I’m stubborn. So when someone says that I can’t do something, I like to prove them wrong.
This is the story about what happens when a doctor told me that I’d never be able to have a natural childbirth. I take it a step further than just a “natural birth:” I have a homebirth.
My HBAC baby born in my living room
My due date had come and gone. I knew that my midwife wasn’t worried at all, but I was ready to meet my baby. It felt like this was my first labor; and in a lot of ways it was.
My first birth didn’t go nearly as planned. I had hoped for a natural labor in the hospital, but I wound up with an induction-turned-c-section after “failing” to get passed 4cm in more than 24 hours. This pregnancy and birth were my last and only hope to break the “once a c-section, always a c-section” mold.
I tried every single old wives’ tale to induce labor and nothing had worked. I had fully resigned myself to the fact that I’d be pregnant forever. On Thursday, exactly a week overdue, I called my mom crying about how I’d never have this baby. She told me not to worry, I’d have my baby by Saturday. I cried some more at the absurdity of the lie. Little did I know how right she was.
Finally, 8 days past my due date, I started to feel some small contractions. They felt like you were squeezing yourself into pants you wore in high school, so I was convinced that they were just Braxton Hicks contractions. But they kept coming. And they became more regular.
Was This the Real Thing?
It was time to put the birth plan into action. My son was taken care of, and my husband was home from work. I was still fairly comfortable with the mild contractions, but I wanted to see if they were actually the real thing, so I called my midwife who sent out her assistant to check me out. I was at 1cm and my cervix was very soft and spongey. She told me to try to sleep, eat and relax as best I could. She gave me a tincture of lobelia to help me relax, but also to stop the contractions if they were just Braxton Hicks. She told me that if it was labor, nothing was going to stop them.
She left around midnight and told us to call if we needed her at all. My husband and I finally passed out around 1am. It was not a restful night’s sleep, but I did manage to get some sleep. Right up until 6am when I was woken up by a contraction. This one was different than the ones before. It was strong and took me by surprise. I stayed in bed waiting for the next one to see if it would come. It did. I was in denial for about an hour thinking “it’s just Braxton Hicks, I’m not in labor.”
Finally by 7am, I couldn’t lie down through them any more. I woke my husband up and we ate a quiet little breakfast together. I decided to slug down my last bit of castor oil in some orange juice to really get things going.
The contractions were very slowly getting stronger and slowly getting closer together, but I wanted to get things going. I bounced on my birth ball, I walked around my downstairs a thousand times, and by 11am, I was tired of trying to make labor start. I finally decided to take a bath and relax a little as I resigned myself to the thought that I was going to have a long labor.
Before I could even get into the tub, I started losing my mucus plug. I had never been so excited to see something so gross in my life! I took my hot bath but couldn’t quite get comfortable in our shallow tub. By about noon, I was uncomfortable enough in the contractions but I felt as though it was time to call our midwife. I had my husband call her and she came right over. I didn’t want her to check me at all, I felt a great deal of comfort just having her there.
It was right about this point that I discovered that I was not going to have a regular labor. I was going to have back labor. My baby was in the right position and everything, I just happen to have a tilted uterus. So unfortunately, no matter what I did I was going to have back labor.
This Was Different From Before…
I didn’t know what to do. I had not been prepared for back labor. Thank goodness for my midwife. She taught my husband how to apply counter pressure by squeezing my hips together with all of his might. Normally, the idea of a 200 pound man squeezing your hips together sounds horrible, but for me in labor this was the only thing that brought me any comfort.
At this point my husband and my midwife were trading applying counter pressure and setting up the birth pool in our living room. I tried sitting on the birth ball and rocking to get things moving and it helped for a little bit but then I felt as though I just needed to start getting up and walking around. It’s amazing when we listen to our bodies how much more intuitive we can be.
I had never been in labor before. My oldest son was an induction so I had no idea what it felt like have normal contractions. The break in between contractions was so incredible. I’d only ever experienced pitocin contractions.
I was able to eat some banana chips and a few bites of an apple and drink a lot of coconut water while I was in labor this time. It was incredibly comforting to be able to eat my own food and to be in my own house, in my own surroundings. Everything about this birth was so different from my first birth, it was incredible. I was in so much pain, but at the same time I was so comforted to know that everyone around me was so supportive of me. My midwife held my hand and kept telling me how great I was doing and how wonderful this was for baby to be progressing so well.
