It only took me 5 months but I finally sat down to share my home birth story. Layla’s home water birth is a long one so I’m not going to fluff up this post with small talk, are you ready?
You can find Layla’s birth video is at the bottom of this page.
November 13, 6:45am.
Andrew woke me up and said he had to pee. I struggled to roll over and get out of bed. Because 40 weeks 3 day belly.
I waddled to the bathroom and stood in there while he went pee. 15 seconds into his pee, I felt warm liquid trickle down my leg.
Perfect. Not only am I huge and miserable, I am now peeing on myself; the perfect way to bring in the last few days of pregnancy, I thought.
As I stood there with soaked underwear and pee down my leg, I told Andrew he needed to move out of the way because “mommy peed her pants.”
“You peed your pants mommy? Why’d you do that?” He said as he had his shirt lifted up, watching himself in the mirror and touching his nipples.
“I don’t know Andrew, but please move.”
Slowly but surely, he moved and I finished the remainder of whatever was left in my squished bladder. After that, I changed my underwear, put on my almost-too-tight maternity capris, and walked out of the bedroom. 5 minutes later, soaked underwear.
My first thought was, “Really??” My second thought was, “Okay this is weird. I’m texting my sister.”
I put on another pair of bottoms and within a few minutes, I was back at the toilet with wet underwear. I texted my midwife Katie and gave her my symptoms; she suggested that my waters broke. Katie asked if I had any contractions (which I didn’t) and said to just pay attention to my body. Ironically we had our pre-natal appointment that day at 1pm so we would talk more in depth about the next steps in case my labor didn’t start.
Since I wasn’t sure how the day was going to go, I called Scott and we decided it was best for him to come home. At this point I was essentially glued to the toilet — if I tried to get up, warm liquid trickled down my leg. I called my mother-in-law — who thankfully lives right around the corner — and asked her if 1) My father-in-law could take Andrew to school and 2) if she had pads since I was completely unprepared in that department.
As I sat on the toilet, my heart started to race. I was going to have my baby in my arms within the next 24-48 hours no matter what.
While I was waiting for Scott to get home, I started tidying up the living room and vacuuming. My mother-in-law stopped by on her way to work to make sure I was okay and helped with last minute cleaning.
For the next three hours, Scott and I just sat on the couch and waited. I had a couple very minor contractions here and there but nothing that perked interest or suggested our little one was ready.
When Katie arrived for our prenatal appointment, she went over worst case scenarios if labor didn’t start. We had 24 hours from the time my water broke to have Layla or we would have to be transferred to the hospital and get induced.
She suggested some natural labor inducers to help move things along: acupuncture, an adjustment from the chiropractor, pumping, and taking cotton root tincture (every 15 minutes for 2 hours). If all natural inducers failed and I wasn’t in active labor by 7:30pm, I could take castor oil as a “last ditch effort.”
All I knew was that I did NOT want to take castor oil and I did NOT want to go the hospital.
I took two rounds of cotton root and then we made a mad dash to the acupuncturist.
I had never done acupuncture before but I was up for anything. Acupuncture is a weird sensation and I would have to say not completely enjoyable. Scott and I connected with the acupuncturist; this led him to offering us a free session later that night if labor hadn’t started. It felt good to have that option in the back of our pockets just in case.
I had one or two contractions on the table but nothing to get excited about.
We stopped at Whole Foods to pick up a few things and to make time go by. I picked up a bacon and onion quiche and dark chocolate truffles and Scott picked up some celebratory craft beer. #Priorities
I had a contraction or two at Whole Foods but nothing strong.
After Whole Foods, we stopped by Walgreens to pick up castor oil — just in case. At this point, I was getting a little nervous. I had to release each negative thought the moment it entered my mind to make sure I kept believing everything was going to turn out the way I wanted.
At this point, the only thing that was left to do was get an adjustment. The chiropractor that I had been seeing throughout my pregnancy was about 20 minutes from my house. I was a little leery about going to see him because the last couple adjustments he performed put me in more pain than I was already in. (I had severe hip, pelvic, and tailbone pain through my pregnancy but it got REALLY bad at the end to the point where I could barely walk).
I didn’t want to get an adjustment and be in pain because of it but I also didn’t want to NOT get an adjustment with the fear of it being the reason I didn’t go into active labor.
I made an appointment for 6:45pm.
Still no contractions.
I sent my doula a text saying, “I’m trying to remind myself that the mind is a powerful thing and to keep believing this baby will be born at home.” She replied, “Loriel, don’t stop believing. I have total faith that you can have that baby tonight at home.” Her response gave me the strength to continue to release the negative thoughts that were persistent in flooding my mind.
