On Saturday the 7th of July, two days before my due date, I woke up in the wee hours leaking amniotic fluid. It was a very slow leak that mostly plugged up when I was vertical. I was not alarmed, though I was hopeful that it would result in labor sooner rather than later!
I called the midwife sometime that day or the next to let her know, but I was already following precautions to prevent infection and I was prepared to be patient. As was the midwife, it seemed. Though as a few days passed she seem to get more worried about an infection and she mention she wanted to “be accountable to the medical community” in case of hospital transfer/induction. I think really her RN midwife assistant who is more medically minded was worrying her more than she was actually worried.
So on July 10th mostly to humor my midwife, we tried inducing at home with the herb blue cohosh, though that attempt was unsuccessful. The next day was castor oil day. I had read a lot of horror stories about it, but there was one good story for every bad one. I also knew I was not inducing because I was simply impatient, it was for good reason and my other option of hospital induction, was a much more serious intervention and risk. I didn’t think I could hold off my midwives for more than a few more days. Castor oil seemed like a small price to pay.
The next day felt like a long day, and I spend most of it stressed and worried. I took a total of 4oz of castor oil in two doses in the morning. But it didn’t seem to be doing anything. I was worried by midday that this wasn’t going to work, and I didn’t know how patient I could convince the midwives to be. I had some food in my system but I knew I was fairly empty because I had done an enema the day before to try and stimulate my uterus. The midwife was in the neighborhood around 2:00 pm, and though nothing was happening, she stopped by just to visit and check on everything. As soon as she left though, I did start to have a regular pattern of small contractions that excited me and made me more hopeful. By 4:00 I was feeling confident that the contractions were headed somewhere, they were every 3 minutes apart and gaining in strength and called the midwife who said she was on her way. By 4:30, though I was afraid having everybody around would stall my progress; I needed the kids out of the house and called my family. By 5:30 I had the doula called, so she could be on alert, but we told her to take her time. Somewhere in there too, the midwife’s assistant showed up. So by 6:00 I had a full audience and I was feeling the pressure to perform! Also, the kids we still running around and I was already starting to stall. By 6:30 The kids got out the door, the midwives went out to dinner and I went upstairs to do some nipple stimulation (nice natural inducing technique) to try and get things going. We were up there for about 45 minutes and it was working. But the doula showed up and I felt I should “need” her right away so I went back downstairs. But you can’t fake labor and things started fizzling again! I decided I did not need to perform for anyone! If upstairs was working than upstairs I would stay! Back up we around 7:30 and got things going again with nipple stimulation (let’s hear it for oxytocin!) and BOOM the contractions started feeling very different. They were in my hips now too. I wasn’t sure enough of their pattern to go back downstairs, but I realized it was 8:00 pm, the time of night I usually lay down in bed, watch some TV and time regular Braxton hicks every 10 minutes. I thought if I recreated the routine my body would find a pattern. Boy did it! After 3 contractions I was ready for the support of my doula and went downstairs. So finally, what I considered “labor” started at 8:00 that night.
When I got downstairs I was still happy go lucky in between contractions
and I even turned on the TV to watch in between, but during my first contraction downstairs, my doula provided counter pressure on my back, we felt/heard an audible POP (turn out I displaced my sacrum) and when I sat up after the contraction I had a gush of fluid. My water had fully broken. I prepped myself for the next contraction
, knowing that things were about to get serious. Before the next contraction had even started, my husband had phoned the midwives and they were on their way.
