My sweet little Anne Marie didn’t come into this world until she was fourteen days overdue and even then I needed a jumpstart to get my contractions going. What made the wait worse was that around thirty-four weeks I began feeling some slightly painful contractions in my lower back. So I began worrying about preterm labor, a premature baby and not having a water birth at home with my wonderful midwife Leah. I’m not the type of person who worries about every little thing, but maybe I worried more than usual over this pregnancy ~ my fourth baby. I must be getting softer as I get older. Leah had me take some vitamins and herbs to help stop the cramping and they worked well. But the baby was so low in my pelvis by week thirty-eight that I thought this baby would come early. Boy was I wrong! So to try and put me into labor I took different herbs after forty weeks, I had acupressure with a massage, and then I did acupuncture when I was thirteen days overdue. The acupuncture did bring on contractions and some of them were painful, but they would stall out and quit coming. We also did lots of dancing in the evenings with the kids before bed and we took some long, brisk walks each weekend after 40 weeks. Peter and I also did nipple stimulation a few times after 41 weeks, but nothing worked. On day fourteen, October 31st, contractions began around noon but they weren’t very regular, anywhere from five to fifteen minutes apart. By three in the afternoon they were closer together and somewhat painful so I called Leah. Then I called my mom to come and watch my kids, my good friend, Bronwen, an aspiring doula, and my sister-in-law, Angela, to take photos of the birth. Around four I totally stopped contractions for about a half an hour, and I really began to worry. I think that happened because it was Halloween and we had relatives coming over to take the kids out and we had trick-or-treaters ringing our doorbell and things were too busy and chaotic for me to relax. So my husband Peter and I went into our bedroom, closed everyone out and began praying together. As we prayed my contractions started back up and they were coming more regularly, although they weren’t painful. I thank God for my amazing midwife because I think I would have needed pitocin in the hospital to get my labor going without her. Leah is a truly exceptional woman because she’s a top-notch midwife and also, a great friend. I am certain she treats every one of her clients like they are the most special mother and baby in the world. Leah shows a level of compassion for others that I have never experienced with another midwife. Her knowledge of midwifery and her professionalism are as exceptional as her compassion and kindness.(I could go on and on about my admiration for midwives and mine in particular, but I’ll get on with my labor:) Leah had me guess how far I was dilated and I guessed right ~ 3 centimeters, so I wasn’t in active labor yet, ho hum... She gave me homeopathic remedies, she swept my membranes, and I took my first dose of castor oil at 5:30pm. Then an hour later I took more homeopathics and a second dose of castor oil. It was much harder to swallow down the second time. Around 7:30pm she put castor oil on my belly and a heating pad on top of that. Finally at about eight-thirty I was in active labor! My water broke during a contraction while sitting on the toilet. It was a very strong contraction that made me stand up, but luckily I was standing over the toilet. It was a really cool popping sensation. While the castor oil was a true Godsend, it has its downside ~ it’s a laxative. But I must say it wasn’t too terrible to deal with. It was manageable and a small price to pay for a lovely birth experience at home. Although waiting to go into labor was long and agonizing, I was blessed with a quick labor; the contractions never became too terrible to deal with. I was in active labor from eight-thirty to ten-forty-four when Anne Marie finally arrived into my arms. She was all blue, a bit bruised around her mouth and had swollen eyes but she was sure a beautiful sight to me. Leah’s helper, Linda, arrived around nine-thirty. She’s a student midwife and she was wonderful too. I’m so grateful for the compassionate and knowledgeable care that both midwives gave me throughout my pregnancy and labor. One thing I noticed during this labor that I have never felt before was my cervix dilating. I know that sounds a bit weird, but I kid you not. I felt my cervix opening three or four times. I like to labor in the birth tub, but my labor progressed so quickly that by the time I got into the tub I began pushing within minutes. I totally relaxed in the water, felt my cervix dilate to what must have been ten centimeters and oh boy, I was ready to push! We were all pretty surprised that only two hours and seven minutes into active labor I was pushing. She was born seven minutes later. We were happily surprised to have a little girl. She was nine pounds even and twenty-one inches long. We now have two girls and two boys. This was my second home birth. My older two were born out-of-hospital at the Madison Birth Center. They were all born in the water. There is no better place to give birth than at home if you can. It is peaceful, the place where you feel most comfortable which helps with relaxation and is very convenient.