Sounds like a nice birth!
Sebastian's taking a nap on the couch next to me, so I thought I'd start typing out the birth story. I'm sure I've left things out. I hope it makes sense.
I call it:
Holy Fast Labor, Batman!
I had Sebastian Thursday, March 24th (four days before my due date. Note: I've been expecting to go late). On Wednesday I had some watery bloody discharge and felt just a tad crampy. I'd been having Braxton-Hicks for several weeks, but was experiencing them more as random stomach tightening than as contractions. They certainly weren't something I could time.
Wednesday night, a friend came over to watch America's Next Top Model at our house. My husband and I went to bed around midnight. Just before 4 am, I woke up and went to the bathroom. I was still having slightly bloody discharge and imagined maybe I saw a tiny bit of mucous (but nothing much). I went back to bed but couldn't fall asleep. I had two cramp-like contractions and thought, "Whoa. That's different. This might be something!" They felt like someone stretching a large rubber band across my stomach and around to my back (I may have read that description somewhere, but that's how I experienced them). I moved to the couch and tried to distract myself until my husband woke up at 7am. I figured one of us should get some sleep! I timed my contractions. They came roughly every 10-15 minutes and lasted 30-45 seconds long. They seemed to be the real thing.
At seven, when he got up, I told my husband I thought I was in early labor. We had several "early labor plans" -- going to the grocery store together to buy labor and post-partum food; making a batch of bran muffins, a pan of lasagna, and a breakfast casserole; cleaning the bathroom; filling the birth tub, etc. And maybe we'd watch a movie or take a walk. First, though, I texted my doula and called my midwife. They both told me to distract myself, maybe drink a glass of wine (not likely at 7am, as I'm not much of a drinker anyway), and take a shower. The doula told me to stop timing contractions for the time being.
In the shower, I had to lean forward under the massage shower head and let the water pummel my back during contractions. They hurt, but I knew it was just the beginning, so I tried to keep a brave face. My husband set up and filled the birth tub in our kitchen. At 10:00 my midwife came by to check on me on her way to another appointment (I live in Brooklyn; her next appt. was in Jersey City, NJ). I told her my contractions were about 10 minutes apart. I was sitting on the toilet then and she did not do an internal check because we discussed how I thought my water had broken (in a thin stream, not a gush) while I was in the shower. She checked a pad I'd worn after the shower and said, yes, it was amniotic fluid and there was no trace of meconium. She listened to the baby's heartbeat before during, and after a contraction and said it sounded great. She left to go to her next appointment and said she expected she'd hear from me when things were 5 minutes apart -- maybe later that evening.
When my midwife left, my husband ran to the grocery store to buy a few supplies (we hadn't had time to do anything on our list, and things seemed to be setting us up for a short labor). I resumed timing contractions because I felt they had really picked up in intensity and speed. By 11am, I was averaging 4 minutes to 4 1/2 minutes apart, for a minute or a little longer each time. And they really HURT! I thought perhaps I was having back labor. I couldn't figure out anything to do to cope with the pain. Leaning over the sink had stopped working. Having someone press on my back had stopped working. I got on my hands and knees and moaned and complained. But I couldn't get in the tub because my water had broken.
I called the doula. I told her I couldn't cope and that things were moving too fast. She told me it would be 45 minutes to an hour before she could get to our apartment and that I should get back in the shower. I did, but the water was only barely helping. I started to feel weird and, I dared to think, "pushy." Uh oh! I tried really hard not to push and was mostly successful. I made my husband call the midwife. She listened to me on speaker phone. I had a terrible contraction and felt something pop right at my vaginal entrance. I said that out loud, "I feel pushy! I'm trying not to! I felt something pop!" It felt super-intense and wrong. I started to get scared.
My midwife said I should get out of the shower and lie on the floor. She was driving back from her appointment in New Jersey as fast as she could. The doula showed up then (thankfully, it did not take her an hour!) and tried to coach me to not push, as I tried to moan rather than scream and breathe short breaths rather than grunt. I couldn't get comfortable on my side or on my back. . I ended up on my hands and knees (trying to kneel on towels, but I kept slipping onto the tile) in our tiny bathroom. I was accidentally hitting my head and hands and feet and legs on the walls, the toilet, the floor, the radiator with each contraction. Sometimes that pain actually made me feel a little better!
I heard my doula (who was on the phone with my midwife) say, "I see a foot." What?! My baby was head down! Every ultrasound and every midwife and doula who checked me had said the baby was head down! Only one time had my midwife been unsure, and that was months ago, and she still thought he was probably head down!
Nope. He was breech and a foot had been pushed out of me. I couldn't bear to look at or touch it, but once she said that, I could feel there was something between my legs. A poor, little black-and-blue leg and foot. Apparently, it was kicking. The baby's heart beat was still strong. I was scared, and said so. I said this was all wrong. I said I was sorry. I said it to my baby and my husband and my body. I was so angry at every woman who had ever had an easy labor. ;) Every contraction was so painful, and the pain in my back continued like the worst backache/kidney infection ever -- even in between contractions.
