A Victorious Home Birth Story
Samson’s Birth Story
Written by Sarah Waggott
July 7 2016
My sweet, strong baby boy Samson, you are 6 days old today. As we chill out at home with Papa I’m going to tell you the story of your arrival into this world. It was a warm Friday morning of the long weekend. You were 4 days past your due date. In the months leading up to this Papa and I had been sure that you were going to make your appearance early, so I had been anticipating you for weeks. I had decided to give birth to you at home rather than in the hospital. This was a big and somewhat scary decision for me, but I was determined that we could do it. You and I spent weeks ahead of time reading up on hypnobirthing, meditating, and mentally preparing for the big day. On the morning of July 1st I was ready for your arrival, calm and confident that you and I together could do it!
I experienced some cramping in the morning as I was getting ready; there had been plenty of tightening sensations in the days and weeks leading up to this, but this cramping was a little bit different. More like menstrual cramps. After showering and dressing I found Clark and Papa in the living room playing ‘squishy fort’ on the window seat. There is no sound in the world like that of Clark squealing with glee playing with Papa. I was in love! I was also feeling very large and cumbersome as you, my love, were a big belly!
I sat down on the couch and already felt tired, though it was only about 9:30am. Our friends Jay and Cindy asked if we wanted to meet them and their daughter, Zara for brunch. We walked up to the restaurant to meet them. I ordered my second breakfast of the morning- bagel & cream cheese and fruit. I was feeling a bit icky and wasn’t sure I wanted to eat, but i did! When I got up after my meal to go to the bathroom the crampy feeling was back, and it was a bit different. A peculiar feeling that I was thinking could very well be the start of labour. I remember thinking to myself wouldn’t it be funny if it is, and if it turns out that I went into labour and then went out to brunch. What a strange place to be at a time like this. I was anxious to leave, and thankfully we were just paying the bill. Walking home I mentioned to Cindy that I was feeling some tightening on and off. She said- “that’s great! You should go home and have sex!”. During the slow walk home (as all walks with a 3 year old are), I noticed that the crampy feelings were coming and going.
Back at home I admitted to Bryden that I think I might be in labour. He looked at me with a serious expression and said- “Ok. Well how sure are you? Should I get on the phone?” I was instructed by Clark to go into the squishy fort which I obediently did to lie down. Yes, they were definitely coming in waves, and lasting a bit longer now. Oh dear. Bryden called his parents to drop what they were doing and drive to Toronto. He arranged for Jay and Cindy to come and get Clark right away.
By 1pm I was certain enough it was labour to tell my sister it was time, hand over my phone to Bryden and go up to your bedroom to start resting and meditating. I thought maybe I could have a nap. But so many thoughts were going through my mind. Maybe I should watch my affirmation video instead; Bryden was downstairs busily arranging a hotel for his parents, alerting the necessary people, and looking after Clark. He popped in from time to time to ask me questions. When should we call Leah the doula? Or the midwives? I don’t know! I said let’s just go ahead and call them all now. The midwife, Michaela told me to try lying down to see if they stop.
Leah would be there in an hour. Lying down was not stopping the surges. My mind was not clear and calm as I had planned. I could hear Bryden having trouble booking a hotel for his parents. I told him, you know, we could just go to the hospital and then they can stay here..? Half hoping that we would decide then and there to abort this homebirth business. “No” he said right away and walked off. I had a wave of fear pass over me- a terrifying moment of “what have I gotten myself into? I can’t do this. I am not safe here”.... I recall one of my affirmations- I acknowledge my fear every time I feel it. And I let that fear go. Yep that’s fear, I told myself; ok, now moving onto the next thought. Oh how my brain wanted to linger on that thought- analyse it logically- how bad would it be if we just went to the hospital? The travel there right now wouldn’t be so hard, etc etc… But I pushed those thoughts away with all my might. Bryden called the midwives back. The surges aren’t going away. They were on their way.
I heard Jay at the door. He had come to pick Clark up. Clark wanted to bring his teddy- no problem. I was relieved that he was happy to spend time with them and Zara, this is good. Once he left I called to Bryden “can I have you now?”. He came to me. They are getting stronger. I had started to time the surges. 4 minutes apart, lasting for about 1 minute each. How long are they supposed to last in early vs active labour? Where am I in the process? My mind had so much it wanted to think about other than meditation. With Clark gone and all the necessary people contacted Bryden was able to help me. I laid in child’s pose with pillows under my torso. He rubbed my back while I breathed through the surges and tried to clear my mind. Some of them were longer now, some short. I was able to talk in between them but not during. My lower back was beginning to hurt. I asked for some deep massage there. I was breathing through the surges, and that breathing was getting more and more vocal.
