Thought I'd share my incredible experience of birth, my first child...
I went down for a nap at 4PM on Friday, May 11th, the day before my due date. DH Michael joined me, and we had a good one hour sleep. I pushed up to get up after the nap, and I felt a gush of liquid—I realized it was not pee, but my water! My water had broken. Michael and I got all excited thinking the baby would be arriving soon. We called the doula and the midwife to alert them to what was going on (90% of women go into labor spontaneously within 24 hours of water breaking.). They both said to get a good night’s sleep and to call back when something changed. Both the doula and MW came by on Saturday, the MW listened to the baby’s heartbeat and felt for position of the baby. She said the baby was fine, but still quite high and that my cervix was still closed. That pelvic exam was extremely uncomfortable!
The doula mentioned some sort of cocktail with castor oil we could consider trying, once we neared the 24 hour mark and it looked like nothing was going to happen spontaneously. We asked the MW for the recipe and gathered the ingredients together that afternoon. If I were to take it, I would have to do it on Sunday morning, at 6AM. So, that night, we hung out and went to bed. I woke up in the morning still pregnant! I was feeling a little tired of the waiting thing, thinking this baby would never want to come out! I made the concoction, and drank it. Not long after I was sitting on the toilet for about 4 hours with liquid poo running out of me (I know, TMI!). It was SO uncomfortable, and in the end, (pun intended) nothing came of it. At all. Except for the worst ring of fire ever imaginable and known to mankind.
We called the doula and MW to let them know of the total lack of progress. I was frustrated by this point, but also ready to wait it out some more. I was not running a fever, and the baby sounded fine. My MW informed me that she was happy to wait as well, but that she was becoming a bit concerned about an increased risk of infection. She suggested going into the hospital to try seeing if the baby was stressed. (Non-Stress Test or NST). I agreed, as some thing should be done. She also talked about induction. I knew for a fact I did not want to be induced with oxytocin, as that would have brought on labor with a vengeance, and it would have dashed all hopes of a home birth. (Not only that, but my cervix was not even soft or ready to handle strong contractions, so it was the wrong choice altogether!)
So, we had two options: prostaglandin gel and cervadil. The gel had one drawback: if I went into hard labor right away from that application, there would be no turning back, as that stuff could not be taken out. Cervadil was a tiny tampon like thing on a string that could be taken out if things got too hairy. My doula thought the cervadil would be the best option, so we pushed for that. I was lucky apparently, because the doctor that was open to this plan (most would have pushed for oxytocin) was on duty that day. We came in to the hospital at about 3 PM, and had the NST, baby was fine, cool as a cucumber. Then we waited for that particular doctor. And waited. And waited. I finally got the dose, and got sent home to see what would happen at about 8PM. Just in time for the last episode of Survivor. We watched that show, and went to bed.
At about 3:30 or so, I started to get regular contractions, but they were not strong. I remember telling Michael that I was thankful that at least ‘something’ was happening. I rode those contractions out easily until about 6AM or so, and then I thought they were strong enough to warrant a call to my doula and MW. They had no idea I was having contractions so we wanted to give them the heads up that they might me helping me out that day. We called them both, and both of them listened to me have a contraction, which I was able to talk through and they both said to call them back in about two hours. Two hours passed, and my contractions got stronger. I was having to lay myself over a stack of pillows in order for me to cope with them. Michael called the team back and this time I couldn’t even hold the phone through a contraction, so my doula coached me on the phone through one of them, suggesting a bit more breathing. It helped, but it still was unbearable.
Both the doula and MW said they would be right over, they arrived within 30 mind of each other. I labored mostly up in my bedroom, with an exercise ball, and a huge stack of pillows that were piled about 8 pillows high. Whenever a contraction hit, I would dive over the stack of pillows, and dance my legs around, wiggle my hips side to side, and in circles. When it was over, I would sit on the ball and relax completely, waiting for the next contraction to hit. I also reminded myself that I could deal with one contraction at a time.
