Friday, June 7, 2013

My "doula assisted" home birth

I am starting this story at about 36 weeks.  I started measuring pretty big, at 36 weeks I was measuring 40 weeks, so we thought at that point our dates might have been off and that the baby could come at any time.  The dates were always a guess anyway because I got pregnant while I was still breastfeeding Camryn so we weren't sure when I actually ovulated.  Anyway so at 36 weeks we were feeling like labor could start at any time, I was excited and started making sure I had everything prepared for the home-birth, at the 36 week appt Rhoda (my midwife) gave me the birth pool to take home.
me at 36 Weeks

The next appt was around 38 weeks and I was measuring 42 weeks, Rhoda checked me and I was about 2 centimeters and my cervix was soft but not open.  Because of measuring 42 weeks I started really worrying that I was going to have a giant baby and that labor would be difficult.  Every day was difficult, I was pretty miserable and struggling with walking because my pelvis hurt so badly.
38 Weeks

 I was going to the chiropractor about once a week and that was really helpful.  I can’t imagine what kind of state I would have been in if I hadn't been going to the chiropractor during my whole pregnancy! I had lots of “false alarms” where I thought I was in labor.  My next appt was a couple of days before my due date of 6/8/13, I measured 42 weeks again (I was worried it was going to be 44) so to me that meant that the baby had most likely dropped and hopefully labor would start soon, my midwife asked if I wanted to be checked and I really did so she checked me and I was still about 2 centimeters and thinned out but my cervix was still pretty high.  Before this appt I had tried checking myself and I couldn't reach my cervix.  As I was leaving the appt my midwife, Rhoda, said “see you tonight” in a joking manner but she must have a great intuition!
39 Weeks
 So I left that appointment and went home, that evening we decided to take a walk to the park with my girls Bella and Camryn, Emma was at a birthday party and would be dropped off later, the walk was really hard for me, it hurt to walk and I was so big and uncomfortable but after almost a month of thinking labor could start at any time I was getting desperate so I forced myself! We got home from the park and the girls played with chalk in the driveway while my husband and I sat on the porch.

I decided to take a few laps up and down our driveway, just to get a little more walking in.  When it was time to go inside, I got the girls to bed and I decided to take a bath.  I had been having some contractions but nothing that was super painful, pretty much the same ones I’d been having off and on for a few weeks.  After getting out of the bath my contractions started coming pretty steady, I tried to distract myself with watching Mad Men on Netflix and playing words with friends on my phone but the contractions did keep coming and were steadily getting more painful.  I was in contact with my doula, Kat, and she told me to contact Rhoda just to give her a heads up that something might be happening.  I tried to go to sleep but the contractions did keep coming every 5 to 10 minutes and I wasn't able to sleep.  Then my youngest daughter woke up crying so I went into her room and tried rocking her back to sleep, at that point my contractions seemed to slow down to about 10 minutes apart and I thought things were going to fizzle out once again.  I couldn't get my daughter to calm down and lay in her crib so I let her get in bed with us, after we laid down I had another contraction and something felt weird like the baby moved in a weird way, right after that I felt a pop (it almost felt like I heard it) and a warm gush of water and I told my husband that my water just broke!  I kind of freaked out and started crying, this baby was actually going to come out and all of a sudden I wasn't ready for it! My water broke at 2:20 am.  Luckily earlier in the night when I was having pretty steady contractions, Adam (my husband) got the birth pool all set up. He could tell I was having a hard time with the contractions and had an inkling that this might be it.  So as soon as my water broke he started filling the birth pool, I got up and sat on the toilet because I didn't know what else to do and I didn't want to make a huge mess everywhere, I decided to check how things felt down there and oh boy did it feel different, I couldn't feel a head but I knew it was moving quickly, I had dilated a lot in the time that I last tried to check myself and I was probably completely thinned out or close to it, my water was clear and there wasn't an odor so I knew that was good.  At that point I text Kat and she said she was going to start heading my way, I then called Rhoda because she told me to call her if my water broke, even if it was 2:00 in the morning.  I let my mom and my sister know that they should probably come over too because they had planned to be at the birth, I especially needed them there for support, to take pictures and video and to help with my 3 girls in case something bad would happen.  At this point I’m sitting on the toilet and the next contraction was a pretty hard one, the intensity was getting stronger and I was having a hard time managing the pain.  It was amazing how before my water broke they weren't too terrible and then right after my water broke they were almost unbearable.  I sat there for a few more contractions and tried dealing with them using some of the mantras I learned in hypnobabies and I kept making a “horse face” that I read about in one of Ina May Gaskin’s books.  That horse face was a life saver for me!  As ridiculous as it was it helped me tremendously to deal with the pain and I kept telling myself I was going to get to meet my baby soon and that was going to be what would get me through this labor.  After a little while I grabbed my bath robe and my swim suit top and moved into the living room and sat on the couch.  Adam was getting things ready; Camryn was wide awake because she was in bed with us when my water broke.  She was fascinated with the birth pool and she was pretty sure it was there for her and she couldn't wait to get in it!  We figured we would let her get in with me eventually while I was laboring in it.  My older girls, Emma and Bella, were still sleeping at this point.  Soon after I moved to the couch my mom and Jamie (my sister) got to our house.  I was having a hard time dealing with my contractions, they were probably 3 minutes or less apart, I wasn't really timing them anymore after that.  I knew the baby was coming.  Kat arrived shortly after my mom.  I sat there through a couple more contractions and I asked if I could get in the water.  The pool was still filling up and I wasn't sure if it was ok to get in yet.  Kat said of course so I went and changed into my swim suit top and then got into the water. The contractions I was having while sitting on the couch seemed to match the intensity that I remembered when I was in labor with Camryn and in the birth pool.  After I got into the water I could tell immediately that it was going to help with my pain.  I’m not exactly sure on the time but it was probably 3:10 or 3:15 when I got into the birth pool.

