Back-story: We had planned a homebirth with midwife for my first pregnancy. But ended up laboring in hospital because my baby seemed too small. After 35+ hours and not getting past 5 cm, the doc talked/scared us into a c-sect. I didn’t see or hold my DD for 8 hours. My DH wasn’t allowed to
stay overnight. Nurses kept giving my DD a bottle and pacifier. She never breastfed, though I tried every single time I gave her a bottle the four months I pumped. Because of my experience and self-perceived failure at birth and feeding, I had pretty bad post-partum depression.
When we found out I was pregnant again, my husband was very nervous to try for another homebirth. So, we interviewed hospitals, found one that seemed very VBAC/natural labor friendly, and then found a VBAC friendly OB. I still was scared that if I ended up in a hospital, with all the monitoring/poking/prodding/watching, I’d end up with a second c-section.
I had a daydream one afternoon of just laboring and giving birth in our guest bedroom. I talked/posted about it and started doing more research on Unassisted Childbirth. I talked to DH about it, and since the OB had been telling us this baby was “perfect” so far (good growth, good position, etc) he was willing to listen to me, and he started doing reading and study as well.
The plan: I originally planned to simply labor at home as long as possible. The hospital was less than 5 minutes away, so if my instinct told me something was wrong, we could be there fast. We bought one pack of chux pads and that was it for our birth kit. We spoke positively about our unassisted homebirth as if it had already happened. DH posted positive affirmations around, we prayed, and kept reading success stories.
Turkey Day: I kept hoping all day that SOMETHING would start. I didn’t have turkey and I figured… this non-turkey Turkey Day better amount to something. We had BBQ chicken, went for a chilly walk and just puttered around at home. DH wasn’t feeling great. So, it was a quiet day.
That evening, I woke up shivering and having to RUN to the bathroom because my stomach was not feeling good. Now, I remembered why they’re called “the runs.” Ugg. For 2-3 hours I just felt achey, cold, nauseous and icky. I checked online if these could be signs of labor – HOPING I wasn’t just sick. They were, but no promises that baby happens quickly after flu-like symptoms.
Finally, I got back to sleep. I dreamed I was having contractions. Turns out I was. Very light, mild, lovely belly tightening contractions. At 5:00 am, I woke to run to the bathroom once again, I was in there so long, that DD woke up, missed me, woke DH up and they both came to visit me. As I was cleaning up, I felt REALLY mucous-y and checked it… Sure enough, I had some bloody show! A definite sign. DH was as excited as I was. We all went back to bed though; I knew I would need the sleep.
Friday: Contractions continued very mild for most of the day. We ate, went to the store (Black Friday deal on a movie I wanted) watched movies, cleaned and just enjoyed the day. I napped through more contractions. Finally, around dinner-time, the contractions grew a bit more intense. I could no longer just sit and enjoy them, I had to get down on the floor on hands and knees and “dance” through them. But even then, they didn’t hurt, they were just more intense.
As the evening wore on, DH and DD went through the bedtime routine and I had to keep standing, walking, pacing, dancing and needed much more focus for each contraction. I never timed them, so I have no clue if they were regular or getting closer together.
All by myself: DH took DD to bed around 9:30pm, and as is very normal for him, fell soundly asleep with her. I didn’t mind at all though, because I had a feeling he’d be much more useful to me with a few hours of sleep under his belt. I basically just kept swaying and dancing to the contractions. They were getting more intense, but were totally manageable through some serious hip swiveling. I tried to rest as much as possible when I could. I lay down on the guest bed for 20 minutes. Reclined in the comfy chair for 15. Immersed myself in a hot bath for about 45 minutes. And in between would just pace and marvel at how unimaginably slow the night was progressing.
Finally, after my second, much shorter soak in the tub, the contractions demanded my respect. They were shifting from very deeply centered, to my lower back. Between a set of intense contractions, around 2:00 am. I went to the bedroom and woke DH up. He extracted himself from the sleeping toddler and followed me to the guest room.
