The Birth of Roberta Frances
on her due date: November 30th at 7:41AM
10lbs 8oz, 21.5 inches long
footling breech presentation
I had been having lots and lots of braxton-hicks contractions, coming up on my due date, but no sign that things were really moving along, aside from passing a few globs of my mucus plug on Thanksgiving morning and evening. Thanksgiving passed, and the weekend after passed and I was getting impatient to see my baby. My mom was flying into town on the Tuesday the 30th and I felt like I was running out of time. Around 10:45 on Monday, the evening of November 29th, I felt a small gush in my underwear and thought that I had peed myself -- it was enough to soak through my underwear, my pants, and leave a wet spot on the chair a couple inches across. When I went to the bathroom to clean myself up, I had a bit of blood-streaked mucus when I wiped. Fifteen minutes later, I had another gush of fluid, and this time the fluid was pink -- with more mucus and bloody show. I also had a few bowel movements, cleaning myself out, so to speak. So I knew something was going to be happening soon, and I figured I would try to go to bed and get some rest before things got going. I figured I would need my strength.
I woke up to a crampy contraction around 1:40AM. Went to the bathroom and had some more mucus/blood. Back to bed and another contraction. I was too excited to sleep, and too uncomfortable to stay laying down, so I decided to let DH get some sleep and headed out to the computer room to stream a movie on Netflix to distract myself. I probably chose the wrong movie -- The Curious Case of Benjamin Button -- I kept thinking I would be giving birth to an tiny old man, lol. Anyway, I really wasn’t able to pay much attention to the movie, because my contractions were gettting stronger and closer together, somewhere between 7 and 10 minutes apart. Around 4:30AM, I called my two friends who were planning to be at the birth, telling them I was having contractions and to come over around 6AM, when Amy usually wakes up. After that I called the midwife -- she said to call her back when my contractions were consistently under 6 minutes apart for an hour. I had only been loosely timing them up until then, so a little after 5AM I decided to start timing them using contractionmaster.com and they were pretty much immediately 6 minutes and under -- and most of them were pretty long -- a minute and a half or so. So it just became a waiting game to get to that hour, coping with each contraction as it came.
My two friends, Andrea and Sarah showed up around 5:45AM (they were too excited to fall back asleep, and I was glad to see them a little early) and we talked a little in between contractions. I sat on a little stool and leaned over the birth ball during some of them, moaning loudly and wondering when Amy would wake up. We reached the hour and called the midwife back -- a little after 6AM -- she said it sounded like it was time for her to come over. Amy continued to sleep for a while longer, but this is where I lose track of things a little, as things started getting really intense about then, with contractions every 2 to 3 minutes. I think Amy must have woken up around 6:30AM or so, and Andrea kinda took charge of caring for Amy -- getting her dressed and breakfasted, while Sarah was supporting me through super intense contractions. My water broke right about then, too, in a big big big gush, all over the stool and the floor in a flood. I just watched it flow, kinda helpless under a contraction. The water was clear, thank goodness.
I started feeling nauseated at the end of each contraction, and wanted to go into the bathroom to sit on the toilet. Sarah asked me if I wanted her to run a bath so I could get into the bathtub and I said yes, but once I got in, I just wasn’t feeling it. It was too confining or something, I needed to move around, and I felt like I needed to poop, so I got out and back onto the toilet. Once I got on the toilet, I felt something near the entrance (exit?) of my vagina, so I reached down to feel and it did not feel like a head. another contraction, and it was out, and I could feel it was a little foot. I could feel little toes, and when I touched them, the foot kind of kicked and wiggled. It was one of the strangest, most wondrous feelings I have ever felt in my whole life. I yelled, “It’s a FOOT!!!” I felt a little panicked, because I was not expecting to feel a foot, and because the midwife was not there yet. I yelled, “CALL (MIDWIFE’S NAME) NOW!!!” So DH called her, and I remember Sarah saying, “She is 3 minutes away, she said to get off of the toilet and onto the floor, and DON’T PUSH!”
So I was kneeling on the floor, leaning over the edge of the bathtub, panting and panting through contractions, trying hard not to push at all. Then the midwife arrived, and there was a lot of hustle and bustle as DH and Andrea carried her bags in from the car. She spread a blanket out on the floor of the hallway for me to crawl over to and lay on my side, but it was all slippery on the hardwood and I wanted to get on my bed. I waited till the end of a contraction, and then crawled on my hands and knees to the bedroom, all the while with this little foot dangling out of me. I got onto the bed, on my side, and Sarah held my top leg while the midwife felt up inside me to see if I was fully dilated or not yet. I guess I was, because she told me it was ok for me to push when I felt like it, with the next few contractions, and that once the baby was out to the point of the belly button, she was going to ask me to push and push and push whether I felt like it or not. I said ok, and the next couple of pushes brought the second foot out. I could feel the midwife grab ahold of the little legs and rotate the baby’s body to get it into the best position. another few contractions and the baby’s hips were out and it was time for me to push push push push constantly to get her out as fast as possible. i was roaring loudly and the midwife reminded me not to let all that energy out my mouth but to direct it downward, and then I felt the shoulders slip out and the head plopped out shortly after that. Chris said “It’s a girl” and they laid her on my chest. She was greyish purplish, but pinked up quickly with cute little cries.
So after she was born, while we were waiting for the placenta to come out, her umbilical cord came detached. I gave the baby to DH and he cut the cord because it wasn’t doing anything anymore. The placenta was taking too long to come, I guess, and the midwife was becoming concerned about the amount of blood I was losing. So she decided she needed to do a manual extraction. She reached up inside of me for what seemed like forever, digging around up in my uterus, trying to get the placenta to release. That was the very worst feeling I have ever felt. It was worse than labor, and worse than pushing, it was awful. DH and Sarah said that I turned white as a sheet from all the blood loss, and that the midwife had blood up to her elbow, and that it was dripping and very gory and scary looking. She finally got it to release, and she took it out to the kitchen to examine it to make sure she had gotten it all. Well, apparently, after examining it, she thought there might still be a little piece missing, so she had to go back up in there with some gauze pads to really make sure it was all out. She didn’t want me to get an infection from having retained a piece of the placenta. And later she told me it felt like I had a fibroid right where the part that wouldn’t release was, and that “rough spot” on my uterus was why it wouldn’t release. After she was done, she gave me a little shot of pitocin to help my uterus contract down, and we got the baby latched on -- baby opened right up and started nursing like a champ right away.
And while they (her backup midwife and their apprentice had arrived by this time) examined the placenta, they sort of were explaining what they were seeing to Sarah, (who relayed it all to me), and apparently I had a velamentous cord insertion, where the veins and arteries of the umbilical cord were running through to the membranes, rather than directly to the “meat” of the placenta. it is kind of a rare thing, and the more I google it, the more I feel like we really just barely dodged a bullet, because if my water had broken in a different spot, or if she had maybe been positioned differently (vertex instead of breech, for example) then the veins/arteries might have torn and things could have been bad. Very very bad. I am close to tears thinking about this, and feel so very very blessed. So lucky. So many unusual circumstances piled on top of each other -- the breech, the size of her, the placenta, the fact that she came right on her due date, it’s like the stars aligned to bring her safely into my arms.
The Birth of Roberta Frances