she asked. I responded, "YES!" Charlee assured me that I was stretching beautifully and I didn't need to be afraid. Then she prayed, "Dear Jesus, help Hannah to push this baby out!" I echoed her prayer, "Father! Help me please! Come on baby, I want to meet you!" And in just a few more pushes, his head came! Charlee showed me his face and said, "Push the shoulders out and you can hold your baby!" I didn't feel the urge to push at all...but then it came and with my head in Doug's lap, and my hand gripping my mom's hand, Brandt Andrew came into the world and was placed on my chest.
All I could do was stare at his face. My beautiful, alert baby boy! Everyone in the room had been at the right angle to tell he was a boy, but I somehow knew already (although I did check to make sure!). I knew how much he would weigh, too - 8 pounds even. We all sat and admired him for almost half an hour. Then I nursed him - he was a good eater! Afterward, Charlee did a physical exam - he was perfect :-) I had a teensy tear but nothing needing stitches. I was elated.
While Brandt had his physical, I got up, got dressed and started walking around. I felt great! After Charissa, I hadn't been able to walk without support for almost 24 hours afterward for fear I would faint of blood loss. This time, I felt like hiking Everest in comparison. Well, maybe not that ambitious :-)
Brandt was perfect at 8 lbs, 21 inches long. He had a little trouble with his body temperature, but I kept him skin-to-skin and he was well regulated by morning.
Brandt was born at 8:46pm so we made phone calls to family, then I took a shower and we snuggled down into bed together for the night. He only woke a few times and the next morning, Charissa came to mama and daddy's room as usual - but this time she got to meet her new baby brother :-) My Mom brought us breakfast in bed, and I was able to relax all day in my own home just enjoying the new addition to our family. Our midwife called to make sure all was well - and it really, really was :-)
Although not everything went as planned with a different midwife and no water birth (everything was so fast we didn't have time to fill the tub!), I wouldn't have changed a thing. My home birth was everything I had prayed it would be - personal, quick, and healthy. There was something else I had prayed it would be and God more than fulfilled that request...