Caleb’s Homebirth Story

Caleb’s Birth Story

So we decided to home birth about twelve weeks into my pregnancy with Caleb. We were living in a real dump, tiny, bad ventilation, impossible to keep at a constant temperature, with a cranky old landlady at the time and working toward buying a house which we, our cats, and the baby to come would all fit in comfortably. We found such a house in November, made our offer, had it accepted, and moved in by Christmas.

My husband, Darrin, does some web work from home in addition to his full-time job as a network manager for a high school. It was about November when I sent an invoice off for a job he & his friend Josh had been working on. It was their biggest job to date. By the time February came, I was 8 months pregnant, we had bills coming out our ears from the move, and we were having to pay little bits of them at a time to keep all the creditors happy. And this job still hadn’t been paid. For someone like me who hates being in debt and likes having all her ducks in a row, this wasn’t really compatible with being about to birth. I had a spreadsheet worked out about how much we could pay who, and when, and it was going well past the 42 week mark. I wasn’t terribly happy about this.

Finally, on the 16th of March, Josh told Darrin online that payment was coming (I stole his keyboard at this point and typed “about bloody time”). We had asked Darrin’s mum, Barb, to be at the birth to give us a hand, so that night she was staying overnight so she could meet Lisa, our midwife, the next morning when she visited. When Lisa came the next morning, she took my blood pressure and checked my belly like she always did, and she said my blood pressure was a little higher than normal, and that this often happened shortly before labour started. She said “It might happen this week.” And then in the afternoon I started stressing about pain. I knew it’d hurt, and I knew that now there was no way out of it. This baby was coming out one way or another!

I went out to get some M&M’s. They didn’t have them at the shop across the road, so I got in the car and went to Woolies. When I got back, Darrin was on the other side of the back gate and said, “Something occurred to me while you were out, if Lisa thinks it could happen this week, maybe you shouldn’t be driving anymore.” He was mainly concerned that labour would come on quickly and surprise me while I was driving, and cause me to get in an accident. So I didn’t drive anymore after that.

Over the next week, I had some tightenings in the evenings. I wasn’t sure if they were still the Braxton Hicks I’d been getting most of the pregnancy, or if they were prelabour. They’d get more intense in the evenings and be gone in the morning.

The next Wednesday, the 21st, Josh told us the payment had been made, and it would be in our account the next day. The next day was also Darrin’s normal payday, so I was finally able to pay all our outstanding bills. This, of course, let me relax a lot. Friday evening I had a chiro appointment. Saturday morning Lisa came again, and I told her about my tightenings, that I wasn’t sure what it was anymore. She said she was having a day off the next day, so if I went into labour she wouldn’t have to reschedule anything!

Later that day, since Darrin didn’t want me driving anymore, I had him drive me over to do some shopping. As we were walking into Big W, I had what I thought at the time was another Braxton Hicks, but later realised was my first real contraction. We stocked up on cat litter, cat food, and toilet paper. Then we went to a butcher and fruit & veg and stocked up on food for the coming fortnight. Then we came home, and I started crocheting a gift for our niece’s birthday the next day. I sat on the couch and watched a TV show about baby language, which I’d been meaning to watch for a couple weeks. At some point Josh & his wife Robyn came over to give Darrin a couple things. After they left, I was in the kitchen and another pain came on, this time feeling like a bad period cramp. This was the first one Darrin noticed me having, and made some comment like “is this it?” I wasn’t sure, but they were getting frequent.

We had beef schnitzels for tea. We watched a Star Trek movie. We may have watched two actually, but I can’t remember now. More pains occasionally, but not with any regularity. By the end of the movie we noticed both the cats were in the lounge with us. At that time that almost never happened. Then after the movie finished, the female started making a nest in the blanket on the couch. We decided she was probably trying to make the nest for me!

It was about 11 pm by this time, and I decided it was probably time to tell Lisa what was going on. I sent her an SMS and she got on MSN and we talked about what was happening and when to let her know again, and she said to try to get some sleep. So we went to bed, but we didn’t get any sleep. We were too excited that it was finally happening and kept turning the light back on so I could write things to Darrin. Contractions were about 20 minutes apart when we went to bed. At some point I went to the toilet, and when I didn’t come back quickly, Darrin got up to check on me. I’d had two more while I’d gone to the toilet. They were now 4 minutes apart. So we decided to ring Lisa and let her know. She said she was on her way & would be here in about an hour. Right after this we decided to ring Barb as well and tell her it was happening.

I was kneeling on the floor, leaning over my desk chair, having contraction after contraction, thinking “how am I going to get through this, it already feels unbearable and it’s going to get a hundred times worse before it’s over!” I started crying while Darrin was on the phone with his mum. She said she wouldn’t come down just yet, I can’t remember now why it was. We went back toward the bedroom, I don’t remember if we got all the way back there, but the phone rang at some point and Darrin went to get it. It was Barb, she said she was on her way but since it was night she wasn’t going to rush. Somewhere around this time I realised that making noise really helped with the pain, so I was leaning over the edge of the bed grunting and groaning and making all kinds of weird noises I’ve never made before or since.

I moved out to the lounge at some point. I knelt down next to one of the chairs and leaned over it having contractions. Darrin started trying to blow up the pool in the bathroom, but we didn’t have Lisa’s pump so it was slow going. Lisa arrived right in the middle of a contraction, and she put pressure somewhere on my lower back, which immediately made the pain less intense. She finished bringing in her stuff, and found the pressure points again whenever I had a contraction. Darrin finished with the pool once he had Lisa’s pump, then they started filling it.

