Babies arrive in their own sweet time – and if that happens to be when you’ve locked yourself inside your home, with your doula on the other side of the door … so be it!
This beautiful but very unplanned homebirth will have you on the edge of your seat, as Pittsburgh mum Erin finds herself alone, with her baby crowning and her doula locked out.
Birth on her own terms
Erin explains to Birth Becomes Her that there had been quite a lead up to the birth of her second child. After having a caesarean with her breech first-born daughter, Erin was determined to give birth on her own terms the second time around. “I knew my body could birth a baby and I was already planning my VBAC in my head,” Erin explains.
But what she never expected was to do it alone and at home. After an uneventful pregnancy, Erin went into labour. But it was slow and steady, with Erin able to ride the waves of contractions for many hours, even taking her daughter to the park.
“As contractions got more painful, I began to hang back a bit from my husband and daughter to work through them. From behind, I watched them playfully frolic in the afternoon sun as I laboured. As we made our way for the play area in the park, the contractions began to intensify and started getting closer.”
Erin made sure she kept her doula Jessica Thomas, who was also her birth photographer, up to date on her progress.
It’s time to go home
Eventually Erin asked her husband to take her home, before he took their daughter to be cared for by family so the couple could go to hospital. And that’s when everything kicked up a gear.
“I had a monster contraction that shook me to my core; all of a sudden I felt a trickle of fluid and then a full gush; it was my water! Simultaneously, I felt a major shift inside of me – the baby was crowning and I was home … alone.
“As the physical sensation overtook me, a moment of panic set in; I guided myself down to the living room floor into a side-lying position; I quickly spotted my cell phone on the couch and reached for it immediately. I dialled my doula to let her know my water had broken and the baby was coming. Sensing the panic and urgency in my voice, my doula told me she would be there in five minutes (luckily, she literally lives five minutes from me). I told her the front door to our apartment building was locked, but to ring every neighbour’s bell and that someone had to be home who could let her in.”
‘The baby is coming!’
Erin’s calls to her husband’s mobile phone went unanswered, but her doula had arrived – only she was locked out!
“The college-age girls that live across the hallway from us had let her in our building, but I had forgotten the door to our apartment was locked as well and my doula didn’t have a key! She shouted that the door was locked and that she needed me to let her in, but, at that point, there was no way I could physically stand up to let her in; the baby coming then and there and my body was pushing all on its own.”
Erin’s doula Jessica called an ambulance, as she shouted words of encouragement to the birthing mother, caught in an unplanned and very dramatic homebirth.
“As he slipped out and softly landed on the carpeted living room floor, he began to immediately cry; I remember being so incredibly amazed that he came out of me so quickly and easily; the second I saw him land softly on the carpet, I scooped him up and shouted to him, ‘I got you! I got you!’ I brought him immediately to my chest, hugging him tightly since I didn’t want to drop him (he was so wet and slippery!).”
Erin then managed to muster up the strength to let Jessica in, who was able to check that both baby and mumma were doing well.
‘I’m in awe of the human body’
The images that Jessica snapped as emergency services arrived to take the new bub and mum to hospital after their homebirth capture moments of calm, rather than chaos. And Erin ended up giving Jessica the honour of cutting her new son’s cord, before her husband and daughter arrived back home.
“As I glanced up at my husband, I could see my daughter, fast asleep on his shoulder. Within a minute or two, my daughter awoke in a sort of fog; she was quiet but curious about the strangers in our home but did not appear scared or frightened. It was at that moment I especially appreciated the calm and professional demeanour of the first responders. Then, I could hear my husband ask my daughter if she wanted to see her brother; without hesitation, said, “Yeah!” She gave him a look over as the paramedics got my son buckled into his car seat and got me strapped onto the gurney.”
What an incredible birth! We’re in awe of Erin’s strength and resilience in a pretty tricky situation.
“Although I had not planned for an unassisted home VBAC, I felt I was as prepared mentally, emotionally, and physically as anyone could be for this kind of experience. I am in absolute awe of the female body and am certain all women have the same instinct and ability to birth their babies unhindered,” Erin says.