Guest Post: Crystal’s Powerful, Self-Directed Homebirth

Little Wolf, moments after being born
Little Wolf, moments after being born

My homebirth didn’t go according to plan (as much as one can “plan” a birth).   In fact, it happened so quickly and so unexpectedly that my mother, midwife, and doula all missed it!  But it was perfect, unassisted, and happened exactly how it was supposed to.  This is the story of how my second daughter came suddenly and powerfully into this world.

Some birth stories are hard to decide where to begin the story, and this one is of that nature. I suppose it depends on if a person wants the short (and we are talking Super short version) or the longer version. Since I’m a lady of details, I will begin from the farthest point in the past I can. And if you are eager to get to the quick details, jump ahead to August 24.

On August 13, 2013 we enjoyed a campfire at our dear friends’ house. We made our version of healthy s’mores and enjoyed the beautiful weather. I was about 37.5 weeks along and feeling great. I had a few moments where I would feel baby push on my cervix and felt baby coming down further and had a sense of “getting ready.” At the end of our evening at our friend’s house, I did the usual “about to get in the car, must pee before I leave” pee, and there was some clear discharge with a tinge of blood. I was not sensing that birth would happen in the next day or two, however there was a bit more of a push to make sure things were ready. For two days I had this cervical pressure and a couple other moments of blood-tinged discharge. Then it felt like baby raised up some and was no longer pushing down. After a couple days of feeling higher, baby felt lower once again. This went on, back and forth, for over a week.

On August 23, 2013 our family went out and about and ran a few important errands, one of which was seeing the chiropractor. I had been happily holding my alignment for just about 2 months, however a couple days before the 23rd I felt out of alignment and wanted to get things back in order. So, I got adjusted. As we were leaving the office my partner said, “Next time we see you we may have a baby.” I didn’t think anything of this, until after I ran a couple errands solo and a similar thing occurred. I went to the bank and my favorite market where, as I left both places, I heard, “Next time I see you, you may have your baby with you.” I simply smiled and acknowledged that it easily could be true. I was going to be 39 weeks the following day and my sense the entire pregnancy was that this little one was ready to get out. I still had my guess date as closer to our estimated birthing date though. And I knew this was the time frame when everyone starts asking when baby is coming and saying that the baby will be coming soon.

The day continued as normal, however a few special things came about. I was super sleepy when I put my older daughter (she’s four years old) to sleep and I fell asleep with her at 11 o’clock. I contemplated staying in bed but felt the urge that I really ought to get up and possibly do some photos with my partner that we discussed doing. I woke and connected with my love; we decided to finish a few things and then we did do the maternity photos we had chatted about. At about 2am I felt I must go to bed. It took longer than usual for my bedtime routine because I did feel I must go poo (maybe TMI, but I feel it’s a natural thing to need to do before birth time). My partner and I laid in bed chatting a bit when baby started moving around like Crazy; this began at 3am and continued for who knows how long. I was able to fall asleep to the movements. I’ve always found a lot of peace in them, where I could feel this baby’s joy and swim in it.

Now we have entered August 24…

In the middle of the night my daughter wanted me to climb in her bed so I woke and moved, and slept there until I woke at 7am (other than one other waking to pee). When I woke I felt close to wide awake. I also had this pressure on my cervix which was a bit more intense than it ever had been. In addition I had moments of feeling like I was starving! I decided I better get up and eat something just in case this was going to lead to birthing. I went and got some chicken and chowed on it in our extra bedroom. I also had the urge to make sure our waterproof mattress cover was dry. I continued to have these pressure waves come and had a moment where I realized that these are what my surges are going to feel like this time around. With that being said, I also realized that these sensations I had been feeling the past 10 days were preparatory, Braxton Hicks, for this birth. They felt like pressure on my cervix and then a wave of pressure and energy flowing up into my pelvis and then out. These sensations were more like my baby was being pulled out by the force versus pushed out as I had felt with my first.  My first was more of an all around contraction– throughout my abdomen and back, pushing baby down and out.

