A Precipitous Birth- 1 Hour 15 Minutes, Accidently Unassisted
I simply loved this birth story, this mother's faith, her beautiful birth, and her pure JOY surrounding it. I wanted to share her words as she introduced it in her e-mail to me:
"I wanted to share the story of my third birth, this past June. I had a typical hospital epidural birth with my first baby, then a precipitous midwife-attended home birth with my second. My third birth was supposed to take place at a birth center, but my little lady has a very unique sense of timing. After going over a week past the due date (but being dilated to a 5 since 39 weeks), my labor was only 1 hr 15 minutes and she was born before we could leave the house. Only my husband and I were there, and I caught my baby all by myself. It was spectacular. I don't intend to ever plan for an unassisted birth, but now I will be better prepared for one in the future, and no matter what, I will want to catch my baby again! LOVED IT."
Birth is powerful. Women are strong. We are loved.
My third baby has a very unique sense of timing. I got pregnant with her about two years before we had planned on. Throughout the whole pregnancy, I anticipated her being born more on the early side, guessing 37-38 weeks. My first baby was born right at 40 weeks and my second at 38 weeks 5 days. With all three pregnancies, I dilated early. At 37 weeks, I was 3 cm dilated and my bag of waters was starting to funnel down into my cervix.
After my second birth, which had a very short active labor, and with dilating so much, my midwives and I did not expect this labor to be very long. I had contractions for weeks, all day long, but fairly spaced out. Several evenings, the contractions would get to under 10 minutes apart for an hour or more and then stop cold. Weeks and weeks of prodromal labor seems to be my lot in life.
As I moved closer and closer to my due date, I suddenly realized I needed to face the possibility of going past it still pregnant. Sure enough, at my 40 week appt, I was still pregnant, and now 5cm dilated. My midwives and I felt we needed a plan, because we felt once labor kicked in, it was going to go very fast.
We had made plans with the midwives to meet Monday (41 weeks, 1 day) in the morning, at the birth center, to rupture my membranes. Sunday night, the midwife called to see if we could move the time up a little because she had another patient who was possibly in early labor and wanted to make sure she could attend both of us.
With the plan in place and a feeling of peace, I cleaned up the house while my husband Steve finished his last assignment of the quarter. I went to bed, but was having a hard time settling down, despite being very tired. Steve came to bed later too, but tossed and turned as well. A little after 2am, I decided to get up and go to the bathroom.
Before I got up, I had a painful but not unmanageable contraction, which was nothing new. After I used the bathroom, I had another contraction which was close but not super weird. I went out to the family room and knelled on the floor, draping myself over the ottoman. It was really comfortable and let me stretch my belly out. I wasn't feeling very tired, but figured I should go back to bed anyway, since I would need my strength later.
As I was walking back, Steve came out and said that even though he'd taken a Unisom an hour before, he couldn't sleep either! It was about 2:15am. We both stayed up for a few minutes, just chatting.
I kept feeling the need to go to the bathroom, and every time I would go, I'd have another couple contractions. Steve was watching this and decided he should shower. I couldn't argue with him, but I still wasn't completely convinced I was in labor. But all the contractions were hurting, so I started timing them.
To my surprise, they were about 3 minutes apart. Oh. That changes things. I wasn't feeling like I needed to go anywhere yet, but my brother was coming down and he lived about 90 minutes away, so he was my first call. I called him just before 3am and he hadn't even gotten to sleep yet!
I told him I was in labor and to start driving down (he really wanted to be there for the birth). After that I called my mom & step-dad. My step-dad answered, so I told him I was in labor and if Mom wanted to take a shower, she should do that now, but I didn't need her to come over right that second. I had to hang up because another contraction was starting.
I realized that I needed to call the midwives too, so I paged them, leaving a voice mail, telling them what I was dealing with. Steve came out of the bathroom and started gathering up what needed to go with us. While I was in the middle of a contraction, my mom called back and Steve talked to her. By this point, I realized things were intense and I needed her to get over now.
He relayed that and she said she'd be leaving soon. While he was talking to her, the midwife called back and I was able to talk to her by then. It was about 3:05am and she said the soonest she could be at the birth center was 3:45am, but she was rushing as fast as she could. I figured that would be fine, since my mom was still on her way over to come be with the kids.
I kept contracting close and man, they hurt so bad! There wasn't a ton I could do to make them feel better and every few contractions, I'd have one where I wanted to push a little bit. It wasn't a full blown need-to-push feeling, just letting me know it wouldn't be very long. Steve started taking our bags down to the car, so we could leave as soon as Mom got there.
I still wasn't that stressed about leaving, because I would rather be at home than in the car or worse, waiting outside the birth center for the midwives to get there. I kept going to the toilet, needing to use it a lot. It sucked because the contractions hurt so bad when I was there, but I needed to be there.
I had moments where the pain was so bad I wanted to cry and scream, but also had moments when it wasn't bad and I was handling it. Steve kept reminding me "You're in control. You know what you're doing. You're okay." When I could start the contraction repeating that mantra, it helped me handle the pain a lot better. During this time, I realized I had told Mom to come over to be with the kids, but hadn't thought about her wanting to see the birth itself! Oh no! Luckily, she thought of that and called again, telling Steve that my step-dad was coming as well, in a separate car so he could stay with the kids and she could go with us.
I had stripped down and was going to put on a dress before heading out the door, but felt the familiar transition-diarrhea feeling. I went to the toilet and got that need taken care of and as I was finishing up, a new contraction hit. This one was different. This one just took over and the only thing I could do was push for all I was worth. I just bore down and PUSHED.
