Thursday, October 21, 2010

A Surprise Unassisted Birth

My daughter's birth was so very different from my son's birth, which is exactly what I wanted it to be. My husband and I had chosen to have our second child at home long before she was due. I had decided near the end of my first pregnancy that homebirth was much more appealing. My husband was nervous about this idea, so we agreed to birth our first in the hospital. I don't know if that contributed to my pre-eclampsia, or if we were just where we needed to be for his birth. I can't say for certain that I would not have ended up birthing him in a hospital. 

Around 10 weeks pregnant we met with and hired our midwife, she came highly recommended from one of my best friends, who is also a doula, and homebirthing mom. I loved how gentle her demeanor was, and my husband liked the answers to our questions, and I had a decent list! I enjoyed my midwive visits so much, I quickly made arrangements to see her on Saturday's so I could leave my 3 yr old son with my husband and have the visit all to myself. Hubby came a few times, so he could "get to know" our midwife, but I loved her, so naturally he followed that sentiment.

At 37 weeks we had our home visit with the midwife and her apprentice. My doulas were both busy that day, but had already been to my house for a maternity photo shoot and belly casting. I was READY for this baby!! But I wasn't going to rush labor, I was enjoying being pregnant. Her pregnancy had been so much easier on me. I wasn't nearly as sick, and never threw up with her. My back was only sore if I did too much, and I only once had real contractions before 37 weeks. I had been running errands, cleaning the house, grocery shopping, put everything away and then started in on the laundry. It must have been the first wave of "nesting". I started contracting while bending over the washer "ut oh!" I got my husband and son to finish up with the laundry, grabbed a tall glass of water and parked it on the sofa for the rest of the day. The contractions stopped pretty quickly, and I promised to take it easy for a few days. 

September 6th, we headed out to a local fall festival of sorts, Pioneer Days. I admit I was hopeful that all that walking might do a bit to make me contract and maybe start labor. If nothing else it was a wonderful last outing for our family of 3. I slept GREAT that night, but woke up feeling a little icky. My husband felt sick too, for 2 days! I started to feel better around mid-day but my lower body was just achy. My hips, my back, my pelvic floor. I was visiting the toilet frequently from all the 'pressure' I was feeling. In order to make anything happen I had to spend a minute or two in knee chest position before getting on the toilet. 

I gave my midwife a call and let her know what was going on. We assumed the baby was very low, and I was constipated. Yay. Just what I was wanting in the last weeks of pregnancy. Because of all this new found pressure, laying on my side was much more comfortable, so I spent the next few days sitting on my birth ball when I needed to sit, and laying on my side on the sofa the rest of the time.

On the morning of September 10th I woke up with a nasty headache. I decided to eat some breakfast, drink a glass of water and go back to bed. I told my husband I had a big 'to do' list for this day, and asked him to wake me in an hour. He said when he came in an hour later I was so sweet, and looked so peaceful that he let me sleep. I woke up 3 hours after I went to sleep, headache free. Since I was so close to my due date I hadn't wanted to take any motrin, so I was very grateful for the extra time in bed. I got up and ate lunch and then started working on my list. I had quite a bit of energy. I chalked it up to the nap, and didn't give it another thought. 

Later that night after putting my son to bed I headed out for small shopping trip. I was looking for a few things to help ease what I thought was constipation complicated by a very low, engaged baby. I called my midwife while I was at the store, she gave me a few suggestions, and we hung up, and I headed to check out. Now, if you've ever been in a grocery store you know how the check out lanes look, and where they bag the groceries. My lower back was achy again, so I leaned against the check out counter behind me to put some pressure on my sacrum. Once again, ignoring my doula knowledge. 

After I got home, I had dinner, again. I was so hungry! Husband and I watched Sgt. York, and then went to bed. It was around midnight, and when my head hit the pillow I was out! 

39 weeks 6 days, I woke first at 2:05, used the bathroom and went back to bed. I spent the next 10 minutes or so trying to get comfortable, and figured the pressure I was feeling meant I still needed to use the toilet. I got up and went into the larger bathroom, so I could get into a knee chest position and then read a bit while I sat there. Nothing happened, and I gave up. Rather than go right back to bed, I went out to the living room, turned on the computer and the tv. Luckily The West Wing was on, so I got on Fertility Friend and and checked my due date clubs for any action. No new labor or birth announcements. I don't recall posting anything about why I was awake, but I think I remember responding to a thread or two. And then, oh boy, what a contraction. I shut down the computer and tried to take note of the time, 3:03. 

I decided to move to the sofa because I was't *sure* it was a contraction, so I wanted to lay down and time them a bit before I woke anyone up. It didn't take long and before I had even sat down, 3:05, I had another whopper. I got on the sofa and crammed a pillow between my knees, and waited. Again, I didn't need to wait long, 3:07 brought another contraction. (I was using the 'TV' button on the remote to make the time appear on the screen.) The pattern continued, but I didn't wake my husband first. 3:09, 3:11, and then a break. 3:15 (a short break) and I felt a pop, and a very small warm gush. I jumped off the sofa and leapt like some kind of animal to the bathroom hoping not to gush more fluid all over. Stripping off my underwear my panty liner reveled that I had not just peed myself. My water had broken!! (ROM- Rupture of Membranes) Crap! I really was in labor!! I called my midwife first, told her I'd been having contractions only 2 minutes apart, ROM and, the fluid was meconium stained. She asked for color and consistency, and then told me that she thought it sounded like it was fresh, she would be on her way shortly. I had another contraction, and since I was still very present in my brain, it caught me a bit off guard. I vocalized quite a bit, and the midwife asked if it was a contraction. I guess I sounded like I'd seriously stubbed my toe or something lol. I told her it was, and she suddenly sounded like she was rushing out of the house "Call my cell if you need anything else, I am on my way!" I hung up with her and dialed my doula. N was going to call H, my other doula, and they were going to carpool over. When I contracted with N on the phone I grunted deeply, and involuntarily at the peak of the contraction. "Oh God, I hope I didn't just push, I can't sit down, this hurts!" N assured me that I was ok, and likely not pushing yet. She and H would be on their way soon. 

