When my husband Dustin and I decided we wanted to start a family, we were faced with a very difficult truth: I have polycystic ovarian syndrome which would make it almost impossible to get pregnant without intervention. I was devastated, but Dustin, being the constant optimist that he is, knew we would get through it whatever the outcome.
With the support of the Southern Ontario Fertility Technologies clinic in London, I started various testing, ultrasounds, blood work, medication, and after the third intrauterine insemination attempt, amazingly, we were able to conceive our sweet baby.
Although I had medical intervention to get pregnant, my plan was to birth naturally in the comfort of our home. On July 21, 2010 a few days before my due date, I awoke with some cramping that felt much different than any Braxton Hicks cramps I had felt. At around 3:30 am my husband, dog and I went for a walk around the block, which I hoped would get things started. During the walk, the cramps continued. When we returned, my water broke. It was a surreal moment, knowing that this was the beginning of the journey to meeting our babe!
My contractions started slowly and progressed just the way they were supposed to. I spent a lot of the morning rocking on a stability ball, and trying to eat a little bit to keep my energy up. Unfortunately I vomited what I ate, which I knew was my body’s way of cleansing before the birth. Dustin called our midwife Laura, just to give her a head’s up. She said to try to rest and call when the contractions became more intense. Easier said than done. Resting did not seem to be an option. I was too excited!
I continued to rock my hips back and forth on the ball, walk, and move in and out of a warm bath. At about 8 am, my massage therapist, Becky, arrived to massage me through my contractions, which was absolutely amazing! She was a great physical and emotional support for both my husband and me. She talked me through the more difficult contractions and helped me focus on my breathing. I was also listening to yogic chants on my iPod throughout my labour which really helped me stay focused.
At the point where my contractions significantly intensified, my midwife team arrived. Laura, Daina and the midwifery student Julie were fantastic; Laura was my primary midwife and just let me labour where and how I needed to and supported me through it.
At about noon, I moved to the bathtub at what felt like the transition point; the warm water helped immensely. Shortly thereafter, Laura checked me and I was 10 centimetres and fully effaced. It was time to push! Ideally I had wanted a water birth and started pushing in the tub. However, since I had been labouring for awhile in the tub already, continuing to push in the water wasn’t working out. I moved to the toilet to push to let gravity work its magic, but it was very difficult to wrap my mind around that intense feeling of openness, that I wasn’t able to relax my body. I transitioned to the bed where I continued to push. Our midwife asked Dustin to get a kettle and fill a bowl with hot water for compresses to help stretch me; my mum joked that she thought that only happened in the movies! But it worked, I delivered without a tear. At 2 pm, after what seemed like FOREVER pushing the head out, our beautiful baby girl, Harlow Ginny, was born! Words truly cannot describe that feeling: it felt like relief, exhaustion, extreme joy, and genuine amazement. She needed a bit of oxygen at first, but she turned pink within seconds. I liked how she didn’t wail when she was born; she came into the world calmly so perhaps she didn’t need to scream. I brought her to my breast right away, and luckily, she latched without a problem. My parents and one of my brothers were downstairs waiting anxiously and got to meet Harlow within minutes of her birth, which they were amazed by!
After delivering the placenta, I was able to get up and walk to the bathroom; I had a sitz bath to clean up and help with healing and Harlow joined me for our first bath together. Once I was back in bed and the midwives felt confident that all was well, my husband and I cuddled in bed with our little girl, and enjoyed the quiet comfort of being in our own bedroom.
I am often asked if I was ever nervous or scared about having my (first) baby at home, and I can honestly say that I wasn’t. I tried to stay very focused during my labour and delivery and had phenomenal support team throughout; I didn’t have time to think about being nervous, scared or in need of pain medication. I can confidently say that for the most part, our bodies are made to birth babies, and to let your body work its magic. It was very empowering to have my baby at home; I am proud of it. My husband and I wanted nothing more than to have a healthy baby, naturally in the comfort of our own home. We were most fortunate that that is exactly what we experienced.