This was my third baby. My first was born in hospital. I had hoped for a natural birth but it was a tremendously long and excruciatingly painful labor and I opted for an epidural after 44 hours. I had regrets about the way I handled this birth and I blamed the hospital setting a whole lot for my labor stalling around 8 cms for many hours. For my second labor we planned an attended homebirth. I had a homebirth midwife-team, but when I finally went into labor in july they were all on holiday and I had a normal hospital midwife come to my birth. It was an extremely fast and hard labor - only 90 minutes. The MW arrived same time as my daughters head was crowning and just took over the whole show right away, not listening to our wishes because SHE seemed to be nervous about everything going so fast.
After that birth I didnt feel I needed a midwife for my third birth - I had handled labor much better on my own and we had done perfectly well without a midwife present, so I planned a UC for my third. I had a homebirth MW as backup and she knew and approved of our UC plans.
Here is the story about my third baby's birth.
I had the first contraction Monday morning when getting in the car – it wasn’t bad but definately a contraction. We were going to town to get a final brunch together without children before baby arrived. I had another contraction in the car around 20 minutes later.
They continued like that every 10-20 minutes most of the day. I kept thinking they would go away because they were so irregular and not particularly painful – but every time I started thinking they were gone I would get one - just to remind me.
In the afternoon – just before dinnertime – they were pretty regular – around 6-8 minutes apart and increasing in strength. We decided to get the kids to their auntie before bedtime as I expected things to pick up considerably within a couple of hours.
But they didn’t. Contractions kept being 5-8 minutes apart all evening and I was starting to think it was a pretty weird labor – much longer than I would expect compared to Ingrids birth. It was not all that hard – I had long breaks between contractions and the pain was manegable. I tried to get some sleep but couldn’t cope with contractions laying down so I soon got back up. I was getting increasingly frustrated with the long labor. This was nothing like I had imagined my third birth to be. We started filling the birthtub as I expected things to pick up soon – but they still didn’t and the water got cold. We had to empty it all out and fill it again later.
Finally some real labor
I took a hot shower sometime after midnight and contractions finally picked up some. I loved the warm water, but started thinking I shouldnt use all of it in the shower but save some for the pool that we had just emptied. Contractions were finally coming closer and stronger - and lasting longer. A great feeling - finally something real to work with. I tried checking myself several times but it was difficult to reach the cervix. Around 2.30 (I think – we didn’t keep too close an eye on the clock) I finally felt a bulging bag of water and estimated myself to be around 6-7 cms dilated.
At this point contractions picked up considerably in strength and where definitely transitionlabor. They were still somewhat irregular though and I thought it was weird.
I think around this time I started suspecting that baby was not in a normal position. I even tried checking up on my doula-course directions for posterior babies as I sensed something was different. But I couldn’t concentrate and it seemed wrong to sit at the computer at this time, so I thought – we will manage as best we can – I also didn’t think baby was posterior as his back was clearly felt on the right side of my belly. Contractions were not centered in my cervix area like they were with both my other labors – but more in the hip-area.
I finally got in the fishypool - so warm and comfy.
All the way through this we regularly checked heartbeat. It was a bit fast – around 170-180 – but it was consistent and strong so I wasn’t particularly worried – just checked regularly that it didn’t change dramatically.
Complete – but no urge to push
Around 3.30 I was pretty sure to be completely dilated. I remember sitting in the livingroom on a chair and being run over by the most intense and extremely painful contraction. I was screaming and started crying like a baby - with tears and all - and it just wouldnt stop. I was sure we were nearing the end cause this was just pure agony. I recognized the feeling of being complete from when my daughter was born. I felt a slight urge to bear down - but not the tank-engine force I had felt when my DD was born. This was just plain weird. I knew I was supposed to feel pushy now and I just wasnt. I expected the water to break now because the contractions were so strong and I was obviously complete, but it just didnt break. I tried to check myself again and felt a soft lip of cervix and a big bulging bag of water. I tried pushing back the lip - gently - it was all soft so it didnt feel like a no-no to try to move it. But it didnt make a difference so I figured the water will break soon and once the head is pressing on it, it will go away.
