McKay’s Home Birth

McKay’s Birth Story

I’d had two babies come after their due date, but my third baby came almost a week early: 39 weeks and one day, to be exact. I credited that to my Sunstone Formulas pregnancy tea, so I was drinking that again this pregnancy. I had visualized McKay being born on the 9th, the day after my mom arrived, so she would be settled in and available to watch the kids while I labored. However, I was so uncomfortable that I mentally welcomed the baby whenever he was ready to be born. I wasn’t too impatient yet, but I was ready.

As it turns out, McKay also came at 39 weeks and one day.

The night before he was born, I was having some pretty strong surges. However, they weren’t close together or regular, so I figured it was practice labor and tried to sleep. My six-year-old had a stomach ache that night and threw up a few times. Nathan handled that while I tried to sleep and tell McKay that it would not be a good night for him to arrive with a sick child in the house.

Luckily, the surges had calmed down by morning. Nathan gave my four-year-old the iPad and told him not to bother mommy before he left for work, so I was able to sleep in. By noon I was up and ready for the day. I had a small list of grocery items we had run out of so I decided to stop at the store while my kids were all at school. I also picked up my doTerra orders. Every now and then during my errands, I’d have a surge that would stop me in my tracks.

The surges were coming more often by late afternoon, so I texted Nathan and asked him to please come home and help with dinner. I had made pizza dough in my bread maker. When he got home, I let him take over the pizza making so I could time the surges. Some were 20-30 minutes apart, some were 11-15. It was still really irregular, but because they were so strong, I decided to text my birth team and let them know that things might be happening. In hindsight, that was a very good decision because things sure escalated quickly.

The pizza came out of the oven and I sat down to eat. All of a sudden the surges were coming six minutes apart and lasting well over a minute. Some were even 4 minutes apart. I ate a few pieces of pizza. The kids were finishing their food and I started to want to vocalize through the surges. They were laughing and telling me I sounded like a cow, so I went upstairs to my room. Nathan cleaned up dinner and tried to get the kids ready for bed.

In my room, I was alone and trying to get changed into my labor robe. The surges were coming so fast and strong and I started to lose focus. Nathan came in and I started crying. I was not feeling prepared for labor yet. The kids were driving me crazy (my four-year-old had come into my room and I yelled at him to get out). He told me to let him worry about the kids. He also brought my my birth ball from the basement. I texted my doula, Mary, and told her I needed her NOW. I was getting really emotional and that can be a sign of transition. I started to worry that no one was going to make it in time for this baby to be born. Would I have to do this by myself??? (These are the kind of thoughts that go through your mind in labor.)

My midwife had New Beginnings with her daughter, and I wanted her to be able to stay for the whole night, but after I started to get emotional and panicky I texted her to come soon. She responded that she was on her way and that her husband was picking up the tub from Payson. My doulas were texting me all kinds of sweet things and I started to cry again. It had finally sunk in that I was going to meet my baby very soon.

I sat on my ball and had my relaxing music going. I was by myself for a few more surges. I kept moaning through them. The kids were giggling and I knew they were laughing at my noises but I tried to ignore them. Finally Mary arrived. I remember her telling me that I took her breath away. I did feel very beautiful and primal and feminine when I put on my floral robe and started getting into my birthing. Mary started doing counter pressure on my shoulders and hips. Her calm voice and strong hands were very reassuring and I felt a lot more calm.

My midwife arrived next. She started to quietly get things set up. I remember her giving me drops of something every now and then (probably rescue remedy). She kept encouraging my relaxing sounds and slow breathing, and when I would tense up she would encourage me to think of something I was grateful for. I remember the first thing I said was, “my house.” She commented on how much work I had done to make it look beautiful. It helped me in that moment to think of all that I had accomplished with painting and remodeling—if I could do all that, I could birth this baby!

Pretty soon my mother-in-law arrived to pick up the kids. She came in and touched my hands softly during a surge. I looked up and saw her and she smiled and said, “I didn’t know we were having this baby at home!!” We had decided not to tell her because we didn’t want her to worry. Since my mom hadn’t arrived yet and we needed someone to take care of the kids, she figured it out when she got to the house. She didn’t seem upset or worried, so if she was, I’m glad she didn’t show it.

