DS was born 2 years ago by C/S for "failure to progress and CPD" My labor was induced at 41 weeks for postdates, though we both were fine. After 20 hours of labor and a million interventions, including an epidural, I hadn't dilated past 7 cm.
With this pregnancy, I realized that if I prepared the same way as I had with DS, I would get the same outcome, another C/S. So I decided to do things very differently and managed to convince my husband to get on board. I found a homebirth midwife and MDC, and here is what happened...
I was sitting on the couch Friday night (4/24) around 10pm when I felt a pain really low in my belly. I was 2 days past my due date. I had to stand up because it was so uncomfortable. DH asked what was going on. I told him that I didn’t know, but it hurt. I didn’t think it was a contraction, though, because it was so different from the Braxton Hicks that had become more frequent over the past few days. We came up to bed and noticed the pain a few more times, every 10-15 minutes lasting around 40 seconds. We agreed to not get excited, but to go to sleep and see how I was doing in the morning. DH fell asleep around 11pm, but I couldn’t quiet my mind. I stayed in bed til nearly midnight, with contractions coming every 6 minutes during the hour.
I went downstairs then and started taking care of things; laundry, dishes, DS’s toys, and the contractions kept coming. I could hardly believe this was happening. My body worked and was actually going into labor on its own. I had some peanut butter toast and milk, and then I came upstairs to time contractions on the computer. From 1am to 2am contractions were 3-4 minutes apart and 45 seconds long. I cleaned the bathroom between contractions, stopping during them to lean over the counter and moan. I made OOOHHH sounds, trying to keep my mouth open and my bottom loose.
DH woke up a little after 2am. He came into the office and asked, “Are you making noise?” He thought he had heard DS awake and hadn’t even noticed that I wasn’t in bed. I told him the contractions were 3 minutes apart, and he got a little nervous. “Shouldn’t we call someone? Isn’t that the danger zone?” I reassured him, then we finished cleaning the bathroom and making up the bed with our old sheets and plastic.
I called the midwife just before 3am, and she encouraged me to try a warm bath and then to rest on my side with DH for awhile. She thought that lying down would space out the contractions enough to let me rest, but would probably make the contractions I did have more intense. She was right! My bath was nice for a while in our tiny tub, but I could hardly handle contractions lying down. The contraction would hit me and I wanted to move, but couldn’t, so I had to just get through it. It was terrible! I was not good at laboring in bed.
We went downstairs at this point to avoid waking DS. Around 5am I called my other support person, K. She was chaperoning a youth group overnight at a hotel more than an hour away. She was expecting my call, though, and left right away.
DH fell asleep for a little while and I continued to labor on my own. It was really helpful for me to stand and lean my head and arms on a wall circle my hips. Pressing against the wall made me feel stronger. I continued to vocalize through every contraction. Contractions were 2-3 minutes apart and getting longer and stronger. K arrived and DH woke up around 6:30, and we agreed it was time for the midwife to come. I was able to call The midwife, but couldn’t talk long before a contraction hit and I had to give the phone to DH. The midwife wondered if DH could check my cervix for dilation, but that was outside of his comfort zone. The midwife agreed to take her time getting ready, and then she would come over. She had nearly an hour drive to our house.
K and DH took turns applying counter pressure to my lower back. After awhile, this became uncomfortable, so they used a warm rice sock on my lower back. I spent quite a bit of time kneeling on the floor leaning over a birth ball during contractions.
DS woke up around 7:30, so DH brought him down for breakfast. I think my contraction noises scared him, so I tried to sing my “Ohs” for him. We called the neighbors to see if they could watch DS. They were our back up plan as our other friends were out of town for the weekend. K took one last picture of our family of 3, and then DS gave me a kiss as I leaned on the ball. “Bye-bye, Momma,” he said, and then turned and walked out the door in his big boy jeans with Daddy. I cried like a baby watching him go.
