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My First Home Birth: the Final Weeks

The weeks leading up to my due date were keeping me well distracted from the fact that I would soon be delivering a baby. I was working full time as a part specialist. We were gathering what we would need for the home birth. We were seeing what we could do or what could be done about the fact that Rob's ex-wife took his daughter back and wouldn't let us see her. And we were spending as much time as we possibly could with Grammy.

My due date came and went, as I expected. Grammy's health had been going downhill since she came home from the hospital. She was eating and drinking less, communicating less, losing more and more reality each day. It was the Thursday before Easter and I got a dreaded call from my mom. Grammy had taken a turn for the worse and her care providers were under the impression that we were very close to losing her. I went over to my parents’ house right away. For the last of countless times in my life the only people that filled that space were my brother, my mom, my dad and my Grammy. I hugged her, loved her, spoke to her and I slept back at my house planning to return the next morning before my extended family began to arrive.

I arrived in the morning as planned. Sometimes we sat in Grammy's room in silence. Sometimes we spoke just to each other but in her presence. Sometimes we spoke directly to her. Most of our conversations filled the rooms with memories of Grammy, from her house in Saginaw where we were all raised, different holidays spent together, notorious QVC gifts for Christmas and more. My extended family trickled in and the dance continued. There was a constant rotation in and out of her room, we were wary of leaving her alone. Friday came and went, and my parents’ home was filled with loved ones. Some slept in beds, some on couches or in recliners, cots and even on the floor.

Saturday more people came for their goodbyes. A simple in and out to see her one last time while the rest of us were holding space and waiting. We said a rosary around Grammy as a group and followed it up with more memories and music. "Nobody Knows" by the Lumineers brings me back to that night each time I hear it.

There is one moment from that evening that will never leave me. I was sitting next to Grammy and holding her hand. She opened her eyes and looked at me. "Alex?" she asked. I stood up and put my face in front of hers, "Don't cry, baby, I'm going to be alright, don't cry." I told her I loved her. "I love you too, goodbye honey." She said. My heart weighed a million pounds in that moment. I never would have asked for a goodbye like that from her. It had been a long time since she acknowledged anyone in the room so the fact that she called me by name was an emotional surprise. I will hold that last conversation with Grammy close to my heart forever.

The following morning was Easter Sunday. It had been a grueling few days. None of us knew what to do anymore. We all wanted to be there for Grammy but many of us had to go. Rob had taken time off to be there, but he had to go back to work the next day. I was over a week past my due date and, while I know it was out of love, I had more than one family member questioning my home birth plan due to how late I was. They were questioning when I planned to "go in". Someone went as far as to ask if I thought Grammy was waiting for Xander to come before she passed. The same person asked me if I was "waiting" for Grammy to pass to go into labor. Neither suggestion was constructive nor welcomed with grace if I'm being honest. Grammy was still fighting to stay while Rob and I, along with everyone in my family besides my brother, made the hard decision to return home.

I didn't realize it was Easter until Rob and I got home and had to figure out what to do for dinner. All we could find was Dominos. We ate it in the basement with a movie on that I didn't pay any attention to. Monday was slow. I spent it at home while Rob was working, and Tuesday was the same. I had just laid my head on my pillow Tuesday evening when my phone rang. It was mom. Grammy was gone. I drove to her house, so she didn't have to be alone when the funeral home came. Grammy was gone.

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