Even before I fell pregnant I knew that I wanted to have my baby at home. Hospitals have always been scary to me & I see them as a place you go to if you are sick. Because of the amazing way my mom always spoke about pregnancy & birth I always saw it as being in the prime of your health - so why go to a hospital? It was only when I had to convince my husband that home birth was the logical way to go that I started doing research & came to understand that although a hospital birth can be beautiful, often you are stripped of your power and birth becomes something that ‘happens’ to you instead of an active process that not only brings your baby into the world but also rebirths into motherhood. With an amazing midwife, a backup plan in place & the knowledge that my body was designed to do this was at peace about bringing our firstborn into the world in the comfort of our home.
I spent months preparing for our home birth. I made a playlist, I scrolled Pinterest for ideas of how to set up the space, visualized where I wanted to be when I met our baba for the first time & I ordered our birth pool. I asked my mom to be prepared to make a pot of apple cider in the kitchen while I labored because that was what I wanted to smell as I breathed our baby into the world - the same smell that hit us when we walked into our wedding reception for the first time as husband and wife, the same smell that while growing up I associate with warmth, family & love.
As our due date neared we hung fairy lights and brought a double bed into our living room. We arranged our living room furniture so that our family could sit around the bed when they met the newest member for the first time. And then the waiting started. We waited past the due date for what felt like an eternity - so much so that I had completely given up on keeping track of the consistent Braxton Hicks and had made peace with the fact that I would be pregnant forever.
But then it happened.. on a lazy Monday night, exactly a week past our due date, my contractions picked up and became regular enough that my husband noticed and gently asked me whether I don’t think I should start timing them. I reluctantly gave in and was pleasantly surprised when I realized that this was it! At around 12am, after binge-watching a whole series in bed together we gave my mom a call. At around 1am my mom, my dad and my sister arrived at our door bringing with them great excitement and the ingredients for not only apple cider but also apple pie! For the next hour, I sat on the pilates ball and chatted to my dad and sister while my mom and husband started filling the birth pool and tended to other small details. Fairy lights were switched on, apples were being chopped, music played in the background. All was calm, all was well and I was at home, not only physically but also in my body, in my heart, in my very being as each contraction brought me closer to meeting our firstborn.
Once the pool was warmed up I was super eager to hop in and enjoy the pain relief that comes with being weightless. At some point my mom phoned our midwife - I was not even a part of that conversation, having been given the space to switch off my thinking brain and simply be. Soon my husband was in the water with me and I rested in his arms between contractions. I know that my midwife arrived but I was completely unaware of what time. She came in quietly, greeted me softly, gently listened to the baby’s heartbeat and then disappeared again just as quietly. I would later learn that she napped on the couch, then on the bed, then a bit upstairs. Always near, always listening but never interfering. And so we labored, breath by breath, contraction by contraction, resting in between and I thought for sure that we would meet our baby before sunrise.
But sunrise came and went, and so did the morning light until finally, after 18 hours of labour, on a Tuesday at 4pm our son arrived into the world. I knew the moment that he left my body and scooped him up out of the water and into my arms - the first touch. Just me and him for those first few seconds. And then my husband's arms around me, our little family. And then my mom’s hand on my shoulder as we suddenly remembered to check whether our baby is a boy or a girl - a minor detail at that point as we sat in the relief of the labour being over. And slowly I became aware of the midwives as they brought a towel to keep us warm, always keeping their distance as we sat in our bubble. Returning only to help my mom cut the cord once it had stopped pulsating and guiding me through the birth of the placenta.
These precious people who held the space for us during labor gently guided us to the bed and tucked us in - a family of three. There was warm tea and lots of cuddles. And only when I said I was ready did we weigh Liam together, measure his little body from head to toe, admire each perfect feature and celebrate his health.
9 months of pregnancy, 18 hours of labour, a lifetime of love.