Monday, November 7, 2016

The Birth of Deidre

This story begins a bit before labor. I had been worried about my baby's position through the end of pregnancy, mostly because Audrey was posterior and I had a long labor with her. This baby was also posterior most of the time, despite me doing many things to make more room for them to turn (daily spinning babies, rebozo, chiro webster technique, walking, sitting and lying so my belly was a 'hammock' for baby, etc.)

So I was pretty excited when my midwife confirmed at 39 weeks that baby was finally LOA (baby facing towards my spine with their back on my left side, an optimal position for birth). At this time I felt very ready for the baby to come whenever they were ready - I'm a big believer in letting the baby choose their birth day, no matter how long that takes.

Unfortunately at my 40 week prenatal baby had moved back into a posterior position. And not just any posterior position, but the most difficult one for a baby to be born in - direct posterior or OP. I was super bummed. My midwife could tell by palpation that my amniotic fluid levels were a little low as well, so she advised drinking a gallon of water a day. This would also give baby more room to turn.

The next evening I took pulsatilla, a homeopathic remedy that can encourage baby to move into an optimal position. I also had a third session with a massage therapist who specializes in prenatal bodywork and spinning babies techniques. And that night I listened to the Hypnobabies Turn Your Posterior Baby track while taking an epsom salt bath. Right before bed I noticed a small amount of bloody show which made me excited, but I also knew that didn't mean anything besides my cervix was changing.

The next morning at 3 am I woke up with mild but definite contractions. I was really excited so I had trouble going back to sleep but I managed to after a few hours. Ryan left for work early that day so I didn't have a chance to tell him but I was enjoying doing my thing and not letting anyone know yet. I knew that I could be in early labor for days (like with Audrey) or it could go away so I didn't want to tell people prematurely.

When I woke up I went about my day. I listened to the Hypnobabies Birth Day Affirmations track, which I really enjoyed. I did a load of laundry, picked up toys and cleaned a little, and even set up the birth tub in our bedroom. That was interesting to do while having contractions and dealing with a very excited Audrey who kept wanting to get into the tub with her baby dolls! Contractions were still fairly mild and varied from 10-20 min apart. I was continuing to have bloody show too. I thought about doing some spinning babies techniques, assuming baby was still posterior, but many of those require a helper so I thought I'd do them when Ryan came home from work.

Audrey was doing a fairly good job at waiting while I had a contraction. If she tried to talk to me or needed something I would tell her I was having a contraction and to wait a minute while I breathed through it. We had practiced this so she was familiar with it, but like any typical 3 year old she wasn't always able to wait. This was fine because they were so mild and far apart that I could deal with it for now.

We had some lunch and I let her watch tv while I napped. Balancing activity and rest are important during early labor. I was also staying hydrated (remember that gallon of water a day goal?). Ryan called right before I fell asleep and I told him what was going on. I told him to stay at work and I would update him later.

When I woke up I decided to take Audrey to the library because I knew she wouldn't get out of the house too much postpartum and thought it would be a good distraction for me. Contractions still varied from 10-20 min apart but some were getting stronger.

At the library I was very self conscious and was tempted to go hide in the corner when I had a contraction. I really didn't want people watching me, especially random strangers who probably have to idea about natural birth. I did my best to ignore the librarian shelving kids books and breathe through the contractions. They were definitely getting stronger and closer together now.

At 3:30 pm I decided I had enough and convinced Audrey it was time to go home. The library is only 5 minutes from our house but I did have a contraction at a red light. Ryan also called me to say that he was done with work early and was on his way home. I asked him to pick up dinner because I didn't feel like cooking even if I was still in early labor. He took forever to get home and I found out that he had stopped at the liquor store to buy my favorite wine.

He got home around 4:30 pm and convinced me to call the midwife to let her know. I felt like it was too early but agreed. My midwife advised me to rest for awhile and to start filling the birth tub. I kind of laughed at that, thinking it was way too early to start filling the tub! But since we use a tub that has a heater and cover I knew we could fill it and it could sit for quite awhile before being used.