I went in and out of the birthtub and started getting worried that baby wasnt moving and that I wasnt feeling even the least bit pushy. Something was preventing baby from being born, and I had a pretty strong sense that it had to do with positioning, though I kept pushing that thought away. It could be nothing and it could be that I just needed to give things more time. And so we did. Some of the time I was resting in the tub, almost falling asleep between contractions. I was so tired and it was wearing me out knowing that I was so close and then - nothing. The contractions got more irregular though still very strong and most definately "I cant do this anymore-contractions". I kept telling DP that it was probably that the water just needed to break and then things would move along. He asked me if I thought we should call the MW for assistence, but I didnt. Despite things going slow then I still felt great just being the two of us alone. There was a great atmosphere in the house - intense and pre-christmas-ish. He agreed and we waited some more. When not in the tub I tried all sorts of positions that would open up my pelvis - rotating the hips, on all fours, squatting, walking around, standing and bearing down, butt in the air - you name it - I tried it. But after around 4 hours of this I knew something wasnt right. This was not normal- something was preventing babys descent.
So sitting once again at the table in the livingroom barely surviving contractions, and worn out at best I decided that now was the situation where I had promised myself in advance, that I would no longer try for an unassisted birth. I had thought I would have a fast uncomplicated birth - a birth that I would have no problems doing on my own. But this was not normal. It was not fast - and it was not uncomplicated. I had tried everything I could think off and I had done everything "right". Now was the time to ask for help. I called the midwife, hoping that she would have yet a couple of tricks to try to get baby moving down.
The midwife arrives
Luckily it was my favourite midwife who answered the phone. She was attending a hospital birth as I called, but left it all in the hands of her assistent, told everyone around her that she didnt want anyone else attending my birth, knowing that we were trying for an unassisted. 20 minutes later she called to tell she was on her way.
When she arrived she checked me – only to find everything as I had described on the phone. Big bulging bag of waters and only a soft lip of cervix left. She also checked the position of the head and it was very high. She suggested we try a rebozo and possibly if nothing else helped she could break the water, but she didn’t dare do any of it at home because of the high heartrate – and because of the head being so high. She was afraid that if she started more invasive techniques such as breaking the water the cord could prolapse because the head was so high. She suggested we transfer and try using a rebozo in hospital.
I was ofcourse heartbroken. I cried and cried – but it seemed the reasonable thing to do, so we started packing our stuff to transfer by car. I was mentally not coping nearly as well with contractions after this new turn of events. I cried every time a contraction hit – and they were so strong and painful it was hard to deal. I was yelling out loud with every contraction and as we started moving for the car ofcourse they were much more frequent.
I had a few really awful contractions in the car on the way to hospital. I remember yelling so loud and crying – and apologizing to DP as I was afraid it would affect his driving. Between contractions we made a “strategy” for hospital. One of them was that he should try and keep temptating offers such as epidural far away from me – and that if I really wanted one I would ask for it myself.
Finally we arrived outside the hospital and there was a trafficjam. DP left the car and in a real cliché movie-hero-style he started saying out loud to everyone “Move please – we have a birthing woman here.. Birthing Woman!!” I got out of the car and ofcourse a contraction hit just as I got out, so I had to stop and yell and roar again. We sure caught everyones attention. It was around 9.00 in the morning and there were lots of people going in and out. It took me 3 contractions to get to the birthing-room - one of them right in front of an open elevator, and there was no way I was moving anywhere till the ctx was over. An impatient plummer with a belt full of tools was trying to rush me inside, while MW and DP were telling him to wait his turn and that it would only be a minute or so.. All the while I was roaring like an angry dog - probably drewelling too..
Hospital birthing room
Finally we got to the birthing room. It was extremely depressing. The walls were all white and there wasn’t even a couch or a single comfy chair – only the birthing-bed and a few normal chairs. I kept saying to DP “How can anyone volunteer to birth here – it is horrible”. I took a good half hour to adjust and try to find my mood again. I kept bursting into tears thinking about the birth we wouldn’t get now. I felt like just quitting the whole thing. Now nomatter what happened then birth would be nothing like I had hoped. But a part of me knew it would do no good to complain so I decided to try and be more positive and do the best I could.
It was very hard. Especially as I was loosing faith that baby would move – I just had a feeling..
We tried a rebozo. The midwife put a scarf around my hips while I was leaning on DP, and then she shook my pelvis from side to side with an occasional hard shake to try to get baby to move his head to fit in the pelvis. But no luck. I kept trying to move around to open my pelvis as much as I could – but still no change.
Luckily it was just us and the midwife in the room. In hospitals around here midwifes handle births so there would be no disturbing strangers until we called them.