I decided I didn’t want to wait for the birth tub anymore and I wanted to get into my own tub. Roxanna checked me first, and I was 4 cm and completely thinned. She checked during a surge and she said she could feel me holding back. She encouraged me to let go and let him push down on me. That became much easier when I got in the warm bath Mary and Nathan filled for me. I got more relaxed in the tub. Some of the surges seemed less intense than others. I enjoyed the mild ones and barely made it through the strong ones.

My other doula/photographer, Megan, arrived while I was in the tub. She was so excited for me. It was nice to see her smiling face. She kept telling me I was a rockstar/goddess/amazing woman/etc. I loved having her say those things to me.

 

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During a couple of the more intense surges I had the urge to bear down, so I did. It was only at the very peak of the surge, and allowing myself to grunt and bear down brought a lot of relief. Roxanna checked me again and I was at a 5. At this point I started to worry that Sarah (the videographer) wouldn’t make it in time, so I had a few people try to reach her and tell her to come ASAP.

The birth tub arrived at some point while I was in my bathroom tub. Her soft liner didn’t make it so they threw some of our old blankets in underneath the plastic and started to fill it. Unfortunately, we ran out of hot water! That led to Roxanna, Nathan, and Janee (Roxanna’s assistant) boiling water in the kitchen. I laughed at that because it made it seem so old-school, like a pioneer home birth.

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I was starting to get uncomfortable in my tub. It’s an oval tub so it’s larger than most, but it wasn’t very deep, and my knees and toes were getting sore from touching the hard surface. I also needed to pee, so I got out and took care of that. I got my robe back on and suddenly realized that my arms were exhausted from holding myself up during surges. I went into the bedroom and collapsed on the bed. I had several really intense surges lying on my side in bed. The only way I could get through them was to have my doulas putting counter pressure on my back, hips, and legs and Nathan kissing me. His kissing was a welcome distraction but also sent endorphins and oxytocin surging through my body.

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beautiful bw

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I vaguely remember my mother-in-law coming in during this time on the bed. She had accidentally grabbed one of Roxanna’s bags, thinking it was a bag Nathan packed for the kids. She brought it all the way back from Payson so Roxanna would have everything she needed.

The surges on the bed were becoming too intense, so I asked if the birth tub was ready. They said I could get in and hopefully it would be the right temperature. I got in and the water was perfectly warm. I was starting to get impatient, and now that I was in the birth tub, I was ready to meet my baby. The padded surface of the tub was much more comfortable than my own bathtub—the only thing I wish I would have had is a padded rim to lean on. I chose to mostly labor on my knees with my arms resting/hanging on the edge of the tub, and that edge was hard and uncomfortable.

I continued to work through the surges, which were very intense but more bearable in the water. Mary was behind me providing counter pressure and Nathan poured warm water on my back. I remember one big surge where I thought her pressure wasn’t helping, so I asked her to stop, but then it was worse, so I asked her to squeeze again. I was starting to feel stronger urges to bear down with some of the surges, and I just let my body do it. I roared like a lion as I let the urges take over.

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Roxanna checked me again and I was 8cm with a bulging sac. I had been here before with Harrison, and asked the midwife to break my water to speed things up. They did, and Harrison was born not long after. Remembering this, I asked Roxanna if she could break it—already knowing what she would say. I had tested positive for Group B Strep, so of course she politely told me “no way.”

The very next surge was the strongest yet, and again I had the urge to bear down. As I did, I felt and heard a “pop” and knew that my water had broken. Roxanna joked with me later about how that was so typical of my personality—when she wouldn’t do it my way, I did it myself. Of course I have no way of consciously breaking my own water, but maybe my subconscious is strong enough that it responded to being told “no” by telling my body it was time? Who knows? It’s pretty funny either way.

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With my water broken, I knew that baby would be here soon. He needed to be here soon since there was the added complication of Group B Strep. I went into the deepest part of myself and worked with my body to move him down. With each surge I could literally feel the cartilage in my pelvis opening and expanding. At one point, I told everyone in the room “he’s big!” My body was working hard to make room.

Roxanna suggested I put one foot up on the bottom of the tub, so I did. That gave me a little more room in my pelvis. Pretty soon I could reach inside and feel his head. When I knew I was crowning, I wanted to sit back and let him slip out. Harrison had just slipped out, so I fully expected this baby to as well. Unfortunately, he had other ideas.

