Birth Stories

Med-Free, Home, Water Birth (Mom & Dad perspectives)

This is a VERY long birth story. 
While pregnant, I most valued the birth stories with as much detail as possible, so I tried to write as much information down as I (we) could remember.

Short version: 5 hour labor, Au Natural birth at home in a birthing tub, MW didn't make it there in time so DH did the catching. It was an amazing experience.

Lena Katharine
6 lbs 5 oz
20 ? inches
Born at 12:21 a.m. on Tuesday April 13th (just 21 minutes past her due date) after only 5 hours of labor.

Monday April 12th (My Estimated Due Date)

Mom: I wake up feeling better than I have in a long time. I have a burst of energy and an appetite again. I spend the day working from home, sitting on my birthing ball, going for a long walk - confident that labor is still many days away.

Dad:  Seemed like any other day.  The energy she has and her attitude tell me this baby isn't coming anytime soon. 

6:30 pm

Mom: I lose a portion of my mucous plug. I know that means nothing as far as when you will go into labor, so I just think that is interesting and move on with my night.

I have opted not to have internal checks done at my appointments because they truly aren't an indicator of anything concrete - for instance it doesn't matter whether there is or is not dilation & effacement because that all can change rapidly during I was about to find out first-hand. So losing my mucous plug was the first indicator that there was any dilation happening. And it isn't a hard indicator of a time frame - it just means that something is happening that could take weeks to accomplish.

I am fully prepared to be pregnant for another week or two.

Dad:  I went to a meeting at church.  Clearly, the baby wasn't coming today, so no big deal, right?  I left at 6PM to go for the meeting.

7:00 pm

Mom: While lounging on the couch watching TV, I have my first contraction - I think. Since this is my first child, I have no idea what "real" contractions feel like or how my labor will go. I sense that this contraction is different, somehow. I notice that the cramping feeling in my lower abdomen feels a lot like really nasty period cramps. Since this is entirely different than how my Braxton Hicks felt, I decide to use my handy-dandy iPhone App to start timing them - just in case it is real. I continue watching TV and timing my contractions for the next hour or so. I vaguely think that these are the beginning of something real but I let that thought pass because they are only in my lower abdomen and not wrapping around my back or moving farther up my stomach. I don't really pay attention to the timing - I just keep pushing the start/stop button whenever they start and stop. After all, this probably isn't real.

For the record, a couple are 14 and 19 minutes apart. But most are 6 and 7 minutes apart. Some are 30 seconds long and some are over a minute long.

8:00 pm

Mom: During the next four or five contractions, I feel a strong need have a bowel movement...and so I do...after all of them.  I start to realize that this might actually be labor, since my body has begun to have very frequent bowel movements.

Contractions are consistently 7 - 8 minutes apart lasting 45 seconds to 1 minute each. I still don't notice a pattern.  I'm focusing on my rapidly emptying bowels and pressing that little start/stop button.

Personal note: Cottonelle Fresh Wipes were a lifesaver during the loose-bowel episode. They felt a lot better than regular toilet paper after the fifth trip to the toilet within a half-hour. I suppose I'm okay with the mass exodus (not that I had a choice) because after the diarrhea, there was absolutely nothing left to be pushed out during the pushing stage.  

8:30 pm

Mom: I'm starting to have trouble focusing on my random tasks during the contractions. I keep walking around through them because I am still testing to see if this is pre-labor or false labor, so I am doing everything I can to get them to stop (walking, drinking, eating, napping).  We also learned at our Bradley Method classes that walking during your contractions can reduce your labor time by as much as 28% so I was implementing that plan...just in case this was the real thing.

At this time I feel the need to have emotional support through the contractions. Just as I was about to text the hubby, he walks in the door. I feel better just knowing he's here. I casually inform him about what has been going on for the last hour and a half.

So far, the contractions still haven't been what you would consider regular - varying between 30 seconds long and over a minute long; but they are starting to regularly be 6 to 8 minutes apart.  I don't notice this pattern - or lack of pattern - because I am still only focused on working through the contractions, wandering around the house, and pushing the little button to start/stop timing them.

