wrote this as a record of what her birth was like...I remain an avid homebirth supporter and for the record would do it exactly the same all over again. No, it didn't go exactly as planned, though to be fair the only thing I really planned was to have a baby at home. Overall, I thought it was a great experience and I loved labor-- in fact I loved labor more than I loved pregnancy. Pregnancy is a lot of waiting and I guess I'm not very patient-- labor was working toward a goal that is relatively nearby & I liked the work. Lastly, to those reading this, it is long, detailed and perhaps a bit graphic, but you're reading about birth so you should be prepared for that.
Helena's Birth Story 5:00 am 7/21/09 to 7:03am 7/22/09
I woke up at 5am on Tuesday, July 21st, with mild, but consistent contractions. I didn't wake DH, instead I turned off his alarm and let him sleep I knew he wouldn't be going to work and I wanted him to get his rest so he could help when the time came. I woke him at 8:30 so that he could go get me something to eat and I told him we'd be having a baby that day and no work for him-- he was excited! After he got me breakfast (a bagel & cream cheese) he went back to sleep until 10:15. When he got up the 2nd time we called the midwife and doula to let them know that we'd need them later in the day. DH and I labored together for most of the day...Nancy, our doula, came at about 3:30 in the afternoon. At this point I was in the labor pool, relaxing between contractions which were 3 minutes apart and 1 minute long. The pool was great, too great-- it slowed the contractions down. Sooooo, up I got and DH helped me dress-- we took a walk on the rail trail! It was raining during our walk, but it made the contractions come long, hard and close together-- every time I got one DH would hold me and help me squat down. The walk made me vomit up everything I had eaten that day, but that's to be expected.
Once we got back to the house things were really picking up and I moved between sitting on the edge of the futon in a supported squat and/or sitting on the toilet...in fact I was on the toilet when my water broke. One of the funniest things Nancy or I had ever seen was DH's face when my water broke-- it was a huge pop, gush and splash-- he literally jumped! Nancy had to tell him that it was ok, and just my water breaking, not the baby. And in true OCD form since I was on the toilet there was nothing for anyone to clean up
This is when our midwife showed up (8:30pm)-- just in time cause I was seriously feeling the need to push. Anne checked me and I was 8cm (yippie!!). For the next couple of hours I labored on the birth stool and in the hands and knees position. Finally (or finally as far as I was concerned) I reached 10cm and was given the go-ahead to push. Pushing was hard, but I LOVED it...contractions are so much more tolerable when you can actively do something WITH them, instead of breathing/moving through them. During pushing I was in every position know to woman-kind: hands/knees, side-lying, lunge, modified lunge, squat, supported squat, birth stool, birth sling, walking on the stairs, hands/knees on the stairs...if there was a position to be in, I did it (my midwife made me). We literally did it all and it was exhausting.
I started pushing at 10:30 and after 2 hours Anne checked me-- the baby was at -1 station (the baby needed to get to +2 station and I had been at -1 when I started pushing). In fact I pushed for 6.5 hours and the baby never moved past -1 station, which was shocking and disappointing since I was literally doing EVERYTHING possible. I was not just lying on my back, waiting for the baby to come, I was working her out! DH was so great, he helped me into all positions, there was even one, (the supported squat), were he literally had to hold my full weight plus the force of me pushing (he later said he thought I was gonna take him down he couldn't believe how strong I was and hard I was pushing). DH got me water and made me drink, he also fed me yogurt and kept trying to get me to eat, he knew I had to keep my strength up and I was getting tired. The midwife finally put in an IV of fluids to get my energy up...she eventually put in a 2nd bag as well...but nothing was helping.
At 5am, after I had been up for 24 hours, DH asked the midwife what our other options were because he didn't think I could push forever and we had made zero progress. Anne suggested the pool or more walking up/down stairs, but DH was on point and asked if she'd ever seen this before and if so, what had that couple done. Anne told us that she once had a woman push for 8 hours without progress and that that woman had to transfer to the hospital for a C-section. DH looked at me and said he thought this was the best plan. I was out of it...I was so tired and had worked so hard and was continuing to have long/hard contractions...I knew that he knew what I wanted and that he would only recommend what he thought was really necessary. I agreed to go and told him I wanted to try not to have a C-section. He let the dogs out, helped me get dressed & grabbed our emergency hospital bag (I packed one in advance, just in case). Anne called the hospital to tell them that we were coming in. I want to mention that this was not considered an emergency transfer because neither I nor the baby were in any distress, our heart rates/BP were fine. In fact, the baby labored really well-- her heart rate never dropped and she was kicking/punching during the whole labor, which only made the contractions more intense!
