Birth Without Fear is an online treasure trove of real life birth stories from mothers of all walks of life. Founder January H. has created an inspiring place where every form of birth is celebrated and supported.
McKenna Woolley is a first time mother who shares her fearless home birth with us. At 42 weeks to the day, McKenna thought she’d be meeting with her midwife to begin a natural induction, but baby finally decided to make his arrival on his own…
I awoke on Thursday morning at 7:30 am feeling contractions that were lower than the usual and more consistent than before. I got up, said my morning prayer, made myself a protein shake and made the decision to let my husband Phillip sleep, even though rushes of excitement were making me giddy. Unable to contain my feelings I sat down and wrote a blog post but withheld posting it, because I wanted Phil to be the first to know.
He woke and asked, “How are you feeling?”
I responded with a huge smile beaming on my face, “ How would you like to become a daddy today?!”
“That would be awesome,” he said with a smile soon overcoming him.
We got ready for the day, spending a last few intimate moments as a family of two. I turned on my Hypnobirthing affirmations and just focused on generating a positive atmosphere and kept my handy contraction timer on my phone. They were coming every 1-4 minutes and would last about 30 seconds to a minute each but were averaging about 40 seconds each.
At 12:33 I called Richelle, my midwife, to let her know that our induction would not be necessary and informed her of the consistency of the surges. She let me know a bit of what to expect, told me to stay hydrated and to be sure to eat to keep my energy up.
A little after 2:30, I called Richelle about my contractions being 1-minute apart but still only lasting 30 seconds to a minute. I wanted to be aware of what exactly would constitute the need to have her come over. She told me, “you wouldn’t feel like calling me, you’d be having Phil call me.” She also assured me that if I felt like I just needed her support at any point that she would come. I told her we planned on going out and getting ice cream to pass the time and she said by-all-means to go and do something, so that’s exactly what we did.
We got in the car around 3:50 and drove up the street to get a Kong-Kone soft-serve ice cream. As we were approaching the line a group of about 15 boys and their youth leader arrived at nearly the same time but because of my slow pace they got there first. I told Phil to get in line behind them and that I would just pace as we bided the time. The youth leader offered to pay for our cones. He said, “It looks like you’re going to have a baby soon.”
I told him, “I’m actually in labor right now!”
“I’ve seen that look before” he responded, “I’ve got 6 kids of my own.” I laughed and put in my order for the biggest cone and Phil ordered the “Daddy” sized Kong-Kone.
“Perfectly fitting,” the man said.
We got home around 5 pm and turned on one of our favorite movies, as I waded through the surges, continuing to pace or lean against the counter in the kitchen. Around 6:00, I got to a point where I just wanted to be off my feet. I went to the bathroom and noticed that I had, as is said ‘lost my mucus plug’ but wasn’t sure until I had Phil ask Richelle in a later conversation. I got in the bathtub, and immediately it eased a great deal of my discomfort. Philip came in a couple of times to check up on me or bring some water.
I started to feel the need to focus, when Phil asked if I wanted him to start filling the birthing pool. I said yes. I also wanted to know when Richelle would arrive. He called her and she asked how we felt if she were there by 9.
Once the tub in the baby’s room was filled I changed and got in. Philip set up my laptop and began playing my Hypnobirthing relaxation scripts and affirmations.
Around 7:15 I really started to feel that point of ‘focus time’ Richelle had described. Each surge had a stronger effect on my body but would still only last about a minute at the longest. I began telling my body to relax and to open or for my breath to fill my belly like a balloon. Phil knelt by the pool giving me prompts to breath and relax, telling me how much he loves me, doing light touch massage and kissing my shoulders and forehead. I got to the point where I just wanted Phil to do relaxation scripts and to just talk me through the surges rather than listening to the audio version.
I spent time in different positions in the tub, mostly upright on my knees allowing gravity to help bring the baby down. As soon as Richelle got there I felt a sense of, “Okay, now I can have this baby,” and my mentality changed from simply biding the time to “go-time.” She came in and started getting her things set up and asked me if she could check my cervical dilation, when she checked she found that I was at 8 centimeters.