Soon Leah arrived. I greeted her but then a moment later told Bryden that another one was coming. He helped me work through it. Leah told me my breathing was great. She gave me some back rubs and I switched the pillows out for the yoga ball. Kneeling on the bed over the yoga ball I labored, Bryden and Leah helping me. The back pain sucked. I was now vocalizing quite loudly through the surges. I noticed that I was resisting against the tightening and began to get serious about focusing on relaxation. With each surge I reminded myself that this is totally normal. I breathed loudly, kept my facial muscles relaxed, imagined waves, tried to keep my body loose, and Leah set out affirmation cards to focus me. The one that said “surrender” spoke to me. My training was coming back to me. I told myself that this sensation doesn’t have to be pain- I focused on the feeling, what was it? Tingling. The surges started in the back, wrapped around the front and felt tingly. Between surges I was able to relax completely and talk to my birth companions about how I was feeling, where I needed some massage. My biggest complaint was the back pain. I wanted someone to grind their thumbs into my low back during the next surge. From time to time I felt sick to my stomach; I held a bucket beneath my face ready to hurl. But thankfully I never did.
Soon the midwives appeared- Michaela and Alusha. They greeted me smiling. I felt reassured that they were there. Almost right away Alusha told me they were going to call the second midwife crew. Wow, I thought, they don’t do that until the baby is just about ready to come out- I must be far along! Even though they did not do a vaginal exam they must have taken their cues from the length and strength of my contractions. Someone told me that I should go pee. Oh god, I thought, I can’t move from this position. My whole body was so tender. I wanted to use the time between contractions to relax not to move! I almost asked to pee in the bucket. Then thought better and, with lots of helping hands, got up and into the bathroom. Leah said I could stay there for some surges. She got me comfortable with a pillow and asked if I wanted to try the TENS. Yes! I had almost forgot. She attached them to my low back and switched it on- “Oh! That’s good” I said. Tingling! Tingling TENS, meet tingling uterus I thought. This was good. Here, on the toilet the back pain had finally let up and the surges were easier to bare. Bryden sat at my feet. He pressed his hands down into them to ground me, and he smiled up at me. This isn’t so bad I recall thinking. I recall trying to think of a joke to lighten the mood; I’m not sure if I said anything or not.
Michaela asked me if I’d like to start the antibiotics. This was for the GBS- a bacteria that I had tested positive for weeks earlier. There was a slight risk that you could contract the virus during birth, so I had earlier agreed that I wanted the medicine. However, there didn’t seem to be much time for it. She suggested they do a vaginal exam to check how close I was to pushing. I thought about it- if they do an exam and find me to be only 5cm or something I’m afraid I’ll be discouraged. Even though the surges are more manageable now I might be crushed at the prospect of doing this for much longer. I was thinking and hoping I was getting close, and didn’t want to be told otherwise. I declined the exam, but asked for the antibiotics anyway. About then a new midwife came in and introduced herself, she was here for the baby- ok good, everyone is here.
Not 5 mins later, as I worked through a contraction I had a huge, uncontrollable urge to push. My steady long low breathing kicked up an octave and it sounded painful. My body was pushing the baby down and there wasn’t anything I could do about it. “I’m pushing!” I yelled. Michaela and Alusha rushed in; “OK, Sarah, where would you like to birth your baby? Lets move you to that place”. “In the tub or in the bed” I said. “But, I can’t have the TENS in the tub, right?, so, I choose the bed.” They all helped me back to the bed. I set up on the yoga ball as I was before, and had several more pushes. Wow, this was powerful! I was on autopilot; I recall an affirmation- your body knows how to birth your baby, your baby knows how to be born. This embodied that- there was no mental work that needed to be done here, my body was pushing this baby out (also pushing some animal sounds out my mouth!) and all I could think was, this is so much better then the surges! This was happening! It was actually exciting. Bryden looked terrified, the sounds I was making were scaring him “don’t look like that!” I said. The people in the room gathered around me. Many people were talking, I was listening to them all- “breathe”, “push”, “you’re doing great”, etc. And Bryden was saying “look at me, look in my eyes, look at me”. “Yes?” I said. “Look at me” he said. “What would you like? I hear you” I said. I looked up to see Bryden at the top of the yoga ball and realized he was just trying to connect with me, ground me, not trying to tell me something. Haha, oops. All of a sudden- burst!; my water broke. It happened as I was pushing, must’ve shot out! I heard Michaela say the fluid was clear- that’s good. A fourth midwife entered, introducing herself as another student. “Hi, I’m Sarah” I managed to say.
