Emilia’s Unintentionally Unassisted Home Birth
Emilia’s Unintenionally Unassisted Home Birth
Mama: Jessica S.
Stats: 8lbs 1oz, 19.3 inches
Type of Birth: Vaginal, unmedicated, unassisted
Birth Location: Home
Primary Care: Midwife
Photographer: Calla Evans Photography
All throughout my pregnancy I felt confident that this little baby would stay put until past 40 weeks. My first was born at 40 weeks and five days after my water broke the day before. The idea of having a baby before 40 weeks was a pretty foreign concept to me. So, when my due date came and went I wasn’t surprised at all.
As I approached 41 weeks I started having some feelings of doubt. My hopes of having a home water birth were starting to fade. The closer I came to 42 weeks, the closer I was inching toward a hospital induction. I felt the same emotions of self-doubt that I had felt at the end of my pregnancy with Annabelle. I tried hard to remain confident in myself, in my body, and in my baby.
My lowest point in pregnancy came on May 26. I was 41 weeks and 3 days pregnant. It was also my 26th birthday. I had a Biophysical Profile ultrasound in the morning and then I spent the remainder of the early afternoon outside with Anna. We worked in the garden and played with the hose. Anna had a blast.
When my husband came home for lunch we had a good chat. I really tried to get myself into a place of acceptance that an induction really might be in my future. I understand that labor and birth are things that often fall outside of your control, but the thought of being hooked up to an IV pole and monitors were things that I did not want to have associated with my birth experience again.
After my husband left, Anna and I took a nap. We hadn’t made any plans for my birthday and I didn’t want anyone over. My husband asked me around 4:30 pm if it would be okay if he dropped something off at a friend’s house an hour away. We made the decision to go, but I wanted all three of us to go together because I didn’t want to be alone.
We left the house around 5:00 and about halfway there I started having contractions. I didn’t say anything right away because I really didn’t think anything of them, but I did start timing them on my phone. Non-chalantly, I mentioned to my husband that while I wasn’t convinced this was going to turn into anything, what I was feeling was different than the Braxton Hicks and cramping I had been feeling before. These were tightenings with more downward pressure and some low back discomfort.
When we got there my husband dropped the stuff off and we immediately left. My poor daughter had a breakdown because we were surrounded by horses and she so badly wanted to get out to see them. I felt like such a stinker I almost told my husband to stop for a little while.
On the ride home we stopped at Tim Horton’s so my husband and daughter could get something to eat. My contractions were about every four minutes lasting 50 seconds. But, again, I wasn’t convinced this was it. I could talk through contractions and except for being aware that they were happening and they were mildly uncomfortable, it just didn’t seem intense enough.
We got home a bit after 7:30 pm and I told my husband to go take a shower with Anna so we could get her into bed in case this did end up being the real deal. I had to give myself a little pep talk to page my midwife, because I didn’t want to waste her time and I would feel so embarrassed if this wasn’t anything. I paged my midwife at 7:50pm, saying that I wasn’t really convinced that this was the real deal, and shortly thereafter she called me back and listened to me through two contractions. I was either quiet or talking to her during the contractions, and they shortened to only 35 seconds long while I was talking to her. She advised me that it sounded like I was still in early labor and that the downward pressure I was feeling was likely my cervix effacing. She figured that I would probably wait until the sun was down and all was quiet before things picked up. She told me to ignore it for as long as I could and to page back when I became more vocal and the intensity picked up.
After the call, I went upstairs and we got Anna into bed as quickly as possible. By around 8:30 Anna was asleep and Kevin and I went downstairs. He wanted to turn the sprinkler on for the garden, so he did that, and then came back to start setting up the birth pool.
I remember discussing with him that I didn’t really want him messing around too much and to get the birth pool set up pretty quickly because it would take a while to fill up with water. What did he do once it was inflated? He hopped in and said, “Hey, look at me! Take a picture!” I do wish now that I had a picture but I was timing my contractions again at that point, so I didn’t want to mess with my phone.
In between contractions I was cleaning and organizing the birth supplies. I was cutting up fruit and making sure I had enough water and ice to keep me hydrated. We sent out initial messages to our photographer and doula saying that we thought it might be the night, but our midwives weren’t here yet.
About 45 minutes into setting up the birth pool (9:15ish), my contractions were coming about every 2 1/2 minutes lasting 45 seconds. The water was just starting to fill up the pool and I started to think that water birth might not be an option for me again because it was taking forever to set up and fill.
At 9:30, I told Kevin to page our midwife again. She called me back on my cell phone and listened to me again through a contraction. Apparently, I am not a very good read on the phone because I am a very quiet laborer until the end when I become more vocal. My husband ended up grabbing the phone from me mid-contraction, and I told him, “No! She wants to listen to me!” He told her pretty urgently that she needed to come now because things were really starting to pick up. Our midwife ended up saying that she based her decision to head out on how my husband sounded and less on how I sounded.
At this point it was 9:35 and Kevin notified our photographer that things had picked up and I called our doula to let her know she needed to come out.
Around 9:45, I was sitting on the toilet through another contraction when my water broke. I reached down as it happened. There was some blood on my hands but the fluid was clear. I showed Kevin my bloody hands and I told him my water just broke. With the next contraction I had an “oh crap” moment because I started feeling the telltale signs that this baby was starting to make its way down into the birth canal. Kevin immediately paged our midwife back saying that I was feeling a lot of pressure and that I was feeling like this baby was coming. She told him to hang up and to call 9-1-1 because she was still 20 minutes away.