My midwife was being a great support at this point – very compassionate and understanding about our choices. She hadn’t even once commented on our UC-attempt. She knew our plans in advance and had never questioned them. She even seemed impressed with our level of preparation and with my correct estimates about dilation. She especially liked that we had kept track of the heartrate.
Anyway I kept up a few more hours like this. But absolutely nothing changed. The contractions were still pure agony but still not the slightest urge to push and whenever MW checked for progress the head was in the exact same high position. Finally we sat down to make a new plan.
The new plan
I couldnt keep up like this hour after hour. None of our efforts seemed to make a difference and I realised that now we needed to start more invasive methods – such as breaking the water. But I also felt like a man on his way to the scaffold. I knew this would bring no good with it. I was pretty certain the water would be green and that we would end up with docs etc in the room. And I knew the contractions would intensify to extreme unmanegable pain like they had in my first birth where the water was broken before the situation was right for it to happen. I even suspected we were heading for c-section.
But there was still the hope that the head would move down once the water was broken and it was the last hope we could cling on to at this point.
As I layed down on the birthing bed for the midwife to break the waterbag I said “ I am really scared now”. But the decision was made. The midwife broke the water and I got a torturously agonizingly painful contraction right then. The water was thick with meconium and she wanted to put an internal monitor on. I asked if it was really necessary and she thought it was. At the time it didnt occur to me to protest - or maybe I thought about it and then just didnt have the energy left to do it. After all our perfect birth had gone bye-bye long ago, so what difference did it make anyway?
She called the doc to do a scalp-ph and all this time I was stuck like a whale on my back with extremely painful contractions. The room soon filled with people but I didn’t much care at this point. All I could do was scream and roar. My fingers were all cramped, pointing to the ceiling, and I felt like a hurt animal. Contractions kept coming and coming with no breaks inbetween and the pain was intolerable. I couldn’t move an inch and kept begging to get to stand up again. But noone helped me as they still had to do this and that test and the OB had to check the position of the head. She was a large mature woman, grey and serious and rough like a butcher. She stuck her huge rough hands up my vagina while a bunch of people were watching me there screaming, on my back and in my most vulnerable state. Thinking back at this still makes me feel so angry. It was so humiliating and I was so helpless - couldnt even get out of bed myself or I would have..
Finally the OB was done and the judgement fell. The head was stuck in a high straight position. It hadn’t turned but was resting on my pubic bone and it was very unlikely that it would move. She suggested c-section. I was given the option to labor on a bit more but they would want to put me on pitocin and monitor me closely. At this point I didn’t think it would do any good. The contractions were pure torture and I knew that to keep doing this I would need an epidural. I didn’t see how any of that would help baby turn. I felt like we had already done everything in our power to get him to turn- I had even tried pushing while being on my back but the head hadn’t moved at all.
I agreed to a c-section. It was such a hard thing to do, but I was sure it was the right choice. At this point I had been fully dilated for around 9 hours and in transition for longer than that. I was sure that if baby could turn he would have done so already. I actually feel proud for not agreeing to labor on. It would have been pointless misery and would have definitely been traumatizing to me and stressful to my baby.
So I had to endure more being on my back while a kateter was put in place. My midwife gave me some meds to stop contractions and I had a short break so I could move from one bed to another. Someone gave me a cup of a nasty brown acid-neutralizing liquid. They gave DP some hospitalclothes - a tight green t-shirt and white doctor-like pants and I remember thinking he looked good in them. They drove me off to the operating room and everything felt so unreal as I watched the writing on the door “Sectio-room”. I had honestly never thought I would find myself in this particular situation but it was somehow a relief that a decision had been made, and that it would all soon be over.
As I got in the room I had to move to another bed where I sat up while the doctor prepared the spinal. I had another contraction and roared through it. I don’t know if I said it aloud but I was aching for some of that wonderful contraction-stopping medicine. Luckily the spinal was in place very very fast. They helped me lay down and told me “This will be the last contraction you feel”
I was down on my back and felt my legs go numb – then the belly. I looked up to DP who was always right there beside me, comforting and just as sad about the whole thing as me. We held hands and talked about how we would see our baby real soon. I was occasionally crying, but being numb was a welcome relief after the last 40 minutes in hell.
I kept asking what they were doing. I didn’t want to miss a second of it. It was after all the birth of my child and I didn’t like being separated from the whole thing by that big blue cloth.
The assured me I wouldn’t feel a thing once they started cutting, but I was a bit nervous anyway.
