I've had 4 babies, previously, all in the hospital. My first was a cesarean, 2nd was a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean), 3rd was another VBAC, and 4th was another cesarean caused by unnecessary medical intervention. I had an epidural with all of them. After two C-sections, it isn't necessarily easy to find a practice that will allow VBA2C (vaginal birth after 2 cesareans), but we did, and all was going well. However, what we truly wanted was a home birth, and at 37 weeks, with the help of our marvelous doula, we found a midwife who would take me on- high risk, almost due, and all. She is my HERO! So, this is the story of our HBA2C- home birth after 2 cesareans.
We went to bed very late on Saturday night. I was weary, both physically and emotionally, from a very trying couple of weeks. In less that 10 days we had been through everything from going overdue, to an ice storm that knocked out our power for a day and a half, to baby presenting in several positions- one of which was dangerous, to facing a hospital birth if I went past 42 weeks. Only 5 days left until then. And I still had NO signs of labor. Nothing. Nada. I was spent. Why wasn't I going into labor? What was wrong? Why wasn't my body working like it is supposed to? and other worrisome questions floated around in my head as I tried to drift off to sleep. And a reminder from my Heavenly Father: "Trust Me" Yes! I want to. I'm trying.
And then, there it was. A cramp that grew into a pain.
I have been welcoming pain of any kind for weeks! But they all fizzle into nothingness. I have even had several sets of contractions that last for over an hour and are 4 or 5 minutes apart! Very promising! One set has even included lower back aches! But they have all betrayed me by ending suddenly. And then I wake up the next morning feeling normal. And sad. It has now been almost 2 weeks since I have felt any type of cramps or contractions, so at this point I am sure that labor will never come. My comment to Scotty is that I won't believe I'm in true labor until I see the head. And that is still how I feel when this first cramp comes. This feels strongish, but surely it isn't "real". I turn over and try to fall asleep.
Soon, another identical contraction came. I breathed through it and then tried to sleep again. It was about 3 a.m. I knew I would wake up in the morning feeling normal. And discouraged. But then....another one came. In my stubborn denial I turned over and over, breathing through each one, and refusing to wake up my husband. They would stop soon.
Now, in addition to breathing, I'm making quiet sounds to get through the ever stronger contractions. I decide that if I have 3 more, I will begin to time them. Just for kicks. Since this isn't real labor. On the third one, Scotty wakes up to my sounds. "Are you okay, babe?" I tell him that I've been having contractions for an hour and a half. But they might go away. He talks me through a couple more and then gets his phone to start timing them- just in case. They are 2 minutes apart and almost a minute long. I tell him I'm going to the bathroom, because they'll stop once my bladder is empty- as they had done in weeks past. They do not stop. And I have some "bloody show". Now I am slightly more convinced that this could be real.
We decided to get up and go into the living room. This was the moment we had been waiting for! I sat down on the couch and got comfortable, and then another one came. WOAH, NELLIE!! Sitting on the couch made them hurt WAY worse! Next, I tried kneeling on the floor and leaning over my labor ball. That ball. I had been waiting to use that ball for so long. I had read other birth stories of how wonderful and comforting it is to lean over or sit on a labor ball. Somebody lied to me!! Another one came: OUCH. Kneeling and leaning on the ball was clearly not the way to go!!
Now I'm confused. I thought I would be able to get into any comfortable, resting position, and concentrate and focus on contractions, then rest between them. But so far- sitting and kneeling are OUT! So, we decide to go back to our bed. I lay down on my side- another contraction- NOOOoo. Not good! So then, the only way that they are even bearable is standing or lying on my back, propped up on some pillows. We do this for a while, still timing them. Still wondering, in the back of my mind, if they will ease off and go away. But the sounds I am making to get through them are getting louder and they are getting super, seriously strong. Seriously. I am afraid I will wake the kids. I am thinking the birth must be near since this is SO STRONG already! I am thinking What do we do? Who do we call?
We called my mom to ask her to come get the kids. I was SURE that Scotty could NOT leave me to help the kids get breakfast when they got up. I needed him for every contraction now. Then, we began to pray about who to call and when. We asked our Heavenly Father to allow only His will. We asked for wisdom. Then, we called our midwife.
I get in the shower to see if it would help. After a couple of contractions in there I ask for my labor ball so I can sit down and rest. The next one comes and it is NOT good! OWWWW!! That dang ball has failed me again! It hurts so much to sit on that thing through contractions. I get out of the shower and back in bed. My midwife is setting up in the living room and my kids are up and getting dressed and ready to go to Mippi's house. We call our doula. This labor is in full swing!