I remember I had a moment then when I heard that she was still twenty minutes away. I was upset and scared because I knew that this baby would be born before she got here. I had my moment, but then I quickly got my act together because now wasn’t the time to feel sorry for myself.
I threw a towel down on the floor in the bathroom and got down on all fours. Between contractions I realized I was not in a good spot when the medical team got there if I needed help, so I picked myself and my towel up and moved into the kitchen. Kevin was on the phone with dispatch at this point, and I had him get me a few more towels and pads. Dispatch was advising him to get me on my back and to not push. Getting on my back wasn’t going to happen and while I wasn’t actively pushing with my contractions, my body was to the point that it was naturally expelling this baby all on its own.
I was on all fours facing the kitchen island and Kevin was on the ground behind me. I was using my one hand to support my bottom and trying to breathe my way through the contractions. When our baby was born, Kevin knew what to expect after watching Anna be born and he did an amazing job. I never put more trust in any one person in my entire life. I let go and knew that our baby would be safely born into her daddy’s hands. I will never forget how his voice sounded as he held her in his hands. I have never felt as close to him as I did in that moment. It truly was incredible.
Our baby was born at home into her daddy’s arms, on her mommy’s birthday, while her big sister slept peacefully upstairs.
After that moment, I stood up and stepped one leg over the umbilical cord and Kevin handed our daughter over to me. I placed her against my chest and put a towel around us. I knelt there with her on my chest and we didn’t know whether or not she was a boy or a girl and we really didn’t care. She was crying and pink and healthy.
About three minutes after Emilia was born, I heard a car door slam and feet coming up the walkway. The first person to arrive was our doula, Denise. Kevin was never so happy to see another person in his entire life.
Denise was so incredibly calm and helpful and really brought peace to a somewhat crazy situation. We hadn’t decided on middle name for our girl, but Kevin knew in that moment that we would give her the middle name Denise if we did have a baby girl.
Five minutes after Denise arrived, I noticed flashing ambulance lights out front. Kevin went to the front door to open it. He said at that exact moment he saw our primary midwife running up the walkway and came flying into the house. He joked later that all she needed was a cape. Super Midwife to the rescue! Four paramedics followed in behind her.
The first thing my midwife did was give me a shot of oxytocin (Pitocin) prophylactically because I was at a higher risk of hemorrhage with how quickly everything progressed. Just after receiving the shot, I started to feel my placenta coming out. Out it came with a plop and a gush of blood. I realized that I was no longer sitting on towels and pads, our kitchen looked like a crime scene! At least we didn’t have to clean it up.
They got me some pillows and I leaned back against the trash can and then Kevin cut Emilia’s umbilical cord. While my placenta came out intact, I still had some membrane left inside me. Our midwife spent several minutes carefully removing the remaining membrane to ensure that I didn’t have to transfer to the hospital, all while Emilia was still against my chest.
At this point, I heard a shutter click; I looked up to see our photographer was there, as well as four paramedics, my two midwives, our doula, and of course my hubby all in our kitchen. I still find it hilarious that my home birth ended up including that many people, whereas with my hospital birth it was just my husband, my midwife, and a nurse present when Annabelle was born.
After this, we finally took the opportunity to find out the sex of our baby. Just like our previous birth, I asked Kevin to announce that we had another baby girl!
Kevin took Emilia and held her, skin to skin, while my midwife and doula took care of me. I moved from the kitchen floor to the living room and set myself up on the couch. Our Doula got me food and drink and helped clean me up, while my backup midwife made sure I was healthy.
Emilia and I did skin to skin and I nursed her for the first time. I took the opportunity to Facetime my dad and Kevin called his parents to tell them our baby girl was here!
Some time after 11:00pm, Kevin took Emilia and did more skin to skin while I went upstairs with my midwives and doula to use the bathroom and to assess whether or not I needed stitches. This was somewhat scary for me as my previous experience wasn’t the best. With my first daughter it took over an hour because I had a pretty deep internal tear. I was glad to have the support of Denise, and that my midwife did a quick job of suturing up my minor, first-degree tear.
It was after midnight when they did the newborn exam. Emilia weighed 8lbs, 1oz and was about 19 ½ inches long. She was almost a full pound heavier than her big sister was when she was born.
Shortly after this, my midwives went downstairs to do their paperwork and Kevin and I made the decision to wake Annabelle up so she could meet her baby sister. I really wanted photos of us all together!
She was so excited when her Daddy got her. She kept saying, “The baby came out?” We got lots of bonding time (and beautiful images) as a new family of four.
We said goodbye to our birth team sometime after two in the morning. Annabelle was very giddy, but we did get her back to bed.
While I cuddled with Emilia, Kevin broke down the birth pool and turned off the sprinkler that had been watering the garden for the previous six hours.
It was so nice to have everything done at home and to climb into my own bed at the end of the birth.
As I type this out, I am now eight days postpartum. My midwives have been to my house three times for my postpartum check ups. I feel well and Emilia is past her birth weight! She is a nursing champion.
While my birth didn’t go quite how we planned, and a water birth evaded me for a second time, I am thankful to have my healthy baby girl, her doting big sister, and a strong, supportive husband to wake up to each morning.
Photos by Calla Evans Photography