I My first birthing experience was as positive as was possible given the circumstances. I tried to have a homebirth, but our baby boy simply would not come out. After six hours of being fully dilated and trying to push, but not really feeling the urge, I was exhausted. Sybille, my midwife, and her backup, Alice, had tried every trick in the book. I was in all sorts of positions, standing, squatting, running up and down the stairs, head and knees pose, the baby simply would not come.

Sybille decided that it was time for me to go into the hospital, which was fine with me at that point. The hospital had been informed that I was coming in, so the experience was very calm and routine. I ended up having a C-section, which was a welcome relief by that time. As it turned out, my son, Ellery, had managed to wrap the umbilical cord around his neck several times and had a short umbilical cord to begin with. He never descended fully into the birth canal.

Looking back on the experience, I am still glad to have tried to have a homebirth. Had I been in the hospital the entire time, I probably would have labored just as long in an environment that I don’t believe I would have been as comfortable in. Also, I had the option of eating to keep up my energy level. I could move around as I wanted to. Sybille could monitor the fetal heart tones in between contractions without my being attached to a monitoring device. I’m glad to have labored at home.

Thanks in large part to my positive experience with Sybille and her encouragement and support during my first pregnancy, I decided to try for another homebirth with my second pregnancy. VBACs (vaginal birth after cesareans) are often discouraged by the medical community in the U.S. My doctor balked when I told him I was interested in doing a homebirth VBAC. I did a lot of research on it, and I decided that it was the right choice for me even though I would have to go to Western Massachusetts to find hospital backup for a homebirth VBAC.

(Sybille had recommended using a certain homebirth midwife in that area who had "VBAC friendly" medical back-up. Rie and family then moved to Amherst for the month around her due date.)

My second birthing experience was dramatically different. At about four in the morning I woke up with contractions. I knew this was the real thing. I’d felt contractions before, and these were not going away. At first I started trying to get things organized for the midwives, because everything was packed away in a closet (Lucius caught us off guard by being so early). I soon remembered the advice that Sybille had given me a couple years ago and that what I should really do is go back to bed.

About an hour later, I woke up my partner, Bruce, and asked him to call the midwife, Tanya. He was half asleep and couldn’t believe that I was in labor already. “But you’re not due for two more weeks,” he said, incredulously. About fifteen minutes later, I asked him to call the midwife again and tell her to step on the gas. The contractions were intense, and I was already feeling the urge to push – something that I had never felt while in labor with Ellery. Before I could even think about it, the Tanya and her backup had arrived and I was pushing away with their guidance. Thanks to a great birthing stool, I got into the right position and was given the physical support I needed to push Lucius out. The midwives gave me the encouragement and guidance that I needed. At the moments when I had the slightest hesitation and doubt, they affirmed, “This baby is coming out.” It may not seem like much, but for someone who has tried once without giving birth vaginally, it was enormously potent to hear.

When it was time, the midwives rallied my strength, “O.k., now it’s time to really push.” Hadn’t I been pushing for hours now? Within a few contractions and with a lot of effort and my remaining energy, I got Lucius out. What a wonderful thing, to get up in the morning, have a baby, and go back to bed. The midwives made breakfast for Bruce and I and left us alone for a while to enjoy our new baby. Lucius came so quickly that Sybille did not have time to make it up to Western Mass., and I’m sorry that it was the first birth she’s ever missed.

(No need to be sorry! - I knew you were in good hands. I would have loved to have been there too but so am so happy that you were able to have your homebirth! - Sybille)