Last week, I had my baby at home.
Yes, at home. Yes, on purpose. Yes, I would do it again.
Let’s start at the beginning.
Last year I visited a local farm and met a woman that read my blog. It was so cool to be recognized and nice to know that my posts were actually being read. A month later I ran into that woman again at an event where a sheikh that is said to be a descendant of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) spoke at. Earlier that morning, I had found out I was pregnant. One month after that, I attended a Muslim women’s conference. There was a workshop about childbirth. I debated going since technically I had already been through it twice. What would I possibly learn? Being newly pregnant, I decided it would be nice to be reminded of the miracle I was in for.
I walked into the meeting room that the workshop was being held and was surprised and happy to run into that same woman. We exchanged quick hugs and hellos. Pregnant and always hungry, I decided to head back to the cafeteria to grab something to nibble on during the talk. When I got back they had already begun their discussion on the differences between an OB-GYN and a midwife. Guess who the midwife was? Shannon. The woman I had first met at the farm a few months back.
Back and forth they went, the doctor and the midwife. Each one bringing something totally different to the table. Doctor: “Hospitals are the safest place to have a baby. Everything is available immediately if medical intervention is needed.” Midwife: “A woman with a healthy pregnancy rarely needs medical intervention. Our bodies are created to do this.” They were such close friends but they were on completely different sides of the “Where to Birth” spectrum. Every woman in the room was currently seeing an OB-GYN. I on the other hand had been turned down by my previous doctor since she already had too many patients. Honestly, I was glad the
Pitocin Queen doctor couldn’t take me. I never enjoyed her care, or should I say, lack of care. I always felt like I was just another appointment that she needed to get through to get to the next.
I listened earnestly to every word Shannon said. The thought of having my baby at home danced around in my head, pulled at my heart, and just felt right in my gut. I approached her at the end of the workshop and expressed an interest in possibly doing this. I was the only one to go home with her card. I left the workshop, walking down the long hallway and immediately began crying. I couldn’t shake the feeling that it was meant for me to meet her a few months back because of this reason. Allah works in the most mysterious ways and this mystery of why I kept running into her finally hit me. She was destined to be an important part of my life.
I couldn’t stop thinking about it. All day, all night, during every drive, while doing the dishes, while reading to my girls… I just kept thinking about it. I prayed to Allah and asked that if this choice to have the baby at home is good for me, then bring it close and make it easy for me.
The strong pull towards a home birth never left me. I put my trust in Allah and made the call to Shannon to schedule my first appointment.
My first appointment, as well as all the rest of my prenatal appointments were held at home. My home. Where I felt most comfortable. Where I didn’t have to stress about finding someone to watch my girls. Where getting to my appointment on time and then having to wait 30 minutes to be seen anyways, wasn’t an issue. I heard my sweet baby’s first heart beat while laying down on my own couch in my own living room. Surrounded by my daughters and best friend and her daughters, we listened in on the new life that would soon be joining our family.
Every appointment was a visit with a dear friend. During some visits, Shannon would bring her children and our kids would play and share treats together. We would talk of iron deficiencies and free skirt patterns online. I was making muffins one visit while we spoke about the placenta. Home and birth, birth and home. They merged as if there were never a separation. The appointments were so natural and comfortable, why shouldn’t my birth feel the same way? I looked forward to meeting with her every month, then every two weeks, then every week. Same schedule if I were to see an ob-gyn, but so much more meaningful. I felt like I was part of the process instead of just being a task the doctor had to get through.
I read and read about it. I watched and watched videos about it. I met and met other women that had had home births. The more I learned, heard, and saw, the more I wondered why more womem weren’t having home births.
At home, I would be able to decide where I wanted to labor instead of being confined to a cold, sterile room. At home, I was in control of who would be with me when I delivered. People I knew, loved, and trusted. Not strangers that I would never see again. This was an experience that needed to be appreciated instead of forgotten. At home, where the comfort and safety I always feel would ease my tension.
While I was 100% on board with this, my husband was skeptical. “What if something happens?” “Why do you want to go back in time when everyone is moving forward and having their babies in hospitals?” “Are you crazy?” I reminded him that he was born at home and he turned out just fine. If anything were to happen, we would go to the hospital 7 minutes away. Am I crazy? Yeah, maybe.
I was very proud and excited about my decision but I decided that I wouldn’t announce it. No one in my family or from my friends had done something like this. I didn’t want to hear any criticisms or skepticism that may have lead me to second guess my choice. When asked which hospital I would be delivering at, I would cringe inside when I had to lie about it. It was very difficult to keep inside when all I wanted to do was shout it from the roof tops.
