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My Home Birth Story - Yhordanka Akwanza

     When I found out I was expecting my third child, I knew I was going to achieve a homebirth. I say achieve because I wanted a home birth for my older boys as well, but the lack of knowledge and fear of the unknown prevented me from carrying on with my wish. I did not share my plans with anyone other than my husband. I thought I had to educate myself and strip away all the fears before I informed anyone. I had to be sure I was going to go ahead with it. I am a woman of my word. If I say yes, even if it is to myself, I must go through with it no matter what. A bit crazy, especially for a home birth,  since things can change quickly and end up at the hospital in no time. I also didn't want any bad vibes to influence my decision. I started educating myself, looking up information about home births, hospital births, belly births, etcetera from different sources — Podcasts, Instagram {my favorite}, YouTube, Google, Testimonials, Books, even Netflix and Apple TV!

     I knew from experience that childbirth is a solo act. No matter how many Drs. and medical equipment is in the room, no matter how much support and love you have from Midwives, Doulas and family, when it came down to birthing, it is you, your instincts and your knowledge. For 39 weeks, I saw it all, the good, the bad and the ugly, and prepared myself mentally and physically. All I needed was optimal health and the go-ahead from my midwife. I got the go-ahead once my B strep test came back negative.

     Before I got pregnant with Zab, my firstborn, I watched the film "The Business of Being Born". My best take from it was to hire a Doula. Hiring a Doula made a big difference in the outcome of my hospital birth. We went to prenatal classes and learned so much that I was able to keep hospital staff and my OBG at bay and have a birth my way with no heart monitors, no epidural, I didn't even wear a hospital gown or get in a wheelchair. It was the same for my second-born son - Enzo. I had my Doula by my side and I did not decide on any matter without consulting her and my husband first. I had two fast, intervention-free births at the hospital. I didn't experience abuse or manipulation, as unfortunately many other women do.  I still did not want to go back to the hospital the third time around. It felt unnatural, out of place, and unnecessary. I didn't want to feel lost after leaving the hospital. I wanted the natural flow of things. 

     I did my due diligence, hired my Doula, the same sweet soul that was by my side two times before, a midwife and a birth photographer. I needed this life-changing event well documented. I told my close family and a few friends of mine my plans during my final weeks and after many months of sharing with them facts about home birth. The news was then received with love and support. There were always a few who give me the "you are crazy" look, but they kept their opinions to themselves. I have a big thing for numbers and I wanted Tao to be born on August 9 or 11, preferably the 9th. My mother was with us and had to go back to Jamaica on the 19th. This way, I will get more time with her. My due date was August 16, 2019, but, as they say, it is an estimated date not and expiration. The power of intention is mighty. August 10th, at 3:37 AM, my water broke, and with it, I got a message. A message of what this birth was going to need and what I was going to experience. As I stood in my tub and turned around to confirm the color of the water, I discovered that they had formed a heart, the most significant symbol of LOVE.

     I message my birth team (Doula, Midwife, and Photographer). Everyone was anticipating a super-fast birth since this was my third, and I already had two fast ones. I went on to prepare the room and woke up my husband to set up the birth pool. One hour later, my contractions started to pick up. By the time everyone got to my home, my hips were on fire. My midwife suggested I get into the pool; it looked like it was time. As I saw in many water births, the pool slows things down things, and it did so for me. I fell asleep in the water, and contractions almost stopped. Even though my Doula did not say anything, I knew I was far away from meeting my baby. Off I went for a walk with my Doula around the apartment complex which has a lot of hills while everyone else went for breakfast. My boys were with my mother and they were just so anxious but they found comfort swimming in the pool. We had already decided to stay out of it for the remainder of the birth.

     After a couple of rounds around the complex, I got another gush of waters right in front of the building just like those you see in the movies! I had never experienced a second gush like this before. We headed back to the apartment with the hope that things will pick up, however, nothing changed. Off my family went for lunch and still no baby. I was eating and drinking on the clock.  Night came, and with it, the words that made it all happen. My midwife said, "It has been 17 hours since your water first broke, if we don't get things moving, we may have to go to the hospital." At that moment, my husband looked at me and walked me to our room and locked the door. He said “you are too distracted, we have too many ppl in the room. Let's do this our way.” We started kissing and hugging and did some crazy sexy stuff (don't worry, there was no intercourse) lol. Every time I got a surge, I would put a leg on the bed, alternating legs left and then right. Almost one hour later, I had to go to the bathroom, I was sitting on the toilet when my midwife rushed into the room to set up the birth stool because my noises were telling her that it was time.

      I rushed to it with my eyes closed and screamed for someone to get my boys. They needed to see their brother being born. I pushed all by myself; no one told me what to do or how to do it. I pushed again, and she asked if I wanted to feel my baby's head, I shook my head no, but then I thought this might be the last time in my life I will get to do this, so I reached down and felt the warm hairy wrinkles of Tao's head. I pushed and the head was out! The Midwife swiftly removed the cord which was wrapped two times around his neck. I pushed some more and he was born on October 10, 9:03 pm in our apartment on the bedroom floor weighing 8lbs 11oz and 21 inches of a perfect baby boy. I put him on my chest, and with help, moved to my bed. He was all warm and slimy, his body against mine, the sweat and the blood all over, it was far from a loving scene, but, it was PURE love. I was in love with him at first sight. He was my baby; I felt like I knew him my entire life. I did not get to experience this feeling with my older two boys. I love them more than anything in the world, but that feeling everyone describes, I did not experience until this birth.

     Everyone was so happy, and he was so perfect. I was in bed with my husband and now three sons. Tao latched onto my breast, and it was time for the afterbirth. I birthed my placenta just how I planned it, no pulling, no pushing, it just came out with a contraction. This was very different from my hospital experiences. When the cord went white (no blood was running through it), my husband and boys cut it. My midwife examined the placenta to make sure it was intact, and my boys were so thrilled to get a good lesson about what it was and how it worked. We later had prints of it, and I got my placenta capsules. I left the baby with dad and headed to take a shower. I felt like nothing had happened. I was not in pain, and I was not mentally lost. I was home. When I returned to the room, everything was cleaned up. There were no traces of blood anywhere. Everyone said their goodbyes, and we were left alone in our bubble that lasted for a week. My husband embraced me with our new baby in my arms, and I said," Why didn't we do this before, everyone needs to experience this rhapsody of love."

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