Rachel shares more about her birth stories in her own words below:
Haven’s Birth Story
My husband and I got married May 2015. We got pregnant December 2016. We were not planning the pregnancy. I remember suspecting my pregnancy after my period was a few days late. I took the pregnancy test and I was equal parts excited and terrified when I found out I was pregnant. When I finally told my husband I’m pretty sure he felt the exact same way! But once we had a little bit of time to think about it we were both very excited! It was fun being pregnant in December because our families either got an ornament or jewelry with a saying related to either being grandparents or great-grandparents.
I also remember that very early on in my pregnancy I developed a very specifically located pain in my lower right back. It persisted throughout my pregnancy and it made exercising, even walking extremely painful.
Going back to about a year before I got pregnant, a friend of mine, who I really adored and looked up to, had a home birth. Before her having a homebirth I thought people who birthed at home were crazy! But then when I got pregnant I started thinking about actually bringing my child into this world and I wanted to be in the most calm and peaceful environment possible. So that is when I started looking into home births. This is when I actually started listening to The Birthing Hour podcast, I enjoyed hearing all the different types of birth experiences that the women on your show had. And the more I learned about everyone’s experiences of home births the more the idea of a home birth really resonated with me.
So, I talked to my friend who had a home birth and asked her if she had any tips or resources to help me along my way. She recommended that I take Bradley Method classes to help me prepare. Bradley Method classes are all about supporting natural birth, and also getting the husbands involved in the birthing process. A lot of times husbands feel very unsure about their role, but Bradley Method puts husbands into a birthing coach role, and that’s what I really wanted for my husband. In the beginning of my pregnancy, my husband was not on board whatsoever with having a homebirth. I am his second wife, his first wife was and still is a nurse. When she birthed their children she did everything by the book medical and at the hospital. So, this whole ‘home birthing thing’ was completely new and crazy to him! I eventually had to tell him, “I’m sorry if you’re uncomfortable with this, but it’s my birth and this is ultimately my decision.” Eventually, though he came around and was totally on board.
I went on the Bradley Method website and found a Bradley Method teacher close by. I reached out to her and we had the most amazing conversation and she gave me a list of midwives that she knew who were local to start the interviewing process.
I started interviewing midwives and I found someone who I connected with extremely well. She became my midwife, and I started having my prenatal appointments with her at her house. The only time I had any prenatal appointments outside of her was to get my blood work done and an anatomy scan at 18 weeks where we learned the sex of the baby.
As a side note, before we got pregnant, my husband and I talked about moving. But then when we found out we were pregnant we decided it was too much and that we would resume looking after having the baby. However, at 6 months pregnant, I decided that I wanted to deliver my baby in the house where she would hopefully grow up in. So at 6 months pregnant, we resumed our house hunting journey and started the process of fixing up our own house so that we could put it on the market. This included of course getting rid of as much stuff as we could, we moved about half of our belongings into a storage unit for showing the house, and had a number of this to fix up around the house like replacing some siding and repainting the inside of the house. It forced me to be much more active than I wanted to be because I had so much pain in my back.
This is also around the time that we started our Bradley Method classes. The program is 12 weeks and it’s an awesome program that teaches both Mother and Father all the aspects of how the mother’s body is changing and what the labor and birthing process will look like. Bradley Method is also about having a peaceful, calm, and relaxing birth which is what I really wanted. So we are taught all sorts of different movements and exercises to help the birthing process along as well as ways to help you remain at peace during your natural birth. The husband’s learn a lot about how to support their wives. Whether it be massage or helping them into a birthing position. One big thing that stood out to my husband was that it was his job to keep me hydrated. They also really drill it into your head that first-time Moms can have really long labors. They could last anywhere from 12 to 36 hours or even more! So Jason was excited to support me during this lengthy process. We planned to go on walks, or out to dinner to help distract me in the early part of labor.
So at around 7 and a half months we finally got our house listed and it sold in 2 days. Luckily around that same time we also finally found a house that we fell in love with. So then at 7.5 months we started the process of packing up the rest of the house and at 8.5 months we finally moved in. Being a first-time Mom I was also told by my birthing team that most likely I would go into labor one to two weeks past my due date. So I did not feel rushed at all during this process and felt we had plenty of time. When we moved in I decided I wanted the entire inside of the house repainted as well as a few cosmetic things that needed to be done. So we did that and after that was done, we finally started the unpacking process and getting settled in.
