Birth Stories - Happy Birthday Baby
by Melodie at Breastfeeding Moms Unite
Today is my daughter's 2nd birthday. In honour, I wanted to share her birth story, one I am still very proud of because it was a homebirth after cesarean (HBAC). Everyone thought I was crazy to do it, but with the backing of a normal pregnancy, a team of supportive midwives and husband, and armed with months worth of reading in preparation to support my decision (thanks in part to Diane Korte's VBAC Companion: The Expectant Mother's Guide to Vaginal Birth After Cesarean), I went ahead and successfully birthed my second daughter in the comfort of my own bed at home. It was not unlike any other woman's normal labour and delivery (8 hours, no complications), except for the part about being frought with controversy. But I'm not here to discuss HBACs (not today anyway). I just want to share the story of my beautiful little girl's journey to the world.
On Friday the 13th in April of 2007, I went into labour. It was suppertime. I had been monitoring some irregular contractions for a few hours and around 4:00 I knew they were straightening themselves out, so I decided it was time to make a cake. Birth plan goal #1: Make birthday cake for the new baby. In retrospect, it was pretty funny, trying to engage my other daughter in a fun Mommy-and-me activity when every five minutes I was keeling over the counter or table in pain while my mom applied counter pressure to my lower back. She was initially a little frightened which is part of the reason I wanted to do something with her, but eventually she got used to it and waited for me at the counter while telling Daddy, "Mommy is saying 'ooooh' and 'ow ow ow' because the baby is coming." By 5:30, the cake was finished and it was time to call my midwife. "Why does this have to happen today?" my superstitious self remembers thinking.
I was lucky my mom was visiting. She had taken my oldest daughter for an overnight the night before, because I was having some pretty major Braxton Hicks contractions and I was sure I was going to go into labour in the middle of the night. But of course I didn't. She had come back to return my daughter but at dinner time she was re-packing her bag to take her again. I love the idea of siblings being present at births, but it also depends on the child. I knew mine wouldn't be able to act the way I would need her to, so it was off to Granny's for her. Luckily she didn't mind.
The midwife showed up just before 6:00. I was 5 cms dialated and fully effaced. An hour and a half later of intense contractions I was 7-8 cms dialated. So she called midwife #2 and told her to get over to the house immediately because I was progressing very quickly. Then midwife #2 showed up and I stopped progressing. Hm. Two hours later I was still at 7-8 cms so they decided it would be a good idea to rupture my membranes (break my bag of water) to speed things up. And it did. I never got to feel my bag of waters breaking with my first daughter because I had an emergency cesasrean. I loved the feeling. Even though they had to wait for me to be in the middle of a contraction before they stuck what looked like a flimsy plastic ruler up me, the gush of warm liquid felt really nice. (Sorry, was that TMI?)
For an hour I rocked and writhed with one strong surge after another, moaning and groaning my low, low throaty animal sounds as best I could, but the pain just got more and more intense. I guess I hit transistion around that time because as soon as I was no longer capable of my low groaning sounds, I threw up. I remember trying to escape the pain. It was really hard to relax. Around this time I started considering asking to go to the hospital, but the thought of getting dressed and driving to the hospital was more than I could bear. My midwives told me everything was progresssing normally so I gritted my teeth and kept on barreling through the surges of pain. But I knew that this must be the point when the women in movies start screaming for drugs.
I tried relaxing in my shower and the bathtub but it didn't help me much at all. The bathtub was too short for a 6 ft tall woman to labour in and I couldn't lean into the shower wall very effectively during a contraction. I liked the water, but the mechanics of everything else didn't work for me. After another go of vomiting while in the shower, I decided not to try it again. Instead I relied on my husband's words of encouragement and hurling myself into him at every contraction. Poor guy. It got to the point my midwife felt the need to tell me to be more gentle with him. I was too "in the zone" at that point to tell her what I thought of that. But I remember feeling pretty irritable with everyone and everything at that point. It was a good thing that a short time after, my midwife checked my dialation again and announced that I was 10 cm. "You can push now if you want to," she said. But I didn't feel like pushing. So I sat there for a minute taking in the fact that my second child but my very first natural child birth was about to take place. This was it!
I didn't get the hang of pushing right away. I was in a semi-sitting upright position, with my husband behind me. The midwife told me to hold my own leg, curl up into a ball, hold my breath and push during a contraction, but it just felt like too much work. It was a position that was practically physically impossible for anyone, let alone an exhausted labouring woman! I didn't want to be an acrobat! My birth plan had been to work with gravity and push on all fours, but no one was helping me up. A part of me was too tired to care and all of me was too tired to move, but I wasn't too tired to feel annoyed that no one was pushing for what I had asked for. And I was annoyed they weren't holding my leg for me. "Why should I have to do it?" I asked. Their reply was that it would be more effective that way. I was mad. And confused. It wasn't working very well. But then, suddenly, it did, and it felt great. Even the "ring of fire" thing was bearable.
But when the baby crowned I started to freak out. It felt like she was going to tear me wide open. I found out later her hand had been up by her head, which was why it had hurt so much (for weeks later her natural positon was to hold her hand up near her head). But they assured me my perineum was being protected and my vagina was stretching the way it was supposed to. So I pushed through the pain and felt her head crown, then felt them pulling out her shoulders. Then hubby said something like "Oh my God" and I saw in the dim light a baby coming out of me. It was so surreal. And then she was placed on my tummy, all fresh and gooey the way new babies are supposed to be. I only pushed for 25 minutes. Pretty good for a first timer they said.
A few minuntes later I asked what time she had been born. 12:01 Saturday the 14th. We escaped Friday the 13th by a hair! Happy Birthday baby!
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