cross posted in birth stories
It's been 3 weeks and already the details are getting fuzzy, but I didn't think I had it in me emotionally to write out his birth story before now. The whole thing was really traumatic. My times are really vague, I don't remember details and didn't look at the clock much.
I had been having contractions off and on and losing my mucous plug since about 41 weeks. I knew he was a really big baby and I was anxious to have him come, as I'm on the small side at 5'2 and very narrow hips. I had a lot of acupuncture and Webster technique at the end because my ligaments weren't stretching well and I felt really tight in the pelvis. My midwife and I planned to try castor oil by 41 weeks 6 days if I wasn't in labor yet.
On 41 weeks and 4 days (Friday March 20th), I woke up to contractions at 5:30 AM. These were more intense then what I had been experiencing. I timed them and they were pretty much every 5-7 minutes from then on. I tried to keep sleeping, eventually we got up and went food shopping at the park slope coop. When I walked in I was kind of in labor zone and not paying attention, and didn't notice that the woman checking me in was my midwife! Ha. The woman helping her was also commenting on my labor, and I didn't realize until we left that she was my former midwife, who I had went to for well woman care before my pregnancy (she was out of town the month before my birth, which is why I had to find another midwife). I thought that maybe seeing my 2 midwives was a good omen for my labor.
All day Friday I labored around the neighborhood and alternated with naps. Contractions picked up a lot towards the night, and I was up all night with them coming every 4-5 minutes. I let Jon sleep for some of the night and stayed in the living room. The next morning I felt like I was moving into active labor. Contractions had to be worked through now in a much different way. We called our doula over in the morning, and it was great seeing her walk in the door. I knew her for years-- when I started working as a doula 9 years ago we were each other's back-ups. I always knew there's no one else I would have wanted at my labor! We called my birth photographer, another old friend, and told her things were picking up but I felt like it wasn't happening immediatly so she could keep working that day.
Saturday is kind of a blur. Contractions stayed close together and strong throughout the whole day. I couldn't eat or sleep anymore. Our photographer called in the afternoon to say our friend was also in labor, who she was also supposed to photograph! She thought we may be further along so she headed over to our house.
I sort of remember asking to call the midwife to come over sometime Saturday evening. I asked her to check me, I think, and I was a 6 maybe? I was so relieved that I wasn't 2 or 3.
Thoughtout Saturday night into Sunday early morning I felt like I was in transition. Contractions came harder and harder and closer together. This is what I expected transition to feel like. At 3:30 AM I was checked again and my bag of waters was bulging into my vagina and I was 8cms. The baby's head was still very high, so we decided to break my water. After being in labor for almost 48 hours at this point he had not descended and I thought breaking the water could bring his head down and get me past those last 2 cms.
We broke my water and there was SO much! Much more than I had ever seen at another birth. His head stayed high right after, and I closed back to 5 cms. During a contraction my midwife brought his head down and I opened to 7cms again pretty soon after that.
Now here is where labor took a horrible turn for the worse. It all felt normal up until this point.
Not long after my water was broken I started having a very, very strong urge to push. I wasn't sure what it was and went with it for a few contractions and pushed into the pain. It didn't feel good to push, but it felt awful not to push. After doing this for awhile I asked to be checked because I was feeling pain in my cervix area. I was still at 7 cms, but stretchy.
Things just went downhill from here. For the next 15 hours I had an incredible urge to push, knife stabbing pain in my tailbone, and a swollen 7 cms cervix. Every contraction had me on the floor with my butt in the air and face on the ground panting outloud but screaming mantras inside my head. It hurt so, so much not to push. Every once inwhile we'd try pushing again, and it just kept swelling up my cervix. My midwife got evening primrose oil and used it to stretch my cervix during contractions while I pushed-- which was just an excrutiating amount of pain. We were trying to stretch my cervix over the baby's head since my body so obviously wanted to push him out but my cervix wouldn't let him through. I also felt like the bones of my pelvis were not allowing him to come.
