Birth story of Henry Clark – UBAC birth
Born at home, Monday January 19, 2004 at 4:33pm. Weighing 10lbs 4oz, 22.5” long, head circumference 14 ¾ cm, chest 14 ½ cm
I wanted to get this all down before I forget. I’ve already forgotten the time frame of most of it and still feel a bit traumatized by the whole thing. I didn’t have the gentle, peaceful birth I had envisioned but still fully believe that my decision to UC was the right one for me and something I needed to do for myself and my baby. Looking back though, I was in no way prepared for the length or intensity of my labor and to be honest, I’m not sure what I could have done differently to have prepared myself. I will say though that even though there were quite a few times I wanted to transport to the hospital, it was simply for pain relief, not because I felt that something was wrong (until after Henry was born)
On Friday, Jan 16th, I started losing my mucous plug. This was really exciting to me as I had been having contractions for a few weeks and even had thought “this is it!” several times. Saturday I woke to the same. I was getting kind of tense and worried because my mom was scheduled to fly in that afternoon and I still hadn’t told her we were having a UC. My friend, C, suggested I call her acupuncturist so I did and she came out and did a relaxation treatment on me, which was really nice and very relaxing. More importantly, she discussed the whole situation with me and suggested that I just flat out tell my mom our plans and that she would probably surprise me and be very supportive. When my mom got to our house later that afternoon, I did just that and after she asked a few questions, she agreed it was our decision and she supported us in that.
At this point, I don’t remember having many contractions at all. Woke up Sunday to the same – more mucous but no contractions. We ran some errands in the late morning and went out to lunch. I’m not sure when I finally did start feeling contractions but around 7pm, I suggested to dh that we start filling the birth pool. This was a fairly peaceful time as our dd was already in bed and I was sitting on my birth ball while dh sat in the chair in the corner, reading. Unfortunately, we filled the pool with too much cold water and spent the next hour trying to heat it up but our water heater kept running out. We tried bailing out water and refilling it with water from the stove but by the time the next pot was hot, the pool was cold again. By this point, things were getting very painful so I told dh to leave the pool because I needed his help. I sat on my birth ball while he sat facing me in a chair and I held his hands during each contraction and kind of pulled myself back and forth, rocking on the ball, while he reminded me to breathe. We ended up spending most of the night like this, either with me sitting on the ball or on my knees hanging over the ball. Contractions were very intense but I probably had about 1-2 minutes in between. I got into the shower several times and the water felt wonderful but my legs were getting weak, and eventually I would have to get out each time and lay back over the ball. During one of the times in the shower, I tried to feel my cervix and could feel Henry’s head – probably a finger length up – at the time, I didn’t realize what it was b/c it didn’t feel like what I expected a head to feel like. It felt like a soft, bumpy ridge with space around it.
I got through the night but don’t remember much between midnight and early morning. My dd woke up around 6am and my mom got her dressed and fed. I was getting really tired – I had only eaten some dry toast and was sipping on Gatorade. I wasn’t hungry and even the toast made me a bit nauseated but after being on my knees for most of the night, I felt like my body was just going to give out. My dh got me on the bed on my side – this felt good for about a minute and I was so sad because all I wanted to do was to just feel no pain for a few minutes. Around this time, my friend C called and I ended up hanging up on her because I was in the middle of a contraction and didn’t want her to hear me yowling on the phone. She ended up coming over, thank goodness, and I guess it was a little while after this that she posted on MDC for suggestions to help me through. It was around 10 or 11am at this point. My contractions were coming right after another and I seriously thought I was never going to have the baby. I never though anything was wrong, I just didn’t think I would last long enough because it was taking forever. Someone gave C the idea to have me sit on a hard chair, facing backwards, and have dh rub my sacral joints (? Not sure if that is correct terminology) – the two points on either side of the lower spine because that is where I was having all my contractions. We didn’t have a chair so I sat backwards on the toilet (lid down) and held C’s hand while dh rubbed my back and C told me to try to relax these points during the contractions. We only did this for about 10 minutes, I’d say, and it was really painful but I think this is what got Henry moving down because my water broke about 10 minutes later. It was noon at this point.