I also expressed my anxiety about the chiropractor to her. She suggested calling Rachel, a chiropractor that does home visits, to see if she was able to come, just in case. I held my breath as I called Rachel. Please let her have availability. When she said she could be at my house at 7pm if I needed, a huge wave of relief set over me. I’m so very thankful for a doula who is well-connected in the birthing community!
I began pumping; 15 minutes on, 15 minutes off while simultaneously taking the cotton root every 15 minutes.
Maybe one contraction.
I decided to cancel my appointment with the chiropractor I had been seeing throughout my pregnancy. Both Scott and I agreed that we had been doing a lot of running around all day and it was important to be at home to relax and focus on pumping, the tincture, and mentally preparing for birth.
I told Rachel that I would like for her to come do a home visit.
It felt good to relax and put the baby vibes out into the universe.
I sent my doula this text, “In the last 20 minutes that I’ve been pumping and also taking the cotton root, I’ve had my uterus tighten about 4 or 5 times, with the tightening lasting about 15 seconds. That’s a good sign, right?” She replied, “Yes. Great sign!”
My nipples were starting to get sore from pumping. She suggested I take a break from the pumping, so I gladly did.
A few minutes later, my MIL stopped by with Andrew and with Thai food for Scott and I. It was so incredibly bittersweet to see Andrew knowing both our lives would be changed forever. We talked a little bit about the baby and I gave him lots of kisses.
As we said good-bye to Andrew, Rachel arrived shortly after.
At this point, my memory of what happened and in what order starts to get fuzzy.
As she was setting up her table in our living room, I was finishing up a bite of an egg roll. A contraction started and I threw the egg roll down. Food no longer sounded or tasted good — it made me feel like I was going to throw up.
She adjusted my neck and preformed gentle stretching positions. The stretching felt nice. I had a contraction or two and they started to get stronger. I excused myself and headed to the bathroom to have a bowel movement. From that point, I had about two more bowel movements within a short period of time.
Somewhere in that time I told Scott to get the tub out of the office and to start blowing it up. “Really? It won’t take long to blow up.” he said. In one variation or another, I’m pretty sure I told him to YES, blow up the tub and to not question me.
At this point, we were timing my contractions because they were rolling in very regularly. I remember standing by Rachel’s adjustment table, watching Scott fumble around with the tub. It was clear that we did NOT practice a dry run of what it would be like when we were in labor.
The phone that we were using to time the contractions was about 5 feet away from where he was blowing up the tub. Every time I would tell him a contraction started, he would get up from where the tub was, start the phone and then go back to the tub (leaving the phone on the couch). When I told him the contraction stopped, he would again, get up from where the tub was, walk to the couch, stop the phone, and then go back to the tub (leaving the phone on the couch).
I remember getting incredibly irritated at this and thinking, “Why doesn’t he just bring the phone WITH him so he doesn’t have to keep going up and down, up and down!?”
Rachel suggested another adjustment. As I went to lay on the table, a contraction rolled in and I was stopped in my tracks. I told her I was done with the adjustments and to not touch me anymore.
Contractions getting stronger and more frequent. In fact, it felt like I hardly got a break in between them.
“I have a feeling you’ll need to come soon,” was the text I sent to Christie. I was hunched over my couch when I sent the text. Scott and Rachel were on the couch opposite of me talking up a storm about something that seemed completely pointless.
I was getting irritated. Why are they talking? Why are all the lights on? Why is Scott not paying attention to me? The thoughts were racing through my head.
Although this was my first labor with no epidural or pain meds, I had a feeling labor was progressing. I remember Christie saying something about moms not wanting to talk when active labor sets in; and I definitely didn’t want to do any talking (or hear anyone else talk).
I sent Katie the contractions screen shot.
Christie sent me a text saying she was on her way.
I sent a text shortly after saying, “Thank you. My last contraction was definitely painful. I think I’m having back labor too.”
I’m not sure how much time it was from that text to when she came through the door but I vividly remember being crouched over the adjustment table working through a contraction, seeing her face, and saying “Thank God you’re here.” I felt so relieved she was finally with me.
Christie began to offer some counter pressure but it was too painful for her to touch me. Another contraction rolled through me and I began to make sounds. Christie looked at me and said, “You’re in active labor.”
Christie immediately told Scott to start filling up the tub and texted Katie (midwife) to come over.