When the next contraction came I could tell that it was just as intense but it didn't hurt as bad because of the water, I was very thankful for that.  I’m pretty sure I continued doing the horse face through the rest of my contractions, I know I started screaming a few times and Kat told me to keep my moans low and deep.  Sometime after I got in the water Emma and Bella woke up and made their way to the living room.  Later Emma told me that she could hear me moaning/screaming and she knew what was going on.  I was a little nervous that they were awake already because I didn't want them to have to sit there for hours waiting on the baby to arrive.
My 3 girls waiting for the baby to arrive!

Back to the contractions, I had a very strong one and in my head I was thinking “I cannot do this anymore, they need to get these kids out of the room, I am about to lose my mind” then the contraction was over.

I calmed down a little but that pain was so intense I wasn't sure how I was going to continue, I think at this point I was going through transition. At the time I had no idea because I figured I’d be in the water for a few hours but after that contraction I really didn't know how I was going to continue.  With the next contraction I felt like I needed to push, there was no ring of fire (which I was expecting), but all of a sudden I was pushing, I pushed really hard and I felt down in the water and holy crap the baby’s head was out! I could not believe it, this was happening so fast!  I told everyone the head was out and that I was so happy because this was going to be over soon and much sooner than I had anticipated!  Kat tried to check to see if there was a cord around the neck but she wasn't able to, I tried to sit up and squat but I couldn't do it.  I remember saying wow this baby is moving so much; I don’t remember that happening with my other kids.  Next thing I know I’m pushing again and the whole body was out!

I immediately checked to see if there was a cord around the neck, Camryn’s cord was around her neck 3 times so I knew if this baby had a cord around the neck we would need to get that undone before we pulled baby out of the water.  There was no cord around the neck and I told everyone that, I was a little surprised about it!  Next thing I did was check to see if I had a boy or a girl and wow was I shocked to see that I had a BOY!

I was basically hysterical and shouting oh my God I have a boy, I can’t believe we have a boy!  I pulled him out of the water and I looked into my sweet little boy’s face and I thought to myself, WOW he looks JUST like Adam!  It was the sweetest little boy face that I had ever seen!  He cried some and I cried some and we were both so happy to meet each other and that this super-fast yet super difficult journey was over!  It was 3:56 am on Friday June 7th, 2013 and I finally got to meet my baby boy!

You might have realized that my midwife had not yet arrived, she was on her way and got pulled over, the policeman was nice enough to let her go and told her to hurry.  She was talking with Kat while I was in labor and Kat let her know that the baby was born and everything was fine but she did not tell Rhoda the sex of the baby.  So my baby boy and I sat in the water for a little while and then I decided to get out and get ready to deliver my placenta.  At this point the cord is still connected and pulsing, we did not want to cut the cord until it finished pulsing.  We didn't have a choice anyway because Rhoda had the scissors so we had to wait until she arrived.  I got out of the pool and sat on a chair and a little bit later I delivered my placenta.  Shortly after that Rhoda arrived, it might have been 4:30 or so.  Once she and her assistants Mary and Lauren got there and got everything set up Adam was able to cut the cord.
 daddy cutting the cord
daddy holding the baby for the first time
 During the wait I tried to nurse the baby but he was really tired and wasn't too interested, I did get him on a little but he didn't stay on long.  Rhoda said this is normal in fast labors and to not be too concerned.  After all that we got up to head into the bathroom and take our herbal bath, this is one of my favorite parts of home birth; I love that warm relaxing bath and bonding time with my baby.  The baby can be emerged in the water because of the special herbal blend and there is no worry about the umbilical cord stump.  We sat in the bath for a while and nursed on and off and Adam was with me and we talked about names some, we narrowed it down to two but didn't make any decisions right away.  All of this was before the baby had been weighed and everyone was saying that he was a pretty big boy, I heard someone say 8-9 lbs and I thought no way!  He didn't seem huge to me at all!  They took the baby from me while I was still in the bath so they could get him weighed and check him out.  They weighed him and he was a whopping 10 lbs 4 oz!

Rhoda, my midwife
I couldn't believe it, how could a baby that had such a fast labor be so big? He was my easiest birth and he was my biggest by 3 lbs!  He measured in at 23 inches long, that explained a lot of my misery in those last weeks, he was running out of room!  From what they could tell he was perfect and all around healthy, what a relief!  I had no ultrasounds with him and I was so worried that something could be wrong, but he was absolutely perfect!

My doula, Kat
At first he was pretty tired and didn't really want to open his eyes and this again is partly because of being a big baby and partly from such a fast labor and delivery.  Eventually he took to nursing, we had a little bit of a difficult time in the first days but he got the hang of it and all was well.  Later in the day we eventually agreed to name our little boy Luke Jackson, the big sisters were so happy to have a little brother and they loved being there for his birth.  Camryn loves giving her little Dukie Duke (as she calls him) kisses!  Thanks to my mom Rita Miles for taking the pictures :)
 My mom holding Luke
 My sister Jamie holding Luke
 Big sister Emma!
 Big sister Bella

Big sister Camryn
 chubby cheeked boy
Me and Luke a couple hours after the birth
 My sister Brandie and Luke

 Big Boy on his Birthday

 Grandma Bev and Luke
 My four beautiful babies!