I had my first four children in hospitals. Although we used birthing rooms, no drugs, and rooming in, each experience had unpleasant occurrences ranging from rudeness, incompetence, unpredictable routines, etc. We decided to have our fifth baby at home.
I received prenatal care from my OB, and the certified nurse midwives who would be attending my homebirth also monitored me. During the course of my pregnancy, I bonded with them and vice versa. They made house calls to check my progress toward the end of my pregnancy and the needed supplies were sterilized and handy.
I owned and operated a secretarial service a mile from my house and the day my labor started, I had worked eight hours in the office. Due to deadlines, I had taken my laptop computer home to type more assignments that could be printed out at the office later. I worked until 11:00 p.m. and went to bed with a backache. What I thought were Braxton-Hicks contractions woke me at midnight. I remember thinking to myself, "Great, now they're keeping me awake." I woke my husband and we went out for a walk. Police cars started showing up in the neighborhood. A taxi driver had just been robbed, shot and killed by his passenger only two blocks away on our deadend road. So much for walking outside!
My husband insisted on timing my "contractions," which I thought was funny. Who times Braxton-Hicks? They were extremely erratic anyway...5 minutes, 30 minutes, 10 minutes, 2 minutes, 20 minutes, and so on. As far as I was concerned, it was only false labor at best. Restless and not sleepy, I busied myself around the house.
The only real indication that I might actually be in labor was a discharge of more content than the mucous plug which had already presented itself a month before. It was 4:30 a.m. before we finally called our midwives and I felt awful about calling them at that hour since I still wasn't convinced I was really in labor.
The midwives (three of them!) had all arrived by 5:00 a.m. The first pelvic exam revealed that I was 7 cm. dilated. The comment that went along with that discovery was, "You could start pushing the baby out right now if you wanted to." In the past I'd always gone from 6 or 7 cm. to being complete within mere minutes. They wanted to know why I had waited so long to call! I thought this was great, almost ready to push and no pain. My first birth had been a 27-hour painful ordeal of back labor before my son was delivered with forceps. He was nine pounds, six ounces, twenty one and a half inches long and presented face first. My next three births (all daughters) each consisted of exactly two hours of labor from onset to delivery with considerable pain. In comparison, this labor was longer than usual for me but I thought it was great. Who cares how long it is when the trade-off is a little Braxton-Hicks contractions now and then? We visited, talking and laughing and not once did I even have to use the breathing/focal point techniques that were the only things that got me through any of my other births.
People have suggested that there was no pain because this was my fifth baby. Well, after the first two nine pounders, why wouldn't it have been painless the third or fourth times? I believe it was due to being on my own turf surrounded by people I knew and trusted with no relocations or separations on the horizon (even in birthing rooms, the baby is taken to the nursery for a while to be cleaned up and weighed and you are moved to a regular room).
By 6:30 a.m., I was fully dilated with no transition stage symptoms and no urge to push. The midwives informed me that this baby was not going to arrive unless I just started pushing, but I was so excited and having so much fun visiting, I didn't want to make things go all serious again. Finally, at 6:50 a.m. I started pushing, things got a bit painful down there, and I delivered my fourth daughter at 7:00 a.m.
Sherrie weighed in at eight pounds, twelve ounces, and was twenty inches long. The birth must have been pretty easy on her too, because when they cleared her throat, instead of crying, she made little baby noises (sounded just like Pebbles on the Flintstones). All of us got a big kick out of that. I came through with mere "scuff" marks, and the midwives all claimed they had never witnessed a calmer birth than this.
Within two hours of the birth, clients were showing up at my house (not finding me at the office) to pick up and drop off work. After the midwives left I took a short nap, then had to go to the office for a few hours (which included climbing a flight of stairs) to print my work and give it to the clients who met me there. The next day, I worked at the office for 12 hours to finish a deadline. Being my own boss and a breastfeeder, I brought my new portable baby with me. One of the midwives came to my house to give me a post-birth exam and discovered I was at work. She was NOT pleased. However, when she examined me on the third postpartum day, she was amazed. She said that due to the size and position of my uterus, if she hadn't been present at the birth, she would not have believed I had just given birth and didn't give me the expected third degree about working. This from a midwife who was leary of accepting my case since a fourth or fifth birth is more prone to hemorrhage and considered a risk for home birth!
Well, it was the weekend at that point anyway. The following week, I did cut my hours to part-time for a few weeks. If Sherrie had been born a few days later on Memorial Day weekend, I would have gotten a little more sleep prior to labor and a day or two off but what will be, will be. Out of five births, this was the most incredible for me.