It’s been 2 weeks since the birth of my 3rd baby! I can hardly wait to share his birth story. But since that was the first labor I actually have pictures from, I’ll wait until my doula is able to email the photoes to me.
In the meantime, how about I go back in time and share the birth stories from my first two babies?
Baby # 2
When we found out we were pregnant with our second baby, we immediately started looking for a home birth midwife. Our first was born in a freestanding birth center and was a wonderful experience, but this time we really wanted a home water birth. Amber, the second midwife we interviewed, was amazing and we knew immediately she was the right fit for us.
I had a very healthy, non eventful pregnancy with none of the depression that plagued my first pregnancy. The only thing unusual was that Baby wouldn’t stay head down, even late in the 3rd trimester I would wake up every morning with baby laying transverse (sideways) high in my ribs, and once I got up Baby would settle into whichever position was that day’s favorite. It became somewhat of a joke with my midwife because at each visit it seemed baby alternated being breech and vertex (head down). The day before I was 39 weeks I had an appointment and Amber thought Baby might be breech again, but wasn’t 100% sure. We weren’t overly concerned though because Baby was flipping so often. That night contractions started. When they were 3 minutes apart I texted Amber to let her know, then took a shower and went to bed with my toddler and husband. The contractions slowed to 5 minutes apart and were too strong to sleep through. I managed to sleep between them though, and at some point after 2am… I just stayed asleep. They had stopped!
The next morning I texted the midwife that labor had stopped. I had intermittent contractions all day, with a general crampy feeling between. Late afternoon it started to get strong again. I didn’t want to give the midwife another false alarm, so we just waited. Sure enough, it slowed down after a few hours.
This went on for a week! At best I would feel crampy with good strong contractions every half hour or so. Then there would be bouts of labour that would last a few hours. And it was definitely “real” labor contracts! I tried to take it easy that week, sleeping whenever I could and eating like I was starving. Labor takes a ton of energy! I was also using spinning babies techniques and peppermint EO to try to get baby head down.
At my next appointment I was exhausted. Now my midwife was getting concerned. Prodromal labor can be a normal labor pattern for some women, but my body had been trying for 8 days now. She asked to do an internal exam and found no presenting part. Baby was footling breech.
We started talking options. Because Baby was an acrobat Hubby and I had already discussed the possibility of delivering a breech baby at home ourselves (no midwives in our city deliver breech). After a lot of research we had decided we felt comfortable with a frank breech. But a footling? At that point the risks of natural delivery were higher than the risks of c section. And we weren’t comfortable with that.
The midwife referred us to her back up OB, who is actually the only OB in the area either experience willing to deliver both frank and footling breech. But he was out of the country! Sheesh. So she referred us to her second choice, Dr Lang, and I got an appointment that afternoon, exactly on my due date.
From the last name, I was expecting an Asian man, but Dr Lang ended up being a tall, big white guy. He did an ultrasound and confirmed. Yep. Footling breech.
I asked about an ECV. Even though I was 40 weeks, I had a lot of fluid, an ideal shaped uterus, high placenta, roomy pelvis and normal length cord. So he agreed to try to turn the baby in the morning.
Since I was too scared to deliver a footling breech alone at home, we also made plans for a c section the next morning if the ECV was unsuccessful. After we left the dr we visited a chiropractor to help loosen me up.
I was so scared that night! I thought “there goes my peaceful home birth!” I prayed a 15 decade rosary begging Our Lady to ask her Son to help. We also prayed for St Philomena to intercede on our behalf. We packed a hospital bag in case we were having a c section, and wrote up a birth plan. I kept trying to encourage my baby to turn, chasing baby’s head around with a bag of frozen veggies. Baby was almost head down after an hour and a very frozen tummy. But as soon as I stopped I felt that little head wiggle back around to my ribs. Ugh.
I hopped in the shower and cried and cried, banging my fist on the tile until it felt bruised. “Just come out! Just come out! If you do turn they are going to pull you out through a cut. Wouldn’t you rather be born peacefully at home?” After awhile I felt my husband’s arms slide around me, and he just held me there until I was all cried out and the water was cold. We prayed again and went to bed.
The next morning we stopped by the chiropractor for a last adjustment, then headed to the hospital. I got a lot of comfort from the name of the hospital, Providence. Since we might be having a c section I hadn’t eaten much of anything, and was starving. Still having contractions.
We got checked in and they hooked me up to the fetal monitoring. I have no idea how women manage to labor without ripping that horrid thing off! The nurse checked the readings “Oh, you’re having some good contractions!” Yep, and this is about as calm as they’ve been for 10 days now. She looked surprised. Our midwife had a migraine that morning, but her lovely apprentice, Beth, came with us.
They gave me medicine to stop the contractions, then gave me some really good pain medication. That put me pretty out-of-it. I also used my HypnoBabies techniques to calm myself down. Dr Lang came in with another dr to help. One dr pushed the head while the other pushed the bum and they flipped Baby around! Even with the medication, that is probably the most severe pain I’ve ever experienced. But it was over in less than 2 minutes. My awesome husband stood by my head and stroked my hair and arms, reassuring me the whole time.
Still mostly out-of-it, I asked my husband if baby turned. I was so happy I started to cry!
