To preface this story, my MDC June DDD friends and I “picked” the dates we thought our babies would be born a couple of months ago. All in fun! I “picked” June 7, 2008. The day after the kids’ last day of school. A weekend day. A day after Marcus had been off for a few days. And a cool “date” to have for a birthday, I thought.
Marcus started his vacation on Monday, June 2nd. We spent a couple of days with Finnley and walked/shopped hoping to get things started. On Thursday evening, I started having some CX’s that I thought were “possibly real” around 9:30-10pm. I went to bed, hoping they’d stop so I could sleep. I didn’t want to labor at night. Didn’t happen. But, started having some bloody show so I started getting my hopes up that this was actually it! I moved from our bedroom (where Marcus and Finnley were sleeping) into the birthing room where I had a bed on the floor – I didn’t want to keep them up. I had Marcus set up the tub and we cleaned up a bit – he went back to bed around 3am. I slept in between CX’s throughout the night. They were very sporadic. No rhythym or routine. Some were a few minutes apart, others were 15-20 minutes apart. Short in duration, never lasting more than a minute. When everyone got up in the morning, they really petered out. By 11am, I had pretty much decided they were gone. If I layed down, they’d keep coming. If I got up, walked or showered, they’d stop. What was going on?? This was not normal for me.
I tried to sleep throughout the afternoon (I was very tired from the lack of sleep on Thursday night). Marcus handled the kids, but it was still very active around here and it was hard for me to relax. I figured if things were going to pick up, it’d be after the kids went to bed. So, when Marcus was putting them to bed that evening, I started having stronger CX’s around 7:30-8pm. CX that made it feel as if baby’s head was pushing against my cervix, trying to push her way out. This time, when I changed position, rather than stalling, they continued. I decided I wanted to try to get in the water and squat to see if we could get them to do anything. But, first, I wanted to check myself. I reached in and felt this bulging “water balloon”. I called my MW and asked if that could be my water. She said, “yep, I’m getting in my car now”. She arrived around 8:30 and I was in the tub. She checked me, I was 8cm, but very, very stretchy – she could stretch my cervix all the way around the bulging bag. We knew as soon as my water broke that baby would be born within minutes so everyone stayed close by (my 2 MW’s and Marcus – the kids were all asleep). Finnley woke up a few times so we had Kylah to go lay with her (they fell asleep together).
I started to feel like a watched pot so my MW’s left the birthing room to rest in our family room. CX’s were sporadic, but regular. Just couldn’t get that water to break. After a few hours, I decided to get out (for a change of pace) and went to the bathroom. As soon as I entered the bathroom, my bag dropped out and popped all over the floor. The relief was absolutely amazing!! My MW’s came running and I was immediately checked as we were concerned about a cord prolapse as baby’s head was not quite far enough down yet. My MW couldn’t feel anything, not even a head. I peed on the floor and made it back to the birthing room to lay on the bed for a check. Jeanne spent quite a bit of time inside (omigosh, it seemed like forever, but was probably only 5-6 minutes) trying to figure out this baby’s presenting features. Most babies are born vertex (head first). Most vertex babies are born head first, face down (posterior babies are born head first, but with their face facing up). Jeanne couldn’t feel a forehead. She felt a “hole” instead. She thought, is that a butt? Is that a vagina? What is it? I was driving her crazy! We’ve thought this baby was head-down since 28 weeks, but were now questioning that as the head never really felt “right”. I carried this baby all out front – could not tell I was pregnant from the back. After a few more minutes, she put her finger in the “hole” again and it clamped down on her. Omigosh, it was a mouth!! Baby was presenting with her face! Jeanne felt mouth, nose and eyes. That was it. That’s what was coming (or trying to). We discussed it a bit – a face presentation is very, very uncommon. She had delivered 2 at home, but didn’t know it until baby was born. A complicating factor with this baby was she was also posterior so I was starting to experience back labor. Gosh, earlier in the night at 9pm, we thought we’d definitely have a baby by midnight. At this point, June 6th had come and gone and we were well into early AM on June 7th. This was going to be a very, very difficult birth.
