Born 10/18/11 at home (HBAC)
Let me preface this by saying that I have a love for detail and therefore this will most likely be a very long story not short of any details, including some that may be particularly gross and may also be quite disturbing. Just warning you.
This birth story actually begins long before the contractions started and long before the family, friends, and midwife were called over. This birth story actually begins when I decided to embark on the tough journey of attempting a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean). I started at the birthing center that Katie worked at and also gave birth to Nathaniel, however, I was told that if I had gestational diabetes as I did with Audriella, I would have to be released from their care. I was then referred to a doctor in New Port Richey that would allow me to have a VBAC even with diabetes and I thought she was wonderful. I made the 30+ minute drive for each of my appointments to see her. At 36 weeks, however, I was greeted at my regular appointment with a letter stating that my doctor had her rights revoked from the hospital and was temporarily unable to deliver babies.
Being that I was a month away from due date, I was forced to look at other options because it was possible that she would not have the legal issues worked out in time for me to give birth. In order to try for a VBAC, I basically had two options; first, I could go to Tampa General, either as a walk-in and use the resident doctor or see if a particular midwife practice would take me that late and use them. My other option was to do a homebirth with a midwife. I felt that going to the hospital as a walk-in or a with a midwife group that I barely had the chance to even meet would not give me as much of a chance for a VBAC that I really wanted so I talked with my husband and we decided that a homebirth may be best. I met with the midwife that Katie was training with and I really liked her and felt comfortable going through with it.
At this point, may I interject my personal opinion about the whole VBAC situation…..had I not done research, had a best friend that was a huge advocate for women’s birthing rights, and talked with my original doctor about the actual statistics of the dangers of a VBAC, I would have been the same as everyone else, believing what doctors and others say about how dangerous a VBAC is and how necessary cesareans are in certain “situations.” Lucky for me, I listened when someone showed me the actual statistics and without sharing a bunch of boring information, I will just tell you that it is less than a 1% chance that your uterus would rupture and much smaller percentage that this rupture can cause death, that almost never happens. However, if you talk with almost any doctor in this area, they will tell you that once you have a c-section, you will always have to have to a c-section because of the dangers. Ok, I understand, from their view point it is less of a hassle, more convenient, possibly more lucrative, and even eliminates that less than 1% chance. But what I do not understand is why so many people and so many doctors are so for women’s rights when it comes to abortion. We are talking about a human life growing inside of a woman’s body, who, for whatever reason she may choose, wants to terminate the life of this child and this is both legal and even sometimes praised at the bravery of the woman. If you are prolife, you are a crazy consertive who doesn’t believe that a woman should do with her body (and baby) what she wants. Yet, look at the trouble I went through just trying to give birth to my child the way God designed my body. Isn’t this even more of a woman’s right than abortion is, abortion negatively affects another life 100% of the time. This seems backwards and ridiculous to me and I needed to interject my opinion there because I think it is important and I appreciate the midwives, doctors, and groups out there that are trying to fight for these rights.
Now back to the birth story, I will quit with the backstory and my personal opinions and start right with the action. I had an appointment with my previous doctor Monday afternoon once I hit 41.5 weeks to have a sonogram and make sure everything looked ok. Sonogram looked good, baby seemed happy, baby was estimated to weigh approximately 8.5 pounds, and I was 3-4cm dilated and ready to go. The doctor said that I was ready for labor and so was the baby, I just needed to start contractions which she suggested castor oil. She told me to take 2oz of castor oil this afternoon and that should bring on contractions pretty quickly. I confirmed this with my midwife and she said to take it in the morning so I had a good night’s rest, I was impatient and took it that afternoon (she probably wasn’t very happy about that) and it worked fast! Castor oil is a laxative so it affects your stomach which also stimulates your uterus and starts contractions and that is exactly what it did. Once I distingushed the stomach pains from the contractions, they started coming pretty regularly around 8:00pm.
