Water Birth At Home | Johnny Marvel's Birth Story
On October 4th, 2018 we welcomed baby #2 into the world. Born at home surrounded by the most amazing birth team ever. I couldn't have asked for a better experience. You can read more about why I choose to go with midwifery care here. During my pregnancy I knew I made the right choice but having gone through the labor and birth process I really can't say enough great things about the care not only the baby and I received but Marcus (husband) as well. Night and day from my experience with a mainstream OB pregnancy care and a hospital birth I had with my daughter.
I had been having pretty consistent contractions for about two weeks. Nothing super painful but like clockwork, every 30-45 mins or so my belly would get super hard, and I would feel tons of pressure. They were more annoying than anything. I was mentally over being pregnant, pretty cranky and naturally, was super pleasant to be around (*sarcasm*), just ask Marcus. I no doubt just wanted my baby OUT of my body. They say pregnancy flies but by the last few days feel like a lifetime and man that sure is true. First pregnancy I could at least nap it off but this time keeping up with a busybody 19-month-old was a different story.
Monday 10/1 I had some acupuncture and a massage done. (I swear this is what put me into labor with Mattie) Tuesday the 2nd I woke up in the middle of the night with cramps and ended up puking a couple of times but felt fine after. I also had a midwife checkup on Tuesday. Marcus and Mattie came with me, pretty sure if they hadn't been there I would have broken down ugly crying because I was just so over it. My midwife told me to indulge in some self-care and me time to try and help me relax. At this point, I declined a cervical check.
Overnight on Tuesday, I didn't have ONE contraction, but I was able to get some rest in between endless trips to the bathroom. On Wednesday 10/3 I woke up annoyed the contractions had stopped because I honestly thought at this point I'd be pregnant forever. It's funny how irrational I was because a part of me truly believe this baby would never come out. Marcus went to work, and I chased Mattie around while cleaning everything like a mad woman. I had a massive surge of energy that had me doing laundry and organizing the house. Mattie went down for a nap around ten-ish. I sat down and had some water and BOOM I felt a pretty strong contraction. Stronger than any of the ones I had been having. I got up and continued cleaning up all the little things. Another 10 mins later I had another one they continued every 10 mins for about an hour. At that point, I texted my momma which resulted in her sending my brother Tyler & sister Gwen over for the day because she was half convinced she was going to get a text from me telling her I went to pee and accidentally had the baby. My dad had them at my door around 25 mins later!
Throughout the day my contractions continued all day every ten-ish minutes apart. Some of them were stronger than others. I still wasn't sure if this was 'it' or not. They were starting to get uncomfortable then I'd take a break from cleaning, and they would go back to manageable. At about 12 pm I had text Marcus and filled him in on what was going on. Since he works about an hour away, I told him he didn't have to leave work like now but come home early so he wouldn't get stuck in rush hour. He arrived home around 3 pm.
Nothing was changing I continued to nest and make sure my birth room had all the final touches just in case it was it. Every three contractions or so were super, but I was still able to talk and move around during it. They started to get a little closer more like 6-8 mins apart, but they were lighter. Because it looked like things were picking up a bit the rest of my family came over for dinner. My dad dropped my mom and my other sister, Ava, off while he ran to the store to grab some wings and sides at Earth Fare. Mattie was SO excited to have everyone here. Her and my mom played ring around the rosy in the living room I can still hear both their belly laughs. I puttered around the house still putting final touches on things.
After dinner, we got Mattie down for bed and Marcus, and I went for a walk around the block. During the walk, I was having some pretty intense contractions almost strong enough to where I needed to stop and breathe through them. Once we got back to the house, they died down. My mom and sister timed my contractions about 20 mins then since nothing was really progressing I told my family it was probably safe if they went home to sleep and I'd call them back if anything was happening. They left around 8:15. After they left I went upstairs to the birthing room, I had all the lights on, and I was just sitting in the rocking chair enjoying some space... and that's when things really started to pick up. I started timing contractions, and they were getting to be 3-5 mins apart and super uncomfortable. I made my way downstairs to fill Marcus in.
He looked at my contraction app and was like "um babe you need to call the midwife" and started quoting some things from birthing class about when to call the midwife. I still didn't think this baby was ever coming out, so I didn't take him seriously, but I called the midwife and gave her a heads up. She told me to go lay down and try to get some rest and see if they calmed down and to call her back if they didn't. I went upstairs and laid down... for.... 1... contraction. Laying down was the most uncomfortable thing EVER. They were getting stronger and still pretty close together. I texted my mom around 9:20 (just as she was falling asleep) and told her they needed to come back. I also texted my Doula & Photographer at this point.
