Charlotte’s accidentally unassisted HBAC
I think a good place to start the story would be with the Saturday midwife 39week appointment with Nancy, my CNM midwife, and her CPM assistant, Andrea.
I had been crying and emotionally nutty the last 2 days, thinking I would be pregnant forever, and getting frustrated when I tried to fold my enormous boob into my beautiful new 38HH nursing bra and it wouldn’t quite go—I am just tired of these huge boobs. Everything made me cry.
Lately I had a few issues with fasting morning sugars-they were high enough to be of concern, but not so high as to qualify me for a GD diagnosis. I went on metformin twice a day and followed a strict GD diet. My midwife and family practitioner would correspond and see me both once a week to coordinate care, as the FP is also Charlotte’s doctor. The FP also had a HBAC, so it was a great team who were both trying to do care to allow me to homebirth. We made a plan that we’d give me until the second due date (March 6) to just go ahead and have the baby on my own, but after March 6, we would need to figure out what to do about a possible induction. That would obviously change the homebirth plan completely, but I was very firm I would do what I needed to do about the health of the baby to make sure her transition was the best possible, as she might require extra monitoring for her sugar levels. My midwife was very glad to hear I didn’t shut out options and said we will just cross that bridge when needed.
Andrea checked the position of the baby to see how far down she was in the pelvis, and she was 3/5 of the way in using some sort of 5ths rule British midwives do. That means she was as far down in the canal as she could get before active labor began. Being as how I was near my first due date (2/28) and her position, Nancy told me I could go ahead and pump colostrum to 1. save for the baby in case I needed to help regulate her sugar right away and 2. bring on contractions. She also asked me to get a hold of some donor breastmilk, about 20-30oz., to also help with potential baby sugar regulation if needed.
Sunday: I sent out an email to my playgroup and get some breastmilk to be delivered to me Monday morning! I pumped around noon and got 20ml of liquid gold. We went putzing around the neighborhood from 3:30-4, but not a brisk walk at all. Around 7 I decided I was going to make a delicious homemade stroganoff, so I did, and wolfed it down. I then realized I had been having fairly regular contractions about 8-10 minutes apart that were different from the BH but not even notable enough to call anyone about them.
Another note: I had been listening to Hypnobabies CDs, attempting to learn to hypnotize myself, but I had no idea if it was “working” or not. I finally just gave up trying to figure out if I really was hypnotizing myself and just enjoyed listening to them while trying to relax or fall asleep for about 2 weeks or so. From about 10-11 I laid on the couch and listened to some tracks.
Around 11 I went to pee and saw pink on the toilet paper and got excited because it was bloody show. I figured I probably would give birth in the next 2 days. I called Nancy, who told me to take a shower and go to bed, and my doula Julie, who said to call her whenever I needed her.
I showered and shaved my legs, something I haven’t done since October! I also dried my hair with a round brush just passing the time. I dusted the bedroom and Mike started a load of laundry and dishes and then we went to bed.
From 1-4ish I laid in bed, listened to hypnobabies easy first stage labor track, sipped water, peed, began to vocalize through some contractions with low moans. I don’t know what it is about the lady’s voice, but she just kept telling me that with each “pressure wave” (contraction) it was bringing me closer to meeting my baby in my beautiful birthing time (I’m telling you, they can get quite cheesy) but at that time I was all like, “Right on, this woman knows what she is talking about, so I will just listen to her tell me these things.”
But sometime after 4, the lady was annoying me, and so were the contractions. I decided I needed a change of location and Mike said to let him know if he needed me. I made my way to the living room and had these intense sweats and chills, so I went to lie down under the buggie snuggie and felt my water broke as soon as I was supine. So I hefted my way over to the toilet and called for Mike. It is around 4:45 at this point. He comes in with the phone and laptop to start timing contractions at contraction master, and the midwife asked about baby moving around, color of the water, etc. and said she’d start heading over and she would call Andrea.
I didn’t think to call the doula yet because last labor when I felt like this and went into the birth center, I was only at 2cm. I didn’t really need help through them, and they really were just at the mildly annoying level before my water broke.
Mike starts putting up dishes and locating the hot water connection in order to fill up the tub the midwife will bring over with her, and I would just call out “s” for start contraction so we have a record to show her. I don’t think to call my doula because I thought I’d wait at least until 6:30 or so so she can sleep. Also, HC was born 42 hours after my water broke last time, so Mike and I both ASSumed we had plenty of time to let people sleep. He calls my mom and dad to come get Hannah Claire so they’d be here when she woke up to hand her off.
5:20ish I tell Mike to start up tub because I feel like I can get in the tub to wait for them to show up. Mike gets me grapes and water and cold washcloth. I feel like I am going to pass out or throw up. I cannot stand up but feel like maybe I need another change of location instead of the toilet, as the contractions are at least 1.5 min in length and 1 min. apart. In between I eat grapes and sponge myself off. During each contraction I would sort of sway on the toilet and make a low, loud aaaaooooaaahh sound.
