Blogging is something that I love, really really love. I love sharing recipes, peaks at the garden and animals, and confessions. I also love sharing bits of myself with you.
I have gone back and forth for months about whether or not to share my most recent birth story with you all. It’s very personal and not something I treat lightly; the internet can be a cruel place. I’ve decided that yes, this is something I want to share. This is why; birth and motherhood are something so many of us have in common. I love to read other women’s birth stories because it binds me to them in some way. It’s one of those life experiences that you just don’t understand until you go through it and it’s so very unique even though so many of us have experienced it. Birth is magical, and hard, and uniting. Birth is a miracle. I want to share this with you because it’s something that I love and it is something worth sharing.
Enjoy and feel free to ask questions and comment! And if you have blogged about your birth leave me a link. I LOVE reading birth stories.
Happy Valentine’s Day from me to you 🙂
Here’s a bit about my birthing history. My first baby was breech at 37 weeks. I had an OB at the time and she tried a version (trying to physically flip the baby at the hospital) which didn’t work and so I had a scheduled c-section. My c-section was one of the hardest things I have ever done. It took me weeks to feel normal again.
I was terrified to have another c-section so when I got pregnant again I found a midwife who delivered in a hospital under a doctor’s supervision. I planned a drug-free hospital VBAC (Vaginal Birth After Cesarean). My water broke 14 days before my due date and I had him after 26 hours of labor, which included 2 hours of pushing.
My third baby was also a drug-free VBAC in the hospital. He came after 12 hours of labor 4 days after my due date. This midwife was very hands-on and she did things like membrane stripping and breaking my water to help things move along. It was a very physically intense labor but much shorter than the last one, which was great.
And then there’s baby number four.
This is his story. And my story.
I found out I was pregnant in February of last year (2013).
We are in a different position than we were with our other kids, and I’m a different person than I was when I had my others. I was ready to try an out of hospital VBAC at a birthing center. After hours of thought and prayer, I decided it was a good decision, and it made sense financially. We found a midwife and a birthing center an hour and a half from our home.
I had had a great pregnancy. I’d been sick for a while in the beginning and threw up regularly for the first 4 1/2 months (I’d throw up a few times a day but didn’t feel overly nauseated which was nice; I was just amazingly gaggy). We finished remodeling our house, moved, I cared for our three other young children, grew a massive garden, acquired more chicks and new lambs…it was busy and healthy.
And then the last few weeks came. Those last weeks were truly awful.
I felt like my hips were going to split in two. Walking hurt, sitting hurt, laying down hurt, and I couldn’t find anything to help with the pain. I waddled wherever I went, gained 20 pounds in just 8 weeks to add to the 35 I had already gained, and woke up a million times a night. Oh, how long those last weeks felt. I was very, very ready to have the baby.
I was due on Halloween. I’ve delivered babies as early as 14 days early to 4 days late, so I just didn’t know what to expect. As soon as I hit the 28 week mark, I had that crazy “everything must be ready at all times because I could have this baby any day now” feeling. I lived in that weird limbo state of waiting, preparing, and cleaning like a mad woman (because no one is allowed to see my floor unmopped or laundry in a basket) for days.
The Monday before Paul was born (3 days before the official due date), I was having so many contractions. I decided that this was the real deal and so we put the kids to bed, packed the suburban, had my mother-in-law come over for the night, and started off on our hour and a half drive to the birthing center. I timed the contractions the whole way down, 2-5 minutes apart!
We met my midwife at her house where she checked me and I was barely 2 cm dilated. Say what?! I’d been having contractions for hours and that was all that I had to show for it?
I was really disappointed, but didn’t give up hope. We decided to get a hotel that night so that we were close by for when things picked up. I wanted labor to continue so we hurried and went to a chiropractor to do a last minute adjustment and then I ran over to another someone to have labor inducing acupuncture done. Now, I don’t normally go to either the chiropractor or the acupuncturist, but with my last pregnancy I did for good reason. The baby was breech at 34 weeks (this was the reason I had a c-section with my first baby so I’m super paranoid about having another breech baby) and I was told a bunch of things that I could do to encourage him to turn. Chiropractic work was on that list so I tried it, and thankfully it worked well. That same baby was also 4 days late and I was miserable. I decided to try acupuncture to encourage his arrival (because heaven knows that I had tried everything else already!) and I went into labor 16 hours after my appointment. I wanted to make sure I helped myself along and that labor didn’t stop, so I did both.
