How We Decided on a Home Birth
Long before Sophia entered the world, I began thinking about the possibility of a home birth. Doing things naturally makes sense to me. I had unmedicated births with Kayla, Madeline and Savannah: the first two with the help of our family physician, and Savannah with a midwife. All my births were fabulous, and we didn’t have too many complaints about hospital births. (Thankfully for us, our births went the way we hoped.)
I only know a hand full of people who’ve given birth at home. Even though I was pretty sure we wouldn’t have more children (we thought Savannah was our last!), I was curious about home birth and asked a lot of questions (particularly when I met my friend Stephanie at the Unveiled Retreat in 2010).
So when God changed our hearts and led us to have another child, I immediately talked to Aaron about the home birth option. And I talked to Stephanie. And to another good friend, Liz. With my history of short, uncomplicated, natural births, I was convinced home birth was the choice for me.
Aaron’s biggest concern was the cost. Unfortunately medical insurance rarely covers a home birth. The costs are significantly less than a hospital birth, but you have to pay it yourself. We talked quite a bit through my first trimester as we tried to make a decision, and finally Aaron said, “you know I’m sold on the home birth thing, right?”
Meeting the Midwife
Aaron called Yolanda, our midwife, in late December to discuss the possibility of having her care for me during my pregnancy and birth. I thought it was sweet that he made the first phone call; that really meant a lot to me. We had a consultation with her in early January and knew she was going to be a great fit for us. Besides her extensive experience (she started her own practice in 1983 and has delivered well over 2,000 babies), her personality was calm, soothing and relaxed. And that’s just the type of person we wanted helping with our birth!
My pregnancy progressed smoothly, and I really enjoyed my prenatal appointments with Yolanda. So did the girls! They loved hearing the baby’s heartbeat at each visit, and they loved Yolanda’s toys. I started with monthly visits, then every two weeks, and finally every week at the end. Since all my babies had arrived early or on time, we were prepared for Sophia’s birth to happen as early as the beginning of July. She was due the 16th, but no one expected me to be pregnant until then.
Waiting for Baby
With all the baby clothes washed and folded, the birth kit purchased and prepared, and a freezer full of food, we were ready for our little one! July 8 came and went–she wasn’t going to be as early as Madeline! July 13 came and went–she wasn’t going to be as early as Savannah! July 16 came and went–she was going to be right on time like Kayla! This baby was going to be late! As each day passed and I still felt the same, I began wondering if Sophia was ever going to come. And though I tried not to, I worried a bit. What if my body doesn’t go into labor like it’s supposed to?
The Night Before
Aaron arranged for us to go on our “last date” before the baby arrived on July 21. We tried having a last date on July 12, but that date was cut short with a trip to Urgent Care and 15 stitches for Madeline. This time we hoped and prayed for no emergency phone calls. While the girls played at home with their babysitter, Jessica, Aaron and I ate spicy food at Applebee’s, walked around the mall and read books at Barnes & Noble. My contractions were definitely becoming more painful, but they were still quite irregular. We went to bed that night knowing we may or may not get a full night of sleep.
Strong contractions woke me at 1 a.m. They were about four to five minutes apart, and because of my super fast labor with Madeline, I didn’t want to wait too long to call Yolanda. I woke Aaron around 1:45 a.m. and asked him to wash the dishes. Having the house clean for the birth was really important to me, so he tackled the pots and pans that had piled up in the kitchen. While he did the dishes, I called Yolanda. She asked me some questions about my contractions and told me to call her when we were ready for her to come. One of the things she had asked me was how long my contractions were lasting. Though they were pretty close together, they were only lasting about 30 seconds. Contractions that are really doing something usually last 45 seconds to a minute.
Laboring at Home
For the first time, we had the opportunity to labor at home. I straightened the house, cleaned bathrooms, emptied the trash, picked fresh flowers, sent a birthday card to a friend and probably did a bunch of other things that I can’t remember now. I didn’t want to sit down, because I was afraid sitting or lying down would slow my labor. After a while we watched “You’ve Got Mail” while I sat on the birth ball. At some point Aaron texted his parents to see if they could come pick up the girls around 6:30. We were hoping Sophia would be born while the girls were sleeping and that they wouldn’t even need to leave the house, but it wasn’t looking like she was going to come quite that soon.
Around 7:30 a.m. my contractions had moved to three minutes apart and were lasting more than a minute. We called Yolanda again, and she arrived around 8 a.m.
Yolanda set up everything we would need for the birth and then checked to find out how much my cervix had dilated. I was a little discouraged when she said 6 cm. I was hoping for at least 6 cm but would have loved to hear 10 cm! From the time I was 6 cm until Savannah was born it was four and a half hours. I was really hoping it wasn’t going to take that long until we could meet little Sophia!
The contractions were intense, but I tried to stay focused. I knew God would help me through the pain, just as He had before. When I felt like I couldn’t handle it, I just said, “Lord, please help me get through this one!” And He always did! 🙂
My bag of waters was like a heavy duty Hefty bag once again–Yolanda said it was a sign of a healthy diet–so she broke my water at 10:15 a.m. when I was about 8 cm dilated. The contractions after that were more painful than anything I’ve ever remembered, and finally I thought, it’s time for this baby to come out! I started pushing, and there she was! Sophia’s cord was wrapped around her neck very tightly, so Yolanda clamped and cut the cord before I could fully push her out. Once she was born we discovered the cord was not only wrapped around her neck, but her torso too. Yolanda clearly knew what she was doing, and I was totally confident everything was going to be okay.
After Sophia was born (at 10:43 a.m.), Yolanda said, “go ahead and take your baby.” I reached down and pulled her onto my chest and thought she was absolutely beautiful, just like her sisters. I asked the usual, “is the okay?” and also “why isn’t she breathing?” She actually was breathing, it was just taking her a minute to get used to being in the air (which is totally normal). Sophia was in my arms and doing just fine!
The next hour is sort of a blur. I held Sophia and tried to get her to stop crying (she cried more than I expected!). Aaron took pictures and videos. Then he held her and I took pictures. I nursed her and delivered the placenta. Yolanda kept busy taking care of me and the baby. She fully examined Sophia and weighed and measured her. I thought she might be my largest baby of all, but I was surprised to find out she weighed 8 pounds, 15 ounces and was 21 inches long! What a big girl! God answered my prayers and I didn’t tear with the birth, so there was no need for stitches. Praise God!
Yolanda left by noon, and Aaron and I began contacting family and friends. His parents brought the big sisters sometime around 1 p.m.. They met sweet Sophia but stayed just a short time so that Aaron, Sophia and I could take a long afternoon nap.
So that’s Sophia’s story! Birthing at home was wonderful and everything we hoped it would be. And one of the best parts of all was hearing Aaron tell people how much he loved it. I’m so glad we decided to try something new!