My decision to have an unassisted home birth with my third child was not something spontaneous. I have always loved the idea of being somewhere that felt safe and comfortable during labor and delivery. This was not just for me, it was also for my baby. This is my unassisted home birth story.
Making My Choice
Both of my oldest two were born in the hospital and by the end of that, it simply wasn’t my style anymore. There was something missing in it for me. This was a natural, spiritual thing for me, to give birth. A right of passage, so to speak. The idea of handing a doctor the reigns to my experience just became less and less appealing. I didn’t want to be told how to birth my baby or be limited in any way. I wanted to do things my own way. This time around I wanted to be in control. I knew I could do this and I was going to do whatever it took to make it happen.
I spent my entire pregnancy educating myself on how to have a safe unassisted home birth. I read tons of books. I reached out to others to share their own experiences with me. The closer I came to my due date, the more I felt ready. My decision to take complete control of my birth was not something I talked to many people about. Living in a small town, word inevitably got around. I did get a lot of criticism and raised eyebrows, although absolutely none of that mattered in the moment our daughter was being born. I was doing this for me and my baby. Free birth does not seek approval from anyone.
The Start of Labor
I woke up on March 8th, early in the morning after a rough night with very little sleep. On this day I was already past my estimated due date at 41 weeks and 1 day. I had been having contractions the night before off and on but nothing major enough to be considered active. My water had also started leaking the day before. By that morning I was beginning to feel like something might be starting. I wasn’t going to get too excited about it being the day yet, since I had been experiencing prodromal labor for a couple weeks. I decided I would make the most of my time and be productive.
My husband, older two children and I ventured into town to run some errands. I had stopped at labor and delivery to see if my water really had broken. Although, I was worried they would try to keep me there if it had. It was the only real spontaneous decision I had made during my entire pregnancy.
I think more than anything I had gone there to remind myself why I didn’t want to be there. Within ten minutes of laying down to be monitored, I already felt violated and uncomfortable. Three different people came in within ten minutes to do a cervical check on me. They were going to call in a fourth person and I refused. The on-call OB seemed unimpressed with my unwillingness to let them do what they wanted. I wanted out of there.
Since I wasn’t showing much progression they decided to send me on my way. I didn’t ask questions, I just left. We grabbed a quick bite to eat, I bought myself some makeup from Ulta and then we began heading home.
By the time we got back from an hour long drive, I was starting to feel a little more uncomfortable. I thought about taking a bath to help soothe my aches and pains, but it wasn’t really working. Instead, I decided to just lay down and rest while I still could. My husband was already starting to make the girls their dinner and then getting them ready for bed.
After a while, I woke up from my nap to use the bathroom and I noticed some bloody show. It wasn’t a lot but it was there. I was also having some noticeable pains in my lower back and near my tail bone. I had recently found out the baby was in a posterior position, so I figured that was probably why. We got the girls to bed and then my husband and I were able to just relax on the couch for a bit.
I didn’t last very long on the couch. By 8:30 that evening I had confined myself to my bedroom where it was quiet. I lit some candles and put on Pandora to my favorite station. My yoga ball was the only surface I felt comfortable sitting on. I probably spent a good two hours transitioning from the yoga ball to the toilet seat and occasionally into a cat cow position where I could relieve some of the pressure. While I was doing all of this, I was also working hard to relax my body and clear my head.
I didn’t want anything else on my mind other than the task at hand, which was to get this baby out. It wasn’t until almost 11:00 pm that I became certain she would make her arrival by the morning.
Our Journey Through the Night
Around 11:15 p.m., I was in my living room swaying back and forth and just breathing. I had not mentioned to Matthew, my husband, that the contractions were getting harder because I really wanted to be left alone. I had no desire to talk about the contractions. I also didn’t want to get him excited for baby’s arrival in case it was a false alarm.
It was becoming increasingly more and more difficult to hide the fact that I was really having to work through these contractions. shortly after, I told him I was going back to my room again and I was not coming out until I had a baby in my arms.
