Before the Birth
Baby was due on Sunday October 25th. On the Friday morning before we packed up and made the scenic trip through the Rocky Mountains on the Pine Pass. It was a beautiful day unseasonably warm, and sunny. The leaves had already fallen and the mountains where left grey and green looking rather naked, waiting for their annual blanket of snow to tuck them in for the winter.
It wasn’t time yet I knew that, as much as I willed myself to go into labour not a single contraction would come. This baby wasn’t ready yet but I knew soon we would meet and fall in love. Soon but not today.
We enjoyed the weekend as our last days to focus all of our attention on Luke. He made us laugh as he fell at the bottom of a slide over and over again and picked himself up saying “I OK” only to run back up to the steps to do it over and over again. He still looked like our baby, we commented on how that wouldn’t last long. It’s amazing to me how quickly that changes and they go from seeming so small to seeming so big when they haven’t really changed overnight but your perception has shifted and you see them in a new light.
Monday morning I made an appointment for acupuncture as an attempt to nudge the little one in the right direction. I felt rested and energized and with a feeling of excitement I faced the day thinking this could be it.
We had a midwife appointment after lunch and I decided to try an ancient method of induction and take castor oil, and lemon verbena.
I cannot stomach the smell of castor oil and the taste is akin to most putrid thing I can think of eating. The first time I tried it nearly 12 years ago while waiting for Lily to be born I couldn’t keep from throwing it up. So I devised a system, in which I can get the potion into my stomach with relative ease and no foul taste. I painstakingly fill capsule after capsule with 15mls of the substance and then when I have the small mountain before me I take them two at a time with a sip of ginger ail followed by a bite of digestive cookie.
I asked Dan to take Luke out for a while so I could have the time to sit and do this without the constant threat of Luke toppling the oil and making a foul smelling mess. So at 5 o’clock I had my “dinner” and followed it with some amazing dance moves while listening to the killers and lady gaga on my earbuds. I haven’t listened to these songs in years but they put me in the mood to get my groove on.
A Labour of Love
Dan returned shortly and I traded my epic dance party for some relaxed TV watching. Things where starting, I could feel the contractions coming on now, and to my delight the only effect the concoction had on my digestion was frequent lemon flavoured burps. I sat on the edge of the bed, alternating between breathing and making noises that I’m sure sounded like a cow in distress, and casually watching TV.
At some point Dan suggested we time the contractions as he said they where quite close together. I was reluctant to get excited just yet, but handed him my phone so he could time them with my ap. They where between 2-3 minutes apart and lasting around a minute. It was roughly 10pm and this information had Dan wanting to call the midwife and head to the hospital I told him not yet. I didn’t want a repeat of my last two VBACS expending all that energy, hopefully arriving at the hospital only to be turned away.
At this point it was totally manageable, I felt like I had ages to go before this baby would make its way out. I walked around a little and then filled up the tub. I texted the doula and the midwives at around midnight, and got into the tub. The bathroom was so nice and dark, I put a few battery powered candles on the edge of the tub and had my Hawaiian guitar music playing on my ear buds. I was in labour land now, sitting up holding on to this lovely grab bar that someone must have installed with me in mind.
At some point the doula arrived, she brought some more lovely battery candles and set them on the edge of tub. Shortly afterward the midwife and her student arrived. Jessica the midwife checked to see how close this baby was, I remember her saying “Oh, hello!” She then told us “you are about 6 cm and baby is very low. If you still want to go to the hospital we have time, but we need to go now.” I remember thinking “I can’t move, I need to stay here.” I started to cry, and said “I don’t want to go.” The midwife told me I could stay, we could do this right here, she would call a second midwife to come. At that point I could have kissed her. I asked for Dan, and mumbled “if he wants to have an at home vasectomy I will totally support that”
Dan came into the bathroom and he was ok with it, reluctant but ok. I overheard the doula talking to him explaining all the equipment they would have for the baby and I should it be needed. My sweet husband asked if I could have the nitrous oxide gas, I remember saying I didn’t even want it this time.
The room went quiet and dark again, and I was alone with the doula. She offered me sips of water and I let my body and this baby do their work. In my past labours I had a hard time releasing the tension and just letting go. This time something was different, I knew this baby was ok I felt little feet pushing up and down inside me, this little one was going to work his way out.
