Acacia Lily's Birth StoryIt's a long story, but it was a long labor!...
On Tuesday evening, April 11th, I was eight days “overdue”. I had an appointment with my midwife scheduled for Wednesday evening, at which point we’d be discussing making an appointment with our unofficial back-up doctor for a non-stress test on the following Monday, if the baby had still not come. I decided to attend my La Leche League meeting, rather than sit at home waiting for something to happen. On my way home, I thought about how “normal” I felt, and wondered if this baby would ever come. I went to bed at around 10pm.
I awoke at about 1am. “Was that a contraction?” I thought to myself. It certainly felt like one. No matter. It was the middle of the night and I certainly needed my sleep. Asher (my 2 year old) woke up at about 1:30 and asked to nurse. As I nursed him back to sleep, I felt my contractions getting stronger, although they were only about 15 minutes apart and maybe 30 seconds long. Nonetheless, I started to get excited about the prospect of this actually being “the real thing”. I tried to sleep on and off over the next couple of hours, but couldn’t get my brain to shut down. I was feeling hungry, so, at about 3:30, I decided that if I couldn’t sleep, I had better go downstairs and eat something. Two slices of peanut butter toast and a glass of orange juice later, my contractions had stopped. A little discouraged, I went back to bed and slept until morning.
On Wednesday, I went about my morning as usual. Every once in a while, I’d feel a contraction or two, but they were not regular at all. I had an appointment with my chiropractor at 11am. He was quite behind, so I didn’t end up seeing him until closer to noon. On my way home, at about 12:15pm, my contractions started up again. Asher was so tired from having waited at the chiropractor’s office for so long that he went down for his nap without eating any lunch. I sat down to a light lunch by myself and started timing contractions. They were about 10 minutes apart and averaged 45 seconds long for the next several hours. When Asher woke up at 2:45pm, I realized that I was going to have a hard time keeping up with him by myself. Thankfully, my husband, Chris, would be done with work in about 15 minutes. At exactly 3:01pm, I called his cell phone and told him to come home as soon as he could. He was a bit bewildered that I had waited to call him until after he was done with work, and that I had not yet called Ginnie, our midwife. He asked me to call her before he arrived home. He also reminded me to call my mom, as she would be caring for Asher for us during the birth. She was still at work, but would be able to leave at 3:30. I said that would be fine, and that she was free to go home and change before coming to get him. There was no rush.
I called Ginnie as soon as I had seated Asher at the table with his late lunch. I could not believe I was actually saying this, but I told her “I think this is it”. She asked me for some details, and then told me that it sounded like things were still pretty early. She would cancel our appointment for that evening, and call me in a couple hours, unless I called her first.
The next hours were a bit of a blur. I was quite excited, but still not completely convinced that this was real labor. My mom came to pick up Asher, and then I did my best to relax while also keeping up normal activity. Ginnie called at around 5pm, and asked for an update. Things were pretty much the same, so I doubted that she needed to come. Chris answered the phone, though, and told her that I was not sure whether or not this was really “it”, so maybe she should come so we would know for sure. She was already halfway to town anyway, so she decided to pay us a visit.
Ginnie arrived at our house somewhere between 5:30 and 6pm. My contractions slowed down quite a bit while she was there. We decided that she should check me, and I was only about 1cm dilated, but about 80% effaced. I felt embarrassed, but she was glad she had come. I had been “gearing up” to have a baby that night. I needed to start “gearing down”, because that was unlikely to happen. She instructed me to eat a good dinner, take a bubble bath, and get a good night’s sleep. We should leave Asher with my folks until it was just about his bedtime, so that he would be tired enough to go to sleep right away when he came home.
She also thought I should know that she did have another woman overdue at the same time as me. She did not say it to scare me, but only to prepare me for the possibility that Pam, her assistant, would not be with us. Since I was a VBAC, and this other woman was a grand-multipara (expecting her tenth baby), Ginnie would be with me if we went into labor at the same time.
During the night, contractions woke me up 2-3 times per hour, but I otherwise managed to sleep well. Thankfully, Asher slept well, too, and only woke up to nurse once or twice. It was now Thursday morning, and Chris took the day off of work to stay with me and help me take care of Asher. During the morning, they seemed to be forming a pattern again, and they were really starting to hurt. Then they slowed down for a while again. It was pretty much a start-stop pattern all day, and I was growing quite discouraged. I called Ginnie, and she suggested some fresh air and a walk, so we took Asher to the park. I labored on a park bench for about an hour while Chris chased him around the playground. As we walked home, I wondered how much longer I would have to wait. I told Chris that at least I had given this baby time to come on his or her own. Even if we ended up in the hospital with another c-section, I knew our baby was ready to be born.