Back Labor: This may not have been the longest night ever, but it certainly felt that way. Time seemed to stand utterly still while the contractions just kept coming and coming. Instead of feeling them in my lower abdomen and cervix, they were all hitting my lower back. Oh my goodness, they hurt so much, and each one seemed to hurt more than the last. We tried so many positions; squatting at the breakfast bar, hands on an end table, kneeling/leaning over a footstool, sitting on the toilet, and (my favorite) kneeling/collapsed on a pile of pillows on the guest bed (on the floor). The pillow pile was my favorite because I could rest completely between contractions.
In all these positions (except the toilet, where I had to push on my own back) DH was able to use the base of his palm to apply counter pressure on my back. If he hadn’t done that, my irrational brain is sure the pain would have killed me. I tried the tub, and between contractions it felt beautiful, but during contractions I was in agony. So the tub experiment didn’t last long.
At some point (maybe 5 am or so) I was sitting on the toilet and discovered what a whole mucus plug looks like. It was such a neat moment. DH and I were fascinated with this gigantic blob of clear gloop and I was squealing delightedly, “my body works! I’m opening! My body works!” This one simple little event is probably what kept me going the rest of labor. How crazy is that? But… that little tiny boost of confidence that my cervix was indeed opening, at least enough to allow the plug to just fall out, which didn’t happen during my first labor, was JUST enough. Thank god.
DD Awake: Even though time hadn’t been moving, the sky started getting paler and DH and I talked about what to do when DD woke up. DH prepped her clothes, diaper bag, breakfast and snacks. He had the numbers of the neighbors who’d all offered to help with DD during the birth. I was just terrified of trying to get through contractions without his help.
She woke up around 7:00am. DH immediately called one neighbor and left a message. Then fed her breakfast, got her dressed, etc. Meantime, I’m sitting on the toilet in the guest bathroom trying to stay absolutely silent through contractions because DD freaks out when either DH or I are in pain. I’ve got two tennis balls I’m pressing to the small of my back.
I start feeling some weird pressure and feel inside. There’s this soft bubble. At first, I thought it was the baby’s head. But it was really soft and squishy. Then, I realized that it was the amniotic sac pushing out. I debated over whether or not to break it. A bit worried that if I busted it, there could be cord issues. But my instinct said to bust it open. So, I tried. And tried. And tried. That thing wouldn’t break. I guess all the extra vitamin C I’d been taking had made it a very strong sac. (My first labor started with broken/leaking bag, and no contractions, I didn’t want a repeat.) Eventually, I pinched-pulled and WHOOSH out came a ton of liquid. It felt so good. And then I got whollopped with the biggest contraction yet. I screamed and bit my lip it hurt so bad.
While I’d been wrestling with my bag of water, DH had taken DD to the downstairs neighbor (a single lady with a dog) and told her we’d paged the other neighbor (who runs a daycare and is much more comfortable with kids.) and to keep trying her.
The Final Stretch: With DH back, the amniotic sac gone, and contractions getting worse and worse, I knew it had to be getting close. But everything hurt so much that it really felt like every second was an eternity. I knew in my head that it would be better to keep vocalizations in a lower octave, keep my mouth loose, etc. But I found myself screaming, and whining, and being a big old baby. I could barely handle each contraction and found myself telling DH to make it all stop. I didn’t want the baby anymore, and to just make it all stop.
He was amazing. He kept calm, kept me breathing, and helped me regain composure and strength between my crazy panic/pain attacks. Now that we had the whole apartment to ourselves, I was moving all over the place. Two contractions here, move to another spot. Two contractions there, move. Etc.
Throughout the whole evening, I’d had very loose bowels. And every time I went, the contractions felt slightly better. So, for some reason, as the pressure was mounting horribly, I was sure that if only I could go to the bathroom, everything would be better. But sitting on the toilet was not doable anymore. I just couldn’t push hard enough on my lower back to dent the pain.
