Let me first say that I have nothing against hospitals, or having babies in the hospital. However, what I do have a problem with is how alot of hospitals treat women who are in labor, especially women who choose to labor naturally, with no drugs, and no intervention (unless necessary, of course). I feel that if a woman has a low risk pregnancy, and there are no signs that anything is going wrong during delivery, she should be able to labor the way she wants to, without having to fight for it.
With Kendall's birth, I had a hospital birth, but used the midwife that was on staff. Overall, everything was fine, but they did end up using a vacuum to get her out. At the time, I thought that was a necessary intervention, but now I'm not so sure. I just can't help but wonder if I had her in a birthing center or at home if everything would have been fine. Yes, I had a midwife, but she was a hospital employee, and I'm sure she had to follow hospital protocol. Of course, I'll never know for sure, but I do wonder.
Cami's birth was something entirely different. I didn't have a midwife, but my doctor was supposedly "natural friendly" (although she did a couple of things during the late stages of my pregnancy that weren't so natural), and when I showed her my birth plan, she was fine with everything on it. She did suggest that I take it to the hospital before the birth, to give the nurses a head's up on everything I expected. I went in for a non-stress test and took the birth plan, and the nurses there said they were fine with everything. However, when I went to the hospital during very hard labor, the nurse I had wasn't fine with my birth plan, and we literally had to fight with her to not hook me up to the IV, not have me strapped to the monitor, etc. The last thing you want to do during hard labor is fight for something you thought would be fine. For what it's worth, this particular nurse had a bad reputation, so if I had a different nurse, my whole experience would have been different. But I had her, so I really look back at Cami's birth with not so pleasant thoughts.
As far as home birth goes, I never wanted to do one. I didn't think there was anything wrong with them - I just didn't feel that home birth was for me. It wasn't until I was complaining to Megan about Cami's birth that I even considered doing a home birth. And that was because Megan (who loves her epidurals!) suggested I do one. She said that if she didn't want the epidural, she wouldn't go to the hospital. That really got me thinking - Why do I go to the hospital?
I still wasn't necessarily leaning towards home birth. I was thinking more of going to a birthing center.
When I found out I was pregnant in California, I started looking up midwives in Florida, and if there were any birthing centers near where we would be moving. I found a midwife, but couldn't really figure out if there was a birthing center.
Once we moved here, we talked with the midwife and found out that she was opening a birthing center, hopefully in January of 2012. That would mean that we could birth there if we wanted to, but I was unsure if the birthing center would be up and running by then. So we just decided to go ahead and plan for the home birth.
So that's the background. Now let's get to the actual birth story...
A couple weeks before my due date, Grant had to go out of town for work, two weeks in a row. The first week he was gone, my mom came and stayed here for a couple of days. The second week he was gone, the girls and I went to Pensacola to stay with my parents. That was just to make it easier on me, since I was so close to my due date (February 4). That second week, while I was in Pensacola, I went to Wal-Mart. As you know, Wal-Mart is huge, and I felt every step that I took in that store. After that, I started feeling all sorts of "stuff" that kind of freaked me out. I did not want to have this baby while Grant was on the other side of the country. Obviously, it turned out to be nothing, and once he was home, I felt more at ease. I still felt "stuff" and even started having contractions every now and then, but nothing ever progressed. This was so different than how it was with either of the girls. With them, I didn't feel anything until the day I went into labor - and that was past my due date, so I knew that it was the real thing. All of this stuff that was happening now was before my due date, and I never knew what it all meant.
All day long on Friday, February 3, I sewed. I could.not.stop.sewing! Grant's mom was here watching the girls, so I just holed up in my sewing room and sewed, sewed, sewed! My plan was to make Valentine's Day pillows for our couch, and I was only going to finish what I had started earlier in the week, but I just kept going, making 4 pillows altogether. I wanted to finish so I could clean up the room, because that was the room we were going to set up the birthing tub in. Oh, how I wished I would've just stopped at 2 pillows, or even 3! But it was that fourth pillow that did me in. When I finally finished with it, I was too exhausted to clean up the room.
We had dinner, and after dinner, Grant randomly got the camera out to take pictures of my ginormous baby! That ended up being so providential, though. We've hardly taken any pictures of my belly throughout this pregnancy (sorry, Tucker), so it was cool that he thought to do this, without knowing that I would be going into labor in just a few hours!
After we put the girls to bed, Grant and I watched a movie. I noticed around 8:15 or 8:30 that I was having contractions, but since I had been having some here and there, I didn't really think too much of them. Also, they weren't really defined - I couldn't tell when they started and stopped. But they kept going. So after about 45 minutes, I told Grant, "By the way, I've been having contractions for the past 45 minutes." Then I fell asleep on the couch, while Grant kept watching the movie. Woke up about 30-45 minutes later, and noticed that I was still having those weird, running-all-together contractions. I decided that if the baby was coming, I should probably go to bed to get some real sleep. So we both got to bed around 10:30. I noticed that once I laid down, they were becoming more defined. I stayed awake for two of them, and told Grant when they started and stopped. But none of these contractions had been painful, so I still didn't know if this was a false alarm.
Went to sleep, and then woke up around 1:45 am with a painful contraction. I got up to go to the bathroom, and noticed that there was a little blood. This was it! I decided to let Grant get some sleep, and I'd go clean up that stupid sewing room, so we could get the tub set up. Dumb, dumb, Valentine's pillows!
Well, the contractions were painful enough, and coming very close together that I couldn't really focus on cleaning up the room. And I didn't wait long to wake Grant up. I woke him up at 2:00. When I started telling him how often the contractions were coming, he just kept saying, "What?! Another one already?!" So we also didn't wait long to call the midwife. She lives about an hour away, so we figured the sooner, the better. We called her around 2:30.
