The pool took up a third of our living room. Six feet in diameter with sides that were thigh-high. Wedged between the couch and our entryway wall, it was the constant reminder each day that we were close. It blocked the front door (which we hardly used anyway) and our shoe mat (a bit more inconvenient).
Instead of a hospital bag, I had to make sure there was a stack of fresh towels available. And a hose. We had to get a drinking house to attach to our kitchen sink, to fill the pool when the time came.
From the beginning, deciding a home birth had been different and unexpected. I had already had my 20-week ultrasound with the midwife/OBGYN practice when we switched to a private midwife for a home birth. The questions were many, first from us to the midwife, and then from others as we shared the news of our unconventional choice. We wanted less intervention, more support, and more comfort. It was altogether the right path for us.
Every pregnancy is different, just as every child is. But the urge to compare my pregnancies was high, especially near the end. My other two children were born in a hospital, the first under doctor care and the second under a midwife in an OBGYN/midwife practice. Neither were horrible experiences, but there were a few things that I wished had gone differently.
The problem with comparison is not so much noticing the similarities and differences. That is human nature. It is the expectation that comes from the comparison. As I reached 39 weeks and 40 weeks, I was beginning to feel desperate as I waddled around uncomfortably. When would this baby come? How fast would labor be? The day after his due date, our waiting ended.
It was a sunny Sunday. I had easy contractions all day. We went about our usual routines, though stayed at the house, just in case. While preparing dinner, the contractions increased and became more painful. I could still walk around and do things. I wasn’t completely convinced this was labor. (I experienced false contractions for weeks already.) We did have the grandparents come get the kids after dinner, just in case. That was at 7pm. I hopped in the shower to try to relax, and my contractions increased intensity again. My husband (wise man that he is) contacted the midwife to have her come over.
While we were waiting for the midwife, hubby filled up the pool. I leaned on him during my contractions, the pain quickening fast. My hubby had flashes of images of delivering the baby by himself, at the rate I was going. At 8pm, the midwife and her team of three assistants arrived. At 8:58, our baby boy was born!
Comparing a home birth to a hospital birth is like comparing a sailboat to a moving truck. They will both get you from point A to point B, but everything is different. The terrain, the ride, the scenery, the crew, the driver.
In the end, I was only in the pool for ten minutes, for the worst of my contractions. We noticed meconium when my water broke, so it was safer to get out of the pool. The baby was born on the couch. Baby boy had been wrapped up in his umbilical cord, but was quickly untangled and placed on my chest. He had good strong cries and was perfectly healthy. I was a little in shock that I had just delivered my baby on a couch in my house! He was beautiful! 8lbs 14oz! I couldn’t stop staring at him.
After an herbal bath, I sat wrapped in blankets on the couch, eating an omelet. My midwife sat by my feet, talking and laughing with me. Baby was asleep in my hubby’s arms. After making sure everyone was well and comfortable, the midwife and her team said goodnight. The house was clean; the pool was gone. They’d check on us the next day.
And then it was quiet. And we were home. Our baby, my husband and I. Exhausted and joy-filled and utterly content.