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Freedom Living Blog

  • Writer's pictureAndria Seals

Does This Make Us Hippies Now?

Updated: Sep 22, 2021

Originally posted on June 13, 2020 on Dear Millennial Mom

After two hospital births, we did the unthinkable. We ditched the OB/GYN, hospital, and medical insurance. We ditched everything that we were "supposed" to do and delivered our third little blessing in the comfort of our own home. My husband was holding out hope that he was going to get his boy, but we got girl number three! Both of her big sisters, ages four and two-and-a-half at the time, were immediately “so excited that she came out of [my] belly!” Any chance they get they are kissing her, looking at her, telling her she’s so cute, and “petting” her – they seriously can’t get enough of their baby sister. I have to admit, neither can I. How had I already forgotten how scrumptious newborns are?! Not to mention the adorableness of a milk coma – I can hardly handle it.

Okay, back to business. My third pregnancy and birthing experience were different than my first two in a couple of ways, but there were also some things that were pretty standard across the board. With each of the three girls I had morning sickness the entire first trimester, carried “only in the front”, and worked until I went into labor. This pregnancy, however, was the first with which I was receiving chiropractic, nutritional, and detoxification care at the BEST natural health office on the planet - Divine Design Natural Health. As mentioned, this was also the first delivery for which we used a midwife at home. Yep, that means no epidural or pain medication of any kind, before, during, or after. WHAT WERE WE THINKING?! Didn’t we know that the world could have ended as a result?! How could we be so reckless? I know that’s probably what you are thinking right now.

Let me back up just a little bit and let you know WHY we decided to jump off the hippy-dippy deep end by daring to birth our third baby girl at home. First of all, hospital births are stinkin’ expensive, even with “excellent insurance.” Having a baby at a hospital is even more expensive when you opt for an epidural, Pitocin, or any other little thing. Add on top of that a separate charge for each time you might send your precious newborn to the nursery so you can get a short little nap, or have the hospital’s pediatrician give your baby a once-over before you leave the hospital. I’d have to look up exactly how much our first and second births cost us, but I can tell you they were a heck of a lot more than our third birth.

Furthermore, before I had ever had kids or experienced labor pain, I always said that I wanted to have an unmedicated childbirth. When labor pains came with my firstborn and I was only 3 centimeters dilated, I was basically demanding an epidural. They made me wait until I was 4.5 centimeters dilated before they would admit me and give me the stinkin’ epidural. During the time it took me to go from 3 to 4.5 centimeters, I thought to myself, “This is death.” That wasn’t even technically active labor. Surely I’m not the only one who has ever thought that during labor, though, right? I’m going to assume not. Anyway, with my second baby my water broke at home and I was 5 centimeters dilated when we got to the hospital, experiencing no pain. A couple of hours later I was still experiencing no pain but finally gave into the nurses’ repeated offer to have an epidural because my legs were restless and I just wanted get some shut-eye before we really got down to business. In other words, I wanted to prove to myself that I could do it because let’s be honest, I’m a wimp. This time, though, I was armed with Young Living’s Clary Sage essential oil that a friend gifted me because she had heard people talk about it helping with labor. We are co-workers, so she made me promise not to even smell it until I was actually in labor because it can apparently induce labor. Though I have been using essential oils for a few years, clary sage was a new oil for me so I was tempted to smell it, but it should be noted that I kept my promise.

Finally, I knew birthing at home would be more comfortable. Well, I obviously knew the actual birthing wasn’t going to be comfortable (although, admittedly I didn’t know how uncomfortable that part would be), but I was looking forward to not being woken up every 30 minutes to have my contractions monitored, my vitals checked, or my baby poked and prodded. I was also looking forward to being able to eat whenever I wanted because let’s be honest, the whole “not being allowed to eat during labor” situation is a bunch of bogus. How can anyone realistically ask a pregnant/birthing woman to go an undetermined amount of time without eating anything? Why on earth did I buy into that malarky with my first two births? I was also looking forward to being able to crawl right into my own king-sized bed, wearing what I wanted to rather than sleeping on a stiff, twin-sized hospital bed in a stupid hospital gown. Basically, I was really looking forward to having more control and “say-so” through the entire labor and delivery process, rather than being told how I had to do things.