We drove to Danbury hospital (15 minutes away)...checked into Labor & Delivery (I was still pushing, it is impossible to stop that force in your body). The nurse was yelling at me to stop pushing while I was in the wheel chair-- I completely ignored her, after 6.5 hours of pushing with no progress I didn't think pushing those last few minutes was gonna bring the baby and if it did, well yea for me! The nurses in L & D were AWESOME. In fact my nurse was a Certified Professional Midwife who had had all her kids at home. She told me I was doing a great job, but that I had made the right choice to come in. They did an ultrasound on the baby (our first the whole pregnancy) and couldn't see the baby because my bladder was in the way. The IV fluids the midwife put in, well they never came out and my bladder became distended, pushing on my uterus. They put in a Foley Cath and drained over 32oz of fluid...that made me feel a lot better! The OB checked me and said that a C-section was the only way to go. The baby was in the posterior position (the back of her head pressed against my back) and that her head was stuck above my pelvic bone. He said he could let me keep pushing, but that 6.5 hours was a lot of pushing & no progress was a sign that something wasn't right. He was concerned that if I did manage to pass her head then her shoulders would get stuck and then that would be an emergency. I asked if an epidural/pitocin would help-- the doc said I didn't need Pitocin since I was fully dilated and that the epidural might make me more comfortable, but that I would still have to get her head un-stuck...pushing with the epidural would be less effective than the pushing in various upright positions I had already done. He let us decide (I love that he didn't dictate or insist)...DH said he thought the C-section was the way to go. I cried and then agreed. It was very quick from there.
Up to the OR we went, they put a spinal block in me (they had to do this twice since the 1st didn't work). Then I was laid back on the table and DH came in all dressed in scrubs. Minutes later Helena Mary was out and crying loud-- July 22nd, 7:03 am! They didn't announce what we had, we asked them to show the baby to DH and let him announce, which they did. It was awesome-- I turned my head and there she was, naked and crying and DH said-- we have a girl, a really big girl!! He got choked up and so did I. The OB who did the surgery told me that my next baby would be a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean) and I was so happy to hear that and to know that he supported it. He said he'd gladly do it, that I clearly had no problem laboring or dialating, just a big girl in a bad position. After the surgery was over the OB even kissed me on the forehead and told me I did a great job. We feel so lucky that this was the on-call doctor we got—I’m going to be using him for my follow up care & well woman exams.
I told DH that he had to stay with the baby no matter what. He did...he followed her everywhere and didn't let them do anything but the bare minimum! No eye ointment, no immediate bath, no shots...the hospital was very understanding and helpful. I was in recovery for an hour, I did my best to speed through the tests (the nurse was impressed) and then I was in maternity and Helena Mary was with me!
I refused all post-partum medication, with the exception of Ibuprofen-- I wanted to make sure I was up and aware and that nothing would affect my breast-milk. I know they say that the meds don't hurt your breast-milk, but I wanted to be extra sure. The nurses and lactation consultant were great-- they worked with us on latch at every shift!! Helena was a champ and we learned together very quickly. The only problem was that since she was born via C-section she has amniotic fluid in her stomach and lungs, so she did a lot of projectile vomiting the first couple of days. Her weight went from 9lbs 5ozs to 8lbs 8ozs. My milk came in full force on Saturday and we've been feeding like mad ever since and her vomiting has stopped.
The doctors wanted to keep me in the hospital until at least Sunday, but I requested an early check-out, I hated being in the hospital. Though the staff was great, being home is always better. We checked out of the hospital Saturday, July 25th. We've been home, enjoying one another every since. Sleep comes and goes, but I don't mind. I am so completely in love! We have a beautiful little girl, it was a wild ride, but worth it!