I'm feeling a little better this week (she was two-weeks old yesterday), so I decided to post it. It's copied/pasted from my blog so names are in there. If it's not obvious, Jason is my DH. The other names are mostly my kids or parents. Thanks for reading, if you do...this birth was such a blessing, yet so difficult for me. I have zero regrets about having a homebirth though...just wish it had been easier and more blissful. However, I am so very, very thankful we weren't already at the hospital with our "issues"...
Our Sweet Baby Girl is HERE!
Casslyn Jacey Hope (*last name*), aka - Cassie
Born 6/25/08 - her EDD and my grandpa's birthday
9 lbs even (our biggest baby by a pound!)
20 inches long
Our sweet little princess was born at home, in the water on her EDD of June 25, 2008. Pre-labor, which I had never really experienced before, had begun the previous Thursday, June 19, and then my water seemed to spring a leak at about midnight the following Tues/Wed, June 24-25.
Along with the apparent leak, I rather suddenly began feeling extra crampy and contractions seemed to be coming more obviously than the several days before. I called Jason at work and told him, “I think my water broke – please come home!” He said, “Really?!” I said, “Yes! I think so…please just come home now!” He said, “I’m coming!” with a sudden urgency and told me to call my midwife. I called my mom first…cause I’m a nut and didn’t want to call my midwife that late if it wasn’t real. I told both of them I thought that maybe my water had broken, but I had not had a big gush. I knew the baby was very low and thought maybe her head was acting as a plug since the little gush I did have was obviously watery and clear and more than (tmi) mucus. My midwife said she was heading right over to hang out with us for the night. I admit that I was hit emotionally since I was the only adult home and things seemed to be suddenly happening rather quickly, but thankfully, it all worked out. Ellie had been up having trouble settling and I had Austin help me out with her really quickly. He was a trooper and I assured him that I was ok and Daddy was on his way home. I didn’t let him see me get upset. I got both of them quieted down. Another bathroom trip later, I realized I was having some show with the stream of “water”, too.
Jason got home and we scurried around getting little things in order. I was very fidgety and much more comfortable standing or moving, so once my midwife arrived, Jason and I walked up and down the cul-de-sac streets of our neighborhood for a bit. It was dark and quiet and perfect except for the mugginess. I was so glad I wasn’t gushing amniotic fluid and could do that. The street seemed to belong only to us. I could still talk through contractions but was starting to need to breathe and concentrate a little through some of them. It was around 1-1:30am or so. My mom called again so I talked to her for about 10 minutes while we walked. We started feeling too sticky outside, so went back in. My midwife’s assistant arrived from a couple of hours away. We checked on baby (positioning and Doppler), talked in the living room for quite a while and then decided to try to rest. Everyone but me was successful there. I really tried, but ultimately the contractions and anticipation were too much for me. The vinyl-backed tablecloth under the bed sheet was driving me insane, too. I turned the TV on in the bedroom – blah. I felt guilty about that because I think it was bothering Jason, but I really needed the noise and distraction. I tried leaning on my birth ball on the bed. That didn’t do it for me. The contractions were really picking up in intensity and it was four-something in the morning by then. I used the bathroom (ow—tons of pressure – hated that!), washed my face, and worked through a couple more before getting J up. We went out to where the birth pool was waiting in the dining area (it had been filled earlier when my midwife arrived) and I leaned on the counter for relief. J said I should go wake the midwife and let her know I was progressing. I hesitated (again, wanting to be ‘sure’) and then went into the living room where she was resting. She got right up and started preparing things and giving Jason instructions on how warm the water in the pool needed to be, etc.
I don’t recall exactly when I got into the pool, but it was between 5-6am. My legs were shaking terribly and I couldn’t stand anymore, so I got in. It felt great! Jason put together a play list of favorite songs on the computer so we could listen to music. I alternated between wanting something with a beat to slow/love songs…we listened to almost all 1990’s country (lots of Alan Jackson) with some contemporary Christian (I Can Only Imagine) thrown in. We all talked and joked in-between contractions and I kept asking why I was still able to do that? I said that maybe I’d just laugh the baby right out. The contractions were strong, but I was getting breaks and feeling empowered. My midwife smiled and insisted that was just fine. This was the perfect labor for this baby. She would wipe my face with ice-cold washcloths, too – that felt nice! At some point, she said she’d be happy to check me if and when I felt the need. I waited a little bit and then asked her to go ahead. I was at nine cm! Woohoo! I was having a dream labor…actually, even better than my dream!
