At the time of our third pregnancy, we had not heard of anyone birthing their baby without a doctor or midwife’s assistance. (Of course, almost everybody has heard of native women who would go off into the bushes and come back a short time later with their newborn baby. But, in America, it’s just not done that way anymore, or so the medical community would have you think.)
We had had two rather easy and uneventful, natural hospital births, except for a mild case of shoulder dystocia, which the doctor had little trouble releasing. The first, a boy, weighed 9 lb. 12 oz., in Dec. 1988, and the 2nd, a girl, weighed 8 lb. 8 oz., in June 1990. With my second baby, the doctor arrived just in time to put his gloves on, sit down, and catch her.
But after a move across the country and a new job, in early 1991 we found ourselves expecting our third, but now we had no medical insurance. We are Christians and God plays a very important roll in all of our decisions. After consulting with some local midwives and finding out the amount of money they wanted up front, we began to pray about what we were to do about the upcoming birth. We did not have the means to pay such a large sum of money, but God could provide if it was His will for us to go this route.
We did not want to go on any assistance program, mainly because we didn’t want the government feeling like they have any say over our family decisions. We were constantly in prayer about what we should do, but we never felt led to pursue any care from the midwives. I began checking out books from the local library, and as I read, I was enthralled by the normalness and naturalness of birth. I began to wonder why women don’t just stay home and birth privately, as it is such an easy process, with complications being very rare. Most of the complications that might arise have enough warning that help could be sought pretty quickly.
One particular book was what got me thinking that maybe we should do just that. It is by David Stewart, entitled “Five Standards For Safe Childbearing.” It is filled with statistical information about the safety of home birth versus the dangers of hospital birth. I read portions of this book to my husband, but never mentioned my desire to have this baby unattended. First of all, I didn’t think he would ever go for it, and, secondly, I didn’t want to influence him one way or the other. If God wanted us to birth unassisted, He would have to show my husband himself.
One day, about 3 months into the pregnancy, my husband asked me why we couldn’t just have the baby at home by ourselves. WHOA! After getting over my initial shock that he actually suggested it, we began discussing the possibilities. We considered that my labors and births were very easy, and after praying again, we felt that God was definitely leading us that direction.
While normal labor and birth needs no intervention, we wanted to be prepared for any complications that might arise, so we purchased a few items. We purchased a blood pressure cuff and a stethoscope, so we could monitor the baby and I. We weren’t sure how the medical community would take it if there was a bad outcome to the birth, and so wanted to have a record of the care we did.
Through a local midwife, I found out about a birthing supply company in Oregon, and sent away for their catalog. We also purchased an older edition of ‘William’s Obstetrics‘, a textbook used in medical schools, so we could read up on all the different complications and how to handle them, while realizing that the chances of any of these complications happening was very low.
At about the same time all this was happening, I came to the realization that I wanted to become a midwife someday. I read every book I could get my hands on that had to do with pregnancy and childbirth. I saw what a natural process birth is, and never felt any anxiety at all about our future unassisted birth. I told anyone who asked that we were planning a “do-it-yourself” birth, but after some bad reactions from a few people, I was more cautious of who I told. (I even found out, after the birth, that one person had planned to call 911 and have an ambulance sent to our house when he heard I was in labor. Needless to say, I was glad that he did not hear anything until after the baby was born.)
We continued to pray throughout the pregnancy for a healthy baby and an easy labor and birth. My husband studied the library books also, to prepare himself for the role he was undertaking. This was not something he took lightly, and he felt that the life of his wife and child rested solely in his hands. It was a very sobering thought, but as it should always be. He was especially fascinated by the process of labor, and how the baby emerged. He studied about the cervix and learned how to feel if it was dilating. (Of course, this was very uncomfortable for me.) I highlighted, in my personal books, the areas that might be needed in a hurry during labor, as we wanted to be prepared for anything.
In September, we ordered the supplies that we thought we should have on hand for the birth. We ordered a dozen sterile surgical gloves, which my husband used because we wanted to reduce the possibility of the baby or me getting an infection. We also ordered a bulb suction syringe, for clearing the baby’s air passages; plastic cord clamps; absorbent under pads; a large plastic bag for covering our mattress; an anti-bacterial hand wash; sanitary pads and briefs; and a few other things.
