Esther’s home birth story

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First picture of us as a family of six

What an amazing experience. If I had to do anything over again, I don’t know that I would change a thing.

We decided pretty late in my pregnancy to deliver at home. For years, we’ve assumed that we live too far from a hospital and that that would rule out any chance of a home birth.

A month after Anna was born, a birth center opened in our area. We decided to have this baby at the center and I began seeing one of the midwives there. From the beginning I was very impressed at the difference in the level of care there. Everything was so relaxed and done the way I’ve always preferred about pregnancy, and I loved that my midwife Christine actually cared about me as a person instead of being just another client to see that day.

At my 30 week appointment, I mentioned to my midwife that I wished we could just deliver at home. To my surprise, she informed me that it was possible,and that our distance to the hospital actually wasn’t an issue at all. Wow. I drove home from that appointment completely giddy. I have always wanted to give birth at home, and now here it was an actual possibility.

When Stephen and I discussed it, he too surprised me by saying we could pursue it. So the adventure began.

From being at the birth center, I knew I wanted to try water birth this time around. Instead of renting a birth pool, we ordered a small kiddie pool to use as a birth pool instead.

At around 34 weeks, I started having some episodes of regular contractions, so Christine put me on restricted activity. It wasn’t bedrest, but we wanted to make sure baby stayed put a few more weeks. I started to worry we wouldn’t get the home birth I’d dreamed of – SC law doesn’t allow home births before 37 weeks.

After weeks of thinking, “Maybe this is it,” my due date came and went. What a shock. Caleb and Anna had both been born at 39 weeks exactly, and I had really gotten my hopes up that Esther would come a bit early too. I was wrong.

My due date was on a Monday. That Wednesday, Anna started running a high fever so we took her to the ER (it ended up being a mystery something that resembled a UTI – results were inconclusive). I’m so thankful I didn’t have to juggle 3 kids and a newborn in that waiting room! The next day I saw the midwife again. She stripped my membranes, and since I’d been having other signs labor was close, we didn’t schedule another appointment.

Friday morning around 3:30 I woke up to contractions. We timed a couple and found they were 13 minutes apart, so we tried to go back to sleep. They got a little closer together, but were pretty manageable. We made a few calls around 8 to put people on alert, but didn’t have anyone come yet.

By midmorning, the contractions had really slowed down. They had been as close as 4 minutes apart earlier, but went to closer to 20 minutes apart. I wanted to cry I was so discouraged. At that point I prayed that labor would pick up soon, and it did. The contractions got closer to 10 minutes apart. Some were only 6 or 7 minutes, but they still weren’t consistent.

My friend Karen called me around lunchtime to see how things were going. I told her that she could pray that things picked up. She prayed right then that labor would pick up and that the baby would be born soon.

Almost immediately the contractions went to three minutes apart. What an immediate answer to prayer! They were still tolerable but I wanted my midwife here, and she had a nearly hour-long drive to get here.

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Filling the birth pool

Stephen started to set up the birth pool. All I could keep thinking was that I couldn’t wait to get in that pool, but it wasn’t ready yet and I wasn’t going to get in it until Christine got here. I knew it could slow down labor if you get in too soon, and after the way things had gone so far I didn’t want to chance it.

Our friends arrived to get the kids. At first I’d thought I wanted them here, but the contractions were so intense that it was easier to handle the pain knowing they were off having fun with someone else.

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Stephen is an amazing birth support. I am so blessed. :O)

Christine finally got here and we settled in to wait. Finally the pool was full enough and I had permission to get in. I had heard the water referred to as a midwife’s epidural, and wow – is that ever true. It made such a difference in pain management. It seemed to take away all the pain between contractions. They were still extremely intense and hard to breathe through, but at least it felt like I was getting a complete break in between.

Right after I got in the pool, the midwife’s assistant arrived. She had left a little later and had to deal with the beginning of Friday afternoon rush hour traffic to get here. I hadn’t had a chance to meet her beforehand, but ended up really liking her.

The urge to push came a lot sooner than I expected. Christine checked me, and told me to wait another few contractions and just wait until the urge to push was so strong I couldn’t ignore it any more. She let me try a few pushes, but they still hurt so we continued to wait. Once I felt like I HAD to push my midwife gave me a few suggestions of positions to try and I started pushing.

It was harder to actually deliver the baby than I expected, but thankfully I didn’t have to push long. At one point I could hear the midwife saying, “With the next contraction your baby will be born.” That was such an encouragement to hear! The next thing I knew, I heard her tell me to reach down and pick up the baby. I looked down, and here came Esther floating to the surface. It was an absolutely surreal moment to see her there in the water.

After that I sat back against the pool and just held her. We checked and sure enough, she really was a girl. They handed me a blanket to put around her, and she started to nurse. She was a hungry little thing – we sat there and she nursed for almost an hour. After she finished, I looked down and she had popped her thumb in her mouth. We had wondered if we’d have another thumb sucker. . .

Then they helped me get out of the pool and into bed. That was the most wonderful feeling – climbing into my own bed after having the baby. Stephen left the room and started to make all the “she’s here” phone calls, and we started to do all the after birth exam stuff.

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My midwife Christine weighing Esther

It was so fun to watch Christine do the newborn exam. We knew at the end of my pregnancy that Esther would be a good-sized baby, and she definitely was. She weighed 9 pounds and 2 ounces and was 19 1/2 inches long.

The interesting thing was that even though Esther was my biggest baby by far, hers was the easiest birth I’ve had yet. It was so much more relaxing to be at home in my own bedroom delivering, instead of in a cold hospital room with bright lights aimed right at the bed. Instead of being told what to do and when, my midwife let me listen to what my body was doing and we worked with it, not against it. When I had to push, it was great to be able to try pushing instead of being told to wait or when I could push. Not only that – I really liked being able to deliver in a position other than flat on my back.

After all the exams and cleanup were done, our friends brought the kids home. It was so fun watching the kids see their sister for the first time.

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It was an absolutely amazing experience. I’m glad it worked out for me to be able to have a home birth – it really was everything I’d dreamed of.

The boys are absolutely smitten with Esther, and Anna is quite the little mama, patting and shushing and loving on the baby.

I am so blessed.

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My four precious blessings

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7 thoughts on “Esther’s home birth story”

  1. I enjoyed reading Esther’s birth story. I’m glad that you were able to have her at home, like you wanted. You are truly blessed with beautiful children.

  2. Loved reading your story! I never had a home or water birth, but based on my experiences, I think a water birth sounds heavenly! LOL Congratulations!

  3. I am so glad we finally got to me Baby Esther. Her birth story is so sweet. All of your blessings are precious to us too. I am so glad you were able to have a home birth that is just so cool!

  4. Congrats! She is beautiful. My hubby and I talked about a home birth but then he got deployed and will be gone for the birth. So this time around we will do the hospital thing. The next one will be a home water birth. You are truly an inspiration. The Lord has blessed you and your family. Sending up prayers for you and all your beauties!

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