It’s hard to believe that Jamie is 8 weeks old today!
The last 8 weeks have simultaneously flown by…and also some moments seemed endless (usually when I was awake in the middle of the night or when all 4 kids needed something from me at the same time!)
I figured it was time to document his birth story before I start forgetting the details.
Where shall I start? How about with a quick overview of my pregnancy. I feel very lucky that overall my pregnancy with Jamie was smooth and uneventful. I felt nauseous the first trimester, I felt better during the second trimester, and started feeling heavy and slow in the third trimester.
In the last few weeks, I felt done and also apprehensive to give birth and have a newborn to take care of. I had great, unmedicated birth experiences with both Benjamin and Alex, so on one hand I knew I could do it again, but I also know that nothing is guaranteed with birth so I definitely had fear of the unknown.
We had spoken with my midwives about place of birth during the last few months of my pregnancy. Jake and I originally thought that I’d give birth at the hospital, as that is where we had our other 3 kids. However, at the back of my mind I was always curious about home birth, and when I mentioned that to my midwives, they told me that I was a great candidate for home birth, as I had already had 3 straightforward deliveries, and my pregnancy was very low risk. We honestly didn’t know until I went into labour where this birth would end up happening!!
My labour and delivery with Alex was extremely fast. You can read about it here. As a result I was worried that this labour would be even faster, and that I’d end up giving birth in the car on the way to the hospital, or even worse, in the parking lot picking my kids up from school one day.
My midwives reassured me that this would NOT happen, and that as soon as I felt ANY signs of labour, I was to page them and they would tell me what to do and they’d be at my side as soon as possible.
Well…starting at about week 36 I had Braxton Hicks contractions all the time, and especially when I was walking or standing. I felt a lot of pressure in my pelvics and baby’s head was down and low. Did this mean I would go into labour in any moment? No one knew! But I certainly felt on edge a LOT near the end.
I had my 38 week checkup at home – my midwife came to check me and also to scope out our house in the event we went with a home birth. She asked me if I wanted an internal exam and/or stretch and sweep and I declined. She also said our house would be great for a home birth, so it felt good to have that option open!
Then it was time for my 39 weeks appointment. I was 39 weeks and 5 days at this point. I was REALLY uncomfortable. It was hard to walk. It was hard to sleep. I felt like I had a bowling ball between my legs. My pelvis hurt. I was out of breath all the time. This time when my midwife Carla asked if I wanted an internal and a stretch and sweep, I said OK. I was still nervous to get things started, but I was also DONE! So I had a stretch and sweep at my appointment around 11:30 am. By the time we got home, I felt things happening. I felt some light contractions that felt like more than Braxton Hicks. This was IT! Jake called his mom and asked her to pick up the kids from school as we knew it would be happening soon and it would be easier without them at home.
My midwife who was on call, Rivky, called me to check up on me a few times that afternoon. (My midwives work in pairs – on any given week, one is in clinic and the other is on call. Carla was in clinic the week I had Jamie and Rivky was on call, and a third midwife Anne would be assisting Rivky. I had met all three of them during my prenantal appointments and felt very comfortable with all three). I felt contractions but they were pretty subtle and about 7-10 mins apart. However, in light of my previous speedy labours, she wanted to come over. She felt more comfortable coming over too early, rather than too late and I agreed with that! At this point, I wanted to stay at home and try this whole home birth thing!
She was at our house by around 6pm, and things were progressing, but they were SLOW!! She set up all her equipment in my room.. She checked me and I was 3 cm dilated. Not bad…but nothing too exciting…so we waited…I bounced on my yoga ball…walked up and down my halls…and we waited some more.
Around 8pm, things weren’t really progressing…and Rivky suggested breaking my water. I honestly felt a bit nervous about it…I was tired at the time and kinda just wanted to forget the whole thing and go to sleep! But then I realized I was just prolonging the inevitable…so we did it. She broke my water. Now with Alex, when my midwife broke my water I immediately went right into very active labour and I thought this would happen this time. So Rivky called Anne, the midwife who would be helping her, to come, as we thought breaking my water would make things happen quickly! Anne arrived, but nothing much changed. My contractions got a bit closer together and bit more intense, but I knew that they were not painful enough yet to mean that things were happening quickly.
Honestly…I felt discouraged at this point. I walked a bit, bounced a bit, went up and down the stairs…but things were progressing SO SLOWLY! At least it felt really slow because I was expecting things to be fast. In the grand scheme of things, in retrospect, it wasn’t that slow…it’s just that my expectations were unrealistic for this birth – they were based on my previous birth, and every birth is different.
At 10:45 Rivky checked me again, and I was only 4 cm. That was disappointing, although not that surprising because my contractions were not that painful. I was tired at this point and annoyed. Rivky felt that perhaps the baby’s head was in a bit of weird position and was not pressing down on my cervix as much as it could in an ideal position. Rivky sent Anne home at this point and we’d call her again when I was close to delivery.
