Arthur’s birth story

Even though my first child was born 10 years prior, I felt like I was a first-time mom all over again. That birth happened at a women’s hospital in England, where care is primarily midwife-based. Although my first birth would be considered a breeze by many accounts, I didn’t enjoy being in a hospital – under fluorescent lights; people you don’t know walking in on you; constantly being checked; being made to feel like something’s wrong.

When I found out I was pregnant with my second child, and now living in DC, I researched my birth options with a bit more gusto. From all that I’d read, I didn’t feel like a hospital birth was for me, even if the ward was lead by midwives. After attending one of MAMAS info sessions, I decided that a home birth was right for me. I was had a low-risk pregnancy and was a second-time mother – a good candidate!

The prenatal visits with MAMAS were a joy. For one-to-one visits, they came to my home. So much better than me schlepping to a clinic somewhere! The group visits at Mairi’s house were a good way to meet other moms and hear their perspectives.

Everything leading up to my birth was pretty textbook – I was growing on pace and had no major issues. A week before I was due, I went to the bathroom at work and felt a POP with a tiny trickle of water. I wasn’t 100% sure if my waters had broken or if I simply didn’t have, er, as much control that day. As it was 4pm, I left the office and headed home in a taxi, sitting on a blanket I’d brought.

When I got out of the taxi, the trickle had grown into a flood – thank goodness for that blanket! – and I got into my apartment without any other issues besides looking like I’d wet myself. I had called Kathy, the midwife on call, in the taxi, who had advised me to call her back when my contractions were intense and I couldn’t focus on anything else. To start, they were mild if not non-existent – I did a bit of work, had some food and generally relaxed while my husband and my son fussed around me. The contractions started to get more period-like around 6:30, so I put on a film and curled up on the couch to wait them out.

I really believed that I was going to be in labor for a while, and even though my contractions were getting progressively more intense, I didn’t call Kathy back. This made my husband increasingly nervous. Finally, he gave up and called Kathy himself around 7:30. She and Katie arrived around 8pm and started setting up. Kathy kept asking me where I wanted to have the baby, which I thought was odd since we still had ages to go (so I thought). She clearly knew better than me!

The contractions at this point were very intense. They felt like a bad period or bought of indigestion, but they weren’t utterly unbearable like how I had felt they were with my first labor. I wonder if I didn’t feel quite as much pain this time because I knew I didn’t have any access to pain relief as I did with the first.

I went into Labor Land and couldn’t focus on anything else. I finally said I wanted to have the baby in my bed and headed up the stairs. Looking back, I knew I had a contraction on the steps…but my husband told me later that I had not one but three and it had taken me about ten minutes to get up a dozen stairs! That’s Labor Land for you…

I finally got on the bed and almost immediately felt an overwhelming urge to push. I wouldn’t even call it pushing because that implies that I have active control. It was more like the baby was coming out whether I pushed or not! The speed that the labor had progressed had really thrown me for a loop to the point that I was seriously surprised when feeling that pushing urge. I was confused and didn’t know what was happening since I never had that feeling with my first labor (I just got told over and over again to PUSH but couldn’t seem to do it right). Kathy and Katie were amazing in coaching me through these sensations, keeping me calm. Katie did this one move where she applied pressure to my hips and sacrum and it felt like heaven!

In no time, the head was born. It seemed to take a long time for the rest to come, mainly because the pushing sensation had left and I wasn’t actively pushing. Realizing this, the midwives advised me to actually push and in a minute, my son was born. He didn’t cry but was very alert. I immediately brought him to my chest and savored the moment with my husband and my other son. My other son, by the way, got to cut the cord! Something he was both amazed and repulsed by. He had also taken photos during the birth — so it will either be a touchstone moment he’ll always remember or the basis of all of his future therapist visits!

The rest happened without a hitch. The midwives waited to cut the cord until it had stopped pulsing – which was quite a while. My son finally cried when I handed him over to my husband so I could take a shower. Washed and warm, I got back into my (now cleaned) bed and curled up with my family. My son was born at 9:15pm – a total labor time of just over 5 hours – and the midwives left around 11pm after making sure that we were all alright and even putting the dirty sheets in the washing machine.

Honestly, the best part about the whole experience was going to sleep with my beautiful baby in my own bed and waking up at home with no one poking or prodding me. Kathy was back the next day to check on us. At 8 pounds, my son was perfectly happy and healthy. No complications and no issues.

I would highly recommend a MAMAS home birth to anyone who wants expert care and to have more control in one of the most memorable moments of their lives. If I have another child, it will definitely be with MAMAS!

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