Did you know today is international homebirth day? Did you know that this day (not by choice) applies to my family now?
It has taken me a long time (22+ weeks to be exact) to be able to get to this point where I am sitting down to talk about our birth story with Meredith. I have birth trauma and PTSD from having her. If you’ve ever experienced birth trauma, then you know revisiting the details of your birth can bring up some complicated emotions.
But here we are. I think it is time to get some of these emotions out there and I’m hoping that there will be a level of healing that comes with it (but TRUST I am getting professional help to work through this in a healthy way as well).
So, here we go.
Because we got pregnant during a raging pandemic, Michael and I had considered having a homebirth or having Meredith in a birthing center. We wanted to make sure we were being safe, especially when it came to bringing this fresh, precious little girl into the world. Ultimately, we decided the hospital was the route we wanted to go.
Our hospital was not a Covid hospital, which I know doesn’t mean it wasn’t present there, but it did make me feel better to know that people who were sick with it weren’t being purposefully moved there. Plus, ya girl wanted the epidural. My epidural gave out on one side right before push time with Addison and so I knew I didn’t want to go all natural, because half-natural was rough enough.
Michael and I joked frequently though that Meredith would end up coming so quickly that she would take the decision away from us. Little did we know how true that joke would become.
New Year’s Eve, I woke up and felt totally fine. I lost my plug that morning, which could mean labor is hours away or days away, so I tried not to linger on that too much. But I had had a doctor’s appointment the day prior where my doctor told me she thought she’d be seeing me and baby in the next couple of days. I wasn’t that dilated but she felt confident enough that it was going to happen within the next week.
We went about our day like normal. I picked up a Sam’s order, I played with Addison, I cooked dinner, I worked…. The day felt like any other day.
That night as we were getting Addison ready for bed, my Braxton Hicks contractions ramped up a bit. They still weren’t painful, but they were more frequent than they had been. I figured maybe I had overdone it that day and my body was telling me to rest. So that evening, I sat my 38 weeks pregnant booty on the couch and binged the rest of Netflix’s Bridgerton.
As I was sitting on the couch watching my show, the Braxton Hicks were really coming. I never once felt like they were true labor, though I did decide to pay attention to how often they were coming and if there was a pattern that would indicate things were happening. There wasn’t and so I decided to go to bed. It was 11:30 at this point and I definitely told Michael that I thought we’d be meeting our girl before too long.
I fell asleep for about 30 minutes and woke up to the sound of fireworks (cause, ya know, New Year’s Eve) and contractions. At 12:07 I started timing them. At 12:14 I came out of our room to get Michael so that he could take over with timing because it was too much for me to keep track of mid-contractions.
Brittany was going to be our child care for Addison while we were in the hospital. Addison loves her ‘Aunt B’ and since her and Landry’s schedules are so similar, it didn’t take any explaining to have her come stay. It felt easy and I knew our girl was going to be taken care of and taken care of well.
At 12:50am, I texted Brittany and said, “So…. Wanna have a baby today?” Knowing damn well that we were in labor at that point, but we were just waiting for my contractions to time up enough for us to head to the hospital and not be turned away.
I then decided to just call Britt since I knew she was likely in bed, to let her know to start her drive. I don’t remember what time it was but it can’t have been too long after I texted her. She got in her car and started heading our way.
Shortly thereafter, I told Michael to call his parents because we needed to head to the hospital. I didn’t care what the contractions were doing, this baby was coming and we needed to GO. He did and they headed our way to hang out at the house with a sleeping Addison until Brittany was able to make it.
Right after we reached out to Addison’s local grandparents, I felt the need to go to the bathroom, I went in there, took care of business, changed my clothes to get ready to head to the hospital, came back out and my water broke.
Seconds after my water broke at 1:30AM, I felt the urge to push. I think I blacked out. This part is still somewhat of a blur (and like, maybe thank god? I don’t know). I went to the bathroom and sat back down on the toilet. I think Michael thought I was getting sick (which is not un-normal for me), but I let out this blood curdling scream, I’m talking the scream you see in the movies when women are in labor, and I began pushing. He came in wide-eyed and I said, “I can feel her head, she’s coming.”
He helped me into our bathtub so that I would have a little more room to give birth to our little girl. Somewhere along the way, he had the self-awareness to call the paramedics. I have no idea when. He chatted with dispatch as I squatted in our bathtub pushing Meredith out. She was out around 1:45AM. We still don’t know exactly what time she was born, and likely never will, since our attentions were elsewhere.
Michael tied off the umbilical cord with the cleanest shoe lace he could find in our closet- at the paramedic’s suggestion. He grabbed one of our bath towels and wrapped her up and I just sat there, completely numb. And then I went into shock. My whole body started shaking and I looked down at this little tiny baby I pushed out into the world and was frozen.