While I was in my room swaying back and forth and changing positions as needed to alleviate pressure, Matthew was getting some stuff together that we would need when she arrived. He also started a pot of coffee for himself. He began setting towels all around the floor in our bedroom and I became really agitated at that for some reason. I started to almost yell at him and then I felt the need to run to the bathroom to throw up. It was so awful. The entire time I was puking I was also having contractions and they were really getting close together now. Less than 3 minutes.
I mentioned wanting to get into the bathtub to help relax my body, but by the time it was half way filled I had already changed my mind. I couldn’t sit down or even be still. The idea of being in the water did not appeal to me at all. I had to keep moving. I knew I was hitting a transition or possibly even passed it, so I wanted to be wherever I felt most comfortable.
I ventured back to my bedroom once again. This time when I made it to my room I literally just tuned everything out that was around me - including my husband. He sat there on the bed watching me while I swayed back and forth moving my hips and breathing in and out, heavy with each contraction. I was hardly aware of him being there. I wasn’t thinking about anything really. I was only focused on my body and my baby. With each contraction I began telling myself:
“These contractions are not stronger than my body, these contractions are my body.”
“ I trust my baby and I trust my body.”
“ My body knows exactly what it’s doing.”
By instilling these words into my mind over and over again I basically hypnotized myself into another dimension where there was nothing besides me and my baby. That was all. I stayed in that moment as long as I could.
I was already so thankful that I had chosen to do it this way. I knew I could never remain this calm and collected in a busy environment surrounded by people I didn’t know well enough. Matthew mentioned to me that it was now past 1:00 am, which meant it was a new day already. I knew this baby would be here before the sun came up.
Another half hour rolled by and by this time I was almost unable to focus through the contractions. I began moaning deeply with each one. The pain was becoming agonizing and despite my efforts to remain in my peaceful dimension, I was no longer able to think that way. I wanted to scream and cry but I knew I needed to conserve my energy. I almost began to feel like I couldn’t do it anymore. This was so much harder than I ever thought it would be. Especially since both of my hospital births had been medicated experiences with epidurals.
There was no going back now. I couldn’t change my mind at this point if I didn’t want to have the baby in the car. I had to be strong and pull through. In this moment I felt like I only had myself to rely on, so I better be ready.
Leila's Arrival Earth side
Matthew held me in his arms and reminded me how strong I was. I told him I couldn’t do it anymore, I just wanted to lay down and go to sleep. I was so tired. This was so hard. I was beginning to lose my grip of things and my body felt weak. My legs would not stop shaking. By this point I had stripped out of my clothes and there were fluids and blood everywhere. I told him to get towels ready and make sure we have the suction for the baby to clear her passageways. She was coming.
It was 1:45 am and there was no break in between my contractions. They were one right after another. This was the hardest part of all.
By 2:00 a.m. I was gripping onto the side of my bed and squatting down on the floor. I felt the need to push with these contractions. My adrenaline had kicked in full swing. My body did not feel weak anymore. In fact, I felt stronger than I ever have before. My body was really doing this thing. It was unbearable, but also so relieving because I knew this meant she was almost here. I reminded myself to allow my body to open and work this baby down with each contraction. I did not fight them. I let them surge through me and I reminded myself with each one, my baby was closer. It wasn’t until a few moments later that I just realized this squatting position was not going to work. I needed to get on my hands and knees and I needed to do it fast.
Matthew knelt behind me while I stayed on the bed. I was on all fours and getting myself ready. The lighting wasn’t great since we only had candles going. He used the flashlight on his phone to keep a watch on how things were going down there. He said he could tell I was ready and before he could get the full sentence out, another huge, powerful contraction hit me. I told him I was going to push, so be ready. I could feel her there just ready for the right moment. This was it.
At 2:20 a.m. I began leaking lots of fluid all over my bed and the floor, soaking towels and anything else my husband had laid under me. The first push was almost effortless. It happened without me even trying. I almost considered myself lucky for a moment. I knew my body was so aware of what its job was, but I would have to help it out because she was coming out sunny side up. This would be hard.