The hubby and I start busying ourselves making the final preparations for labor/birth, both still under the impression that this will probably subside or at least be a very long night. 

In hindsight, I see that once my emotional support arrived home, the contractions jump to 2 - 6 minutes apart but are still irregular in length (30 seconds to over 1 minute long).

Dad:  I walked in the door about 8:30pm.  She tells me she's been feeling some labor pains, but she thinks it is false labor.  She shows me her contraction tracking, and it looks like they are pretty irregular... anywhere from 2 minutes apart to 19 minutes apart, and then back to 6 minutes, and then 14 minutes, and then 3 minutes... it was anything but regular, and so I agreed that it was probably false labor. 

But still... what if?  So I set about doing the dishes and tidying up just in case this is real and we have to call the midwife.  Fortunately, she had filled the birthing tub earlier in the day because she planned on relaxing in it. So that was ready and full of warm water.  I put about 5 lbs of sea salt in the tub to add buoyancy and keep the slime and germs to a minimum. 

Her contractions would come and go, and she would get a look on her face like a menstrual cramp.  She'd been on birth control for the last 11 years, so she never really had bad menstrual cramps, and this didn't seem any worse than a typical cramp.  The cramps would come, and they seemed to be a little regular, but we still weren't convinced it was anything more than false labor. 

9:45 pm

Mom: Hubby calls the Midwife to inform her that I am indeed in labor. We are both still a bit dazed by the idea and keep acting as if this will turn a corner and simply be false labor.  The midwife asks the usual questions and he answers them accurately but without the urgency that I would have put into the message!

Dad:  She didn't seem too freaked out by anything.  The pain seemed manageable - more of an irritation than pain really - and though the contractions were coming pretty often, there was still a good degree of irregularity to them.  I wanted to give a strong show of confident support, so I was actively remaining calm.  I called the midwife to give her an update that we were having contractions.  At this point, I was still fully convinced that it was false labor, and we probably still had a good week to go.  I told the midwife about the mucus plug, and she asked about any of the accompanying signs - such as bloody show.  At that point there wasn't any.  The midwife said we should both try to get some rest so that we didn't run out of stamina if this was in fact the real deal.  We got into bed, but the contractions would make her turn onto her hands and knees as the pain was manageable in this position.  She still seemed to be taking it all about as well as a menstrual cramp, so I still hadn't adopted any real urgency. 

10:00 pm

Mom: There's the "bloody show" - a sure sign that I am dilating. And wow, there is no asking, "I wonder if that is it?" It is a lot of blood. Fortunately, I was spending most of my time on the toilet because ewww - that was nasty.  I throw on a pair of Depends and move to the bedroom to continue labor. I originally bought the Depends in case my water broke and I wanted to move about the house without dripping everywhere. I didn't think about the bloody show aspect. My bag of waters is still intact but I am pleased that I have the very sexy adult diapers on hand anyway.

I tried to lie on my side and relax through the contractions as we had learned in class. (Contractions that were still widely varied in length but only 2 - 4 minutes apart with some double peaking contractions...not fair!) But that position was terrible for me; I felt like I couldn't breathe when I was having one - which, in turn, would make me uncomfortable and a bit scared, which would make the contraction feel more painful.  So I would lie on my side and when a contraction would start, I would hop up onto all fours and rock during the contraction. I also would hum a song or random tune with low tones. Or I would moan something like, "open for the baby" while visualizing the work that the contraction was doing to open my cervix. There was a lot of comfort in this little routine.

My dear husband was so great during this time. He had already taken over the responsibility of timing the contractions. During them he would gently stroke my back and my arms, remind me to relax certain muscles, and say things like "you're doing great" and "relax and let your body do the work".  He was my rock. I would not have made it through this process without his support.