I was a few days short of being full term, I got up that Saturday morning feeling very restless and eager to finish up unpacking and getting the nursery all put together. I went to HomeGoods and picked up a few last-minute baby items as well as things we needed around the house. A few days prior I was having a good amount of Braxton Hicks contractions. They were very mild and didn’t cause me any alarm. That morning I was in the parking lot of HomeGoods and I had 1 very large contraction that made me pause and take a breath. I assumed it was another Braxton Hicks. That was all I had and I went on about my business.
Later that day I was sitting in the rocking chair in the nursery putting the baby’s clothes on hangers. I stood up to hang the clothes up and all of a sudden I had liquid running down my legs. It wasn’t a lot of liquid so I wasn’t sure if it was my water breaking or if I had wet my pants! I went to the restroom, sat on the toilet and that’s when my water fully broke. I called my midwife to let her know. I was really excited and a little shocked that it was 3 days before my due date and my water had already broken. My midwife sensed my excitement and told me to stay calm, relax or maybe go out to dinner with my husband, and if my contractions hadn’t started by the next morning maybe we would think about taking some castor oil two help jump-start things.
Because we had just moved and we were just getting the house unpacked we were really low on groceries. I told my husband that I was going to get in the shower and that he needed to go to the grocery store to stock us up on some readily available foods for myself and my birthing team. I also called my doula, who I met through my Bradley Method classes, she was actually the instructor. I called her to let her know my water had broken and she said pretty much the same thing as my midwife did which was to try and relax and let her know when things started to pick up. Before getting into the shower I sat down on the toilet once more and had the mother of all contractions. It was extremely painful! I was gripping the bathroom counter and could not speak. I looked at my husband, who was in the bathroom with me, and asked, “is this how they will all be?!” For weeks in my Bradley Method classes, they told us over and over to expect a long labor and that it would be a gradual process. But here I am already having extremely painful contractions and my labor had just started! I was terrified that it was going to be like this for 36 hours.
I got into the shower and was trying to relax but my contractions were coming quicker and quicker and they were extremely intense. It was about 20 or 30 minutes later that I told my husband not to go to the grocery store and instead to call back my doula. He called my her and said you actually may need to go ahead and come over here. I could tell by her tone that she was a little annoyed that we were already wanting her to come over. I think she that I was being a little bit of a baby!
So I got out of the shower, I put on a little sleep dress, and started to labor in bed. This was about 30 minutes after I had my first contraction. My Doula finally arrived about 20 minutes later and at this point, I was in a lot of pain and having pretty consistent contractions. When she entered our room I could tell she was kind of shocked at the state that I was in. She started timing my contractions and she realized that I was having contractions on top of each other. That’s when she called my midwife and told her that she should come over. This whole time I’m kinda freaking out on the inside because this labor was not looking like anything I thought it would. I thought I would have this very calm gradual progression of labor and instead, I’m having very intense contractions back to back to back right away.
My midwife got there about 30 or 45 minutes later and started to assist me with my labor, suggesting certain positions and generally trying to help me relax and reduce some of the pain. Nothing was working. It was during this time that I also threw up a few times. My husband and my doula started setting up the birthing pool and filling it up. I labored for about 30 minutes more and had to get into the pool. When I finally got into the birthing pool I felt a little bit of relief and my contractions slowed down a tiny bit. My husband was trying to help me during this time… trying to massage me likely he had learned in the Bradley Method classes, trying to get me to drink water like a good birthing coach does. But, my labor was so intense I did not want him even talking to me much less touching me! Looking back I feel so bad about that. So at this point, it was about three and a half hours after I had my first contraction, and my contractions were so painful I could barely cope. I was so distressed because I was still terrified and sure that this was going to be a two-day process. I looked at my midwife and said “I don’t even think I’m very far along. Will you check me?” She did and to my surprise, she told me I was crowning and then I could start pushing anytime I wanted! I was in complete shock. I reached down and felt my baby’s head. I remember thinking that this was supposed to be a very special time, this is the time that I was going to bring my baby earthside… This should be a really magical, reverent experience… But all I could think about was getting this baby out as quick as possible! So I started pushing and I was surprised how good it felt. It was still pretty painful but it was a rewarding kind of pain. I pushed with all my might for about 30 minutes and out came Haven. So, at 8:05 p.m. on August 5th my daughter was born exactly 4 hours after my first contraction. I was completely in awe and shocked that I had just had a baby! I didn’t know that births could happen this fast when it is your first birth. For some reason, my body skipped straight to transition and there was no gradual progression. So, after relaxing for about 10 minutes in the water with my daughter it was time to birth my placenta. No one told me how difficult this part would be! Pushing out the placenta, even though it wasn’t painful, was pretty uncomfortable after just having a baby! But I did release the placenta and, we cut the cord. My birthing team wiped me down and I hopped into bed with my daughter. Everything seemed so surreal. I absolutely could not believe that I had my daughter in my arms and that it was all over. Jason and my birthing team cleaned up the birthing tub, packed everything up, we ended up ordering food in, and by midnight my birthing team went home and we had our new little family.