I tried to go about my day as usual, but I wasn’t doing a very good job of it. Asher seemed disturbed by seeing mommy in labor, and responded by asking to nurse more often. Nursing was very uncomfortable for me, and I would often get a very strong contraction which necessitated me putting him down, which only upset him more. I called Ginnie again sometime early in the afternoon to ask for some advice as to how to cope with the pain. We came to the conclusion that even though Chris was home, having Asher around was making it difficult for me relax and surrender to my labor. My mom came to get him right after she was done with work at 3:30pm. Chris made me some whole-wheat toast, and I retired to bed to try to get some sleep and listen to the CD of labor music I had made for myself. Chris sat with me for about an hour and started timing contractions again (we hadn’t timed them all day long). They were about 10 minutes apart and a minute long.
Almost as soon as we were done with our hour of timing, contractions completely stopped. Ginnie called soon thereafter (around 5pm, I think). She said, “Maybe this is the Lord’s way of giving you some rest.” I was feeling quite discouraged, but decided to trust that this was true. “Okay,” I said, “That’s the way I will choose to take this.” She responded, “That’s the way you have to take this. Everything happens for a reason.” What she didn’t tell me at the time was that, as we spoke, she was on her way to this other woman’s house, whom had just gone into active labor. God was clearly at work, just at the point when I felt like He wasn’t answering my prayers. I was tired, and I was starting to worry that my labor would never progress and that I would end up in the hospital with another c-section. I decided to send out an email, asking my friends and family who supported my desire to have this baby at home to pray for me.
Sometime around 6pm, Chris decided that, since nothing was happening at the moment, that he would get out of the house for a bit and pick up something to eat. I really wasn’t hungry, but he definitely was! As he was leaving, I got into the bathtub again, and called my best friend in Indiana. She had tried calling earlier in the day, at a time when I was definitely not up for talking. She asked me how things were going, and I told her the whole story. I asked her to pray that I would have my baby very soon. We hung up, and I sunk back into the tub and managed to get myself into a very relaxed state. I soon started to have regular contractions again.
Chris came home at around 7:15pm. I was feeling a bit light-headed, so I asked him to come upstairs and help me out of the tub. Upon getting out of the tub, I immediately lunged for the toilet and vomited. I now knew I was “really” in labor, since I had vomited through my entire labor with Asher. Chris ran downstairs to put his dinner (still uneaten) in the refrigerator and ran back up to be with me. Ginnie called, and Chris answered the phone. “Well, she’s vomiting right now,” I heard him say. She then told him how this other women had gone into active labor right when mine had stopped, and that she had just given birth to her baby. She was sending Pam over to our house right away, and she would be coming herself as soon as she could. I was quite excited to be having regular contractions that seemed to be making progress. I slipped into a favorite nightgown, sat on my birth ball and leaned over the bathroom counter. Chris rubbed my back, and I sipped Gatorade between contractions. Now, THIS was really “it”!
Pam arrived at 8pm, and not a minute too soon. I was starting to feel like I needed some help. She was so good! She knew exactly how to help me breathe and relax through the contractions. I kept thinking, “if only my nurse at the hospital knew what she knows, I wouldn’t have needed the Nubaine”. Pam suggested that I go downstairs and eat something, since I hadn’t eaten much all day. We went downstairs and Chris opened a can of peaches (the only thing I could think of in my kitchen that wouldn’t just immediately bounce). My contractions were getting stronger, so I didn’t eat much before I felt like I needed to lie down again. Pam and Chris helped me upstairs, and Pam decided to check me so she could call Ginnie and give her an idea of where we were at. I was three centimeters and almost completely effaced. I was thrilled to be actually getting somewhere! Pam also checked the baby’s position and determined that she was starting to turn posterior (just as Asher had done during my labor with him), so she had me lay on my left side with my right leg crossed over, and she and Chris applied counter-pressure to my lower back. Eventually, she had me turn over to my right side, so that my cervix would dilate evenly.
It wasn’t long before I started feeling very sick again, and soon I was vomiting like crazy. The pain of the contractions was also starting to scare me. I was shaking, and feeling very hot. Fortunately, because I was home with people I trusted, I was able to vocalize and deal with my fear. Ginnie called to say that she was now able to leave her other mother and come to us. Pam told Ginnie that I was showing signs of transition. That was so good to hear! Could the end really be in sight? I sucked on ice chips between contractions to stay hydrated, and did my best to stay relaxed despite the shaking.
Ginnie arrived at around 2am. It was hard to believe that so much time had past. We were all quite exhausted from all this hard work. I was still very nauseous and vomiting frequently. I needed to empty my bladder, so everyone helped me get out of bed and walk to the bathroom…fortunately it’s just across the hallway! I felt very weak and light-headed upon getting up from the toilet, and started retching like crazy over the sink. Ginnie handed me some Pulsatilla to dissolve under my tongue, and then we headed back to bed.
We decided to do another vaginal exam at around 2:15am, because all other signs pointed toward pushing very soon. I was only 4.5 centimeters. My heart sank. It had taken my seven hours to dilate one and a half centimeters, and I didn’t know how much more I could take. Ginnie sent Pam and Chris downstairs to get some sleep. I didn’t want them to leave, but they were so tired from constantly rubbing my back. I lied down on my left side again, and did my best to take one contraction at a time.
