I Loved Every Moment of It
by Krissi Lewis
As I sit here staring at this little human that was in my belly just seven days ago, it is hard to believe this all really happened. I am blown away by my homebirth experience and am so proud to have had a successful birth in my own home surrounded by the people I love most.
Our birth story, for me, starts earlier than most I think because somehow I just knew it was coming. Tuesday April 19th I was 38.5 weeks into my pregnancy, I started seeing a little bloody discharge and having period like cramps that had started days prior to that all of which excited me but I knew that it could still take weeks before I met my little one. The following day I had my appointment with Maria, I arrived early and so I decided to take a walk around the neighborhood, something I hadn’t been doing due to all of my pubic bone pain throughout the pregnancy but I was determined to meet my baby as soon as possible. Maria and I discussed the discharge with no alarm except Maria did say that she wasn’t sure if the baby is going to wait until my Mom got here on the 25th, so that also excited me. I then got my chiropractic adjustment from Kristine and was on my merry way. When I got home the discharge and cramps continued to increase but no rhythm to the cramps just noticeable and annoying. At around 9pm when I was about to lay down for bed I got up to pee and noticed a brighter and larger amount of blood when I wiped which alarmed me so I called Maria. She let me know that it still sounded like mucous plug to her and I should try to sleep because I might be woken up in the middle of the night with contractions. So now I am really excited and falling asleep felt like it would be impossible, it was like the first day of school all over again. At 10pm I felt a noticeable change in the cramps they were not tightening across the top of my belly but down low and slightly more intense. I eventually fell asleep around 11pm only to wake up at 1am with more of the same cramps. I laid in bed until 3:30am trying to fall back to sleep but I started to become hungry. I got up to eat which shifted something because then I felt them a little stronger and more frequent, every 3-5 minutes lasting about 30 seconds in length. I decided around 4am to text my doula Stacy Vogan and give her the update. She recommended I take a bath and try to relax. I decided the bathtub was too filthy so I scrubbed it clean then decided I was too hot to take a bath so I went and tried to lay down some more. Around 5am my still sleeping husband, Walid, woke up to his alarm and I told him to call in to work because my labor had definitely begun. My surprised and half asleep husband said “babe! Why didn’t you tell me last night” I explained I wanted him to sleep as long as he could. We continued to lie in bed and relax, I got another hour of sleep from 7am-8am and woke up starving, I had the most insane craving for McDonalds breakfast so I sent my husband out. After he returned and my best friend Bianca came over I left the bed and tried to watch a funny movie to distract myself. That lasted about a half hour before I decided all the chatter of the movie was annoying me so I had them shut it off. At some point during this time I managed to shower and shave my legs but I cannot recall the time. My friend Susanne had also arrived, she was my photographer and as much as I was feeling like I didn’t want an audience I knew I wanted documentation. We also set up Skype so that my Mom can feel present.
At around 10am we started timing contractions they were coming every 4-5 minutes and lasting 45 seconds. I would let them know it was coming then my husband would rush over and squeeze my hips and I would try to breath.
At that point I really thought I needed my doula, I was feeling slightly inadequate and was needing more support. My doula arrived to the house around 1pm and as soon as I saw her I burst into tears, partly so relieved to see her and partly just from the pain and exhaustion. She was wonderful, reminding me of all that we have practiced and what I already knew I could do. Taking deep breaths and as Stacy would say “going deep” with my moaning.
I was also feeling hungry and having zero desire to eat anything that I had to chew. Bianca made me a protein smoothie and we continued to labor. Shortly after that I decided to get into the birthing tub. The tub was amazing, I felt lighter and calmer. My husband got in with me and pushed on my hips with every contraction, he was so wonderful, reliable and completely supportive.
Maria arrived around 2pm we think. My contractions at that point were feeling very intense, I would feel it coming, it would last about one minute to a minute and a half, then as it subsided another one would come up right behind it without a break but only lasting about 20-30 seconds and then I would get my much needed break. My moans were surprisingly louder than I had expected them to be. I am typically a very quiet person and expected a lovely silent homebirth as I had seen in so many homebirth videos, not so in my case and I was later told I sounded sort of like a lamb. I also remember clearly saying the words “no” and “ouchy” and I only cursed a few times (also surprising). What’s even more interesting about that is that I once read somewhere that research had shown newborns have the same intonation as their mothers when they cry and I swear some of the sounds she makes were the exact sounds I made while I birthed her.