That night at the hotel I had contractions all night long but they slowed down to 10-15 minutes apart. I wasn’t sure why they were slow, but they were strong enough to wake me up. In the morning we went back to my midwife’s house with the report. She again checked me and said that I was now a 2.5. I cried. All those contractions, adjustments, and needles for half a centimeter in 12 hours. She assured me that all of my suffering wasn’t without purpose and that my body was still just getting ready. We decided to come home at her suggestion and wait to see what would happen. I thought about what she had said all day long and the word “suffering” really stuck with me. I felt like that word very much summed up how I was feeling. I was miserable.
Now I had to go back home. Living in a tiny town meant that everyone and their dog knew that I had “gone to have the baby”. No one wants to come home empty handed! I was unreasonably embarrassed and just wanted to hide. On top of it all, I was still having contractions, lots of them. So I came home on Tuesday and wouldn’t leave the house. Thomas packed May to and from school (perk of working from home). I didn’t want anyone to see me or ask me when the baby was coming.
Halloween, my official due date, dawned and I woke up to get May dressed in her costume. The whole school is allowed to wear their costumes to school and then they have a Halloween parade down Main Street that all of the families and friends come to watch. I showered and put on real pants for the first time in days and packed the little boys across the block to watch the parade that morning. I had still been having contractions off and on since Monday and on this day they were alive and well. I woke up contracting every 10 minutes and they had a lot of pressure to them. I couldn’t stand during my contractions so I just sat on the sidewalk during the parade and then waddled right back home as soon as it was over. This was my first time seeing just about anyone and all I heard was “no baby yet?!”
The day progressed in all of its Halloween excitement. It also happened to be my dear husband’s 30th birthday. So I made him a cake, fed the boys lunch, put a movie on, and took a nap. I woke up from my nap feeling awful… sick to my stomach, still having contractions, tired and in pain. Around 3:30 or 4 that afternoon things really started to hurt and I got serious. I had to stop and work through contractions. I hid in my room, put husband on high alert, and just let my body work. Around dinner time I made a pan of noodles and threw some chicken in the oven but I was too sick to my stomach to eat. Thomas got the kids’ costumes on, fed them, and then took them trick-or-treating with his mom and sisters. I stayed home and hid. I turned off all of the lights in the house, sat the bowl of candy out on the porch, and listened to trick-or-treaters come and go.
My own babies came home and I sat on the couch as they checked out their stash. Thomas, who is the best husband ever, washed sticky hands and tired smiles and then put the babies in bed. My mother-in-law came over to sleep on the couch and by 8:30 on Halloween night we were again driving the 1.5 hours to the bigger city where we were having our baby at a birth center. The birthday cake sat uneaten on the counter.
I called my midwife to tell her we were on the way (again…). This time I told her just to meet us at the birthing center and not at her house and she agreed. It was finally time to have a baby. After weeks of being ready, wanting, waiting, hurting, wishing, it was time!
As we drove, I continued working through contractions. They were a very consistent 3 minutes apart and lasted about 1 minute. They were tight and hard and strong but I had done this two other times and I knew there was more to come.
We got to the birth center around 10 pm and I had my midwife check me. I just had to know how far along I was! After contracting for the last 4 days, I had a great feeling. She said I was a 5! That was the farthest along I had ever been when getting to the hospital. I had a small hope that the baby would be born before midnight. Thomas had said he would love to share a birthday with his son and that was a gift I really wanted to give him.
I had no idea what a birth center was before I went to one. This particular one is just a lovely old home that is an office in the bottom and a house on the top – kitchen, living room, two bedrooms, and a bathroom. There was a big lovely bed and a very normal old tub to enjoy. It was very much like having a home birth except it wasn’t in my home (and was 4 blocks from the hospital instead of a 90 minute drive).
Everyone (which was my midwife, her assistant, and Thomas) set up shop and I continued to manage. I was ok, so I told everyone they might as well go to sleep. Husband slept on the bed in our room, my midwife slept in the other room, her assistant slept on the couch, and I labored in our room and in the bathroom via the warm glow of a nightlight.
I was still very consistent – 3 minutes apart and one minute long. I walked, sat on a ball, sat on the edge of the bed, sat on the toilet, leaned over the sink. I moved around and did what I could to manage the pain. It was a long, dark, lonely night. My midwife woke up around 4 am and I asked her to check me. I was at 6 cm. Yes, a 6. I had been there for 6 hours and had progressed one centimeter. Talk about a morale crusher.
