Allie previously shared her second birth story with Made for This Birth. You can find that story here!
Our Discernment to Homebirth
We found out our first little baby was on the way on October 27, 2019.
We booked an appointment with my ObGyn, a wonderful Catholic doctor. I enjoyed appointments with her at first. Seeing our baby's little body move for the first time and hearing that strong heartbeat was an unexplainable feeling! It brought tears of joy, immense excitement, and an overwhelming sense of awe that our Lord allowed us to co-create a child with Him.
I had heard of a friend who had a homebirth. I thought it was pretty neat but felt pretty risky. Through conversation she led me to read Made for This: The Catholic Mom's Guide to Birth by Mary Haseltine. Her book was very helpful in laying out all the options that mothers have when it comes to birth and touched on some of the evidence behind them. I was becoming so intrigued with all these options, yet each time I went to an OB appointment I only heard the narrative, “Today we’re going to do this.” I didn’t feel like I was offered any options. I had found the Happy Homebirth Podcast and began listening to that as well. Through that we learned about the documentary The Business of Being Born which was eye opening to some of the abuses within the medical system, even doctors openly admitting to creating emergencies with normal labors out of pure convenience. I didn’t believe my doctor would do such things on purpose and clearly not all OBs are like this, but I was beginning to realize some hospital protocols were not ideal or even in my favor but more for convenience, insurance, and liability.
We continued to read, read, and read. We interviewed with Mary Haseltine, who is local to our area, and she then became our doula. Through further discussion with her, we learned that the only out of hospital midwifery practice in town at the time was a center called Fika Midwifery located in the Coit House, the oldest house in Buffalo. In the midst of this, I brought up homebirth to my doctor who said, “My mentor always said home deliveries are for pizzas, not babies.” She said it was quite possible that I could have a birth and not need her at all but “there’s that small chance that you might really need me, and I can’t be there.” After that appointment, we decided to book a consultation with the midwives. We brought a list of questions which were all easily answered. The midwives had a completely different atmosphere with their model of care than the hospital. So we went home to discern some more and found that our PEACE was definitely with the midwives.
The change in care from an OB to a midwife was transformative. We went from “Today, we’re going to do this” to “Typically around this time in pregnancy, this is offered. Here is some information. Go home and talk to your husband and let us know what you’d like to do.” I was blown away! I felt like I was in control. We officially transferred our care at 26 weeks to the midwives. The remainder of my pregnancy went very well with just typical back pain. In my third trimester, I began seeing our chiropractor who specializes in pregnancy and I highly recommend that to all pregnant mamas! The adjustments helped my body so much.
I was a week “overdue” and began to have some pink show July 7, 8, and 9 as well as some cramping. I texted our doula, Mary. She just suggested going about the day and getting rest later on when I could. I was super active these days, going around to miscellaneous errands as well as my timely chiropractor appointment that I happened to book. I was nervous to make the drive to my chiropractor as the cramps were definitely intensifying. However, no baby born any of these days. I ended up sleeping pretty good these nights.
On Friday, July 10, I was having more cramping and bloody show. Mary checked in with us and I updated her - same thing, go about your day but also get rest. I continued to finish errands. I‘m a cosmetologist by trade but at this time, I only had clients that were friends and family as well as a group of retired priests in our area. So I was driving around town, nagging those who I knew were due for a haircut so everyone was set for my postpartum time. I was on the go the entire day. Throughout the day contractions began coming about every 10 minutes or so but were very manageable.
I had read about labor stopping or slowing down when an environment changes. This can be any kind of interruption that puts your body in “protection mode”. I experienced it when two friends stopped by later in the evening with our first meal of our meal train. I was having regular contractions every 10 minutes until I had visitors and all of the sudden, everything stopped! I didn’t have a problem with a visit but apparently my body did. No contractions for a solid half hour. The ladies left, the entry of our apartment clicked closed and boom, I had a contraction that made me double over. It was a wild experience.
We ate dinner and then I finally relaxed with Jon for a movie. By about 6-7 p.m., contractions began to intensify but were still manageable as we watched movies and relaxed. I had to get up and move through them.