The paramedics showed up after we had pushed her and the placenta out. They checked on baby. They checked on me, they told us it was our choice but that they’d recommend we go to the hospital.
(Thank god for our Hatch sound machine- Addison slept through this WHOLE ordeal).
During the madness, at 1:31AM I got a text from Brittany saying “I love you. You’ve got this.” And then she told me she would be at our house around 4:30 at 1:46AM.
My next text to her came through at 2:29AM after we had been checked out by the paramedics and were cleared to go to the hospital. It said “I had her at 1:40.”
From the start of labor, just after midnight to 2.5 hours later, with baby on board being cleared to go to the hospital. It. Was. A. WHIRLWIND.
My in-laws showed up after we already had her. They walked in to the paramedics packing up, and Michael and I searching for the warmest outfit possible to transport our baby girl to the hospital in. They couldn’t believe that in their 20-minute drive to our house, we had had the baby.
We strapped Meredith in her car seat (from the womb to car seat- WHAT?!) and we headed to the hospital. Once we were there, they took us back to the ER to get us both looked at again. They took Meredith from us and immediately started checking on her. They called “code stork” over the intercom and out of nowhere, doctors and nurses rushed into her room from places I’ll never know. They wheeled me away from her to a totally separate room and I. LOST. IT.
The reality of what had happened had finally started to sink in. The fact that that many doctors and nurses were working on her and I couldn’t see her to know what was happening was a fear I cannot describe and never hope to feel again. The nurses kept asking me questions that felt pointless. All I wanted to know was how my daughter was and why there were so many people working on her- to hell with how I was doing.
Meredith’s body temperature was very low considering we had a homebirth we hadn’t planned on. There was no tub full of warm water to welcome her. There was no doula or doctor or nurse to immediately bring her to a warming table and romantically place her on my chest. There was just an empty tub, me and Michael, and we were all in shock with no idea of what we were doing.
They called code stork because her body temp was dangerously low. They warmed her up and brought her to me. I’ve never been so relieved in my life. We were moved to a labor room and finally had a private moment, the three of us, to pause and say “what the fuck just happened?” to each other. I breastfed. I snuggled. I was still in shock but beginning to relive what had happened just an hour before.
We had some touch and go in the hospital, too. Because she came so quickly, the contractions hadn’t had the chance to squeeze the amniotic fluid out of her on her way out. She choked on the fluid as it began to come up a couple of times, and once turned completely blue and I thought we were going to lose her again. Thank god we were in the hospital at this point and there were medical professionals to clear her airway. Again, they wheeled her away from me and I had to sit and wait for what came next, hoping it was good.
From the very beginning of my pregnancy with Meredith, I thought I was going to lose her. It’s impossible to not have those thoughts coming off of a miscarriage. And then throughout my labor and even after, I still had those feelings. She is 100% my fighter, miracle, rainbow baby. I don’t know that another baby could have made it through everything she did. And that thought alone is enough to send me overboard some days.
Thinking back about that night still brings on so many raw, complicated emotions. I mean hell, I had to crack a beer just to write this. We are so incredibly lucky that everything went as well as it did. That she was as small as she was and I didn’t hemorrhage. That she came out without the cord wrapped around her throat and immediately started crying. When I think about what could have been, I start reeling.
There is still blood splatter on my bathroom wall. We have cheap paint from the builder still and I don’t feel like stripping the wall of paint, so there it sits. Some days I see it and think, “I am a fucking badass woman,” and some days it makes me want to run screaming from the bathroom and immediately move out of our house.
I love taking baths as a way to relax, but I can’t step foot into our tub to open our curtains without having a panic attack, let alone even think about spending an extended amount of time in there… the “crime scene.”
At 11:30PM I was having Braxton Hicks but not so bad that I wasn’t able to fall asleep. At 12:07AM I started timing contractions. At 1:30AM my water broke. At 1:45AM(ish) she was here.
I told Michael that I felt like I deserved a true “push present” with this one. With Addison, I didn’t care, all I wanted was a sandwich. With Meredith, I feel like I deserve much more than a sandwich and joke often that I deserve my Subaru Ascent (my dream “mom” car). I’m still waiting on that…
So, this day applies to my family now. But not by choice. And the fact that this is our reality has caused me real PTSD. Not all homebirths are planned. Not all homebirths are romantic and in a warm tub surrounded by people who know what they’re doing and can coach you through it.
Our journey to Meredith has been one I never anticipated and one that requires professional help to sort through. But I look at her, and think about what we all did to get her here, and I am in awe of my little family. True, traumatic, awe.