Due:July 20, 2005
Born:8:42 a.m. July 23, 2005
Weight:9 lbs. 3 oz.
Right around Thanksgiving 2004 I began to suspect that I was pregnant. I had just barely weaned our one-year-old daughter, and I had had some bleeding, but I had some of those strange “feelings.” When we got home from our Thanksgiving trip, I took a pregnancy test. I couldn’t believe how fast that pink line showed up! I was slightly in shock, as I had never gotten pregnant so fast! I had to wait a couple of days to tell my husband, as he was in the midst of a raging sinus infection, and I wanted him to feel a little better before dropping this bomb on him! We were very happy to be adding to our family, but just a little surprised at the timing.
I was unsure how far along I was, and didn’t find out until my first prenatal appointment right before Christmas. I was determined to be 10 weeks along at that point, which delighted me, as I thought it might only be 6 weeks.
The birth of our 4th child was in some ways both the best and worst experience we had. It was my first birth attended by a CNM, and that was wonderful. I loved that she was there with me throughout my time in the hospital, and not just to catch the baby. It was also my first birth without an epidural, and although it was VERY hard, the “high” I felt afterward made it all worthwhile. My stay in the hospital after the baby was born was horrid. I couldn’t wait to get out of that place. All these factors together led me to seriously consider a homebirth.
I read extensively about homebirthing through the middle of my pregnancy. It wasn’t easy to get my husband on board, mainly because of the cost issue—a hospital birth would cost us about a third of what a homebirth would cost. However, because I wanted it so much, he finally caved in, and at about 25 weeks I transferred to a local CPM, H.
My pregnancy continued uneventfully. At my last prenatal appointment, I complained of a backache, and H got out the massage chair and massaged me for 20 minutes. That alone almost made it all worth it!
I had really expected that I would have this baby between the 15th and the 20th. My 20 week ultrasound had given a due date of the 15th, and for my previous children, that 20-week date had proved to be more accurate. Besides, we spent the entire day of the 15th at an amusement park with the children, so surely that would send me in to labor, right? No such luck! I began to try nipple stimulation to get contractions going, but they would never take off on their own.
Finally on the morning of Wednesday the 20th, contractions seemed to be ready to continue on their own a bit more. I walked circles around our family room to keep things going. I had contractions on and off throughout the day, but they never settled in to a regular pattern. My parents arrived that night, but I didn’t mention anything to them at that point, but I was thinking, “I’ll probably have this baby tonight!”
We went to bed, and by about 11 p.m. I started having contractions every 7-10 minutes. This lasted all night, and I hardly slept a wink. I was exhausted by morning, and so I called H about 7 a.m. She suggested that maybe I try to get the contractions to stop so I could get some rest. I tried some positions to get the baby to move into a more favorable birthing position and took a bath, and I was able to space the contractions out enough to get some rest. But then they continued off and on through the day, never in a predictable pattern. They were definitely getting stronger, though, so we even set up the birthing pool that night, thinking surely it would be soon! But that night they were more of the same, although they spaced out enough that I did get some more rest.
So now it is Friday. My mother and I ran some errands, and the contractions were stronger, but still there was no way to predict when one would come. I was losing more mucous during this time, and some was blood-streaked. After a morning of this, I called H again at about 1 p.m. and said, “can’t we get this moving along?” She came over and gave me some homeopathic stuff that we hoped might encourage a more stable pattern to start. I took another bath, tried to encourage the baby to turn some more…still no luck.
H came back after dinner, and I asked her to check me and do a membrane sweep to see if that would encourage things. I hadn’t wanted to do any of that, but I was so tired after 2 ½ days. So she checked me, and guess what? I was at 7+ cm. At least those 2 ½ days had been doing something! She also could tell that the baby’s head was not an an ideal angle; she said it felt as if he was presenting as if his head was tucked sideways onto his shoulder. She said there really wasn’t anything to “sweep,” and suggested I just do nipple stimulation to keep things going. When I started that, I would have short contractions about every 2 minutes, but they were quite strong.
After a couple of hours of this, a regular pattern still wasn’t starting, and it was so hard to keep giving myself contractions that hurt! I retreated to my bedroom (too many people in our house) for a while, and when my husband came upstairs, I completely lost it and sobbed and cried and just wanted it to be over. I calmed down and persevered, however. I had H check me at about 10 p.m., and she thought I was “maybe” another centimeter dilated. After that it seemed that the nipple stimulation wasn’t being as effective, and things were petering out again.
At this point I finally asked her about breaking my water (another thing I hadn’t wanted to do). She thought I really ought to try and rest first if I could. She suggested we stop everything for the night, and she would come back in the morning to break my water. I was so tired; although I wanted to be done, I just wanted to sleep, too, so that’s what we decided to do. So about 12:30 a.m H left, my mother went back to her hotel, and my older sister camped out on our couch.
