Birthing our first baby at home, Annabelle’s birth story

We welcomed our first baby in the comfort of our home. This was something that, by about half way through our pregnancy, felt so absolutely right for our family. There’s lots that I can credit for this departure from the norm- time spent with an awesome family that I babysat for who birthed their babies at home, our Bradley Method®  birthing classes; but more than anything a steadfast and peaceful resolve within my own heart that home was where this birth was meant to be. The following is the story of our first homebirth, Annabelle’s birth day.

“… more than anything a steadfast and peaceful resolve within my own heart that home was where this birth was meant to be.”

That Sunday evening my husband, Chad, and I took a long stroll around the neighborhood, as we had throughout my entire pregnancy but, this time, I was a day away from my due date and feeling pretty fab. And as they had throughout the entire second half of my pregnancy, a well-intentioned neighbor commented on how pregnant I was and that I looked ready to pop. So endearing, right? I matter-of-factly told said neighbor that my due date was the next day but that I certainly wasn’t going to have my baby then. Half smiles exchanged and Chad, the dog, and I continued on our walk. 

Well apparently I need to give middle aged men more credit for their birth telepathy because I woke at 3am, on baby’s due date, with contractions. Having no bathroom on the upper level of our home, I had definitely mastered the half-sleep stair climb over the last several months. That early morning, I made about a half a dozen trips up and down our stairs under the pretense that I just had to make a bowel movement. I finally let go of those urges, conceding to just go in the bed if it really came down to it (don’t worry, I didn’t). I finally relaxed in bed next to Chad, and let the contractions do their job while I rested. We planned a homebirth and I was in communication with my midwife from the time that I woke with the contractions. A little after 6am, I felt the urge to get moving again so I woke my sleeping husband, telling him that he was going to get the day off of work. I got out of bed and headed downstairs. Chad followed me down and quietly called the midwife. 

I paced the house and worked through my contractions which were coming about every 3 minutes at that point. As Chad prepped our birth supplies and birthing space I prompted him to get into the shower with me. Together we labored in the shower, Chad holding my entire bodyweight while I surrendered to the contractions. In between contractions he used the removable shower head to massage my back. The hot water felt incredible as it jetted out onto my lower back and bottom. I quickly washed my hair and scrubbed my face, convinced that my mop needed to look nice for the birth of our baby.

Looking back, I assume that my water must have broken while we were in the shower. There was no movie-style scene outside of the tub with amniotic fluid spilling everywhere so, it must have been contained in there at some point during my shower.

I began to feel a little grunty (read pushy!) while we were in the shower so, with the water beginning to get cold anyways, we got out. I quickly found my way onto the toilet. At about the same time our midwife arrived, she calmly and quietly asked if she could check me and swiftly began setting up her supplies just on the other side of the wall, in the spare bedroom. I labored on the toilet for a while, breathing and groaning through the contractions. Chad was directly in front of me, sitting on the edge of our bathtub; he was my anchor, stabilizing me, breathing with me, and gently encouraging me. His calm presence kept me composed and in the moment, allowing me to work through the intensity of the sensations that I was experiencing. 

I labored on the toilet for a while (20-30 minutes in total, I would guess) before relocating to the bedroom. I should add that I was quite reluctant to move but did so at my midwife’s insistence since “we {didn’t} really want to have a baby on the pot.” I sat up in the bed with my husband directly behind me and began actively bearing down with my contractions to help bring our daughter earthside. I took the time between contractions to completely melt into my husband’s lap, my head on his chest and body limp between his legs. 

After about 25 minutes of pushing I was certain that I couldn’t do it anymore. I felt helpless. Chad and our midwife gently encouraged me and within 15 minutes I delivered my daughter’s head. With the next contraction the rest of her body slid out of me. Annabelle was place on my tummy and I pulled her up towards my chest; we sat as a brand new family for the first time, taking in all of her beauty and the utter astonishment that was our birth journey. All I could manage to get out of my mouth, over and over again, was “my sweet baby!” I was absolutely overcome with joy, relief, excitement, and love. 

Annabelle stayed on my chest for about 20 minutes after birth. Chad cut her cord, which was completely white and lifeless at that point, and then she was wrapped up in a blanket and given to her proud, new father. Annabelle was cozy with her papa as I delivered my placenta (which, to my surprise, felt oddly satisfying) and got cleaned up in a quick sitz bath with the help of the midwife. Annabelle was happy and healthy, passing all of her newborn assessments with flying colors and weighing in at 8 pounds and 2 ounces and 19.5” long.

The next few days were absolute bliss. I recovered, breastfed, and bonded with our sweet Annabelle in our family bed in the front room. Chad was home with us and split his time between cuddles, food prep, and laundry. A few family and friends would sneak in occasionally to lay eyes on our new little one, each one offering help around the house and leaving with huge smiles on their faces. Our wonderful midwife came back almost daily for a week to offer her loving guidance and support.

I will forever look back on this experience with immense joy. We were loved, supported, and well-cared for throughout. Annabelle made her entrance into the world in the most peaceful and loving way that I could have ever imagined. For that I could not be more grateful.

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