I remember thinking, totally irrationally, that if I could just lay down flat in my bed, everything would stop hurting. DH followed me to the bedroom, and the smart man brought a couple chux pads with him and managed to get them underneath me. I just lay there, squirming in agony, trying to poop. By now, DH knew exactly where and when to push for counter pressure. Thank god, because I was getting more and more incoherent. The bed wasn’t working.
I moved to our bathroom, stood leaning over the sink and again tried to poop. DH had a chux pad right below me. The pressure was getting so intense that the intelligent part of my brain that wasn’t in control at all managed to get some message through to my other brain that maybe it wasn’t poop I was needing to get rid of, but maybe the baby’s head was coming down.
At this point, I again begged DH to make it all stop. I just wanted a break to sleep for an hour or two and then I’d come back. I promised him I’d work even harder if he could just make it stop now. He answered me with such a happily excited voice that it pissed me off and I waddle/stormed out of the bathroom into the guest bedroom and knelt/crouched over my pile of pillows.
Between the almost constant pain, I managed to tell him to get rid of the blanket we’d been using to cover me earlier. And I began to push.
DH stuck his head down and peered up into me and gleefully reported that he thought he saw something. I reached my hand down and couldn’t feel anything. But, internally, I definitely felt something huge moving through me. A voice in my head said, “Laura Shanley says that the baby will come out on its own, there’s no need to push.” And a very angry voice in my head snapped back, “yeah, but I want this whole ordeal over with NOW! So, I’m going to f-ing push. Shut up, other voice.”
I pushed and DH (with a very happily excited voice) kept reminding me to breathe. He also kept trying to touch my perineum or offered to go get some warm oil or a warm cloth to help stretch. I told him he better not leave me and he better stop touching me. Thankfully, all pain in my back was now gone. The only thing that existed in the world was this huge bowling ball trying to rip me apart.
I felt it move with each push. And the moment I stopped moving, the head would slide back up inside of me. DH told me he could see the head. He touched it and I smacked his hand away and touched it myself. I really didn’t want anyone touching me at that moment. (evidently, he stopped trying to touch me and just grabbed our little camera and filmed about 6 minutes of me pushing.)
I pushed and the head would go in and out for at least 15 minutes. Everytime I thought I was feeling the famed “ring of fire.” It would recede and with the next push it would be way worse, and I’d think, “Ahhh… this MUST be the ring of fire.” And it would get worse with the next push.
DH told me I should shift positions. I told him to shut up and don’t touch me. (He wasn’t touching me, I just wanted to remind him. I was very angry and snappish.) I managed to get my right foot up and was now on knee and foot. I felt the head and I was yelled at DH, “you ripped me. I can feel it.” As I held a piece of the baby’s hair. He told me to try standing more upright. I pushed again in the knee/foot position and felt the head ALMOST come out. So, I stood and everything happened all at once.
DH had his hands right there, the head popped out and the rest of the body didn’t waste a second following. The baby slid/bounced off DH’s hands onto the mattress. I turned around, and looked at the baby. My heart stopped because it wasn’t moving, and wasn’t pink. It was a light-ish purply blue. And I was sure we’d made the wrong decision. I picked the baby up and keeping it’s head slightly downward smacked the backside a couple times. Nothing. I sucked the baby’s nose and mouth with my mouth and spit out whatever I sucked. Smacked it again. And a weak little cry escaped. My heart started beating again.
I was completely oblivious to DH, and I decided I needed to get me and the baby into the bathtub right then. I have no clue why, but I wanted to be in the bathtub. So, DH started running the water as I managed to get the extremely long umbilical cord out from under my leg and I sat with the baby in the tub. Once the water was higher, I finally forgot that I hadn’t even noticed if it was a boy or a girl yet. So, I checked. A girl!
I had another baby girl. Her breathing was a bit gurgle-y, so I sucked on her mouth and nose again, getting a bit more stuff out. Her torso was now pinkish-red but her hands and feet were still light blue. I grabbed a towel and covered her with it.
