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When did you decide to have a homebirth? Was it at 6 weeks pregnant? 12? 29? ….Were you in labor and 9.5 centimeters? Not to give it all away, but Ren’s decision to give birth at home wasn’t an early one by any stretch of the imagination. I know you’re going to love how it all unfolded.
Now, before we dive in, I always want to be very careful and upfront about particularly difficult content. You have the right to know if an upcoming topic could be traumatic for you for any reason. In between Ren’s two lovely birth stories, she shares her heartbreaking experience of loss and medical termination. This is very heavy subject matter, and Ren’s story is so important, and she shares her heart in the situation. But if you are at a place in pregnancy, or simply life in general where you feel that particular topic could cause trauma, please know that it will be between the two stories. We’ll begin that part of the discussion after the homebirth mythbusters ad, for anyone wanting a marker.
And because the situation was so heartbreaking for everyone, and because it was quite similar to a situation that happened to someone I love very deeply, I have spent some time searching for resources to add to the show notes for anyone who has experienced, or is currently experiencing, a situation like Ren’s. Please be sure to check out the episode roundup, as well as the end of the show notes.
As we prepare to jump in, if you’re loving this podcast and you’d like to support it, an amazing free way to do that is by heading to apple podcasts and leaving a *hopefully* 5 star rating, and a review, if you’re willing and feeling extra loving! It’s truly a fantastic way to help other mothers find this information.
Okay, my friends. With all of that being said, let’s dive in. As always, please remember that the opinions of my guest may not necessarily reflect my own and vice versa, and neither one of us are medical professionals, so continue to see your doctor, your midwife, or if you’re like me, your chiropractor.
Ren and her husband Got married at 29, and although she loved children, she didn’t want to get pregnant. Mostly because she feared the discomfort of pregnancy.
Eventually, at age 36, she and her husband decided they’d try for one year for a baby. If it happened, that would be the answer. If it didn’t, they were comfortable with that being their answer as well.
On month 2, Ren got a positive pregnancy test. She was shocked!
She had nausea for her first pregnancy, the second trimester was golden, and she was simply tired.
She decided to use midwives, and though she knew that midwives did homebirths, she had no plans to do that. She joked with them that she wanted her epidural placed a week before labor.
Ren and her husband did choose to hire a doula, especially because they don’t have any close family living in their vicinity.
As labor approached, Ren experienced prodromal labor. She went for a Non-Stress Test at 41 weeks, and the doctor shared with her that she’d only had one contraction the whole time. She thought she might be pregnant for quite a bit longer.
That night, she was struggling with prodromal symptoms again, but her doula was firm that she wanted to come over. Ren said no, that it could go on like this for days, but her doula was adamant.
The doula arrived at 2… her baby was born at 5.
Ren’s doula told her later that when she arrived, she had a suspicion that she was already in active labor, though she didn’t want to get her hopes up.
That night, the hospital Ren wanted to go to was not accepting new pregnant patients, as one of their 2 doctors had a medical emergency. She was now going to have to go to another hospital further away.
Her doula encouraged her to go to the hospital to get some pain medication. She said that even if she wasn’t in active labor, she hadn’t slept in several nights and it would be good to get some relief. So the doula called the ambulance to come transport her, and she also called the midwife on call, because she knew she lived close to Ren. She asked her to come check before the ambulance got there.
The midwife arrived right as the ambulance did, and realized Ren was already 9.5 centimeters.
The team informed her that she could of course get in the ambulance, but that there was a good chance that the baby would be born en route, which could be difficult. It was at that moment that Renee decided she’d have a homebirth!
She did have to push for a few hours, but Ren ended up giving birth on her yoga mat in her living room.
Renee did have a third degree tear, so she actually ended up having to transport to the hospital after the birth.
After this birth, Renee thought that she’d be a “one and done” parent. She’s an attachment parent, and wanted to make sure that she could give her daughter the emotional resources she needed.
However, as her daughter edged closer to 3 and a half, she started thinking about how she wanted her child to grow up with a sibling, and how being an only child could be difficult as an adult, especially in regards to navigating the death of parents.
At 39, Ren and her husband decided to “give it another year” as they had the first time.
In Dec 2019 Ren got a positive pregnancy test.
Her first trimester was very difficult with sickness. She didn’t want to share with her daughter why she was sick or why she was so sure she would get better, so navigating was quite hard!
After her first ultrasound, Ren got a call that said there was an anomaly detected with the baby, and she would be referred to another specialist for further ultrasounds.
With further check, it was found that Ren’s baby had anencephaly, where a portion of his skull was missing, and that there was brain tissue floating around the fluid-filled sack of the hole.
More testing revealed that this baby was a girl, which is what she and her husband had hoped for- two little girls.
