A few months into the pregnancy, my husband James and I decided that we wanted to have a natural childbirth, and we signed up for Bradley Method Husband Coached Childbirth classes. We created a birth plan and brought it to my OB’s office and the doctors there seemed to be very willing to accommodate our natural birth preferences. There was even a Certified Nurse Midwife working with the practice who we could choose to have our appointments with and have at our hospital birth. We were following the diet and exercise plan from the classes and our pregnancy was progressing perfectly.

At 28 weeks I was required to take a Glucose Tolerance Test. They called me and told me that my blood sugars were so high, I was automatically being diagnosed with Gestational Diabetes with no further testing. This diagnosis changed the way my pregnancy was treated from that point on. I didn’t have to change my diet much in order to control the blood sugar, and I stuck to my regular exercise every day.

After 32 weeks I had to go to the doctor’s office twice a week for ultrasounds and non-stress tests. Everything was perfect every time, and the baby consistently measured on the small side of normal throughout the pregnancy. I asked multiple times what happens if I go past my due date and I kept being told “We don’t like GD mom’s to go past their due date. We’ll see  how we’re progressing at the time.”  This was stressing me out because I felt pressured to go into natural labor before my due date in order to avoid unnecessary interventions.

I began my leave from work at 38 weeks in the hopes that I would go into labor naturally. My husband and I spent our days doing lots of walking, having lots of sex, eating spicy (but healthy!) foods. I kept up with my exercise and bounced on my birth ball.  But it was apparent that she was not coming any time soon.

When I was almost 39 weeks I had the doctor’s visit that changed our entire plan. They assumed I would want my cervix checked, which I did not because there was no point since I was not in labor, and then the doctor asks me when I was planning my induction.  Um, sorry but we are not planning an induction!  Then I heard the familiar threats that GD babies need to be born by 40 weeks or they will be “too big” and there is an increased risk of stillbirth.  These scare tactics just made me angry because I knew my baby was healthy and I was not going to force her to be born early!  I felt extremely stressed whenever I thought about going for a doctor visit or about our hospital birth.  So when our Bradley instructor (who was also our Doula) suggested contacting a local midwife about a home birth I felt that this would be a huge relief!  And so I made an appointment to speak with Alison, a midwife I had met before at a Birth Circle meeting just ten minutes from my house.

Alison agreed to take us on for the amount we would have paid for the hospital copay, which was amazing of her because it is the only way we could afford it since my insurance does not cover midwives. She sympathized with my story and agreed that since my blood sugars were well controlled there was no reason to treat my pregnancy as anything other than the normal healthy pregnancy it was.  And so we began planning our home birth.

It is a good thing that we did this, because it was 11 days past our due date when the labor started. Monday night I was having a terrible time sleeping, as had happened a lot that past week, so I was up until about 7 in the morning. I slept off and on for a few hours and woke up around 11 having cramps.  I told my husband I thought something was finally happening!  We got up and ate breakfast and the cramping continued to get more intense.  We decided to try timing them and they were about 10 minutes apart.  Then I went to the bathroom and found blood.  Bloody show! I told James I thought this was going to be the day so we should call Alison and Klarissa (our doula) and let them know!

James and I used our Bradley relaxation techniques to handle the contractions, and read each other trivia questions from a board game in between to keep our mind off things. Alison came by to check on me, and by this point my contractions were about 10 minutes apart. We let her know that I hadn’t slept well the night before so she suggested drinking half a glass of wine to slow the contractions so I could take a nap since I would need my energy. She left and told us to keep in touch. I drank the half a glass of wine but contractions did not slow down, they sped up!  They were starting to be 3 – 4 minutes apart when we called Klarissa and said we thought she should probably come over now.

Klarissa came over and got the birthing pool filled up for me and I climbed in.  It felt soooo nice!  James was still doing a great job reminding me to relax and take deep breaths.  I found that I had to make a low moaning sound to get through the contractions as they were getting stronger.  He ended up climbing into the pool with me so that he could press on my coccyx with a piece of pool noodle, which relieves a bit of the pressure of contractions.  Alison and her two students arrived, and we labored like this in the pool for several hours. Everyone was impressed at how great we were doing at focusing on relaxing and breathing and dealing with each contraction as it came.

At around 11 it started to get pretty intense and Alison had me get out of the pool so she could check my dilation. I was at 8 ½ centimeters with just a bit of cervix left.  We tried laboring in a few different positions and then Alison checked my cervix again and there was still a bit left that wouldn’t budge. She said it felt like scar tissue which was causing the problem, we discussed it and I agreed to let her break my bag of waters so that the baby’s head could press on the cervix to help open it. It was about 11:45 pm by this time and I was sure I’d have my baby soon.

Hours later I was still laboring HARD. Alison gave me an herb which was supposed to stop the contractions so that I could rest a bit because I was too worn out to push effectively. Once again my body reacted the opposite it was supposed to and the contractions only increased in intensity and the urge to push was too much to resist. And so we continued.

James and I got in the shower and labored in there.  By this time I was begging for the hospital because “they have drugs that work!” and starting to understand why so many women choose to have an epidural!  It was getting extremely hard to handle!

Back to the bedroom floor at the foot of my bed and I pushed on the squatting stool, on hands and knees, on my side, on my back, on the other side, back on hands and knees…  I kept hearing people say “You’re doing great!  She’s coming!”  but then I would cry out “Then why isn’t she here yet!!!” because it seemed like it wouldn’t end!  I was crying that I couldn’t go on, but everyone kept encouraging me.  “You can!  You’re doing it!  She’s almost here!”.  I remember seeing Kat, one of the student midwives getting some clean towels out and putting them next to me and I asked what it was for and she said it was for the baby.  All I thought was, but this baby is never coming out!

Finally I think I just decided this was it, I was going to push a couple of more times with all of my might and get that baby out!  I got back into the squatting position and when the next contraction came I did not let up!  Her head finally came out and then -whoosh- the rest of her slipped right out!  She was born at 6:20 am Wednesday morning. Alison caught her and put her on my stomach and I sat back on the stool and just looked at her in amazement!  I couldn’t believe she was actually here!

I had some help onto the bed and James climbed in next to me and the baby was wiped and covered with towels and a little hat put on to help keep her warm and I couldn’t believe how perfect she was!  And thanks to the loooong second stage labor and squatting position, I had absolutely no tearing.

James cut the cord, and I delivered the placenta with one little push. That was easy! Then I was escorted into the shower while the birth team stripped the bed and put on a nice clean set of sheets. I think we tried to nurse, it’s all a little fuzzy now… Then Alison took Zelda to the foot of the bed to take measurements, check the baby’s eyes and reflexes and all that good stuff. She was 7 lbs 2 ounces and a whopping 22 inches long.  That is a long and skinny baby!  She was perfectly alert and healthy.

Although it was the most difficult thing I have ever done, and the most pain I have ever experienced, I am very glad that we chose to have a home birth. First of all, if she had been born three weeks earlier she would have had no fat on her!  I know that my baby really needed the time that she took. Secondly I am convinced that they would not have let me labor for that long in so many positions in second stage. I would have ended up in surgery, which was not necessary at all because obviously by body and my baby were able to do it!  Alison says that Zelda was a big help pushing herself out, and her heart rate stayed strong through the entire ordeal. Klarissa commented that she really lives up to her name, which means woman warrior!

Nicole