Dad:  Bloody what!  Dang!  That's not a little pink spot!  It was enough deep red blood to soak the TP she was using.  I'm glad they have a term "bloody show" so that I wasn't worried about it.  I texted the midwife to let her know about the bloody show.  I felt too silly to call her just minutes after I had just spoken to tell her this next indicator.  She was also having diarrhea as it seemed like every contraction she had a bowl movement, and she was running out of "solids" left in her intestines.  I remember thinking I didn't want to be "one of those guys" who calls the midwife after every contraction.  I was trying to be as confident and brave for her as I could so that she wouldn't freak out.  I started just hoping that it was still false labor, though intellectually I knew all the signs were there that this was real.  The midwife texted me back letting me know losing the plug and the bloody show were absolute signs that dilation had begun.  Since we're doing a natural home birth, and no internal checks are done, we rely on the many other indicators of progress. 

11:15 pm

Mom: I resign myself to the fact that I am not going to be able to sleep at all between contractions (we are still delusional and think this is going to take a while or even go away). Hubby suggests that I get in the birthing pool to relax. He tells me that having me relax will probably make the contractions subside. I believe him. As we discovered first-hand, relaxation has the opposite effect when you are actually in labor.

Being in the pool felt awkward at first because I had become accustomed to hopping on all fours on our bed and rocking through the contractions. But I quickly found a position that was good for me - kneeling with my arms resting on the side of the tub. The water felt good on my achy body. Being slightly buoyant in the water feels great on my tired bones and makes me relax my tense muscles.

Even though I feel much more relaxed between contractions, it seems as if the contractions themselves have become much stronger. I can't focus on anything except each moment as it passes. Truly, I have a hard time remembering this part of labor because my brain was basically shut off at this point.

Dad:  She seemed to be getting more tense.  She was having a tremendous amount of difficulty refraining from tensing just about everything in her body during a contraction.  I thought this was probably why it seemed like the contractions were getting more painful.  Once or twice she said "Help me!"  I knew from our Bradley classes this is a clear sign she was fully in Stage 1 of labor.  She also had me repeating these phrases like "you are doing great" and "let your body do the work" and "relax your muscles... relax this muscle (if she was tensing a specific muscle).  She would chastise me if I said one wrong - for example "you're doing fantastic" was wrong... it had to be "you're doing great".  I tried an "I love you" but was scolded and told to tell her she was doing great.  It seemed silly, but the pain on her face told me compliance was the best option. 

I suggested we move to the tub because she seemed unable to control herself from tensing up during the contractions.  I thought it would ease her pain, and allow the labor to fizzle out (I still tried to hope that this was false labor).  While the tub did an amazing job at helping her relax - which she was able to do quite well - it just put her labor into overdrive.  Her contractions became immediately more frequent, and seemingly more intense, though they seemed to cause her less pain than when she was in the bed.  Her contractions were 2 to 8 minutes apart, and each lasted about 80 seconds.  Our midwife had told me to contact her when the contractions were 4 minutes apart for 1 hour.  Well, what does one do when suddenly they are 1 to 3 minutes apart for 20 minutes?  Sometimes they are one right on top of the other, and one starts before the last one is done.  I also noticed a red line going up her back-side.  I heard in one of our classes that doulas and midwives use this as an indication of dilation. 

11:40 pm

Mom: I tell hubby to get one of the plastic basins because I'm going to puke. I begin to make these weird guttural grunts while tossing my cookies. I am suddenly lucid enough to realize that I am in transition - moving from the first stage of labor (dilation & effacement) to the second stage of labor...PUSHING!

I feel my body push the baby for the first time and realize that I am not going to need to assist the pushing process. I desperately try to stop my body from pushing because I know that the midwife hasn't even been told to come over yet!  This is because my contractions have never been "regular" enough over long enough of a period of time to report anything. Looking back, that's because they were progressing so quickly that we didn't have time to wait the standard amount of time before calling it in.