Once my mom got to my house she kind of freaked out at me to call my midwife again. Which I wasn't going to do but if she didn't push me to call I probably would have had a baby without them there. My brain still was in denial that I was in labor and this was it despite contractions being only a few minutes apart. I called her, and she said she was about 30 mins out.
I felt super calm and just did my own thing. I loved leaning on the changing table and hip swaying during contractions. I also used my birthing ball for a bit as well. I remember making a conscious effort to take sips of water in between each contraction to stay hydrated. In between contractions, I felt completely fine. I was talking and joking around. Completely different from most of my labor with Mattie which is why I think I hesitated to call my entire birth team over. My mom stayed in the birthing room with Marcus and I, and my siblings were in and out. I really loved having my family there. Their support meant everything.
I believe my Doula, Laura arrived first out of the birth team. She helped me by applying pressure on my hips during contractions. She was also AMAZING at getting me to keep swaying my hips and breathing. Having a doula was such a fantastic thing. I didn't hire her til 34ish weeks, and I hadn't planned on getting one but let me tell you I wouldn't want to have another baby without the support of a doula. (I'll share more in another upcoming post). We started to fill up the pool. I remember having a little bit a moment where I thought I was going to do it myself because I'm a control freak but my contractions were gettings stronger, so I stayed swaying while Marcus figured it out while my mom supervised the project.
I remember both the midwives arriving, they had such a soft calming presence in the space. One of them came in and checked the baby's heartbeat and took my vitals. She asked if I wanted cervical check which I said no to. I didn't want any checks during labor unless medically required. They brought in all their medical stuff and set up in the other room. They pretty much hung out and stayed hands off until the end when I needed them.
Once the pool was filled up, I got in. It was instant relief. The water felt so amazing. It helped take the weight of my massive belly and really was a great relaxation tool during contractions. Marcus sat on the birthing ball and helped apply pressure during contractions. In between, he wouldn't shut up about playing the lion king song when the baby came out. I remember telling him his breath smelt bad & someone provided him with cinnamon mints THANK you to whoever did that.
Contractions were starting to get stronger and stronger and not really giving me a break. I remember feeling tons of pressure down there, and my lower back really started to hurt. My doula helped me get my underwear off, and I remember hearing her tell someone that she needed some ice and washcloths. A few minutes later I felt like I was about to explode. I was SO hot. At one point I was just squeeze the ice cubs in my hands. I was probably in the birthing pool about an hour or so before I hit transition AKA the worst part of labor. I was so hot, contractions were back to back, so much pressure, and my back hurt so bad. It's kind of funny because I'm not a touchy-feely person, hugs make me cringe, and I very much enjoy my personal space, but during labor, I want everyone's hands on me ALL the time.
I can remember my doulas calming voice reminding me to breathe and helping me not freak out. At one point I remember getting a little loud and then saying 'don't wake up Mattie.' My mom kept telling me 'you're almost there'. Marcus was also saying encouraging things but I really just wanted him to stay quiet and apply pressure on my back, he eventually got that hint. At this point, both my Midwives were in the room. One of them saw one of my birth affirmations and read it to me 'My body opens like a big ass beautiful fucking flower' which is precisely what I needed to hear when she whispered that in my ear, I needed comical relief at that moment. We all laughed.
I can't remember at what point Marcus got into the pool, but I heard my mom ask me if I wanted him in. In between contractions, I told him where his swim bottoms were which I had packed in the suitcase because I knew if it was up to him to find them I wouldn't see him for hours. Once he got in, he was able to get a better grip on apply pressure on my lower back which was very helpful.
The ring of fire was seriously no fun, but I knew that meant the baby was coming. It burned so bad, but the water really helped! My body knew what to do, and I just had to trust it. I had the urge to bear down I asked "am I supposed to push" they told me to what your body is telling you. I needed the reminders to breathe. It was painful, and I was not a fan of it at all. Once the baby started crowning my midwife told me to reach down and feel the head. Guys, birth is totally amazing and beautiful but feeling a head come out of my vagina TOTALLY grossed me out.
After feeling the baby's head, I got my hand the eff out of there. I asked for my knees to be squeezed during contractions. Something about this helped a ton. I don't recall asking for this during labor with Mattie but my mom and Marcus both do very clearly. 'Squeeze my knees''!