The midwife arrived while DH was across the street. She checked the baby’s heart rate and watched me labor. Contractions got more intense here. I think with DS gone and The midwife here I really let go. I was shaking a little and began having some double peaked contractions. Looking back, those were my only real signs of transition. During one really long contraction, I was OOOHHHing, but it kept going. Finally, as the contraction faded, I said, “oh, yeah,” and everyone laughed. I also said a lot of “oh, baby” with a few “oh, daddies” thrown in. The midwife encouraged me to eat. I had some yogurt and she started bringing all of her supplies upstairs. When DH got home, he tried to get me to go out for a walk as this was something I had wanted during labor. I informed him that I was not going for a walk, but we were going upstairs for a cervix check and to get in the warm pool.
I was really nervous to have my cervix checked. I decided that I would be okay if I was at least 3cm, because that meant I was really in active labor. The midwife thought I was probably 5-6cm. We wanted to check before I got in the water so that it didn’t slow things down too much. I lay on my side on the bed and The midwife did the exam. She checked and checked, and then she said, “You can push whenever you feel like it. You are at 10.” “Shut up!” I yelled. I could hardly believe it. Even though it had been 12 hours of contractions, I couldn’t believe I was there already. My body did work after all! This was just before 10am.
I relaxed in the pool for about half an hour. It was a tricky place to be because I wanted to lean back and rest, but then the contractions would catch me off guard and couldn’t move to get on top of them. I mostly knelt while hanging over the side of the pool for support. I felt really nauseated, so The midwife put peppermint oil under my nose. This helped the nausea, but burned my nose! I started to feel a little pushy with contractions in the pool. It was such an odd feeling. I felt like I should push, but I wasn’t totally trusting my body that it knew what to do. The midwife offered some suggestions, and then recommended that I get up to the toilet for contractions. On my way to the bathroom, I thought I was going to puke. Instead I let out the longest, loudest belch of my life. It helped. Wow! That was intense! I felt pushier here, and the contractions were much stronger. My legs were also getting a little numb in that position. Finally, I had enough. I yelled, “Okay, The midwife. That was five! Now what?”
I continued pushing in every position imaginable. I tried side lying on the bed, but could only rest there for a little while. I really needed to be upright, but I was getting tired. I said to The midwife at one point, “I wish I could get something to help merest for just a little while, but I guess we don’t do that here, do we?” It took her a minute to realize that I was talking about drugs. My team kept bringing me things to eat and drink, but could only take a few bites. I remember eating half of a protein bar and some strawberry banana milkshake that K made.
I used the birth stool quite a bit. DH sat on the bed and supported me from behind. While I pushed, he would press down on my belly, encouraging the baby to move down. I had The midwife check me again here. I wasn’t feeling the baby move down, and I just needed to know that all of this work was doing something. The bag of waters bulging down and the baby’s head was “filling in the posterior vault.” I think that was her way of saying that the baby really hadn’t come down that much, but was getting situated. She left her hand in place during a contraction to help the water bag break (1:13pm). The water was clear, and baby’s heart rate stayed great. I continued to push, and The midwife knelt down and prayed. She and K prayed so much for us through all of this. It was awesome. As The midwife prayed, I felt the contractions getting stronger. “God is hearing you,” I said as I kept pushing.
My legs were getting numb on the birth stool, so I tried the shower for a little while, but that wasn’t the right place either. I know I tried squatting and got back on the bed for awhile. It all blurs together. At one point I stood and leaned on the ball that was on the bed. After just a few pushes here, I felt something change. I could feel the baby moving down. The midwife checked and things were finally moving in the right direction, though I still had a ways to go.
The midwife suggested that I try pushing while facing backwards on the toilet. I really appreciated that she kept giving me new ideas to try because I could not figure out where I wanted to be. This was definitely the right place. I could push really well, and between contractions I could rest my head on a pillow on the toilet tank. My legs weren’t getting numb here, either. Here I really felt my body take over the pushing process. I would think I was done pushing for the contraction, and my body would do one more. I was very noisy during this time, with lots of grunting. It was a very warm and humid spring day, so we kept the windows open. I wondered if the neighbors could hear, but didn’t really care. I was also very tired. I remember wishing that someone could help me, but knowing that no one could. I thought about going to the hospital, but my conscious brain took over. I knew the baby was high and they would section me anyway, so I figured I might as well stay home. All of a sudden, I felt the baby come way down. I reached down and felt the baby’s head just an inch inside. I told DH, and he asked about the bag of waters. He had completely missed my water breaking a few hours before! I called for The midwife. I told her that it felt like I had to poop. “That’s not poop,” she said. “I know, but it FEELS like it.” She hurried me out of the bathroom. Neither of us wanted the baby born on the toilet.
