About a year or so before I was even pregnant, Luis suggested that we watch a documentary call “The Business of Being Born”. Yes…my cage-fight loving, paintball gunning, masculine Latino husband had me watch a documentary about natural childbirth and birthing at home with midwives and doulas. I am forever indebted to him!
First off, let me clarify that I am terrified of needles, bright lights, doctors, and basically anything and everything having to do with being in a hospital. I am a chicken, and I don’t tolerate pain very well. I would rather be childless than have a catheter inserted or an IV put in. Some people feel safe in hospitals, but I am not one of those people. Unless I have just been run over by a car or cut my finger off while cooking, then I would feel I was in the best of hands being in a hospital. Being pregnant though, and going into labor, gives me gut reaction to run off like a cat and hide in darkness until I birth my baby. I would just prefer to not have many people around, definitely no lights shining on me, nothing pricking or poking me…just leave me be and only jump in if I need you to. I knew this is what I preferred before I ever conceived a child, but I just didn’t know it was an option. So after viewing the documentary and doing much more research on the subject, I confidently came to the decision that homebirth was right for me and Luis was 100% on board with me.
It took us 5 months to conceive our first baby. It felt like 5 years to me. I remember seeing the positive test, with it’s barely visible 2 lines. I was ecstatic! Unfortunately, my joyous elation was quickly deflated when, at the office of a popular OB/GYN practice in my hometown let me know – “there’s no baby in there”. What? I shot up on the table in disbelief. Well…there is the beginnings of a pregnancy in there, but looks like it’s just a sac and no baby has developed. I was diagnosed as having a blighted ovum and my paperwork labeled “Spontaneous Abortion”. Lovely.
Something felt so off about the whole situation. Why did they only do an abdominal ultrasound if I was supposedly 6 weeks along? Why didn’t they double check by doing a vaginal ultrasound at that point rather than assuming I “had no baby in there” (such poetic words, right?). Why did they refuse to consider that I wasn’t as far along as they thought I was after I told them that my cycles are long and usually 6 weeks apart. That would put me at 4 weeks rather than 6. Well, that was possible they said, but “don’t get your hopes up”. They told me I’d need to think fast and consider terminating the pregnancy, lest I get an infection. Well wouldn’t my body just miscarry it on it’s own I thought? Why the rush the destroy something that my body hasn’t even decided it needs to get rid of yet? Two days later, they called me and wanted me to come back for more bloodwork testing because my HCG levels were “through the roof” and they were confused. They “needed to figure out what was going on.” I said “Well maybe it’s because I’m pregnant.” They told me not to get ahead of myself.
I decided in that very second that I was done with them. I wasn’t going back, wasn’t going to let them take more blood that my body needed for my pregnancy, wasn’t going to waste any more time on them. If this wasn’t a red flag and sign that was screaming “run!!!” I don’t know what was. I immediately took to the internet in search of a homebirth midwife. What a complete shock it was to find one right by my house. I called her, we talked, I liked her immediately. I went in to meet her, and I knew she was the one. Over the next few weeks, we waited. I never miscarried. We heard the heartbeat on her doppler a few weeks after we had first spoke; tears welled up in my eyes and I asked her “So I don’t have a blighted ovum?” And she smiled at me and responded “Not unless blighted ovums grow arms and legs.”
I had a pretty uneventful pregnancy. Some nausea in the beginning, and the usual aches and pains at the end. My midwife let me borrow one of her books called “Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth” by Ina May Gaskin. I read that book about 3 times during my pregnancy. It was so relieving to read positive birth stories that weren’t horrific or scary. The second half of the book I learned about the normal birth process and about all of the unnecessary interventions. That book was my birthing bible and put me in such a positive state of mind, I went into labor not fearing anything. I actually looked forward to the experience.
At 38.3 weeks along, I was laying in bed and felt this pain radiate to my lower back, but I didn’t want to get excited since my due date was still at least a week and half away. The pain lasted a few seconds and then went away. It came back probably 10 minutes later, and I thought, “Okay, if this happens again, I’m going to tell Luis”. Well it happened again and I got excited, but I still told myself I would wait for it to happen again, and then I would tell Luis for real! Whattayaknow, it happened again, 10 minutes later. I sat up in bed and felt my water breaking. I woke Luis up and told him and the biggest smile went across his face. I called my midwife and she came over to check me and confirmed my water had broken. I just couldn’t believe the moment was finally here!
