After having an “accidental” homebirth for her second baby, Sarah and her husband decided to plan a homebirth for their third baby. This is Sarah’s birth story:
I’ve heard many times that third babies are unpredictable. My first two had come right before their due dates, and within four hours. I expected this one to be a week late, missing the whole definition of unpredicta
ble. Nothing quite prepared me for the experience of Sabrina’s birth.
Our due date was December twenty-first. Sabrina had already begun to drop in November. By the beginning of December I was having some painful Braxton Hicks fairly often. We speculated a possible early delivery. I tried not to get my hopes up.
just some pre-labor
Thursday December thirteenth, I felt particularly sick. The nausea was just awful, and I was having contractions every eight minutes. When I went to the bathroom that morning I noticed a lot of bloody show. I was so excited I called my husband Chris at work and interrupted his meeting to tell him he needed to be ready to run if I called again. I spent that entire day waiting for the contractions to pick up. They never did. By that night I was in tears. After a good cry I fell asleep.
We both woke up around five-thirty the next morning, the fourteenth. I began to time the contractions that hadn’t stopped all night and they were four minutes apart. I was stumped. I’d experienced so many false alarms with this baby, and my last one, that I just didn’t know what to think. I hated the idea of having my midwife drive an hour to our house for labor that wasn’t really going anywhere.
Chris decided he didn’t want to be alone if this baby came as quickly as our last one, and called our midwife. My contractions picked up as we waited for her to arrive. I still couldn’t bring myself to believe this was it.
3 centimeters dilated
She arrived and quickly checked me, only to find that I was three centimeters dilated and fifty percent effaced. She told me to try sleeping and she would check me again in an hour. I couldn’t sleep a wink. My head was whirling. Chris however, was sawing logs in a matter of minutes. After an hour I had not progressed at all. We decided to stop the labor by “knocking me out”, so I could get some sleep. I took two Tylenol PM and slept for three hours. When I woke up the contractions were back to eight minutes apart. The boys were awake and doing their thing, running wild and making messes. I timed contractions for awhile and then began to clean… again. Chris knew I was truly agitated when I began washing dishes. I hate washing dishes.
I called my mom to let her know what was going on. She suggested I take zinc to speed the labor. She’d done it when I was born and said it worked. So I took two zinc, and sat down to rest. I decided that I had all weekend to have this baby so I was just going to chill out and try to stay positive. This was around five 0’clock. At five-thirty I had eaten half my sandwich, and suddenly felt so nauseated I couldn’t finish it. I decided to lie down. My contractions were three minutes apart. I was still not sure if this was really it.
Chris made a quick call to the midwife again and our friend Maryellen to come over and watch the boys. I got up to walk and refused to lie down again because I didn’t want the contractions to stop. I became very determined to make this baby come if it took all night. I was even massaging my abdomen because it made my uterus contract.
My midwife arrived again around six-thirty and began setting up. It was fascinating to watch her. She was so organized. In just a little while she had all her tools laid out on a cookie sheet and new sheets on our bed covered by plastic and another sheet with disposable pads on top of that. We were set to go.
The three of us talked in between contractions. We shared stories, swapped jokes, and quoted comedians. Bill Cosby’s account of his wife’s first birth had me cracking up when a really big contraction hit and I leaned against Chris who was sitting on the bed in front of me. He was pretty tired too, and rested his head on my belly. It actually helped with the pain!!! For the next several contractions that was our stance. I rested my hands on his shoulders as he pressed his head against my belly while giving me a hug and rubbing my back. I know we probably looked silly, but I certainly didn’t care.
Around a quarter to nine I told my midwife that I was really confused. I’d never had a labor last so long, and the contractions were so strong. She thought that perhaps Sabrina had turned posterior, and that was slowing things down. I asked her to check my progress, and she said I was seven centimeters. The baby wasn’t posterior, but she did notice some scar tissue on my cervix. We assumed it was from Clark’s speedy entrance into this world three years ago. I was so tired that she asked if I wanted her to break the water to speed things up. I said, “Yes” without hesitation.
breaking the water
She began trying to break it with her fingernails but it wouldn’t budge. We started to chuckle at its strength. She tried again, but could only pull on it. By that time we were in hysterics. Chris didn’t get the joke so much, so I told him the bag was so strong it wouldn’t break, and it felt like she was pulling a water balloon out of my vagina. It took her several attempts with an amniohook , but it did finally break. It wasn’t until that moment that I accepted the fact that I was going to have a baby that day.
I got up to go to the restroom, and had three powerful contractions in a matter of a few minutes. “Wow”, I thought, “Transition already?” I got back to my room and sat on the side of the bed. The contractions came so fast and so strong I couldn’t quite think straight. Suddenly I was pushing. Chris and the midwife were making a last attempt at prepping the pool that our son had poked a hole in days earlier. We had planned a water birth, but it was not to be. Chris quickly sat down in front of me to help me breath through the contractions. When asked if I was pushing, I kind of whimpered, “Yeah.”
“it’s a head”
My midwife put her gloves on. I stood up and leaned against Chris so she could change the wet pad underneath me, and out came Sabrina’s head. Chris said,”There’s something down there.”, and I screamed, “It’s a head!” to which my midwife calmly replied, “Well so it is.” She placed her hand on Sabrina’s head, and it was a good thing too, because the very next second her body just shot out. She said, “Grab your baby!”, and we did. I held her arm, and Chris held the rest of her. Somehow I ended up lying back on the bed with Sabrina on my chest. Judah and Clark hovered over us, fascinated by their new little sister. My midwife still had a glove half on, just flopping all over the place.
That was my first bare handed catch, she said and we all laughed.
I noticed the cute little birth mark on Sabrina’s chest, and her blonde hair. She was so beautiful. Suddenly, as in every birth, I forgot all about the nausea, headaches and exhaustion. For such a miserable pregnancy it ended so perfectly. My labor was long, emotional, and tiring, but it was also sweet, and casual; even fun at times. I loved the way I laughed my way through it. “This is how babies should be born.” I thought, quietly and casually with laughter and tears.
Chris dressed Sabrina while I bathed. When I came back to the bedroom, Judah was holding her with the biggest grin on his face. We all crawled into bed for a family picture. We were so glad our baby girl was finally here. Our family felt complete.