My parents showed up about 7am (perfect timing!) from three hours away. I know my mom took over some of the cold washcloths and other tasks, but couldn’t say exactly what she did when. The kids were not up yet since they had gone to sleep so late the night before. Not long after that (I think it was…would have to watch the video to be certain), I asked my midwife to check again and she said I was complete with just a little anterior cervical lip. Contractions were really hurting and annoying me pretty good. She kept telling me how strong I was and to just let them fill me up. I did the best I could but my back was really hurting and the rushes had become very tough to get through. I’d do some on my knees while leaning on the side of the pool and having Jason push and rub on my back hard. Then I’d try some sitting or almost lying on my side. They were really getting intense. My midwife, her assistant, Jason, and my mom kept sticking water and OJ at me in a glass with the blasted bendy straw (so I’d stay hydrated…but it was getting on my nerves, LOL). My midwife also insisted at one point that I go to the bathroom. Even in the midst of the pain, I couldn’t drop all of my dignity and pee in a pan or the pool…that’s just me! I somehow made it down the hall to the main bathroom. Oh my gosh…those contractions were torture! When I came back out I just wanted to stand by the pool and lean on J. I did that through several contractions before getting back into the pool. It was just incredible being he and I going through this together for a few of them. Time was meaningless and I got to a point where I just couldn’t take the pain of the contractions anymore, but still wasn’t feeling the urge to push. My midwife said I could grunt/push a little during the next one and see if it helped. If not, I could wait a little longer. I honestly don’t remember anything clearly from that point on. Pushing wasn’t the relief I anticipated. It didn’t seem to be effective yet either. At the same time, I had to do something with the pain. I still had that darn lip, so my midwife tried to help move it while I pushed. It wasn’t working…everything changed and my “too good to be true labor” was no more…
To say pushing was very, very difficult (more so than ever before), long, and an intensely painful process with this baby is an understatement. I didn’t know why that was the case in the midst of it, but it turned out that I was dealing with shoulder dystocia and a cord wrapped around our baby's neck twice. This part of the story is just a crazy blur to me. I’m still very emotional about it and haven’t watched the video yet (too fresh), but I’ll give the basics and some of my thoughts and feelings during that time.
What began as simply allowing my body to do what it needed to do turned into that unfathomable pain and confusion…wondering why our baby girl wasn’t coming all the way down? I thank the good Lord for my highly skilled and patient midwife, who did a lot of manipulating to help her out while having me change positions to open up my pelvis more through pushes. Earlier in the labor, she had had me practice getting up on one knee while on all fours just so I’d know what to do if she said it needed to be done later on. It’s a good thing because that ended up being exactly what I had to do. I ultimately ended up supported in a squat at the end, too. Her “manual help” was excruciating, but very wise in hindsight. She and her assistant were amazing throughout it all and quietly conversing amongst themselves about the situation while staying positive with me. I, on the other hand, was feeling completely defeated, drained of all energy, and just needed the baby out by that point. I went from having my head on to completely gritting my teeth, yelling, and losing all control. I still feel horrible about that…and the tears come again. It was no doubt the hardest thing I have ever done. I just wish I could have stayed strong, focused, and aware.
And she’s finally born…
I remember yelling out the telltale, “I cannot do this anymore!” a few different times and my midwife saying, “Melissa…YOU ARE DOING IT!” The contractions and pushing had just completely wiped me out. I wanted to sleep so very badly, but the pain was absolutely unreal. I was still getting breaks between contractions (but the pressure was awful) and it was honestly making me mad. I needed to be done and couldn’t rest! I think Jason was helping hold me in a weird squat position by that point, my midwife continued to have her hand “in there” stretching me and I was really struggling. From my fog, I vaguely recall my mom at long last calling the kids in from the living room saying that the baby was about to be born. I also remember feeling behind me and finally, finally feeling her head and the burning ring of fire. I was so tired and “done” though that it unfortunately didn’t help motivate me very much. I was fighting the pain and then giving in a little and then fighting it again. Ugh. Not what I had envisioned and prepared myself for. I do remember looking up at one point and seeing my dad standing there holding my sweet Ellie, who had just gotten up. My Pooky was in her jammies giving me the biggest grin; it was like she was an angel with sunshine all around her. I cannot describe it! She was just so beautiful to me. When Cassie finally emerged (following her bag that was intact to the very end – I had just been leaking…probably had a tear in the outer part of the bag), my midwife had to ultimately catch her due to my positioning, but Jason, who was helping me, got his arm on her right away and she was immediately brought up onto me sputtering and crying. Her cord was over on the left side of my leg since I hadn’t gotten my tired leg over it before practically falling down into the water clutching her close to me. I couldn’t really see her very well as she was right under my chin. I just laid there clutching her warm little body close to me. I do remember my midwife telling me to feel what my baby was. Confirmed girl! I was in a complete daze…totally out of it, unfortunately. I just held her close to me and remember saying something like, “She’s out…she’s out! I am so glad she’s out!” She stayed on me under a warm (but wet) towel while we waited for the placenta to come. After I pushed out the big placenta (yikes, it was huge!), Jason and Kiley cut the crazy long cord. Soon after, Jason took Cassie and held his new girl for the first time while I was helped out of the pool, to our bedroom, and into bed. Cassie was checked, weighed, and measured right there on the bed and then given right back to me. She breastfed right away and I snuggled my fresh, naked little baby all wrapped up in a dry towel. She was so clean and pure. She didn’t need a bath. (We actually waited a few days, which I have never done before…I just wanted to keep sucking in her pre-bath newness.) A little later, we gave my mom the honor of dressing her for the first time. It all happened right there on my own bed with me.