Knowing I had made it all the way to 8 gave me a rush of energy, accompanied by a great amount of surreal bewilderment.
I was really going to have a baby and I was almost there. Holy cow! I was almost there!
Not longer after Richelle arrived, I could feel the baby moving further down and I had the first short and sudden urge to push. It was such a bizarre sensation because my body was literally pushing on its own. This part really threw me for a loop. By this point the surges were much further in-between but the further into the transition phase I got they still didn’t last for more than 40 seconds. Richelle and her assistant, Liz, were aiding Phil in pushing against my back or hips with each surge to relieve some of the pressure. Richelle would also intermittently check baby’s heart rate both in a surge and out of one. Each time I heard his heart beating, I would tell him how great he was doing.
At some point between these surges I reached down to see if I could feel his head yet. Instead I felt a little bulge like a thin water balloon. I instinctively poked my finger right through it, breaking my own water.
That was pretty surreal. The surges would continue to come and I could feel him trying to make his way out with each surge but they weren’t lasting long enough for me to hold him there and get him deep enough to crown. My body became overrun with adrenaline, giving me the quivers, which caused me to tense up when the pushing feelings came. In my birthing course it talked about breathing the baby down and visualizing your breath going down like a “J” motion rather than attempting to hold your breath and “purple” push the baby out.
My goal for this birth was to walk away with an intact perineum and these urges and my reaction to them were scaring me a bit. Fear is just about the worst thing for a woman giving birth and I got to the point where I really felt that I wasn’t going to be able to do this.
I think the little guy knew this, because he gave me a little 5-7 minute pause where I didn’t feel like pushing. Richelle could sense that I was tensing up and brought to my attention what I was doing. Despite me being aware in my mind that I wasn’t doing something right, having someone verbalize it helped me to better approach it.
With this time and Richelle’s guidance I was able to re-focus and train myself to accept what my body was doing and instead of fighting it, allowing it while also breathing through it instead of clenching up and holding my breath.
During this bit of a pause Richelle asked if she could check the position of the baby and he was in perfect position. I think she knew he was ready, what I love about her is how intuitive she is about birth. She leaned against the tub and asked, “Can I make a suggestion?”
She would always approach giving me instruction whether it be a position change or seeing if it was ok to check dilation or the position of the baby as if she was just giving advice and I wasn’t ever obliged to take it. Even though I had spent many hours over the course of our prenatal visits it really wasn’t until this experience that I really felt such a deep and unshaken confidence in her abilities and expertise.
She looked at me and suggested that I stand up on my knees and hold up my arms while Phil stood on his feet outside the tub and would support my arms through the surges. Phil and I tried it through a few surges before she told me, “We’re just going to leave the room and let you both work through it and when we hear that you’re ready we will come back in.”
I decided since they weren’t lasting long enough that I needed to manually keep him in position with my muscles. Another surge came and I reached down to see if I could feel his head. I kept my hand there as another surge came, and I let go of Phil completely and came into a squat-like position as his head started to crown. Richelle instructed Phil on where to place his hands waiting to catch him. Within moments little buddy’s head emerged and with a few little pops, his shoulders and the rest of his body slid out as Phil caught him and brought him out of the water.
I opened my eyes when I felt the release and saw my baby boy for the first time. Wide-eyed and in shock I kept repeating, “I can’t believe I just did that! I just had a baby! I just did that!”
Followed by a “Oh my gosh he’s sooo cuuuute! I can’t believe you just did that! You’re such an amazing baby” Then looking up at Phil exclaiming, “We have a baby!”
Emerson James was born at 10:11pm on Thursday the 13th after 14 and a half hours of labor.
I had done it. I gave birth to my baby in my home, without drugs, without induction, just as I had prayed for and trusted in God that I would be able to do.
From the moment Phil and I decided that we wanted to do a home birth we simply felt right about it and it couldn’t have been better. Here this little angel had joined our family and we became his parents.