Waterbirth: Isabella, Olivia and Tom
When Tom and I found out we were pregnant, we really wanted to have a natural delivery, but our options were limited. We could not afford a midwife for a home birth. Our only hope was Medicaid, which paid for our prenatal care at our local hospital. We were very excited to find that there were midwives on staff. We felt that we would have the most calm, natural birth possible in such a setting. But, as the months flew by, we got more and more discouraged. We expressed our feelings about interventions, drugs and our hope of a waterbirth.
The responses we received were short and very discouraging, We felt our concerns were pushed aside. I was emotional enough with all the extrahormones running around, and the lack of interest in our wishes by the hospital turned me into a wreck! I really didn’t want to have our baby in a foreign setting, with people running around, machines humming and a schedule different from the baby’s. I wanted the baby to pop out when she was ready, even if I had to be in labor for three days.But Medicaid would only pay for a hospital birth. I guess they feel home birth is too dangerous.
But we felt the opposite. Hospitals are where you go if something is wrong. Is having a baby wrong? Unnatural? Dangerous? No, this is the most wonderful, natural experience! I wanted so badly to give birth in my husband’s arms, in our home, where she could stay and adjust to the outside world in peace. I wanted to prepare “our home” for birth, not a suitcase! I tried to keep my thoughts positive since we were so close to delivery and nothing seemed to be getting better.
We attended our first birth class (we must be lucky, or maybe it was fate!) and we met a “waterfall of wisdom”, Jenny West, a midwife. She was teaching our class, filling in just this one night. We were so impressed by her knowledge and her beliefs. She seemed to think the same way we did. We were so excited that we stayed after class to find out more about this wonderful woman. We found that she has her own home birth practice, and the best part; She does waterbirths! I couldn’t believe she existed: it was like a dream. I suddenly felt good about giving birth!
Tom and I talked it over for the next week. We decided that it was so important for us to give birth at home, with Jenny, that no matter what we had to do to pay for her, we would do it! We went from sitting in a waiting room with 20 other couples for 30-45 minutes to see one of four or five midwives for 15 minutes, to visiting with Jenny and her midwife in training, Melinda, for three hours and no waiting! We felt so good!
The due date was estimated for August 3rd and, so generally speaking, as a first-time mom, I might not give birth until the 15th. So, on July 28th when I started feeling strong lower back pain with my Braxton-Hicks contractions, I was sure that it was a teaser for the real thing. Tom had a three-day project that he had to do at night. So that night, when he went to work and the contractions continued, I kept telling myself to ignore it. It was early and Tom was working, so it just couldn’t happen yet. Sure enough, as soon as he came home the next morning, the contractions stopped. The same thing happened the next night.
I kept telling the baby to wait because Daddy was working and would finish the job soon. On the 30th I went to work and had more contractions, as strong as the previous night’s. So, I finally decided to start believing it would happen soon. When I got off work, Tom and I went out to dinner and listened to some Live Jazz. I was still contracting. I was up all that night. I would lie in bed with Tom some, then in the bathtub, then in our birthing tub (in the living room). Early in the morning, on the 1st of August, Tom slept on the couch as I hung out in the birthing tub. He still hadn’t caught up on his sleep from the last three nights of working.
He was still on a weird schedule, so I tried to let him sleep. He dozed on and off, asking every once in a while how the contractions were. “Every five minutes, lasting a little over a minute,” I would say. Then he dozed off again. Around 3:00 a.m., he woke up and asked how I was doing. “The same,” I said. So, he decided to clean up the house a bit, to get ready for the baby. He called Jenny with the information and then Tony, our good friend. He was going to lend us his camera so that we could have one camera with color and one with black-and-white film.
By the time Tony stopped by with the camera, I decided Tom needed to be in the birthing tub holding me. So, we invited Tony to stay and take photos. Tom called Jenny and Melinda, which I didn’t like because I knew that as soon as they arrived my contractions would stop, and they would tell me that this was just a false alarm. When they arrived, Melinda checked me and broke the news….”2 cm.” What? I knew it couldn’t be happening yet. I wasn’t in pain; it was a week before the due date; and ….Isn’t this suppose to hurt!) “2 cm. to go!”, Melinda exclaimed! Everyone cheered! Wow, I guess it really is happening. It seemed like in no time at all I began pushing and was able to feel the tiny little head! In 20 minutes the baby whooshed out! A perfect little girl, Isabella Luna Metcalf!
My labor was wonderful! The water took the pain away and conserved my energy. I was able to stay calm because I knew it was going to happen sooner rather than later. I knew if I stayed calm and took deep, long breaths during my contractions, it would make everything happen quickly and smoothly. I also kept thinking about the Baby and how traumatic it must be for her. Since I knew what was happening, and I’m here to make choices for her, I’m going to try and make this huge transition as smooth and calm as possible. It was very much a gentle birth. Our “Beautiful Moon” was born in our loving home, into the arms of her Mom and Dad! Just as we had dreamed! — Olivia