Knowing that I would give birth at home, with my midwife Nancy, assisting midwife Noel, and doula Machelle, was a huge comfort to me. It was such a relief to know that I would be doing the hard work of labor in familiar surrounds and recovering without interruptions from nurses and visitors.
My due date was May 1st, 2011, but I was anticipating that I would be overdue like I was with my first baby. However, Thursday evening, April 28th, early labor began. I was having a lot of back contractions, feeling very restless and the only way I could get comfortable was to sit on my exercise ball and rock back and forth. I began thinking, "This could be it! I could be in labor...but I'm just not sure." I remember telling my husband, Aaron, that we had to get a new dishwasher immediately! Ours had broken down and we were washing dishes by hand. I just felt this intense need to have everything organized and ready. That night, I was so tired but sleeping was a challenge due to back and hip pain.
Friday morning, April 29th, I woke up and I felt like I had a million things to do. Around 10 AM, I began working on sidecarring a crib when the contractions became obvious and more intense. I was incredibly irritable and short with my son, Keaton, and I knew I needed help. So, I called Aaron around 11:30 and asked him to come home and help me care for our son. Aaron finished his lunch and came home soon after. Around noon my water broke in a huge gush, all over the kitchen floor. It was quite a surprise, and at first I didn't believe this could be happening. I thought, "Wait...water breaking before active labor hardly ever happens! Maybe I just peed myself?" But, as I had more contractions water continued to gush. I called Aaron again and told him he had to hurry home! He said he was on his way.
I called my midwife, Nancy, and explained to her that my water had broken and I was having strong, irregular contractions. Nancy called my doula, Machelle, to have her come to my house to take our baby's heart tones. My contractions continued and my water kept gushing. Keaton was very interested in what was going on but he was also a bit concerned. I had put towels down over the water and Keaton kept trying to help me clean it up. It was a challenge to keep him away from the mess while I had contractions. Thankfully, Machelle arrived soon after my water broke and she cleaned up the mess for me. (Wasn't that nice?) Machelle and I talked a bit, she listened to the baby's heart tones and then she started setting up the birthing pool for me. Aaron arrived home around 1 PM and it was a huge relief to have him home to take care of Keaton. Nancy and her assisting midwife, Noel, arrived soon after.
Around 1 PM I began entering active labor. Things became hazy after that and I closed my eyes and concentrated. I rocked back and forth and rested between contractions as they continued to grow longer and stronger. To my amazement hours were passing by in the blink of an eye… Nancy and Machelle reminded me to eat frequently, for the baby and to keep my strength up, even though I had no appetite. Aside, from getting me food and checking the baby’s heartbeat, they pretty much let me do my own thing and allowed me to move around as I needed. I was walking around, I leaned over on my exercise ball, I labored standing, and I walked some more…eventually I decided I wanted to be in the birthing pool once the warm water had filled up.
The birthing pool was an immense help for my contractions because the warm water relaxed my muscles and allowed my belly to be buoyant. I remember hearing Nancy and Noel talking quietly on the sofa while Machelle was next to me as I was laboring in the birthing pool. Listening to them talk was a very nice distraction from the discomfort of my contractions. I had my eyes closed and hearing their voices seemed to help me relax because I was reassured to know where they were. Machelle gave me a back massage and reminded me to relax my face during contractions. I remember that I was getting out of the pool often to go to the bathroom to pee.
In the mist of labor Keaton became concerned and anxious. He tried giving me hugs and kisses to make me feel better. He was such a darling and so concerned about Mommy. Unfortunately, having my son present and upset began to slow down my labor and my contractions would stop while I tried to console him. I became emotional, so Aaron and I decided it would be best if they go for a drive and get some fresh air.
Once Aaron and Keaton left, my labor became more productive and at about 6 PM I was in transition. I was bellowing and groaning with contractions, and it really worked. Vocalizing the contractions and swaying back and forth made them more tolerable. I thought I would be scared of the pain of labor but I really wasn't. I took it one step at a time, one contraction at a time, and all the hormones kept me going strong. I remember something Nancy told me, “The pain of labor is a productive pain,” and that helped my stay positive.
