Friday, May 20, 2011

Confessions of a Homebirth Mama Along for the Wonderful Ride

© Marissa Dean 2011. Marissa shares her homebirth story with us to show that even when things aren’t exactly as expected, positive support and creative thinking can create a peaceful outcome.

“When I was a little girl I was always asking questions about birth and pregnancy. My grandmother told me that it was a completely natural process and that placentas aren't "gross” as they keep the baby alive. When I was in high school my friend, Greg, asked me what I wanted to do with my life. I couldn't answer the question so he reworded it to, "What interests you the most?" I thought for awhile and called him a couple of days later with my answer. I love pregnancy and birth. That is what interests me. Knowing that birth is natural, the only real option was to become a midwife. I have decided to hold off on becoming a midwife for now while I have a family. As for right now, I am enjoying life at home with my children.

Early labour went on for nearly 2 days. It was manageable. I couldn't sleep though. I had part of my cervix removed when I was 17 because of precancerous cells on my cervix. This caused scarring that slowed dilation of my cervix during labor, extending my labor nearly 20 hours.

I was certain my labour was going to be quick and boy was I ever wrong. I went out to the mall with my mom on Thursday to walk around and eat spicy food. After we left I wanted to go to Fish Creek Park. I felt that I needed to be close to nature. My mum and I walked along the river and through some trees. I was starting to get tired so she took me home. The rushes were irregular and didn't cause any pain or discomfort, they were just enough for me to notice them.

The next morning I decided to time them. They were about 10-15 minutes apart. I called Tylor to let him know what was happening and said I would call him when things picked up a bit. About an hour later, he walked through the door, my hero! I called our midwives to let them know what was happening and we were told to just go on with our day. IGNORE, IGNORE, IGNORE! Things picked up that night and we called our midwife again. She stopped by to check me and I was 1cm and 50% effaced. Not as far along as I had hoped but at least things had started. She left and we called her back again a few hours later, still 1cm but 100% effaced. She said to try to rest and have some Jagermeister to relax. Well the Jager gave me heartburn and the rushes came back.

Once I got in active labour it was quick. I was fully dilated in about 4 hours. It was hard and I was tired. Thank goodness for my wonderful birth pool and for Tylor's loving words. I really enjoyed this part because I knew we were getting somewhere. Looking into Tylor's eyes and holding his hands got me through each rush.

Tylor was an amazing birth partner.

My friend, Jenai, and I tried to describe the feeling of a rush to each other and we came up with this. A rush is like standing in the ocean and waves are crashing all around you. Now you can let the wave carry you to the shore then you can run back in and get ready to ride the next one or you can try to stand against it and fight it. I let the wave carry me in to shore and I had no pain in labour. It was hard work but not painful. 

I got to the point where I couldn't talk through my rushes anymore and all I could do was a low moan of "OHHHH." At one point I remember Tylor joking about how I should try a different vowel. I did try, and it didn't feel right, this was my mantra. And then I finally felt pressure in my perineum and my midwife said to follow my body's lead.

I loved pushing. It felt so good. I was getting excited; I was going to have the waterbirth I had always dreamed about. Time flew by as I worked on getting my baby down. My water broke while I was in the tub. It felt like a little balloon popping under pressure. I never felt the pressure increase on my cervix like I was told I would. I had been pushing for awhile but babe was not moving down.

My midwives suggested I sit on the toilet and push. It was really uncomfortable there, but babe still wouldn't budge. They moved me to the bed and they stacked all the pillows and blankets they could find for me to lean on and push while on all fours. Still not a budge. I got off the bed and squatted on the floor between Tylor's knees. It felt better but still no movement. I wasn't worried about the baby because after every rush my midwives checked the heart and the baby was doing beautifully. I finally crawled onto the bed and pushed on my back with Tylor nearly folding me in half.

That was definitely not how I imagined things going in my birth. Babe still wasn't moving down and I had been pushing for almost 4 hours when my midwife asked if she could try something. She said if it hurt she would stop. I agreed. She inserted her fingers and pushed my bones away and scooped the baby's head under my pubic bone. We were getting somewhere now! I could now feel the baby coming down. I pushed hard and now it was a breeze. I was so afraid of tearing that I really focused on keeping my vagina relaxed and allowing myself to stretch slowly. I remember reaching down to help make sure her head didn't come out too fast and to help stretch myself.

The head was out and the back of it was covered in hair. I believe I said something like, "That is unreal." I was very proud of the control I had. I was able to stop pushing to check for the cord. It was around the baby's neck and the hand was under the cord. That was why babe got stuck. Then just as I thought I was about to hold my baby, the shoulders almost snagged. It wasn't quite shoulder dystocia; my midwife and I think it was more about my energy level and being in the least ideal position. This is the only time I cried out in pain because my midwife had to get my baby free.

But my work wasn't over! This babe had a barrel chest. After one more valiant push I pulled my baby onto my chest. I had done it! Tylor was crying and laughing. I was so glad to be done with my hard work. As soon as baby was on my chest I felt this warm sensation. I was getting peed on! What an introduction from our little one. I decided to take a peek at what we had. We had a girl! We were hoping for a girl. She was perfect. She didn't cry for awhile, but was calm and her cord was still pumping. I think she was as confused as me. Tylor cut the cord later.

Abigael Amy Dean was born at home on May 17 2008 at 8lbs, 13oz and 21inches long. She was born without a tear.

Thanks to the knowledge that birth is natural instilled in me by my grandmother and my friend Greg for helping me discover the path I am on right now, I was able to have a beautiful even if unpredictable birth. And thanks to Tylor, the man of my dreams for keeping me calm and being my constant support. It wasn't as I had planned but what happened I had no control over. It makes her birth unique and I would do it again without a moments hesitation. Our birth experience was wonderful.”


  1. I am totally loving this birth story every day thing. It makes me so happy (and sometimes sad) to read these often. This birth is especially inspiring.

  2. What a beautiful story, thanks for sharing it!

  3. Wonderful to read of childbirth where a nuchal cord was responded to appropriately - by leaving it alone and allowing the cord to remain intact. Congratulations on your safe birth and baby!