By Emily Hecker, CNC, DC
Everyone has a bucket list, right? A desire to do something that may seem unattainable, fun or just plain crazy. I have accomplished quite a bit on my bucket list:
- -Ran a marathon
- -Got my pilots license
- -Scubadove, is that a term?
- -Owned a motorcycle
- -Constantly got degrees (BS, MBA, CNC, DC…)
A few items that were still on my list is to exclusively breast feed my child (was not able to do that with my first son) and to have a natural, un-medicated, peaceful & relaxing birth. Relaxing birth may seem like an oxymoron, but that’s exactly what I wanted after I had the birth that I had with my first son.
My first son was born in a hospital with multiple interventions. My second son was a planned home birth with two midwives, a midwife in training, a doula and a back-up OB who supported my decision for a homebirth. I know my friends and family think I am nuts for not delivering my second son in a hospital, but the research is out there, and for a low-risk pregnancy a homebirth is very safe. Time are a ’changing folks.
Max’s Hospital Birth Story
I had a great pregnancy. I was married, just finished chiropractic school, had a new dog and starting a new life & career. My husband and I prepared for a total natural, unmedicated birth with reading many books and attending a 12-week natural Brio birthing class. For my “41 week plus 3 day” check up, I went in in the early afternoon to expect a clear bill of health. Everything looked good for my health, and even the babies health. Except when it came time to check my amniotic fluid levels in all four quadrants of my placenta. Using ultrasound, I came up short. Instead of the minimum number of 5, I was measuring at 4.5cm. Shit. I should have drunk more water! Mind you, on the ultrasound you could see my son had a very full bladder and we even commented on it during the ultrasound. If he would have urinated, would it have been enough to measure 5? Because my fluid was measuring .5cm low, it was enough for my OB to want to induce me that night. Exactly what I did not want.
I felt completely defeated on our way out of the office driving home to back our bags. We went out to a nice dinner at Ya Ya’s before we went in for my birth. It all seems rather comical to me. It felt so fake and unnatural. I could barely eat I was so upset. Our OB wanted us to get to the hospital at 7pm and we didn’t arrive until 9pm, I was on edge. My husband could see I was stressing about this and he very jokingly said,
“Really, Emily, You are worried you are going to be late to your own birth?”
I was so nervous going into the hospital room and my first (of many) nurses hooked me up to the monitor and immediately saw I was having contractions. Oh. That’s what those sensations were. My contractions were so strong on the monitor I was able to talk the staff into letting me wait and see if they picked up on their own. This was the beginning of a never-ending battle of compromises.
For the next 40 hours, I felt like I was at a car dealer, with my guard up and tying to haggle for the best natural birth, when my baby and I were perfectly healthy.
Finally, 36 hours after I went in, my OB had had “enough”, and I was mentally exhausted. I was handling my contractions just fine, dancing to Michael Jackson via iPhone and was dilated up to 8cm on my own. It really seemed very easy if this is what labor was! My OB requested I have Pitocin to speed things up and I knew that would be so painful I would need an epidural. I received both medications and my healthy baby boy was born vaginally, measuring in at 8lb 13oz 21.75” long just four hours later.
Leo’s Home Birth Story
Leo was a wonderful surprise gift to us that God decided not to tell us about, due right around Christmas. The greatest gifts happen that way. Leo was a Paleo baby, meaning I had been eating a Paleo diet, the PERFECT diet to eat for fertility and health during his whole gestation. I had met with 6 health care providers to try and find the perfect fit for what I wanted for our birth. I interviewed 3 midwives and 3 OBs. It took me 16 weeks to decide between a hospital or home birth. My husband was supportive of what ever I decided. I chose a homebirth. At this time, there were no birth centers or midwives that worked out of a hospital in St. Louis. I found a great OB that supported midwifery and all it stood for. He ended up my back up for my homebirth incase I needed to transfer to a hospital. He had a great relationship with my midwife.
My ideal birth was in my home, in a birthtub of water, snow falling at night, full moon, fireplace roaring, candles burning, Christmas lights and tree up with the smell of cinnamon and vanilla filling the house.
After Christmas, one morning in my 40th week of gestation, I had my first contraction. They continued all day long and were so mild it felt very manageable. I ran errands, went for a prenatal appointment with my midwife, went to lunch at Ya Ya’s (we decided to make it a tradition) and the grocery store. Surely I wasn’t going to have this baby anytime soon, maybe the next day. I was comparing it to Max’s labor and thought I had a day or two left. WRONG.
That night was relaxing. I put Max to bed, ate a great dinner, took a bath, lit some candles and watched a little TV on the couch.
It started to snow and there was a full moon. This was the night.
We decided to time the contractions and they were pretty close together but I was definitely NOT keeling over in pain. I really wanted all of my birth team to get a good nights rest. I contacted my doula and she told me she was coming over. I told her not to hurry. It was midnight when she walked through the door. 15 minutes later, I was on the couch going through transition. Transition is the most intense part of childbirth in my opinion. Each contraction was on top of another for 45 minutes. I went to the restroom and once the water was turned on at the faucet, I looked at my doula and said, “I have to PUSH!, I am having this baby NOW!” …I started pushing, I couldn’t contain it! At this time my doula contacted my midwife team and they were on their way at super sonic speeds.
My husband was running around the house warming up towels, getting gloves from our birth kit, placing pads on the floor in front of the bathroom all the while holding Max, our 18 month old who awoke from my primal outbursts. My doula was amazing. She saw that my bag of waters had not even ruptured yet but was about to and had me on the floor. This took pressure off my cervix and slowed down my pushing. I felt no pain just an urge to get this baby out safely. My body took over and my doula was on the phone with my midwife as she as instructing her on what do to.
My husband and son were sitting in the hallway with me. They placed their hands on my head, encouraging me and it was the sweetest moment of my whole birth experience. Just then the team arrived, monitored the baby’s heartbeat, got everything ready and our son was born in the hallway, crying as he entered this world at 2AM.
My son Max was in awe, pointed to Leo and with a smile said, “bebe!”
I held him for a bit, got up, walked to the bedroom and then delivered my placenta. Our whole family was lying in bed with each other enjoying this new little human that was just born. It was so magical. After the newborn exams were done, I was good to go and the team left, our whole family fell asleep for a couple hours in our own home and own bed with our dog curled up next to us. Best feeling EVER. And so thankful Leo’s birth was so perfect. Even though I didn’t get to birth in water, I did get about every other wish I had.