Before I knew it, my newborn son was crowning. Deckard was born at 7:02 PM but had a short cord that was tightly wrapped once around his neck. Nancy somersaulted Deckard in the water, leaving the umbilical cord intact, and placed him on my chest. He was blue and not breathing so Nancy gave him two puffs of air while Noel got the oxygen tank turned on. He was put on a warm tray next to me and an ambu bag (a bag valve mask used for resuscitation) was placed over his face. I was holding my breath and Machelle told me to start talking to my baby. With tears in my eyes I said his name to him for the first time and I told him how much I loved him. I told him he was so beautiful and I asked him to open his eyes. I rubbed his back and I watched the pink color return to his skin as his chest began to rise and fall. He looked at me with a confused look on his face, as though he was thinking, "How did I get out here?" and he whimpered. Then, he started crying and I was so happy! All of this took place in less than three minutes.
A few minutes later, while we were still in the birthing tub, Aaron and Keaton arrived back home and met Deckard. It was perfect timing. They met him at just the right moment - when he had stopped crying and was alert. Deckard and I stayed in the birth tub a little while longer to catch our breath. As we were resting and enjoying the warm water, my placenta was delivered and once the umbilical cord stopped pulsing it was cut.
With the help of Nancy, Machelle and Noel, I slowly walked over to my living room sofa where I settled in and bonded with my baby. He was very alert as I held him skin to skin while I gazed at how handsome and perfect he was. Breastfeeding went off without a hitch about forty five minutes later and we've been going strong ever since. I watched Keaton run circles around the living room, showing off for us. He certainly knows how to be the life of the party. A bit later my husband put Keaton to bed then he came downstairs and joined us as we relaxed and chatted in the living room. We talked about how beneficial it was to leave Deckard's umbilical cord attached, after it had been wrapped around his neck because he was still receiving 70% oxygen. We talked about waterbirth and I told them how appreciative I was to have had the birthing tub available because it was instrumental in coping with contractions. We talked about how perfect and healthy my labor and delivery was and how natural homebirth is. It was such a calming experience to be able to sit and talk in the dim light and warmth of our home while we discussed the events of my birth.
Soon after, I gave Deckard to my husband to hold while I went up to our bedroom with Nancy, Machelle and Noel to have a tear stitched up. My new son was brought to me while I lay in bed. Nancy weighed him, did a health check and made sure all his fingers and toes were accounted for. He weighed 9 pounds, 9 ounces and was 22 inches long. What a big, healthy boy! Around 10 PM Nancy, Machelle and Noel said their goodbyes and headed home while Deckard and I snuggled in bed and my husband took care of the birthing tub. (I was so thankful he was willing to do that even though it was hard work and took several hours.) It was a very restful experience - to sleep in my own bed with my newborn son, undistracted by interruptions from hospital staff. Just peace and quiet as I got to know my baby...
Giving birth at home, on my own terms, surrounded by three strong women helping me was an amazing experience. I am so glad I had the courage to bring my second son into this world unmediated and in the security of my own home. I can’t stress enough how peaceful and natural it was. For me, homebirth was exactly what I needed.
During the early postpartum period I realized that emotionally I was doing much better than I had after my first birth. The first time, post-hospital birth, I knew intellectually that I had had a baby but instinctively, I felt unsettled and confused. This time, instinctively and intellectually, I felt at peace because actively giving birth in my own home was what my mind and body needed. It was a very healing, enlightening and empowering experience for me and I felt closer to my newborn because of it. I had tons of endorphins and oxytocin rushing through my body and I felt alive! What a blessing homebirth can be.
Deckard turns one year old today and is still happy, healthy and whole ~ loving life and enjoying some momma milk along the way. ❤
Also by Bly:
Circumcision's Profound Impact on My Family
R. J. Bly is a wife and stay-at-home mom to two precocious little boys, Keaton and Deckard. She says that it is a joy to be able to stay home with her boys and offer them the very best of her time and energy. Bly comes from a broken family (neglect, physical abuse, emotional abuse and sexual abuse) but she plans on doing everything in her power to provide her boys with a safe and loving home. She says her sons have taught her a great deal about patience, love and respect. Because of them, Bly is an intact advocate, a homebirthing, full term breastfeeding, natural immunization building, cloth diapering, babywearing, cosleeping momma.
Bly graduated from Washington State University with a degree in Public Relations/Communication and hopes to apply this to a career once her boys are older. For now she says mothering is her chosen full time job. Bly volunteers her time as a La Leche League Leader to help mothers and their own babies in her community. She has been diligently working with a few colleagues to purse a breastfeeding in public bill for Idaho and hopes to introduce it into the 2013 legislative session. Bly also serves as Director of Intact Idaho, a grassroots chapter sharing research based information on intact care and circumcision to parents and professionals across the state.