Third Stage: DH shut the water off and went to do something. I think I’d sent him to get the suction bulb thing and some string/clamps to tie the cord. While he was gone, I felt one very small contraction, an urge to push, and whoosh-gloomp, out came the placenta. The bathwater turned red. And I was amazed at how big the thing looked. With one hand I picked it up and turned it over, checking to see if it looked whole. It looked fine to me. So, I dropped it back in the water.
My baby girl started rooting and I put her to my breast and managed to get a nipple in her mouth. She was nursing! She and I sat in the tub for a while longer, and then, I just wanted out, and to sit in a comfy chair and nurse her, so I checked the cord. It was completely white now. (It had been blue and white before.) and that felt right. So, we tied the cord about 3-4 inches from her belly, and then I clamped it with a pampered chef clip for good measure. We tied the other side, and I cut the cord myself. DH was going to, but he kept dropping the scissors. Once the cord was cut, I had DH put the placenta in a plastic box and into the fridge. He came back and I’d stood up and rinsed off.
I suggested we weigh the baby. I handed her to DH, he stepped on the scale, announced the weight. Then handed the baby to me and weighed himself (and the towel we’d had her covered with as well) and announced that number. I went out and found that he’d already put a chux pad on the big comfy chair for me, sat down pulled a blanket up over my legs and the baby and put her to the other breast.
DH came out and told me our baby was 9 lbs 13 oz. That seemed so huge. I asked him for a hat, and he got me one. Then, I told him I wanted DD back. So, we called our neighbor, and both neighbors came over with DD. It had been only three hours since we’d dropped her off.
DD came in and saw the baby and immediately started shouting, “baby. Baby! Baby! Baby!” (She hasn’t stopped saying “baby” for over a week now.) The neighbors were shocked, they hadn’t realized we were having the baby at home. The oohed and awed over my little conehead baby. And then left. I spent the next 2-3 hours in absolute bliss. Making phone calls with one hand, cradling my baby with the other. All the pain and agony of the long night completely forgotten.
Aftermath: I finally called my OB Monday morning. I’m Rh negative and I definitely want more kids, so I wanted to make sure I got my Rhogam shot. The OB’s office was shocked. When we went in that afternoon, everyone was calling me superwoman and sure that the labor had been super fast. (because otherwise, why on earth wouldn’t we have come to the hospital.) My OB was actually REALLY cool about it. I told her I’d planned to labor at home as long as possible, as long as possible just turned out to be until the very end. She examined me. I had a tiny tear. She said it was barely a 2nd degree tear, but it was already healing nicely. The last thing she said was something along the lines of, “Sometimes we forget that God knows how to make bodies that work, don’t we?”
We talked to our pediatrician and she said we can bring the baby in after a month since everything seems to be okay, and she knows how many viruses and bacteria hang out in doctors offices.
My parents and family think I’m crazy, but are thrilled everything worked out. DH’s parents would not do well knowing we’d done this at home, so we let them think we had the baby in the hospital.
Wednesday morning we took the baby down to the health department and registered her birth and got her birth certificate.
Her name is Lavanya Nilesh Shringarpure. She’s breastfeeding like a champion. And she’s so peaceful and quiet. Completely 180 degrees different than her older sister. I feel that having done this birth the way we wanted was truly a magical, healing, spiritual experience for me. I know my body works. I also feel that if I’d gone to a hospital, they would have talked me into an epidural (the pain was really truly horrid.) and with an epidural, I don’t think I would have been able to move and get the baby to come out. And would have probably ended up with another c-section. But… that’s just my theory. The reality is that I had her at home, and nothing will ever change that.
I told my husband that I feel like I just reset my mental clock back 2 years. I feel confident in my body again. I LIKE my body again. Now, the hard part is learning to manage my two beautiful girls all by myself during the day as DH goes back to work. It’s just over a week since I had the baby, and I feel completely healed. My tear, my body, my mind, my heart, my soul. I feel like a new person.
Tracy - Momma to Gayatri 01-02-06 c/s FTP, Lavanya 11-24-07 UBAC