Despite that, I was 100% confident in my homebirth and never once thought I should transfer during that time. The pain was like nothing I have ever imagined or seen in another labor. My partner said it looked like I was a POW being tortured for state secrets. I kept repeating "for sion" in my head as my mantra... similar to when Aragorn says "for frodo" at the end of return of the king.
During those 15 hours we tried everything. Squats, lunges, holding my belly up and in during contractions. The birth tub, showers, counter pressure, dancing, chest to the floor for 45 minutes.. we even called in an acupunturist Sunday afternoon, and that really helped with pain but it did not help the baby budge. We thought he was probably OP.
Around dinnertime Sunday I was so, so worn out. I had not had anything to eat hardly in 3 days, nor slept, and was having these awful pushing/swollen contractions coming every 2-3 minutes for hours on end. I didn't know what to do with the contractions mentally-- my stomach was heaving and convulsing with every contraction to push, but my cervix was on fire and I felt like I'd tear through it if I pushed. My pelvis felt like it was going to crack fromt he pressure of his head. I couldn't push but I wanted my cervix to open. How do you hold in pushing but still send down opening energy? To keep from pushing I had to be pulling my energy back in and up, but to open I needed down and out. It was so confusing.
Throughout the afternoon I had entered a place mentally that I can only describe as half dead and half alive. I didn't feel like I was fully part of the world anymore and I felt like I was slipping away. I was giving this labor everything I had, and NOTHING was moving the baby. The last time we did the pushing with my midwife's hands in me stretching my cervix torture thing I looked up at her when it was over and she had tears in her eyes and told me I was still the same dilation. I held onto my partner and cried my heart out. I couldn't believe this was happening. I was a doula and had attended so many wonderful homebirths and my whole life had no doubt in my ability to push my baby out, big or not. I didn't think my body would grow a baby too big to push out. I thought that if you let labor happen naturally your chances are so high that things will happen in the right way. But here I was, completely void of energy and life force.
I got into the birth tub again and told my contractions to go away for a few minutes so I could think. I felt with all my heart that my baby was stuck, and that 60 hours of everything I could do was not enough. I had the intuition very clearly that if I stayed home something awful would happen, severe shoulder dystocia, severe bleeding from an overworked uterus, or just giving in to the sinking into death wave that kept washing over me.
I made the call to transfer. It was such a hard choice. I didn't want to transfer to escape the pain whatsoever-- I knew the tradeoff was so much more precious, missing out on bringing my baby out myself and pulling him up my body and seeing him and feeling him in all his glory. I hated having to make that choice. I hated giving up on that moment. But I just knew that something was very wrong and he would not come out alive and healthy at home.
Once the decision was made to transfer, I told my contractions to stop for good. They listened to me. I had only a few contractions between that moment and when my body went numb from the spinal. That's how I know I wasn't fighting labor all along-- I had welcomed and allowed the contractions to come, no matter how much they hurt.
We packed up quickly and my midwife drove us and our doula to her backup hospital. We did an ultrasound of the baby and he wasn't OP, just very big and stuck. I had wanted to try epidural/pitocin while sleeping through the night to see if he would come, but my midwife explained to me that he actually was ina perfect position and he was clearly stuck-- if all we had done over 60 hours didn't bring him down, laying on my back numb would not bring him down. I consented to a c-section.
Most birth stories seem to skip here to the baby coming, but I want to write more about the c-section. I felt everything about the process so acutely (and I don't mean physically) because it was so unlike everything I had imagined birth to be like.
I first argued with the staff that I would not get a catheder under after the spinal was administered. Then I walked myself into the OR and insisited we wait until I got a contraction and it was over before we started the spinal. Having a contraction sitting alone on the operating table with all the doctors and nurses buzzing around saying "just breathe" was so surreal and sad. I missed my partner and midwife and doula. It was the only contraction I had alone.
They put in the spinal, which pinched but didn't hurt, then layed me down. I felt them put in the catheder which was so weird to feel people parting and manipulating my labia in this weird numb way. They prepped me and my partner and midwife were allowed to come in.