I had these surges a few minutes apart and decided to download an app to time them. I never did any timing with my first, yet these sensations seemed so mild that I figured timing them may be a good idea. Also, one of them was a bit more intense; when I was in the laundry room I paused more and breathed through it. However, I could have walked through it if I chose to. I decided I wanted to really feel what was going on so I took the time to focus on the feelings.

Now around 7:20am I climbed back into bed. I timed a few of the surges and decided to wake up my partner. I almost didn’t because everything was so mild but I remember him saying he wanted to know when I was having Braxton Hicks so I figured I might as well wake him up. It was about 7:37 when I woke him up and filled him in on what I was experiencing. He asked if I thought this was it and my response was, “It could be, or it could pass in a couple hours and be nothing.” We decided we should get up and start getting things ready. After we assessed our birthing room and what to do, I decided to get into our bathtub and make some phone calls. I thought getting in some warm/hot water may slow things down and alert me to if this was going to be Birth Time or just some practice sensations.

I called my midwife and gave her the rundown:

My surges are 2.5-3.5 minutes apart, not entirely a minute long, been going on for an hour. I’m in the tub to see if that slows things or not and I’m feeling good.

She tells me that she is actually at another birth with a woman who also “goes fast.” (My first was born in 5.5 hours). This news did not worry me in the least. I said I would call the other midwife, who was going to be her assist for me. I called her and gave her the same rundown. She was out for a walk but very close to her house and said she would call her assist and head over right away. The assist she called was a friend of mine who I had wanted at my birth but wasn’t sure how to make that happen, because she was this midwife’s assist and I already had a complete birth team.

Next I texted my doula friend. We were going to have our blessingway at her house on this day. I wrote to her:

Prolly no blessingway today, seems I’ll be having a baby instead. I don’t need you here etc yet. Things are slow and beginning. Daughter is still sleeping. I’m in the bathtub. 

When I got off the phone I had to clear out a few emotions including some fears. (I do a lot of energy work and help others clear out negative emotions, so this time I was doing this work on myself).

First I analyzed how I felt about the changes to the ‘plan’ and that felt great. Then I had a momentary fear about adding a sibling to the family and feeling guilty about having my daughter no longer be an only child. I cleared that quickly and the next fear pertained to “can I do this again; what if it takes a long time and I get fatigued?” I then cleared that fear and instantly had the motivation to get out of the tub, get dry and my plan was to lay down. Coincidentally my daughter had woken up and came into the bathroom. She asked what I was doing and wanted me to come to bed with her. I told her that I was going to get out, dry off and we could lay down and snuggle, but I was in the beginning phases of having the baby. At this moment I had one of the bigger surges I had experienced up to now. One that actually caused me to tone an OM. I thought this was good because my daughter had seen her birth video and was familiar with the noises I could make, so this probably helped her see that I was really about to have a baby.

As I got ready to get out of the tub I had the urge to poo– further motivation to get out and get dried off. I had one surge while drying off and then sat on the toilet. As I tried to go to the bathroom, my push to poo suddenly changed into me actually feeling a head moving through my cervix to go down the vaginal canal! This was surprising and caused me to shout at my partner, “Call Beth [the second midwife] right now!” I handed him my phone and told him to tell her that I feel rectal pressure and the urge to push. I wanted to know what I was dilated to at this point. While he was on the phone with her I had a surge that was extremely grunty. There was no controlling it. Baby was coming and pushing through whether or not anyone was ready. I was grateful for the placement of my toilet. It was a perfect space for me to hold onto the counter with one hand and the tub with the other. The following surges made my body rise up from the toilet so I had to brace and support myself in this way. My body was in control and moved me exactly how I needed to move. With a couple surges I needed to lift my hips up toward the ceiling while standing; I felt this was perfect for getting baby exactly in the right position to come the rest of the way down. One more surge and I decided to feel what was going on down there. I stood up while still supporting myself with my left hand on the tub and reaching down with my right.

I felt the top of a head! I could rub my hand around the head and feel my perineum stretched out, as I saw and felt with my first.

