Felix Victor’s Home Water Birth Story

Home Water Birth Story

(Warning: in case the title wasn’t obvious enough, this post contains details and photos from a real birth. You might want to skip this one if words like placenta make you squeamish.)

Well. Felix entered the world as a consummate gentleman, as conveniently as possible.

I’d been feeling really crampy and miserable the day before, so my mom had offered to keep Lydia overnight. Just in case. I ended up having the best night’s sleep I’d had in a long time. (With Lydia, by contrast, I labored all night and gave birth in the morning, to be greeted by a nonstop stream of visitors for the rest of the day. NOT a great way to start things off.)

I told Ben he’d probably be able to go in to work today, since the cramps were gone and I felt so good. The baby was probably not coming today after all. But by the end of breakfast – around 7am — I told him to maybe hold that thought. I thought I was feeling pretty regular (though painless) contractions. I texted my mom to warn her Lydia might be spending the day there, and we probably weren’t going to make it to my 39-week midwife appointment scheduled for that day.

Beginning of labour (home water birth story)(Early in labour. That smile isn’t going to last long. Side note: paper-maché deer head = work in progress)

Ben stayed home, working in the basement, and I folded laundry and cleaned the kitchen. The contractions kept coming every five minutes, though they weren’t that long – only about 30 seconds. I kept myself busy.

After an hour of this I called my midwife to let her know what was going on. The contractions didn’t hurt too badly, but they were very regular, so she said she’d call back in half an hour. She did this twice before saying she was on her way. (She had an hour-long drive, and after Lydia’s quick birth she didn’t want to miss it.)

I stayed on my feet, pacing the room, pausing to lean against a counter or bookshelf to breathe through contractions, which were getting closer together and more painful. I was still doing okay, though – I even had time to put on makeup so I would look nice in pictures. Ben started to fill the pool and get everything ready: he set up a mattress by the pool and plugged in the heating pad with the baby clothes, blankets, and towels.

home water birth story - room setup

Obviously things got more and more serious. I continued to putter around the house, pausing to lean and moan through contractions. I was mostly cheerful until about three hours in — around 10am — when every contraction would leave me in tears. They HURT. And thinking about the baby coming made me an emotional wreck.

I alternated between pacing the room and sitting on my birthing ball, scrolling through social media to distract myself. I let my friends know what was going on. I put on my bathing suit top.

home water birth story - early labour(Still able to smile between contractions.)

home water birth story - birth ball

My midwife showed up half an hour later. She checked my cervix and said I was dilated about seven centimeters. Excellent. But no wonder I was in so much pain now – seven centimeters in three hours take some pretty serious work on the uterus’ part. She said I could get into the pool and she started to get her stuff set up.

I was so much more aware of everything this time, with it not being the middle of the night and not being fully dilated by the time my midwife arrived. It was pretty cool how prepared she was – she even had oxygen tanks in case the baby needed resuscitation.

The water felt amazing but the contractions were still coming on HARD. My midwife said that as soon as my water broke, I’d probably be ready to push. But the backup midwife wasn’t there yet so we weren’t in a hurry.

home water birth story - labouring in pool

OH GOSH the contractions were painful. I was getting louder and louder with each one.

Soon my midwife suggestion I go to the bathroom to speed things up even more (UGH). Contractions on the toilet were extra horrible. While I was there I lost my mucus plug. (See? Convenient. Kept the pool water clean.) I got back into the pool.

The backup midwife showed up soon after that, around 11:45am. She had such a warm, comforting, motherly presence, I was glad to have her there.

I was getting really loud at this point and this second midwife knew exactly how to squeeze my hips to ease some of the pressure. They suggested I try to toilet again. UGH again. They helped me there, I gave a little push during one of the contractions, and my waters broke – a tidy little gush right into the toilet. Pa-shew. Again: how nice. No cleanup. They helped me back into the pool.

The next hour was agony. I started to feel pushy so they told me to follow my body. I was pushing during contractions for half an hour when they checked and noticed I wasn’t really making any progress (GAH!). My midwife suggested that I wasn’t really pushing because I was afraid of the pain. They both suggested I try holding my breath and use all that energy (that I was spending on yelling) to PUSH.