The surgury itself felt like a lot of intense tugging. My right arm was in a lot of pain from the blood pressure cuff that was too tight. After awhile my midwife said they were getting closer to getting the baby out. All of the sudden, I felt lighter. I'll never forget that feeling. I had so intensely wanted to feel my baby slide out of my vagina, instead I felt him lifted off my belly. On some level I was grateful for even that feeling, I knew and felt the moment he was born.
We heard him cry and Jon and I started crying. I loved the sound of his voice. It was so painful not to see and touch him. After about 2 minutes Jon was able to go over and see him. Sion was screaming and when Jon talked to him and gave him his finger to hold he quieted down. He was 9 lbs, 4 oz.
We had talked a lot before the birth about our voices being the only thing he would hear at first. We didn't want our midwife or anyone else talking, we wanted that moment to ourselves to introduce ourselves to him and tell him we're his parents. Jon was so upset to go over to Sion and hear the nurse talking to him. It sounds so insignificant, but it was heartbreaking to us that someone else got to experience *our* moment we had longed for, for 9 months.
Jon got to stay with him for 5-10 minutes while they measured him and all that. We asked for him not to be bathed, thank goodness. They cleaned him up and wrapped him up and put the gross eye goop in we didn't want to do. By then they were stitching me up and I still hadn't seen him and they wanted to take him to recovery with Jon. He had to argue to bring him over to see me.
I had such mixed feelings. I was so, so in love with this tiny little perfect face. I couldn't imagine him being more beautiful. Jon and I were crying so hard looking at him and I tried to kiss him and be near his little face while I was bound to the table. At the same time, I was so sad that I missed out on seeing him as he looked coming out of me. I didn't get to see him bloody and wet from my body. He didn't get to feel my skin when he came out. Here he was, presented like a little package. I wanted *him* not some gift with a ribbon the top of his hat. I had so looked forward to the physical sensation of him sliding up my body and wriggling on my breast in the water. I felt like the 10-15 minutes I missed with him were an insurmountable eternity. How could he know I was his mama, and how could I really know he was my baby.
Jon and the baby went off to recovery and I got stiched up. By the time I got to recovery they were telling me his blood sugar dropped too far and he would need a bottle of formula or to go to the NICU for IV fluids. NO WAY would I let THIS be ruined too! I tried to nurse him but couldn't with all of the blood pressure cuffs on my fingers and IVs and everything else keeping us from really touching each other.
We got up to my room shortly after with the repeated blood sticks and threats still in the air. I had 30 minutes to get his blood sugar to a safe place. Jon's parents were there and wanted to see him and I was happy they were there but SO eager to nurse him. I let him be held for half that time and then took him back and told him he HAD to learn how to nurse right now, there was no choice in the matter.
My good little boy latched on and sucked like his life depended on it and his blood sugars doubled.
We got a private room because I needed Jon after all this. We slept and nursed off and on all night and in the morning Sion watched the sunrise over the city in Jon's arms.
By about 10 o'clock we got a phone call from our landlord that the celing in the apartment below us was able to fall down from water damage. Our birth tub had leaked. http://www.mothering.com/discussions...113&highlight=
here's my thread on that.
So.... I know that homebirth is not for every birth. I know that what makes homebirth safe is following a mother's intuition and a midwife's expertise to know when to transfer. I KNOW that, but I don't like it. My homebirth was traumatic physically, but my c-section was traumatic emotionally. I'm still having PTSD symptoms over the whole thing. My baby is beautiful and wonderful and perfectly healthy and needed help coming out. Intellectually, I know that's ok, but my heart is just so sad over everything. I lost faith my my body and myself and I don't ever want to be at another birth as a doula. I don't even like reading about homebirths anymore. I'm bitter. I wanted this so, so badly... it was one of my life goals. I love my boy so much, but this is going to really take some time to let go. I don't want to be pregnant again, I could never decide whether I would want another homebirth.
Pictures of my birth are in my signature-- click "Mommy." More pictures of Sion are under his name.