I was planning a homebirth that wasn't at my home, but just across the border in Minnesota, because my midwife can not legally attend births here in South Dakota.
Everything was looking good throughout the pregnancy, though my blood pressure was a little on the high side. My MW felt totally comfortable with where it was, though (running about 140/70).
My water broke on a Wednesday morning, but contractions didn't start right away. We had a regular prenatal visit scheduled for that evening, so we called the MW to let her know what was going on and said if nothing much happened, we'd see her at the appointment.
DH's parents were supposed to watch DD, but they had not yet arrived in town. We dropped DD off with my brother and sister(-in-law) while we went to see the MW. I was having some contractions, but nothing strong or regular. We stayed overnight (mostly just sleeping) at the "birth house" on Wednesday, then went home Thursday afternoon. We headed back late Thursday evening with regular, stronger contractions. I labored through the night, but everything petered out again in the morning. We all napped a bit, then contractions picked up again and on Friday afternoon it appeared as though I'd gone through transition (looking back now, I didn't really feel like it, but after the horrible Pitocin labor I had with DD, I wasn't sure what to expect with non-augmented contractions). I wasn't feeling pushy at all, so the MW did a cervical check. Turns out I was only at about 4 cm and baby was way up at -5 station (I didn't even know the numbers counted that high!). We were sent home again to rest in our own bed--and let the MW do the same.
Sometime on Friday, DH's parents made it into town and picked DD up from my brother's. We visited with her, but she stayed the night with them. Not much happened Friday night or Saturday--just occasional contractions, but nothing regular. The MW told us that the more she thought about it, the more it seemed that when my water broke, it was just the outer bag, not the inner bag since I hadn't been leaking fluid--especially during/after the cervical check. So, we went back home and waited some more.
Finally on Saturday evening, we'd gone out to dinner with DH's parents and I started leaking quite a bit, this time with some blood in it. We called the MW again and headed back over to the birth house. She checked the color of the fluid and said it looked okay, but if the blood got darker or there was more of it, there might be a problem. Shortly after that, I had a big gush of dark red blood. At that point, we decided it was time to transfer to the local hospital in MN.
At the hospital, our back-up doc (whom we'd only met once, but has backed up our MW pretty often) came in on her night off to check on me. My BP was registering really high (like 170/95) so they started an IV of magnesium sulfate--unfortunately, one of the side effects of the mag. drip was that it completely stopped my contractions. They did a quick ultrasound to check for placenta previa or a possible placental abruption--our two big concerns with the heavy bleeding--but the tech said the placenta looked fine and was not near the cervix. The back-up doc recommended we transfer to the hospital in Sioux Falls because we would have access to a better NICU and more specialists if we needed them. I transferred in an ambulance and DH followed behind in the car.
Once we got to the hospital here in SF, we met with the on-call OB who recommended we start a Pitocin drip to counteract the contraction-stopping effects of the mag. I wasn't happy about it, but agreed that it was probably the best choice at that point. They started the drip very slowly and only turned it up 1-2 mu/min every half hour. Contractions started back up, but were totally manageable pain-wise. Unfortunately, they weren't doing much to bring the baby down or dilate my cervix any further. The OB also asked for another ultrasound to estimate baby's weight and do a quick anatomy scan. They put the weight at about 9 lbs and didn't find any anatomical problems.
After about 14 hours on Pit, I was up to the recommended maximum dose (20 mu/min) and there was still no change. The OB said she was okay letting me labor longer, but it was time to start thinking about a surgical birth. I had been thinking similar thoughts on my own. The pain still wasn't horrible (maybe an 8 on the 1-10 scale compared with the 12 I gave during a Pit contraction at DD's birth), but I was getting really tired. I hadn't been able to eat in about 24 hours or sleep (other than drowsing between contractions) in more than 30.
I suggested that we try an epidural, sort of as a last-ditch effort to attempt a vaginal birth. Just in case the pain was actually making me more tense than I realized and that wasn't allowing things to progress as they should. I didn't really think that was the problem, but I knew I needed to try it before I could consent to a c-section. Ironically, although it was nice to have the a break from the pain, I really hated the epidural--I didn't like feeling out of control and stuck in one position.
Two hours and another 4 mu/min increase of Pitocin later, there was still no change in dilation or baby's position. I told the OB to go get the consent form for surgery.
The section itself wasn't as scary as I'd imagined, though I did have a bit of an anxiety attack when I started feeling a pain in my chest and thought I was having a heart attack (they assured me I wasn't). I didn't have to have my arms restrained and I was able to see the baby come out on a monitor mounted on the ceiling. DH was with me the whole time until they had to take DS up to the nursery for a bit to monitor his breathing. I was still having chest pains, so he felt horrible leaving me, but I told him he should stay with the baby, that I'd be fine. The OB mentioned afterwards that when she'd cut in to the uterus, it was filled with blood clots and there had been a partial abruption, even though nothing had shown up on either of the two ultrasounds. It's a bit scary to think that if we'd kept trying to up the Pit and force a vaginal birth, we very well could have lost him.
Recovery has been a lot slower than I would like, but it's gone well. I was able to be up and out of bed within 24 hours (I maybe could have sooner, but they required me to stay on the mag. drip for about 20 hours after surgery) and I was off the narcotic pain meds within a couple of days.
Overall, it was not the experience I was looking to have at all, but it still felt like an empowering birth. The health care professionals offered their advice and answered questions, but I always felt like the decisions were up to DH and me. I'd prayed that I could have the homebirth I so desired, but I realize now that what I wanted from the homebirth was the experience of a respectful labor and birth. In the end, I didn't get what I prayed for, but I got what I really wanted.