It’s a girl!
Pepper Delphinium was born at home at10:18pm on Dec 28th – a week early, on a full moon. A tiny little baby doll at 6 lbs. 14 ounces.
Since all four of my other kids were born close to two weeks past due, I fully expected Pepper to be born around the 15th of January. But after two extended bouts of contractions at 38 weeks, (6 min apart for 6 hrs the first time and 10 min apart for 10 hours the second), I woke up at 4:30am on the 27th thinking I had to pee, walked to the bathroom and my water broke, bright red with blood. It was scary. I woke Dave up and called the midwife and after discussing the situation she thought it might just be blood from cervical irritation. I had a few contractions, but labor definitely wasn’t kicking in right away.
Dave took the day off work and we stuck around the house mostly. It was pretty outside, with snow falling, and we had the fireplace going and timed contractions when they came – but they weren’t nearly as regular or any more intense than my pre-labor contractions had been. I was going through all of my post partum pads due to constantly leaking amniotic fluid and every time I went to the bathroom the water was stained bright pink from blood. There was also a small amount of meconium on the pads, which was concerning to me. But our midwife came by and did a check up and baby’s heart rate was good. She wasn’t sure why I was having the bleeding, but because it was watery instead of a frank bleed, she felt that it wasn’t something to worry about, only to keep an eye on. And the meconium, too, was a small enough amount – and not all mixed in with the fluid – that she wasn’t concerned.
We went out to lunch and had a mellow day together, and tried not to worry – but it was stressful. I fell asleep that night to stronger contractions, but was just too worn out to stay awake.
By the time I woke up soon after 7 the next morning it had been 27 hours since my water broke, with no signs of strong contractions coming on. I called our midwife and she said that although there was little risk of infection, it would be better to get things moving along. She recommended nipple stimulation and trying cohosh tincture. We started both, and thankfully, by 12:30, had strong regular contractions going – about 3-5 minutes apart. We had to keep up the stimulation and tincture regularly though, or after about the fourth contraction they’d start to weaken and space out. After another couple hours the contractions were strong enough to require moaning through them and I was only having to use a small amount of tincture every hour or two. Contractions were about 4-5 minutes apart.
Our midwife came at around 7pm and the contractions became very very strong soon after that. It wasn’t long before I could feel our baby moving down and I had to concentrate really hard on opening and relaxing my body through the intense pain. It quickly got to the point where my vocalization was much louder and stronger and there was no real break from the pain in between contractions – just different levels. What I had thought was transition before that, I realized hadn’t been! It seemed to go on forever, but Dave says it was about an hour and a half – still a very long transition.
Finally my body started to push. Usually the pushing is the best part for me because I know there’s an end in sight and because my body just sort of takes over. But this time was so much harder than in the past! I honestly got to the point where I felt like I was not going to be able to birth this baby. I was having to put in so much effort – my pushing didn’t feel anywhere near as strong or effective as it should be – and the spacing in between the pushes felt enormous. Finally (Dave said it took between half an hour to an hour) I managed to push her out, on hands and knees on the bed. But it was pretty excruciating.
As her head came out Dave supported her and felt for the cord around her neck. It was, and was too tight to slip over her head, so he helped her shoulders out and had to help her legs out as well - as it turned out the cord was also quite short. I was still on my hands and knees and could hear her making little noises, but Dave says she was pale and her hands and arms were blue. The midwives suctioned her and stimulated her by rubbing and tapping and gave her a couple puffs of oxygen, and after a minute or less she pinked up and started breathing well on her own. She was so tiny compared to all my other babies! At first I had the shakes pretty badly and couldn’t hold her, but Dave held her skin to skin while I got warmed up a bit, and I was able to nurse her soon after that – she took just a couple minutes to get latched on.
The placenta wasn’t coming out easily so we waited a bit and then I decided to get in the shower and rinse off and then try again. Our midwife did have to help and it ended up being quite a bit of effort to birth/pull it out. Luckily it came out all in one piece and to our surprise was not only bipartite (meaning that the placenta has two separate lobes), but velamantous as well (both being very uncommon) - meaning the cord is attached at the edge with exposed vessels, rather than attached securely and protected in the middle of the placenta. Had the cord ruptured, which it is at risk of in that placement, the baby would have almost immediately died. The light bleeding we experienced was likely related to a disturbance to the cord around the time my water broke, and as it turns out, we were very very lucky that my water broke early and Pepper was born when she was. In retrospect, our midwife felt that a reason for my milder contractions was due to the weakness of the cord, that the birth needed to be slower in order to be safe, and that my water broke early because my body somehow knew the placenta and vessels couldn't last much longer as our baby gained weight. I am so thankful for our midwife and I feel so thankful that we had a homebirth without interventions that could have exacerbated the problem, and most of all that we were lucky enough to have everything go right that could have; that our beautiful little girl made it safely to us.