Suddenly everyone was there. My mom was holding one hand and my doula was holding the other. (Scotty was filling the bath tub, but I didn't know where he was at the time) The moment of truth had come when our midwife was about to check the baby's heart rate and see how dilated I was. I had it in my mind that if the baby's heartbeat was not in the right spot (like if she was breech) then we were off to the hospital. So what a huge relief that her heartbeat was really low and in the center, and a lovely 140. I was so glad that she was in the right position. Home birth- still on! Yes! Then, she checked me. I was at 6-7 cm. I remember being kind of surprised that I wasn't, like, 9 or 10 cm because this was so intense. But at least I was over halfway there. So, I labored on.
My midwife says I can get in the tub if I want, which Scotty has already filled. Since I have heard that warm water is a huge help with labor pains and is "nature's epidural", I am so looking forward to the relief! I get in the tub and sit down. OH SNAP!! Sitting is simply unacceptable during contractions- warm water or not!! I don't notice much or any relief! All I notice are extremely powerful contractions that can't even be real, followed by brief moments of sweet and blissful rest. I lean back on a towel and forge ahead through many, many contractions that rock my world and make me wonder how anyone relaxes through this. I wonder how long I can hold on. How long can I endure this? What have I gotten myself into? Sometimes, as a contraction comes on, I beg, "Help me! Help me!" to which Scotty or my doula respond with encouraging words...they don't know I am not saying it to them.
I briefly considered the distance to the nearest epidural, but then quickly rejected the idea of riding in a car during these contractions. No stinkin' way.
I am only really able to cry out in a sort of (very loud) groan/roar and manage to relax my face and bottom. Otherwise my whole body is like a giant muscle spasm. Trying to relax my legs or anything is a big joke! And just when I think it can't get any worse, my doula says to get out and empty my bladder. Okay. So sitting, kneeling, lying on my side, and the labor ball all hurt like the dickens...but sitting on the potty during a contraction is like the worst thing I ever hope to experience in life. For real.
And then, for some reason, I got back in the tub! We carried on this way for some time as I laid there wondering why my husband wasn't an anesthesiologist, and being slightly annoyed with him for not taking that career path. Obviously, I was not in my right mind by now. I was seriously wondering how much longer I could take these contractions. They were more powerful than a locomotive. I was in awe of them. And I wanted them to leave me alone and let me have a nap!
None too soon, my midwife comes and tells me to get out of the tub so that she can check me. Yes! Thank you! Being in this tub has sucked!! (So why was I still in there? No one was making me stay in the tub. Duh.) I wander out to the living room to see a beach towel laid on the floor with a pillow at one end. I think to myself "Oh no! What new torture am I about to endure lying on the FLOOR through these things!?" They also had a pillow and some towels on the couch. Who knows what's in store for me next! Scotty slips a clean nightgown on me because part of my birth plan is for him to keep me modest during labor, if possible, even if I don't seem to care about being naked. Like now. I stand through a few more contractions, holding onto Scotty for dear life, and stretching the crap out of the neck hole of his shirt. And then the assisting midwife suggests that I sit on the labor ball. Oh-to the-no! Reluctantly, I agree, only because they know what they're doing and I don't. So I sit on the ball of horrors. Yep! It doesn't disappoint!! Still horrific!! But they tell me to stay there for a FEW MORE!! Ugh!! REALLY??! But I listen to them. And endure a few more on that hideous ball of torture. As I'm laboring on the ball of doom, Scotty is sitting on the couch leaning forward and letting me hold on to him when a contraction comes. Another one comes, and he doesn't sit down in time, and I just grab onto his legs. My hands and arms are up the legs of his shorts, wrapped around his thighs, and I am clutching his boxer briefs with all my might. He tells me later that I was slowly pulling his underwear down and he was deciding whether to let go of me and save himself from mooning the whole room, or just let his back side shine for all to see in the name of good, dedicated coaching. Thankfully, the contraction ended before any hard decisions had to be made, and his dignity remained in tact.
Another trip to the bathroom was suggested. Worse news had never reached my ears. But I knew my bladder needed to be emptied, so I agreed to go. (They had been putting water or a smoothie Scotty had made for me in my face all morning, and I had felt obliged to take sips...even though it meant I would have to pee. Ugh.) I had one contraction while sitting on the pot and they asked if I felt the urge to push. I said no. Then, the next contraction came and I changed my answer to yes! I did feel the need to push. But it wasn't overwhelming and I wasn't really feeling the pressure that I was waiting for that meant birth is near. At this time, my long awaited mucous plug finally made it's appearance. I had been watching for it for weeks. I look at it, thinking "Better late than never, my disgusting little friend." So, back to the living room and one or two more standing contractions (some of which felt a little "pushy", but not too much) and I made an announcement. I told the whole room that I was tired and I didn't know how much longer I could go on, and I was gonna lie down on the couch and rest for a minute. I didn't really care what anyone had to say about this. I WAS going to lie down and rest. Even though I knew I would pay dearly for it when the next contraction came. To my surprise, no one argued with me, and in fact, they seemed delighted with my decision! Weird!