I used vocalizations a lot-“Oooh, down! Low! Baby down!” I drank “Labor Aide” throughout, and I used the toilet in between those contractions. Whenever I was on the toilet, the contractions got really really strong, as I was letting go in the right places of my body. My doula kept saying to stay with that sensation, so when I was on the stack of pillows, I tried to connect to that feeling, and it helped make the work more effective. My contractions were mainly 30-45 seconds long, and 2.5 minutes apart.That really did not change from the beginning. The MW kept saying “We really want to see good 90 second ones, and farther apart.” Uhhmm, yeah. Apparently these were effective enough, because when the MW checked me at about 11:30, I was 5 cm dilated.
I knew I was able to get into the tub at 5 cms, so I started asking about the tub after every three contractions or so. Little did I know Michael was frantically getting the pool ready downstairs, and by the time it was ready for me at about 12:30, I was about 7 cms dilated already! I knew I was in transition, when at one point instead of saying “Oh, Down or Low”, I started saying “Oh NO!” with every contraction. The doula helpfully suggested that that was a smidge negative and to try the other more productive words again. LOL! I did this, and stayed focused.
The doula FINALLY told me the pool was ready to go, so I carefully walked down the stairs, pausing to have a contraction on the stairs. Not so much fun. I finally made it downstairs, and saw the awesome preparations that had been made—my living room was converted into a virtual birthing centre! I got in the tub, and the pain instantly became much more bearable. I breathed though quite a few contractions in the tub, as my body wanted to push, but it wasn’t time to push yet. Then, at 1:00, the MW suggested I could try pushing on my next contraction…I knew what that meant! I was 10 cms dilated! I used counterforce on these contractions, pulling on first my doula’s hands, then Michael’s every time a contraction hit. I pulled really hard, which helped me push in the right place. Which BTW, feels like a huge urge to poop. I just used that sensation, and pushed for an hour. On the last two contractions, I got a huge burning sensation, and turns out, the first of the last pushed the head out, the last contraction pushed the body of the baby out. At 2:05 PM, May 14th, little Hannah entered the world. The MW caught Hannah and sent her underwater through my legs. I brought Hannah out of the water myself, and turned over to hold her. She looked up at us so alertly, as if to say “Oh, it’s YOU!” and when Michael spoke, she looked at him and also seemed to recognize him as well. It was a really special moment.
I held Hannah for a while when it occurred to me that I had no idea what the gender was! The whole thing was SO surreal, seeing that baby for the first time, I looked for the gender, and thought I saw a little penis at first—I had glimpsed the umbilical cord, LOL. But then, looked again and could not believe that she was a girl. I was so happy, I called her by her name then. Michael got to cut the cord, and we both just enjoyed her from then on. I was transferred to the plastic covered couch, and delivered the placenta there. Michael got a chance to hold her there. I delivered the placenta, and they handed Hannah back to me, and we got to try nursing for the first time. From the get go, she was a barracuda in her sucking. She is the cutest thing I have ever seen, and Michael and I are head over heels in love with her.
Looking back, this was the little home birth that could, the home birth that happened against all odds: Hannah was breech at 33 weeks, the placenta was close to the cervix at that time too, she was really high when my water broke, my water broke and nothing got started, I was induced, and sometimes that guarantees a hospital stay. But, Hannah and I had other plans, and I am so happy that the birth went this way. I had a 6 hour labor, no tearing, no drugs (except for the cervadil), and I’m still looking for stretch marks, but haven’t found any. **I did find a few tiny ones since the story was written...If there are any 38 year olds out there thinking they’re too old to start on having babies because they are too old and would be risking the health of a baby merely by being too old, I am proof it can be totally otherwise.
May 14th was the day my life became complete. I love being a mom, and would not have done it any other way…
Here are some pics of my sweetheart:Just born.Lookit those fingers!Hannah at 3 weeks.