I kept walking, bouncing, and waiting….
At about 1 am I was really done. I lay down on the bed and wanted to just go to sleep. I was so tired. This made my contractions slow down a lot…
At this point Rivky said to me: “Sheryl, you have get up and move around and help this baby out…or we are going to the hospital and you may need pitocin and a epidural.” She said this in the kindest way and most honest way, so that I was aware of my options. I was so tired at this point that an epidural actually sounded great. In my head, I was even thinking that a c-section sounded like a wonderful way to get this baby out. I was tired, and done, and didn’t want to do this anymore.
But then I decided that I would give this one more shot. I had given birth twice before without medication and I could do it again. Jake made me an Energize (the preworkout energy drink I have before my workouts). It gave me a nice burst of energy, and it helped me get out of bed and on my feet again. I summoned all my energy and a positive mindset. We put on some Taylor Swift and I danced!!!! I kept saying to myself “down and out” and I visualized the baby moving down and out. All of these things together, the Energize, being on my feet, dancing, visualization, the music and a good mindset made things happen. My contractions became more painful. They started coming every 2-3 minutes. This was a good thing even though it REALLY HURT! Each contraction came and went in a wave, and the peak hurt a lot. And I mean a lot. It radiated towards my back and we think it was due to the positioning of the baby. Either way…things were working.
At about 2:45 am I was 7cm. And then the rest – is basically a blur. The contractions were really intense and really painful. They were about 2 mins apart. The pain that radiated towards my back was pretty horrible…but I was in a zone…and someone coped by leaning on Jake during each contraction while Rivky rubbed my back. We were an awesome team.
At about 3:25 I felt like I needed to push. I instinctively went down on my hands and knees on the floor beside the bed. Rivky quickly called Anne to come back! But there was no way I was going to wait for Anne to arrive…this baby was coming out STAT!
Rivky and Jake helped me up on the bed. I stayed in the hands and knees position and felt like this baby was going to POP out! Rivky coached me like a pro….she told me not to push…but to just breathe…and let this baby out SLOWLY! I’m forever thankful for her skill…it HURT and BURNED and I wanted to push hard, but I’m so glad that I didn’t, as it gave my perineum an opportunity to stretch slowly. Jamie was born at 3:37 am with two very slow controlled pushes, and I had no tears and didn’t need any stitches.
WHAT A RELIEF!!!!! I did it!!!! It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done, and it was also the BEST experience. It was AMAZING giving birth at home, in our room. Anne arrived shortly after Jamie was born, I delivered the placenta, and everything was wonderful. Rivky took care of me, Anne took care of the baby, and Jake and I were just in happy la la land with our perfect new son. About an hour after he was born, Anne helped me go to the bathroom…I was shaky and weak but I peed and it didn’t even hurt that much! Rivky and Jake changed the sheets on my bed, put together a bag of garbage and a bag of laundry, and you’d never even know a baby was born in our room. It was clean, cozy and peaceful.
At about 5:45 am, Rivky and Anne left. Jamie and I were both doing well and lying in bed. Jamie nursed like a champ right after birth and I felt amazing. I was high on endorphins and wasn’t in any pain. I truly felt amazing.
Natural birth without medication is HARD. I will never say that it isn’t. BUT you feel SO GOOD afterwards, and the recovery is so much easier that I think it’s worth it. I had an epidural and vacuum for Dylan’s birth and I felt horrible after and in pain for a few weeks. I had almost no pain after having Jamie and felt amazing.
Is a home birth for everyone? No – I don’t think it is right for everyone, but it was right for me. I did my research, which showed that in Ontario, with midwives, homebirth is just as safe as hospital birth. I felt very comfortable the whole time and I trusted Rivky and Anne and my body. It was an amazing, empowering experience and I’m so glad I did it. It was amazing to not have to go to the hospital or come home. It was super cold out that night and I never had to leave my house. We were snug and warm and happy.
Jamie’s birth was the hardest thing I’ve ever done, and also the most fulfilling. If you’ve read this far, thank you! This post ended up super long. I hope that my experience can show other moms that birth can be wonderful, empowering and miraculous. We often just hear about the horror stories when it comes to birth and I think it’s important to share the positive stories too.
Also, if you live in Ontario, and you are considering using a midwife for birth, you absolutely should. I received the best care from my midwives during the prenatal and postpartum period, and of course during birth. After Jamie was born, Carla came to check on us 3 times at home. It was amazing to not have to leave the house for the check ups. She was so reassuring and made me feel so confident and capable during that first week. I am forever thankful to my outstanding midwives. (They work out of the Uptown Midwives clinic in Toronto, and they have privileges at North York General Hospital! I highly recommend them!)