a precipitous home birth
Where did you give birth? At home
Was your birth medicated or unmedicated? Unmedicated, The Bradley Method
Is this your 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, etc child? 1st
Who attended your birth? We planned for a doula and midwife to attend our birth but they actually did not.
Overall, are you happy with your birth experience? Now that I’m over the shock, I am happy with my birth experience. It’s an amazing story.
Was the birth of your child professionally photographed? No, we did not have birth photos (not that a photographer would have made it in time!), but we did have newborn photos taken at 5 days old by Jessica Hamlin. You can see the blog post here.
We had prepared for the birth of our son by taking the Bradley Method classes and hoped for a natural childbirth at a local birth center. I had not had any internal exams, so I don’t know where I was going into this. At my last two midwife appointments, the baby was very low and his head was engaged. I had been having occasional contractions for the past few weeks but nothing consistent or painful.
39 weeks, 5 days
Saturday, January 2nd, 2010
We finally decided (or agreed) that “Teagan Eddie” would be our son’s name. “Eddie” is in honor of my husband’s late father.
My water broke . . . I think. I called my doula and told her I wasn’t 100% sure. She told me if it had broken I would continue to feel trickles. My husband and I were just about to go for a walk so we continued with our plan, but a few steps up the stairs next to our condo I realized I was definitely leaking so it must be true. We put the walk plans on hold and went back home to make sure we had everything ready. I called my doula and told her it was real. She suggested I go to bed and try to sleep. She said I would either wake up in active labor or wake up the next morning not in labor and at that point we could talk about ways to get it moving. After we finished putting the last minute items in our bags, my husband made me a late-evening snack to prepare for the long night ahead.
9:00 p.m.-12:00 a.m.
Instead of immediately going to bed I decided I needed to wrap up a few more work emails, which turned into about 3 hours of work. My husband checked on me every 15 minutes and encouraged me to go to bed, but I was determined to wrap up a few loose ends. During that time I was having contractions but they were not painful, so I wasn’t paying attention to how consistent they were.
12:00-1:00 a.m., Sunday, January 3, 2010
I started feeling the contractions around midnight. I sent my last work email at 12:20 a.m. and moved to the bathroom to brush my teeth and wash my face, still thinking I could get a few hours of sleep. The contractions continued to get more painful until I had to stop what I was doing and pay attention to them. As it got closer to 1:00 a.m., they were bad enough that it was hard for me to move around.
It was around 1:00 a.m. that I told my husband how bad the contractions were and moved from the bathroom to the bed. At 1:10 a.m. he timed two contractions at 2 minutes apart and lasting 45 and 60 seconds long. (The only two contractions we timed.) Each contraction was very painful and I was wondering how anyone does this without pain medication. I had a hard time relaxing and controlling my breathing. Before much longer, I felt like I needed to be back on the toilet. While there I could tell things were progressing very fast but I wasn’t really cognizant enough to understand what it meant or what stage I was in. Unbeknownst to me, my husband was reviewing our Bradley book and trying to make sense of the timing and my current level of pain. He called our doula and the birth center to tell them we were on our way in.
Everything after that was pretty much a blur for me. It felt like I was at the end of a dark tunnel. I remember my husband saying something about getting me dressed to go to the birth center. I told him I thought the baby was on his way and he needed to get out some towels on the bathroom floor. While still on the toilet my body began pushing. I don’t remember feeling an urge to push, but my body was actually pushing without me telling it to. That’s when I had a lucid moment and thought I better get on the bathroom floor. I remember hearing my husband call 911 and run around turning on lights and opening the front door.
The first two fire department paramedics arrived a few minutes later. They were followed by three more. We found ourselves in tight quarters in our small bathroom; lying on the floor, I was surrounded by several paramedics (one in the bathtub), as my husband attentively stood at the threshold to the bathroom. The paramedics gave me oxygen, said the baby was crowning, and told me that I needed to push on the next contraction. It hurt like hell and I didn’t think I could do it but I also knew I had to. I think I had 5 or 6 pushing contractions and the baby was out. The paramedics called the time of birth at 1:57 a.m. (Later we found out they got the call at 1:47 a.m.)
Teagan’s first Apgar score was an 8. They cut the cord, wrapped up baby and me, put us on a stretcher and hauled us out to an ambulance. They were concerned about keeping baby warm enough so they put him on my chest. They also gave me an IV and baby some oxygen before we took off for the birth center. The second Apgar score was also an 8, but they said he was a 10 after he warmed up more. (They also told me that when he turns 6 years old they will give him a ride in their fire truck.) After we arrived at the birth center, the on-duty OB came in and helped me deliver the placenta because I had stopped contracting. I also needed just a couple stitches. My husband, my mid-wife and doula all arrived soon after. I got to put Teagan on my chest and start breastfeeding right way. They checked his weight and bathed him a couple hours later. He weighed in at 6 lbs 13.5 ounces and measured 18.5 inches long. We were able to get a couple hours of sleep before we called our families.
It was surreal to have things happen so fast. I am told this is called “precipitous birth.” I definitely felt like I was in shock for a few days and almost like I had experienced a traumatic event. Although we laugh now thinking about the time we put into our written birth plan (Plans A, B, and C) and mentally preparing ourselves for a long labor, we’re glad we took natural childbirth classes and felt prepared for anything that might happen. We just had not planned on a rocket delivery that resulted in a natural childbirth on the condo bathroom floor with the assistance of fire department paramedics. We are adjusting to our new life now and are so thankful everyone is healthy. For the rest of his life, Teagan will have a story to tell as to how he entered this world.