So, I lie down on the couch and, OH MAMA, do I ever pay for it with the next contraction! Now my midwife is listening to baby again and finally about to check me as she said when I first got out of the tub. Baby sounds good and I am complete (Yes! FINALLY!!) Now, how much longer before it's time to birth the baby? I'm thinking I still have more labor to endure because I am not yet feeling the extreme pressure that I have always felt before when it is time to push (even with an epidural- there is no denying this pressure!). I'm thinking I had lain down to rest and now it's time to get back up and keep laboring. I'm thinking that it cant be time to push until I feel that mega pressure- like I have to go to the bathroom really, really, really, really, really bad- which I am not yet fully feeling. But my midwives know better and with the next contraction I am P*U*S*H*I*N*G to my own surprise!
Now the contraction that I am feeling seems non-stop. It is like a force unknown to this world. It is like power and pain, crushing my pelvis, and prying it apart. It is like death and life all at once. It is a force like no other I have ever known or imagined. And I am trying to push through. All of my might is so pitiful compared to this POWER and this pain. No words that I know exist to describe it. It is like a presence that I can almost see around me. And in the midst of it, there is wonder, and there is a comfort. So strange. I am amazed by this fierce pain, and most surprisingly, I am not afraid! And it feels like my midwife is shoving me down into the couch. And then there is what must be the "ring of fire", except in the midst of this pain it feels really puny. More like the ring of warmth. But the assistant midwife sprays some cooling spritz on me and I feel some sort of relief. Funny, that I could feel some cooling relief from a little mist even in the throws of "the-pain-for-which-there-are-no-adjectives", as I have nicknamed it. And then, suddenly, something comes out! And then my midwife giving me urgent instructions to "PUSH! You're not done!" So, I muster all of my strength and bare down with all of my might, and PUUUUUUSH! And then my uterus says, "Psssht. Is that all you got? Step aside. I got this." And she shoves the rest of our baby out like it was nothing. My uterus is awesome.
My labor was eight and a half hours. It was fiercely intense. It was the hardest thing I have ever done. It was mighty. It was excruciating and severe. It was crushing. It was healing. And it was wondrous. It was beautiful.
At 11:20 a.m. a tender and precious baby is on my chest, all lovely and perfect. I am told that she has been born inside of her unbroken bag of waters, known as being born "in the caul", which is rare and delightful! She has dimples- 3 of them! One under her left eye, and one on each chubby cheek. Her light brown hair is longer on top and sticking up into a point. She is so divine! I love her. And she poops on me right away. A big 'ol poop. I can hear Scotty's sobs of joy and relief and gratitude that we are both safe and healthy. Our Creator is so good and merciful. We have been remarkably blessed.
The placenta didn't come quickly, so they asked me to stand over a chux pad. It had been 23 minutes since the baby was born, and it was starting to get slightly tense in the room because when there is a cesarean scar on the uterus, the placenta can grow into it and cause an emergency. So when that placenta hit the floor we were all relieved.
|9 lbs. 6 oz. 22" long|
After some stitches and being able to empty my bladder, it is time to rest, heal, and savor our beloved new baby! (I had been unable to pee at all after my two previous VBACs, and had to wear a Foley catheter for 3 weeks each time.) Being able to pee is a HUGE, GIANT relief!! I give a prayer of thanksgiving each and every time the urine flows. Seriously. People don't understand what a blessing it is to be able to pee. Trust me. It is.
We named our darling baby Hannelise Mayim on the day after she was born. (Her name is pronounced Hannah-leese My-eem) Her first name means "Favored by Elohim", and her middle name is the Hebrew word meaning "waters", because she was born inside of her bag of waters (which I consider to be His own Hands delivering her). Woven all through this 9 month journey has been a message, a theme, a very personal lesson from my Heavenly Father: "Trust in Me. Hide in Me." He provided every need, and more. Oh, how humbling!! My midwives and doula took such excellent care of us. I have felt incredibly well after this birth. Considering ALL we have been through with five births, Scotty and I both agree that this one is the best ever, without a doubt.
We are forever grateful for our little birth team and for this very precious day when we could feel the Eyes and Hands of the Giver of life on us.