At this point my partner was sending my daughter to wake up grandma, my mother. My daughter climbed into bed with her and was all snuggly, at which point I then screamed out my partner’s name because:

it was the next surge, and the head came to crowning.

Grandma asked my daughter what was going on and she calmly said, “The baby’s coming.” Needless to say, Grandma jumped out of bed and rushed around and came to see what she needed to do. In the same moment my partner is carrying the birth tub into the designated birthing room. I say, “No, don’t do that.” To which he replies, “I’m going to try.”  I strongly reply, “NO, the baby is coming, the head is right here. Get in here.” Now at this point there was a surge and the head came out, into my right hand. As it came out the water sack broke in my hand. I could feel a little dent in baby’s right ear– it felt so cute! I was holding my baby’s head!

My partner came and held me up for the next surge. I needed this so I could lift my left hand from the tub to catch the body as it slid out, which is exactly what happened. That next surge I caught my baby completely and brought it to my belly.  As baby slid out I shouted out “Time?!” It was exactly 8:30am. Baby let out a cry instantly, paused and let out another. My partner asked if I wanted the bulb and I said yes simply as a precaution for the paused cries. But baby was pink right away and in a moment there was no concern or need to be cautious.

At this point Grandma came back into the scene (she took a moment to go to the bathroom and I couldn’t express quickly enough that she would miss it if she did that) as she heard a baby’s cry. She asked what to do and I said, “Get me a receiving blanket.” We covered baby and by now both my partner and Grandma asked if it was a boy or girl. I said, “I haven’t had time to check.”  I then was able to pull her away from my body for daddy to see and say, “It’s a girl!” I had to do a double-take because swollen labia can look like testes, but sure enough it was a girl. My daughter was right there, standing in the doorway of the bathroom, and I validated by saying, “You have a baby sister.”

Now I tell my partner to line towels on the floor so I can walk across the hall to what was the planned birth room. I walk in there and feel a surge coming so I tell my partner to “Get the bowl with the handle, the placenta is coming.” He rushes and grabs it just as I catch the placenta in my left hand. So there I am holding our darling daughter in my right, catching the placenta in my left. At this point I shout at him, “Take pictures!”

Completely birth of the placenta
Completing birth of the placenta

As a photographer and partners in making videos, we had everything set up to have the best birth video ever. Oh how plans change. A nice reminder that in so many ways we are not in control. I placed the placenta in the bowl and he was able to snap some shots as I was situating to sit down. I sat there for a minute or so and then the midwife and her assist arrived. They were awesome and took care of everything perfectly. A little bit after their arrival my doula friend, her son and husband arrived as well. The house was full of joy and good vibes, with a twist of chaos from the need to process the event which occurred so quickly, so powerfully, and so beautifully.  

Little Horse greets Little Wolf... sister love
Little Horse greets Little Wolf… sister love
Mommy and daddy on oxytocin rush
Mommy and daddy on oxytocin rush

5 thoughts on “Guest Post: Crystal’s Powerful, Self-Directed Homebirth

  1. Wow! I read this aloud to my best buddy and 11 month old baby and when you called out “Time?” – I burst into tears! You are a Goddess and all women who give birth at home are such an inspiration. I went to a hospital but it was best place for me– too anxiety ridden for home birth. Thanks for sharing!!

  2. This is such an amazing story! I love the picture of you sitting in the tub working through your fears, and would like to learn more about that. The picture of you holding your baby and your placenta is incredibly empowering. WOW! Congrats to you all about your new baby girl :)

  3. You know I read a LOT of birth stories, ( doula habit I suppose!) but yours was absolutely beautiful in a way I can’t describe. The picture of your birthing the placenta is so POWERFUL! I had three beautiful home births and one hospital birth so far, and wow you made my belly yearn for baby, even though we are taking a few years break LOL! Absolutely lovely birth story and amazing pictures!

  4. Amazing! Wow. I’m speechless. The photo of you and the baby girl and placenta – simply jaw dropping amazing’ness <3 congrats to you guys!!! beautiful story. thank you for sharing.

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