When I asked – “What are they doing now? “ someone on the other side replied that they were cutting me open. It was such an unreal feeling. DP was allowed to take pics and he kept clicking the camera. They had warned him not to look as they wouldn’t have anyone to pick him up if he fainted. I am glad he looked and took pics anyway. He showed them to me so I could see what they were doing. Not that I could see a whole lot on that small screen but it still gave me a sense of not missing out on it completely. There was no pain – only when they pressed my breast really hard to get baby out. Finally we heard a babycry filling the room and I was in love right there and then.
I started crying I was so moved and tried to turn my head to see my baby, but there were so many people in the way, and it was behind me so I couldn’t see a thing. DP rushed to get more pictures as they were doing all the c-section stuff they do to c-section babies.
My wonderful midwife had been with me all through this with a sweet comment here and there, a comforting word and just her presence was a comfort as all the strangers took over. Now as they were cleaning up my baby she came over to me to ask if it was ok that they gave him vitamin K. It was something we had discussed at our first meeting and I had told her I would have to read up on it to make a decision. I had not wanted to do it if we had been at home and the cord had been allowed to stop pulsating before being cut, but here it seemed reasonable considering the cord was cut so soon and all the trauma he had been through. I was so happy she asked though – it showed that her respect for our wishes was genuine and I was grateful to her for asking before allowing them to do it.
Meeting our son
After a few minutes our baby was handed over to DP who came to sit by my side so I could finally catch a glimpse of my baby’s beautiful face. He had lots of dark hair – a huge surprise as our other children both had red hair when they were born. A very beautiful baby indeed. I didn’t get much time with them though. They sewed me up and I was moved to another bed. I started feeling more and more miserable. Dizzy and nauseaus and like I was passing out. They rushed me off to recovery and DP was told to wait and not join me right away.
In recovery I could drink some water and they gave me some oxygen and who knows what to get me back to the surface. Around 15 minutes later I was feeling a whole lot better, but I don’t think I have ever felt as alone. I was aching to see my baby and DP again and I was SO happy when they finally entered and I could try to nurse my baby for the first time. They weighed him and he was a big boy – 4500 grams and 57 cms. Bigger than any of my other babies, but very beautiful indeed – and he didn’t seem at all fat.. Looking at him now I guess he is a bit chunky though.. but in a good way..
That was pretty much it. The rest is just standard procedure. I got a room and stayed in hospital a couple of days.
How do I feel now? Sad ofcourse. I am still heartbroken to think of the birth we didn’t get – to think of how we wanted our son to be born in peaceful surroundings into the arms of his mom or dad – and instead he ended up being cut out of me, handled by lots of rough strangers. I had expected to be able to do all kind of things soon after birth – instead I am in pain all the time and depend on DP to do most anything for me. It sucks..
I still sometimes burst into tears thinking about the beautiful peaceful homebirth we didn’t get this time, but thinking everything through over and over then there is nothing I can really regret. I think we did the best we could and I am sure the c-section was unavoidable.
When our son was born he had a deep mark across his head where he had been pressing against my pubic bone. Now 5 days later you can still feel it if you run your fingers over his head. It must have been extremely painful for him inthere– poor thing. His head had not been turned in the right direction to go down through the pelvis- it had also not been flexed down towards the chest so he was presenting both in the wrong direction and with a diameter that is 2-3 centimeters larger than it would have been otherwise.
I had never ever thought I would end up with a C-section. Never. But here I am anyway. I had been taking for granted that my little one would come shooting out just like his sister did 18 months ago - but when it comes to birth then there are just no guarantees I guess...
Single mom to ds(8), dd(6) and ds(5)
Congratulations on your birth success and a big chunky baby boy!!!
Sending you loads of loving speedy healing vibes...
So sorry that your birth was traumatic, it sounds like everything you did everything you could to insure a natural birth and your little one just had other ideas about how he wanted to be born. Give yourself time to grieve and feel what you are feeling. Sending you hugs for a quick recovery.
Perpetually breastfeeding or pregnant ENFP mom to a lot of kids...wife to a midwestern nice guy...living in tropical paradise...pink cats and homebirths rock!
It took me a long time to realize that there is strength in choosing to have a c-section when you really really don't want it, but realize it's necessary (or inevitable).
Thanks for sharing your birth story!
Canadian mama to A (C/S May 2004) and R (induced VBAC Dec 2007) expecting #3 in July. Currently obsessing over permaculture, photography and beekeeping.
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