Thursday, February 13, 2014

Home Birth of Baby J: Part I

Saturday, December 28th, 2013
40 weeks, 4 days

6:00pm  I started having contractions about ten minutes apart, which was not unusual  For several weeks,   I had started having contractions around dinner time. Sometimes they'd last a couple hours, sometimes into the wee hours of the morning, but then they would fizzle out. I thought this might be the real thing, but didn't want to get my hopes up.  I was home alone with the kids, as my husband, Andy, had gone on  a walk, and  my dad and stepmom, who were staying with us, were at a dinner party with family.

I got dinner for the kids and myself, and then started getting the kids ready for bed.  Contractions were still about ten minutes apart, but getting more intense.  I had to stop what I was doing and get on my hands and knees or lean on the coutertop to get through them.  The kids, of course, noticed this.  My eight year old would ask, "Are you having another contraction?"  My four year old would get on my back and want a horsey ride.  After an hour or so of this, my eight year old observed, "Contractions make mom mad!"

9:00pm Contractions continued to increase in intensity, so I got in the tub to help me relax while my husband finished getting the kids settled down for the night.

11:00pm Contractions were closer and harder.  I decided to call my midwife, Danielle, to let her know I thought tonight was the night, but I wasn't ready for her to come yet.

I labored in my bedroom using the birth ball for support.  Sometimes I would be on me knees, resting my head on the ball, other times I would sit on it and rock back and forth.  I listened to and watched positive birth affirmations on youtube and my hypnobirthing relaxation tracks.  All the lights were off, except for some candles in the bathroom.  I think Andy dozed off for a little bit of sleep during this time.
Candles helped the atmosphere feel calm and relaxing.
1:25am  Contractions were now five minutes apart, so I called Danielle and asked her to start heading my way.  I woke Andy and told him they were on their way, and that he'd have to get up to let them in when the got here.

2:20am  Danielle and her assistants, Amuri and Sarah, arrived and began to set up.  They were very quiet, and just used small flashlights so we could keep the dark and quiet atmosphere in the room.
The birth team's equipment all set up.
2:40am  The birth team was all set up, and Amuri stayed in my bedroom for support while the other two went to the kitchen to start heating water.  I was starting to feel the contractions in my back a lot, so Amuri put counter pressure on my back, which helped relieve some of the pain.  I continued to labor in my bedroom, moving around to different positions to help get through contractions.
Water heating on the stove.

4:00am  I got back in to the bathtub to help me relax.  Things were getting really intense now, and I was starting to feel queasy.  Sarah held ginger oil under my nose, which helped with the nausea.  The birth team also put hot wash cloths on my lower back during contractions, which helped relieve the back labor, and felt so good!  Andy was there holding my hand, letting me lean on him, and just being a strong presence as things were getting hard to cope with.

5:00am  Still in the water, and feeling the nausea and a strong feeling of wanting to be done.  I was excited  because when I got to that point in my other non-medicated labors, I was nearing the end.  I figured I'd be done within the next hour.  I announced this to those there with me (which now included my sister, who had come to photograph the birth).   Everyone, including me, was just waiting for this baby to come any minute now.

But that didn't happen.  I kept thinking with the next contraction I'd feel the baby moving down, and then I'd feel the overwhelming urge to push, and then feel the head crowning, but instead the contractions just kept getting harder and harder, but nothing else seemed to be happening.

6:09am   I decided to get out of the water.  The only comfortable positions in the tub were squatting and kneeling, and my legs needed a break.  I got out and continued to labor in my bedroom, sometimes on the bed, sometimes on hands and knees using the birth ball for support.  My husband was a huge support at this time, letting me lean on him and hang on his neck for support.  Danielle and I talked about checking my cervix to see where I was at, and also discussed breaking my water.

