Alfie's Home Birth Story
I never really understood why people share their birth stories. Photographers snapping pics of your most vulnerable and intimate moments seemed super weird and tbh, a bit gross, Then after I had my first baby I realized the only photo I had from that whole experience was a blurry phone pic after she was born; and this was before phone cameras got really good. Then your memory fades until you can only remember flashes of your labor. I think this is God's way of tricking us into having more babies.
When I got pregnant the second time I devoured all the birth stories. I sought out home birth and positive hospital experiences because I wanted to put myself into a good head space before going into labor. Even though my birth didn't go as calmly and peacefully as I planned, It was still beautiful and I look back now and think, "I FREAKIN DID THAT".
All throughout my pregnancy I was paranoid that my labor would go too fast and I'd end up delivering unassisted. My first baby came early and she came like lightening so I kept reminding my midwives that when I call, to come running! This birth could not have been more different!
I first felt contractions on Saturday afternoon while I was out running errands. Even though they were mild and pretty far apart as soon as I noticed that they were consistent I went straight home and texted my midwives. They told me to track them and to let them know once the contractions were 5 minutes apart and about a minute long. They continued to get closer together and I was really having to breathe through them into the evening so when we hit the 5 minute mark we called the midwives and they made their way over. "This is it!" I thought! Joe called my mom who was flying in that night and let her know that I was in labor so she'd need to grab an Uber from the airport. Perfect timing right?
When the midwifes arrived I was laboring through what I thought were pretty intense contractions and when they checked me, I was a whopping... 2 cm dilated. womp womp.
They told me it would probably still be a little while so they would leave me to labor in peace but they would stay close.
As soon as they left though, my contractions all but stopped. It was a false alarm, so around 2am we decided to try to sleep. Even though I was still having contractions on and off, they were inconsistent and varied in intensity. The next day around 6 pm I noticed that they were getting stronger and closer together so we started timing them. When I hit the 5 minute mark I called the midwives and they made their way back over. "OK! It's really happening this time!" They checked me again and I had progressed all the way to a ... 4. Same story. They left, I labored for a few more hours but eventually the contractions slowed almost to a stop. This went on for two more days. On Tuesday, I finally got a break. I went the whole day with almost no contractions and I felt this mixture of relief (I was exhausted after all) and utter disappointment. Apparently prodromal labor is totally normal but I was so convinced that this birth would be just like my last one that I was discouraged.
On Wednesday morning I woke up to a strong contraction. I was cramping and uncomfortable but convinced that I was just going to be in labor for the rest of my life. I texted my midwife with updates but that afternoon after having consistent (but still not super intense) contractions all day it still didn't look like I was going to progress. Around 2:00pm she suggested that we try castor oil to kick things into gear.
I was hesitant because I've always been a firm believer that our bodies know what to do without intervention but in the end my exhaustion won out. I knew that EVENTUALLY this baby would have been born but I was worried that if things continued in this manner I wouldn't have the energy or mental ability to get through a natural birth.
I've had some inquiries about the castor oil and if I would recommend it. While it did work for me in terms of inducing, it is a powerful laxative and can cause nausea. Both things that suck to deal with while also in labor. It also only works about 58% of the time so if your body isn't truly ready then you'll just end up with the side effects and no baby. My personal opinion is that it's worth a shot, but only if you're desperate and you've tried all the other things first because it made things more difficult for me. (not medical advice - please consult a professional before trying castor oil to induce labor.)
At 3 I went in for a cervical sweep and then we stopped for a hearty pasta dinner on the way home. At 4 I took the castor oil regimen that my midwife recommended, went for our daily walk and then took a good long nap. Around 6 the laxative kicked in and I spent the next 45 minutes in the bathroom. Glamorous right?
Around 7pm my contractions really started to pick up so I called my birth team who were having dinner nearby and they came and started to get set up. We did one more check to see what kind of timeline we were looking at and I had progressed to a 5. UGH! We decided to try to help move things along by holding my cervix open during a contraction. This was excruciating but it worked! After that my contractions really kicked in. I spent the next few hours moving around a lot, from the floor to the bed to the toilet to the ball. I was so thankful to have a lot of different options. It was like my baby and I were working in sync. Sometimes people don't understand why you would want to feel your contractions and I totally get it, its ROUGH but it was like I could feel what he was trying to do and I could adjust my body to help him.
