Sharing a birth story is a very intimate and very empowering experience. I have listened to so many stories in preparation for my own birth. But no two stories are the same. I firstly want to give all shout out to any woman that has given birth. No matter how, you are amazing! I have such a new appreciation for labour and delivery 🙂
So here is my story.
Once I hit the 40 week mark in my pregnancy, I was ready to start some natural inductions. It’s funny that you hope you get to full term, but once you do you are anxious to get the baby out. Kind of twisted but it’s so true. After 37 weeks, the baby is technically considered full term – but I was wanting a bit more incubating to develop this human being and that is what I got.
I was offered a stretch and sweep on day 2 post due by our midwives, but Jesse and I didn’t feel right about it so we turned it down. The thought of it made me squeamish.
Instead, each day after 40 weeks I tried a new natural form of induction. In addition to dates, red raspberry leaf tea and reflexology, I started doing acupuncture, going for longer walks, bouncing on a birthing ball, took advantage of natures prostaglandins (I will let you figure that one out), rubbed clary sage on my belly, ate pineapple, used a tens machine… you name it!
But on day 4 past due, is when nature wanted to play its part. On Sunday February 9th at 12:30 am during the full moon, is when I woke up out of a dream that I was in a boat with water coming in from every side. When I opened my eyes I realized there was a leak in my PJ’s. I wasn’t sure what it was, but knew it didn’t pee myself.
I was actually kind of excited because this was potentially a sign that labour was likely starting. I wasn’t sure, but I had a hunch.
The next morning there was a bit more fluid, so I called our midwives to see what was up and get their opinion. They wanted me to come in right away to see if my waters had broken. Which they did, however they determined it was a hind water leak coming from higher up in the uterus. Which is both good news and bad news. It meant that things were starting, but not aggressively enough to get labour going quite yet. If things didn’t progress within the next 48 hours or less they wanted us to go to the hospital. They wanted me to start on Pitocin as soon as possible to start my contractions if they didn’t start on their own. This was the worst news I could hear at this time. As we were hoping (and planning) for a home birth.
We had some time on our side at this point. It was 9 am and they basically said that if things didn’t start by that evening, then we would check us in to the hospital that evening or first thing Monday morning.
Taking all this information in and absorbing the potential of my whole birth “plan” going sideways I was willing to do whatever it took to get things going naturally. So I spent the entire day doing all the natural labour inductions that I was doing the week before. Our doula even came over to support us and help kickstart my body naturally by doing acupressure.
I also reached out to Corinne at Brownroosts Baby & Rhea at Family Wellness Centre to help me out of desperation. Both offered me some great tips and encouragement. But the one induction that I hadn’t tried yet and knew was the most aggressive way “potentially” to get things started was using castor oil.
Corinne shared that the midwife’s brew with castor oil was a great option at this point if I could stomach it. I did research and let that sit. My midwives had brought up castor oil as well that morning, but they were not keen on the idea and had mixed thoughts on whether it actually worked or not. So I was torn. I had Jesse pick up a bottle just in case. I was hesitant about taking it orally as I knew it was really intense on the gut.
We got a phone call from the midwives around 5 pm to see where things were at and if I was ready to consider going to the hospital that evening. We actually did have all of our bags packed by the door, as I knew that there was a strong possibility of being checked in that night. They could hear my hesitation and fear on the phone and offered to come over at 6 pm to chat.
We discussed all the options again and they walked me through exactly what the hospital experience would look like. They encouraged me that they would be by my side and my primary care. They also had me thinking that there was literally less than a 5% chance that I would be having a home birth.
They even contacted the hospital to see which doctors were on call, and luckily we found out I couldn’t even be checked in that night as it was full. I was thrilled, I still had until 8 am the next morning to get things going.
Meanwhile, the bottle of castor oil was sitting on the coffee table in the living room and I stared at it for hours and debated whether this was the way to go. Do I try the “midwives brew” (with apricot juice, almond butter, lemon verbena) as laid out in my Love Your Labour birth course or just take it straight up? I knew that if I didn’t do this I would regret it.
What did I have to lose at this point, anything was better than going to the hospital.
So at 9 pm, I decided to shoot 60 ml (approx 1/4 cup) down the hatch straight up. I can’t even describe the viscosity of castor oil. Not a pleasant texture. I also don’t recommend doing this unless you are desperate like I was. *Please look into this further for your own use.
Then we went to bed and at 12:30 am I had diarrhea about 2-3 times. Then at 1:30 am my back started to ache and tighten and I knew, this had to be a contraction.
I woke Jesse up and told him that I was having contractions and to start tracking them. Which he did until 3 am and then I called the midwife to find out what she thought. She wanted more accurate times so we got a new app and kept going until 6 am. At 7 am contractions were more frequent and we spoke to the midwives again to assess the situation and they decided they would come by at 8:30 am to check me internally.
We called our doula Jess and filled her in and she also came over. They checked me and I was already 4 cm dilated. We could officially stay at home.
My home birth was happening!
The contractions were starting to intensify. Jesse and Jess would squeeze my hips while I went through each one. We moved downstairs to the basement to set everything up while I started to really labour.
By 11 am, I was 5 cm and progressing. I was being monitored and checked internally to see where baby was at and what the heart rate was.
For the most part it seemed like baby was hanging on my right side in a posterior position. This required me to lay on my side for contractions to move baby into a better position. These contractions were not fun! Well none of them are, but because my hips were so weak, it made these ones especially hard to bare.