Grant diligently cleaned up the sewing room, and started setting up the tub. It had to be inflated, and then filled with water. Right as he was about to hook the hose up to a sink, the midwife and her team of 3 other people arrived. This was about 3:45 or so, and my contractions were hurting. The team quickly started filling the tub with water.
At one point Grant asked if I wanted to go walk outside, which I did. So we walked for a couple minutes, and I apologized for leaving that room for him to clean up. He just kept telling me to forget about it, because it was done now and the tub was set up.
It wasn't too long before I started getting antsy to get in the tub. Even though I had never wanted to do a home birth, one thing I was always curious about was laboring in water - even with Kendall's birth - but was never able to do it. I really just wanted to know if it made a difference in my comfort level. The tub wasn't filled up yet, but I asked Cindi if I could get in. She said yes, and they would just continue to fill the tub once I was in it.
I did feel relief when I got in the water. Not total relief, but more of an overall comfort. The contractions still hurt, but in between contractions, I was much more comfortable. It was in the tub that I started to feel the urge to push. I pushed a couple of times, then told Grant that maybe he should go get the girls up. Kendall had been insistent on seeing the baby come out. Given how early in the morning it was, I was hesitant to wake her up, but I knew that she would have been disappointed if she missed it. I didn't know how she was going to react to seeing me in pain, but I wanted to give her the chance to be there. So he got the girls up. This was around 4:45 or 5:00.
When the girls came into the room, I was so happy to see them! And they were so excited, too. They had huge smiles on their faces, and were just so happy. Cindi suggested a few weeks ago that if the girls were going to be there during the birth, I should probably prep them by letting them watch some home birth videos. I did that, and their response was mixed - sometimes they seemed scared, other times they were interested, other times they were happy...so I didn't really know how it would go. They were great the whole time, though! Excited and happy and ready to meet their baby brother. They never once got scared - I was so proud of them! They may have also been excited to be able to color on the lining of the tub.
I stayed in the tub for a while longer, pushing every now and then. I reached a point where I felt like I had been doing a lot of work, but couldn't really feel the baby moving down, so I got extremely negative. I started saying outloud that the baby wasn't coming, he was stuck, etc. I said these things alot. It was almost like a chant. Everyone was encouraging me that those things weren't true, but I just knew they were!
At one point during the pushing, Cindi told me she thought my water broke, because there was some blood in the water that came out during a push. That gave me hope, but again, I couldn't feel him moving down, so it was back to being Negative Nancy!
Because I got so negative, Cindi said that she would give me a few more pushes, but then I would probably need to get out. I didn't care if I actually gave birth in the tub or not, so I was fine with getting out. So we moved to the bed that was in that room. I pushed a few times. At one point, she pointed out that she could see the head while I was pushing. I didn't believe her, so I asked Grant if that was true (I'm telling you - Negative Nancy!). He felt pressured to tell me the right answer, but breathed a sigh of relief during the next push when he actually did see something, so he emphatically said, "Yes! I can see it!"
While I was pushing on the bed, Cindi told me that I wasn't pushing the right way - I was focusing more in my neck, instead of my bottom. So she wanted me to sit on the toilet, to get the feel of pushing in the right spot. So we moved to our bathroom. I only pushed a few times there before we moved to our bedroom.
Cindi told me to squat, and brought out a stool for me to prop one foot up on. She said that would encourage the baby to move down more during my pushing.
A couple of minutes later, my water actually broke. So it never broke in the water, like she originally thought. Once the water broke, I definitely could feel him moving down, and I knew it would be soon. Sure enough, during one of the pushes, I felt his head come out. We had talked before the birth about who would catch him, and it was decided that Grant would. So Grant had his hands ready, and once the head was out, he supported it. With the next push, the rest of him came out, Grant caught him, and then handed him up to me. It was the most amazing experience!
So of course, all of those negative feelings I had were just a sign that the baby was, in fact, very close - even though I couldn't feel it. All in all, my labor was just about 4 hours, which isn't long at all, so I really had no reason to be so negative. But try telling me that when I was in that state!
Grant had called my parents around 3:30 or so, and then again around 5. They arrived maybe a minute or two after the baby came, which was awesome. I was still sitting on the floor holding him.
When it came to naming him, we weren't quite sure what it would be. After he was born, Grant got out the list that we had made up. I quickly vetoed pretty much everything on the list. Then he got out a baby name book, and came across Tucker. It was like a light bulb went off in my head - Tucker! That was it! Grant wasn't so sure, though. He was pretty stuck on Schaeffer. So for the next couple of days, he was stuck on Schaeffer and I was stuck on Tucker. Finally, on Monday morning, Grant caved in and we settled on Tucker. Williams is Grant's dad's middle name, and somewhere down the line, it was the maiden name of someone in the family (that's why there's an "s" on the end). So there you have it - Tucker Williams Spear.
He's a very content baby - and only cries when he's getting his diaper changed. He sleeps and eats like a champ, and is just super cute. The girls are completely taken with him, and can't get enough of him.
As far as the whole home birth experience goes - if you've ever considered it, and you have a normal, low-risk pregnancy, I would definitely recommend it! It was so nice to be in the comfort of our own home, and not have to worry about random people coming in and out of the room, or not listening to beeping machines, or being disrupted while I'm trying to sleep...it was all worth it. And if we have a fourth baby, we'll do it again. Our midwife and the whole team was just fantastic - they were nurturing, encouraging, comforting...but most of all, they allowed us to have the birth we wanted to have. I can't say enough great things about them or the experience as a whole!