By 10:00 my contractions were intense but still a few minutes apart. When I had Ella they were so on top of each other that I never really had time to process. It was like being caught in the ocean with wave after wave crashing over me and I had no control. It was just happening to me and I had to hold fast and get through it. This time it felt like there was SO MUCH TIME in between the waves that my brain was fully comprehend all of the pain. I'm not sure which was harder!
At 10:30 we decided to break my water in hopes that it would push me over the edge into active labor. Another intervention that I initially didn't want but I'm so glad we did. It felt like a really aggressive cervical sweep. It was painful but after that it was like a boulder rolling down a hill. I had thought my contractions were intense up until that point but as soon as I stood up I instantly doubled over screaming "SON OF A B*******TCH!"
Joe helped me get down the stairs and into the pool. I had been holding off getting into the water because I didn't want my labor to slow down or stop again but from this point I knew there was no going back. I was also unsure about getting into the water because with Ella I hated how the water felt. I'm so glad I got in though because as soon as I sat down it was instantly soothing. It's all pretty much a blur from here on out but I think I labored in the pool for about an hour before I hit what felt like a brick wall. I remember looking up at Joe and whispering that I needed to stop. I know that's irrational but I actually couldn't figure out how to keep going. I was so so tired.
All of a sudden a scream that I never expected or knew I was capable of escaped from deep within me. His head was out! At this point I was still sure that I absolutely could not do it (which my husband thinks is hilarious). Instead of pushing I tried to relax as much as possible and breathe through the contractions (I believe this was a huge factor in not tearing) however because of the castor oil, I had this mental block that prevented me from completely letting go. I was suddenly very aware that Joe was in the water with me and I did not want to poop on him! This made it so much harder but after another contraction he was out! Alfie John was born on Wednesday September 23rd, at 11:42 pm. As he was born the song It is Well started playing. It was truly a magical moment.
I was bleeding quite a bit (Ella was very concerned about how red the water was bless her) so my midwife gave me a shot of Pitocin. They helped me to the couch where they had prepared a little bed for us and then just left us for an hour or so to snuggle our new babe. While we were enjoying our new addition the birth team cleaned everything up and got our bed all ready for us!
I can't emphasize enough how amazing that time was. Completely uninterrupted bliss. There was no rush, we didn't even cut his cord until every drop of blood was absorbed into his tiny little body. He was even able to latch right away which was such an answered prayer because Ella required so much work and time to be able to latch.
After a while we moved upstairs. One of the midwives helped me go to the bathroom and get dressed, and then they did a full newborn exam right on our bed. It was the sweetest time, They were so gentle and everything was so calm and peaceful.
Once they knew that we were both healthy, everyone went home and we were left with our perfect 6lb 8oz, 20inches long baby boy!
I'm not going to lie, I went into this birth a little bit cocky and I was quickly humbled. Ella's birth was so fast and intense that I never even had time to doubt myself or consider changing my mind about the whole natural thang. This time around I felt every single doubt and fear and frankly wanted to give up. I'm so glad I didn't and I'm so proud of myself and THANKFUL that everything went so smoothly and without complications.
I also learned that interventions don't have to be an all or nothing decision. Yes our bodies know what to do but we also have the ability to help! I was so thankful for the Metro Midwifery team. They were so knowledgable and helpful. They took the time to answer every single question thoughtfully and I never felt forced or bullied about any choice that I made. 10/10 I'd recommend.
If you're considering a home birth, GO FOR IT! Even though my two birth experiences were so different, being at home made me feel so safe and comfortable both times. Not to mention going to sleep in our own bed with nobody waking me up was GOLD. (Bonus, the midwife comes to you for your babe's 24 hour, 1 week, and 2 week checkups so you don't have to try to leave the house for any reason in those first few weeks!)
I also was so hesitant about having a birth photographer but I'm SO GLAD that we did! It was not weird at all and I will truly cherish these photos forever! Huge thank you to Tessa J Photography for capturing this day so perfectly! She has this way of capturing real, raw moments and making them beautiful without over editing or making them TOO glamorous.
So that's my story! Thank you if you made it this far! And I'm (mostly) an open book so please feel free to ask any questions you might have and I'll do my best to answer them!