Noelle’s Birth Story

First a word about home birth…

Admittedly, it probably took me 8 out of the 9 months of my pregnancy to formulate a clear, concise answer to why I wanted to have a home birth. It’s a topic I’ve been interested in for a while and the type of birth I knew I’ve wanted for quite some time as well. To be honest, I didn’t really tell a lot of people that we were planning a home birth, unless they straight out asked me where I would deliver. Unfortunately, home birth is a bit culturally strange to people.

Don’t get me wrong, I love hospitals—in fact I’ve worked in one for the last five years. I consider my job as a nurse in the hospital, part of the reason I felt comfortable trying to deliver at home. One thing I do understand is that hospitals are businesses, with schedules, and timetables, lots of money and lots of liability. I love hospitals for emergencies and for sick people—I’m just not convinced healthy low-risk women in labor fall into either of those two categories. These women are experiencing a natural process—and trying to let a natural process run its course in a facility that only knows how to do medical interventions can often be a bad mix. (I also think, of course, hospitals are wonderful for high risk pregnancies, premature labor, and problematic labor and deliveries, and would have gone to the hospital in a heart beat had my situation turned high risk at any time.) Hospitals do medical interventions and they do them well and abundantly. So my main reason for wanting a home birth was to avoid the avalanche of unnecessary medical interventions if I truly didn’t need them.

When looking for a midwife, what was most important to me was probably something a bit intangible—I wanted someone who had worked in the hospital setting and come to the conclusion that healthy low-risk women did better delivering at home. So I wanted someone with a strong medical background, that could recognize a problem if there was one, but that understood the benefit of a low-intervention birth at home. Tiffany was my midwife and this was only one of the many reasons she was a wonderful choice.

Noelle’s Birth Story…

I went into labor Saturday April 14th at 11 days past my due date. I had been having some sporadic contractions throughout the week but It was the first time I had contractions that woke me up out of sleep, so I felt like something was different. I had my membranes swept that Wednesday and Friday to try and get labor started. My contractions continued to progress throughout the morning and I tried to keep myself distracted by having Nathan take me out shopping and to lunch. After a few hours of being out, I felt I needed to get home because my contractions were becoming more intense, and I felt the need to focus on them more, in order to get through them. They continued to get stronger and closer together into the afternoon and we called our doula, Sarah, to come over. I was feeling excited at this point, that baby was coming, after a long wait of being “overdue”. 

Sarah stayed with us all through the night, encouraging me, having me try different positions for laboring, and offering me a lot of support. She helped me with my breathing through contractions and helped me not to tense up during them. They continued to get closer together until around 3am, about 2-3 min apart. I thought for sure our baby would be born that night. Then strangely, my contractions started slowing down to 6-8 min apart, which was incredibly discouraging, especially since I was so exhausted at that point. My midwife, Tiffany, came to check me Sunday morning around 6:00 am and I was at 6 cm, which was also discouraging to me- I felt like I already couldn’t handle any more and to think that the worst was still ahead of me, made me think I would not be able to do it. I was beginning not to cope well and was getting more and more tired. Even though my labor had slowed down, my contractions were still really strong and so I wasn’t able to rest. After Tiffany left, I think I told Nathan multiple times I wanted to go to the hospital.

Sarah came back around noon on Sunday, after I attempted to rest. She was communicating with Tiffany throughout the morning and Tiffany agreed to come back in the afternoon to break my water, despite my contraction pattern still being irregular and spaced out. For whatever reason, breaking my water seemed to be a turning point in my labor- it seemed to speed things back up and my contractions started getting closer together again. Ironically, I found the last few hours of transition and pushing (what I thought would be the hardest part) to be easier than all of the previous night of labor. Maybe because I knew the end was in sight, maybe because I was learning to cope better at that point.

I got in the water when I was around 8cm and it seemed to help make my contractions a lot more manageable. I was starting to feel more encouraged at this point and realized that baby would truly be here soon. At one point Tiffany had me reach down and feel our baby’s head during a contraction. I felt so relieved when I saw Tiffany and Candice setting up the tray with the cord clamp and other newborn supplies on our bed. I knew it was so close now and I felt all of my strength back to make it to the end. Noelle Victoria was born at 8:34pm Sunday April 15th in the water after about 20 minutes of pushing. It was the most incredible moment to feel her leaving my body and coming in to the world, I don’t think I’ll ever forget that.  Nathan caught her and lifted her out of the water and told me “It’s a little girl!” before handing her to me. I was so surprised/ overwhelmed. My gut instinct was that she was a girl, but I had kind of convinced myself we were having a boy the last few months of my pregnancy, so I was truly surprised and delighted. Noelle’s cord snapped right as she was born so they had to clamp it immediately before handing her to me. My first thought when I saw her was that she was so pretty. Both Nathan and I couldn’t believe what a pretty little girl she was/is, but maybe we’re a little biased.

I had the most incredible support team in Nathan, Sarah, Tiffany and her assistant Candice. Nathan hardly left my side throughout the entire length of my labor. And hiring Sarah as our doula was probably the most important decision we made in terms of having a successful home birth. I truly do not think I would have been able to have Noelle at home if it weren’t for everyone’s expertise, encouragement, and willingness to trust the process. As I think about Noelle’s birth, I can’t actually believe I did it. It was by far the most challenging physical/mental test I’ve ever experienced, but she is so very very worth it…

Also, a huge thank you to my friend Breanna for taking these pictures for us, and for being “on call” to do so. I will forever treasure these…

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