MotherStory: Koraline didn't plan to give birth at home, but baby did!

Here's the unusual MotherStory of Koraline, who gave birth to her daughter at home, with the help of her partner, which was absolutely not part of her birth plan! Despite the best of preparations (Koraline is a midwife), unforeseen events are part of the adventure, so it's important to be aware of them so you can accept and let go just in case. Find out hour by hour how this extraordinary birth unfolded.

Koraline, can you introduce yourself in a few words?
I'm 33 years old and the mother of a little girl who will soon be 2. Her name is Imany. A midwife since 2016, I've been working at the HUG for 7 years. 4 years ago, I gave birth to my second baby -Mam: a box of products designed to heal the intimate sphere for young postpartum moms. 

How did you cope with your pregnancy? Were you better prepared because of your job?
Apart from the 1st trimester, I had a great pregnancy. In the middle of covid and working at the hospital, I was stopped very early! That allowed me to take full advantage and do lots of things for myself. 

Giving birth at home wasn't part of your birth plan. What happened?
At 40 weeks and 5 days, I was already past my term, yet baby didn't seem to want to show his nose. Not wanting to be provoked, I tried everything: herbal tea, dates, massage, midwife's secret blend to ripen the cervix, but nothing.

14h
In the middle of July, I decide to let go of my tricks and relax at the pool. You really can't control anything in obstetrics, midwife's word (laughs).

17h
Back home, I have small contractions but I have them every day at the end of the day, so I'm fine.

11pm
My partner and I decide to go for a walk to digest and enjoy the evening breeze. On the way back, I feel a contraction that literally knocks me down, and just like in the movies, I have to hang on and blow like hell. 

00h
We make it home as best we can. finally make it home. I try to sit on the ball but the pressure is too great on my perineum and I can't sit down. Dad-to-be, as relaxed as can be, tells me a few jokes. At that moment, between pain and laughter, my body/heart sways. I isolate myself in the half-light of our bedroom to concentrate on these contractions that are coming anarchically. My midwifery reflex (still present) tells me that they're still too irregular and too far apart to call anyone. 

00:15
After a few accupressure massages on my back, I feel a warm liquid flowing out. I'm convinced I've urinated on my partner's feet (laughs). I turn around, but there's nothing there. I go to the bathroom to check and my water broke. No doubt about it, my seasoned midwife's nose would recognize between a thousand and one this olfactory signature so particular to amniotic fluid. 

Wanting to arrive at the maternity hospital as clean as possible, I decide to take a quick shower before leaving. My partner, well briefed on the famous marathon, reassures me and advises me to take a bath instead while he gathers his things, and then we'll leave quietly. A great idea! Despite the intense July heat, this hot bath does me a world of good. I immerse my belly and relax completely, no longer feeling the weight of my body. 

I had no sense of time at that point. I remember trying to examine myself (yes, another professional deformation I can't help) but I couldn't. Every time I touched my cervix, it triggered a contraction. I gave up. 

1h
As the contractions intensify, I shout to my partner to come and hold my hand and help me. I remember him laughing every time I suffer and crush his hand, which makes me laugh too. 

I ask her to call my midwife to let her know we're on our way. That evening, unfortunately, there was no answer. Our call is answered by a midwife from the emergency room, who, from what she hears in the distance, advises us to come now or call the ambulance. 

An ambulance? I'm not going to call 144 for this... As soon as I hang up, the next contraction is so strong it makes me push.

An important detail: I realize that I'm pushing to give birth as I write this. At the moment, I'm in total denial and convinced that I'm having a bowel movement in the bath, in front of my partner! Imagine the stress of imagining that the only thing he's going to see is this brown thing floating on the surface of the bath... 

I come to my senses, the contraction subsides and my brain prompts me to tell my companion to call 144 anyway. Maybe it's for the best...

The head office answers. He briefly explains the situation and at that moment I realize (finally) that I'm actually pushing again to give birth! The paramedic tells him what to do: "Take her out of the bath and put her on the bed. Get some clean towels and put them on the bed. You'll need to receive the baby. " Receive what?

After a second's hesitation (I'm no longer here, my companion is telling me what's happening), he pulls me out of the water and gently places me on the bed. He runs off to get what the ambulance driver asked him for and comes back the next second. 

Comfortably settled on all fours on the bed, the paramedic asks, " Can you see anything? ". Backwards, he pretends to look with one eye: "No , no, I don't see anything. Oh yes, I can see hair!

A contraction arrives, I instinctively push with all my being. I feel this intense burning, the famous ring of fire, and spontaneously place my hand on my perineum. I feel my baby's head, already half out, and then my companion behind me places his hand on mine. I withdraw my hand and reposition myself, ready to push on the next contraction. I feel as if time has slowed down, the contraction doesn't come! 

1:30 am
The contraction arrives. I push off on all fours. My partner accompanies our daughter's head as she is born and places it gently behind me, between my legs. 

1:31
Ding dong! That's the cardio mobile and the doctor ringing. They arrive at just the right moment to record the birth, take over and make sure the baby's all right. 

Shooted up on endorphins, I laugh my lungs out and feel no sense of modesty while I'm still soaking wet from my bath, naked as a worm, on all fours, on the bed with my daughter still connected to me by the umbilical cord that Daddy will eventually cut. 

2:05 am
We wrap baby in a clean blanket and rush off to the maternity ward. I still haven't delivered, which means that the placenta is still in my uterus. It finally comes out 30 minutes later, thanks to the synthetic oxytocin coursing through my veins. 

How do you feel at this precise moment?
I feel, and above all WE feel, reassured! Everyone's fine, and Dad can finally breathe a sigh of relief. He was so calm and played the role of midwife to perfection. I still can't believe what just happened. It will take us a few days to land. I was greeted by my colleagues in the maternity ward with a lot of emotion, it was a very powerful moment. 

What was your original plan for the birth?
To give birth in a maternity hospital, surrounded by my colleagues and, above all, the friends I chose for this very important moment. I certainly hadn't planned to give birth at home, given my professional background, let alone have my husband play the role of midwife! In the end, it was the craziest and most emotional experience. As you can imagine, our apartment now has a very special value! 

And then, if it was so quick (1h15) it had to be that way.

Was your partner shocked by the home birth?
Luckily not, because we talked about it a lot afterwards. But it's crazy when I think back on it! I had warned him that labor could be (very) long for a first pregnancy. As a good midwife, I had prepared a plan of attack in the spirit of a marathon, including a little snack, her role as coach, massages, music... In short, everything I recommend to my patients on a daily basis! So, no matter how much you prepare yourself over and over again, you have to accept that the unexpected can happen at any time.

From a midwife's and mom's point of view, what do you think of a home birth?
Although the idea of giving birth at home is an incredible experience, as a healthcare professional I can only advise against it, for obvious safety reasons. If, however, you really want to do it, you'll need to prepare with your midwife. She will be responsible for you and your baby and, in an emergency, will have to take action and organize a transfer to hospital. It's a heavy responsibility, and one that few midwives are willing to take on. So keep all possible scenarios in mind, both the best and the worst, so that you're mentally prepared.

On a personal level, giving birth at home was the most incredible experience of my life. I realize the strength and power of my body, which I was able to listen to and let go. I wish all women a similar experience, whether at home, in a birthing center or in a maternity hospital. 

There's no such thing as an ideal birth; the perfect birth is hers!