Let’s get to the part that you’re really reading this for – what was my actual home birth experience like? I’ll back up and start with the couple of days before I went into labor and we’ll go from there. Friday, May 1st was my husband and I’s fifth wedding anniversary. As soon as he got off work that day, we got to do an infrared sauna detox session at Divine Design Natural Health, where our entire family goes for Biblically-based natural health care, including chiropractic and nutrition. [Pre-natal chiropractic and nutrition care were game-changers, by the way. Bye-bye, swelling, inflammation, and fatigue.] We went straight from there to dinner sans-kids, thanks to my fantastic sister-in-law, since we knew it may be the last time we’d get the chance to do that for awhile. Dinner was great but we both felt a little bit sick when by the time we got home so we went straight to bed. About 3 hours later, around 2:30 in the morning, I woke up for my nightly potty break. Unfortunately, I didn’t make it to the potty before I both peed and my water broke. It’s not my finest moment to admit that I peed in the floor as a grown adult, but it is what it is. That’s just real life. Anyway, I woke my husband up to clean the floor and let him know that I was pretty sure my water had broken. After we called our midwife and confirmed that my water had indeed broken, we went back to bed in an attempt to get a little more rest before the eventful day that we knew would be ahead of us. I have to give a quick shout-out here to my husband and my sister-in-law because before we went back to bed, they both scrambled to finish making the house suitable for the midwives and doula to see.

Do you think I got any sleep? Not an ounce. Of course, my husband did, but that’s par for the course. I was able to at least rest for a few hours before the contractions started to get uncomfortable and a hair painful around 6:30 in the morning. My midwife texted me, asking me to give her a call when I woke up and wasn’t surprised when I immediately called her and told her I hadn’t gotten any sleep. When I gave her the update on how my contractions were feeling, she said that she would be on her way shortly and suggested that I eat some breakfast before she arrived. Let’s pause – this was the first way that using a midwife was different that using an OB/GYN. I loved that I was being encouraged to eat rather than told that I’m not allowed to for “safety reasons.” Malarky. Anyway, my husband brought me some breakfast and my midwife and her apprentice arrived just a handful of minutes later. My husband rubbed that handy-dandy Clary Sage oil on my feet to encourage labor and it wasn’t terribly long before my contractions really became quite painful. My doula, Natalie, who was so great to agree to help me just the week before I gave birth, arrived about an hour or so after my midwives while I was hanging out on the potty in an attempt to make the contractions as comfortable as possible. I was in a little bit of disbelief at how well the oil and liquid herbs that the midwife gave me were working to speed up labor. I mean I wasn’t wanting to wait around all day dilly-dallying, but goodness they came on quickly.

When the contractions started bringing me to tears and my doula suggested that taking a hot shower may ease some of the pain, I gave that a shot. While the hot shower felt good, it definitely didn’t ease any pain. Laboring while standing in the shower was quite uncomfortable. With every contraction that hit, I literally thought to myself, “Why the heck did I think I could do this? Where is my stinkin’ epidural? I can’t even get one. Great.” I really began doubting my ability to make it through childbirth unmedicated, but I also remembered that I had purposely put myself in this situation so that I wouldn’t even have the option to get an epidural. I began literally begging the Lord to help me – there was absolutely no way I was going to be able to stand it without His help. The unavoidable pain of unmedicated childbirth was something that I was completely and 100% unprepared for, as I opted for an epidural with my first two births. I was a bit overly optimistic that it was going to be fairly painless since I was pain-free at 5 centimeters dilation with my second delivery, so that was the rude awakening of the century. Okay, maybe not the century, but it was definitely a challenge to say the least.

Water birth at home
What a blessed experience! The Lord is truly merciful - I couldn't have done it without Him.

While I was in the shower I remember having my husband ask the midwife a couple of times if I could get in the birthing pool, which was an extra-deep, glorified inflatable kid pool. To my dismay, she kept saying that it wasn’t time yet because I wasn’t close enough to pushing and the water would be too cool by the time Sadie came. That response definitely makes sense now, but I wan’t happy about it in the moment. I think I was still in the shower when the midwife finally said it was an okay time for me to get in the birthing pool but I can’t remember for sure. I should probably go ahead and warn you that some of the details are a little blurry – I just wanted the whole thing to be over with by this point. We hadn’t decided from the beginning to utilize a birthing pool because we really didn’t know much about it one way or another. At my 36-week appointment (or somewhere around that time) our midwife asked if we planned to use the birthing pool and as soon as she said that it often helps take the edge off of labor and birth pains, I thought, “Sign me up.” I hadn’t committed to myself that we were necessarily going to birth in the pool, but I definitely wanted it for laboring. However, once I actually got in that thing there was no way I was getting out. It’s not that it was helping me with labor pains or making anything more comfortable – it was just nice that I didn’t have to really support my own body weight. The water was already not hot enough for my liking and quickly became lukewarm, but I was exhausted and taking what I could get at that point.