It was a good thing Ryan started filling it then because I had forgotten to turn up our hot water heater so we kept running out of hot water! Ryan would fill it for awhile until the water ran cold and then turn it off to give the heater time to heat more water.

During this I was lying in bed, trying to rest between contractions and remembering when I did 3 nights of that during Audrey's labor. At 5 pm my water broke during a strong contraction, which took me by surprise. I called the midwife to let her know but I felt like it was still early. Contractions were getting pretty strong but were still about 10 minutes apart. I knew that things could go fast now though so I decided to call my friend. Jody, who was our sibling doula. I told her "I'm in labor. I think." My hesitation was because of my previous long labor: I didn't want her to come too early and have to be away from her kids for many hours. She said she would be on her way as soon as her babysitter arrived.

During this Ryan was trying to feed Audrey dinner, convince me to eat something, fill up the birth tub, and take care of other random things. Audrey was running all over excitedly, wanting to help Ryan with everything. It was getting difficult for me to relax through contractions now, even with the Hypnobabies Easy First Stage track on, and Audrey was distracting. I was starting to have a "poor me" attitude and wondering why I wanted to do this again. I was in the bedroom standing by the dresser and leaned over it when a contraction came. Ryan plugged in the Christmas lights I had strung up and I put on the birthing necklace made during my Mother Blessing.

Each woman that came to my Mother Blessing brought a bead or two that reminded them of me or birth. I wore this necklace through labor and birth.

I asked Ryan to call the midwife at 5:45 pm and debated over the phone about whether I wanted her to come over yet. Later she told me that she knew labor was going to go fast and she was really hoping I was ready for her to come! I decided to have her come, hoping it wasn't too early still. Ryan told her about the hot water situation and she advised him to start heating water on the stove because she didn't want to risk the tub not being ready in time.

Jody arrived and I asked for her and got emotional. I told her I didn't want to do this and that the "stupid Hypnobabies" wasn't helping. She has had difficult homebirths herself and has been a great source of emotional support for me through the months of trying to conceive and then pregnancy. Her quiet and reassuring presence really helped me. Jody noticed that the contractions were still spaced out and short, even though they were strong, so she encouraged me to walk around to move things along. Then she switched places with Ryan and went into the living room to play with Audrey. Ryan was in and out of the bedroom with me, still trying to get the tub filled.

The midwife arrived at 6:15 pm and I asked her to check on the baby's heart rate since I hadn't felt movement for awhile. We had agreed during prenatal visits that unless there was an emergency I would take the lead on everything and ask her if I wanted any help. Otherwise she would just sit and observe. Baby's heart rate was 120-132 and she asked me what the position was. I had felt baby's back on the left side all day so I knew that at least she wasn't direct OP anymore. Ryan came into the room to stay and the midwife went into the kitchen to make the comfrey root tea and compresses to use during postpartum healing.

At about 6:30 pm I got into the tub, saying it would be ok if I had to get out later if labor slowed. I was still somewhat in denial about how fast labor was going, even though contractions were now strong, long, and close together. The water helped but the contractions were still really intense. I was having trouble relaxing through them and was vocalizing loudly. I decided to check my own cervix and was surprised to find only an anterior lip left. But this also made me mad because I knew that sometimes it takes quite awhile for a lip to recede and I didn't want to be going through these intense contractions for much longer. I did feel that the baby had hair which was exciting. I told Ryan and he somewhat jokingly said he was jealous that I got to feel our baby's head and he couldn't.

Ryan was kneeling outside the tub by me, still trying to get me to eat. Then he started repeating after the Hypnobabies and that really ticked me off! I told him to shut it, that I was listening and relaxing as best I could. Later he said he was trying to help me focus, because I kept vocalizing loudly and appeared to be ignoring the hypnosis suggestions.

After every few contractions I would reach up to feel the progress of the lip of cervix. It didn't appear to be moving much. Contractions were still very intense and I felt like I was fighting my body instead of relaxing and letting it do what it needed to. After a particularly long one I said "I can't do this!" Ryan was quick to reassure me that I could and would do it. This was about 7 pm.