Once the baby's head was completely out my mom kept saying 'there is so much hair.' I very vividly remember feeling a weird pressure/bouncing sensation, and I honestly thought someone was pushing the baby back in or something. But my midwife told me the baby was rotating, and that was supposed to happen! Mattie never rotated like she was supposed to do so that was a weird thing to experience and something I wasn't expecting. I told them someone needed to catch the baby. I was so focused on holding myself up and getting through the contractions I couldn't think about moving to catch the baby myself. After the baby rotated, I was able to bear down and at 1:03 am I felt the rest of the body slid out. I reached down and I pulled this new little human up to my chest and said: "I had a baby!" I really was in shock that I actually just pushed a human out. My first thought was how cute this little person was then HOW little this little person was.
We were Team GREEN, and I checked pretty quickly to see if it was a boy or girl. 'It's a boy.' I was both surprised and not surprised. But I was SO happy we waited until birth to find out. I'd do that time and time again. Best surprise ever.
Those first few moments after he was born was kind of a blur. I recall just staring at his little face and trying to soak up all his features. I was still in a lot of pain from contractions/cramps because my placenta was trying to make its way out. Let me tell you this is probably the shittiest part of having a baby. The contractions though painful at least you know a baby is your end reward. But you have the baby and are still having to breathe through the pain is just super annoying. This was something I wasn't prepared for after I had Mattie. Nobody tells you will be SO crampy and in pain after until the placenta comes out.
Getting the placenta out was a little harder than I remember with Mattie but the difference was the midwives wanted my body to do the work wherein the hospital they pretty much just yanked it out. The feeling of it coming out is so gross, like a big vaginal snot rocket. The placenta was placed in a bowl to float in the pool while we waited for the cord to turn white and stop pulsing.
Midwives took my vitals a few times, checked on the baby, and one of my siblings brought me some cranberry juice and a peach to munch on. I was pretty hungry after all that! This baby boy was looking for boob basically right away, he latched on like a PRO and nursed both sides for quite some time.
Marcus and I just stared at this perfect little human. I really wasn't paying attention to what was going on around me. I know at some point I had turned my head behind me to see my entire family standing there just watching, it was a really sweet moment. We had kept baby names a secret! So after a while, my family asked 'what is his name.' I held him out in front of me and said 'This is Johnny Marvel.' My entire family giggled, and my mom said 'aw' in her I'm about to cry voice and I heard my dad say 'what no way' in his also about to cry voice (Johnny is my dad's name).
After a while, once I was ready to get out Marcus hung out in the pool with Johnny Marvel who was clearly still looking for boob because my photographer got the best photo of Johnny trying to latch into Marcus. Midwife and Laura helped me to bed. I remember being really scared to stand up and walk because I wasn't sure how much pain I'd be in. But I wasn't really in any. I made it to the bed, and they checked me down there and told me I didn't tear. I was pretty surprised because I thought for sure I did! Midwife helped me get on my super sexy adult diaper, and someone brought me a giant plate of lasagna which I pretty much inhaled. After I ate, I felt SO much better.
They took Johnny from Marcus and sent him off to shower the birth juice off. They looked over every inch of this baby boy with such love and care while they did his newborn assessment. I just watched in awe. They explained everything every step of the way. When it was time to weigh him, we all put in our guesses. I guessed 8lbs. I was the closest he came in weighing 8lb 1oz! (smaller than Mattie who was 8lb 6oz).
At some point, Mattie woke up this was probably around 3 am I had my mom take her downstairs while they finished up checking Johnny. Once Marcus got back from his shower he helped cut the cord. When we were settled, my mom brought Mattie back upstairs to meet Johnny. To be honest, she was so tired and more concerned about all the people in her house than the baby. I'm not sure she even realized there was a baby. So the first introduction couldn't have gone better!
Mattie got put back down for bed, and I nursed again for what felt like hours and probably was. The midwives/doula tag teamed and got everything cleaned up and made sure I had everything I needed before they left. They all tucked us into bed and headed out in the wee hours of the morning.The comfort of being in my own bed after having him was the best thing ever. It was just what I needed. There wasn't anything I would have changed about this experience it was such a perfect way to bring a little one into the world. I went to sleep snuggled up with this perfect little baby on my chest in my own bed, in my own house with the sweet fresh baby smell in the air and so grateful for this peaceful experience.
I know home-birth isn't for everyone, but I want to tell you that if you aren't meshing well with your health care provider SWITCH! Finding someone that supports you and provides informed consent will make all the difference. I truly couldn't have done this without the support of my amazing husband and family. The care I received from not only my midwives but my outstanding Doula, Laura as well from Sarasota Birth contributed so much to how amazing this all went. A huge thank you goes out to Danielle May Photography for capturing all these amazing moments for me.