We were still waiting on my antibiotics to come via courier, since I had tested positive for GBS, once they arrived around 4pm we then needed to warm them up a bit. Around 5pm they were ready to go I had to leave my warm and cozy tub, which felt impossible. I could hardly walk at that point and made it about 10 steps before I felt another contraction coming. It was then that I saw a slight gush of water coming down my legs with a little bit of blood. I remember being confused if my water had broke or if I was still just wet from the tub but it continued to come and then I could care less as the contraction came on stronger. I bent over a table and called for the hip squeeze again and so we decided to do the antibiotics right there. I would sit on the exercise ball in between contractions to rest but I had to remain on that antibiotic and at that table for an hour.
After we were done with the antibiotics I felt very aware of the audience in my home and had an intense need to be alone with my husband so we went and begun laboring in our bedroom with the door closed. Every now and then Maria would pop in to check the baby’s heart rate, my blood pressure or my dilation; baby was always strong and steady. I sort of dreaded when Maria came in the room only because it meant a check of some sort or more antibiotics and my contractions felt so insane that I thought I couldn’t bare anything else. After laboring on the bed for awhile Maria checked my dilation again and I was only at 7 and feeling like there was no way that could be possible after all this work. She suggested we try sitting on the toilet as a different position to help things along and so we did. The contractions got worse on the toilet, stronger and longer. They also made me feel like I needed to push, push what I am not sure, what it really felt like was that I badly needed to poop. I would bare down on my husband’s hips and hold on until they passed, I was not liking the toilet at all so we moved back to the bed. Eventually I wanted to try the tub again in hopes that I would be getting close to pushing and we could birth there. At some point someone said I might be ready to push in a couple hours….I remember feeling very aware of time and knowing that these contractions were coming every 30-45 seconds apart from each other it seemed just daunting that I will be doing this for a couple more hours at the least.
After we were in the tub for awhile Maria checked the baby’s heart rate again and she said that the heart beat was decelerating so I may need to leave the tub. She suggested I shift to my side and see if baby likes that better and thankfully she did, heart rate regulated and all was well. Eventually, we needed to do antibiotics again so we needed to leave the tub. Walking was near impossible and it took my husband and my doula to get me back to the bedroom contracting along the way. We labored there for what we think was about 45 minutes to an hour then Maria gave me a check again and said that I was at about 9 ½ and there was just a little bit left, then she said “I think you can start pushing and the pushing will clear that space”, she also said that she was calling her second midwife and she left the room. My doula Stacy said “did you hear what she said”, and I said “yeah, she’s leaving me” and she said “no she gave you the green light to start pushing”, for some reason I thought that the second midwife was coming to replace Maria. Maria then came and asked me if I wanted to make my way back to the tub for birthing. I had always wanted to birth in the tub but I just could not imagine making my way back across the house. So the pushing began right there in my bedroom. It felt amazing to try to get rid of that rectal pressure, although it was as if I got it out half way and it would be sucked back in..…highly dissatisfying. At one point I felt that my husband, who I was leaning on, had fallen asleep (which in retrospect I cannot imagine how because my moaning had definitely increased).
I tried pushing on my back, pushing on all fours then Maria said “I have the birthing stool if you want to try that”. Again, feeling like I didn’t want to move anymore I also was willing to do anything to meet my baby. I decided to go for it, with my husband behind me supportive as ever and after just a couple pushes Maria checked the baby’s heart rate again and said “so Krissi, it’s probably best that the baby come out as soon as possible” and I remember feeling an animalistic instinct to push and keep pushing like never before and then I heard “ok, there’s the head” which surprised me because I didn’t feel that happen but with the next push I felt an incredible burn and on Friday April 22nd at 3:10am there she was on my belly. I looked at her in complete amazement. She was so alert and just fantastic, she needed a little oxygen but throughout the whole process I never worried about her and had complete faith in Maria and my baby.
I can’t describe how happy I was to meet her and in complete denial that I actually pulled it off. I felt alarmingly refreshed and energetic and I was home in my bed with someone so perfect. We stayed up for the next 3-4 hours before falling asleep for about 3 hours and awake again with excitement. I am still in disbelief and as any one of my friends would tell you, I have a very low tolerance for pain but my determination and a little bit of stubborn (or as Maria wouId call it tenacity), I did it, without a single thought of an epidural, we did together, a perfect rhythm between baby and mama and an incredible birthing team. I am so thankful for Maria and Stacy and my amazing homebirth experience; I loved every moment of it and wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.