As time drew closer and closer and I began counting down days instead of weeks to my due date, I became quite anxious. During the day, I exuded confidence. I can do this. This is going to be awesome. Can I go into labor already, I want to get this started! Oh, how I love a good adventure. In the middle of the night I would wake up scared and nervous about what I would soon be going through. What am I doing? What if something does go wrong? Am I strong enough?
I shared my fears and concerns with Shannon. She sincerely listened and reassured me that I could do it and that I would do it well. I trusted her and my body’s ability to birth a baby naturally in the safety and comfort of my own home. It was the fear of the unknown that shook me deep down inside. A new experience that would change the way I feel about labor, delivery, and birth forever.
Maysoon’s birth kept playing in my head. Labor was painful as every labor is, but I was able to handle it majority of the time. It was towards the end prior to leaving the house and while en route to the hospital that I begged for them to call ahead and have an epidural ready for me. It was Jenin’s birth playing in my head at that point. The pain I was feeling then with Maysoon, was the same pain I felt while only dilated 1 cm and receiving pitocin with Jenin. I simply could not go six more hours in that pain. At the hospital, I was given the epidural and minutes later delivered Maysoon. What? How could the nurses allow that to happen? Why didn’t they trust that I would be able to do it on my own that far into my labor? Did the epidural kick in or did I just deliver her on my own?
Would this labor and delivery be as easy? Of course it’s simple to say “easy” after the fact, but honestly, it was a good experience. I tried not to go in with any expectations this time. I wanted to allow this experience to stand on its own.
I had my last prenatal visit on my due date, Friday, December 16. Our kids sipped on my shortcut chai and munched on air popped popcorn as we went over my supplies for the birth. You’d be shocked at how little it takes to deliver a baby. Majority of my birth kit were Chux pads to cover and protect the area I would deliver. Some other items I had prepared for the birth: a flat flannel sheet cut up into receiving blankets, trash bags, coconut water, dates, baby’s first outfit, and a placenta bowl. Ha! It has to go somewhere…
My girls helped Shannon find the baby’s heartbeat. We listened in on the whoosh, whoosh, whoosh of the little heart. Maysoon took on the role to measure my stomach. We were all involved in arrival of this baby. We were almost there. I was thankful to be free of any pressure to have the baby on a certain date like my previous pregnancies. The baby and my body would decide when all the action would begin.
The days passed with some minor contractions happening here and there. One night I thought for sure labor was starting. So I did what anyone would do… I took out a hammer and nails. I finally put up my wall display in the family room that I had been waiting to do for months. And then the wall display in the living room. One final burst of nesting before I would be knocked off my feet for a few weeks.
It wasn’t labor. Just nerves. I knew I had to take my mind off of it. I was so incredibly anxious to begin that I kept over analyzing everything I felt. I decided to take on some little projects to distract me. As the dough sat to rise for cinnamon rolls, I spray painted an old camera a cheery yellow. (I agree, I probably shouldn’t have been spray painting during pregnancy.) The camera dried and I downed a couple of cinnamon rolls. Still nothing.
I woke up very early the next morning, Monday. It was around 4:30 am. The same time I had woke up with Maysoon when her labor began. This is it!! My baby will be here by noon. I tried not to freak out. I attempted to go back to sleep but sleep was the last thing on my mind. I focused on what I was feeling to make sure it was in fact labor. Instead I actually ended up drifting back to sleep and didn’t awake until a few hours later.
I was disappointed when I realized it wasn’t labor. I longed to meet my baby. I didn’t find out the gender this time around (though I strongly suspected what it was) so the anticipation was starting to get to me. I went about my day as usual with the exception that I was taking it much easier, lounging on the couch and writing up posts to update the blog. I couldn’t stand up very long. There was immense pressure and I would have really bad cramping.
I stayed on the couch all day as the girls played around me. I eventually got up around 4 to make dinner. Chicken and vegetable chowder. Afterwards, J and I headed to the library to pick up some new books. She was nearing the end of her read-a-thon at school and I wanted to make sure she’d have enough new material to get her to her reading goal for the month. I made a quick stop at Micheal’s to pick up a frame for a new project that I wanted to work on. While in line, I thought I was going to pass out from the pain of the pressure. We needed to get to the library now.
I loaded up our library bag quickly and headed to the check out. It will happen when I least expect it. Let me tell you, I was not expecting it as I scanned each book at the self-checkout. Scanning all those books felt like an eternity as I stood there in our public library while contracting in the early stages of my labor.
Once I got home, I called my best friend and told her to expect a phone call from me in the middle of the night to come get the girls. She said she’d keep her phone close and one eye open. I hung up and got the girls in their pajamas. Then I picked up the phone and called my best friend again, “I think you need to come take them now.”