Then I was lucky enough to be able to get into our birthing tub which was amazing..and relaxing but too relaxing it slowed me and the contractions down. So I was asked to get out at some point and continue labouring on land.
I basically tried every position to labour in, walking the stairs, doing squats, ball bounces, standing and leaning on Jesse, sitting on the toilet backwards and things continued to progress but not enough.
This is when I was offered (for the second time) to have my membranes ruptured. This was something I was trying to avoid. When this happens it can intensify the contractions quite a bit and if there is a chance of any meconium being present in the waters, we would need to be rushed to the hospital. Luckily the midwives gave us their confidence that because my hind waters had already broken, they didn’t see a risk of any muconium. Since it was 4 pm at this point they encouraged me that this was the right choice. I agreed.
It was a pretty simple procedure of putting a hook up inside me to rupture the membranes. So much water came gushing out as I was filled with amniotic fluid, which is partly why baby wasn’t getting into a proper position.
By now things started to progress and I was getting weaker as the hours crept on. I should mention that at several points throughout the day I felt pretty nauseous and threw up at least three times. I also had now been up for more than 24 hours. I was lucky to be home and to be able to eat, but I couldn’t really stomach much. All I had during the day was a smoothie, coconut water, 1 date, 4 macadamia nuts and some bone broth. I was also being given homeopathics every 15-30 minutes to manage symptoms and lots of water to stay hydrated.
After labouring on land for a bit after my membranes were ruptured, I was allowed to go back in tub and to try and get baby down further into the birth canal. Each contraction was more intense than the next and at some point I started to feel the urge to push.
So I would get onto my hands and knees at the top of each contraction and Jesse and Jess would lean over the walls of the tub and push on my hips to help me through the pain. At the end of each contraction I was spent and would lay back against the wall of the tub and drift into labour land. Hard to describe exactly but I was part present and part in lala land just trying to breath and connect with the deepest parts of myself. If you’ve gone through this, you know what I am talking about.
At this point I was wanting someone else to take on my labour. I didn’t for a second consider having an epidural – I just wanted a break.
I had to keep reminding myself how lucky I was to be at home with the best birthing team. So I continued to stay motivated and push through.
After 2 hours or so I needed to be out of tub to try something else. I needed a new position, so I tried standing and leaning on Jesse which didn’t work as my hips wouldn’t let me stand upright. So then I was offered to go back to the toilet to continue to push, that didn’t work either and this is when I learned that my anterior cervical lip was in the way. Baby was getting close but not coming down enough into my pelvis. I was pushing so hard at this point that I literally felt like my but was inside out! No joke.
So from the toilet we moved over to the bed where I got onto my hands and knees and I was convinced baby was coming in this position as I was around 9 cm at this point. But this didn’t work, then I went on to hang off the edge of the bed in Jesse’s arms, no go.
Then the midwives changed their tone of voice and basically told me that I had to get on my back and push this baby out fast. I learned later that the babies heart rate had dropped significantly by this point and they wanted it out stat!
So there I was on my back in a very condensed happy baby pose to squeeze my baby out. Each contraction was torture, I was getting out of breath and tired. I was pretty much hyperventilating in between each contraction but tried with each one to ride it to the max. The head was getting close but kept coming back in. I was told if I didn’t push enough to get this baby out, I’d need an episiotomy. So I mustered up strength somehow to keep riding each contraction harder and harder and then could feel the head getting close.
Then the midwives requested getting some olive oil to help soften the perineal area. So Jesse ran up to our kitchen to grab our cold pressed organic Rallis Olive Oil and this helped. But we needed more, so when he went back up to get more is when the head started to peak out and everyone was screaming for him to come back. I pushed the head out, then the shoulders and the rest of the body slipped right out.
Baby was put on my belly immediately. I didn’t even cry, I was in shock and total amazement. At this point we didn’t even know the sex yet, so Jesse and I took a peek and we were SO happy to see it was a girl. We wanted a girl so badly. I secretly knew all along 😉
We let her breast crawl and cuddle me. She cried right away and cleared her healthy little lungs. Her cord was amazing, it was still attached and pulsing for at least 10 min which is what we wanted. We had requested to delay clamping the cord so that she would get all the benefits of her blood transfusion. Jesse wanted to cut the cord so he had the pleasure of doing that after it stopped pulsating.
I had to have a shot of oxytocin right at delivery since the labour was so long and I was so weak. The midwives were worried I would hemmorage too much. So that happened and I didn’t even really notice it.
Then it was time to push the placenta out which was a bit uncomfortable, but not painful. My stomach had to be pushed and pressed to make sure it all came out. Which it did and it was gorgeous! It was put in the freezer right away as I chose to have mine encapsulated so I could take it postpartum.
I was assessed for tears and learned that I had a second degree internal tear that needed one stitch. I was numbed and it was done. Good thing I was distracted by the sweet little nugget on my chest. I cuddled the heck out of her and let her attempt to do the breast crawl and work her way towards my right breast. It was magical to see her do her primal thing.
I am still in awe of the whole experience. I basically laboured for over 48 hours and contracted for more than 24 hours and pushed for almost 4 hours. There is no crazier, surreal, challenging but amazing experience than this. I am so grateful I had my unmedicated birth at home – as I had hoped for. Not only that, Sarelle Jolie was the prize at the end of it all. The best gift I have ever given myself.
I should also mention she was born at 1:11 am on February 11th. This number is very special to me as I was born on November 11th at 11 am on my mom’s birthday. So 1’s are magic to me!
Also be sure to check out the audio version of our story told by me and Jesse over on The Ultimate Health Podcast!