I started having the urge to push every once in a while. It hurt so badly. It was not the relief it was supposed to be. It reminded me of my 3rd birth (2nd homebirth) with Griffin. Ended up I was pushing against a cervical lip with him – ended up swelling my cervix back to 6cm. With him, it took 3 hours of constant CX’s with the urge to push, but I wasn’t allowed to. Prior to now, that was the most hellish experience of any of my labors. But, once I dilated back to 10cm, he came quickly. I knew I had done it before, I could do it again. After a couple of hours and no progression, we started talking about our options. It became very clear that this baby was, literally, stuck. Imagine her little head leaning far back, her neck completely stretched out with her little chin stuck behind my pelvis. There was no way for her to put her chin to her chest to be born vaginally. We made the very, very difficult decision to go to the hospital. Marcus had known this decision had to be made earlier, but he also knew he had to let me come to the decision on my own. I had to be the one to decide.
Recently, on my June DDC at MDC, it was asked if people packed hospital bags or wrote birth plans if they were planning a homebirth. I said that I didn’t – I thought it jinxed things! So, we had nothing prepared. I put on a skirt, kept my wet bra on and threw a sweater around my shoulders. CX’s were coming constantly, one on top of the other – all with the urge to push, but I wasn’t allowed to. We couldn’t afford to have her chin get stuck further, pushing her head even further back as this could damage her spinal cord.
Let me just say that the ride from home to the hospital was pure hell. Well, the time we left home to the time I was given terbutaline to help stop/slow the CX’s was the worst torture I could ever imagine experiencing. Pam rode with me in the back of our van while Jeanne followed in her car. Our neighbor, Julie, had come to watch the sleeping children. It was 4am.
Once on the maternity floor, I was checked by the nurse. She said as soon as she put her finger inside, baby clamped down on them and started sucking!! It’s a story that’s going to be going around the hospital for a while. No one had experienced it before. I explained that I was fully expecting a cesarean birth, let’s just get on with it. I needed relief from the pain desperately. The terbutaline helped quite a bit. I was at least able to have a conversation with the OB doc on call (who was actually somewhat of a homebirth advocate). While dealing with the shakes (felt like I had Parkinson’s or Turrett’s, I promised them I wouldn’t start swearing), the OB doc tried to explain why I shouldn’t continue with a vaginal birth. I stopped him early on (as soon as he wanted to check me, I was so done with cervical exams) and said, “I’ve birthed my last 3 children at home. I know when I’m done. I’m done. I consent to the surgery”. He said okay and left to go get ready.
I was brought to the OR to be given a spinal (I definitely wanted to be awake). Marcus wasn’t allowed to go with me for this part, he’d meet me after the spinal was in place. Honestly, the spinal was worse than the surgery! He had to numb me with novacaine several times and the spinal wasn’t taking. I kept feeling sharp pains coming down my back. Finally, he got it figured out and my CX stopped (of course, the terbutaline had worn off by now and I was having full CX’s again). They had two nurses holding me still as I was told, emphatically, that I absolutely couldn’t move.
Once the spinal was in place and started to take effect, they let Marcus in. They checked me to make sure the spinal had taken effect and put the “blue screen” up. The actual surgery lasted only about 15 minutes. I made sure they knew I wanted to announce gender and that we wanted to keep the placenta. They had no problems with either! I was actually surprised, but they simply said they’d package the placenta up and leave it in the fridge for us (we forgot it when leaving this morning so Marcus went back to pick it up). They held her up for me to see immediately after – she’s a girl! Marcus took her, cleaned her off a bit, helped weigh her and then he carried her to my room to wait (took another 30 minutes or so for the repair). All in all, I was away from her about 40 minutes, and she was never out of Marcus’ arms. As soon as I got to my room, I asked for her so that we could nurse. Unfortunately, she had been with Marcus for a while and he had been using his finger to calm her with until I arrived (with my permission, little did I know the trouble it would cause). She would not latch on at all. She would only latch onto a finger – very strong suck, just on the wrong appendage!
It was about 6:30 in the morning by now and I was so exhausted I could hardly see straight (going on 2 full nights without sleep by now). In fact, I nodded in and out of sleep during the suturing. My homebirth MW’s were there to check on me and then they left to go home and get some sleep, too.
I could write an entire journal about our actual hospital stay! I’ll make it quick and short, though. We had expected to go home after 24 hours, but without signing out AMA (then insurance wouldn’t pay), we had to wait 48 hours. The children were with my parents. Finnley (3) had never spent a night away from us and now she was having to spend two nights away. Definitely not the warm, loving homebirth experience we wanted her to have. She’s having a hard time transitioning now that we’re home. Even Griffin (6) is confused and says how weird it is to all of a sudden have a baby in the house.