The next contraction was a little harder because she was about to start crowning. Matthew was saying something about this, but I was so focused I couldn’t really make out what he was saying. By the third push I had let out an involuntary noise that sounded like a scream of terror. Her head was half way out, and with one more giant push I could have just the shoulders left. My husband told me he could see hair. Lots of hair. My body was shaking, and I felt like I was on steroids. In this moment I took in a deep breath and dug deep within myself for every ounce of strength I had left. Two more pushes. The next push I let out another loud scream and that’s when I felt her head out. Thank god.
Matthew informed me she had already opened her eyes and then I heard her first little cry. I was not expecting that so soon, but it was such a relieving feeling. My sweet baby was literally half way here and all I needed was one more big push to finally have her in my arms. One more big push for the shoulders.
I gripped the edge of the bed and braved myself. When it hit I flew right into alternate dimension stage again. I didn’t feel the pain I only felt the relief of knowing it was over. That’s the exact moment when I felt her leave my body and fall into her father’s arms. At 2:30 a.m. Our darling, baby girl was finally here.
In the moments proceeding her arrival I felt a bit in shock. It took me a second to process the fact that I had just given birth in my bed without anyone telling me how to do it. The adrenaline had already began wearing off. I had to turn around to look at my daughter because of the position I had been in while pushing. There were so many soiled towels around me. I knew we had used at least a dozen of them. Not that any of it mattered at all.
As soon as I saw her, I was absolutely awe struck. I had really done it. It was such a bad ass feeling. My husband and I just sat there for a moment admiring our creation and the fact that we had come together as husband and wife to welcome our child into the world completely on our own. I don’t think we have ever bonded like that before. It was such a sacred moment for the both of us.
During that time, I noticed my three year old chatting in the next room. Mathew said she had been up and talking for quite some time, so I sent him in to get her and wake up our five year old. I wanted them to meet their baby sister while she was still brand new. I had initially wanted big sisters to be there while she was arriving, but it didn’t happen that way when it came down to it.
A Family of 5 for the First Time
I’ll never forget the looks on their faces while they stood in the doorway as they caught sight of me holding this tiny, crying human that was still attached to me. They had so many questions and were so eager to hold her. They wanted to help me comfort her while she cried. At one point my five- year old handed me some new towels and they both helped me wrap her up in them. It was such a special moment for us as a family. I really hope my daughters will never forget it. I know I won’t.
After a little while, I had Mathew cut the cord and tie it off with some string. I decided to lay down with her and attempt to nurse her. I was so tired I thought I might fall asleep. We needed some alone time with just the two of us.
We just laid there for a long while, staring at one another. Falling more and more in love with her every passing moment. I knew without a doubt that this was exactly the way it was supposed to happen. I felt so blessed and thankful. Blissful. This is what a true birthing high felt like. Despite my exhaustion and the ongoing pain of afterbirth contractions, I was adamant to stay awake with her for as long as I could, so I could cherish this time together as much as possible.
I delivered the placenta shortly afterward and had my husband place it in a large bowl. Initially I had thought about keeping it and having it encapsulated but with everything else going on I didn’t put much thought into it. More than anything I just wanted to take a nice warm shower.
It wasn’t until several hours later that I was able to give her a name. I had been thinking about it my entire pregnancy, but I knew I wouldn’t know for sure until I saw her. Later that morning once the sun was up, I was sitting on the couch nursing her and I began thinking about it. It was odd how I just knew her name should be Leila. It was almost as if she had whispered the idea into my ear. It suited her, so it stuck.
Grateful for the Experience
Though time has passed since her birthday, it’s still vivid and clear in my mind. I can remember what her leaving my body felt like. I can remember the rush of emotions when I first saw her. It’s unreal looking back on it now. I don’t think I’m totally crazy for doing it this way. I think I would be crazy to ever do it over again differently. I’m not sure anything could top this experience. It was everything I envisioned it would be and so much more. It was magical.
I can honestly say I walked away from this experience as a new woman. This time did not make my previous births any less remarkable or special, but It rocked my soul and changed the way I see everything pregnancy and birth related. It changed the way I see myself.
There’s nothing like delivering your own baby in the comfort of your own home surrounded by the people you love. It’s a game changer for sure.
Call me crazy, but if I ever had the chance, I would absolutely do it this way again. In a heartbeat. No questions asked. It was all worth it.
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