I had Walter start timing them and noticed they were coming about every three minutes. At this time, they did not hurt but were just very noticeable. By around 10:00pm, they were still coming every few minutes, lasted about 30-45 seconds and were becoming less manageable and more painful. Katie decided to come over and around 11:00, we called the midwife and my mom to come. At this point, the contractions were strong and it honestly felt as though the baby was coming out. I really thought this may be one of those many home births that I read about o n the internet where the midwife makes it just in time to see the baby pop out. The appeal of a home birth is that you are in your own natural setting therefore are more relaxed and more calm, allowing for a smoother birth experience. Of course, that is exactly what I wanted. Katie suggested I get in the tub to help with the contractions and just in case I get ready to push, I will already be there which is where my ideal place to give birth was. I did and the contractions continued to get stronger as the midwife, Rebecca and my mother arrived. Later Ginese came as well and stayed for a little while.
From this point on, I had no perception of time and probably cannot recall every single detail and the order in which they happened but I will try my best to recall what I remember. The contractions became significantly more painful, one after another, barely giving me time in between. When there was time in between, I rested, just as Rebecca told me. I even fell asleep and had dreams during many of my breaks. This both helped and hurt, it helped because I was able to keep some of my energy up but also hurt in the way that I was constantly being awoken by a severely painful contraction which is absolutely no way to be woken up. Those hurt a lot, in fact, I remember being in the hospital with Audriella and when contractions started from the pitocin, the nurses kept asking my pain level on a scale of 1-10, I never knew how to answer until now. I now have a clear definition of the pain scale, what I was experiencing was a 10, I had no doubt in my mind (sorry, this is not the sugar coated version). I may now compare any other pain I ever experience to that day and have an exact number from the pain scale.
From here, I continued to labor into the morning. I stayed in the tub the entire time. Things seemed to be progressing very slowly, I felt as though I was in all this pain for no reason, nothing seemed to be happening. The midwife offered to check me and confirm that I was progressing, this was very helpful, I was 10cm dilated and ready to push when I felt the urge. That urge came pretty quickly after that and even though I don’t think they did much, I pushed during some of the contractions. I did not think I could do this any longer, it was hard, painful, I was tired, and I really thought I had nothing left. Unfortunately, this was only the beginning. Walter and Katie continued taking turns sitting by me and helping me when I needed it, they were wonderful! Most of the time everyone just sat with me and gave me what I needed, whether it be water, their hand to squeeze, or just a quick word of encouragement that I could do this. Every once in while Rebecca would come and tell me I was doing great and that I would soon be holding my baby girl in my arms. She also checked the baby’s heartrate, my blood pressure, and pulse very regularly. The baby’s heartrate stayed strong the entire time, which was not the case with Audriella and the reason for my c-section so I was glad each time she said everything was still great and the baby was happy. Soon after my little practice pushes began, my water broke, even though I was in the water, it was very noticeable. Something was happening so I continued to push.
While I continued to cry and complain about how hard it was, others were noticing that not much was happening too. The midwife suggested that I change positions since I had been sitting in the tub the entire time. I told her I wanted to but couldn’t do it and every time I thought I would try, I would have a bad contraction. It may seem easy to simply move your body in a different position but it certainly was not, I thought it was impossible. She never forced me to do anything but finally Katie told me sternly but gently that I really needed to get in another position to help get her out. I had help standing up in the tub and was told just to start out squatting each time I needed to push, that gravity really helped. I did this a few times and hated it so it was then suggested that I lay in bed to be more comfortable and allow myself to rest in between contractions so that I would be able to keep my energy up. Although I thought I would be against this due to the disgusting mess it would create on the place I slept each night, I was all for anything at this point. My idea of the most modest and clean birth possible had absolutely no weight compared to my extreme desire to get this child out of me.
The bed had already been prepped before anyone even got there, Walter had added sheets, a plastic cover over the whole bed, and then a set of old sheets on top of that. Pillows were placed on the bed to help me sit up and I laid on my side ready for more pushing. The urge to push was so strong now that I could not ignore it, I was forced to push with every contraction. I continued to complain about how I could no longer push and had nothing left and everyone kept encouraging me and I somehow found the strength to continue. This is when I consider the real pushing started and at this point I think it was around 9:00am. Lailynne was a stubborn little thing and was not too interested in coming out (consider her 41.5week gestation), she was also turned to the side making things even more difficult.