The nursing staff was okay. They finally figured out if they left us alone, everyone was happier. It was obvious we would be declining everything and signing waivers along the way.
Juniper had a really hard first 24 hours. She did not sleep. Literally DID NOT SLEEP! I didn’t know what her eyelids looked like until yesterday! She slept only for 5 minute periods a few times that first 24 hours. Along with not nursing, she was pretty miserable and spent a fair time crying. The only soothing technique we had was our fingers (which we were trying to avoid as she was obviously dealing with nipple confusion) and water running. I hope we don’t get a personal water bill as we left it running most of the night! We had nothing packed so didn’t have a sling, a sound machine (which could have replaced the running water), an exercise ball to bounce on, nothing. Combined with having already had 2 nights without sleep, Marcus and I were a disaster. Around 4am on the 3rd night without sleep, I lost it. I knew it was coming. I was just so dang frustrated with her not nursing or sleeping. So, a few hours later when I found out we couldn’t go home for another day, I lost it again. I needed my own bed. I was not going to sleep there. Why didn’t they get that?
Thankfully (and not thanks to the nursing staff or the lactation consultant who essentially gave up on her and said she was out of ideas), Juniper decided to latch on. But only after I expressed colustrum into a little plastic sippy cup and dropped it into her mouth, drop by drop. Then jammed my breast into her mouth. She had to develop the correlation between breast = something yummy and finger = nothing. This was the only idea I had. It worked!!! I was absolutely thrilled! So, since 1pm yesterday, she has done nothing but sleep and nurse and give her poor exhausted parents a much needed reprieve from the previous days’ events.
We arrived home by 6am this morning, our kids by 9am. We’ve been chilling out, had a couple of naps and a couple of visitors, including my MW, Jeanne. Her weight was 9#15 at birth, 9#2 at midnight last night (after 14-15 fully filled meconium diapers) and 9#7 this afternoon (after no poopy diapers and lots and lots of nursing, my milk came in last night). I am so excited to sleep in my own bed tonight.
I cannot take pain meds without nausea so I’m taking Ibuprofen instead. I’m sore when I walk or am upright for too long, but the lack of pain meds is really just forcing me to be still which I should be doing anyhow. Marcus can be home until July 9th, longer if necessary. We have family and friends and great children who are coping very well (with the exception of Finnley, but we’re working on it).
While not an emergency cesarean, it was a necessary cesarean. A hundred years ago, neither of us would have survived. This birth presentation justified a cesarean and I do not regret the decision. It was a perfect pregnancy, just a not so perfect birth. All in all, we’re thrilled to be home. We’re thrilled to be alive.
Juniper Olivia Westerman
Saturday, June 7, 2008 (6/7/08)
The Three Sisters
Nursing in KKAFP, moments before heading home
Me and Juniper
Kylah (12) and Juniper
Welcome to the world, Juniper! It's easy to see that you're going to be one very special girl who insists on doing things your own way!!
Tanya, she is so lovely and the pictures of your children together made my heart melt. You have such a beautiful family. Congratulations on your newest addition!
Mom to James ( 5/2006), Claire ( 6/2008), furry kitties Calvin and Bob, and wife to Dennis.
So glad you are home and can rest now.
I have BTDT with my last birth and its no fun to be wide awake in the hospital at 3 am.
Sara - - PreK Teacher, Birth Doula, Wife to Shaun (8/13/05), Mama to Caleb (8/17/06), Chance (6/22/08), and Brielle (10/31/09) - - -
Your family is beautiful!
She's gorgeous, and I love the picture of her with her sisters!!!
Catholic homeschooling mom of 5 - a teenager, a kindergartener, twin boys and a tiny princess. Follow the Adventures!
Your children are all just so beautiful!!!
Thanks for sharing your story and congratulations on a beautiful little girl.
Amazing birth story- I'm so glad that you have peace about your decision!
I also had to have an unexpected c-section due to presentation. After my baby had been engaged head down LOA at plus one station, she suddenly pulled herself out of my pelvis and went transverse. She has a mind of her own and decided she was NOT coming out the way I wanted her to.
I am also just using ibuprofen for pain control as I also get seriosly nauseated from narcotics.
It's inspiring to hear how well you dealt with the circumstances. I hope you have a very speedy recovery.
I too had an unexpected c/s for presentation during labor...my surgeon (in St. Paul) made it a wonderful experience, if you can believe that, and gave me good advice about embracing what painkillers we can: our babies need us to rest and heal.
Congratulations, and peace to you all!