There may or may not have been a few swear words mentioned here. It was at that moment I just knew we weren't going anywhere and the baby was coming NOW. I just kept pushing like crazy, taking a couple quick breaths as needed. I yelled to Steve that I was pushing and just roared again.
That freaked him out a little bit, because it came out of nowhere. He asked me, a bit panicked "Should I call the EMTs?!" "NO!! I'll just catch her myself!" At that moment, my water broke. I felt a little pop, a small bit of fluid and then SPLASH a huge gush all over the place. I instinctively reached down and her head was halfway out. The rest of her just slid right out and I caught my own baby, while standing over the toilet.
Holy crap. I just caught my own baby, with only my husband there. Dude.
Steve had both phones in his hand, so I quickly asked him what time it was. 3:24am. Then he right away called the midwives to tell them to divert to our house, we weren't going anywhere. The midwife didn't seem to quite believe him at first that the crying was Kayla and not the other kids. But he convinced her and she gave him a bunch of instructions.
Turned out he didn't even bother relaying most of them, because I was already doing them. I asked him for a towel to keep her warm, keeping her skin to skin on my chest. I had pulled her cord from around the back of her neck (just looped behind her, not actually around her neck) so it was more comfortable for both of us. She had started crying immediately, so I knew she was doing well.
We sat there for a couple minutes and were still there when my mom walked in. She was not expecting to see me sitting there, with a baby in my arms! She was probably 5 minutes after the birth, and was able to quickly assess Kayla and rated her Apgar at 10! Woohoo! (Can I just say how awesome it is to have a mom, who not only gave birth three times herself, but is an ARNP and former L&D nurse- who has caught & cared for babies!)
Steve said Mel said to lay down, which was perfect to me, because I wanted to. Mom and Steve laid down towels and sheets and helped me walk to the couch. Mom checked to make sure I wasn't hemorrhaging or anything (nope, not too much blood loss) and that I was comfortable. Paul got there a few minutes after her and she met him at the door, telling him to come in and meet his new granddaughter.
While we were waiting for the midwives to arrive, I got Kayla latched on and she started nursing. Mom called my brother and sister to spread the news (and tell Andy to come to our apt, not the birth center). Steve started cleaning up a bit in the bathroom. The midwives got there about 25 minutes after the birth and set up right away.
It was lovely seeing them. There was a licensed midwife and her apprentice. They also had an assistant midwife come and she had gotten my chart from the office. The LM & apprentice did almost all the clinical stuff, examining me and the baby, checking for the placenta, etc, while the assistant mostly did charting and taking vitals.
I'm not sure what time it was, but it was a bit after they arrived, they helped me deliver the placenta. My mom got to cut Kayla's cord (she also cut my son's) and held her while I squatted and got it out. Man, I felt SO MUCH better! During the exam they saw that I tore again, ended up being another 2nd degree tear that required a few stitches. ::sigh:: But what can you expect when you push a baby out in 2 minutes?!
I just kept saying to everyone, "It feels so good to not be pregnant anymore! I'm so glad I'm not pregnant or in labor anymore!" Hahaha. We went over the delivery, how it all happened, etc. They took care of the repair, which sucked (one thing the epidural is really really handy for), but wasn't completely awful. Stitches just suck, right?
After that, we got settled in my comfy chair, and I nursed her again. Oy, the after pains are awful. We did the newborn exam and found out she was 8lbs 2oz and 19.5 inches long. That's over a half pound heavier than the other two, and the same length as my oldest daughter! She is chubbier than the others were as well. I lost track of time here, but it was just a nice, social time.
My parents and brother were there, the midwives, and Steve, me, and the baby. Our two big kids slept through everything! Seriously, they did not make a peep!! Everyone got a chance to hold her and snuggle her, the bathroom got cleaned, and we just chatted and caught our breath while all the paperwork and exams were done.
Eventually, my parents had to leave to go get ready for work (after a very abbreviated night of sleep!) and my brother went back to their house very shortly after, so he could sleep too (remember, he hadn't gotten any sleep yet). We had a nice chuckle when my cell phone started ringing. It was my alarm, telling me to get up so I could get ready to go meet them at the birth center.
The midwives finished everything they needed to do, paperwork, exams, monitoring, etc. We were both doing just fine, Kayla was settling down for a long nap, and I was getting tired too. So they packed up and went home, needing to take care of their own families. Right about this time (around 6:30am or so), the sleeping pill Steve had taken hours earlier kicked in hard. In all the excitement, the adrenaline had kept him going, but now that everything was calming down, he was crashing. Off he went to bed as well, and it was just me and my baby in the living room, enjoying the very quiet and still morning.
One thing the midwife said to me before she left was "Do you know the term precipitous birth?" "Yes....it means a really fast labor and birth." "Right. It's defined as 3 hours from first contraction to birth. You've now had TWO of those." Oh. Wow. I hadn't thought about that quite yet.
Kayla’s labor was only 1 hr and 15 minutes. Really and truly, I am glad we ended up having Kayla at home. The idea of getting into the car was the scariest part to me. I didn't want to be in the car, feeling like I was.
Once I realized I was going to have her right there, without anyone but Steve present, I wasn't scared at all. I just knew what needed to be done and I had complete faith she and I would be just fine. If we had left any earlier, then that all would have hit while I was in the car, which would have been infinitely more scary for all of us.
The night before, when I went to bed, I had a great feeling of peace about having the baby the next morning. I believe Heavenly Father knew what was about to happen and was giving me the assurance that I was going to be just fine. Steve had given me a blessing the week before, and in it, told me, we would both be healthy and I would be able to remember all of my studies and my body would be able to handle it. How true that was.