Our Home Birth
When will my labor start? That is the question I asked myself for months during my pregnancy, and though it was a constant thought in the back of my mind, it was all I could think of in my final weeks.
My daughter was due on January 19, 2013. That was a saturday. As that day passed I reminded myself that due dates are only a suggestion and not precise. But when was it going to happen? And more importantly, how would I know? This is my first baby and I had absolutely no idea what to expect from my upcoming labor. What do contractions feel like? Where will I be when I have them? What if I’m alone? When do I make calls? I had gone to a birthing class, but even after you read all the information you can and have heard everyone else’s stories, there is still that feeling of the unknown. All of these questions were answered on January 26th.
I was woken up at 3am that morning by light cramps. The day before I had a bit of “show”, so I had been on the alert for any signs. The cramps weren’t really that intense and I was happy that I could actually get back to sleep. At 6am I woke up again, and this time my cramps were much stronger. I had actually been dreaming that I was in pain. Still, I was able to go back to sleep, but I tapped my husband and let him know that I was sure that today was the day. I just knew that this was the pain I had been waiting for. 8am rolled around and I couldn’t sleep anymore. We had downloaded a contractions app for our phone and started to use that to see how far apart they were. I actually really liked having that app. It made things much easier for us. We didn’t have to devote a lot of concentration to counting, and we used it to text the information to our doula and midwife. After about an hour my contractions seemed to be about 6 minutes apart, I had more “show” and I called my doula.
Having a doula turned out to be one of the smartest decisions we made. Even if you are having a hospital birth I would recommend having one, especially if you don’t have a support system like a parent or sibling to be there with you. A doula is a labor coach, an assistant, and a form of emotional support for you and your partner. I will devote a blog to doulas, and for now say I loved having mine.
Although we had planned a home birth, our midwife had a family emergency the day before our birth and told us we would have to go to the hospital. We were really unhappy with this decision and had looked around for any other options that might be available to us. At 11am when our doula arrived, we were still assuming we would have to go to the hospital. I had put away all of our home birth “prep”, including blankets, clothes, and our birth kit and had packed our hospital bag. My contractions seemed to be getting stronger and closer together, so I still texted the info to my midwife, asking when we should plan on going to the hospital. She called us back around noon to let us know that she had found a back up midwife who would be able to cover our birth! It would be our decision, but we could stay at home and have the birth we had planned. This was great news, and of course we opted to stay at home.
Over the next few hours my pain continued to increase. My doula prompted me to use different coping techniques, and I went from the shower to my birth ball and back again. I found that my pain was a lot less in the shower. (though still great enough for me to inform my husband that this would be the ONLY time I was going to do this…) I had thought it would be so easy to employ the techniques we used in my classes, but as the time passed it grew only harder. Who wants to crawl across their floor to the couch when they could curl up on the bed and try to sleep? Walk up and down the stairs you say? I don’t think so! I was getting really tired and wanted to take a nap. My husband and my doula were making sure I got enough fluids, giving me water, coconut water and some food. I had an apple and some water and a half hour later I threw that all up. They gave me a sandwich and some coconut water and it went the same way…. I had heard that some women threw up during labor, but let me tell you, I hadn’t thrown up like that since i had a stomach virus in high school.
Around 4pm my husband decided we could inflate the birth pool that we rented. I really wanted to give birth in that pool, but I also knew it would help relieve some of my pain. We didn’t want to fill it too early because then the water temperature would go down and we would only have to fill it again, but my contractions seemed to be about 4 minutes apart and I really wanted to get in.
I really loved this pool. It was comfortable and helped with the pain. It had a seat and was easy to fill. We rented it from our midwife, but you can easily find them online. When you rent they give you a liner, which you can see above in the picture.
I stayed in the pool a long time, and was forced out by my doula several times to change positions, eat, use the bathroom etc.
My new midwife came to see me around 5pm. I was out of the pool and having a contraction at the time. She gave me a checkup and asked if I wanted to know how dilated I was. I was sure I would be at least 8cm. I mean, this had been an all day affair, and I felt sure I was far along. Imagine my shock when she told me I was a whopping 3cm….UGH. She gave me some homeopathic pills to keep up my contractions and to help me dilate further. She also told me that although the week before my baby had been in the correct position, she had turned so that her back was now against my spine. I needed to get her turned around by crawling or leaning forward. My midwife would leave and come back when I was further along.
Once we were alone again I tried different positions to turn the baby. It was getting really difficult to move around, let alone crawl across the floor or even walk leaning against someone, but it had to be done. I was able to nap between contractions but I was starting to become really exhausted.