Now I turned to my husband. I had mobilized the rest of my birth team, it was time for some labor support. Unfortunately for him, I had a contraction as soon as I opened the bedroom door. How he'd been sleeping through all my noise you ask? An injury at work had lead to him being home for the previous week on muscle relaxers. He was very asleep, until I threw open the door, and stumbled forward in the dark to lean on the foot of the bed. My husband just about shot out of bed when I announced "Water Broke, In Labor" as another monster contraction rolled over me. He thrust a towel between my feet to catch the drops of meconium stained water that leaked from me with every contraction. 

When it was over I started to make my way back to the bathroom. He asked if I wanted to sit down, or lay down. I said "No, that hurts too much" and I turned on the water for the bathtub. He asked me if I wanted him to start filling our pool. The pool wasn't even blown up!! We didn't have the space for it to be set up and ready for water, and had thought we'd have the time to blow it up in early labor, and then start filling it as labor progressed. I told him we didn't have enough time for the pool, and handed him the phone to call the midwife. I couldn't hear much of what went on after that, the water was loud, and I was in a mad rush to get naked and lay down in the water. I wanted to slow my contractions down and space them out just a little. I wanted to buy enough time for my birth team to get there. Everyone was 45 minutes away when I woke them up. (And that's drive time, not get ready, be packed, and then drive)

I couldn't lay down, the contrast in water to air temperature was too great to be comfortable, and my bathtub is small. The water was just starting to pool around my knees, and another contraction overcame me. I landed on my hands, and immediately started to bellow "OOOOoooooooOOOH SHIT" and I would quietly grunt at the peak. I heard my husband say "I don't know" to the midwife, and then he called to me "D wants to know if  you're pushing" .... "Uh, *pant, pant* Um, yeah a little"

He came into the bathroom, and turned off the water, set the phone on speaker and offered his arm over the edge of the tub. My eyes were mostly closed, it was bright, and had been loud. I was thankful the water was off, it was very annoying to listen to while trying to get out of my mind and into my body for labor. Another contraction, more moaning, and some yelling. I'm sure I was still cursing. When the contraction ended, the midwife reminded us that if the baby was coming this quickly everything was ok. I was thankful we discussed this kind of birth during our prenatal visits. Another contraction, I clutched hubby's hand and pushed down on his arm, and let out almost a shriek. "Keep it low!" D reminded me over the phone. I tore my hand away from my husbands and flung it over my now crowing baby's head. "I have her head!" I shouted, hubby moved quickly to the other end of the tub, and I felt his warm hands over mine. I put my hands back on the bottom of the tub, took a deep breath and pushed, her head was born! The next contraction came quickly, almost no rest in between, I pushed again, and heard my husband announce that a lot of cord had been born. I pushed again, and the baby practically flew out into her father's hands. "SHE'S HERE! I have her!" He shouted. I sat up on my knees and turned around just in time to see my baby girl newly born, startled by her entrance to the world. She already looked pink, and was taking her first breath! 

It took a little maneuvering to sit down, and take my baby, she settled in near my breast incase she wanted to nurse. The midwife asked a few questions about how she looked and sounded before getting off the phone to complete her drive. After getting a towel or two over us to keep us warm, and getting her latched on, I made one more phone call to let N and H know that she had arrived. N answered her cell and I said "She's here" .... at first she thought I meant the midwife had arrived. I asked if they would still come out anyway, and they said they would. The nursing so soon after birth was amazing I didn't feel my placenta detach, but I could tell when I was ready to push it out. I passed the baby to my husband and squatted over a bowl. I must not have been squatting quite right, it took a few pushes and a little bit of traction to get it out. Somewhere before that my son had come in to meet his baby sister, and then decided it was more interesting to go play in his room while we waited for the birth team. 40 minutes after the baby the placenta was birthed, and 5 minutes after that the midwife was coming through the door. My doulas were right behind her! I once again passed the baby to my husband, only this time the midwife had the bowl with the placenta, and they went into the bedroom. H was also there to take some pictures for me, since I didn't get any birth pictures, she went with the baby and took a few while N stayed with me and I took a shower. I was so excited to get back into my bed with my new baby I washed my hair and got right back out. Now I wish I'd taken a little more time, used some conditioner and washed the rest of my body. 

I climbed into my bed and got comfortable, and then latched the little girl on for her second meal. The midwife was asking questions about the birth, and how the baby looked in the first minute, and 5 minutes. She checked my bottom, and said that I had re-opened my episiotomy scar, and had a few little skid marks, but it didn't look like anything required new stitches. That was fine with me!! The newborn exam was fun to watch, and so much more gentle than it had been in the hospital with my son. Around 2 hours after she was born I noticed that her cord was thin looking, and cold. It was ready to be cut, and I got to cut it! 

Kate was 8 lbs 8 oz. Her birth wasn't exactly how I pictured having a homebirth would be, but I wouldn't change it for a second. 

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