Like anyone who's ever tried to record their birth story, it's hard to put into words something so incredible and awesome as the birth of your child. You can never really find the perfectly accurate words that describe and capture such an event. Keeping that in mind, here is the birth story of my third child, and first home birth:
I awoke on Thursday, July 15th around 4:30am, with regular but relatively painless contractions. But the fact that they woke me up and were consistently about 5-7 minutes apart gave me hope that my body was getting into labour mode and this baby was on it’s way. I woke up Rich, my husband, thrilled to tell him that after being overdue for what seemed like eternity, it looked like this baby was deciding to make an entrance. We got the bed prepared for the birth and called our midwives to let them know that things were happening, and to stay prepared.
Soon, the whole house woke up for the day. Our four and two year old sons were ready and raring to go, but luckily my parents were visiting, as well as a brother and sister, so they kept the boys entertained and happy while Rich and I stayed in the bedroom and talked about life and watched a little T.V.
Around lunch time, the contractions were still around 5-7 minutes apart and still not too painful, so Rich and I decided to go for a walk around a mall. Well, we walked and walked and occasionally the contractions would come a bit closer, and sometimes I would have to walk a bit slower through one, but they really didn't stay that way, and I was getting tired of walking. We headed back home for some rest and with hopes that things wouldn't stay this way for too long.
Though I didn't think it was possible at this point in my labour, I was able to take a much needed nap when we arrived home. The Lord knew I wouldn't last the whole labour on the amount of sleep I had under my belt, so He made it so I could nap for a while, without waking for a single contraction. I was so grateful for that rest! And the moment after I woke up, the contractions started again, following the same pace as before.
Joy, my midwife, called periodically throughout the day, to check on my progress and see if she was needed. Unfortunately, things weren't picking up really, so I told her we'd call her back when things seemed to be getting more productive. I felt a bit silly to have called her so early that morning to get her on alert, but I didn't know prelabour would continue on this long. And she didn't mind, either.
Around dinnertime, though the contractions were still only around 5-7 minutes apart, they started to get stronger. I found myself having to focus through them a bit, now. But because they didn't get any closer, I didn't think they were doing anything productive. I found myself starting to feel a bit discouraged with how I was feeling and consequently, dealing with the contractions. My mom must have known that I was getting a bit down, because she came into the bedroom, and started rubbing my back and offering uplifting words and encouragement. That helped me get a better outlook, and deal with labour better.
As the sun went down that night, so did my spirits again. The contractions were still only 5-7 minutes apart, but were even stronger than before. The children were in bed asleep, and everyone else was making their way to retire for the evening. I wanted to be able to go to sleep right along with them, but there wasn't anyway I would be able to manage that. I must have looked crushed, because my mom and dad came to my side and gave me hugs and encouragement. Then someone suggested we offer a special prayer that I would be able to do just fine, and that I would be holding my baby soon. Again, my spirit was lifted up and I felt like I could keep on going.
As Rich and I laid in the dark on our bed, I knew I wasn't going to get any rest there. I told him that I needed a tub, with the hope that I might be able to doze in between contractions. I asked him to keep an ear open in case I needed him. The warm water was nice and relaxing. I rocked back and forth through my contractions and I started to feel like maybe they were coming closer together, finally. I called Rich to come in and time some, just to see. But was dismayed to learn they were still… you guessed it, 5-7 minutes apart. They were very strong now, and I was starting to sound a bit through them, as well. As they got stronger and stronger, with each consecutive one, I tried repeating phrases through them. "I'm okay. I'm okay." But that didn't seem to make me feel good, so I went back to making whatever sound came out with that particular contraction. I knew I was reaching a breaking point, so I asked Rich to call Joy and ask her to come to our home, now. When he had her on the line, she asked to speak to me. I reluctantly got out of the tub, and let her know that though the contractions were still only 5-7 minutes apart, they were very strong, and I needed her. She reassured me she was on her way. I must admit, there was a part of me that dearly hoped we hadn't called her prematurely again, but at this point, I just felt I needed her there with me.
