I gave birth to my second child at home in New Jersey on Saturday August 8, 2015, at 1:45am. He had to go to the hospital about 30 minutes after he was born. This fact was not nearly as disappointing to me as I would have thought before it happened.
At about 5pm on my due date (8/7/15), I started to feel very slight contractions. I was home and relaxed so they were easy to feel but I did not declare myself to be in labor. We had planned to go out to dinner for our wedding anniversary which was the next day. I had a card prepared to give Mark at dinner because I just figured even if the baby was not born before our anniversary, I would not be in the mood to celebrate. I told Mark I had a few contractions but that I was not getting my hopes up. Since O had been a week late, I was preparing myself for this baby to be late too.
As we were driving to dinner, I noticed that I was having about three, very manageable contractions per hour. We meandered through an antique store that we liked and picked out a small table that was to be my sewing table. We told the shop owner that we would be back to pick it up after dinner. He asked when I was due and I think we both replied, “Today!”. He seemed too surprised to respond.
We ate dinner at a diner-type place that had outdoor seating. It was a lovely night. O ate french fries but that is all I remember about the meal. I gave Mark his anniversary card and we finally admitted that I was probably in labor as the three to four contractions continued per hour. After dinner, we went back to the antique store to pick up the table and the same shop owner asked, “So did you eat anything that made you want to go into labor?” Mark responded, “Oh, she’s IN labor.” I was a little embarrassed, but it also made it more real, and I was excited.
On the drive home from the restaurant, we hit a pothole and I instantly felt the contractions intensify. I declared, “Ok, when we get home, I’m calling the midwives.” O started breathing with me from his car seat. When we got home, Mark rushed to put O to bed and I was alone for a little while. Two neighbor girls come by and they asked if I was going to the hospital, and I said, “No, I’m going to have the baby here!” They just stared at me a little confused. I figured I would let their parents explain.
I tried to lay down because the midwives had told me to relax, drink a glass of wine and maybe slow down the labor. I was not about to try to slow it down. I knew I would be having the baby soon. I called my sister and my friend who were both in Brooklyn and told them to get in the car and make their way to us. I think I was in bed for no more than 30 minutes while Mark prepared the living room. He put away toys, set out the sheets, towels and blankets we had prepared, rolled up the rug in the living room and lit some candles. The contractions were strong enough by this point that I did not want to be alone any longer. Around 9pm, I stood up and I felt some water drip out of me, but It was nowhere near the gush of water I had experienced with O, so I was not sure it was water breaking. I told myself it was just pee, but now I know it was definitely some amniotic fluid.
I went downstairs and joined Mark. He coached me through each contraction. We swayed, I did some cat/cow poses and I used lavender oil and an eye pillow that I had made to make me more comfortable. Around 10pm, Liv and Amanda arrived. They all took turns applying pressure to my back and giving me sips of water. They helped me decide when to call the midwives again and they arrived around 11pm.
The midwives set up their gear on the coffee table that Mark had moved to the corner of the room. They worked quickly in very dim lighting. Then, one of the midwives sat in a chair and just quietly watched as my team supported me and the other went to sleep in her car until it was time to push. I was so focused during these next two hours or so. I was moaning and swaying through my contractions. They were intense, but they always ended and gave me a sweet break.
The last time we went to the bathroom, nothing came out and I was worried. But my midwife said, “You might not be able to pee until after the baby is born.” I took comfort in this because it meant I was getting close and that my body was doing all the right things. When we returned to the living room, I remember the environment feeling so perfect. The music was there but not intrusive, the window was open and cool air was rustling the curtains, the ceiling fan was on at a low speed. Even though I was in full-blown active labor, I felt completely at ease.
Around 1am, the midwife checked my cervix. I do not recall hearing her announce a number but she did encourage me to lie down on the couch. I was feeling hot so Amanda put a cool cloth on my forehead and Liv massaged my feet. The eye pillow was heated in the microwave every so often so I could keep it on my low back where I was feeling all the contractions.
Soon thereafter, I was instructed to begin pushing. It felt like I had pushed only a few times when one of the midwives said, “Ok, Mark is going to wash his hands so he can catch the baby.” and I remember thinking, “Wait...what baby?” because it really did not make sense that the baby would be so close to arrival after so few pushes. The last push burned like holy hell. I think I yelled, “What the F--- is happening to me?” and the midwife said, “Let it burn” which I needed to hear and then they told me to reach down and take my baby. I pulled him up to my chest and he cried. It was incredible. I wanted to discover the gender myself, so after I caught my breath I peeked under one leg and I saw it was a boy. Mark and I laughed and kissed. I don’t even recall the delivery of the placenta. I was completely focused on the baby.
After maybe 10 minutes of skin-to-skin, our midwife thought his color was too gray. So she tried dressing him and rubbing him but he did not pink up. They started talking about bringing him to the hospital. I was disappointed but I felt in control of the decision about which hospital and who would accompany him. Mark retrieved the car seat and Amanda and our midwife drove with Mark and our baby to the hospital. I was told to stay home and rest.
I was on my feet pretty soon after they left. We laughed about how O had slept through the whole delivery. I called my mom and told her “I did it! I had a boy!” She cried. I tried to sleep but I was on such a high. I felt so good. Even though I was not with my baby, I was just so proud of myself for delivering at home. My other midwife insisted that I get in bed and sleep although there were many text messages incoming from Mark and Amanda about the baby and the home birth confusion (But how do we admit him without the mother and without a name?). They told me that he had pinked up by the time he arrived at the hospital but they were going to admit him anyway.
I slept for maybe 4 hours before O woke me up by crawling into bed, which was his routine. Liv was in bed with me, but other than that, I don’t think he noticed anything out of the ordinary. I felt energetic and eager to talk about the birth and make my son breakfast while we waited for my mom to arrive so I could join Mark and the baby at the hospital. Liv drove me to the hospital and I arrived around 8am at the NICU. I started nursing him right away. I slept in his NICU room that night, and he was discharged the next day with no complications.
I always beam when I tell the story of my home birth with my second son. It was actually an easy birth. Sometimes I hesitate to say that because people are incredulous but it really is the best word to describe my experience. It was a peaceful, beautiful home birth lasting less than 7 hours from beginning to end. I felt so triumphant afterwards and that is the feeling I will always associate with this birth. Even though it was unfortunate to have to be separated from my son, the glow of my own achievement was bright enough to outshine the disappointment of the separation.