Simon Henry was born on October 18, 2012 in our master bathroom tub. He was caught by my husband. We had an unplanned, natural, unassisted home birth and this is our story.
I think you need to know a little about my past labors and deliveries to make this most current one make a little more sense. It needs a bit of back story for reference. Our first daughter was born in the hospital with the aid of forceps after about 24 hours of hard labor. I had an epidural after I didn’t progress. I didn’t cope well with the pain and puked the entire time I was in labor. The only place I found any comfort was in the tub. Because of the forceps, I tore terribly and was in pain for months afterwards. My scars still pain me at times.
I was scared of labor and delivery during the entire next pregnancy. I did what I could to make sure the baby was positioned better since my first daughter’s posterior position made labor awful. I was successful in my efforts and labor was much better. I labored in the tub by myself until it was time to go to the hospital. We got to the hospital and I requested an epidural immediately. I labor really slowly after all (or so I thought). I started feeling pressure as soon as the epidural was placed and it turns out that I had been in transition shortly after our arrival to the hospital. I was disappointed that I was so close to having a baby without drugs and hadn’t realized it until it was too late. The delivery still went really well with a small tear, but I wasn’t able to be up and around very quickly and had to have a darn catheter in for hours afterwards.
This brings us to my final pregnancy. I was no longer afraid of labor and delivery and started researching natural child birth pretty early on. I read countless birth stories, Ina May Gaskin’s book, a hippy book full of home births, and a book on the Bradley Method of child birth. I knew I wouldn’t and couldn’t do a home birth because there weren’t any midwives in my area to work with. I knew I wouldn’t and couldn’t do an unassisted home birth because I’m not some crazy hippy. LOL! I trusted and liked my OB and felt really good about doing a natural birth in the hospital setting.
Jon was on board with the Bradley Method. It’s a husband as coach method, which I knew would be great for us. Jon did really well with helping me with the other two labors and this book gave us more information on how to do even better. His job was to help me relax, protect me from interventions that I didn’t want, and to basically be my rock. He took it seriously.
As the pregnancy progressed, I exercised very regularly. I went to the gym a few days a week and worked up a sweat. I gained about 25 pounds total. I had gained about 40 pounds in my prior two pregnancies so that was a great improvement. I tried to work on my mental strength also – doing planks and not giving in to pain. I just kept going and worked out until I was 39 weeks pregnant. People joked that the baby would come out with one push and that he’d come out kickboxing.
Also, leading up to the big day, I had a tour of labor and delivery. I got a good vibe from the nurses there, but I was really disappointed that they didn’t have tubs to use for laboring in. I decided then and there to show up at the last minute and to use my tub at home like I had with my last labor. Basically, I wanted a redo of the last labor, only without the epidural at the very end.
On the morning of October 18, I had an OB appointment at 9am. I had been having contractions overnight, but they felt more like cramps. They woke me up, but I didn’t need to really do anything to deal with them. By the time I was up for the day, they had mostly stopped.
Jon and I got up at 6am, shared a shower, and got ready for the day. The girls slept in since it was rainy and dark outside so I took the opportunity to eat my breakfast alone while hanging out on Facebook. Once the girls were up, I brought them over to their nana’s house along with the dog. I didn’t know how my OB appointment would go and I didn’t want to have to worry about the dog being locked up in the basement. We had a cleaning lady coming so I didn’t want him in her way either. I chatted with Nana (my MIL) for a while and then headed to my appointment.
My appointment really wasn’t all that exciting. My BP was a bit high (140/70 something, I believe), but they weren’t concerned. My doctor did a check of my cervix and I was 4cm dilated and 75% effaced. He did a sweep while he was in there so we kind of thought I’d be back either later that day or on Friday. He assured me that he’d come in if it was on Thursday and that he was on call all weekend so he wouldn’t miss it.
I was so excited to report back to people about my progress that I left my coat and car keys up in the OB waiting room. I went downstairs to my husband’s office to hang out for a while. The nurses were excited to see me. Jon hadn’t had breakfast so we walked down to the doctor’s cafeteria room and got some food there. I had contractions, but they continued to be mild. I walked and talked right through them and eventually remembered to go get my coat and keys from upstairs. At around 11am, the contractions started to hurt more so I went and laid down on Jon’s couch in his office. I also started timing them.
Some of the contractions were 3 minutes apart, some were 6. I was still feeling pretty comfortable and functional. During this time, the cleaning lady called to let me know there was a drip coming from the ceiling in the living room. Great. This added a dimension of stress to the day for both myself and my husband. He had a couple of patients left and then we planned to run home to pick up a couple of things, check on the leak, and perhaps labor in the tub for a bit. We probably wouldn’t have bothered to go home if we weren’t concerned about the leak in the ceiling.
Jon came into his office between patients and saw my face during a contraction. He decided to ask one of his partners to take on his last patient so we could run home before it was too late. I was totally on board with that plan. We made our way out of the office, said good-bye to a couple of people, and then quickly walked to the car in order to avoid parking lot contractions.
My contractions were still bearable in the car. I could breathe through them. I could talk. There was one that I tensed up during and that sucked, but otherwise, I was doing fine. We figured we still had a few hours. This was at about 11:45am.