Looking back, I truly thank God for the seemingly long breaks (which I didn't understand at the time) He continued to give me between contractions/pushing so she didn't come down too fast and limit her oxygen by tightening that exceptionally long cord around her neck. Her heart tones stayed steady throughout and her slow descent enabled the double-wrapped cord to basically just slide right off once her head was finally out. My mom later admitted that she was in complete awe of that! She remembered seeing Kiley come out completely blue, in distress and not breathing in the hospital – she was roughly intubated and whisked away. It was scary and I was not kept informed. Cassie, on the other hand, looked blue for just a quick moment but then breathed deeply and cried with gusto right away. (And, yes, my midwife had oxygen, etc. on hand had it been needed.) My mom’s been telling everyone that story – even some grannies at their hotel. She said they were mesmerized…Ha-ha! Had I been in the hospital, I would have pretty obviously ended up having a C-section birth this time. I would have most likely been told she just wouldn’t fit and/or ‘coached’ on when and how to push in a semi-sitting position (in which she would have definitely not fit) and that cord would have probably tightened up too much and caused her heart rate to drop. That said my midwife would have transferred me if she and her assistant didn’t feel competent in themselves or confident in me. I know this without a shadow of a doubt. Birthing my baby girl didn’t end up being the way I had dreamt, but Cassie and I couldn’t have been in safer hands. She is so relaxed and content (unless mama’s in the bathroom and she decides she needs to eat now). Jason and I even pointed out that she doesn’t have clenched fists and she loves to lie all spread-out rather than balled up all the time like our other newborn babies.
As I mentioned before, I'm still very emotional about it all. My midwife said she hoped that I was very proud of myself for doing all of the hard work that it took to get Casslyn here. (It was definitely not the ordinary and she was honestly sorry it was so hard on me. She also hates to see a mom tear as she does all she can to help prevent it.) That comment brought tears to my eyes, since, on the contrary, I felt defeated and was disappointed both in myself and at how it all ended up playing out...not the peaceful moment I had envisioned at all. We have a healthy baby, though, and are so blessed. I'm truly working on focusing on the positive and the fact that I did actually - and finally - have my baby in the comfort of our home. I did it! (Wow!) What a journey! Years ago, I honestly never would have imagined Jason and I would welcome a baby into the world in this amazing way. However, I’m still in a state of shock at what I did endure and at how things panned out. My midwife has reminded me again over the past couple of days that this was the right birth for Cassie and, although not my ideal, was all part of God’s plan – the way she needed to come to get here safely. (She’s also validated the fact that I need to talk through it and we’ll continue to do so.) I find strength and peace in that. Throughout it all, my baby and I were surrounded by the love of family. Due to her presentation and wide shoulders, I did end up with a second-degree tear that was deep (not long) and needed five stitches. Thank goodness for my herb baths and ice packs. One of the best parts of this whole experience is how moving and wonderful it’s been for my family. Both of my parents and Jason have thanked me for this opportunity. Well, I’m thankful for it, too! We’re all head over heels in love and enjoying every moment getting to know our precious new girl.
Some fun facts:
Due to the way she came down and out, Cassie had a swollen nose, but no cone-head. Her head is perfectly round; it’s unreal! She also has red hair. My dad (a redhead) hopes she keeps it. Our boys were strawberry-blond and had a lot of red and Spencer’s stayed an ashen red, but I think Casslyn’s has even more red. Ellie has been our only one to come out with dark hair, though, and it ended up a darker blond like Kiley’s…so who knows? It’s fun to guess!