Kelli went into labor on the morning of the only icy day we had this winter….she blogged her story on her blog, Analytical Momma and also said I could share it here.
“Background: My son was a planned home birth with a wonderful and supported labor, until we had to transfer when it was discovered after hours of pushing that he was posterior brow presentation. He was born by cesarean on Christmas day, at 38 weeks 6 days, and spent 3 days in the NICU for a subgaleal hematoma. Oh, and my uterus tore downward from my incision during delivery, and I was told the next day that I could never VBAC. Read that story here.
I struggled through a lot of this pregnancy with where to birth my baby. I was lucky enough to find both an OB and a home birth midwife who supported my decision to VBAC. I wanted a home birth, but really didn’t want to have to transfer in labor again (that car ride was hell!) But in the end, I just couldn’t get my head and heart behind a hospital birth, so I planned a home birth and did everything I could to encourage baby to be in a good position and avoid the problems that caused my transfer last time.
I felt my first real contractions at 39 weeks while nursing my son. My Braxton Hicks contractions had felt like painless tightening, and my contractions with my son had felt like waves of back pain because he was posterior. These were like low achy cramps that came in waves about every 5 minutes for 30ish seconds, but they stopped when he stopped nursing. I was excited that they felt different and meant this baby might be in a better position, since she had been flipping between LOP, LOT and LOA for the past few weeks. This went on for two days, until the early morning hours of February 28, at 39 weeks 2 days.
I woke up around 4:45am with the same sort of contractions, but happening on their own and not stopping. They were mild and manageable, but I couldn’t sleep through them. This was it, I was pretty sure of it. I felt calm, but excited and went upstairs to wake my husband (Eric) up and start getting the bedroom ready. He inflated the birth pool and put on the waterproof sheets, and I called my mom to come over to watch my toddler when he woke up.
Early labor was really lovely. I chose my Mellow Rocky Laborland playlist, full of good stuff like Van Morrison, Doobie Brothers and The Band. I spent most of my time on hands and knees, rocking and swaying through contractions, ate a little bit of food, texted my doula and midwife, and worked on relaxing my pelvic floor. Within an hour, they were coming every 3 minutes, but were only lasting 30-45 seconds and still felt like early labor.
By 7am, they were feeling a little more intense, and I was getting some relief from making low moans through them. It was still manageable, but feeling more like active labor to me. This is where I apparently faked my doula and midwife out by being too calm and collected. I felt like things were moving fast and getting more intense, contractions 2.5 minutes apart, and I was really kind of wishing my team would get here. But they were the experts, and I was telling them how I felt, and they didn’t seem in a rush, so ok. I did finally, at 7:15, tell my doula (Julie) she should definitely come when she can, so she said she’d take a shower and start to pack up.
Did I mention that we had had a bad freeze overnight and half the roads were iced over and closed? No? Well, yeah.
I wanted to be in water, but was afraid to fill the birth tub too early, so I got in the bath while I waited for Julie to get here, and I also told my midwife (Christy) she needed to head this way, because she lived even further away. The water was nice, but I couldn’t really find positions I liked in the tub. Eric and my mom took turns sitting with me, and I was in good spirits between contractions.
After a little bit, they started to get more intense, and I decided I couldn’t manage them in the tub, and needed to get out and have more position options. As I got out, I was screaming “oh god, not another one!” I was starting to feel like this was really hard and I needed more breaks in between them, I didn’t want to do this anymore, I wasn’t ready for another one yet! Holy crap, I realized, this feels like transition! It sure as hell better be! This was probably not long after 8am.
I was back on the bed on my knees and elbows, making Eric really nervous with the sounds I was making. He knew too that this was moving fast and it was time for my birth team to get here NOW. But with most of the roads closed, they were having trouble finding routes to get here. I started to feel a little panicky too, but just a little, as I tried to block that out and just focus on my body and my baby.
