Kate Heineman/Lee Henderson

Maurice James Henderson 9/29/11

Why did you choose to have your baby at home?

Knowing the inside story of the typical hospital birth, I wanted to opt out of all of it—any pain medication numbing me and affecting the baby’s ability to respond, the uterine augmentation, the hospital gown, an unfamiliar room, unfamiliar nursing staff, feeling pressured to labor quickly, worry about an unnecessary c-section, cutting the placenta too quickly, poor quality food, etc.  I wanted to be as in tune to my body and to the baby as possible and I wanted to be fully present throughout the labor and delivery process.

Describe your labor and birth:

I was feeling terrific with what seemed like nothing but non-painful Braxton-Hicks contractions up until Wednesday, 9/28/11 around 5am.  At that time, I woke with a crampy contraction and a slight bit of clear fluid loss.  I tried to return to sleep, but was unable to, as the crampy contractions continued about every 10 minutes or so.  They were not painful, but felt like menstrual cramps.  I got up a few hours later and called Patrice to let her know I thought I was in early labor.  She advised lots of fluids and good rest and to keep her posted.   The crampy contractions continued throughout the whole day.  Sometimes I would feel them every 10 minutes, sometimes it would be more like one every ½ hour.  I had several more episodes of a little clear fluid loss that morning, but nothing more during the afternoon.

Lee was attending a benefit gala for United Way in celebration of the 30th anniversary of the Grand Plaza put on by the DeVos family.  I had been invited to attend, but thought I should probably stay home.  Around 8pm, my crampy contractions started feeling a bit more uncomfortable and were occurring every 5-10 minutes.  Lee returned home at 10:45pm and we went to bed.  I lay in bed about 10 minutes with contractions happening and said to Lee that I knew I wasn’t going to be able to sleep at all that night because the contractions were more frequent and more uncomfortable.  Right around then, I had more clear fluid loss with a contraction.  We both got out of bed and Lee jumped into gear to put the pool together and arrange blankets, etc.  I laid on the sofa and had uncomfortable contractions q5 minutes from 1 to 2am.  At 2, we called Patrice to say my contractions were getting stronger and coming q5 minutes.  I told her I thought we were okay and that I could continue this for awhile and we would call her with an update.  That lasted about 45 minutes, as the contractions kept increasing in intensity.  Around 2:45, Lee called Patrice back and Patrice said she, Amanda, and Barb would be on their way promptly.  Meanwhile, Lee was filling up the birthing tub, but was unaware that we had run out of hot water, so the pool was filling with cold.  Contractions continued and I was sitting on the ottoman to labor, which helped significantly because I could put all my upper body weight on Lee when the contractions came.  Barb arrived at 3:30 and started getting out all the supplies, etc., although I was oblivious to anything else going on around me.  I vomited at 3:40 and Barb said that was a good sign that I was in active labor.  Patrice and Amanda arrived at 4am.  To remedy the cold tub situation, P, B, and A took water from the pool and put it on the stove to heat and returned it to the pool.  I was tolerating the contractions and thought I would just stay on the ottoman with Lee to labor, but was encouraged to get in the pool once it was warm and ready.  I got in the tub and was surprised that the water did take off a significant amount of pressure.  Contractions were coming about every 1 minute and occasionally, it felt like there wasn’t a break at all for 15 or 20 minutes.  I was again putting my body weight on Lee, but later, I just needed to writhe around the pool with the contractions.  My face, arms, and legs were tingling all over, as I was hyperventilating a little with the contractions, so Patrice, Barb and Amanda took turns coming over to tell me to slow my breathing down.  Around 6:20am, Patrice asked if I wanted to be checked for dilation, which I did, and I was at 9.5cm.  That was a huge relief!  I got out of the tub at 6:55am to start pushing on my side.  It took me awhile to coordinate the contractions with pushing because I think I started pushing before I actually felt “pushy”.   Sure enough, in short order, I was feeling “pushy” and coordinated the pushing with contractions.  I was making steady progress and as the head came down, the pushing was really painful; however, almost more uncomfortable at the time was the fact that Maurice was compressing the sciatic nerve, or something, which gave my legs paresthesias that did not let up when the contractions did.  Contractions eased to q5 minutes and in between the contractions, there was no pain at all, so I practically fell asleep between them.  Also, the contractions themselves were really not that painful, but the pushing and stretching of the perineum was incredibly painful, and when I would feel the contractions coming, I would just bear down and push with everything I could.  It helped to yell and roar as loud and long as I could with each push.  Barb asked if I wanted to see the head and I originally said no because I was trying to focus so hard on the pushing, but then we got out a long mirror and I started to watch the head with each push and that gave me new motivation to see a few millimeters of progress with the pushing.  Finally, Maurice was at a full crown at 9:24 and the head was out at 9:25.  Maurice was born at 9:27am and brought up on my belly because the cord was a bit short.  He was peaceful and not crying.  It was amazing and wonderful to be fully present throughout Maurice’s entire birth.  Then Lee and I sat in awe of our new little blessing while Amanda and Patrice worked to get my placenta out.   Amanda and Patrice were asking me to push with the contractions to ease the placenta out, but I couldn’t feel the contractions and I couldn’t push very effectively anymore.  I lost about five cups of blood and Amanda said to me, “We need to get this placenta out now,” so she helped me push and finally the placenta came out.  Patrice gave me a shot of pitocin in my thigh to help clamp the uterus down as well.  Also, while we were working to get the placenta out, A, P and B suggested I try breastfeeding.  Amanda was near and I asked, “How do I do this?” and she said to just put Maurice to my breast and he will know what to do.  Babies are wonderfully intelligent creatures and Maurice opened up his mouth and had a great latch right away and has had one ever since.  One final note—it turned out that it was Patrice’s 60th birthday on Maurice’s birth day, but she didn’t mention anything until the next day, so we had to wish her Happy Birthday after the fact.  I asked why she didn’t say anything and she just said, “It wasn’t about me.”  And so began our life with Maurice.

What was your favorite part of your baby’s birth?

Being entirely present throughout the birth and being able to make my own decisions (under the care of experienced midwives) throughout the pregnancy and birth.  And of course, bringing Maurice up to my chest to meet him for the first time!

What would you do differently if you had another baby?

Really can’t think of anything here—we couldn’t have been happier with everything.

How can we improve our services?

Nothing at all—thank you to all of you for all you do!