So the saying, “There’s a first time for everything,” has become a sort of unintentional mantra for me over the past seven years. In March of 2006 I became a mother for the first time to a little girl, Amanda. I experienced my first case of gestational diabetes and high blood pressure. I also had my first emergency c-section. In 2008 I became a mother again to another little girl, Emily. This time however I chose a VBAC birth (vaginal birth after cesarean) and realized how intense the difference is between a c-section and a vaginal birth, not just in the recovery period but also the energy level and the post partum period.

This year I had the chance to give birth to our third daughter, Olivia, in a dream-like homebirth that forever changed my view of birth and of myself. I didn’t start out looking for a homebirth, like some women might do. I actually had planned to do another VBAC at the hospital where I had delivered Emily. When I called to schedule an appointment I was told that I could not be seen for maternity care however, unless I became a high risk case. For obvious reasons that wasn’t something I was planning.

My aversion to the hospitals in my county was so great that I instantly knew I needed another alternative in my maternity care and began looking everywhere I could think of to find something that fit the idea I had for my third pregnancy and birth. Imagine my surprise when I came across a blog much like this one that informed me that midwives in the state of Florida can accept Medicaid as a form of insurance. So off to the local birthcenter I went to see about my natural childbirth. Unfortunately being the recipient of a previous c-section I was not eligable to deliver at the birth center.

I left feeling disappointed, as if there were no avenues open to me to have the birth I wanted. Except one. I was given the name of a midwife out of Ocala (Amy Reynolds, LM) who was doing homebirths for women who were having normal, uncomplicated pregnancies. I was ecstatic and a little petrified. We talked on the phone and made an appointment to meet and see if a homebirth was really what I was looking for. After meeting with her I felt relieved and settled in my decision to do a homebirth, and for the next 28 weeks I set my mind toward that end.

When July rolled around I was expectant and anxious to meet our newest little girl. By my due date on July 21st I was so over being pregnant that I was contemplating begging my midwife for natural induction methods. As fate would have it though I didn’t need any because I went into labor in the late afternoon. By 9pm when my midwife arrived I was well on my way to having my drug free natural birth. I was 5cm dilated and 70% effaced and still managing my pain rather well. We chatted and snacked and laughed at the sayings of my precocious three year-old. By midnight I was well into ‘laborland’ as Amy called it. She checked me one more time and I was 9cm dilated and 100% effaced. She decided to break my bag of water so that our baby’s head would come down farther and aid that last centimeter to full dilation.

By the time I re-entered the birthing pool I was oblivious to everything during contractions and allowed the intensity to overwhelm everything except my ability to relax. Amy kept reminding me during those last few “pre-pushing” contractions to relax everything in my body and let it all work toward bringing our baby down into the birth canal. It’s a lot easier said than done but I was unbelievably thankful for her calming, confidant voice.

It wasn’t long before I was feeling the urge to push and even after ignoring it for a couple of contractions I finally realized that it was now or never. So when my husband asked me if I needed to push I begrudgingly shook my head yes and started to gear up for the end of this long race. Amy encouraged me to turn around so she wouldn’t have to pass the baby between my legs. I obliged readily and gave two good pushes before everyone realized I’d need more help to deliver this baby. My husband, who deserves much more credit than he probably gets, climbed into the birthing pool with me and gave me the emotional and physical support I needed as the pushing stage really intensified. With the help of my entire birth team I spent nineteen seemingly endless minutes giving everything I had in me and then some to bring our baby into the world. At 2:04am on July 22nd our 9lb. 2oz. baby girl came beautifully into the world. After I delivered the placenta Amy and her assistants, Sam and Sarah helped me to bed and tucked me in. They cleaned up the mess I’d created, made sure I ate a hot meal and did Olivia’s apgar score, going through her other checklist. And after getting her dressed and wrapping her up they laid her next to me for a snuggle. She was our largest baby by over a pound and was instantly alert, nursing well, within half an hour of her birth. She slept for nearly six hours straight that first night and has been such a great blessing to our family, rounding us out at an uneven and very happy five. Welcome to the world Olivia Joy, you are another of my first times all over again!