This birth story is a long one. Desmond didn't come to us at home as we'd hoped, and we had a surgical birth at the hospital. The birth was a huge journey in and of itself. And ulatimtely, though a part of me will always be sad I didn't get the homebirth I dreamed of, I am proud of this story and happy with the way things came to be.
My water broke May 23 in the wee hours while I was reading Neil Gaiman in bed wondering if this kid would EVER come. I was about 10 days "overdue" at that point. We called the midwife who advised we just go back to bed- contractions weren't starting or anything.
Over the course of the next three days, labour would get going, contractions would get really close together, then suddenly things would stall out. This just kept being our labour pattern. We tried it all. Castor oil, all kinds of labouring positions. At one point, our midwife had me running up the back stairs two at a time during a contraction to try to get them to come closer together. I had so many moments of self-doubt. I couldn't understand why labour kept stalling out. I kept blaming myself and apologizing to everyone. The midwives were wonderful. They laboured with us every step of the way, reassuring me, standing by me. At one point we had a long talk about my father, and how his disapproval of me and our homebirth had way to much power over my new family's life. They encouraged me to let go of the past, and embrace my present.
An early blow in labour was that I had trained with Hypnobabies, and it didn't end up working for me at all. I was unable to deal with the pain of contractions for the first day or so, and felt wild and desperate when they came on. DH saw me through all that. He would tell me to stare at his eyes every time one came on, and would repeat to me how much he loved me, and how proud he was of me and the baby, while I moaned my way through each one.
We laboured at home this way for a long long time. By the 60 hour mark or so, contractions were far apart still- nearly 10 minutes apart, but were so so long. Nearly 4 minutes long each. We began to talk about a hospital transfer. It seemed clear that there was something more we needed to know that was going on here. I was heartbroken and didn't want to go. But my midwife talked to me about the difference between pain with a purpose and cruelty. I remember her saying, "Ann, at this point, you're coming up on three days of active labour, and we've done all we can to get this baby out. At this point, this is becoming cruel to you. We must do something different."
Off to the hospital we went at midnight. I had a contraction on the street corner in DH's arms. I remember being grateful it was the middle of the night so that there were no passersby to see me moaning and groaning in his ear.
The birth ended in a c-section. To make a long story short, we discovered several things at the hospital. First, that our baby had his head turned to the side. This in and of itself, our midwife said, wouldn't prevent a homebirth necesarrily, but it would make it harder for baby to come out. He also had the cord wrapped around his neck many times. Our thinking is that the combination of these two things made it such that our babe wouldn't have been able to shoot out of the birth canal fast enough to NOT choke on his cords. Our midwife said typically one of these problems alone isn't a big deal, but together, they present a real issue.
I remember thinking that my body and the baby somehow knew this. Thats why labour would get going then suddenly back off. It's as though our baby knew oh....this isn't going to work, time to slow it down, slow it down.
Ultimately I made it to eight cm dilated. But at the hospital, they tried giving us a little pitocin, and each time, baby's heart rate decellerated alarmingly. It was clear we had to go in and get him.
I will never forget the moment they pulled him out. My husband cried out, "It's a boy! It's our Desmond!!" We were both sobbing harder than we ever have in our lives. He was pink and crying lustily. He looked amazingly healthy, and was 8 pounds, 10 ounces.
We breastfed right away, and I remember saying to our doula, "Emily, I have had some really great weed in my day, and none of it compares to this. I feel so incredibly high right now."
For days after the birth I was mourning the loss of my homebirth while at the same time lovin' all over my baby boy. I think there is a space where you can feel the greatest joy you've ever felt, while still honoring the sense of loss you feel over the loss of a cherished dream- a vaginal delivery and a homebirth.
Finally, I started to think of things this way. I remembered being a little kid going to my first slumber parties. I remember being really into going, super psyched. But then, when the middle of the night came, I was the kid who always wanted to call home and say tearfully, "c-c-an you come pick me up?"
And that's how I see our beautiful birth now. Desmond and I did a beautiful dance together for three days. We laboured together, and he experienced the physical benefit of that labour. He had great lungs when he was born and was super healthy. It wasn't for nothing. But at one point, he just had to say to me, "Mom, I can't come to you. I need you to please come and pick me up."
And so we did.
Desmond Philip O'Neill had his mom and dad come pick him up on May 26 at 8:27 am. He was glad to be welcomed into loving arms.
"The Mothers are the brave ones." - Call the Midwife
What a beautiful story! I'm sorry it didn't turn out as planned and I think mourning that will really help you heal. He's beautiful! Enjoy your babymoon!
Andrea - Mommy to DD1 ('05), DD2 ('08), DD3 (6/17/11)
a precious story, and a precious boy blessings on your birth and welcome to little desmond ! all is well....
~Karenso happy to be mothering my four... DS ('94), DS ('94), DD ('00), and DS -- June 8, 2011, our UC baby!
I love this so much. What a poignant and lovely thing to say. Congrats on your beautiful Desmond.
Sounds similar to my birth experience, although you laboured about twice as long as I did. I also feel like the baby/your body knows that something is up, like the cord being wrapped around multiple times and tries to compensate. It's great that we have the medical knowledge to help out when needed. Even though it was not the ideal birth in the end you have a great baby!
What a beautiful story! your quote brought tears to my eyes. as for hypnobabies not working, i read somewhere that one reason it doesn't work for people is when something is wrong. you feeling your pain so intensely was your body's way of telling you it wasn't going to work. i'm happy you've been able to come to terms with the birth and congrats on your beautiful, healthy son!
happily married mama to DD1 4/08, 12/31/09, and DD2 5/11
Mama- what a wonderful story...full of wisdom and beauty. It's amazing that our bodies know what to do when things don't necessarily go as planned. Desmond is so lucky to have you as a mama- enjoy your babymoon!
J - Birth doula and *very* grateful mama to bouncy Q, fancy F, and mighty F!
:) Im so glad you listened to your body and your baby. What an amazing thing to try so hard for so long to give your son the best birth for him.. and in the process to surrender your own wants to co-write this story with your baby... to ultimately sacrifice self to put on a new aspect of self as mother. Wow.. the lessons you have gained. Nothing could mean more then the amazing stamina, love and courage you gave to your birth journey. It's healthy to say farewell to the fairytale of there being some right or "best" way to birth. The best way to birth is to listen to your baby and body and do everything possible to get your baby earthside safely. Exactly what you did.. nothing to mourn about that.
I hope you are recovering well, little Desmond looks so much like the pic of you that you posted in the bellies thread. Enjoy those hormones and your babymoon, Mama! Congrats!
that is a wonderful story and it sounds like your birth ended up 100% how it was meant to. the universe is amazing, isn;t it?
and he's beautiful!
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