Roxanna felt for cord and quickly asked me to change my position. I moved so that I was lying on my side in the tub with one leg up high. Roxanna kept telling me to push. I didn’t think I needed to—water births were supposed to be easy, right? But she sounded serious, so I pushed. I gave it everything I had. I could feel a little stinging at the top of my vagina, but I kept pushing. Pretty soon I felt his head come out, and then I thought I felt his shoulders come out, so I stopped pushing (babies are supposed to slide right out after the shoulders come out). But Roxanna kept urging me to push. I asked, “He isn’t out?” and her response was “not yet!” I pushed and pushed and finally felt him slip out! As it turned out, his chin wasn’t tucked all the way and his mouth was open as he was coming out, which is why I had such a hard time getting his head out. I still have no idea why I had to work so hard to get the rest of his body out.

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Roxanna and Janee received him—I wasn’t in a position to be able to do that—but passed him right under my leg and into my arms. He was perfect and squishy just like I had imagined! I cuddled him and rubbed him to encourage him to breathe. He was alert and calm—he barely made any noise. There were a lot of people in the room, but in that moment I was only aware of him and I. Nathan was right next to the tub, and I turned and looked at him and kissed him. I just enjoyed my baby and the oxytocin high for a while.

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My placenta hadn’t come out after 20 minutes or so, and we decided it might help if I got out and walked to the bed. I was able to do that with my baby still in my arms and attached to the cord, thanks to everyone’s help. I got my bra off and my robe back on and cuddled him skin-to-skin in my own. bed. This is one of the things I was most looking forward to when I decided to have a home birth.

My stubborn placenta still hadn’t come out 15 minutes later, and Roxanna thought it may be because my bladder was full. I had no urge to pee, so she tried to get a catheter in, but wasn’t able to. I got baby McKay latched on and started to feel some contractions, so she asked me to cough. The coughing did the trick and my placenta finally came. Nathan cut the cord.

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I started to bleed more than Roxanna would like. She put firm pressure on my fundus and had a nasty cayenne pepper drink ready for me. I also had some kind of tincture. Megan brought up some of my placenta pills from Harrison that I still had in the freezer. Roxanna asked her to open them up and put them right in some juice so it would get into my system faster. That was worse than the pepper drink! I somehow managed to down everything and pretty soon stopped bleeding.

Roxanna examined my perineum and discovered that I had a small tear, as well as some tearing up towards my clitoris. She was not comfortable repairing it, so we discussed our options and decided the best thing to do would be to go to the ER and have an OB do the stitches. I was pretty disappointed to have to transfer at this point, but at least it wasn’t an emergency situation.

We took our time. I finished nursing McKay and had some food. I was having some pretty strong after pains, so my doulas were helping me through that. Nathan got to hold McKay, and then Roxanna did the newborn tests and weighed and measured McKay. He was 8 pounds, 12 ounces, 22.5” long, with a head circumference of 14 3/4”. She said that’s the largest head she’s seen in a long time. He’s also the longest baby she’s seen that wasn’t 12 pounds. I was surprised he wasn’t bigger with all the opening and stretching I could feel in my pelvis during labor.

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We left for the ER around 2:30am. The doctor was obviously not his chipper self after being awakened in the middle of the night, but thankfully he was kind and didn’t seem to be bothered that a home birther showed up for stitches. This was by far the most painful part of the birth, but thankfully it didn’t last long and we were on our way home after a couple hours (most of it spent waiting). They also gave me some stronger pain medication to take home, so that was an added bonus. I have really strong after pains and that came in handy.

Once home, we went straight to bed and slept until 11am. It was so nice to cuddle with my baby in my own bed, my husband laying next to me, and no nurses coming in to wake me every hour!

Sarah, my videographer, came back that afternoon to film the kids meeting their new sibling. Roxanna was also there and brought a gift for McKay—a book that she stamped his foot prints in. We got that on film as well.

I am so glad I decided to have McKay at home. Even though it didn’t go exactly as I thought it would, there was something so special about birthing him in the same room where he was conceived. It brought a special feeling to our home. I had the most amazing birth team. My midwife and doulas were worth every penny, and I absolutely adore my film. It is so wonderful to be able to go back and watch this special event again and again.

Comments

  1. Mary Ann Lesterdiedrick says:

    Thank you so very much for sharing this beautiful, moving moment. And also for including pictures of your husband and the baby. The photographer did an excellent job, by the way.

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