In the end I decided to go with a midwife. Because I was homeschooling, the midwife seemed a lot more understanding about me bringing 4 kids to my appointments than my doctor would be. (Turns out Paul and I were meant for each other in turns of our decision making process.) It ended up being a really nice decision as I got to know Nooshin better and I became more and more confident. And THEN she started coming to my house for my pre-natal appointments. It was then that it became love. Seriously.
Home birth seemed like a very appealing option since I had had fast labor's. Having a baby on the kitchen floor is ok if it is PLANNED, NOT if it happens by accident. I started reading a few books about home births and midwifery and I became a slow, albeit reluctant convert. I had done research about the safety - looking at medical journals and studies, and asking (and re-asking the same questions) to my midwife. Paul and I talked at length about it - his position being surprisingly liberal given his training, and he was extremely supportive. He felt good about doing it at home and if that was what I wanted - he was completely behind me. I struggled with it for months; definitely a home birth one day, and then most definitely a hospital birth a few hours later. I would be leaning heavily toward a home birth, and then one of my siblings would phone and send me into my own personal fear factor for days. I was convinced that if I did not die during labor, I was condemning my new baby to having cerebral palsy and a lifetime of surgery because of a crazy whim to have this baby here. What was I thinking? To be honest, I always thought home births were a little nuts - and now I was seriously considering one??!! Who the heck was this soon to be mother of 5(!!) homeschooling granola that I was turning into???? Paul steadied me and waylaid my fears.
I had a birthing pool that we kept inflating every couple days waiting for this unknown person to appear. I had been 3 weeks early with Charlotte, 2 weeks early with Ezra - so surely babe #5 would be early too, right?!? No, no. She was in it for the long haul and though was due March 8th, finally debuted 5 days overdue on March 13 at 5:30 pm. She must have her mother's sense of time. It was last Sunday and I hadn't gone to church because seriously, who goes to church when they are 40 weeks pregnant... When Paul got home I told him of my plans to drink this "cocktail*" that my midwife had given me, promising me that I would go into labor if I took it. I was sick to death of being pregnant, hurting with every step and movement (I had SPD - Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction) and since I had been early with the other 2, was fully prepared weeks earlier. I felt like I was at a train station waiting for a train to come but not having any clue as to when it could arrive. Maddening. And it did not help that my neighbour, best friend and sister-in-law Laura, who was due 3 days after me, had already had her baby 3 days earlier. Seriously?!?! I was even prepared to go into LABOUR to be done with being pregnant. You know you are serious when...
So I took the cocktail and sure enough 2 hours later the contractions started. After only 3 contractions I called my friend Pam to see if she could watch the kids (the only thing I had decided on definitively was that they were NOT invited) and then called my midwife. I wasn't 100% sure that I was really in labor because they were not regular and felt exactly like the Braxton hicks I had been experiencing for the previous 6 weeks. But I had to assume it was going to happen because I was so overdue and my MW promised me! So, being optimistic - we got ready. Paul re-filled the pool with air and we waited. It was so relaxed. Nooshin came over and she set up her 6 bags of luggage of medical supplies; oxygen tanks, suction, intubation tubes, etc. Paul later said that if he knew what they were bringing with them , he would have been even more on-board than he was before. I kept having contractions and then I would get up and tidy something. It was nice to be able to be distracted - Yeah for being ADD!! After some more I went to the fridge and offered to get everyone drinks. It felt like we were just hanging out. I kept asking her if she really thought I was in labour, because it sure didn't feel like I was. After an hour, the contractions still weren't regular, weren't that uncomfortable, and I was having too much fun to think it could possibly be real.
The next 45 min. they got more regular, but still not that painful. I finally accepted that I was in labor and stopped asking Nooshin what she thought was such a ridiculous question. But it was nice. I was on my hands and knees, sometimes hugging my ottoman during a contraction. When they went away - it was completely gone and I felt like I had only imagined the previous pain. Paul filled up the pool with water and I was looking forward to getting in. It was huge and deep and looked very, very inviting. My only regret was not filling it up and giving it a test run in the weeks before. Seriously - getting into that thing was AWESOME!
The last 1/2 hr got intense. My back-up midwife Ros was called. I got out of the pool to use the washroom and the next contraction on dry land was NOT COOL. Although it still hurt a lot, it turned out the warm water was a huge, huge relief. The midwives were telling to listen to my body as to when it was time to push. The only thing I could think was, I don't know what my body is telling me! I have had 4 babies at a hospital where I have not been allowed to push until someone has told me to do so. It was so weird to be in the drivers seat. But then with the next contraction, my body didn't tell me, it YELLED at me Glee Coach Sue Sylvester style to get this bowling ball out and NOW. So, I listened. And bowling ball she was. She was born in the water, in her water - Ponyo style. Now since I was otherwise distracted, I cannot confirm what my midwives said - that she was born in the sac which meant she would be very lucky. But kindof cool anyway.
They quickly pulled her up out of the water and put her on my chest and I spent a couple minutes looking at her and talking to my new, sweet baby. I finally realized that we still did not know if it was a boy or girl. I had hoped it would be a girl, but Paul had convinced me it would be a boy, so I was surprised, thrilled and delighted when I lifted her off of me to see. While still in the birthing pool, Paul set up the lap top and my mom was the first "visitor" via iChat. Paul picked up the kids and they were so excited to meet their new sister. When it was time to go to bed, Charlotte would only agree to it once she determined that the baby would still look the same in the morning.
I have never blogged about a birth before, and the main reason why I did this time was because it was just such an awesome experience. She was my biggest baby, 9lbs 8 oz, 22.5 " long, born in the sac, but far and away my best labor and delivery. I had a "graze" of a tear that didn't require any stitches. She was my third natural birth and including the ones where I have had an epidural - this one was unquestionably my best experience. I know it makes me certifiable to say this, but I genuinely loved it. She wasn't a 1/2 hour old before I knew I would do it all again.
Just in case you ever need to know:
1/4 c castor oil
1/4 c almond butter
4 cups water
2 c apricot juice (I only had orange juice)
10 drops verbena oil
Drink 1/2 batch within 30 min, and can drink the remaining 1/2 5 hrs later. Will work if cervix is "ripe" and past 40 weeks.