In addition to having my mental faculties back, oddly I feel...hungry. The sips of water that I was taking between contractions just doesn't seem to be what I really need at this moment. (My dear husband was dutifully keeping me hydrated with water after each of my contractions.) I remember the juice-cubes that I froze just a few hours earlier and ask hubby to get me some. He brings the tray of cubes and gives me one. Oh sweet bliss! The berry-pomegranate taste is superb and the cold feeling in my mouth is wonderful. I also happen to enjoy the texture of semi-frozen juice cubes crunching between my teeth. I chomp down one of those cubes and ask for another!

Dad:  We learned over and over again that vomiting is a sign of transition from Stage 1 (labor) to stage 2 (pushing).  But this simply can't be transition - She's only been in labor for what - 3 or 4 hours?  And it didn't seem like she ever experienced anything that she couldn't handle.  Another sign of transition is the mom saying "I give up... I can't do this anymore!" but She wasn't even close to that state of mind.  I think we both thought labor would be at least in the 24 hour range, and so we were both prepared for the long haul.  This couldn't be transition because it's just getting started, right?  But here she is puking on every contraction.  I would run give her a new plastic tub to barf in, go to the bathroom and rinse out the barf, then come back and she was already starting another contraction and barfing again. 

11:55 pm

Mom: By this point I feel the baby moving down fast. Every contraction I have makes me puke and brings on three strong pushes...that I try to stop from happening! I keep telling the husband that the baby is going to come out and I won't be able to stop it. He's not really buying it. After all, this is happening too quickly. I insist that the baby is "right there" and I can't stop it. He grabs the mirror and takes a look down below - and sees a portion of the intact bag of waters bulging out.

He gets on the phone with the midwife quickly. She hears me in the background, recognizes the sounds of a woman in second stage labor and makes a mad dash for the door.

I spend the next 15 minutes trying my best to NOT cooperate with my body and fight against the pushing. Every contraction brings on three strong pushes that I cannot stop. But I try my very best to keep that baby from coming too soon.

There is a contraction and strong pushes where I feel the head crown - I keep telling the baby to wait and telling my body to relax and let the baby come back in, and she slides back inside. I tell the husband that the baby is coming out.

Another personal note: the pushing stage was such a relief. It sounds hideous because I was puking and fighting my body's natural pushing process. But really, every time I threw up and my body pushed the baby down farther, it felt amazing! At one point I actually smiled and enjoyed my body doing the work...but that state of mind immediately brought on a powerful contraction and I realized that I wouldn't be able to simmer in the moment - I had to try to slow this process down!

Dad:  She said "she's going to fall out".  At that point I was like "What!!?"  I grabbed the hand mirror and took a look at her birth canal under the water and I'll be danged - there was about a quarter sized bubble of bag of waters poking out!  Time to call the midwife and tell her to get over here!  I called our midwife and used about every bit of my strength to remain calm and tell her what was happening.  She said it sounded like we should have some company.  Then she heard my wife in the background as a contraction came on and she was puking.  She said that sounded distinctly like she should get there ASAP, and I agreed with that. 

At this point She is doing everything she can do to keep from having the baby before the midwife arrives.  After about 5 minutes I look, and that quarter size bag of waters is now about racquetball size, though still doesn't resemble a head.  Clearly, though the crowing is started.  This is about the time I let go of the idea that this isn't false labor anymore, and this isn't going to take days of labor, and we're not, in fact, in this for the long haul.  As a matter of fact, I may need to catch this baby myself. 

12:20 am, Tuesday April 13th

Mom: I feel the head crown to that ever-anticipated position where there is no return. I don't feel any "ring of fire", although I do feel a stretching like I've never felt down there before. (It was more stretched toward the front than the back. Not what I had anticipated.) I reach down and put my hand on the baby's head to slow the head coming out and to help my skin have time to react properly. (It must have worked, because I didn't tear.) I fully realize that the next contraction will bring on those three strong pushes and expel the baby without me being able to stop it. I urgently tell the soon-to-be-father that that the baby is coming out right now!

