Thursday, June 27, 2013

{Becoming Mother} A Home Birth Story

I've gotten quite a few questions about my hospital birth with Cannonmy birthing center birth with Cason, why I choose those locations and why I wanted a natural birth. I thought it might be fun to do a blog series on women who have had different birthing experiences and what they've liked about them. I'll be back at the end of the series to share what we liked about our hospital birth and what we liked about our birthing center birth. 

This is not a promo for a particular type of birth, in fact I've tried to cover as many types of births as possible from natural at home to c-section in the hospital. This is more of a "what can you expect" if you were to have one of these types of birth. Hopefully they will encourage you, help you make a birth decision that's right for your family, and most of simply rejoice in the way God creates life. 

Let me introduce you to my friend, Jessica. We initially met at a weeklong photography workshop when Cannon was just a few weeks old and she was still pregnant with her first. Never expecting to see me again, she shared the gender and name of her unborn child, which, unbeknownst to me was a big secret. Little did we know that through various circumstances, home groups, play dates and circles of mutual acquaintances, that we'd become friends and enjoy play dates with our back-to-back boys.

My first thoughts about birth happened long before I was pregnant.  Surprisingly, it was during the season eight finale of  “Friends”, The One Where Rachel Has a Baby.  I was finishing my senior year of college and a husband, much less childbirth, was nowhere in sight.  What I remember about that episode though, whatever else was going on medically, unlike any other depiction of childbirth I’d seen before, Rachel wasn’t pushing on her back.  She was sitting up, hugging her knees to her body and that made sense.

Five years, marriage and four homes later, I happened across the birth story of an acquaintance.  She described how challenging the birth of her first child had been, because of the medical staff that she had and the interventions that they insisted on.  She had determined to do it differently the second time around, and although still at a hospital, basically labored on her own and was able to birth her child naturally, with minimal support from the hospital staff.  This gave me pause, as the only people that I really knew who had had children did things “normally”: in a hospital, with a scheduled induction and an epidural. 
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Somewhere around there, while taking some photographs for a friend from high school who had twins, I found out that she had not only had them naturally, but at a birth center.  Which naturally led to more questions, more Internet digging, and a bewildered husband who was discovering what my mom had known for years, that I often take my people where they had never planned to go.

When we became pregnant, I knew that I wanted to investigate different types of care.  I chose the birth center in Dallas where my friend had delivered her twins.  In part, I chose a midwife because, being relationally driven, I wanted to be more than a number in the docket.  It was a good birth, uncomplicated, if not easy.  It turned out, however, that I was annoyed with the process of laboring at home.  And then in the car.  And then in a room that was unfamiliar.  But the biggest hassle was gathering up all of our belongings, and our newborn babe, and heading home at midnight, because the birth center only retains you for six hours after the birth.  Don't get me wrong, I was HAPPY to head home, and sleep in my very own bed, but it was ANNOYING to pack everything up to do so.  So, when we learned that number two was on the way, we knew that, given the likelihood of another uncomplicated labor and delivery, we would welcome him at home.

There is a feeling that, at a birth center, that is a safety net for “just in case”.  The midwives have the ability to manage most emergency measures in-house and can help you transfer to a hospital, should the need arise.  I was fairly certain that we wanted to birth at home, but I had questions:  What special equipment would I need?  What about the mess?  What if things didn’t go as planned?  What I learned was that everything that can be managed well at a birth center can be managed just as well at home.  The midwives bring any equipment that they would need –all I had to provide were towels!

I chose a different midwifery practice for my second birth.  In their practice I was loved, challenged, encouraged and prayed for every step of the way.  I adore those women.

One of my lingering fears during my second pregnancy was about how the birth would go.  With Beckett, the birth center decided to induce me with Cytotec, and I knew how that birth had gone (5.5 hours, fast and furious, like a train that couldn’t stop).  Because labor hadn’t started on its own, I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to recognize it and that it would take twice as long without the drug.  I was scared that I wouldn’t be able to handle the pain again.

As it turns out, my body knew just what to do.  At midnight on May 6th, I called my midwife to let her know that I… wasn’t in labor, but that it was coming.  She told me to relax, take a warm bath and to go to bed! 
6:30am - Contractions got me out of bed and moving around the house.  I made sure that I knew where everything was – towels, blankets & clothes for new baby.  I rearranged some bookshelves and took a shower.

7:00am - I asked Josh to get out of bed (and insisted that he vacuum), then alerted my birth photographer, midwife, my parents, and the friends who were going to keep Beckett during my labor and delivery.  I labored in the hallway, on the birthing ball and put on mascara.

8:30am - We woke Beckett up and trundled him out the door, still laboring, still trying to clean my house, and Josh started getting the birth tub ready in our living room. 

9:30am - My primary midwife, Joyce, arrived and I was still very, very chatty.  We were all discussing what this baby’s name was going to be – we had a list of three, but Josh and I had different frontrunners.  I thought his name would be “Rhys”. 

10:00am – Things got hard.  I was trying to labor in the tub but the baby wasn’t dropping, I wasn’t progressing, and after 30 minutes of this, baby’s heart tones suggested that a change was in order.  Joyce proposed a change of venue and a different position.

10:30ish am - We moved to the guest room, our back-up birthing spot.  I was pushing by the time we got there.  The baby was still having some trouble descending.  The best that I can understand is that he was caught in my pelvis and my cervical lip was also being nipped against my pubic bone.  Something similar had happened with Beckett.  Josh and Joyce started encouraging me to push harder – though no one seemed panicked, it was evident to me that he needed to get out!  As I was pushing, I had a sudden thought: “This is Tate.  I am pushing out Tate!”

10:56 – Finally born!  His cord was wrapped around his neck three times – a likely reason that he was having trouble descending.

Josh pulled him out and laid him on my chest and we waited for the cord to stop pulsing before Josh cut it and then he took the baby to wrap him up.  When he brought him back to me, he said, “Jes, this is Tate!”  I love that we both knew his name as if it has been written on our hearts – Tate Stanford Nokes.
Tate and I took a relaxing herbal bath and then snuggled into bed together, waiting for Beckett to come home. 

When you have a second child, you never quite know what to expect from your first-born.  Beckett meeting Tate will likely be one of my all-time favorite memories.  He looked at Tate like he was the best gift he’d ever received, and for the most part, that is how it remains.

Having Tate at home was a great decision for our family – we were comfortable and cared for in the place that we love most.  Between our birth photographer, Keri Duckett who not only captured the birth for us, but also made sure that I was appropriately fed and hydrated afterwards, my midwife team who managed our care and cleaned everything up afterwards and an awesome husband who did more than I probably even know, it was a great day.  And I can’t wait to do it again.
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About Jessica:
Jessica is a wife, mahma, Jesus lover and photographer.  She's almost always ready to laugh, in need of more sleep and someone to vacuum her floors.

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