I am sorry if you thought you were going to get a list of most awesome housewarming gift ideas. What you’re going to get instead is so much better – a recount of how I came to have a home birth. 😉 Bear with me, this is a long one.
Let me start by saying that it was not how I had imagined I would have my baby. I thought, like the majority of births in Canada, that I would have my baby in a hospital. In fact less than 2% (7000/380000) of births in 2012 were outside the hospital. A similar statistic is seen in the United States (53,000 home births in 2012 out of 3.95 million births or 1.36%, the highest % since 1975). I did not that know what I did was so uncommon.
My plan was to also have a physician deliver my baby. There were a few reasons why I ended up in the care of midwives. I didn’t have a regular family doctor, well not after I became an “adult”, anyway. I went to walk-in clinics when I needed to. So when I became pregnant, I went to my usual walk-in clinic to confirm the pregnancy and they referred me to a maternity clinic near where I lived. This clinic was supposed to call me for an appointment but they never did. By the time I finally got an appointment with them, there was a mad rush to try to get me in for the prenatal genetic testing. We were able to have the testing done in time but it was stressful not knowing why I wasn’t contacted for an appointment and that I might have missed the window for the testing. Aside from the mix-up, I had 3 appointments with the clinic and each time the appointments before me ran late and I had to wait for 30-60 minutes for 10-15 minutes of face time. Is this the norm in other places? Being busy and not having a lot of time to read on my own, I wanted more time with the experts to answer all my questions. Also, there were 7 physicians in the clinic and whoever was on call the day I go into labour would deliver my baby. So there was a high chance that I wouldn’t even know the doctor that delivers my baby if I don’t meet him or her during my prenatal appointments. I wanted to build a relationship and have a rapport with the person who was going to “catch” my baby. These were the reasons I decided to seek out the care of midwives.
After I switched to midwives, I still had to wait for my appointments, but the waits were shorter and the appointments longer (at least 45 minutes) so I had more time to connect with each of them. There were 3 midwives who cared for me rather than 7. Since I was having a low risk pregnancy, we had discussed the option of having a home birth, but this wasn’t an option for me. I was set on having a hospital birth. I thought I would be more comfortable with that. I thought I would feel more secure in a hospital environment.
Our baby decided to arrive 10 days after we moved into our new home. She had perfect timing! I was already off work and had unpacked the essentials for the kitchen, bathroom and bedroom. Our new sofa had arrived and the living room was pretty much set up. My husband played his last round of golf the morning before my contractions started and we even managed to have my in-laws over for dinner.
My contractions started around 10:30pm that night. Maybe baby wanted to come out and have a taste of Japanese food herself. 😉 The contractions started at about 10 minutes apart and progressed, in my opinion, slowly. I couldn’t sleep all night. It was too painful for me to lie down or sit during the contractions so I was standing or pacing into the early morning. During those wee hours, as I tried to cope with the pain, I thought about how I was going to go to the hospital when the time came. How was I going to sit in the car during the contractions when it was too painful to sit? How long would it take to get to the hospital? The hospital was only about 15 minutes away, but what if we hit rush hour traffic? What if there was an accident? The contractions were not 3 minutes apart until about 7 am. My husband called the midwives at around 8 am. By then, I was almost certain, but not positive, that I didn’t want to go to the hospital. The midwife came a short time later. She checked on me and the baby. We were both doing fine, aside from me throwing up all over the powder room floor from being exhausted. I was only 5 cm dilated so there was still some time to go. The midwife reassured me that it would be safe to have to baby at home, so that’s what I decided to do.
When I made the decision to not go to the hospital, I didn’t realize that I wouldn’t be able to have an epidural if I wanted one. It wasn’t in the birth plan. I wanted an un-medicated birth, but at times, the pain seemed so unbearable that I think I would’ve asked for an epidural if I was in the hospital. To cope with the pain, the midwife suggested I soak in the bathtub. I’m not a bath person (think it’s gross to soak in dirty water), so I was reluctant, but I gave it a try and it really helped. That was another perk to staying at home, since the hospital I planned to deliver at didn’t have tubs, only showers.
When it came time to push, we tried many different positions, and moved from bathroom to the bedroom floor, to the bed. Obviously, we were not prepared for a home birth since we didn’t plan for one. We hadn’t bought one of those home birth kits, which basically includes a bunch of plastic bags to keep your furniture clean. But the midwife was resourceful. She put a shower curtain under our sheets to protect the mattress. And it didn’t get too messy aside from a few dirty towels. Sorry if this is too much information. We even learned a few things like use cold water, instead of hot to rinse out blood stains so that the stain doesn’t set and add salt to washing machine to get rid of the stains.
We didn’t let either of our families know that we were having the baby at home. I didn’t want to hear their opinions on my decision or have them worry about whether it was safe or not. We didn’t even tell them I was in labour until after baby arrived. My mom wasn’t too happy about not being present, but I had everyone I wanted with me (my husband and the midwife).
My baby arrived just before 3pm on our bed after about 2 hours of pushing. She was perfect and healthy. I had a bit of tearing which the midwife took care of. In the end, having a home birth was the right decision for me. Although we were only in our new place for a short time prior to the birth, I was comfortable there. I was surrounded by the people I wanted to be present at the birth. I was confident in the skills of the midwives and knew that they wouldn’t let me have a home birth if it wasn’t safe. My daughter was the best housewarming gift I could’ve gotten.