The cleaning lady was just finishing up when we arrived at home. I talked with her for a while. Jon checked out the leak and realized it wasn’t too bad. We started gathering a few things. I already had my hospital bag in the car so I just wanted to get the present for the girls from Simon, the boppy, and Jon’s overnight stuff. I ran downstairs and got the present. I used the bathroom a few times and noticed that the bloody show was getting more interesting. The cleaning lady left at about 12:15 so we headed upstairs to use the freshly cleaned tub for a bit.
I used the bathroom during a contraction and there was a little more blood in the toilet than I felt comfortable with. I also realized I hadn’t felt Simon move for a bit so I panicked. I got out the Doppler and Jon and I listened to a very reassuring heartbeat while I was standing up getting ready for a nice soak in the tub. Looking back on it, this was probably transition.
The bath water was perfect and immediately relaxing to me. Jon got undressed to join me. It was his job to rub my back and that was easier done in the tub. I teased him about being my eye candy during labor and told him I liked his underwear. The fact that I still felt like joking around was pretty reassuring. This was probably around 12:25.
I leaned back into Jon for the contractions. We talked about various things that I don’t remember. He reminded me to breathe, wiggle my toes, relax my shoulders, and I was able to handle the contractions well. It was really comfortable leaning back on him in the warm water. At one point I cried for about a minute about Charlotte (our second daughter) not being the baby anymore. Other than that, I was pretty much normal acting.
All of a sudden a big contraction hit and I couldn’t help but vocalize during it. This was the first contraction I hadn’t been able to just breathe through. It was a long one and we both decided it was time to go to the hospital. Jon pushed me forward so he could get out of the tub and towel off. I moved forward in the tub and pulled out the drain to empty the water. From there, I got into a squat so I could get out of the tub very carefully.
That’s when everything suddenly got serious. I realized that I needed to push and told Jon. He said something like, “No you don’t!” I told him he’d better get in the tub to look because I didn’t feel like I could get out. He got in and sure enough, the amniotic sac was hanging out a little bit. He asked me if he should call 911 and I said that he needs to catch the baby and not ask me any questions.
I had a contraction and could feel the baby crowning. He called 911 and very concisely told them the information before hanging up on them. He got behind me and was ready to catch. I could feel myself stretching as I waited for the next contraction. I thought about the need to wait in order to reduce tearing. I was pretty calm and Jon was too. Jon tore the sac open with his fingers. The contraction hit and I pushed. All of a sudden there was relief and Jon said something like, “He’s out and he’s beautiful!!!” I looked back at him. He had the biggest smile I’ve ever seen. It was 12:45.
We were both in shock. Now what do we do? I twisted around to see the little guy and had to step over the cord in order to hold him. Jon handed him over so he could run to get a bulb to suck him out and a towel to warm him. He had already rubbed on Simon. Simon was crying loudly and was very pink so we were really happy. At some point Jon snapped a picture of me with Simon in the tub, surrounded by gore.
While Jon ran around the house looking for various items, I delivered the placenta and then sat down in the tub with Simon. By then there wasn’t any water in there. Jon came up with a bowl to put the placenta in, then wrapped Simon up in a towel and went downstairs with him. I stayed upstairs and got myself toweled off and dressed in order to meet the paramedics. They showed up right as I was walking down the stairs. Boy were they happy to see a pink, crying, full-term baby, but I think they were a bit disappointed that they didn’t get to assist.
The paramedics took down all of our information. They did some vitals on both of us. We both checked out fine. We decided to drive ourselves to the hospital. The paramedics left. We were just getting ready to head out when we got another knock on our door. It was our neighbor, my OB. He heard that we had the baby and came over. He helped us get the cord cut and he checked me out before we all left for the hospital.
I called my mom on the way to the hospital to let her know what happened and to ask her for possibly the biggest favor ever – to clean up our master bathroom. That tub was something of nightmares. There were messy towels and clothes all over the place. Jon had put the placenta bowl down on the carpet. The placenta was in the kitchen garbage. Bloody scissors were on the counter. Yuck. She agreed to come and do it though.
I called my dad and Jon called his dad. By then we were at the hospital. A little old lady saw Simon when I walked in with the car seat and asked how old he was. I said, “About an hour.” She was absolutely shocked. We’ve gotten used to that reaction since.
From there, things became pretty typical. I had a small tear that needed to be stitched. The worst part was getting examined to see if the entire placenta had been expelled. That hurt worse than labor. Seriously. My uterus was already cramped up tight and resisted. I had to watch for excessive bleeding.
Luckily, I haven’t had any problems. I’m feeling fantastic. I’m so much more mobile and energetic than I was after my other births. I am so glad I was able to have him naturally. Yes, the whole unexpected home birth part was scary, but I don’t regret it. I can’t believe that I was tough enough to go through the whole thing without once doubting myself. My only true moment of freak out occurred when we came home from the hospital. It was like returning to the scene of a crime, even though it was clean. I’ve gotten past that now. Jon was a great coach. I’m extremely thankful for my husband and his ability to handle all of this. He couldn’t have done any better than he did.
Simon is doing great too. He’s healthy and nursing well. His birth weight was 7 pounds, 1 ounce. He was 19 inches long. His APGAR score given by the EMT was a 10 (or was it a 9?). His sisters are crazy for him. They’re adjusting really well so far. I’m so glad our family is now complete.