Dad:  I check with the mirror on the next contraction (after seeing the racquetball size bag of waters poking out), and now that racquetball crown is softball size and definitely resembles a head shape.  Interestingly, She seems to be stretching well, and there doesn't appear to be any signs whatsoever of stressing to the tearing point in any of her skin.  She says she doesn't think she can hold her in any longer, and she's pretty sure the baby is going to fall out on the next contraction.  She says "what if the midwife doesn't get here in time".  I told her to relax and just let it happen.  I told her I was fully prepared and able to catch the baby.  I had mentally been prepared for this specific possibility, as feeling confident enough to do it myself if need be was part of my study and preparedness for the home birth.  This was pretty much a green light for her.  I called the midwife again to see where she was... I knew this baby was coming now.  She said she was a few minutes away, but just then my wife said "the baby is coming now... the head is coming out right now!" so I hung up the phone, jumped in the birthing tub, and before I could even reach my hands down to catch the baby, she comes flying out as if jettisoned from space dock - completely weightless.  The baby didn't sink and didn't float... just stayed there suspending in the salt water.  I reach out and took a hold of her, and she opened her eyes and looked up at me - making eye contact.  That was a special moment.  I turned her back so she was facing downward and held her in the water while my wife turned and lifted her leg over the baby and the cord.  She sat down and leaned against the tub, and I brought the baby up and out of the water, resting her on her mom's chest.  After a few moments, a soft whimper and then a short cry rang out.  I stepped out of the tub and grabbed a towel to put over her to keep her warm. 

Mom: As the baby's head comes out, I feel the bag of waters break open and in one big gush the whole baby slides out. The baby is out and the husband is in the tub, scooping her up from the water. I exclaim, "She is out! It is a ?she', isn't it?" He tells me "Yes, it is a girl." He instructs me to carefully turn over and I do. I sit down in the tub, feeling an incredible sense of relief, and he hands me the tiniest human being I have ever seen in person. She is pink and wobbly and absolutely perfect.

I feel amazing. I am so proud of our family.

The hours afterward

Mom: The midwife arrives a few minutes later and checks us over. We all are doing well, although Daddy needs to change his clothes because he's soaking wet now.

The midwife confirms that the cord has stopped pulsing. She clamps it and Daddy cuts the cord.

It's time to think about breastfeeding and birthing the placenta. Yippee. I'm totally distracted with the fact that I'm in water and have a difficult time with the idea of breastfeeding while breast-level in a tub. We move this show to the bedroom, where we had prepped the bed for this possibility only hours before. I try breastfeeding but Lena isn't interested. We snuggle skin-to-skin though, which we both enjoy and has just about the same power as breastfeeding does to encourage the contractions that birth the placenta. The midwife also gives me a liquid dropper filled with some kind of nasty herb concentrate that helps with detaching the placenta. Nearly two hours after our daughter was born, I push it out. Not fun but it was brief. I realize this is the first time during this whole process that I actually need to participate in the pushing. Weird.

The midwife needs to evaluate the placenta to see if there are any other pieces left inside. She asks if we want to see it. At this point, why not? We get a quick tour of the miraculous organ that makes pregnancy possible. It's a small placenta with a small cord. The midwife checks the cord to ensure there were the right amount of blood vessels running through it. They are all there, it just happens to be a tiny cord.

We opt to have our midwife encapsulate the placenta in pill form for me to take to prevent postpartum depression. It's a process where the placenta is dried and then put into pills for me to take after a few weeks if I choose to. I figure it can't hurt to have them on hand. PPD is a terrible experience and if I can use a pill to prevent it, I will. It just won't be a chemical pill produced by a factory - it will be a hormone blend perfectly balanced to my body.

By the time the midwife leaves, the tub is empty and packed up, all the laundry is being washed, the baby has pooped meconium and I have managed to pee for the first excruciating time. You would never be able to tell that a baby was just born in our home...except for the cute little person we can't take our eyes off of.



