This is the story of our son's birth. We had a planned homebirth with a midwife, and our son was born into water. I apologize in advance for it being so long, but I wanted to share the details for anyone considering a homebirth and/or med-free labor.
I was due on Friday the 13th, but my EDD passed with no sign of action. Monday morning the 16th I called my Midwife (S) at 9 and said "Nothing is happening.", so she suggested we make an appointment for Tuesday at noon, and I agreed. About 10, I talked to my mom, who said she'd come over so we could go shopping and to lunch. I didn't tell her this, but by the time she got over at about 10:45, I was having some cramping like early labor. While shopping, they started to get stronger and spread into my back. We got home about 12:30 and at 1:30, and my mom took my daughter up for her nap. I decided to get on my knees and lean my chest over my yoga ball, to see if the back pain would ease. I also started to time my pains (which I was just now starting to accept WERE contrax and were not going away) on contractionmaster.com. To my GREAT surprise, they were about 3-3.5 minutes apart, but only lasting about 25-45 seconds, and still manageable enough I could talk through them.
After 15 minutes, I decided I should call my MW. I left her a VM to the effect of, "Just FYI, contrax are 3-4 minutes apart but manageable. No rush, but if you can stop by later please do." Labor with my daughter was 27 hours long, so I expected this to take awhile as well.
At 1:50, I called H's at work (he's a teacher). He had just gone in to teach the last class of the day, so I told the front office I was in labor, but no rush for him to come home, as I was sure we had HOURS still. Thank goodness he got the message before school was out and left class right away...
My MW called back from an appointment on the other end of town,and asked if it was ok for her to send her former apprentice, A, who's now licensed, to check me so she could see how progressed I was. I said of course, and then went upstairs to go to the bathroom. At some point, H got home and came upstairs and into the bathroom (I think this was shortly before 3) and asked me how sure I was this was 'IT'. I remember looking at my face in the mirror, and it was white, and telling him, "Please go set up the pool." His eyes got HUGE and he ran downstairs. In the time it took me to get downstairs I had 3 contractions. I told H he needed to call the MW back and tell her to head over NOW b/c I was worried she wouldn't make it in time otherwise. My mom left to run get something at the store at this time.
I laid on the couch on my side, and between contrax I heard my MW's apprentice talking to me, though I don't know when she got there. I was coping with the contrax by shaking my foot vigorously and counting to 10 and I breathed in and out, but their intensity was really shocking me. MW's old apprentice, A, showed up at 3:15 and asked to check me between contrax. Every time she would get ready to check, I'd have a contraction...that's how close they were together.
So A checks me and says I'm 5cm and 'paper thin'. She suggests I get upright so baby's head will put pressure on my cervix. I asked if I could get into the pool and she said of course, so in I went. Right away, I had 2 or 3 strong contrax. I'm not sure how she knew, but A told my H that he needed to help me get my bottoms off between my contractions in case I needed to push. I admit...I fought them a bit over removing the bottoms because I was starting to freak a little about how fast it was going.
At some point during this, my mom returned and I told H to have her get our daughter up from her nap and get out ASAP. I was vocalizing through my contrax at this point and didn't want to scare our daughter. My mom ran up to get her, but every time she tried to come down the stairs, I would yell, "NO! Not yet!" because another contraction was coming. She finally escaped between contrax, and not a moment too soon, because I started saying I thought I was going to push. It really was involuntary...the urge was so strong I could not stop myself. At this point I was on my knees, leaning my upper body onto H's arms and the side of the pool.
Somewhere in here, my MW S arrived. I heard her and A talking, but I was in my zone. They let me push during contrax for awhile. I was kind of scared of the pain (everyone told me pushing is a relief and not painful, but that was not true for me...while I couldn't feel the contrax anymore, I could feel the baby moving down and it was not a feeling I can even describe), but they were talking to me, telling me I could do it and that my baby was almost here. That, and H telling me over and over how well I was doing and how proud he was got me through and kept me going. Throughout the time in the pool, they were periodically checking my pulse and listening for baby. I was fine, but they were having trouble hearing baby's HB because it was behind my pubic bone. To be on the safe side, they put a tube with oxygen in front of me during pushing.
Between contractions, I was laughing and apologizing for making so much noise (really I was just grunting and ocassionally throwing in a profanity or a chant to myself like, "Open for baby, open for baby." or "Come out baby. We're ready. Come out." or "I can I can I can I can I am.") and they were laughing about that. They promised I wasn't even CLOSE to yelling and they had heard WAY worse.
After about 30 minutes of pushing, I could feel baby really low. They told me I could feel his head when I pushed, so I reached and felt it and started to bawl. Right after that, they suggested I flip over to sitting so I'd have more control and could open my hips more. Because of the pressure, I was fighting opening my legs wide enough, and I needed to be on my butt to do so. They helped me over, and on the next few contractions I pushed from there. I put my hand down and could feel his head, but I kept my eyes closed the whole time. I was having trouble getting baby to move down, so my MW suggested I might have better luck out of the water on the birth stool, and I said I didn't want to get out. Mostly, I couldn't imagine hauling myself out of the pool in the midst of all this. I heard her sens one of the apprentices out to get the stool, and that was all I needed to hear.
I pushed with all my might through the next contraction, and could feel him crowning. It did burn, but only for a second, and it was so minor. I thought I felt his head come out, so I was asking, "Is baby out? Is that my baby?" and they said, "No, but you're right there. Keep going!" I couldn't understand why I thought I felt baby come out and they were saying no, but I pushed through the next contraction and felt his head, then his body come out. That felt like a HUGE relief. Turns out, what I felt earlier that I thought was his head coming out was S pulling his right hand up and over his head. He was coming out with his hand by his face, which meant his head was torqued to the side, so between the odd angle and the hand, that explained why he was just sitting there and not moving while pushing. They told me later that if his hand hadn't been there, he would have been out before S had even gotten to my house. He also had his cord very loosely around his neck one time, but it was never a dangerous situation. Our son was born at 4:25 p.m.
As soon as he was out, I reached down for him and they handed him to me to put him on my chest. My H lifted baby's leg (sex was a surprise) and we both said, "BOY!".
They cut the cord after it stopped pulsing, and I ended up delivering the placenta in the pool and getting out right after. I got onto the couch and they covered me with blankets because I was shaking (post-birth hormones). By this point I was already feeling fine and not in pain at all. We moved upstairs and into bed, and baby was weighed (8 lb, 12 oz) and measured (21 3/4 inches), and Vitamin K was given. My MW and her apprentices left about 2 hours later.
Recovery has been a breeze and virtually pain-free. My labor was much faster and more intense than I ever imagined it would be, but it was a perfect and beautiful experience, and I'd do it again in a heartbeat!