My midwife made it back to our place from Jersey City in 25 minutes, which is amazing. I remember when she was on the phone she had said, "I'm driving fast! Should I get off of speaker phone and drive faster?" The doula said, "NO, stay on speaker phone and drive faster!" They did have to take our end off of speaker phone, though, so the midwife could hear the doula over my noises. When the midwife finally arrived (never have I been so glad to hear the doorbell), she double-parked and left her emergency blinkers on and a "medical emergency" sign on her windshield in the hopes she wouldn't get towed (I found out later). She told us that we needed to decide whether we were going to go to the hospital for an emergency breech delivery. She said it would certainly be a C-Section. Now, I didn't want a C-Section, but what I really didn't want was to get up, get down 3 flights of stairs, get into a car, and drive to a hospital!! With a foot and leg hanging out of me!! And what I really REALLY didn't want was to make the decision. I felt crazed and unprepared. I told her I'd do what she advised. My husband said later he'd felt the same way -- completely unready to make that call. We both wanted her to make it, and she did. She said she thought we should attempt to see this breech homebirth through. She, like me, didn't know how I'd make it out of the house. She thought I'd probably end up having the baby in the car. And she knew that breech births are possible vaginally. What I didn't know was that she'd only done two herself. I'd never asked! She had a good success rate turning babies, so hasn't done more than that.
Luckily, she and the doula had just recently watched three vaginal breech births (on video), so the knowledge that it IS possible was fresh in their minds. They settled in to coach me through the remaining contractions and were so patient and kind. I made terrible, low noises and tried to breathe. I felt so awful and thought it would never end. I didn't want to do it. I wanted it to stop. But I knew I had to let my body take over. Oh, it hurt. I kept saying, "I'm so scared." Maybe not the best mantra, but I was being honest with myself. I told my husband I was sorry if I was scaring him, too. I couldn't see anyone. I was bent forward over the toilet (which had a pillow on the closed seat by now), kneeling on towels and tile. My knees feel so bruised today. I was embarrassed and angry about how dirty our toilet looked! I didn't want to touch it, but I had to. I was just along for the ride. My husband breathed along with me hoping it would help me be less embarrassed about the noises I was making -- and I was embarrassed. I thought the neighbors would call the cops, thinking I was being murdered. I can't believe (we saw them today) they said they were home and didn't even hear me!!
The first time I felt any relief was when the second leg came out. Oh! I let myself believe MAYBE this would end, but the contractions still hurt terribly. Some of the back pain let up, and my midwife told me later that she thought the second foot/leg had been inside scraping along my sacrum and causing the pain. Birthing the butt also hurt very badly. I kept feeling like I'd push and make progress, and then everything would slip back in (though, of course, not everything was slipping back in). My midwife told me, "We can see testicles! We know it's definitely a boy!" I didn't care. After the butt came out, he pooped meconium, but when it first came out he (and all the fluid, I felt like water just poured out of me, though some of that could have been blood) did not have meconium in it, so they knew he hadn't aspirated meconium inside of me (since they still couldn't get to his head, this reassured them somewhat).
After the butt, the chest came out in another painful contraction or series of contractions -- I'm not sure how long it took. I guess I was pushing for 30 minutes? I was out of the shower trying NOT to push for 30 minutes before that? And in the shower trying NOT to push for 15 minutes before that? That's roughly the timeline.
Now only the head remained inside my body. They couldn't get a heartbeat reading on the doppler anymore and the cord didn't seem to be pulsing well, so my midwife said, "I'm sorry, I'm going to have to put my hand inside you." I think I moaned/yelled, "Oh no..." There was a terrible pressure and I had to push. It turns out, she had put fingers into the baby's mouth to tip his head down so that he could come out. The cord was wrapped twice around his neck, so she unwrapped it. He came out into a pile of towels between my legs. I heard him crying right away. My husband said he doesn't think they had to suction him. I felt like I couldn't look. I was shocked. I couldn't believe it was over. I couldn't believe it. I finally realized he was there, between my legs, in a towel, and I could barely touch him. This couldn't be real. But finally I was able to get my breath back and move with him out of the bathroom (and off of my knees) onto our couch, which was covered with old sheets and shower curtains and pads and things. I birthed the placenta there in two painful pushes and everyone said it looked great. I could only look at my baby in shock. The midwife and the doula and my husband and I were all sort of in shock. We kept talking about all the details -- everything that had happened. We sort of couldn't believe we had done it. I still sort of can't believe it.
Sebastian Cook was born on my bathroom floor after 8-9 hours of labor at 12:34 pm yesterday. He weighed 8lbs 9 oz. He was apparently a footling breech (surprise!). He's 20 1/2 inches long and his head is 37 cm. I can't believe we did this at home. I can't believe I didn't end up in the hospital emergency room. I'm so glad everyone is safe and happy today. Sebastian seems great We're working on breastfeeding and doing okay. I didn't tear (what?!) but I'm pretty sore (of course!). My knees are very tender. Sebastian's leg is gradually pinking up (the one that was hanging out of me the longest).
I just can't believe it.
p.s. I never got into the filled birth tub, of course. There went my dreamy (so I'd dared to wish) ideal water birth!! I always had doubts about renting it, but I'm not pretending I saw this coming!
p.s.2. When I talked to someone (my sister?) about the birth later, she said, "Did you ever wish you had painkillers available to you?" And, you know, I never once wished I did EXCEPT for a silly, fleeting moment when I made a joke in my head and thought, "Oh, man, my back hurts so much. But maybe if I took a few Tylenol from the medicine cabinet behind me they might take the edge off." Even as I thought it, I laughed at myself and then transitioned back into an incredibly painful contraction.
that is an amazing birth story! i can't believe you gave birth to a breech baby on dry land, you are a rock star!!!
We are strong women who know how to give birth, you are are a testament to that innate ability within all of us. I hope you share that courage and your story far and wide with all the pregnant women you meet!