I couldn’t sleep because I was too excited. I watched TV and wandered around. By 9am my contractions were coming faster together and getting more painful. By 10am they were 4 minutes apart and lasting about a minute. For some reason I still couldn’t believe I was in real labor. My midwife called and said that we should try and go about our day as much as possible and to let her know when the contractions were bad enough to not allow me to do that. I said “Well…I think they’re already like that because they’re pretty debilitating”. She said “Okay then! I’m coming over right now!” My midwife Alison and her assistant Kat were at my house within 30 minutes.
At this point I was sitting by the side of my bed kneeling over every time I had a contraction. Luis would rub my back and feed me orange slices because I was craving them so bad! Over the next several hours, I moved around from different positions and places in the house. I got in the tub once but that slowed my contractions and I wanted my baby so bad, so I got out. Alison suggested I walk in my back yard so we tried that for awhile. I could barely walk and when a contraction came, I would squat down while Luis held my wrists. I went back inside and Alison told me that she wanted me changing positions every 30 minutes. I sat backwards on the toilet and that brought on extremely intense contractions. After I walked out of the bathroom, I had an overwhelming sensation to kneel down, and so I did right next to my bed. They brought me a birthing stool which I used to rest my elbows on when I’d have a contraction. Luis and Kat were sitting in front of me and Alison sat behind me. The contractions were so strong at this point that. I know I yelled something like “Get me the F**K outta here!” The back of my legs were sweating and my thighs would shake after a contraction. I started biting Luis’ hand and I thought that I wasn’t doing it hard until I saw Kat give him some pills that reduce inflamed tissue, oops! During all this, I still had the consciousness enough to care that Luis might “see” something, so I told him to not look hahaha! He responded “But you’re letting Alison see.” To which I responded “I don’t have to have sex with Alison!!!” Alison agreed that this was very true lol. It was nice to have some laughs right before the ungodly period of transition reared it’s ugly head!
It felt like the baby was coming down because the pressure and pain were so intense. I was so devastated when she told me my cervix needed to open up just a little bit more and then the baby would start coming down! All I could think of was “Are you KIDDING me?! It already hurts like this and he’s not even coming down yet?!” Well a second later, my contractions changed and my body started pushing! I had no choice but to go with them, my body was going to push the baby out whether I helped or not. I made sounds like I’d never done before. I remember Luis telling me to keep my chin down and Kat telling me to breathe. Kat was also keeping a cool cloth on my forehead which probably had steam coming off of it because I was dang hot. Alison would say “Good job Jessica!” after a pushing contraction. Then I started feeling the baby come down. So many thoughts were racing through my mind and I couldn’t believe my baby was almost here. I was scared, nervous, excited, happy, worried…everything. More and more pushing contractions came, almost seeming back to back. Luis said my eyes were rolling back in my head and now instead of leaning over on the stool, I felt the urge to just sit up straight on my knees with my hands on the stool. Finally, I felt the “ring of fire”, when the baby’s head is born. I remember Alison saying “I see black hair!” and I felt like crying because of all the months I had wondered what he would look like. As soon as his head was out, another contraction took over and pushed the rest of him out. Alison said “Reach down and pick up your baby!” I looked down and between my legs was this little tiny, purple baby with his arms stretched out and little legs curled up. I picked him up and he was crying a little and looking up at me. Me and Luis just stared at him. Actually that’s not entirely true, first I saw that blood had gone all over my carpet, so I said “Oh no, blood is on the carpet!” but immediately went back to looking Piggie! I kept repeating “Hi baby, hi baby, hi baby.” We moved up onto the bed and Alison and Kat left the room for a few bit so the three of us could be together. The baby stared at Luis for the longest time while we were on the bed and I know it’s cause he recognized his voice after all those months of him talking to my belly. When Alison and Kat came back in Luis cut the cord and I birthed the placenta. Luis and I were in complete shock and amazement of everything we had just experienced.
My home birth was the most amazing experience I’ve ever had and it took me and Luis to a whole new level together. Luis was the best support coach, going through all those hours of doing whatever I asked him to do while being continually patient. When I was finally in bed resting while the baby was being checked, I saw Luis’ little half eaten container of food on the dresser; the only food he had managed to get in his system the entire day due to catering to me! He was the best and I couldn’t have asked for a better support person. I think he could be a male doula!
And the best part of this story is our little Piggie Smalls, who came out alert and healthy. I was so proud that I didn’t put any drugs in his system and that me and him worked together during his birth, both alert and following our natural instincts. I’ll never forget this day for as long as I live.