Now the pushing involved me laying on my side with one leg on the bed and the other basically straight in the air. Walter had to hold my leg up because when I put it down it would cancel out the progress I had made during the pushing. That was not easy for either of us. He was barely on the bed since I was taking up almost the whole thing so he was balancing staying on the bed and trying to keep my leg up. When I pushed, he would have to pull my leg back because my urge was to pull it down, he said it was hard to do, that’s how hard I was pushing, that my 250 pound strong husband was having a hard time holding my leg. I was literally giving it everything I had. At this time, progress was finally being made, she was starting to come out. So I now had the contraction pain, the pushing pain, and when she started coming out, there was this ridiculous burning/pressure pain. Each time I pushed, she would move and then go back in so I was encouraged to take little puff breaths, keep my leg up, and hold her there despite the burning. This was very difficult but we were too close to give up now. At one point during all of this (ok, several times) I thought of what would happen if I literally could not do it anymore. I was already too far along to receive an epidural at the hospital and since she was already coming out, a c-section probably was not a possibility either. I felt that my only way of getting out of this was death which certainly seemed like a possibility but that wasn’t an option either so I had to keep going. This was what I had been wanting so badly, right? Well God answered my prayers and he allowed me to feel the full affect of giving birth, sparing no detail, it was what I had asked for.
After what seemed like 5 million pushes and everyone telling me she’s coming soon 5 million times, she finally did start coming out. Her head was coming with each push and I just needed to get those few big pushes to get her head out of me and it would be all over. The crazy thing was that I would get her partially out and I would feel her moving, that was so strange. She was still fighting it, repositioning herself and trying to hop back in my uterus. That was not happening, finally, after a couple of sets of insane pushes, lots of olive oil, and a big tear, her head was out! That was it, she was out, all of my whining and complaining, all of the pain and intensity, the burning, the yelling and screaming had all produced this wonderful baby girl who I would hold very soon.
I was thrilled to meet my baby girl, relieved that it was over, and then suddenly scared to death when I noticed that her entire body was purple and she was neither crying nor moving. The next couple of minutes seemed like an eternity as I watched Rebecca turn my baby over and pat her back, suck out her nose and throat, smack the bottom of her feet, turn her over again and try everything to get this baby to cry all while she was telling us it was ok, that she would be ok. Walter and my mother were crying and all I could do was pray over and over again “Please God let her be ok.” We were all panicked. Finally, like magic her skin just turned pink and she was breathing, soon after she started crying, we were all so relieved and so happy. That was the scariest moment of my life. Rebecca assured me that she was ok and would not suffer brain damage or any other negative affect of being deprived of oxygen because she was receiving oxygen from the chord. I thought all the contractions, all the pushing, and all the pain was so difficult but nothing compared to seeing my baby girl that way, I am so thankful she came around.
After all of that, she was immediately given to me for bonding and nursing time. She had no diaper, no clothes, just a hat and wrapped in a blanket. She nursed pretty quickly, took a little bit for her to latch on but once she did, she ate for about 20 minutes. I remember having the hardest time with getting Audriella to nurse for more than five minutes at a time at first. Of course, I was super stressed out about it then and this time, I was sitting in my bed nursing my newborn and that was very relaxing. Once she had a good feeding and time for us to bond, she was then weighed and checked out, we were so shocked that she was over 10 pounds! I could tell she was big but I was thinking 9 pounds, 10 was just insane, no wonder she took so long to come out! She was perfect, so she was cleaned up, dressed and had time to bond with everyone else so I could get cleaned up and dressed.
From then on everything was perfect, she was perfect! I did have to get stitched up because I tore pretty badly but that wasn’t too bad at all. I was now a successful VBAC story and everything went well. It wasn’t quite the quick birth I was hoping for but it ended up with a beautiful, healthy baby girl and I was in charge, I didn’t have to do anything I didn’t want to. I couldn’t have asked for anything more than a beautiful, sweet baby girl. It was wonderful to immediately be at home and relaxed instead of in an ugly hospital, we couldn’t be happier with our little princess.