Time did not exist for me, the only thing that matter was each inhalation and exhalation. I was made to this. “In an awe inspiring way I am wonderfully made” kept running through my mind. I was undisturbed and unobserved yet surrounded by support.
There was a moment where I was scared, could I do this? Oh this was so hard. Did I need that has after all? And then my phone somehow switched to the song “fight song”. I remembered pushing Luke in his stroller up the hill on one of my walks. I could do this, I could get up this hill.
At some point the student midwife asked if felt the need to push. I remember saying “no it’s not time yet”
I was labouring down, baby was moving and I was just allowing my body to do its job. I could feel for myself the bag of water bulging like a balloon and there was something soft and spongy above it. It must have been around 3:30 am when the midwife asked if I wanted to be checked, I felt a bit pushy but wasn’t quite there yet. I agreed thinking maybe it’s the cord prolapsed, in a moment of doubt. But then pushed her away as a contraction began. The “dreaded” anterior cervical lip was her conclusion.
The student midwife suggested trying hands and knees, or forward leaning sitting on the toilet backwards or standing. I didn’t want to move. I wanted to stay in my tub semi reclined, but I reluctantly complied. Hands and knees was awful, leaning forward standing was awful, sitting on the toilet backwards was awful.
The student midwife was encouraging me to make low sounds but I found this very annoying on top of being coaxed into these awfully painful positions, finally I said to her “I can make my own sounds” I just wanted to be back in my tub doing my thing. I remember asking for an epidural a few times, and saying it had to be almost over. I kept saying “I just need a break, I just need a break, I want back in MY tub” My doula whispered “you do what you have to do, your tub is right there” (or something to that effect). With that affirmation I just got back in the tub, reclined sort of putting my weight on one hip, I went limp. Like I was back in control my contractions listened to me, they didn’t leave but they subsided, it didn’t feel like all that long, but i’m told it was a good 15-20 minutes.
I remember the midwife asking me if there was something I wanted different. I think the students where a little worried by what appeared to be a stall in my labour.
I breathed and closed my eyes and felt my little ones feet moving up and down. My body knew I needed this rest. Then as quickly as they had faded they returned as if I flipped a switch, in my thoughts where the memories of pushing my first 2 VBAC babies out, that moment where the urge overtakes you. I was ready to push.
With the first contraction the bag of waters burst with a pop, and as I pushed with all my might the head was born. Unlike with my first vbac a much smaller baby the body did not just slide out. With my second VBAC born posterior (face up) something similar had happened, it made me very fearful with him. But this time I knew it was ok, that I had to wait for another contraction to push the shoulders out, that even though I was in agony everything was ok. That, I have to say is the most painful difficult part, that minute or so in limbo. The intensity of your body coming apart like that is not something words can accurately describe, when you feel it you just know.
Then the contraction returned and I pushed with everything I had left and baby was out. When pushing I instinctively kept my legs semi closed and put my hands down to receive my baby. (This position couldn’t be more different that the knees up to my ears position I was coaxed into by the nurses when I had my first VBAC.)Then with that final push I was holding my sweet baby, as I went to pull him up to my chest the midwife pushed the student out of the way and helped me untangled the cord. He was so wrapped up, around the neck, between his legs and over his shoulders. It’s as if he was using it as a harness to bungee jump his way out. Now if I didn’t understand how superbly the umbilical cord is designed, I would have been worried. (To learn more about Nuchal [around the neck] cords please read: http://midwifethinking.com/
Immediately I pulled baby onto my chest and baby gave out a lusty cry. “Hi baby” I said and I looked at my babies perfect puffy little face, tiny slits of eyes looked back at me. I looked between the legs, then tearfully looked over my shoulder to where Dan was standing and announced “It’s another boy!” There’s no feeling in life as overpowering as the moment you meet your child.
This time there was no haze from the nitrous oxide gas, I was fully present, and it was so worth it. I realized that I was enough, I was strong enough, all by itself if left undisturbed my body could perform this miracle. The gas was like a crutch it helped me breath and helped me get through the height of the pain, not by lessening the pain to any degree, but it reduces my awareness and in doing so robbed me of being fully conscious of each moment.
After the Birth
There was some concern about my Blood pressure so the midwife encouraged me to have the pitocin injection, and the student midwife used controlled traction on the cord as I delivered the placenta in the tub. I really didn’t want these interventions with but because we weren’t at the hospital and I didn’t want to end up going there I agreed.
I was helped up and into bed with my sweet little boy never leaving my arms.