My ‘due date’ came and went with no sign of a baby, but soon my ‘Braxton Hicks’ contractions became more frequent. The evening of Nov. 8, I noticed some pink ‘show’. My husband checked, but there was no real change from the time before. I called my mother, who would be taking my children to her house during the birth, to let her know of the new development. I told her it may still be days away, but I just wanted her to be prepared for whenever. I also called my sister, and friend, who would be coming to take photos of the birth and to help out. They would be waiting for my call. After praying for a quick and easy birth, we went to bed.
About 2:30 a.m., something caused me to awaken from my sleep. I couldn’t figure it out why I was so wide awake, until I felt a contraction. I wondered if that had been what woke me up. About 10 minutes later, there was another one. Not real strong, just enough to keep me awake. I thought that before I woke dh, I should get up and walk around awhile to see if they would continue. Over the next 45 minutes or so, they did get stronger and closer together. I woke dh up and he checked my cervix again. He found that some definite changes had taken place during the night, so we began to prepare the bedroom for the birth. We put the plastic mattress cover over our mattress, then made up the bed with a sheet that we didn’t care if it got messy. It was just after 3:30 a.m. We didn’t want to call my mother yet, because we knew it would still be awhile. I had a few loads of laundry from the night before that I wanted to finish, so I proceeded to pass the time washing and folding laundry. My husband thought I was crazy, but I figured, “Why not? I can’t sleep anyway.”
By 5 a.m. I knew it was time to call everyone. The contractions were averaging 4-5 min. apart, but were really getting uncomfortable. I was so glad I would be staying in my own house rather than have to travel to a hospital again. I regretted having to wake everyone up, but I knew this was happening fast. My friend, M., was already up, waiting for my call. She said she knew I would be calling anytime. (I still wonder how she knew that.) We got the kids dressed and fed. My mom was marveling that I was so intent on getting the laundry done. I only had a few minutes time when one contraction ended until the next began. Each one required my full attention. Finally, my husband told me to forget the laundry. He would finish it later.
When my mom and kids left, about 6:30 a.m., dh checked my cervix again and found it to be around 5 cm. My contractions were about 3-4 min. apart now, and I had a few fleeting thoughts of, ‘Will I really be able to do this at home?’ The next couple of hours were a blur of contraction after contraction, and I knew that it would soon be time to push this baby out. During this time, dh set out our birthing supplies on the dresser top, where they would be easily accessible when the time came.
Finally, around 8:45 a.m., he said that if he was measuring right, I was all the way open, but there was a large bubble of the bag of water bulging in front of the head. I said we should try to break it so it would be easier to push the baby out. (We knew by feeling from the outside that this was another large baby.) He broke the sac, and it popped with a gush. I felt so much relief. [NOTE: We now know it was not a good idea to artificially rupture the membranes, and have since not done it again!]
I got up on our bed, and within minutes the urge to push took over. My sister A. started snapping pictures. After just 3 pushes, daddy caught our second son, at 9:28 a.m. on Nov. 9, 1991. He weighed 9 lb. 2 oz., and we named him Jason.
We got a couple of good pictures of daddy catching him. I had no vaginal tears at all, and, after dh clamped the cord, Aunt A. got to cut it. The placenta came soon with no problems. I was up to take a shower within 45 minutes, and it felt wonderful. We thanked God for allowing us this special blessing, and for His guidance in the birth.
WOW! What an experience! That was one of the major highs of my life. I felt like I was ‘floating’ for weeks afterward. We felt thankful to have been blessed with such an easy birth in our own home, and I knew that I didn’t ever want to birth in a hospital again. I scheduled an appointment with the county health department’s ‘Well Baby Clinic,’ to have him examined that first week, and he was pronounced ‘a very healthy baby.’ I had been a little nervous about how the nurse would react to the circumstances of his birth, but she turned out to have no negative remarks at all. We filed for a birth certificate with the county registrar within a month, which was a very easy process to fulfill.