I have been trying to think of the perfect words to adequately describe how birthing unmedicated felt differently than birthing with an epidural, only I’m not eloquent enough to really make that happen. What I can tell you is that I have absolutely NEVER felt a pain like that before in my life. At the Biblically-based healthcare office my family goes to and I work at, we utilize a “1-to-10” scale to monitor how severely people are experiencing their symptoms each week. Let’s just say this – what I might have defined as a “10” before natural childbirth I’d probably now define as about a “6”. The phrase “It’s killing me” now has a whole new meaning. Obviously I know that I was not literally dying, but I do remember specifically telling our midwife to, “just get her out of me. As long as it won’t hurt her, just pull her out.” As you might have guessed, that didn’t happen. I still had to push her out.

When I finally pushed her out, I heard the midwife say, “10:37.” 10:37? ONLY 10:37?! I was legitimately confused hearing her say the time. How had it only been a mere 8 hours since my water broke and 4 hours since active labor started? I seriously thought that it was at least 2:37, or 5:37 in the afternoon and that I had been laboring for many, many hours. I guess I should be grateful that it was such a short labor but man, did it feel like a heck of a lot longer. By no means did I immediately forget all of the pain when I saw Sadie’s face like “they” say usually happens, but it did immediately become worth it. Don’t let the picture fool you – that was take two. In the first picture my husband took, I looked completely depleted and done with life. Not that the picture I’ve included is overly flattering, but take one was exceptionally unflattering. When I had been holding Sadie for several minutes and the umbilical cord was the right color, my husband cut it with his pocket knife. Yes, you read that right. He used the same pocket knife that he hunts with to cut Sadie’s umbilical cord. The knife was properly sanitized beforehand, in his defense. Being allowed to do that was jokingly a prerequisite for choosing a midwife from Devin’s perspective. We realized some time afterward that we didn’t even get a stinkin’ picture! Can you believe that?! My husband cut my child’s umbilical cord with a pocket knife and we didn’t even document it.

After Sadie was born and the placenta was delivered, my doula and midwife (or maybe her apprentice, I don’t remember) helped me slowly stand up and get out of the birthing pool and into my own bed. MY OWN BED. That was one of the best parts of birthing at home. I got to just lay there and relax for a little bit, and I even fell asleep for a short while. Don’t worry, it wasn’t glamorous. I was laying on a handful of spread-out puppy pads, still totally unclothed, with a towel only partially covering me because I was cold. My hair was undoubtedly all over the place, too. In those moments, though, I couldn’t have cared any less. I was just glad that the experience was over with and that I was snuggling my healthy baby girl, being allowed to nap with her. Allowed. That’s another topic for another day. After a short nap, my husband brought me almond flour crackers (’cause I live that grain-free life) with sunbutter and some fruit from the fruit tray that we had gotten earlier in the morning for everyone to snack on. Some short amount of time later, when I was ready, our midwife and her apprentice weighed Sadie and did a bunch of other newborn things that I can’t particularly recall. Then, they got a hot herbal tea bath ready for Sadie and I and let me tell you – that was awesome. My doula and midwife’s apprentice helped bathe Sadie and when we were done, they helped me get out of the bath and dressed. It should be noted that by “dressed” I mean a black nursing cami and ever-so-attractive adult diaper. Afterward, they helped me get comfortable in my freshly-made bed, made sure I didn’t need anything, and left.

"Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from Him." Psalm 127:3

Lots of people have been asking me how I would compare hospital birthing to home birthing and I can’t say that I have a well-polished answer, even now. Was birthing at home enjoyable? HA! No. Not in the least bit, not the actual birthing, but it wasn’t enjoyable at a hospital either. I don’t know anyone who would say pushing a child out of their body while fully conscious is enjoyable, no matter where they are or how medicated they are or aren’t. If someone does, they are either delusional or crazy, especially if they did it naturally. Maybe I’m just a non-sentimental sissy, but I’m okay with that. I have no shame in admitting that was the least enjoyable thing I have ever personally experienced. However, I would do it again in a heartbeat. WHY?! It was not glamorous at all and it was by far the most difficult thing I have ever done. It was also the most rewarding. That’s not to say that birthing my first two daughters was any less worth it or rewarding, but there was an extra sense of personal accomplishment and gratitude that came with birthing at home. I have always been known to be physically weak and I have always doubted my own ability to do hard things. You know what, though? With the Lord’s help, I can do hard things and so can you. Hebrews 4:16 assures us, “Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”

Sadie’s middle name “Jo” means “God is merciful.” He is indeed merciful.

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1 Comment

Nov 15, 2022

Thank you for sharing your story! I am re-reading it for a second time as I prepare for my first home birth! I’ve had three natural, unmedicated births in the hospital. But, while I have wanted a home birth, as the time approaches— the unknown is scary! I like the idea of freedom, yet the direction is comforting to me! So, your story is helpfu!!!

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