After I’m pretty sure that I wore a gigantic crater in my living room floor pacing back and forth, I decided to try to get into the birth pool. The hot water was so relaxing and so wonderful. It was a welcome break from pacing constantly. The only problem with the pool was that it made applying counter pressure to my hips incredibly difficult. So I had to decide between the warmth of the birth pool or the comfort that the counter pressure gave me.
After close to an hour in the birth pool, I felt as though it was time to change positions. I got out of the birth pool and continued walking. I would stop occasionally for a contraction and would lean on my husband for support both physically and mentally.
My midwife checked me at about 3 p.m. to see how far I had progressed and I was at 4 or 5 centimeters. Now for some this may seem very discouraging, but for me it was so wonderful! I stalled at 4 centimeters with my first labor and I was horribly afraid that I would do the same with this one. But I had gotten to 4 and I was still going strong! I knew that I could do this.
After about 2 more hours of walking back and forth, I got back in the birth pool to see if that would help. In between contractions that were continuing to get stronger, I fell asleep with my head on the birth pool. My midwife and my husband both took turns holding my hand, brushing my hair, and getting me a new towel to put my head on while I sat there and slept in between contractions.
And then in the middle of a contraction, my water broke. I have never had that happen before! It broke in the pool and it was an audible pop! It was clear, there was no meconium and everything looked great. I was so excited. Having my water break was another much needed reassurance that labor is going well and that this is something that I could do. Despite everything that the doctor who delivered my first child has said to me I could in fact deliver a baby naturally.
By 8pm I was in transition. All of the contractions blurred together into one long painful haze. And by 9 o’clock I felt the need to push. My midwife had asked me to go on hands and knees so that she could check me. I was only at 9 centimeters. But the desire to push was overwhelming. My midwife and her assistant had me blow through contractions. Big deep breath puffy cheeks and blow out with every contraction. I can’t push while my cheeks are puffed out is what she said. And she was right. While I was puffing through each contraction, my midwife was applying evening primrose oil to my cervix to help it dialate.
The next hour was spent blowing through contractions waiting to get the 10 centimeters. Finally, at about 10 o’clock my midwife told me to try pushing on hands and knees. And I was ready to go. I was ready to push finally. I was going to meet my baby. In between the painful contractions I remember thinking how excited I was to be able do this. I was going to be able to deliver my baby without having to have another c-section. That knowledge gave me the strength to stand up and hold my husband for support while I started pushing. My midwife was applying counter pressure and evening primrose oil on a warm washcloth to my perineum and I can’t tell you how helpful that was.
The pain of the intense contractions was gone when I started pushing. I could finally do something about the amount of pain and discomfort I was in. I had often heard that pushing was a welcome relief, but now I truly understood it!
There was so much comfort from everything around me my husband was there to hold me my midwife was there to make me more comfortable and her assistant was there to catch the baby. All in my living room. Suddenly, 5 minutes after I started pushing, my midwife said “ok, the head is out!” I couldn’t believe it! We are almost ready to meet our baby! The hardest part from here was not pushing so that my midwives could get the baby in the right position to birth the shoulders. When I was finally allowed to push I had to push very very slowly to make sure that there was no tearing. One more gigantic push and the baby was out.
And We Have A Little…
My midwife and her assistant wrapped the baby in clean blankets and towels. I looked at my husband and said “I did it I did it!” I have never been so proud of something in my entire life. We were so shocked that it finally happened! We realized after a few seconds of ecstatic joy that we didn’t even know if we had had a boy or a girl! My midwife lifted up the little towel and found out all together that it was a boy! Our second son was born in our living room while I was standing right next to our bookshelf full of our son’s books.
My midwife walked me over to the couch and helped me lie down while I delivered the placenta. It was incredibly uncomfortable, but it was over! All of the pain was gone and it was replaced with so much love and bonding with this little guy.
My midwife and her assistant helped us clean up and helped my baby and me get into bed and get comfortable before they left at around 1 a.m. My husband and I just had a baby and we were spending the night in our own bed in our own room in our house. My first super nutritious meal after baby: homemade hash browns at 2am.
Unlike what the doctor had said from my first son’s birth, I was not broken. I was not doomed to a life of repeat c-sections. I was able to have and 8 pounds 15 ounces baby 10 days past my due date in my own house. Those were all things that the doctor has said that I would never be able to do. I knew then but there was nothing that I couldn’t do.
Have You Had a VBAC or HBAC? What Was Your Experience?