My first 3 babies had been born in hospital surrounded by caring nurses, highly qualified doctors and a supportive doula. None were bad experiences but after having such uncomplicated hospital births I was ready and eager to try a home birth. I had tried to get a midwife with every pregnancy but was unsuccessful every time. So when I applied while pregnant with my 4th I was thrilled to I heard back from Melanna Mamo from Passages Midwifery saying she had a spot available for me. I loved the care I received from Melanna. It was so personal and she gave me autonomy when it came to making decisions about my pregnancy and birth. Even going in for checkups and sitting on a couch instead of a doctors exam table just made me feel that much more comfortable and secure. Unfortunately, however, I live too far away from my midwife for a home delivery so a hotel birth was the next best option. That is where this story begins.
Contractions had started in the morning, twinges here and there, nothing too strong but not going away. I hoped my intuition was right and that I would go into active labour sometime that night. Therefore at about 6pm I call to start our booking one day early at the hotel where we planned to give birth. My In-laws, my kids, my husband, and I rendezvous there at 9:30pm.
Yes here we are on the verge of welcoming new life. Contractions continue, kids are climbing all over the hotel furniture, Brandon (my husband) inflates the birthing pool in the parking lot with the air compressor and I’m shaking my head in embarrassment from the window. Thankfully I don’t think anyone sees and even more thankfully soon the kids head off with Grandma and Grandpa so we can get to work preparing the room and our thoughts for the new arrival.
We are busy changing the sheets, setting out the extra towels and the tarp under the pool when my husband tells me that this is not the only room available… wait… what? You mean the original room that we looked at, the one that I had been envisioning my birth in for the last few months, is available? Thankfully he kept his mouth shut and obligingly requested a room change just for me. So we pack up that room and roll the pool down the hall to the new, better, room. We were all set up and tucked into bed by 11pm.
12:30am. I can no longer sleep through contractions and in about 2 hours, with contractions lasting about a minute and about 5 minutes apart, we call Melanna. She’s on her way but not rushing which is fine. Even though I secretly hope this baby will come like my cousin’s 25 minute labour, I know judging from my other 3 labours that we still have plenty of time. Just to be sure that no baby’s going to appear before the midwife shows up though, I stay tucked in bed breathing through each contraction with long slow breaths. In between contractions we make a quick call down to the front desk. They assure us they will send someone (the police) to check on our downstairs neighbour that sounds like he is being tortured (ok so that’s the one drawback for a hotel birth, the neighbours). With that all settled I can go back to my deep breathing.
When Melanna arrives at 3am, I’m ready to get out of bed. I kneel beside the bed while Brandon fills up the pool. It is way too hot when I dip my toes in but with a little adjustment, the water becomes just right and I slide in. I love water and although it doesn’t relieve the pain as much as I expected it to, it was still a nice tranquil place to be. I’m not aware of time anymore. I forget about all the songs I had picked out and the empowering phrases I had thought I would need to get me through the labour. Instead, I focus on my breathing and the words “peace like a river” running through my head with every contraction. At one point, I remember leaning back on the soft pool edge while my husband sat behind me holding my head and helping me sip ginger ale. I remember thinking how wonderful it was that he was there and being so supportive. In the quiet hours of the early morning it was just us and Melanna. No doctors coming through the door, no nursing changing shifts, no wide-eyed med students standing in the corner. Don’t get me wrong, my 3 other hospital births were good, but there was something calming and comforting about being here.
After Brandon had a short nap and with me now feeling tired and impatient, I was ready to give our baby a little nudge. Melanna broke my waters and after pushing a little with no success she pushed the tiny bit of cervix out of the way that was blocking baby’s path. (Now I’m the one screaming and hoping no one calls the police on me.) I was hoping I could catch the baby in the pool like I’d seen with other water births but being on my knees worked better and I had lifted myself out of the water so babe wasn’t born in the water as I thought it would be. On the last push I remember screaming “get it out, get it out!” Poor baby, those were the first words he heard his mother say. But his father’s were much better as he said with true elation, “It’s a boy! Evy, the baby’s born and it’s a boy”. Melanna was holding him behind me so I did some acrobatics to get him to the front and onto my chest. The cord was just long enough for me to hold him there until it stopped pulsing. I had always wanted that but in the hospital they cut the other cords quickly due to their short length. I sat there in the warm water with Brandon close beside, staring at our beautiful 8 pound, 7 ounce little boy. The gentle morning sun pours in through the windows. In this bruised and broken world there are few moments of pure joy but at 6:56am on June 15th, this was one of them. We sit, amazed. He has a perfectly round head that is covered in dark hair and his body coated in lanugo hair, especially his ears. Oh those sweet, fuzzy ears. He is perfect.
The midwives (yes now there are 2, I have a very vague memory of the second midwife showing up on the second last push) tuck me and baby into bed and start cleaning up. “This is some of the cleanest water I’ve ever seen” I remember one of them saying about the birth pool water. This was good because moments later a miss-hap with the pump that was clearing the pool sent a geyser of that water up to the roof, all over the walls, and into our open suitcase. It’s a good thing I had packed extra cleaning supplies.
With everything cleaned up and the midwives gone, we are left to rest. It is so nice to recover here in the hotel. Much nicer than the busyness and constant interrupting I found with my hospital births. I am actually able to sleep and with a nice comfortable king sized bed, so is my husband.
Later that day we would have our first visitors: Brandon’s parents and our 3 other munchkins. Our oldest two had a little cuddle with their new sibling before jumping around the hotel room. Our 2 year old acknowledged his existence by poking at him. It would take another 2 weeks before he too fell madly in love with his baby brother and would want to hug or kiss him every day. With that Thomas Gary fit right into our lively, caring and chaotic family and we’re blessed when we think of the adventures to come with him.
Images Provided by: Evy
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