“Ok Sarah you aren’t in the best position for pushing. We need to get your tailbone curved under, can you turn over?” I did. Leah told Bryden to sit behind me, I leant against him and curled my tailbone under as instructed. “You can hold your knees to help” she said. I did. I touched myself- I couldn’t feel your head yet. I pushed actively with my body’s surges. I can’t recall if it was painful or if i was just really excited to be almost there. All i wanted was for you to come out and to be done. The midwives were reminding me to breathe. I didn’t want to breathe I just wanted to push and push and get you out. “Get him out!” I yelled! I felt you coming down the birth canal, it was all so real. All the things i had read, everything in theory, and this was it. It felt just like what was happening was happening, only again I don’t remember if it hurt. I felt stretching, I felt your head against my pelvic bones; how could you fit between them? It felt impossible. I reached down and touched your head. You were so close to me, that moment I’d been visualizing was here, you were here. Oh my god. Your head came through and Papa said “I can see him!” I could not see because my belly was in the way. “Take a breath. One or two more pushes” they said. I forced myself to take a second to breathe. I pushed twice more and out you came. I pulled you onto my chest. Bryden and Leah helped pull off my dress so our skin could touch. Oh my god, oh my god there you were. I was so proud of you in that moment. What a brave, strong boy. What a way to enter the world- in a climax of emotional and physical strength. We went through the depths of mental fortitude together, to the limit of physical endurance. And we triumphed!!
The first thing I noticed about you were how long your fingernail beds were. The midwives were very attentive, now right beside you. You had a gurgling breath but no cry yet. “His breathing is very wet” they said, and she began rubbing you vigorously. They were making many observations aloud- “he’s pinking up”, your eyes were open, “come on baby, take a big breath”, your breath was still wet sounding; I noticed that your hair was red; they kept on rubbing you. I wasn’t sure whether to be elated or worried. Then Alusha said “I think we’d better cut the cord and take him over”. They hastily brought you to the cabinet across the room and set you on a tray they had prepared. Their backs were turned to us and we could hear a machine starting up. Alusha sat next to Papa and I and explained that they were just a bit concerned about that wet breath. They want to get a good clear cry out of you, so they are suctioning your throat out and giving you some oxygen. She said this is common when a baby comes out as fast as you did- you didn’t have time to clear that mucous on your way out. She said they could wait to see if you would do it on your own, but by then you may have exhausted yourself and so they are giving you a little help. Papa and I looked on anxiously. I felt that things would be okay; I was still on a high, and so relieved it was over. Papa looked really worried. “Do you want to go over there?” I asked him, he shook his head. “He will be ok, babe” I told Papa. It was 20 long minutes before you were brought back to me. We still hadn’t had a good cry out of you, but the breathing was a bit better and they wanted to see if skin to skin with Mom and some breastfeeding would help. I was so glad to have you back. You latched onto my breast immediately. You opened and closed your eyes. I saw that they were a beautiful blue. You also had a red bloodshot bit circling a portion of your iris. I asked about it and was told that it was a result of you coming out so fast. It was normal and would go away in time.
You were still being watched very closely. The midwives were pleased with all of your vitals and signs except for the breathing. I was growing more worried- shouldn’t this be resolved by now? You seemed ok to me. For a moment I recalled a conversation the midwives had with us before the birth about how if there was something wrong with baby he would be brought to the hospital in an ambulance and I would go later- oh please don’t say that’s happening, I thought. You were taken away from me twice more for more oxygen. You had a little heartrate monitor on your hand. You nursed in between, very nicely. Eventually they stood back a bit further and just observed; the mood lightened. In between this I pushed out the placenta, was given a shot of oxytocin for bleeding, and was checked for tears. No tears! I was astonished; how could i have pushed you out so fast and not one tear- wow. I am lucky. Bryden was the first to call you Samson. It was one of our shortlisted names, and my favorite. “Really?” I said, “Yes, you were so strong, it has to be Samson” he said. Yay! Welcome, Samson.
Just about then Clark, Rosemary and Ian came home. Clark wanted to meet you. “Hold on!” I said, “let’s clean up first”. I didn’t want him to see the blood. You had a little white hat on, and were draped in a blanket, nursing away. Clark rushed in- he went to the toy basket and picked out a toy for you. His face was glowing “hi baby” he said softly. It was so precious. I wanted to maul him with hugs and kisses. He gazed at you, smiling. My boys!
After I was fed, the bed and the room cleaned and I went to the bathroom the midwives gave me the run-down of things to watch for, and be careful about. You weighed in at 9lbs- whoa! I am again astonished that I didn’t tear. They would be back the next day. When everyone left the house was quiet. Clark had been put to bed. There I was in bed with you. The same place you had been born. Papa kissed us and tucked us in, and we started our lives together. I am so elated, so proud. This experience is my life’s victory. I did it, we did it, and we will always have this to bond us. Love you, Sam.