I should probably be napping right now. That’s what my youngest son is doing. I guess that sometimes I just need to write, and this is one of those times.
I was expecting to be writing about home birth number four at this point. One more success story about how my kids were all born at home. But, life rarely goes as we plan. At least my life rarely does!
A week ago, April 9th, I had several hours of labor in the morning that by afternoon had stopped. I was disappointed, but still hoping that I’d have the baby that weekend. I spent the good part of the night in early labor, and then called my midwife at 3:30 Sunday morning to let her know that I was definitely in labor. I was tired from lack of a good night’s sleep, but so very excited. We would finally get to meet our baby! The older kids went to Auntie’s house and the midwife and doula arrived. Labor progressed, and by about 10:00 that morning we were all thinking that the baby was going to be born very soon.
Over the next couple of hours, my contractions became longer and more painful, but the baby didn’t get any closer to being born. The midwife kept monitoring the baby’s heart rate and it was fine. But for the first time, I found myself unable to handle my labor pains. Something felt different from the other births, and once panic set in I couldn’t get myself calmed back down. We made the decision to go to the hospital. The ambulance was called. The ride to the hospital was uncomfortable and stressful. I’d always been afraid of having to transfer to the hospital during a birth, and I was more than a little scared.
My sister had called a friend of Mom’s who was also a nurse and asked her to meet us at the hospital. I can’t say for sure when she walked into the room, but I do remember being glad to see someone I knew in the delivery room with us. This part is rather a blur for me, but I’m pretty sure that they were going to do an ultrasound to see what was going on and give me something to help with the pain. They had time for neither. I remember very clearly feeling as if something had “let go” and I knew that the baby was coming NOW. I told them, “Something’s different! Something changed!” The doctor checked and said that the baby was coming. One push later, she was handing me my youngest son. I cannot describe the relief I felt to be holding a healthy baby boy at that moment.
That night at the hospital, I spent a lot of time thinking while Aaron and our baby slept. Birth is a very emotional event to begin with, and considering the circumstances surrounding this one, it was a lot for me to process. I knew that my Dad was right – better to consider something an emergency and act accordingly than to wait too long and not be able to do anything. If I’d stayed home another hour then our son would have been born there, but I’ll never know what might have happened. On one hand, I felt the bitter taste of failure. I felt like I’d wimped out. I felt like I’d failed because my fourth baby wasn’t born at home like the other three. On the other hand, I’d faced something that I had feared, and gotten through it. I felt stronger for having been through something that I was very afraid of. Certainly, the most important thing to me was that my baby was born healthy and that he was doing just fine. It will take time before I sort out how I feel about this birth. One thing is certain, I absolutely love my youngest son, and I am thankful beyond words that God kept His hand on both of us that day!
So, how do I feel about home birth now? I’m still a big supporter of home birth, just as I have been. Should I have another baby someday I wouldn’t hesitate to plan another home birth. If anything, I think that my experience shows that parents who choose home births are not the reckless people that we are sometimes portrayed as. Maybe I didn’t really need to go to the hospital, but we chose to err on the side of caution. Because in the end, the most important thing is the life of that precious baby.
I want to particularly thank everyone who prayed for us that day. Praise God! His hand was on all of us that day.