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Re: Med-Free, Home, Water Birth (Mom & Dad perspectives)

  • Wow! What an encouraging and educational story. Thank you for sharing.
    DD1 (b. 8/16/2010)
    DD2 (b. 9/04/2013)
    BFP 2/25/12, m/c @ 6w 3d || BFP 8/1/12, m.m/c @ 9w5d
  • Congrats and thank you for your story! My husband and I just finished our Bradley classes a few weeks ago. I am so encouraged by your story!
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  • Wow, incredible story. I would love to have a home birth, but there is so much anxiety surrounding it.

    Married 4.4.09  ~*~  Me-34 & DH-32 ~*~
    Complete Thyroidectomy Oct 07'  &  Cardiac Ablation Surgery for SVAT Sept 11'
    BFP #1 - 10.3.10  I  EDD 6.11.16  I  Boy #1 born 6.16.11
    BFP #2 - 9.12.13 l EDD 5.27.14 l CP 9.20.13
    BFP #3 - 3.5.14 I  EDD 11.17.14 I  Boy #2 born 11.17.14

  • What an amazing story!  Congrats on your little girl!
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  • I just loved reading this, I was mesmerized! Thank you so much for sharing it, to you and your DH.  I really hope my body can work as...independently and naturally (for lack of better terms) as yours did. Just wonderful. Congrats!
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  • Even though I had already heard Lena's birth story, I loved reading about it again.  Thanks for sharing all this - both of you!  Smile

  • Amazing story - thanks for sharing! Congrats on the beautiful baby girl!

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  • Wow. That was one of the best birth stories I have ever read. I love your smile in the pic. So sweet and she is so pretty!!!
  • Congrats Mama and Lena!  It's so nice to see a detailed Bradley birth...glad that it went so well! 
  • That was one of the most compelling stories I have read.  Thank you so much for posting.  Also thank your husband for adding his perspective to the birth.  I have my husband read all the med-free stories that are posted on the bump in order to help us prepare and give myself inspiration that I can and will do it.  But having the extra info from your husband was great to read. 

    Your little girl is adorable and congrats on such a successful birth.  

  • Congratulations!!!! That was so inspiring, I hope that my labor goes just as well. I love reading detailed birth stories!
  • This was absolutely beautiful!  I love how you were both in denial until your body started pushing.  Every labor is different!
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    Married 12/8/07 | Sleeve Gastrectomy 10/19/09
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    BFP#2 6/21/12, M/C at 5w2d | BFP#3 11/27/12, M/C at 6w6d
  • great story, beautiful pictures and i love the name!  your DH sounds like a pro, can he come over and deliver my baby?  ;-)
  • What an amazing birth story.  I loved reading every second of it.  Congrats on a great delivery and a beautiful baby.

    The pic of you and the baby is so wonderful :)

  • CONGRATULATIONS!  What a truly beautiful story... how birth should be.  I am thinking about doing a home birth for #2.  I had #1 in a hospital and it was a great experience but I have to believe there's nothing so pure and natural as home birth.  I don't even know you but I'm so proud of you! Big Smile
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    Matthew Kevin
    7/31/83-7/20/11 image
    Met 1/8/00
    Engaged 4/21/06
    Married 9/29/07
    Two beautiful legacies: Noah Matthew (2 yrs) and Chloe Marcella (8 mos)
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  • Wow - what an amazing story!  I'm so inspired! 

    Congrats on your beautiful baby girl and your wonderful birth experience!

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    Eleanor Noelle - 18/05/12 Claire Elisabeth - 16/-5/10
  • Wow!! Congratulations and thank you for sharing your story.  It was incredibly fascinating and powerful. 
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  • WOW!
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  • I loved your story, thanks so much for posting it. We are planning a water birth at our local hospital. I had a miscarriage last year and getting into my tub at home to deal with the painful contractions I was having helped me so much. Water is a miracle drug! I hope it's the same when I am in labor! Your daughter is beautiful, tell your husband god job!!! :-)
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