At 8:20, he called Julie to be like “seriously, are you almost here? We need you here NOW,” and she pulled up in the driveway right then. I told him to fill up the birth tub because it was now or never. Julie got upstairs as my water was breaking, and I told her I was feeling them in my back. She asked if I wanted a heat pack for my back and I says YES, so she headed downstairs.
But on the next contraction, my body started pushing. Holy shit. Already?! I juuuuuust entered transition, right? I told Eric I was feeling pushy, and he said “what do I do?!” I yelled “Get Julie!” and he ran to call her back.
She came immediately, thinking what on Earth could be so urgent, but ok. I told her I was pushing, and Eric called the midwife, but of course, we still thought it could go on for an hour or two or more. This was probably 8:25-8:30.
In my first labor, pushing had felt like hard work, but not exactly painful per se. This time, pushing felt like I was being simultaneously ripped apart and having the life squeezed out of me. I’m pretty sure I screamed my bloody heart out through each back to back contraction. I wasn’t really capable of conscious thought, but fleeting thoughts like “what was I thinking” and “this was the worst idea ever” and “f natural childbirth” definitely popped through my mind.
Sometime around now, my birth photographer (Sabrina) showed up and I informed her that she pretty much missed my labor. Julie’s like “another set of hands!”
Meanwhile, Julie is on the phone with Christy, saying (in a super calm and soothing voice) things like “yeah, I can see some head … ok, it went back in … oh, this time it stayed,” interspersed with things like “breathe, momma,” and “you’re doing great.” She told me to roll to my side and I asked Eric to hold my leg up. He barely remembered to turn off the too-late birth tub water before the bedroom flooded and then he was there with me.
I had my hand on the baby’s head now, supporting my perineum, and could feel her crowning. Part of me was panicking that the midwife wasn’t here and I needed this to slow down, but a bigger part of me didn’t give a crap about anything but being DONE with this, because I COULD NOT TAKE IT A SECOND LONGER.
And then her head popped out and all the pain stopped! Her body just slid right out and she was placed on my chest and my brain started working properly as it flooded me with the thought “it’s over, it’s over! Thank the gods, it’s over!” It took me a minute to register my second thought: “I did it!” I did it, I got my VBAC, I pushed my baby out! And this was mostly good because it’s over and I don’t have to ride in a car or go to a hospital, it’s over, it’s over, it’s over! She was born at 8:45 after about 20 minutes of pushing.
Unbeknownst to me, Christy had told Julie that she wasn’t going to make it in time, and not to tell us that. But Eric knew more than me because he could see her face. She may have been keeping her voice calm and soothing, but I’m told her eyes were screaming.
Melek, the training midwife, got there 10 minutes after she was born and confirmed that everything was looking awesome. Christy got there 20 minutes later, and said the same. I got her to latch on and we just snuggled and nursed in bed for an hour or so. At some point, I delivered the placenta, and maybe 20-30 minutes after that, I cut her cord.
I had so many problems nursing my son. I wasn’t even allowed to try for 12 hours, and then he wouldn’t latch right. It was amazing to nurse her so effortlessly so soon after she entered the world. I don’t think I got that instant love high that some people do, but my joy and relief in nursing her was fantastic.
Dad got some time with her alone while I got sewed up. I’m not gonna lie, that sucked. It wasn’t that it was that painful, but after what I’d just gone through, I was so not in the mood for anything unpleasant. I was lucky in that it was a very small tear, and they did numb me with moderate success, but I don’t like needles, and this area of the body was about at the top of the list of places I don’t like needles to be. But I survived.
I was determined that the birth tub not be a complete waste, so everyone worked to get it heated up enough that baby and I could take our herbal bath in it. I was shaky and weak as I walked to the tub, a feeling that didn’t match my emotional state, which was strong and excited and full of energy now!
In the moments right around her birth, I distinctly remember thinking that I would never do this again, and that if we had another kid, I’d like to try out the epidural thing. But by the time I was walking to the tub, I was already recognizing that it was totally awesome to be up and moving, in my home, with my whole family, including my beautiful new baby, and I knew I’d do it the same way again.”