But then people started sounding worried. “Are you sure that’s not mom’s heartbeat?” Dr Lang asked the nurses. My baby’s heartbeat had fallen into the low 50s. I was handed the c section paperwork to sign, and the doctor called the OR and had them get ready for an emergency. Come on baby. Come on baby. “Should we take her back?” asked the nurse. “No, let’s give her a minute and see If baby recovers.” “Deep breaths mama, tell your baby it’s okay.”
Up until that point I had referred to my baby as “he”, but now I was saying “Come on baby, be my good girl. It’s okay. Good girl. That’s it…” And little-by-little the heart rate climbed back up where it should be. Phew! After another hour of monitoring the baby we were released. The nurses were so sweet and awesome, though they couldn’t understand why I didn’t want to just induce right there and have a baby.
After the medicine wore off I started having mild contractions again. That night I was terrified to lay down, worrying baby would just flip again. I bounced vigorously on the exercise ball for hours hoping baby’s head would engage and “lock in.”
The next morning I called my midwife and asked to stop by. I wanted to make sure baby was still vertex, and after yesterday’s scare I needed to know the heartbeat was strong enough to endure labor. Turned out everything was perfect. Baby’s head was fully engaged and heartbeat sounded great. I now had a mental “green light” for labor, and my body accommodated by increasing the frequency of contractions almost immediately. We went mall walking for a couple of hours, then came home and I slept with the toddler all afternoon.
At 6pm a strong contraction woke me from a nap. I got up and started dinner, then popped a “birthday” cake in the oven. The contractions continued every 5 minutes for a couple of hours, then dwindled to every 10, despite bouncing vigorously on the birthing ball. When 20 minutes passed between them I said ” No, we’re doing this!”
We put on the Gangnam Style music video! And it worked! Halfway through dancing along I got a contraction that dropped me to hands and knees. Then as soon as it was over I was up jumping around again. We had that silly song on repeat.
Here I am, the day past my due date, dancing to Gangnam Style! The contractions started coming one pwr song, and I’d drop to lean over my birthing ball and roll my hips through them, then hop up and bounce around the living room some more. My husband just about died laughing.
After half an hour or so we stopped dancing to eat dinner, and labor kept going. So I texted my midwife to let her know to be ready. Things got strong enough that I crawled into bed with my HypnoBabies cd.
About 2am I got up to check on the 2-year-old (and get a snack; I was starving!) She still nursed to sleep and was absolutely refusing to sleep for her dada, so they were watching movies. I decided to try nursing her and we all went to bed. Nursing during labor was not pleasant! It amplified the strength of the contractions significantly, but the HypnoBabies made it tolerable and she was asleep soon.
It started feeling wrong to lay down, so while my husband and toddler were sleep I got up to pace the house. Plus I was starving again. I ate all the yogurt, spinach and raisins in the house that night! My contractions were back to 10 minutes apart, but much stronger. Laboring on the toilet felt good, and I turned around backwards with my pillow on the tank so I could nap between surges.
At 4:30 I checked my cervix and was discouraged to find I was at a 2. But at the same time I felt like I absolutely needed to get in the shower. I put the stopper in the tub as well so the shower water could begin filling it up.
After 10 minutes in the shower my contractions were suddenly much closer and I found myself moaning through them. I realized I didn’t want to be alone anymore. Quietly, so the toddler would stay asleep, I woke my husband up and asked him to come sit with me for awhile.
By the time we made it back to the tub I was shaking and starting to feel nauseous. Could I be in transition? Then I felt that “pop”. As soon as my water broke it was on! I was vocalizing loudly through contractions, and they were one on top of the other. I managed “Call Midwife. Tell come now. Tell water broke. Water clear. Tell Transition. ” So my husband called her. She started to ask all the questions… how long between contractions etc. Then she heard me in the background and said “I’m on the way.” This was 5am.
Amber got to our house at 5:30. My noises had just switched from moaning and “aaahhhhh” singing to the pushing “roaring.” Amber was incredibly sweet and strong. She sat on the floor beside the tub and talked soothingly. She prayed with me when my mantra was “God help me. God help me. Help me do your work God. Help me.”
Soon I could feel the baby’s head coming down. I told her “This baby is bigger, I’m afraid I’ll tear.” She reassured me and told me to cup my hand over baby’s head. For several contractions I was literally holding baby in! “Slow down baby. Mama’s not ready. Slow. Gentle. Let mama stretch. Slow down baby.”
Then it was time. “Okay baby. Next contraction we do this. Ready? Here we go.” And with the next contraction I pushed. “The head’s out!” I yelled. Then one more push and I pulled our baby up out of the water.
She was perfect! Her breath sounded gargly, so I draped her over my arm and rubbed her back to help clear out her airway. Then we all just sat looking at her. After a minute I remember to check the gender. “A girl!”
Philomena Rosaria. Born 40+2 weeks. 8 lbs 8oz of beautiful perfection. No tears to mama.
When the midwife’s apprentice arrived (she lives further away and was 10 minutes late for the birth) my midwife told her “I really wish you could have seen this one! Mama talked the baby through the whole thing. It was one of the most beautiful births I’ve seen. And look! Baby was 8#8oz and no tears… mama doesn’t even look like she’s given birth!”
I couldn’t have asked for a better ending to our pregnancy journey