After my water broke, I had about a half hour of rest and it felt so good. C gave me a spoonful of honey to give me some energy and I sat on the bed and just chatted with her and dh. I was having some very mild contractions and felt really positive again because I thought for sure that birth was imminent. Pretty soon though the contractions sped up again and it was pretty excruciating. They were coming three on top of one another, then I would have about a 30 second break and they would start up again. I moved back onto the toilet b/c I felt like I couldn’t fully open up. While I was sitting there I tried to see if there was any progress and I felt the head about 1” up – this was around 2:45pm I think. My dd came in and I said hi to her and gave her a hug and kiss – I was really missing her as I hadn’t seen much of her all day. I ended up rushing her out of the bathroom though because I had another contraction and didn’t want her to see me in pain. Around this time, I started getting really discouraged again. I knew the head was right there but couldn’t understand what was taking so long. C got on the phone with another MDC mama and I talked to her briefly and she was so supportive – she told me that I was doing a great job and that the baby’s head was right there and he would be born soon. C gave me another spoonful of honey – it amazes me how well that worked to give me some instant energy. I moved back onto the bed – I was on hands and knees and during contractions and would bury my face in the pillows and squeeze dh’s and C’s hands. I remember all I kept thinking was “In and Out, In and Out” for my breathing. Around 4pm, I finally felt something moving down. It was a very odd sensation but I told my dh that something was happening. With the next contraction, I felt this incredible urge to push at the end and pushed with all my might. It didn’t really feel great, kind of out of control but at least I was finally doing something productive (at least in my own mind at the time). I would have a contraction, get three good pushes in, then take a breath, have another contraction and get two pushes in, then have about a minute break. Dh wanted me to try to push sitting on the edge of the bed b/c he felt like I was pushing up hill (still had my tail in the air on the bed) but my tailbone hurt so bad I couldn’t so I got on the floor instead on my knees and leaned over the side. Henry moved down pretty quickly and with each push, came out a little more then would slide back in. I remember thinking “what is this ring of fire everyone is talking about?” and sure enough, I soon felt it. This time though the baby’s head did not slide back in and so I pushed like crazy to get that burning feeling to stop. I put my hand down b/c I felt like I was going to tear right up through my clitoris but instead I ended up tearing through my perineum. I never felt anything back there though so I had no idea I had torn until later. His head finally came out – C and dh were so excited, I was just desperate to get him all out so I could stop the pain. While his head was out, he was turning it and opening and closing his mouth. I’m not sure how long his head was out – I was completely exhausted by this point and was waiting for another contraction because I just couldn’t push without it. Dh started getting really worried at this point because Henry was so purple and it was taking me so long to push him out. Because of this, he ended up calling 911. Right after, I finally felt another urge and pushed his body out. Dh caught him and I turned over and he put him in my arms. C said “It’s a boy!” and sure enough it was. As I was holding him, I started getting a funny feeling that something wasn’t right – his entire body was purple and he had one eye open, one closed and his lips were parted. Dh and I started rubbing him and I tried suctioning his mouth out but he was completely limp and not pinking up. Right about this time, the EMT’s showed up. I had no idea they had been called and was pretty freaked out when they came in.
I have mixed feelings on the rest so I’m going to stop here. I feel that transporting Henry at that point was the right thing to do although I am still not sure if he wouldn’t have done okay had we not transported. I just don’t know. I also need to get a copy of the EMT’s assessment b/c one of the nurses said he had aspirated meconium. His ped told me he had swallowed a lot of amniotic fluid right after birth. I just need to figure out exactly what happened, if I can. I will say that the EMT’s were very kind to both of us, as was the hospital staff. I was never made to feel irresponsible or given a hard time because of our choice to UC. We stayed two days and came home and are both doing great.