This is going to be outrageously long, sorry. However, the reason for me writing it down is to remember all the little details that I probably would not be able to recall years down the road.
Deciding to have a natural, un-medicated birth at home began with not having insurance. I was looking for a way to not end up in a huge pile of medical debt just because we were having a baby. So, I started researching. C-sections: expensive, I can avoid that. One of the most costly parts of a birth is an anesthesiologist and epidural. Ok, I can do without that. Hospital expenses themselves are outrageous so I decided I could do without a hospital too. The more I read, the more excited I was about pushing past what is “normal” and creating a special birth experience that was right for my baby and I. Everything about homebirth and waterbirth seemed so beautiful and natural to me, from then on I was determined to make it happen. My first pregnancy and birth were uncomplicated so I was a good candidate. I felt brave, confident, and strong about my decision. My husband was hesitant; he figures we have all this advanced modern medical technology, why not take advantage of it? After 9 months of pregnancy and 8 weeks of birthing classes, he warmed up to the idea and was very supportive.
My EDD was October 4th, 2012. At 38 weeks my belly was measuring 35 cm and my midwife, Peg, mentioned that it could be due to low amniotic fluid but that she wasn’t too concerned about it because I had been measuring small all along but there was still growth. I wasn’t very concerned at this point either. This is the first time she checked my cervix and I was -2 station, 80% effaced and about a fingertip dilated.
A week later my midwife was out of town for a conference so I was seeing her back up midwife, Lou. I had only had two ultrasounds, one at 11 weeks to figure out how far along I was, and another around 18 weeks for a fetal survey and to find out the baby’s gender. We plan on this being our last baby so I wanted another just for the experience of seeing our babe on the inside. I knew that Lou was more likely to order an ultrasound so I expressed my concern about the low amniotic fluid and got what I had hoped for. The next day the ultrasound confirmed what we had feared, there wasn’t very much for my baby to swim around in. PS: You cannot see a baby very well once he is that big and it is not really worth the $200 ultrasound.
We decided that I would spend the weekend drinking as much water as I could consume to see if it would boost the fluid a bit. On Monday, Lou did a Fetal Non-Stress Test (NST) which showed us that his heart rate was responsive and he had adequate oxygen and blood flow. Another ultrasound showed the fluids were about the same. Peg was back from her conference on Tuesday, two days before my due date, so I went to see her and she swept my membranes in an effort to get labor started and avoid a medical induction. Having your membranes swept is not a pleasant experience. My cervix was sitting far back and she really had to ‘get in there’ to accomplish anything. Still not dilated.
Thursday, my due date, rolled around and still nothing was happening. Anxiety was creeping up as I envisioned all my plans going up in smoke if it became necessary to induce. Would I have to go to the hospital? What if I needed Pitocin? What if that made the contractions stronger than I could handle? My home and water birth plans seemed like they might just slip away. I tried to stay calm and positive. Peg swept my membranes again sometime around 11am and told me I was 2 cm dilated. Then, to my surprise, there was a bit of bleeding and I started having cramps. Small ones, they were hardly any worse than the Braxton Hicks I had been feeling all along, but they were there.
Friday morning we decided it was time to get serious. I concocted a castor oil smoothie and gulped it down like it was a margarita on my 21st birthday. The smell and texture was horrible but it went down easier than I had anticipated. I decided to sleep in case today was the day. In our bedroom, I had already set up the birthing pool and Peg suggested we fill it up with water and get it nice and warm. The contractions lasted all day but faded. My birthing team lay in wait. Everyone was calling, texting, sending me messages on Facebook, Anything Yet? Gumnut wasn’t ready to come out.
Saturday. Just waiting. Alternating between taking homeopathic Caulophyllum and Black Cohosh and Blue Cohosh tinctures. I had also been taking Evening Primrose Oil capsules.
Sunday, October 7th. At 1 am Hubby and I were still up watching movies and tv shows when I got up to pee. (Which happened often). A warm gush ran down my leg. Was this it? Did I pee or was that my water breaking? I wasn’t having contractions so I didn’t want to call and wake up Peg but having your waters break was one of the reasons listed to call any time of day. While Hubby crawled into bed, I couldn’t resist picking up the phone. She told me my water probably did break and I should just try to sleep unless I got contractions that were keeping me awake. Around 10am Peg made a house call, we confirmed my water had broken and now the clock was ticking since it can only be broken for so long before a transfer to a hospital is necessary.