I tried pushing on my hands and knees on the bed, but that really wasn’t working. I ended up reclining on a stack of pillows, pulling my legs back and tucking my chin with each push. The midwife asked if this is how I pictured things. Honestly, it was the last position I thought I would be in, but it was working. DH gave me drinks of Gatorade between contractions. Finally, something tasted good!
The midwife worked very hard to keep me from tearing while the baby crowned. She used warm compresses, gentle pressure, Clara Derm, an herbal spray, and about a gallon of olive oil. DH was so amazed by the whole event. He kept watching the baby’s head emerge, cheering me along, and holding the mirror so that I could watch, too. The “ring of fire” feeling was not as bad as I expected, but it was very strange having her head nearly out and having to stop, wait for a contraction, and chug Gatorade. K was taking pictures and encouraging me as well. She kept saying “that’s a girl” while I was pushing. I got really confused as to how she could tell it was a girl from just the head. Then I realized that she was talking to me. K said her favorite part of the whole day was watching DH as he watched our baby come into the world. He was so in awe of the whole experience.
When the baby’s head was nearly out, The midwife had me breathe with her rather than push. All four of us were “whoing” together. The midwife asked if I wanted to catch the baby, as that had been my intention, but I told her to. I couldn’t think right then. Finally, the baby’s head was out. It was 3:44pm. The midwife reached in to check for a cord, but found a hand instead! She pulled out the hand, and here came the whole baby! The midwife plopped her right on my bare chest, and we started rubbing her with a blanket. She didn’t cry right away, but she came around without a problem. I watched her little body turn pink right in front of me. I wondered if we had a boy or a girl, but I didn’t really want to look. I even covered her bottom with my hand so no one else could see. I spent the whole pregnancy wondering, and it was strange that now I could know. After a minute, DH climbed on the bed with us and he and I looked together. We had a little girl! Rebekah Faye!
At this point I was bleeding more than The midwife liked, so she asked to give me a shot of Pitocin. I was okay with that, and had the shot about 5minutes after Rebekah was born. The bleeding stopped right away, before the Pit probably even had a chance to work. Maybe I didn’t need it after all, but that was fine with me. Rebekah finally latched on and nursed while we waited for the placenta. I was surprised that I really had to push to get it out, and it hurt! The placenta delivered 45 minutes after the baby. The midwife clamped and cut the cord a few minutes later. DH didn’t want to, and I had my hands full with nursing.
K brought me some food (banana, peanut butter crackers, string cheese, and chocolate animal crackers). I ate all of this while The midwife checked my bottom and stitched up a few little tears.
I finally got up to the bathroom. I had to pee so badly after all of that Gatorade, so no problems there. I took a quick shower while K and The midwife changed the bed. They were impressed that we had clean sheets ready to go under the plastic. I got back to bed and had the chicken noodle soup that I had prepared and frozen for the occasion.
The midwife was able to examine the baby. She was looking forward to this part all day! She washed her hair, and Bekah didn’t cry at all. She just looked around. Everything checked out just fine. Our girl weighed 7lbs, 14oz, and was 20 ½ inches long with a 14 inch head. “Beautiful” is what The midwife wrote on the newborn assessment paperwork.
DH brought DS home from the neighbors, and I don’t think he even noticed the baby before he went to bed. The midwife stayed until after 8:30, helping K take care of things. K didn’t leave until all the laundry was folded, sometime after we snuggled into bed at 9:30.
It was probably the hardest, best day of my life. I know I have never worked that hard before, but it was so good and so worth it. I love that DH and I were a team. He was completely supportive and encouraging the whole time. I really feel that had I been at the hospital, I would have had another C-section. I had to be upright to get my baby down and out, and I don’t know if they would have let me push for 4+ hours. What we did isn’t right for everyone, but it was definitely right for our family.
Mom to Sam (3/2007), Bekah (4/2009), Jedidiah (4/2012), and expecting #4 in March!