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An Active HBAC--LONG!

1524 Views 4 Replies 5 Participants Last post by  Nicole B
If you just want the birthstory, scroll's there, I promise!

Background: My cesarean birth:

With my firstborn I planned a birthcenter birth with CNMs. I worked throughout my pregnancy (a mostly-desk job), walked a few times a week, followed the Brewer diet, took Bradley childbirth classes, saw a chiropractor, and thought I was doing everythkng I could to have a successful)birth. At the end of my pregnancy I developed pitting edema to my knees (35 weeks) and my blood pressure started to rise at 39 weeks. Two days before my due date I woke up with a small amniotic leak, and when labor did not start within 24 hours, I took castor oil as suggested by the midwives. Labor finally started about 18 hours after the castor oil, in the middle of the night. The next morning, 48 hours after the amniotic leak, not knowing my blood pressure status, the CNMs advised by phone that I not be active while I was still laboring at home. In the afternoon we arrived at the birth center at 4 cm, and after 5 hours hadn't made any progress, though my BP was fine and I was up walking, in the shower, etc. They suggested demerol to help me relax more fully, and when I didn't make progress after two hours "sleeping" under its influence, we transfered to the hospital for AROM, pitocin, and an epidural. After about 8 hours at the hospital and 25 hours of total labor, my temperature began to rise and the baby's heartbeat rose, signalling infection (or maybe just an epidural fever). It was decided that we needed to have a cesarean. The worst part of the entire experience was the 4 hours after the surgery, separated from my new son who was in the NICU. My exhausted husband shuttled between us as our family, doula, and midwife left us before he was released.

I had a period of mild depression for about 4 months after that experience, and immediately began reading about and planning a VBAC. Before I even became pregnant again, I decided that I would have a homebirth, and that I wouldn't be deterred. Amazingly, my husband's first reaction to this choice was positive, which was a huge relief.


The HBAC pregnancy

I was active with my son (2) and niece (3), walking almost daily, eating a low-glycemic index and mostly organic diet, and using some herbs and supplements. I chose a lay midwife who made me feel entirely responsible for myself and my baby's health, and began seeking out homebirth, VBAC, and general birth groups for support. My background as a biologist and doula had built up a great deal of mental knowledge of birth, statistics, etc, and I knew that knowledge alone had not helped me in my first birth. Instead of reading technical birth preparation books, I read extensively things that helped me to trust birth and to work through my emotional issues and fears. I devoured birthstories, especially HBAC stories. For me it was key to find a way to listen to my instincts and my body. Even this reading I limited to the waning phase of the moon. As the moon waxed, I tried to focus on enjoying being pregnant and connecting with the baby. At about 6 months a pregnant friend and I did a cleansing ceremony where we read to each other the negative things about our previous births and then burned the lists, smudged each other, and finally shared our hopes for our upcoming births.


The HBAC birthstory

The weekend before the birthstory begins I had cleaned my house thoroughly (about 4 hours of work) to host a homebirth meetup on Saturday, and then on Sunday went to my MIL's for a tea in my honor (sort of a shower). People at both events noticed that I had "dropped" and a midwife friend even looked me over closely and said, "I know you're not due for 2 1/2 weeks...but I don't think you'll last that long!" The baby was born at 38 weeks and 3 days.

My labor began about 2am on a Thursday night, under a full moon, with small crampy contractions every 2-3 minutes. I was able to sleep until 8am, but the contractions were still coming every 3 minutes, lasting just 20-30 seconds, and still very mild. I went about my normal routine, making breakfast for my son (2 1/2yo). I called my midwife (M) about 9 am and told her what was going on, she thought they were just "tune-ups" and that I should get some wine in case I needed it to help me sleep that evening (HA!). When my husband came downstairs at 10am, he found me leaning on the counter, breathing slowly; I told him he wouldn't be going to work, the contractions were picking up. He went to tell work he wouldn't be in, and I continued to try to act normally--doing dishes, eating a half cup of plain yogurt. When he returned about 10:45 am both my son and I were a little frantic. I was having to blow through contractions, even feeling trembly at the heights, and my poor son didn't understand why I wouldn't look at him or talk to him during these frequent episodes. So, I escaped to my shower, leaving instructions for DH to call both M and his mother to come pick up our son.

