A homebirth for our sweet Ruby Lou
Life was a little different during the holidays in 2016. We were a family of three, getting ready for Christmas, and excitedly anticipating the arrival of a baby boy or girl, due on Christmas Eve. We were also eager and anxious about our first homebirth experience.
About five years ago, we attempted a homebirth with our first daughter, but after 30+ hours of labor and leaking meconium, our midwife made the smart decision to transfer us to the hospital only to find out that she was breech. While it wasn’t our “plan,” it was out of our control at that point, and we did what was in the best interest of our unborn daughter. Right afterwards, I couldn’t help but feel a slight letdown, like I had failed. That feeling, however, was pretty short lived once the doctor handed me our sweet baby girl. She was perfect and healthy, and everything we could have asked for. I smile looking back at her birth, and I like to think of it as the perfect introduction to parenthood; in that, sometimes, you can’t control everything, and that’s OK.
During my second pregnancy, I was planning on a hospital birth in the event that something unforeseeable would happen again. But I had a change of heart at 37 weeks. After attending Rachel Yellen’s birthing class, I left the most empowered I had ever felt, and I knew I wanted to give birth at home. Considering I was at 37 weeks, my husband looked at me and thought I was nuts. He said, “You could seriously go into labor tomorrow.” But I listened to my gut and was determined to find a midwife that would be willing to do a VBAC at home on such short notice and, SO close to the holidays! I emailed about 15 midwives and Marea Goodman was the first midwife to respond. I was ecstatic with her response and felt an immediate connection in just our few email exchanges. We scheduled an interview with her and Morgan West and were sold after the first meeting.
To say it was love at first sight sounds cheesy. To say it was meant to be sounds cliché. But to say it was the best decision I’ve ever made is an understatement. Once we began our initial meetings, I instantly felt a huge weight lifted. I could talk openly about how I was feeling, discuss MY hopes and dreams for giving birth and connect on a more natural and holistic level that was consistent with my personal beliefs. Both Marea and Morgan were so incredibly warm, compassionate, smart, and personable.
By Christmas Eve, I was ready…but baby wasn’t. Marea and Morgan were there to assure me everything was fine, and encouraged me to get a prenatal massage and try acupuncture to get things moving. By the evening of December 27 I was feeling more consistent contractions on the massage table and they continued throughout the night. By 11:30 p.m., we knew it was GO time so we called our wonderful doula, Lauren Miller to come assist. She helped fill up our birthing tub, held my hands in between contractions, rubbed my back and coached me along. By 2:30 a.m., I was progressing fast and Marea and Morgan showed up. I had my eyes closed the entire time, but I knew by Marea’s touch, she was there. She put her hands on my belly and used the Doppler to listen to baby’s heartbeat. Once I heard the heartbeat, healthy and strong, I started to cry and my entire body started shaking. My emotions were high and Marea was right by my side, comforting me and welcoming my vulnerability. Next thing I knew, I was in the shower and my water broke. Marea told me that my contractions would start picking up, and I just thought to myself, HOW could my contractions get any stronger?? But they did…
I stayed focused and transferred to our bed, laying in fetal position. As the pain intensified and seemed unbearable, I was the most present I’ve ever been. Before each contraction, I would squeeze my husband’s hand tight and concentrate on each breath, breathing in through my nose and pushing out through my mouth. I didn’t know how much longer I could last, but soon after, I started making what my husband later described as deep, guttural howling sounds and subconsciously, I started pushing baby out. Marea was down in between my legs and grabbed my hand to put on the baby’s head as I was crowning. There was so much excitement in the air and I knew I was close. Marea, Morgan, Lauren, and my husband kept encouraging me along the way and Marea used a warm compress against my perineum to help with the pressure and tearing. After baby’s head bobbled a few times, it emerged, and then I pushed one more time and the entire body released. It was the biggest relief I had ever felt. My husband was there to catch baby, and said, “It’s another girl!” Marea immediately handed her to me so we could be skin to skin. With tears in my eyes, and in a TOTAL state of shock, my husband and I snuggled her gently and she instantly breast fed. We got to enjoy this moment for at least 10 minutes before Marea coached me to pull out my placenta. Afterwards, Marea and Morgan checked the baby’s vitals, weighed and measured her and then made sure I was OK.
Throughout my entire labor, never did Marea “check” me or tell me how far along I was. She gave me the space to be present and allowed me to birth my own baby safely and peacefully. The entire experience was flawless, and I am so beyond grateful to have had such a powerful and special homebirth. I owe everything to her, and the entire team who was there to support me, including my dear husband. Baby Ruby just turned one, and she has been the best addition to our family!