By 10 p.m., Mary had checked in with us again and they were still 10 minutes apart and we had told her we were trying to sleep. However, sleep was not happening at this point. Through the night, I was mostly on hands and knees draped over our living room ottoman with a Gregorian Chant Rosary streaming repetitively on the TV. At about 4:30 a.m., I hit a point where I thought I couldn’t continue without someone else there (good 'ol nerves of a first time mama..) so we asked Mary to come. She arrived right before 5 a.m. I was pretty vocal at this point through contractions, spending a lot of time on the toilet or draped over our ottoman. At about 5:45, we called the midwife. She was hesitant to come as there was soon to be a shift change at 8 a.m. At about 6:30, I puked and then said, “ I either just peed or my water is dribbling out.”
At about 7:45, I was finally able to get into the pool. They made the shift change at 8:30 and the other midwife arrived. Around 9, I began some light pushing, possibly out of impatience and pressure building up. I was so tired and was trying to fall asleep in between contractions.
Between 10 & 10:30, they suggested getting out of the pool for a position change. I went from this beautiful labor dress that my husband had gifted me for Mother's Day to naked as a jaybird. I wasn’t thrilled with that but in the heat of the moment you truly don’t care and it is also so hard to communicate during active labor! I realized after the fact I was saying things in my head that I couldn’t actually verbalize.
At about 10:45, our Midwife offered to do an exam of my cervix to make sure it was completely out of the way. The only phrases I could get out were “I don’t care” or “I don’t know." When she checked my cervix, baby was right there! I pushed for a little on my back at an incline as laying down to fall asleep was all I wanted to do!
Mary suggested using the robozo with her to "play" tug of war and bring some more power into my pushing. We did that for some contractions on my back, kind of diagonal on my couch. We then moved to the birth stool and continued that tug of war. I finally got her head out and said “Okay, I’m done…” Everyone was like, “Wellllll…we have a little more to go but this will be better.” After a minute or so, another contraction came and the rest of her body slipped out half into my husband's hands and half into our midwife, Natalia’s. Raphaella was born at 11:25 a.m.
During her crowning, I had a lot of bleeding and clots so she suggested a possible Pitocin shot to move the placenta along because of timing. One minute later, I birthed the placenta with no Pitocin. :)
After a check, our midwife, Natalia, found a second degree tear. As she was stitching, she noticed how deep it went. She called the head midwife, Maura, to consult a possible hospital visit for more in depth stitching because it was seeming like it was possibly a third degree tear. Tearing had been one of my biggest fears going into birth and quite honestly, while I felt the “ring of fire” during crowning I felt no distinct tearing. We discussed possibly transferring for more in depth stitches but most tears actually heal better without stitches when possible. So she stitched what she was able and gave firm instructions to rest and keep legs closed. I was very happy with this. Between the exam, stitching, and phone consultation it was almost an hour and a half which was pretty difficult but in my opinion, it was far better than a transfer. Thankfully Mary and the nurse and midwife assistant, Ida, braced my legs with their bodies this entire time. Now three years and another baby later I healed wonderfully with only that partial stitching.
After stitching, I was able to adjust to a more comfortable position and relax for the newborn exam done right on our bed! Everyone left about 45 minutes later. We were oh so tired from being up all night so we ordered a steak and snuggled up, our little family of three right in our bed.
I am so grateful that we decided to research and interview our midwives for a homebirth. It was hands down, one of the best decisions we’ve ever made. Our birth was solemn, peaceful, and joyful! There is so much fear surrounding homebirth in general but even more so pushed on first time moms. I’m so thankful we pushed past all that fear mongering, researched ourselves, built our homebirth “tool-box”, and then had the most beautiful birth at home. A special thank you to Mary, Maura, Natalia, and our nurse, Ida, for the most beautiful birth that was met with such graceful, knowledgeable assistance from each of them.
Allie Klein is wife to Jon and mother to four children, two on earth, one in eternity, and one currently in utero. Ever since she was exposed to the idea of having a homebirth her passion for birth ignited. She spends much of her time listening to podcasts and reading books to soak up as much as possible about all things birth. She also works as a Monat hair product consultant and seller. You can connect with her on Instagram here.