She learned that there was a high chance that she would miscarry in the upcoming weeks, that if the baby were carried to term it would likely not survive birth, and if she did, she would likely not live long after. If she were to beat all odds, she would have significant genetic impariment.
Ren and her husband made the agonizing decision to terminate the pregnancy, as she felt the odds were too stacked against her.
She spent 3 months processing what had happened and taking a prescribed prenatal pill.
After the first month of trying, Ren got a positive pregnancy test— which she didn’t believe!
Ren decided to wait until she was a bit further along to reach out to her midwives, as she didn’t want to make the appointments and then have to cancel them.
That first trimester was even worse than the previous, as she was so incredibly sick.
She knew she wanted to have a homebirth, but especially with covid, they were very glad to be planning a homebirth.
MFM recommended that she be induced at 39 weeks, so then Ren had to grapple with the idea of “is this unsafe to have a homebirth” even though her midwives did share that this was not backed by great research.
Ren began doing acupuncture at the beginning of the 3rd trimester. Her acupuncturist knew that she wanted to give birth before before 39 weeks in hopes of avoiding even the concern of choosing between an induction or homebirth. She began trying to help things along once they were further into the 3rd trimester.
At 38 weeks Ren realized that she was leaking fluid in the middle of the night. Labor progressed very slowly, and babe wasn’t born until 48 hours after she began leaking fluid.
During those 48 hours, she bounced on the birth ball, she went to a last minute chiropractor appointment, and her doulas came over to “shake the apple tree”.
Ren encourages women to make sure that they’re preparing mentally for birth— more time focusing on mindset.
In the evening, her doula came over to give support. Ren’s husband went upstairs to try to comfort their daughter back to sleep, but she wanted her mom. She ended up coming downstairs to snuggle, which Ren believes was the oxytocin boost she needed to really encourage labor.
She noticed that this labor felt more painful because of her mindset. She felt like it hurt much more, she was far more noisy and felt like she was having more breakdowns.
She was trying to avoid urges to push, as the second midwife was not yet there. But finally, a shift was made and there was no holding back the push. Ren was pushing and apologizing at the same time (her midwives assured her that it was okay!).
Ren’s daughter was able to cut the cord, which was a beautiful experience for everyone.
Wow, what a story. It’s filled with love, loss, heartache and beauty. As we head into this week’s episode roundup, my heart is heavy. I know that Ren is not the only mother out there who has experienced or is experiencing a painful diagnosis for their baby and all of the fear and sorrow that accompanies such an event. In preparing for this episode, I did reach out to a group of midwives and doulas and even a bereavement doula, who provided me with some resources that their clients have used in the past. Those recommendations have been put in the show notes for you. If you’re unsure of how to check show notes, usually you can just swipe up on your podcasting app, or go to myhappyhomebirth.com/episode118. Ren also sent me an organization that she found very helpful, and that will be included as well.
You know, I so deeply value the sanctity and sacredness of life, and I so greatly mourn with the mothers and families who are faced with these situations and all of the aftermath that comes with such painful diagnoses. More than anything, if this pertains to you, I want you to know that you’re not walking this alone. And if you need support, encouragement or hope, please reach out to me. I will gladly help you navigate in any way that I can. Thank you Ren for for feeling safe to share your heartache with us. And not only your heartache, but your triumphs.
To decide at 9.5 centimeters in your kitchen that it’s time for a homebirth… when you previously declared that you wanted an epidural a week before labor… that’s incredible. My friends, it goes to show you… it’s never too late to change plans!
Next, the oxytocin boost of her last labor… this truly caught my attention. I love that Ren’s daughter’s presence was the catalyst for the increase of intensity in her second birth. Our hormones are so important when it comes to the physiology of childbirth, as Ren’s snuggly daughter so perfectly showcases.
Okay, my friends. That’s all I’ve got for you this week. Thank you, thank you for listening, and I look forward to seeing you back here next week.
Ren’s Recommended Resource:
All about Homebirth Mythbusters and Happy Homebirth Academy:
Hey Mamas, let me interrupt for a few quick moments to share some great news! I have a free class waiting for you! Homebirth Mythbusters, The 5 myths you need to bust to have a happy homebirth is my free gift to all of you who are considering homebirth, planning your fifteenth homebirth, or are just curious to know more about what this is all about. Head to myhappyhomebirth.com/mythbusters to select a time that works for you, and get started! You’ll gain access to not only this incredible free masterclass, but you’ll also be given access to sign up for Happy Homebirth Academy AND an incredible BONUS Stack of resources. So wait no longer! Head to myhappyhomebirth.com/mythbusters and reserve your seat today! Okay, back to the show!