An Unplanned Homebirth

This is the story of how our baby girl, unexpectedly came into this world, in our New York City apartment. If you are pregnant with your first baby, I would probably skip this birth story. If you know me personally and would prefer not to know all these (TMI) details — skip. For everyone else, here’s how everything went down on that fateful Sunday, that we now celebrate as Baby A’s birthday.

The Part Where I Should Have Known Something Was Up

At 4 a.m. I awoke to use the restroom, as I had been doing for several weeks prior. I saw a tiny bit of pink tinged mucus and thought- oh that’s my mucus plug; it could mean something and it could mean nothing.

I had some back pain, again like I had been having, but something told me this might be it so I downloaded a contraction timing app. It seemed like contractions were about 30 seconds long every 10 minutes or so, but since it felt like every other night in the preceding week, I decided to go back to sleep.

I told myself that if this was really it then the pain was helping my body open up and let my baby out, and if not I needed to get some rest for another day.

At 6 am again I awoke, and there was the rest of my mucus plug, clear as day. I was pretty sure this was it but since the contractions were so mild I thought this was going to be a long morning, so I should rest up. Told M I was pretty sure this was it; rest up, it’s going to be a long day. I went back to bed.

I’m Actually in Labor

At 8 a.m. the kids were waking up. One kid had a bedwetting accident, so I told him to take the sheet off the bed. He went to shower to get cleaned up and meanwhile I had to use the restroom.

This was my cue that we were in it for real because that’s how both my previous labors began. At this point I was pausing to breathe through the contractions but really it was no big deal and I was acting like every other morning.

I stared at the trees out the window, moving with the wind and light rain. I told my baby it was her and I and we were going to do this.

Around 9 a.m. the kids were moving to the kitchen for breakfast, so it was my turn to get in the shower. I figured I might as well be clean to start the day. Had a few contractions with the water running down my back but decided to get out and get dressed because I was feeling fine.

We called my sister to come watch the kids just to be ready. I put on a clean shirt and yoga pants. I asked Michael to make me breakfast- scrambled egg and an apple, sliced. I ate and then I put some menthol gel on my back (again, like I had been doing for weeks).

I opened my computer and put on a youtube music playlist I had picked out ahead of time. I wanted to hear psalm 118:5 (In distress I called upon the Lord). I was now leaning on the kids’ dresser to breathe through the contractions. I put a drop of frankincense oil on a rag and smelled it. 

We Should Probably Go to the Hospital

At 10 a.m. I decided that labor was kicking into gear. I yelled out for Michael to come join me in the bedroom. “I need you to stay with me”.

I was leaning on the dresser still and asking him to put counter pressure on my back. I started feeling emotional and told Michael I wasn’t sure I could do this again, and he reassured me that I did it before and I could do it again.

We were conversing the entire time and I decided to get on the bed (the one that had been stripped of its sheets). Michael put a sheet on real quickly and I climbed on the bed on my hands and knees.

We were talking about when we were supposed to go in to the hospital. I explained 5-1-1 for the millionth time, and Michael pulled out the contraction app to see where we were at.  

We were talking about going to the hospital early because Michael didn’t want to wait until the last minute. I was agreeing that we should just go, and if it was too early I would just get an epidural like everyone else. He was almost convincing not to; that wasn’t the plan.

Contractions were totally erratic- anywhere from 7 to 3 minutes apart and lasting around 40 seconds. Should we go? I was on my hands and knees, with my head on the bed. I was worried I was squishing the baby. “My back is breaking!”.

Things Get Real

It’s 11 a.m. Michael says, “I don’t think we have time to walk to the car; I’m going to call an ambulance”. But I’m still totally lucid and talking. Really?! “Let’s just go to the car”. He hangs up. I get off the bed to get shoes on and suddenly start screaming.

The balance ball was on the bed and I lean into it: “I have to push!”. Michael tells me not to push and gets back on the phone to 911. I feel the head crowning; I tell him my water is breaking. “Pull my pants off!” as I push for the second time.

There’s a head in my pants. M pulls them off. “She’s blue; her head is blue. It’s over, D”. I say “no, no, no!”. I know it’s not over, she’s going to come out.

Catch the baby” I scream with the third push. She’s out! 

M hasn’t been able to hear the 911 operator over the phone. “Have them tell you what to do“, I tell him.

Tell me what to do”. M helps me up on the bed, wraps her up, taps her back and after the longest second of my life we finally hear crying. I keep her at my chest and keep tapping as the EMS finally arrive.

EMS, Placenta

M yells at my sister to open the door. They come in. First two, then another two. Moishe, that’s his name, clamps the cord, rubs the baby’s back, gets her nice and screaming and pink and wrapped up in a towel. I’m worried about the baby.

The other guys get me on a gurney. They are worried about the placenta, I say hold on, feel a small contraction and push it out about half way. They are still concerned. The EMS lady quite obviously has no idea what she’s doing and tears the placenta as she rips it out.

We head down in the elevator. It stops on the 4th floor and they have to tell the person to shut the door so we can get out. M had to go back to get my insurance card that the EMS guys left on the dresser, but emerges out of the stairway just as we’re getting out of the elevator. 

We ride all together to the hospital. EMS lady tries to put an IV in my arm and totally botches it. We get to the hospital. The elevator isn’t working so we detour to another one.

The Hospital

Finally I’m in labor and delivery. They start an IV with fluid and pitocin- apparently that’s “protocol” because it’s a VBAC. I’m not sure about this.

The midwife inspects the torn placenta, and gives me a local anesthetic and stitches up my jagged tears. I agree to the pitocin because we’re not sure that all of the placenta has come out.

A resident does an ultrasound to look; it seems like almost but not quite. The midwife goes in manually and then with a sphincter to get out the final clots.

Apparently she heard me muttering under my breath about her inexperience because she calls in another doctor to double check. They give me a shot of yet another drug to shrink the uterus. We’re good to go. Except…

The rest of my hospital stay was a sleep deprivation nightmare. Shared room, crying babies (not mine), nurses that bring me the baby with a dirty diaper (?!), multiple blood tests for baby (because she was born at home…). There’s more: a cleaning lady that puts on the fluorescent lights in the middle of the night, HIPPA violations, zero communications with the attending doctor until minutes before we are released, and the list goes on.

Not the way you want to be treated after having just pushed out a baby. My only moments of peace are the short one hour visits when my boys are allowed to come.

Coming Home

When we finally get to go home, two days later, I am exhausted but relieved. We all sleep on and off for the next few days. We need to clean up the bedroom and bed. We have a “birthday party” for the baby, where the big kids get to open gifts. It’s lovely becoming a family of five.

P.S. Check out my C-section birth, Hospital VBAC, and my second (planned) Home birth here!

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