At some point I feel like I need to poop and am happy because my body had not cleared itself out like it did last time. I quickly realize either this is the biggest turd of my life or it is the baby descending. Mike’s gone to make the bath. I reach down and feel a bulge and know I had better move or the baby will be born in the toilet I Didn’t Know I Was Pregnant style. I get the craziest urge to push and I do bear down and push hard while making this super animalistic noise, but then realize I have got to breathe the baby out and try to chill out so I don’t rip my anus and have all my organs and the baby fall out right there in the toilet. I then felt the ring of fire but it was more like the sides of fire and not even fire—just scrapey and really painful! That was the ONLY painful part of labor. At this point I know I don’t have time to get in the tub. I call for Mike, who leaves the bath water running and had heard the change in my labor noises, and when he comes in he finds me semi-standing over the toilet and can see hair.
He says, HOLY CRAP it’s the baby’s head. What do I do? I said get me a clean towel and put it on the kitchen floor. He was freaking out because I was really, really calm. I rip off my nightgown, got down on my hands and knees, and my body took over. At that point I really wasn’t in too much pain. I attribute being a birth story junkie to knowing what to do. I think he called the midwife but I don’t quite remember him talking to her, and at one point he put the phone down and wasn’t quite talking to her anyhow. I remember him telling me, “Nancy says to pant!” and I said, “Too late, the baby is coming out and I will ahhhhh her down!” I told him to not pull anything out, the baby would come out on her own, and to be ready to catch.
The rest of her head came out. I asked if he could see a cord around her neck, and he said he did, so I said see if it is loose enough to remove it. It was, and said she was pink. I said wait for her shoulders to turn and she would probably come right out. I was meanwhile just sort of hanging out with a baby hanging out of me, waiting for the next contraction, and “ahhhhing” during them. When I felt one I pushed/ahhhed, and the rest of her came out. He removed the rest of the loose cord and she looked around but didn’t cry right away—she was this great pink color. He helped me turn around so I could sit. I told him to get another towel and the snot sucker and we rubbed her down and I checked her airway.
She did let out a few cries but was very snuggly. I felt like I had torn on my right side somewhere and didn’t know the condition of my perineum, but knew I needed to sit in a way to allow the placenta to come out. We made sure the cord wasn’t knotted or constricted and I just held her and talked to her while Mike called back (or maybe kept talking) to the midwife. I knew not to do anything crazy like try to cut the cord myself or pull on anything to avoid hemorrhaging, so I literally hung out until about 10 min. later when Andrea arrived first. She immediately got to work. She had Mike cut the cord, examined Charlotte, examined me, got Charlotte all wrapped up to hand to Mike in warmed up blankets from the dryer while I got again on all fours until the placenta came out about 15 minutes later. She checked that over and nothing was retained. I got back on the toilet, she cleaned me up, and we made our way to the bedroom.
Nancy arrived and did my vitals while Andrea worked on Charlotte’s vitals. We got started on nursing and they gave us some family time while they both cleaned up in the bathroom and kitchen.
The next few hours were a party atmosphere. My parents showed up, totally just expecting to get HC at the door and leave, but we said, Would you like to meet your new granddaughter? They were absolutely shocked and it was just such a special moment to recount the story. HC woke up and came in and met her little sister. At first she was confused, but got so excited. We all hung out in there while Charlotte got weighed, measured, etc. My brother also stopped by before work. They all went out as I got 3 stitches for a first degree minor tear and a skid mark, but otherwise, my perineum somehow survived! My MIL came by on her way to a tennis match and brought biscuits. People left, and the midwives went ahead and had their Monday morning meeting in the front yard.
The rest of the day was a nice rotating of people, all who brought food! Charlotte S. was on her way over with donor breastmilk to help with the transition if needed, and brought all this amazing food and flowers. My friend Amy brought over this whole pasta spread and some good cheer. My FIL brought a big Smithfield Chicken and BBQ spread of food, and my brother came back over to hang out after work. My doula came over later and helped with latching, brought a little birthday cake, and brought the most amazing fresh herb sitz bath.
It literally was the craziest thing I have ever done and Mike and I were such a great team. I never, ever would have dreamed that I would just have a baby on my kitchen floor with just my family in the house and not even miss a meal. I also cannot have imagined 2 entirely different labors, as the first was a 42-hour ordeal ending in a c-section, and this one was about 42 minutes of intensity before baby popped out. I think the things that really helped this labor is that I really must have been hypnotized to relax so deeply to deal with contractions, and my body was so safe and secure at home with no one watching me or whatnot to just allow my body to open up like it was supposed to do, that she just had all sorts of factors aligned to come out. I didn’t try to fight things at all and did have confidence in my body. Fear or apprehension were not present at all in this birth. However, I had confidence in my body during my last labor, too, so it really just goes to show that labor is totally unpredictable for both scenarios!
Charlotte is nursing like a champ, my milk is in (LAWMERCY), and I have really enjoyed just lying in bed, snuggling my baby, having people bring me wild berry pie and delicious food, and taking pictures and whatnot. It is night and day difference between my recovery last time and this time. The midwives come to my house every other day to check on us, and again at 2 weeks, 4 weeks, and 6 weeks. I haven’t even gone outside since the walk on Sunday other than to get some sunshine in the back yard.
I don’t quite think it has set in for either one of us what exactly happened, and we sure are not thinking of the what-could-have-been type of scenarios. I do hope this story can be inspirational to others who are wishing for a homebirth, a VBAC, a HBAC, or whatever type of birth. Feel free to share it with those who you think might enjoy it!