I decided to wake up Thomas and take a bath. We filled up the tub with warm water and he used a cup to pour warm water over my belly when a contraction came. This was fine for a while but then the tub got cold and so did I. I got dressed and told him I was fine, so he went back to bed and I continued to labor.
From about 5 am to 7 am felt like the longest 2 hours of my life. In my very tired and pained state, I became hopeless. I felt like I would never have the baby. I alternated between sitting on a birth stool in the bathroom and holding onto the edge of the sink during contractions to sitting on the toilet. I prayed and pleaded and cried to God that he would help me have this baby. I felt desperate and despaired. I felt so very alone. But my pride was a funny thing and I wouldn’t wake anyone up for support or help. I chose to be alone and I still regret that. Looking back I can see now that I was in the transition stage. I didn’t feel it physically, but I did emotionally.
Around 7 am everyone started to wake up and move about. I think they were all surprised that things weren’t moving along faster (this was my fourth baby after all!) and I could feel that “why isn’t anything happening” in the air. My contractions were still 3 minutes apart and 1 minute long…so consistent! We tried a few different positions in hopes of getting them to come harder or faster but nothing really changed. A little after 8 am my midwife checked me and said that I was a 9. It took me 10 hours to progress 4 centimeters. Ten long hours!
I returned to the bathroom to sit on the stool because that’s where I liked best. My midwife thought it would be fine to start pushing as soon as I felt “pushy”. The thing is that I have never felt the need to push. In the past, I pushed when I was told I was a 10 and that was that. So a few, still amazingly consistent and not very close together contractions came and I didn’t feel anything. Thomas was sitting on the edge of the bathtub now rubbing my back to help with the back labor. So I told him I was just going to try to push. I pushed through one contraction. I know that 3 minutes apart and one minute long sounds close but it isn’t. A full 2 minutes in between felt like forever. I just wanted them to come faster so that I could be done!
I tried to sense what was going on through the next contraction and I thought I felt a faint desire to push. So with the next wave I pushed as hard as I could and my water broke and out came the baby’s head! I think I was a bit shocked and I started to freak out. I had planned to move to the bed after this contraction, not have a baby. I was still in the bathroom practically sitting on the floor. I had pushed so hard that I knocked Thomas back halfway into the tub and he was just trying to hold me up and hold himself up. I felt frantic and started yelling “Help me! I can’t do this! Get him out! Help me!” There is some kind of crazy time continuum in labor and this was very much that for me. It felt like long minutes passed while I was begging for someone to help me. My midwife just smiled and told me to push and then he was born! There I was, in the middle of the bathroom floor, husband half in the tub, and they placed a slippery, little baby on my chest. I can’t even describe that moment.
At 8:32 am my baby was earthside. Finally. He was here and so beautiful. There were no nurses to towel him off, they didn’t weigh or wash or measure, they didn’t even suck out his little nose with a bulby thing. They just let me hold that little miracle and I felt his first cry in my arms. Thomas continued to hold me up and we stared in awe as we waited for the cord to stop pulsing and then I delivered the placenta a few minutes later.
I got up after about 10 minutes more in the bathroom and went to lay with my new baby on the bed. After another 20 or 30 minutes I handed the baby off to Thomas and my midwife helped me get cleaned up a bit. I changed my clothes and lay back down. They weighed him (he weighed a lovely 9 pounds and 1 ounce), and then I nursed him for the first time. The midwife was recording all of the details, and she pointed out that my water broke, then 30 seconds later his head was born, and then 30 seconds after that he was born. It was about a minute from water breaking to birth even though in my mind it was eternity.
My midwife and her assistant went home, and Thomas, the baby, and I took a nap together as a little family. The peace and quiet was so welcome and appreciated. After some paperwork and more instructions we left at 1:30 pm, a mere 5 hours after his birth.
Birth is such a miracle. This labor was not as physically hard as my last birth; I felt very in control, but the length had me struggling mentally and emotionally. I am completely in love with having the baby at the birth center though. I loved not having an IV, internal fetal monitoring, or someone checking on me every 5 seconds after the baby was born. It was so calm and natural. I definitely felt a lot more peace in the birthing process; I didn’t feel like a patient or like someone having a medical procedure. I was a woman who was giving birth. Nothing was wrong with me; I was simply having a baby.
And there you have it! One very long unmedicated out of hosital VBAC birth story.