by Leah, USA
So we had been anxiously awaiting the arrival of our fourth child all November. I was a little nervous as I thought my baby was coming early several times, but he decided to come right on his due date, December 2nd. We had a homebirth for our fourth child. Although it is not for everyone, we had a wonderful experience. Rylen Timothy Johnson was born at 3:20AM after just 3 1/2 hours of labor.
Now for the longer details. With our third child we used the same midwives that we had gone to with our second child. We did not have any problems with the birth/delivery of baby #2 and loved working with the midwives. My entire pregnancy was normal with no complications. Our third baby however was born via emergency cesarean section because of a cord prolapse. This is when the umbilical cord comes out before the baby does. Since I was laboring without medications I had to be put under with general anesthesia for the surgery. I missed my son being born and so did my husband. This still brings tears to my eyes. It wasn't until I woke up about 5 hours later that I found out what we even had, a boy or a girl.
Wanting to avoid a repeat c-section we started looking for doctors that would allow me to have a VBAC. We could not use the midwives that we had used before as they were not allowed by the hospital to perform VBACs. After searching for weeks we thought we had it all figured out. I would use a local private practice midwife and then drive 2 1/2 hours to the University of Iowa hospitals as they have a great reputation for performing and allowing VBACs. I was just ok with this decision. Honestly I had always wanted a homebirth but had never thought about it seriously until we were faced with this situation. I brought the idea up to my husband who was nervous about the homebirth. After a couple more weeks of praying and discussion we decided that we would look into it further.
Now, like I stated before, homebirth is not meant for everyone. Many people would say that it wasn't even meant for me as I was trying to do a VBAC. But, we decided to pursue this and locate a midwife who would work with us. We found a wonderful midwife in the area who was willing to do this, but only under certain circumstances. For the first time in all of my pregnancies I was on a “diet” – not one to lose weight, but one that would be the healthiest for me and the baby. Truthfully I had never really watched what I ate when I was pregnant before. This time, it was proteins, vitamins, and tons of water that I had to make sure I had daily. She was determined to have my blood work perfect in order to even think about doing a homebirth. Also, if anything during the labor raised a red flag it was off to the hospital for us.
About 2 weeks before delivering, Kevin was at Fort Hood, Texas. I was at home busy preparing for Thanksgiving. Check out my post on the business of Thanksgiving 2011. The Saturday before he was home, I was having regular contractions. This got me highly concerned that the baby was coming. I saw my midwife the following Tuesday. I decided not to have her check me for fear that that could start labor for sure. Kevin got home on Wednesday, and oddly enough, I did not have anymore regular contractions throughout Thanksgiving.
When Thanksgiving was over, all the shopping was done, and the house picked up from the guests, I was getting frustrated that I actually hadn't gone into labor. My mom arrived the Wednesday after Thanksgiving. I told her that nothing had been happening basically since Kevin got home. December 1st came and went with no contractions. I was mentally preparing myself to be pregnant till the middle of December. December 2nd came – I made supper and at the supper table I said, lets get the kids to bed early because I was so tired. I think I was asleep by 8:30ish. I know it was God's timing and planning because if I had gone to bed when we had normally been going to bed I would have hardly slept at all before the baby came.
Now is when the fun started. Remember, I had no contractions the 1st and the 2nd – and probably not even the 30th of November. However, I woke up at 11:30ish from a contraction and squeezed Kevin's arm. Something was entirely different about this one. He said “are you ok?” I told him I was and I went back to sleep, but only for several moments because I woke up again from another contraction and the clock said 11:45. I squeezed Kevin's arm again and I said, I'm going to the bathroom. I was on the toilet and I said, Kevin, you better get in here and time these. Two more contractions came and I said, call Dana (our midwife). It was around 12:00 when I heard Dana on the phone with Kevin. He casually told her that I was having contractions about 4-5 minutes apart and that I was needing to breathe through them. He tried to convince her that he was going to time them longer. I leaned forward and said “tell her to come, the baby is coming soon.” I over heard her say “why don't I just come over Kevin.”
I got on the birthing ball during contractions. Kevin went to get my mom in the guest room down the hallway. I remember getting up and filling the crockpot with water and putting in the washcloths. Kevin came back in and I was on the birthing ball again. He started taping down plastic on the carpet between our bed and the bathroom. I got up and starting putting the birth supplies on the table that we had set up. After that I stayed on the birthing ball telling Kevin what he should be doing. I remember thinking that he needs to move faster.
The midwife and nurses arrived soon and started getting their supplies out. Almost immediately they checked heart tones and everything was great. I was talking and smiling in between contractions. We have a large soaking tub, so Kevin filled that up with water and I decided to get in. The moment I got in the contractions slowed to 7-8 minutes apart. I couldn't get comfortable in the tub though. After about 20 minutes I decided to get out. Almost immediately the contractions picked back up. My midwife wanted to check me. This whole pregnancy she had not checked me. She checked and I was at 9 and a lip – I would have been shocked if I was less than 5 just from the feel of the contractions.
After several more contractions standing up she said she would be willing to break my bag. I was concerned about this because with our third baby my bag was broken and most likely caused the cord prolapse. She assured me that the baby's head was well engaged. She was actually expecting my bag to break during those contractions while I was standing, but it didn't. Before she broke my bag she checked me again and I was for sure at 10. So, she broke my bag and once again the contractions kind of slowed down. However, I was finally feeling the need to push, so I got on the birthing stool and started to do so. I think I pushed for 2-3 contractions and I said my back hurt so bad. I got on the bed and laid on my side to push through 2 contractions. Finally I got in a semi-reclining position and pushed. The cord was loosely wrapped around the baby's neck, but the midwife carefully guided the baby and my pushing so that there was no danger.
Finally at 3:20AM Rylen Timonthy Johnson was born. I was pretty tired and remember thinking that I was not pushing as hard as I could have because of being tired. Imagine if I hadn't gone to bed early. Dana handed him up to me as I was reaching forward for him. I laid him on my chest and put my head back on the pillow behind me and took a deep breathe. It's a great feeling to have the baby out and to be able to take a deep breathe finally. I rubbed him and started talking to him.
The nurse gave me a shot of pitocin in my thigh. Dana held the cord and let it stop pulsing before it was clamped; Kevin cut the cord. The nurses took Rylen's vitals and cleaned him off. He was 8 pounds 13 ounces and 19 inches long. He had a full head of black hair and dark blue eyes. While the nurses were working with Rylen I got up and delivered the placenta. Everything looked great with Rylen and also with me.
I loved my homebirth. I was so relaxed and calm. I loved being able to sleep in my own bed and I loved not having to leave my house. We had people lined up to watch our three older children, but didn't need to use them because of when Rylen was born. Our children slept through the whole thing. It was fun to video tape them when they walked into our room in the morning.
So that is the birth of our fourth child. We have been blessed with 3 boys and 1 girl, all healthy and sweet.
*Edited to add: We used the Bradley Method for labor/delivery for Ellie, Aiden, and Rylen. I have an amazing husband who is an excellent coach. I know that hypnobirthing is a new thing, but the Bradley Method worked great for us!