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A Home Birth Story

March 6, 2018
By April Leiffer Henry - Contributing Writer , OVParent

I was 41 weeks and 4 days when I awoke around 4:30 a.m. on Oct. 3, feeling contractions. I drifted in and out of sleep until about 6:30, at which point I went to the bathroom. There was blood. I knew this was a good sign. I called my midwife Melissa, and she said it sounded like early labor.

As the morning went on, however, the contractions stopped. I spent some time sitting and writing on my laptop. The contractions resumed, but they were mild and sporadic.

About 3 p.m., something shifted. I texted Melissa and told her that when I stood up, the contractions became more intense and I felt myself having to stop what I was doing and work through them. Knowing she had about an hour drive to my house, she advised me to lie back down and said she was on her way. My husband Mike helped me put the shower curtain liner and sheets on the bed. I laid down on my left side, and the contractions grew stronger. By the time Melissa arrived around 4:30, I was moaning to get through the contractions. She used the Doppler to check the baby's heart rate, which was in the 150s, then sat on the floor next to the bed and began organizing birth supplies.

Article Photos

April and newborn Vincent
Photo by Jennifer Amendolara

From that point on, Melissa calmly watched and listened. I told her I was shivering, which I knew was a sign of transition, the time in labor when the cervix finishes dilating. She also told me that hiccups and burping often happen during transition because I was experiencing both of those, too.

The contractions grew stronger, and the pressure built.

I was finding it more difficult to be on my side as the contractions progressed. It wasn't long before the pushing urge came. Melissa could sense my discomfort with being on my side, so she asked me if I wanted to change positions. At the time, hands and knees seemed like the most logical way to deliver. I was already on my side, so I didn't have far to go to flip over. Soon after I started pushing, my water broke.

During the pushing phase, I felt intense pressure and unbearable burning. Every time I pushed, I could feel the baby move back up, and this was incredibly discouraging. Melissa reminded me this was normal, that the baby was slowly stretching my perineum.

I remember thinking that it was not possible to survive another contraction, that at some point my body was going to break. Having witnessed about 900 births, Melissa knew the crazy things I was saying and feeling were normal. To her, these irrational thoughts meant the baby would be born soon!

After three hours of active labor, Vincent Michael Henry was born at 6:23 p.m. He started crying immediately, before I could even flip over. Mike helped me turn onto my back, and Melissa handed me my baby boy, who was still gloriously covered in birth goo, blood and vernix.

I was crying and kept saying, "We did it." It was a high like no other. Complete euphoria.

Soon after the birth, the older kids met their new sibling, and my parents greeted their newest grandbaby. It was lovely being at home, in my own bed, with all my people.

Melissa left later that night. The big kids went to bed, and my parents retired to the guest bedroom. Mike and I snuggled into our bed with our new baby, born the day before my birthday. I'm pretty sure I stayed up all night just staring at him and reflecting on all that had happened over the past few hours. Best birthday present ever.

St. Clairsville native April Leiffer Henry is a freelance writer who lives in Morgantown, W.Va., with her husband, Mike, and three children.



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