After we hung up, I sought the tub again, for relief. I had only been in there for a few more contractions, when suddenly, I felt that feeling. It's that unmistakable feeling that you have when your body starts to push, just a little at first, but nevertheless, push. I was taken a bit by surprise because my contractions had never come more closely than 5 minutes. How could I be at this point already? I told Rich that I started to feel like the baby was coming, and that he should get my mom up. It didn't take her long to be upstairs, by the tubside, rubbing my back again and sounding through the contractions with me. Rich, wisely, had called Joy to tell her that I was starting to get that pushing feeling, and to step on it. Joy, consequently, called Meryl, our backup midwife, and asked her to hurry here also. Meryl stood a good chance of making it to our birth before Joy would. Joy had mentioned to Rich that I should step out of the tub and pant on the bed, as someone would be there very soon. Just the thought of leaving the water at this point was enough to make me cringe, so I opted to stay just a few more minutes. I remember Rich asking my mom what the definition of "transition" was. She answered it was when contractions start coming one on top of another and are super strong. Because, up until this point, my contractions hadn't been like that at all, we determined that I wasn't in transition yet. But, within a few more contractions, all that changed. They started coming hard and heavy and soon my body was actively doing its job of pushing a baby out. At this point, my mom, dad and Rich helped me move from the tub to the bedroom. I made it there just in time for the next contraction. Joy called again and asked to speak to me. I had only a few moments in between contractions, so it was a brief conversation, and I don't know what we really said, but I knew she was coming and that was very good. I tried to pant through a few contractions, but wasn't able to control that incredible urge to push each time. It's not like I really wanted to push, but it's just an overwhelming feeling. Soon Meryl arrived and made a dash for the bedroom. My dad went out to help take things from her car to where we were birthing, as she knew she was needed more in the bedroom, than transporting equipment from her car. She checked to ensure there was no lip, and stopped short when she felt our baby's head in the birth canal. My water broke next, and that was a bit of a relief of pressure. I was finding that being on all fours wasn't very comfortable for me, so I tried kneeling and holding onto Rich for support. I didn't like the feeling of pushing, and wasn't really relaxing to let the baby out, so Joy, who had arrived sometime within that time frame, would get right in my face making eye contact, and help me to slow my breathing and let go. I was grateful she knew that I needed that.
Again, I didn't like that position, so I moved into a semi-reclined position with Rich sitting behind me for support. This felt much better, and I felt like I could let go of my bottom a bit more and let my body do its job. With Meryl guiding our baby's little head and applying warm compresses and Joy helping me slow down and let go, I was finally able to let our newest baby slip out from my body, and up into my arms. I pulled him onto my chest and Joy put a warm blanket around us both. There's nothing quite like the instant relief you feel when your body is finally still and quiet. You are almost numb with peace. I held this beautiful little being so snuggly, and was just so relieved it was done, that I didn't even care to see if our new one was a boy or girl. Finally we took a peak, and were delighted to see we had another little boy! All those girl hand-me-downs would have to wait yet again!
Someone went to wake the our other boys so they could meet their newest brother. Ryan (4) had slept through the entire thing, and sleepily came out to see what all the fuss was about. Michael (2) had woken moments before our son was born, and my mom had gone in to keep him busy for the few remaining minutes. When he came into the room, his first words were, "OUCH!" and he pointed down to where there was a bit of blood on some sheets and where our baby's umbilical cord was coming out of me. But they both took a good look at their newest sibling and welcomed him in their own ways. They helped get the birth day cake from the kitchen so we could celebrate the occasion. Cake in the middle of the night doesn't happen everyday!
Soon, they were put back to there beds, though reluctantly. The baby and I went to have a nice warm, candlelit bubble bath. While we were in there, the bedroom turned from where I'd had a baby, to our regular, comfy bedroom. When he'd had enough soaking, Joy and Meryl took him, dried him off and dressed him. I relaxed for a few more minutes, and then went to be with our sweet little baby. They weighed him and he was 7lbs. 8oz. They also checked him over and all seemed, as we had suspected, well.
He thought he'd try nursing a bit now, and took to that quite well. I only had one sore nipple and for only a couple of days. After all this, the three of us, baby, myself and Rich, felt it was time for bed, for real. We all nestled in and turned out the light. The midwives finished up the paperwork in the living room, and checked on us just as they were leaving. I was hard to believe what the night had brought. And I was on top of the world.
Joy and Meryl made several home visits over the next week, and were always just a phone call away. This had been our first homebirth and though the labour went nothing like how I had expected it would go, it had been incredible and miraculous. My mom mentioned that life around the home really hadn't been interrupted and no one came home days later with a new little baby for siblings to be jealous of. All things that she had not been able to avoid years ago.
I am so grateful for the experience we had. I felt that my two previous birth experiences had all led up to this one. And I was able to do it! I'm also very grateful for all my wonderful midwives. Penny, my third midwife, was on holidays, so she wasn't able to be there for the grand finale, but I know she would have done a great job, too, as she had with all my prenatal appointments. Joy had been there for my second child's birth and I was very glad she could be apart of this third experience. She and Meryl knew just what I needed before I even did. All three are wonderful women and I will always be thankful to them for their wisdom, care and compassion.
Matthew Richard McCue came to spend his life as a part of our family, on Friday, July 16th , at 2:43am. We've been richly blessed ever since.
- Heather McCue
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