Barb arrived exactly one hour after she said she was leaving. Darrin joked that she’d taken no time at all to get here, because it was turn-your-clocks-back night and she arrived the same time she left home. I remember her asking Lisa what stage I was in, and Lisa saying “she’s pretty well established” or something.

The pool was filled and heated. I pulled my pants off and got in. The pain lessened. I stayed in the pool for a while having contractions, grabbing Darrin’s arms each time. After a while not much was happening, so Lisa suggested I get up and try getting on the toilet. After a few contractions of working up to it, I got up and out of the pool. Darrin helped me to the toilet. I had at least two more contractions on my way there, then another few while I was on the toilet. Darrin helped me back to the bathroom, where I got in the pool again and had a few more contractions. I was pushing but still not much was happening. Lisa suggested trying to feel inside, so I put my finger in. I felt something hard. She asked if I felt cervix or baby’s head. Since I had no idea what cervix felt like, but knew what a head felt like, I thought it was the head. I think later on Lisa put her finger in and felt cervix. Anyway she suggested getting into a different position to see if that would help things along. I tried a few different positions in the pool but couldn’t stay in them. So I got out with help and went into the lounge to lie on the couch on my side.

It felt like I was lying on the couch for ages. Had more contractions and needed to grip something each time. Lucky Darrin’s arms were there, and reasonably unbreakable! I was just breathing through contractions, and eventually felt I HAD to push and said so.
A contraction came on and I waved my hands around. I got up off the couch with help and tried to get back to the pool. But it was take a step, have a contraction, take another step, have another contraction. By the time we got to the dining room only 8 feet from the couch, I’d had several more contractions and either Lisa or Darrin asked if I really wanted to get to the pool. The baby was descending, I was having burning sensations, and I didn’t think I could make it back to the pool, so I decided to just lean over the chair I’d been leaning over when Lisa got here, because I was right next to it. Lisa & Barb hurried to put sheets or towels down, and I knelt down. Until this time Lisa was checking the baby’s heart rate occasionally, but by now I was saying no when she asked because it was too distracting.

Someone piled up more pillows on the chair for me. I can’t remember who. I kept pushing with each contraction, and I could feel him descending each time. Lisa said something like “push like you’re doing the biggest poo of your life!” I needed to hear that, because I kept feeling overwhelmed and forgetting to push properly. At the end of each contraction, it felt like there was a little more left I could push with, but I was too spent and stopped. Finally I felt something different, something sliding out, and I knew it was his head. On second thought, it wasn’t really a sliding sensation. It was more like diarrhea, coming out with such force that nothing I might have done could have stopped it. And then there was the little bit at the end of the contraction, and I knew if I gave just one more push it would all be over. So I pushed and it was over. I was only able to relax for a second before Lisa said, “Your baby’s coming through your legs.” I reached down to get him and brought him up toward me. He was a bit blue and his head was pointed, but his arms and legs were jerking around. I was kind of in shock, sort of “oh wow, there’s a baby here!” Lisa told us to breathe on his face to get him breathing. We did, and he gradually turned from bluish to pink. He didn’t cry, just looked around, wondering what had just happened, and wiggled his arms and legs a lot.

He was wrapped in a blanket when Lisa handed him to me, with his genitals covered. I knew he was a boy already from several dreams I’d had whilst pregnant, but I lifted the blanket anyway to see. Darrin said “It’s a boy.” Someone asked if we had a name, and Darrin asked me if I still wanted to use the one I’d decided I liked. I nodded. And so he was named Caleb. (Five days later we decided on his middle name, Stephen.) I asked what time he was born, and Lisa said 9:53. But this was the time on our VCR, which we hadn’t yet adjusted for Daylight Saving, so his actual time of birth was 8:53. I was feeling really sore and cramped and weak still kneeling on the floor, so someone (or a combination of someones) helped me to lie down. I tried breastfeeding a bit while I was still on the floor, but I think it wasn’t the best position for me at the time.

The placenta didn’t want to come out right away. We cut the cord after it stopped pulsing so someone else could hold Caleb while I tried to push it out in another position. I ate some apple & banana because Lisa thought eating might help it along. We tried having me sit on a bucket as if it was a toilet (it was cheap and broke under my weight). Lisa reached in to see if she could feel it, and she said it was just inside sitting there. Two hours after Caleb was born, it came out. Lisa checked for tears and things at some point. She said I had a tear, but it was small enough not to need stitching if I kept my legs together to help it heal. Easier said than done with a new baby, but it did heal.

Barb went to get me some clothes and Lisa helped me onto the couch. She tried to help me start breastfeeding, but I was so tired (and Caleb seemed tired too) that it wasn’t working well. We eventually got him attached and sucking, and Lisa said that if I tried again later on my own I might find it easier (I did). She left to go to another birth and Caleb & I spent the rest of the day on the couch with Darrin & Barb waiting on me.

Just another boringly normal home birth :)

One response to “Caleb’s Homebirth Story”

  1. Gina Zalmstra

    Such amazing homebirth stories. I am a first year nursing student in WA, hoping to get into a graduate midwifery program as soon as I have my degree. I will be 39 when I graduate and have 3 beautiful children of my own. Lisa, you are so inspiring for people like me as I feel so strongly that I want to be a homebirth midwife. I have been waiting for 10 years for the time to be right to get my nursing qualifications and even though I will be older than some, I feel that this is what I have been waiting my whole life for, what I was put here to do. Thank you again for being such an inspiration and it would be wonderful to hear from you if you ever have a minute. This comment doesnt need to be posted, I just wanted to make contact with you.