Laboring with support from my husband

Getting a little rest
6:39am  My water broke on its own during a contraction.  I thought it must be soon now, as I'd never had my water break on its own before I was dilated to a nine or ten.  I asked Danielle to check my cervix, hoping I would be near full dilation.
Checking the cervix
7:03am  Danielle checked my cervix.  She said it was super stretchy, but only at a five  A FIVE!  After thinking I was so close, I was at a five!  I just wanted to cry and give up then and there.  She told me that my cervix was posterior, meaning the opening was at the back of the baby's head instead of at the top, which is why it was taking so long to get it stretched out.  She applied evening primrose to my cervix to help soften it, and suggested I labor on hands and knees to help get things lined up properly.
She also offered to help me dilate faster by manually holding my cervix in the proper alignment, while I pushed, during contractions .  As awful as that sounded, I knew it would speed things up.  I was exhausted and ready to be done, so I asked her to go ahead and do it.  I can't even begin to describe how painfully uncomfortable it was to have that done, but I would do it all over again given the chance.  She did this through several of my contractions over the next hour. She also gave me a homeopathic called Gelsemium to help soften up the cervix.  I moved around a lot, changing between squatting, hands and knees, and lying on the bed.
Danielle holding my cervix in place during a contraction

Andy supporting me as Danielle holds my cervix in place during a contraction.
By this point, contractions were almost more than I could bear.  I was crying out during them, saying things like, "I've never done this before!",  "Why is it so hard?", and "I want to run away!"  At one point, I actually stood up and started for the door.  Danielle looked in my eyes and said, "There's no where to go.  This is the way this baby is going to be born, and you need to make peace with that."  I needed to hear those words. She said other things like that to me during the next hour of my labor (which felt like an eternity).  Things I needed to hear to get me through.  She really kept me grounded and was so sympathetic at the same time.   I am so grateful for her support, and the support of everyone else there. My sister held me and cried with me. My husband was my rock.  At one point, my dad stepped in and gave me a priesthood blessing.  Amuri and Sarah gave comfort and encouragement. I am so thankful for all the help I had.  I needed every bit of it.

My husband was my rock
7:50am Danielle reminded me that I was going to catch my own baby by saying, "You  know, I'm not going to catch this baby."
 My sister asked me if I was planning on catching my own baby. Danielle and I had discussed this during my pregnancy, and I let her know I wanted to, but now I didn't think I could.
"No, I never was," I said in a tone so that everyone could tell I was lying.
Danielle encouraged me, "Yes you were..."
I replied, "That was when it was going to be in the water, and be easy!"
 "Well. let's get you back in the water.  I can do this [meaning holding my cervix] in the water"
That sounded good to me, so I go back in the tub, where she continued to hold the cervix in place as I labored.

8:03am Danielle announced that my cervical dilation was complete!  She also told me the second bag of waters was still intact.  I didn't even know there was such a thing.  "Well, break it!"  I said in an irritated and demanding tone (sorry Danielle; I was so done by then).
 I continued to push with each contraction.  I was screaming out for God to help me and asking for my mommy at this point.  I've always said my other natural labors were easy.  I was right.  They were really, really easy compared to this.

Danielle comforting me between contractions.

8:14am Finally, I felt my baby moving down!  I reached my hands down, and felt that the head was crowning.  I pushed, and the head started coming out.  I could feel the top of the head down to middle of the ears.  I announced that the baby had hair!  And ears!  I wanted to get that baby out right then, but knew I needed to wait for the next contraction.

When the next contraction came, I pushed . . . and the baby didn't budge.  I pushed harder. Still nothing.  I looked at Danielle and told her the baby was stuck.  She told me to get on my hands and knees, which I did (still in the tub).  Then she told me to lift my leg up to my chest and push. I pushed as hard as I could.  Danielle did something* to help, and out came the baby.  What a relief!  The problem had been shoulder dystocia, which can be a scary thing, but fear is one emotion that I never felt during this birth.  I had complete faith in my midwife and in God (whom I believe led me to my midwife).

8:17am I immediately turned around and reached for my baby.  Danielle handed this little person to me, and I sat back against the tub with baby on my chest.  It was so amazing to hold this little one next to me after waiting so long!  Someone (I think it was my sister), asked me if it was a boy or a girl.  I looked down and happily announced, "It's a girl!"

The sun had come up, everyone was smiling, and my beautiful baby girl was here!

Sarah smiles as she records details of the birth

Daddy touches his little girl for the first time.

Holding my baby close moments after birth.

Soon to come: Part II, in which Baby J is measured, weighed, and meets her siblings!

*The something Danielle did to resolve the shoulder dystocia was Gail Tully's flipFLOP maneuver, which you can watch a video about here.

Photos by Marie Owen of Fresh Soul Photography
And my amazing midwife's website can be found here.


Jamie said...

Wow! Thanks, Lura for writing this. And thanks to Marie for the amazing photos. You are so strong and awesome and amazing! I'm looking forward to part 2.

Kristen said...

Good job. Sounds hard. Welcome Baby Craner. - Cory