My body started pushing during contractions and I tried to relax through it, because I wanted to "breathe the baby out" and experience the fetal ejection reflex. But the urge to push was too strong and I also really wanted to be done. At about 7:08 pm I reached up to feel her head starting to crown and I breathed in relief "there you are baby!" I told Ryan to call everyone in - the midwife, Audrey, and Jody. Audrey was super excited and ran over to the floor beds to bounce around on them while saying "the baby is coming!" Jody called her over to the tub and Audrey asked "what's the red part?" referring to the bloody show in the water. I was deep in labor land and this didn't bother me but I was really glad that Jody was there to quietly explain things to her.

I didn't really experience the ring of fire with Audrey but I definitely did this time! I started out a contraction with vocalizing and then it quickly turned into me saying "ow ow ow ow!" I again tried to relax and breathe through it but that just wasn't happening. At 7:15 pm her head was out and with the next contraction I pushed out her body.

I immediately scooped her out of the water and became very emotional, crying and saying "Oh baby!" and "I did it!" I definitely felt the natural birth high which was amazing! When Audrey was born I just felt numb for awhile, probably due to exhaustion and hemorrhaging after the long labor. I had been imagining this baby's birth since before I got pregnant and it was so close to what I had hoped for. It was thrilling to have my long awaited dream become reality.

Moments after birth. My midwife is in the background preparing the bed for me when I'm ready.

A few minutes later I asked Audrey "should we see if it's a boy or a girl?" I opened the baby's legs and the three of us saw together that we had a baby girl! We had all thought it was a boy so this was a lovely surprise!

Finding out the gender

I stayed in the tub for a few minutes while Audrey bounced around excitedly on the bed saying "I have a sister! I'm a big sister!" Then I was ready to get out as my bottom was stinging (I knew I had tore again) and I wanted to snuggle my baby in my bed. We cut Audrey's cord after 15 minutes and I passed her to Ryan before getting out of the tub and into bed.  This time I really wanted to wait to cut the cord until after the placenta was out and I didn't want to pass the baby off to anyone for at least an hour. So Ryan helped me step out of the tub and climb into bed while I held the baby.

We all snuggled together in bed for awhile, then Audrey wanted to go play in the living room so Jody took her out. Baby latched with minimal assistance in the laid back position 20 minutes after birth and nursed for half an hour. I was having afterbirth pains that were fairly strong but nothing compared to labor. I had several remedies ready to use for the afterbirth pains but I never felt the need to use them; I just relaxed and breathed through the contractions.

One of the best parts of a homebirth: snuggling all together in your own bed!

First nursing

The placenta came about an hour after the birth and I was excited to look at it! I started doing placenta encapsulation after Audrey was born and I've seen a fair number of placentas now so it was neat to look at my own and have some idea of what I was looking at.

Healthy baby attached to a healthy placenta! Notice how white the cord is; she's gotten her full blood supply.

I put on our fall themed cord tie and then Ryan and Audrey cut the cord together, about 1.5 hours after the birth. After the midwife examined the placenta Jody took it into the kitchen to prep it for placenta smoothies. (I plan to talk more about this in my next post about my baby moon, but wow I really loved the smoothies!)

Ryan and Audrey each held the baby for the first time and then she came back to me for more nursing. The midwife did the newborn exam 2 hours after birth. She was 7 lbs, 20 in long, 13 in head and chest. Then my midwife checked my tear and I did indeed have a second degree tear but not as bad as my tear with Audrey. My next post will talk about how I heal tears naturally, without stitches.

Shortly afterwards, the midwife and Jody left and our new family of 4 got ready for bed! My midwife was wonderful; it was very empowering that she trusted me, trusted birth, and fully supported my request to sit back and observe unless there was an emergency. And Jody was the best sibling doula in addition to many other things she did, including take pictures and video of the birth and prepare the placenta for smoothies.

I still can't believe that I got my dream birth! Of course it would have been nice not to tear and to have a pain free birth, but all of the important things I was hoping for happened. And I'm still on that natural birth high!