The story in my mind already starts getting hazy here. I think I drank another castor oil smoothie. I know I walked down to the mailbox and back twice. I pushed Lex, Madz, and the neighbor boy Jo, up the driveway in a wagon. I visited the neighbors and perched on an exercise ball in their kitchen while we chatted. Contractions ebbed and flowed and I assumed we were in for a few more days of waiting. Peg called and suggested for me to consume more castor oil. Hubby went to the store for me but I could only choke down half the glass. He barbequed up some chicken legs and we all sat down to dinner around 5:30. Suddenly Gumnut shifted. Hard. Like a gear clicking into place. It hurt. Next came a contraction, stronger than all the ones before, it actually hurt. A few minutes later, another came. I told Hubby it was time. I called Peg, she told me to time a few contractions and call her back. We called my mom with a list of snacks and last minute things I thought I needed. I was gearing up for labor. Dani and Hubby’s parents were called. I told them to take their time, this was only the beginning.
When I called Peg again I couldn’t quite tell where one contraction stopped and the next started. My belly seized up and got hard. I sat on our bed but all I wanted was to move away, to stand up and get away from the squeezing. A beautiful bassinet sat beside me, ready and waiting. At 6:06 Peg told me she was on her way. I moved to the bathroom, the castor oil was doing its job. I knelt by the bed. The girls were outside playing. It was sunny. I tried to breathe but the contractions had gotten so strong so suddenly I was starting to panic. What had I gotten myself into? Why was I not at a hospital? There is no way I can do this. No one can really help me I just have to push him out on my own. Hubby and I were both worried that we were in for a long hard labor.
When the midwife came in she suggested I slowly, between contractions, start making my way into the tub. As soon as the next one stopped, I shed my clothes and got in, I didn’t want to be stuck somewhere between the bed and the pool when the next one hit. The contractions came, one after another, they lasted a good minute each with maybe 20 seconds in between. I had no time to recover from one before the next one started. I remember biting down on the soft foam of the pool. My surroundings blurred. Where everyone was and what was going on around me seemed far away. This is impossible, I’m not going to be able to do this, I thought. I was crying. Sobbing and screaming. I must have said out loud that I didn’t want to do it, I didn’t want to be here. Peg told me that the baby was coming and that I would have him before we got to the car if we tried to go anywhere. She coached me onto my back so my dear husband was holding me under the arms while I floated in the water. “Hold your legs, bend your legs, don’t fight it.”
I remember the next few minutes being a battle between Peg and I. I was crying out, she was trying to get me to focus and listen to her. At some point the girls wandered into the room from outside but were quickly sent back out. My visions of sweet little girls helping me through my labor would not be realized. I was panicking.
“The baby’s head is right there, reach down and feel it” I just shook my head. No, no, no, I’m not ready, this is happening too fast. But Gumnut was ready. I wasn’t even pushing, my body was just expelling my baby whether I wanted it to be happening or not. Finally, I did reach down and feel the top of his head. It was warm, slimy, and a bit hairy. That’s when I finally understood that I really was going to push him out right there in my bedroom, this really was happening. “He went back in, I felt his head go back in,” I said, my eyes wide. Peg told me that I was going to need to pant soon and I needed to listen to her when she told me to pant. And I did. That’s when his head was born. I was sitting up enough that I could see his head sticking out in the water. It was almost over. The panic immediately went away. It was finished. I waited a moment for the next contraction and pushed out his body. Peg wasn’t lifting him out of the water. “I want him out,” I said. I was becoming nervous about how long he had been in the water, which wasn’t very long at all, I just wanted him out. “Push him out then,” she told me. One more small push and together her and I pulled him out of his womb and out of the water. I held him. He was tiny and purple and beautiful. Hubby was still holding me up and I could hear him crying behind me. Our baby was ok, he was more than ok, he was perfect.
Gumnut was born at 7:06pm, only an hour after I had called the midwife. A few minutes later people started arriving. No one had made it in time to see him be born. This was somewhat of a beautiful tragedy. It was really too bad but at the same time wonderful that it was just me, Gumnut, and his daddy.
By: Alyca Green http://www.atableforfive.com/2013/02/gumnuts-birth-story/