Of course, as soon as I laid down, contractions started coming at 10 min, 7 min, then 5 min apart, and they HURT! I decided to fill out tub and try that. Oh, the water was wonderful! Contractions kept coming, but they were much more manageable in the water. The pattern was still erratic, though. I felt I had to have made some progress, though, as I was beginning to feel some rectal pressure that told me the baby was very low. After a few hours (now about 5 a.m.), I started to worry that they were petering out (again!) and I had had enough, so I called H once more.
When she came back, she checked me and found me to be about 9 cm. At this point she broke my water, and all we got was a tiny trickle because the baby’s head was so low. She started filling the fishy pool, and I waited…and waited…for contractions to pick up. Even with my water broken, they were slooooww—I think it was a good 20 minutes before I felt a decent contraction. Getting in the pool was wonderful, though, and when contractions did pick up, I was so glad for the water. When our children woke up and found me in the pool, they were SO excited! They were really good about being quiet, and stayed for quite a while before I sent them out to go have breakfast.
So now it is about 8 a.m., and I still wasn’t feeling much of a change, so I asked to be checked again. H found that I just had a little lip left, and asked if I wanted to try pushing past it. YES! Something to DO! That seemed to work pretty well at moving the cervix back around the baby’s head, so she suggested I get out of the pool and onto the toilet to encourage the baby to move down. Contractions were so much harder on the toilet, and I was utterly exhausted. I stayed there as long as I could, then retreated back to the pool.
H and I discussed possible reasons why this baby wasn’t moving down like I wanted him to; one that frightened me was the possibility that maybe the cord was around his neck and preventing him from descending. I was really at the end of my rope here, and just plain terrified at the possibility of coming this far and then possibly having to go to the hospital or wait hours more. At this point I said a heartfelt prayer to my Father in Heaven, telling him I just couldn’t do this much more, and I needed HELP!
I was still pushing with every contraction, and something strange started to happen. My body seemed to go on pushing more than I had willed it to. I was ending each push with a huge effort and a yell. Suddenly I reached my hand down, and realized I could feel the baby’s head through my perineum! I sobbed, “The baby is coming NOW! Get the kids up here!” A lot of action started to happen, and my body seemed to take over pushing…the baby’s head was out! PUSH! Shoulders are out! PUSH! The rest was out! I couldn’t believe it! After waiting so long, the end came astoundingly fast!
The kids barely made it into the room in time. They said I screamed really loud! My mother walked in the door and heard me yell, but she stopped to put her purse down. By the time she made it up the stairs, the baby was out! My younger sister had been in our basement. She got upstairs to find no one around, so she hurried up to our bedroom…to find she had missed it, too.
The baby didn’t start breathing on his own right away. He wasn’t blue, but kind of white. H had me get out of the tub and she started suctioning him. Within a couple of minutes, he began to breathe (as did the rest of us!). We got back into the pool and she ran warm water in while we relaxed for a few minutes.
Soon everyone but H and my older sister left. I got out the pool and went to my bed to deliver the placenta (another relief!). Then my husband and I cuddled out new baby and I nursed him. About 45 minutes later my 8 year old daughter cut the cord, and the baby was assessed. I was amazed to find out how much he weighed, as all I had heard the last 6 weeks of my pregnancy was that I just wasn’t “that big”!
My husband and I had not settled on a name before the baby came. I favored Noah; he favored Samuel. After witnessing my three days of labor, though, my dear husband decided the question in my favor. ;-)
We will never know for certain what made this labor proceed so erratically, but there are two factors that surely had an effect. First, of course, was that his head wasn’t positioned properly. Second, however, was that my baby had a condition found in about 1% of pregnancies called a “velamentous insertion of the umbilical cord,” meaning that rather than the umbilical cord attaching directly to the placental mass, it attached to part of the amniotic sac and had blood vessels leading from it to the placental mass. This can lead to a dangerous condition know as “vasa previa” where these blood vessels may rupture during dilation (especially if they are over the cervix) and lead to a bleed-out. It was H’s opinion that if labor had proceeded at a fast and furious pace that a rupture would have been much more likely to occur. IF I had been at a hospital, I would almost certainly have been given pitocin. It is our opinion that the hard and fast contractions this would have caused would have been very dangerous to the baby. At the least it would have caused serious heart-rate fluctuations; at the worst it could have led to vasa previa. I am so grateful that I was at home for this birth!
It was all so completely worth it! There is no question that any other children we have will be born at home, surrounded by love, as baby Noah was.