Emeline’s Birth Story
When my daughter was a little over a year and a half old, I really had a desire to get back into shape and was starting to exercise a lot. Then suddenly one day I got this pain in the lower right side of my back. The exact spot I had pain when I was pregnant the first time around… My husband and I were actively trying not to get pregnant, so I thought it was interesting that I was having this very specific pain again. Well lo’ and behold we found out we were pregnant again! After doing some calculations I figured out that this weird pain that I get during pregnancy had come about when I was only about 3 or 4 days pregnant! Thinking about it, that’s probably the same time I developed this pain the first time around as well.
I called my midwife to let her know and we started the process of prenatal appointments and preparing for baby number 2. Since I had such a fast birth the first time around my midwife told me to prepare for possibly an even quicker birth! At the same time, she said “however, no births can be planned so keep in mind, you could have a normal/longer length labor as well. It’s just not something one can plan.”
My second pregnancy progressed well, it was uneventful and healthy. Having a toddler while pregnant forced me to be a little bit more active than I wanted to be. And the pain in my lower right side was excruciating the second time around! I was getting massages and going to the chiropractor, and stretching as much as I could and nothing helped.
About a week before my due date I started getting extremely antsy and was ready to have my baby. I started researching all the old wives’ tales about how to jumpstart labor. Nothing seemed to work. It was the day before my due date and I decided that I would go on a very long walk with lots of lunges and squats to see if that would help move things along at all. The next morning, it was a Sunday morning, and my husband got ready before I did and went to church early to help with setup. My daughter had spent the night at my mother’s house the night before so I had the house to myself and I enjoyed a leisurely morning getting ready for church. I did have some very mild cramping, which made it a little bit uncomfortable to get dressed but I didn’t think much of it. It was around 10:00 a.m. and I was very tired so I decided to get some coffee at a drive-thru coffee shop that is near my house. I pulled into the drive-thru, the Barista opened the window and said “I’ll be with you in one second”. She closed the window and immediately my water broke! it was a huge gush of water and I was completely soaked. And it’s funny, I really love coffee, so I sat there for a minute thinking about if I should go home right away or if I should wait for coffee. I decided to skip the coffee and that I would most likely throw it up anyway. So, I drove off to my Mom’s to pick up my daughter instead. To this day I still feel bad for driving off without telling the barista my reason for leaving and I hope she didn’t take it personally!
My mother wasn’t involved in my first birth because she lived out of town, but since then she’s moved right down the street, so she lives so close now we were planning on having her at my birth. I told her not to come to the house just yet because I wanted to labor and home a little bit. I still wasn’t sure if my labor would be a fast one. So I took my daughter and called my husband on the way home to tell him to take his time coming home. I called my midwife and she told me that she was on the way, but I said, “no, let me just labor a little bit and I’ll let you know if things start to get intense”. Well as you can guess, about 30 minutes later I could barely function, my contractions were so intense! So when my husband got home I told him to call the midwife and tell her to come right away. I also told my mom she could come on. So, within the next 30 minutes, everyone was in place and they were filling up the birthing tub. My contractions were coming very quickly and they were very intense so I decided it was time to get into the birthing tub. Things didn’t slow down and I started having the most painful contractions I’ve ever had. They were sharp and horribly uncomfortable. I yelled out so loud that I startled myself, I had never made noises like that. My midwife didn’t check me but she suggested that if I wanted to I could see if pushing felt better. It did, so during my next contraction I pushed really hard and I felt my body moving my baby into the birthing canal, I took a breath and during my next contraction, I pushed again, and out came baby Emeline. She was born at 12pm, around 2 hours after my water broke.
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