Sunday, October 14, 2012

Emmy's Birth Story

Our daughter, Emmy June Sparlin was born at home on her due date, October 1, 2012. She weighed 8 pounds 6 ounces and was 20 1/2 inches long. She took her first breath at 9:05 p.m. after a very long and intense labor.

We went to bed at about 12:00 a.m. on October 1 and I couldn't get comfortable so I moved to the couch (this had become a pretty normal occurrence late in my pregnancy.) I awoke at 2:00 a.m. with menstrual-like cramps and an upset stomach. Our midwife, Debbie, had warned me that both of these things were signs of early labor and that I needed to give her a heads up if either happened. I texted Debbie at 2:22 and she told me I should try to rest and to keep her posted. From what I could tell, contractions were about 8 minutes apart and definitely felt different than the Braxton-Hicks contractions I had experienced throughout my pregnancy. I woke Michael up and he asked what I was doing. I replied, "I think I'm going to have a baby today." to which he simply replied, "Huh uh. Really?" He got up and made sure everything was in order then went back to bed around 3:30. At that point I was way too excited to go back to sleep so I laid on the couch and watched television and worked through the contractions. 

Around 6 a.m. I texted Debbie to tell her that the contractions had been about 5 minutes apart for the last hour and I woke Michael up. Debbie arrived at our house around 8:15 and her assistant, Amy, came about 10 minutes later. They were busy setting up their supplies and filling up the pool so I did a few things around the house to keep busy, stopping every few minutes to let a contraction pass but soon moved to the couch because I had a really bad headache.

Debbie checked me at 9:30 and said I was a 7 1/2, 90% effaced and at a +1 station. We were all very surprised and happy at my progress, especially since it had been so easy. I felt so encouraged and hopeful that I would breeze through the rest of labor. Around 10:00 contractions became stronger and Debbie said she thought I might be headed into transition and suggested that I move into the pool for some relief. I took her advice and the water felt so good. For the next hour and a half I was in the pool, getting out every so often to pee. Michael had put on Planet Earth as a distraction and was giving me sips of grape juice to keep my energy level up (I had only had 2 hours of sleep) and Debbie would periodically give me Belladonna for my headache.

I got out of the pool around 12:00 because I wanted to be closer to Michael. I went though a few contractions standing and holding onto Michael and a few on the couch. We laid down around 1:00 and I was able to sleep between contractions for about 20 minutes. Debbie checked me again and I was at an 8 1/2 to 9. My headache seemed to be getting worse so Michael made some coffee and I sipped it with him on the couch. 

We went back to bed around 2:00 and at 2:30 I had a huge contraction and didn't say a word to anyone as I darted back for the warmth of the pool. This is when things really started to pick up. In Debbie's chart notes she writes, "Vocalizing and thirsty." I moved from lying to squatting to hands and knees in that pool but just couldn't get comfortable. At 3:40 I was at a 10 and +2 station. I knew the next step was waiting for the urge to push but I just hadn't felt it yet. The contractions were becoming very intense and I couldn't stand the pool any longer. I moved from room to room. From couch to bed. Hung off Michael's neck and sat on the birth stool. 

At 5:50 Debbie suggested we try "coached pushing". I laid on the couch, Amy and Debbie each held a leg and pushed them back to my head with each contraction as I bared down. Let me tell you, that was the worst thing I think I've ever done. I don't know how women do that in hospitals. They only made me do it for a few contractions before I couldn't take it any longer.

We realized at this point that things were moving very slowly and it was probably because my water hadn't broken. The midwives don't like to rupture the membranes because it can sometimes send baby into distress and all through labor, Emmy's heart rate had been perfect. So we tried several different positions to try to make them rupture. Finally, Amy suggested that I stand up, wrap my arms around Debbie, put one foot on the birth stool and squat and push with the next contraction as Michael held me from behind. After two contractions, my water broke. Debbie was thanking Jesus and Michael was crying but I was in business mode at that point and immediately sat on the birth stool, sitting between Mic's knees with my elbows resting on his thighs and my body began to push all by itself. 

About 5 minutes later, Emmy's head began to crown and I felt the ring of fire, which really felt more like the ring of tearing. I held a warm washcloth on myself as her head descended. My entire body was pushing with all it's power and I remember thinking I wanted to give small pushes so I had time to stretch but it just wasn't happening. The next thing I knew, her head was out. I threw the washcloth and my body continued to push and all at once, her body followed in a warm, wet rush. Debbie immediately yelled out, "Grab your baby!" and I did. She felt so warm and wet and all I could say was "No way, no way, no way!" Michael cried. Emmy gave two tiny coughs and a tiny little cry and just looked up at us. I couldn't believe she was here. And she was mine. Forever.

Quickly after she was born the midwives realized I was bleeding quite a bit from a tear and told me to lie down. We delivered the placenta but left Emmy attached to give her all the nutrients from the cord. Debbie gave me one stitch while I fed my baby but told me I had a pretty severe tear that she didn't feel comfortable stitching and wanted to call in a Senior Nurse Midwife to finish up the stitches. Michael cut the cord (which he had been completely opposed to prior to the birth) and we moved to the warmth and comfort of our bed. It took until about 2 a.m. to get me stitched and Emmy checked over. Of course, she was perfect and we three were in heaven.

So, I got the home birth I wanted. I was in labor for 19 hours and spent three of those hours pushing. The whole neighborhood could hear me "vocalizing" and I was hoarse for two days, but I wouldn't change a thing. If we decide to have another one, we'll definitely have another home birth. The birth was such intimate experience for Michael and I and the support and level of care we received from Amy and Debbie were exceptional. I couldn't imagine doing it any other way. 


  1. love that birthstory! em is soooooooooooo cute!

  2. The pictures are lovely :) Thank you for sharing. So happy for you, sweetheart.

  3. Such a great story! Thanks for sharing, Steph! Shelby and I need to come see that baby!