While I was in the shower I talked to M twice on the phone and she assessed my contractions-- 2 min apart and 40 seconds long, and said she'd be there in a couple of hours. I got out of the shower, leaving my long hair in a tangle on top of my head, and put on one of my favorite old sleep t-shirts and underwear, and laid down on my side in bed. By this time (about noon) DH was able to help and I had him squeeze the fronts of my thighs between contractions, to alleviate the aching.

About an hour later I was kneeling leaning over my birth ball when our midwife's assistant (A) arrived, and she checked baby's heart rate (great), and jumped in to help DH do hip squeezes. A little later, when M arrived, I was up pacing the hallway. As M and A set up their things in my bedroom, DH and I walked around, and I would hang on to him or lean onto a wall during the contractions, which by this time were 2 min apart and lasting a minute or longer...not much downtime in between! We also climbed up and down the stairs (between contractions), and I spent longer than necessary on the toilet, where I found bloody show/mucus plug about 3pm, and began to feel pushy at the height of contractions.

About 3:30pm I asked M to check me, as I said, "I want to push...I want it to be time to push"...of course it wasn't yet. I was 5cm dilated (but stretching to 7 during cxs), 75% effaced, baby was still high, and LOT. Somebody said, "Soon you'll be able to nurse that baby!" and it really struck me...I remember repeating "nurse the baby" to myself a few times, almost in wonder, reminded that's why we were doing this. So M began suggesting positions for me to try. First, lunging with my left foot up on my bed (mid thigh height), hip rotated out 90 degrees. I hung on to my DH and we lunged during the contractions, which definitely made the contractions more intense.

It was at this point that I started growling, even roaring, through every contraction (and did this until the birth...I was hoarse the next day).

Then I climbed the stairs during contractions. This was when I got the most verbal support from my team--it must have looked and sounded like hard work! DH even got the video camera to capture my other-worldly vocalizations. I went down and back up 3 times (2X more than everyone expected, I heard later) and then spent some time hanging on to the stair-rail in a squat. And then I hung over my birth ball again, but doing pelvic tilts and belly-dance-like hip rolls through the contractions. Trying to do the pelvic tilts was the most painful part of the entire birth...everything else I'd just call intense. At this point, about 5:30pm, M checked me again and found I was 8cm dilated, and baby still needed to rotate more anterior and was still high. So, back to lunging, and sitting on the toilet with my left leg elevated, and lunging again.

Then I squatted at the end of my bed, deeply in that laborland/intuitive movement place. I would drop down during contractions and stand back up between. I really began to feel pushy at this point, and M suggested that I try to break my own water with my finger. I could feel it, but I couldn't really concentrate during a contraction enough to do it. (It was a great suggestion, though.) I spent a bit more time in a squat, rolling my hips during contractions (as if I were going to try to walk in a squat position). Then M gave me the go-ahead to push when I felt a very strong urge, and I did that for awhile. Then I told M I wanted her to break my water, so I got down on my hands and knees. She broke my water at 6:49 pm with finger counterpressure during a contraction, and it was lightly stained with meconium. With the next contraction, M said my cervix "melted away" and I was complete. After that I began to push in earnest--three or four 3-5 second pushes with each contraction, which were still coming every 2 minutes. At one point M suggested I check to see where the baby was, and I found she was only in as deep as the second knuckle on my middle close!

When the baby began to crown, I felt only momentary burning, then her head was out. I had to hold off pushing for a contraction as M worked off a loop of cord, found a hand at her ear, and suctioned the baby. The last push was the best...that last slippery gush of baby and fluid...and it was DONE! She was born at 7:04 pm.

We moved up on to the bed with the baby, and waited for the placenta for about a half hour. Laurel latched on, and I felt just a couple of contractions just before the placenta emerged with one little push. Upon inspection it was whole and healthy (I was still sort of worried SOMETHING would go wrong and spoil the peace of our experience thus far). M found I had two small 1st degree tears--one lateral (where her hand was at her ear) and one perineal. Neither needed stitches.

Laurel Anne was 7lb 3oz and 21 inches long (exactly like me at birth!), with big blue eyes and a healthy dose of dark brown hair. She's 5 mo now and such a joy!

baby pics:
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Beautiful birth, Mama! Congratulations on your HBAC!
It was great to see you at IMD with your sweet Laurel. I bet she's getting so big! I would love to see updated pics!
-Christina (mama to Adalyn)
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Congratulations! And what a little beauty

Thanks for sharing.
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Congratulations! What a wonderful birth story
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Beautiful healing birth!
Congrats moma

BEAUTIFUL little girl btw!
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