My freezer was now completely out of ice, so we relied on an energy drink that Ginnie mixed with water. She had me take tiny sips to avoid nausea. As much as I didn’t like having Chris and Pam leave at first, Ginnie was very good at calming me down. I got very relaxed between contractions and even started to fall asleep. There was a loud and wonderful thunderstorm going on outside, which also helped me to relax. When I started to get scared again, she talked me through my fears. The pain from my back was now radiating down my thighs instead. This was a good thing, she told me. She kept saying, “You’re handling this perfectly.” “Perfectly?”, I thought, “I’m falling apart!” My thoughts started turning negative. Surely, I will never have another baby. I won’t do this ever again! During one particularly strong contraction, I started to panic. Ginnie very patiently talked me back down to a normal breathing pattern. When it was over I told her, “I don’t know how much longer I can do this.” She reassured me that I was doing great. I calmed down and relaxed through several more contractions.
At the end of the next contraction, I felt something different that sent me into a panic again. I didn’t realize that the feeling I felt was the urge to push! More specifically, my uterus was pushing without me having much to say about it. Fortunately, Ginnie knew exactly what was going on. She checked me again…just a tiny lip of cervix. She had me turn on my right side and called for Pam to wake Chris up. It was 3:15am. I had gone from 4.5cm to complete in only an hour! Another contraction came and my body pushed instinctively again. I thought, “Oh my word! I’m wetting the bed!” only to quickly realize that my water had broken. Where was Chris? I blurted out, “I’m scared!” again. No, Ginnie assured me, there was no need to be scared. Say, “Thank-you, Lord!” So I did, and it became my mantra throughout second stage.
Chris finally showed up after what seemed like forever (I’m sure it was only a minute or two) and joined me on the bed. He and Ginnie helped me into a semi-sit position and propped me up with pillows. I needed a little coaching on effective pushing…I had never done this before! Sure, I tried to push with Asher, but he was posterior and stuck, and I was lying flat on my back, so he didn’t budge. This baby was on the move, though! It felt so good to be pushing her out. After only a couple pushes, Pam and Ginnie said that I would be holding my baby very soon. I thought, “Gee, that’s really sweet, but statistically speaking, first time through takes a good hour or two, and it has only been a few minutes”. I came to the conclusion that my brain was in some sort of a time warp and it probably had, indeed, been closer to a couple hours since I started pushing.
Pam held up the mirror and showed me that my bag of waters was still partially intact and over my baby’s head. She was crowning! In just a few more contractions, she was out. I had only pushed for fifteen minutes! I didn’t tear, either…just a little “skid mark”. I couldn’t believe that I had really done it! She was tiny and beautiful, with eyes wide open looking at me. At first, I thought she was a boy because her cord was between her legs, but I was told I should look again. “It’s a girl!” I exclaimed. Ginnie placed her on my chest and she nursed almost immediately. It took her a minute or two to “pink up”, so we thought we might have to take her to the hospital, but we rubbed her body with warm blankets and soon she was bright pink and hollering at us! What a beautiful sound! When the cord stopped pulsating, Chris cut it.
Within minutes, Chris’s mom, who lives in the other half of our townhouse, came to our door. Apparently, she had gotten up in the middle of the night and heard everything through the bathroom wall! She was completely ecstatic and gushing praise at my midwives. My mother-in-law, who had all of her babies by c-section and who had been concerned about me wanting a VBAC, declared that we had converted her. (She now tells her nurse-friends at the hospital where she works [the same hospital where I had my section] about how her granddaughter was born at home.)
So, Acacia Lily came to us at 3:30am Good Friday morning, April 14, 2006. After an hour or so we weighed and measured her. She was 6lbs, 6oz, and 19.75 inches long. (She was between 7 and 21 days “late” depending upon which method of calculation you rely on. If I had gone in to the hospital for the obligatory repeat c-section on my due date, she would have been quite tiny indeed, and probably would have spent the first few days of her life outside the womb in the NICU.) Third stage was a completely uneventful half hour. I paid very little attention to anything but my baby and felt almost no pain. We examined the placenta and there was only a tiny spot of calcification. Part of my bag of waters was still intact and attached to the placenta…Pam had cut it away with a scissors to get it away from Acacia’s face as she came out. They told me that this was unusual and could be attributed to good diet. I felt proud of how well I had fed my little girl en utero.
I called my parents to let them know that they had a granddaughter (and to check on my little boy, who had never spent the night away from me before). Then, Ginnie asked Chris to lead a prayer of blessing over our new baby. It was such a wonderful moment for our family. Everyone helped to clean up and I changed my clothes. Then, with the sun slowly starting to rise, and the birds singing in the trees outside our window, we laid down to sleep with our beautiful baby girl between us.