On the next contraction I did that and felt a world of difference. In fact, when I pushed like that — with my whole body — the pain was much less. It was still unbelievably INTENSE, but not nearly as painful. They said to give it my everything, because I was exhausting myself and needed to get the baby out. So I switched gears from fearful to determined: I was going to PUSH that baby out.

It was absolutely horrible. I wish I was one of those women who could say birth didn’t hurt that much, but it did. Between contractions I was totally worn out – I would just slump back against Ben, who was supporting me with his arms, and whimper. When the contractions came and I pushed, my whole body felt like it was going to explode, even my face. I would occasionally reach down and feel that smushy little head still in the birth canal, which was exciting but also disheartening – it wasn’t going nearly fast enough. This was my second baby, it was supposed to go faster! Each time, though, I would say, “Hi, Baby!” and get a new determination to get that thing out of there.

And then, finally: crowning. OH LORD HAVE MERCY. Agony. I screamed my face off. So much pressure, so much pain. I was going to explode. Two more excruciating contractions and that thing finally popped out. 12:35 pm. Six hours after I’d first started feeling contractions.

And then I lost my mind because there was a baby on my chest. An enormous purple baby. A healthy, real-live baby out of nowhere. I was hysterical with joy. I DID IT!!!! And I took a look below – A BOY! Wow!!! Everyone had been right. A boy. Our little Felix. He coughed and gave a piercing, said little cry. He was breathing. He was here. Amazing.

Home water birth story

The midwives quickly helped me out of the tub and onto the mattress to deliver the placenta. I got to hold my baby the whole time – they just wrapped us in towels.

It was incredible, miraculous. My own new little baby boy in a sweet little body in my arms, sticky and wet. He made sad faces and cried a little. I whispered to him and kissed him and comforted him. What an ordeal he’d just been through! He looked so healthy and robust, though. His face looked so unfamiliar, so foreign – nothing like Lydia. But the fact that he was a boy felt exactly right. And also the fact that he was so huge. I could easily believe that this enormous child had been in my belly; I just couldn’t believe I had pushed this enormous child out of my vagina. HOLY CRAP. My body was incredible.

home water birth story

home water birth story - baby resting

The placenta came out with almost no awareness on my part. And then came the — ahem — repair work, which was horrifying but I don’t need to talk about that. I SQUEEZED Ben’s hand through it all. It took forever and ever (Probably ten minutes). I tried to focus on the sweet baby in my arms. My midwife told me the damage was actually not bad at all, which surprised and relieved me.

Finally it was all done. The midwives wiped down my legs and put dry underwear on me, stuffed with pads. They rolled me and Felix onto one side of the bed and then the other to change the sheet right under me. They covered me in warm blankets and propped me up to try nursing. Felix knew exactly what to do and latched on immediately. He was born for this.

Just then, my mom showed up with Lydia. Lydia bounced in excitedly to see Baby Felix. She was a little disoriented and confused. Where was the pool? (I had given her a pretty detailed explanation of how everything would go down, in case she would be present.) She was very excited to take her first look at him, and then went off to play. Ha. Toddlers.

home water birth story - big sister's reaction

home water birth story - first time seeing siblingIn the meantime, the midwives did paperwork.

When Felix was done nursing the second midwife did the examination. Lydia watched with great interest. He looked SO GOOD – so pink and strong.

home water birth story - sister watching examination

They weighed him: nine pounds even. No surprise here. I’d totally been able to feel that much weight against my lungs when on my back while pregnant. And no wonder pushing had been so much harder than with six-pound-eleven-ounce Lydia.

home water birth story - weighing

They measured his length: 23 inches. Again, no surprise here. He looked long.

I think after that I was helped to the bathroom to pee, which wasn’t horrible. Then I’m pretty sure I went back to nurse him some more. I’m a little fuzzy on the details after that.

I do remember scarfing down a bowl of hot pho that my mom had brought. I thought it was wonderfully appropriate that she had brought me the one food that had pretty much sustained me through my difficult first trimester.

After that I rested. Mom took Lydia home with her, the midwives packed and left. Ben cleaned up and did laundry while I cuddled with Felix, flitting in and out of consciousness. Then he laid down and rested with us, too. Just the three of us.

home water birth story(Yeah, I look tired. Also, Ben was our photographer throughout; that’s why he’s not in any photos. He prefers it that way.)

