Hi all, I pretty much stopped posting in the past few months, but want to come back to share my novel-length, very happy birth story...
Dietrich Clark was born 5/12, weighing 11lbs, 21" long, at 42 weeks' gestation by LMP but only 41 by suspected ovulation. It was a lovely home waterbirth (at my parents' home).
This was my second pregnancy. Everything went beautifully up until about 35 weeks, when I started having rhythmic runs of contractions with walking or climbing stairs or lifting my toddler. I quit nursing the toddler and started partial bedrest. Then my blood pressure measurements started to run high whenever I wasn't lying flat. Never past the cutoff where a pharmaceutical treatment would be suggested, and I never had swelling or proteinuria, and all my just-in-case-of-preeclampsia labwork was all pristine... but I was very keen to stay out of the hospital and so from 36 weeks on I was mostly lying in bed on my left, being grumpy. There were a number of dietary changes, at the suggestion of my midwife, and I also took daily soaks in a hot tub turned down to 92. With all that I was able to keep the readings down to 120/80 or 130/90. If I took stairs or did dishes, it rose to 150/110 (not good).
The weeks passed. I was grouchy about the confinement; my husband was stressed trying to bring me high-protein meals and parent our active toddler, while working full time. More weeks passed. My due date approached. I resumed nursing the toddler, got reflexology massage, acupuncture, took carefully gentle walks, hounded my husband for sex like a nymphomaniac.
My due date passed. My sweet midwife visited twice weekly to rub my feet and remind me that hastening labor is like pushing a river upstream.
At 41 & 5, I broke down and asked for her to strip my membranes, and do everything else she could think of. We started homeopathic treatments, and she did the first cervical check since we had established that my early contractions at 35 weeks had not been creating cervical change. Aha! 3 cm dilated, very soft and stretchy, mostly effaced! The strip and sweep didn't do much, so the next day I walked and she consulted with other midwives about the use of certain herbals in the setting of high blood pressure. We started a low dose of Blue Cohosh, and had another strip and sweep.
Later that evening, at 8:30PM, my water broke while eating dinner. No pop, just a sensation like somone had dumped a quart of warm water into my lap and all over the floor. There were flecks of vernix in it, but it was otherwise nice and clear. We called the midwives even before the next contraction (they were 4 minutes apart, all of a sudden!). My husband started toting our bags down to the car, but with an excited toddler underfoot, and a cat and a garden to set up for a weeks' absence, and a wife who was quite distracted, it took us a little over an hour to get out of the house.
We headed out to my parents’ house where we were planning to deliver. Our daughter had been born there two years earlier with much joy, and we liked the plan of recovering with family around us. Contractions were 4 minutes apart and pretty intense from when my water broke. Starting during the car ride, I needed to vocalize through them. The trip is normally only 30 minutes but there were 5 separate construction zones! Fortunately none of them were full stops. Our daughter fell asleep in her carseat, I made open mouthed groans, and my husband tried not to speed. We got to my parents’ by 11 and I immediately stripped and climbed into the birthing pool, feeling very intense and focused. My parents had started to fill it when we called, so it was quite full but they were still adding teakettles of hot water to bring it up the final few degrees. It felt heavenly anyhow, I figured that if the midwives wanted me to get back out when they arrived they could try to talk me into it then.
My husband leaned over the edge and held my arms, I would submerge between contractions to relax, and just hang around his neck during them. The midwives arrived soon after we did, and checked heartrates every few contractions, but mostly they were content to fade into the background and watch me pace myself. I vomited up everything I'd eaten since lunch, it seemed, but never felt nauseated. It was simply that the tail end of several contractions turned around and headed upwards in the form of a big vomit. My mother and my sister in law offered me juice. My poor sweet husband kept trying to shift to ease his back but I couldn't stand to have him leave me. Also, from when I got into the tub I felt very annoyed by any conversation - "NO CHATTER" I demanded. This was a big difference from my first labor, which was long and sociable throughout.
To me it seemed that very quickly, I started having little pushy urges - in the midst of a contraction, I would suddenly feel my body spasm downward, and while it felt good, I was a little scared that everything was progressing so fast. With my daughter I had labored for 30 hours, and these feelings started 5 hours after my water broke. I could already reach down and feel scalp and hair only a fingertip inside me, so I knew I was in transition and would crown soon. The midwives had some breathing suggestions to slow me down, little puffy "pwah" noises that really helped.
I later learned I had 5.5 hours of labor and only 17 minutes of pushing before I delivered him squatting upright in the water. I was doing everything I could to slow it down. The crowning hurt, but not like my first delivery (which hadn’t been in water). I did feel in control enough to pause just a few breaths after delivering the head (after the midwife checked for a nuchal cord), to allow my perineum to stretch before delivering the shoulders, saying "pwah, pwah pwah". I felt so strong and wild and powerful in that moment. I scooped him up in front of me (midwife spotting to keep his head above water) and leaned back against the wall of the tub, cradling him against my chest. He made just a few noises immediately, not really yells, but was looking around eyes open. APGARS of 9/9. We announced the sex and name, which was very exciting as we didn't know and I hadn't had any premonition. Also, thrillingly, our son was born on my husband's birthday!
They helped me to walk to a bed to deliver the placenta, and Dietrich nursed strongly immediately. He latched like a shark.
I did end up with first degree tears both inside and on the perineum, but geez. 11lbs and so fast. 36 hours later I spent an hour sitting outside on the deck in the nice weather. I feel so much stronger and more whole than after my first delivery… waterbirth really felt good for me! Also, having a tub that was really deep was important. We had an Aquadoula (one of the deepest birthing tubs available) filled to within 4” of the rim, so that the water could really support me and be over my back. Not only was it great to have the pressure and the sensations of the water, but it made me feel really agile and able to move around easily.
He’s a big kid. He weighed 11lbs after passing copious meconium. He is a brilliant nurser, with an enormous mouth and good neck muscles already. He's been able to nurse in side-lying position from day 1, and already can latch himself on in the dark. He weighed 11lbs 10oz today, at 13 days old. We had been planning to reuse my daughter’s newborn sized prefold cloth diapers, but they don’t fit him, so it’s a good thing I have a dozen infant sized ones. I have many newborn sized handknit garments that just don't fit.
He has a full head of dark hair and is seriously chunky - he not only has rolls and folds around his wrists and elbows, but along the back of his neck, like a fat man. I’m so glad and reassured that he’s nursing so strongly, to keep away the blood sugar problems common in these bigger babies. He does, however, have a bunch of cosmetic issues - nasty blocked tear ducts, miserable baby acne all over his face and chest, and a touch of cradle cap.
I know that the labor was easier partially because it's a second labor... but my daughter was 3.5 lbs lighter and 10x harder to push out. Her positioning was not quite right, her head was tipped (asynclitic) and that makes all the difference. When people hear that I had an 11lb baby, many of them say, "I'm sorry!" and I want to shout from the rooftop that birthweight means nothing in comparison to good position of the mother and fetus.
Lots of love to all you other mothers!