I’m not sure what time I got back into the pool but I stayed there until about 1030pm. I think it was at about 9pm. It was around 10pm when I felt my water break in the pool. Why is it that in every movie that has a birth, the woman is always out in a restaurant or at yoga and her water breaks while she is completely calm with no pain, and someone says “it’s time to go to the hospital…”. We had been in labor all day, and finally my water broke! It was only a bit at first because after I got out of the pool I threw up again and felt a huge rush of liquid: the rest of my water breaking. My doula called the midwife and let her know that my water had broken and my contractions were really intense. I believe at this point I was in transition. I felt so many contractions, I was in a lot of pain, and at one point I thought I had a contraction that lasted 15 minutes… I think that was because after a contraction ended, in the time before the next one I had some cramping. My midwife arrived between 11-1130pm. It had begun snowing outside. She told us she had been at dinner and was planning to come back around midnight, but luckily she came sooner! She gave me another exam and saw I was about 8 centimeters. She then manually dilated me the rest of the way. That HURT!!!!!!! But after that I was having the urge to push. It was in my mind that pushing would be really fast, and my midwife said that the baby could be born that day! My yoga teacher, who was really inspirational to me and helped me all through my pregnancy had pushed in 7 minutes…. I was holding on to that time frame. As it turned out, it was not to be. I pushed for about 3 hours. We tried all sorts of positions. At first I was squatting holding on to my husband for leverage. I tried all fours, bent over, the bathroom,…. Where was this baby??! All the time I was pushing my midwife was checking the baby’s heart and making sure that we were both ok. She told me the baby was stuck under my pelvic bone and to try to arch my back to get her under. I tried to do that, but my progress seemed stalled. I was loosing my strength, my energy and I suppose my focus. Then the midwife said the thing I was dreading to hear: If you can’t push this baby out within the next 30 minutes, we should really think about going to the hospital… NOOO! after all we had gone through to avoid going there earlier, I wasn’t about to give up and go there now. If I went to the hospital at this point, I was sure there wouldn’t be any further attempts to push. Only a c-section. My assistant midwife then suggested that I lay on my back in the bed and try that way. Even though it seemed counter productive to be on my back, we were going to give it a go. I got to the bed and my midwife examined me. The baby was moving down, but there was still a bit of my cervix that needed to go over her head. She manually opened it again. That stuck out in my mind as really painful. The pushing itself wasn’t actually so bad. In fact, I found that having something constructive to do took my mind away from pain and made it feel better. I could use the cramps to push. Once I got to the pushing in bed I found my focus and my strength. My husband was next to me and he really helped me to find the energy I needed to continue. This was our baby and this was the end of one journey and time to begin the next. I pushed with all I had and my team of wonderful helpers told me they could start to see her head. Someone got a mirror so I could see, and there she was! So much hair! Everyone said so, and I was so excited. I kept going. Wasn’t she out yet? With every push I could feel her going down, but in between I could feel her slide back up. So the next push, instead of stopping, I forced my mind to continue and with 2 more giant pushes, her head began to crown, and then to fully emerge. I know they call it the ring of fire, and I think that is true! It does burn. I felt like my body would rip open! But then out came her head, and so fast she followed right behind.
The first thing I saw was her back, and then she was on my stomach and she was looking everywhere. I was so overwhelmed. My baby! My baby! she was really there. And she let us all know it by screaming out loud. Her hand had been up by her face, and that’s why it was taking so long for her to come out! We covered her in a towel and everyone started to do what needed to get done around me, and all I could see was her and my husband. That was a magical moment that made all that had come before on that day totally worth it. I had done it. Entered into that club of women. My baby was finally here! Her cord stopped pulsing pretty quickly, and my husband cut her cord. I delivered the placenta, and all was well. I hadn’t torn, so luckily didn’t need stitches. My doula had been taking pictures for us and then she made me some soup. I was so hungry after all that work! My midwives checked the baby and me to make sure we were alright. My blood pressure had been a bit low, but was fine after my meal. They took care of everything for us. Cleaned the house, put away the pool, and dressed the baby. She had started to eat while they were cleaning and I felt very happy that I could nurse her so soon. We couldn’t stop staring at her, but everyone told us to make sure we got some sleep, as it would be no sleep from there on out. At about 5 am everyone was finished cleaning and checking on us. They were going to leave….What? I realized that now I was going to be alone for the first time with my daughter and I had never really taken care of a baby. My happiness was mixed with fear. Again that unknown lay before us. She was so beautiful, small and helpless. I knew that I would do anything for her and that we would figure it out together.
So even though I didn’t use the pool, I almost had to go to the hospital twice and didn’t have the birth I “planned”, I don’t think I would change the way things turned out. I tried to prepare myself the best I could for that day. I read a lot of books, I watched videos and took classes. I went to yoga and meditated. I took my vitamins and ate really well (with a few cookies and ice creams along the way). The actual day was a surprise. I was surprised by having a backup made available, by not being as mobile as I expected, but I was most surprised by myself. I found out that I could do it. That giving birth was a challenge that I overcame. And now I have a beautiful baby. That is a challenge in itself and although I read a lot of books, watched a lot of videos, and try to take care of myself, I am still learning. I hope that all I learn will help me to be the best mother I can be, and I hope that the information I share will help others too.
Fiamma Matilda 8lb 4oz 21in 1-26-13 2:38am