We had done it. Our little baby was here.

I’d started labour at breakfast and we were done it time to have a late lunch and an afternoon nap. I never had to leave my house. Thanks, little dude. I appreciated it.

(You might be interested in my post, 6 Reasons to Consider Home Birth.)

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  1. Aww sweetie you did good! Honestly, I’m happy with home/ natural birthers admit that their labors were painful…. makes me feel a bit more normal in my experiences!

    I’m so glad he came rather quick though. He’s lovely and I’m glad God answered yours prayers.

  2. This was a wonderful story!! Welcome little (BIG) Felix!

    Thank you so much for sharing! And yes, I wish I could be one of those women who say labor is a breeze and not painful too, but yeah, it’s not true for me…

  3. I was waiting to hear your story… so wonderful! It is great to talk about the positives of home births since most are unsure of the process. I never understood how women say they never felt pain and even some said they had an orgasm. NOT the case for me either, nothing but true pain. So totally worth it though! Man, that is a big baby!
    Heidi @ Barefoot and Paleo recently posted..Buck Books: The Paleo EventMy Profile

  4. Awesome story and Strong mama! My labor experience was also both very painful and wonderful.

    This is my first time commenting, but I’ve been checking your blog off and on since Project M. We just had Thanksgiving, and I wanted to thank someone who influenced me positively over the past few years.

    I was racking my brain at first to think of someone (besides my husband and son, of course:)). Then I thought back to some of the decisions I’ve made over the past few years that made me happiest. And I realized you were involved in many of them! In some cases, your perspective strengthened my resolve in a decision I was already close to making (fertility awareness, unmedicated birth, baby wearing, natural hygiene products, etc). In a few cases, you introduced me to concepts I hadn’t thought about before at all (Unconditional Parenting, Diva cup, etc).

    So thank you! If you’re ever wondering whether or not your writing matters – it does!

    • Wow . . . thanks, Candace! You really made my day! Thanks so much for sharing this with me. Bloggers have played a pretty big role in a lot of my life decisions, so I totally get that. Thanks again.

  5. Well done and congrats! Reading this spurred lots of memories and I have to admit made me (sort of) dread birth number two in a few months. But you’re right, our bodies are made for this and it’s such a cool process to be a part of.

    • Thanks, Emily. I know what you mean. For most of my second pregnancy, I didn’t think too much about labour; but near the end I started getting reminders and it was like, “Oh crap.Right. That’s going to suck.” It always helped me to remember how temporary the pain is. Usually it’s one day, max, and then it’s over and you never have to think about it again.

      Congrats on the pregnancy, and I wish you many blessings as you near the birth of baby #2!

  6. You go lady! Thanks for sharing. I love reading birth stories.

  7. Way to go! It’s truly amazing what our bodies can do! I’m so glad you were able to have Felix at home and all went well. I was so disappointed when we ended up having to go to the hospital when I was in labor. Thankful everyone was okay and our boy was healthy. That’s what really matters. Hopefully our next will get to be born at home :) Make sure to get plenty of rest and soak up those newborn snuggles!

  8. Such a beautiful story! :) Really enjoyed reading it, and I totally thought I’d be one of those who’d be slightly squeamish! Not at all :) Thanks for sharing the details. Congrats!!
    Hannah Corson recently posted..The Realities of Living in an Unfinished Tiny HouseMy Profile

  9. What a wonderful story!!! I’ve always heard that the shorter labors are suuuuuper intense with pretty painful contractions. I’m kind of hoping for a longer labor with less painful contractions, but we’ll see what happens in a couple more months! Thank you so much for sharing this with us!! Felix is super cute, and y’all all look great. I love Lydia’s face when she sees him. :-)

  10. Love this! My labor with my son was my first with no drugs. I had epidurals with my girls. Giving birth was nothing compared to getting stitched up afterwards. And I went from 5 1/2 centimeters to baby on my chest in 45 minutes, so I think that’s saying something.And that shot they give you to numb the pain? HOLY CRAP.

  11. Beautiful birth story! Thanks for sharing and congratulations!
    Michele recently posted..S’s Race with the Midwife (His Birth Story)My Profile

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