by Natalie Telyatnikov
When I was just 1 day shy of 41 weeks gestation, my midwife called me, concerned.
“There are a few things that make homebirths less safe,” she said, “and this is one of them.”
In this instance, my midwife was NOT referring to the fact that I was “overdue”… she was instead referring to the doomsday weather report: A surprisingly harsh mid-March blizzard was due to hit Southern Connecticut in a mere 20 hours, and the governor had already issued a highway travel ban, which would take effect later that night and render it illegal to be on the roads.
“So there’s a chance we won’t be able to get to you,” she said. “In which case, you’ll need a backup plan—perhaps an emergency transfer to the hospital, because emergency vehicles are the only vehicles which are legally allowed to drive during travel bans.”
That is how my birth story begins.
And spoiler alert: It’s a stark contrast from how it ends!
Despite potential causes to worry, my husband and I remained at peace. We really felt confident that everything would end up working out.
For I was not yet in labor when our midwife warned us of the impending weather—the warning was purely pre-emptive.
Then, at around 9 p.m. that night—a mere 4 hours before the snowstorm began—my surges sure enough came—starting slowly to roll in. I was in very early labor, and my contractions were still quite irregular, at roughly 9-to-15 minutes apart.
We called the midwife to alert her of these early labor signs, and she immediately put herself on standby. Her generous plan was to leave her house in two hours time and head for mine, should my labor be showing any signs of progressing.
Sure enough, at the two-hour-phone-check-in, we gave her the update that things were still underway. My contractions were almost regular at 10 minutes apart by then, and she kindly decided to take a gamble on us.
So she packed her bags.
She made the call to join us much earlier than she otherwise would have, given the prominent situation. And she graciously promised that she would be happy to have a snowed-in slumber party at our house, even if my labor were to stall out completely… so that I wouldn’t feel any guilt about her sacrifice, or any undue pressure for my labor to progress at any pace other than what would be it’s natural course.
Relief washed over my husband and I. What a joyous twist of fate! What incredibly good fortune! We would now have our birthing team bunkered down with us throughout the storm.
There really was nothing to fear.
They would be stuck by our side for the duration!
The clock struck 12 midnight by the time the midwife and her assistant arrived, and the doula came shortly after, too. Her car had trouble managing in all the snow.
We ushered them all into their guest rooms, to get a good nights rest.
With our beautiful birth team tucked snug in their beds, my husband held my hand and we quietly meditated and breathed together all through the night–through the rest of my early labor surges—until they were consistently 5 minutes apart, six hours later.
We didn’t have a care in the world, all that time. The midwife’s team was only down the hall, and could come to our aid at a moment’s notice!
So at 6 a.m. on that beautiful snowy day, with the sun rising high and the snowflakes falling heavily outside of our large picture windows, we asked our sleeping birth team to rise from their beds, to help us blow up our birth tub.
I continued to labor to the comforting, familiar hum of my husband’s espresso machine, cranking out hot cappuccinos for the ladies.
I deeply inhaled the smell of the coffee, and the wonderful peppermint essential oil my doula had wafted in front of my nose, amidst jokes that my husband and I were “running a bed-and-breakfast,” before falling deeper and deeper into transition.
Soon, hands rubbed my tense neck, back and thighs, so that I could try to relax, despite the strength of the surges.
When contractions finally came intensely at 2-3 minutes apart and with great, shaking force, I was helped into the tub—and it was then that the most incredible sense of calm and serenity washed over me. It was as if someone had taken me out of the strenuous part of my birthing process and checked me straight into a spa.
I sighed and smiled, chatted and joked.
My husband hugged me tight in the tub as I relaxed deeply and melted into his strong shoulders. This was bliss.
After my body lovingly received that glorious and much-welcome 20-minute break from surges, I came out of the water, wrinkly and re-charged, ready to birth anew.
I squatted on my hands and knees to begin pushing, and the midwife mentioned to me at this point that my baby might end up being born en caul!
My water bag had begun to surface, but after much more pushing, it finally burst in a powerful gush.
Soon after this, now 11:55 a.m., while sitting in a squat which was heavily supported by my husband, our second son was born, right there in our living room, in the middle of the most glorious blizzard reported since 2013 (the year his older brother was born)—surrounded by glowing candles, birth affirmations hanging from a Christmas tree, heavily falling snow, 5 adoring faces, 4 empty cappuccino cups, 3 unpacked sleepover bags, and a whole world of love.
Natalie Telyatnikov is a baby-care instructor at HypnoBirthing of Connecticut and co-moderates their Life After Birth CT program (a fun and fabulous postpartum support group for mothers and their babies). She is trained in Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders and Components of Care through Postpartum Support International, and is the Founder and Creator of Better Postpartum, an online program for mothers who want to have the happiest and healthiest postpartum possible.