Christie also sent my birth photographer, Lee Anne, a message to come as soon as possible. Lee Anne had planned to video tape my birth.
8:30pm-ish to 9:30pm — Everything is a blur at this point.
Things I remember:
– Christie trying to get me to the bathroom to go pee before I went into the tub. She wanted to move me from the living to the bathroom when my contraction let up but they never did. We eventually made it to the bathroom but when we finally got to the toilet, there was absolutely no way I was sitting down. It was too painful and uncomfortable.
– Feeling incredibly hot.
– Having everyone help me get my clothes off to get into the tub.
– Christie saying something to Scott about it not being warm enough.
– Feeling the hot water being poured into the tub and telling them to stop adding hot water. I felt like I was burning up from the inside, out.
– Thinking I was finally going to get some pain relief being in the tub but sure enough, the water did nothing in terms of relieving the pain from the contractions. I was already too far into labor for it to have an effect.
– Trying to get comfortable in some kind of position to get through the contractions; first with my arms hung over the side, then on all fours in the tub. My arms going numb from holding myself up through the contractions. I felt physically exhausted.
– Scott finally getting into the tub with me. It was the only time throughout my whole labor I felt somewhat comfortable. He sat behind me, with my back up against him, and he held me through each contraction.
– No breaks in between contractions. When one stopped, the other started. How is this much pain possible?
– Screaming. I remember screaming like I have never screamed before. My envision of a quiet, peaceful, picture perfect birth was far from the reality of what was going on.
– Wondering where Katie was. I felt like I needed to push.
– Asking about Lee Anne and wondering where she was. Would she be able to capture Layla’s birth on video?
– Looking Christie in the eyes, and her telling me, “It’s okay to have your baby. Your baby will be safe. You can have your baby.”
I see Katie walk through the door. A HUGE wave of relief set over me. Now I can have my baby.
The feeling of pushing is something I will never, ever forget. Every single fiber in my body bearded down to push Layla out. It was so raw, so primal, so intense. Even if I wanted to stop pushing, there was no possible way I could. My body knew it was time to get her out.
I remember feeling her head near my vaginal opening and “the ring of fire.”
“Katie, GET HER OUT OF ME!!” “GET HER OUT!!” I screamed.
“Breathe Loriel. Deep breaths.” I heard Christie say.
Katie’s hands were near my vagina as Layla’s head was crowning. I was thinking, “Why isn’t she pulling her out of me? Why are her hands there if she’s not going to help me?”
“GET HER OUT!!!” I screamed and sobbed at the same time.
Another long push.
I want her out of me!!!
For a moment, the contractions that rolled through my body for the last 2 hours without no break, suddenly stopped.
With the absence of the contractions in that moment, I could really feel the pressure of her head near my vaginal opening. The pain was immense. I knew I had to push her out with the next contraction. I was done with the pain. I was ready to meet her.
In that split second, the final contraction rolled through my body with sheer power.
The feeling of a hard head turned into a soft, squishy body and just like that, I felt Layla slide out of me.
I’m not religious, but at that point I thanked God; to no longer be in pain and to have my baby in my arms.
I wept. Layla had her first cry.
I closed my eyes and lay still, unable to speak, move, or do anything.
Welcome to the world Layla Starr. My 7lbs, 9 oz squishy bundle of joy.
Layla’s Birth Video
As I mentioned in my birth story, my labor was quick and intense – far quicker than anyone had anticipated. Because of this, the actual birth wasn’t caught on camera but please enjoy the “after” birth and a peak into our life a few weeks later.
Sincere Thanks and Deep Gratitude
Thank you from the bottom of my heart to Lee Anne of Petal and Vine Photography for creating something I will cherish forever.
Thank you deeply to my incredible birth team for supporting me and making the birth I wanted come to fruition:
- My midwife Katie, of Wonderfully Made Midwifery
- My doula Christie, of Buddha Belly Birth Services
- My chiropractor Rachel, of Innate Chiropractic, who not only came to our home to adjust me but also helped Scott during those crazy couple hours of labor filling up pots and buckets of water from the stove. He couldn’t have done it without you.
And of course, thank you to my husband Scott for believing in me and sharing this crazy journey of a life together. I love you!
More Posts You’ll Like to Read:
- Why I am Having a Home Birth
- 13 Things Your Doctor Won’t Tell You (But Your Midwife Will)
- 6 Things I Wish I Knew Before I Was Pregnant with #1
- Why I Hired a Doula
- 7 Things Moms with New Babies Really Want
Read even more natural parenting posts here.