The next 45 minutes or so, until were the worst. I had just realized I was in real labor but after only about 5 easy contractions I was hit by a mack truck of contractions, one on top of the other, gaining in intensity and strength. I tried to figure out which position was least painful
and every time I tried something knew it was just worse. I couldn’t seem to get on top of them. I got hit with a wave of nausea and vomiting somewhere around 8:45 and the though the thought “transition”
(the period when your body goes from 7-10 centimeters in dilation) passed through my mind, I thought it was way too early. At the same time I was afraid to ask the midwives how fast I was progressing because I did not want to be discouraged. (As it turns out I made it through my whole pregnancy and birth without a single vaginal exam.) At the same time I was worried because with the rate and intensity of the contractions I didn’t know how long I could last, I knew if I was only at 3 or 4cm I was in for a long intense go of it.I ended up staying in a hands and knees position
for the rest of labor and delivery, even though my muscles got very tired and shaky, it was the most comfortable. My doula propped me up with pillow to rest on in between. Once I got there I didn’t want to move. It couldn’t have been far past 9:00 when I felt my body pushing with contractions and I could feel the baby descending. THAT was a feeling I welcomed with and everything became more bearable. To me that felt like productive pain. I could feel my progress. I just let my body push with every contraction; I became amazon woman and made terrifically low moaning sounds through each wave. My doula was great with reminding me to keep it low. In hindsight it was a fabulous feeling. When the head came low enough I had the “pleasure” (note the sarcasm) of involuntarily pooping everywhere, thanks to the castor oil. I still had my underwear on, and as humiliated as I was, I was “comfortable” on my hands and knees and told the midwives to just cut off my underwear! It was going to much cleaner that way anyway! They cleaned me up and I was well over my humiliation by the next contraction!
Then came the ring of fire. With my previous fast birth I had more laboring down time and a short pushing time, never really had time to notice the ring of fire. With this birth I labored her down quickly
but she hung out on my perineum, stretching and stretching and stretching….still I had not actively pushed, just let my body do it. The contractions were not lasting as long as I wanted them too, nor coming close enough together to make me happy. Sometimes I felt her sliding back up, it was horrible, I wanted MORE pain because I knew she was SO close! Finally one of the midwives felt she had spent too much time on the perineum and asked for a good strong push with the next contraction, that was all the permission I needed! One push for the head, and a “long” (just seconds I am sure) impatient wait for the next contraction, and the shoulders slid out on their own. She landed right into her fathers hands. She was born into a warm, quiet and dim setting without a single medical intervention or procedure.
Apparently she came with the cord around her neck once, so my husband handed her to the midwife who took care of it with one easy motion, and even though she hadn’t started crying yet the midwife slid her down underneath me. I started to lay back to pick her up but the cord was short so the midwife had me stay put. I was able to squat and we stimulated her
to get her crying. Of course no one was concerned with the cord still intact she was getting oxygenated blood still. I had holy water set out, which I asked my mother to grab and we rubbed her all over with it while stimulating and she was crying in no time.We got her on my chest and covered her with a blanket
; I still didn’t know whether she was a boy or girl, and no one had time to notice. I wasn’t ready to look yet though. I wanted to deliver the placenta first and finding out which it was, boy or girl, would be my reward! Besides, I had my baby; I didn’t care at the moment.
The placenta took less than ten minutes, though I was inpatient for it to come and it felt longer. We didn’t cut the cord until the placenta was delivered and she started nursing somewhere in-between
the two. I tore a little, I thought I would because of the scar tissue from two pervious episiotomies, and had three stitches.
We had a fabulous “party” afterwards, with everybody surrounding me and the baby in bed! DD woke up to see her
(we tried to wake up DS but he would waken!) we had champagne
, my Dad came, we did some Orthodox prayers together
and celebrated the birth in the privacy and comfort of our own home. And, ah, the glories of homebirth, she never left my chest until I was ready for her to, the only people who held her were related to her by blood, and she never went farther then the spot on the bed next to me.
This little girl doesn’t know how good she had it.
I uploaded a video slideshow
of my midwife assisted homebirth to youtube. I don't want to offend anyone though so I will put a disclaimer on it and let you know that there is strong spiritual emphasize in the movie (as there was in my labor and delivery) and one tasteful photo of baby crowning is included. I hope that if you choose to view it that you enjoy it!