Philomena’s Birth Story
To start off I will mention my first two pregnancies. We took a Bradley Method birth class where we learned about home births and then we planned a homebirth for my first daughter’s birth, but after weeks of trying to flip a footling breech baby and no success our midwife told us we would need a c-section. The c-section was a terrible experience. And so was the recovery period. I knew I did not want another c-section so long as I could help it. I accepted my c-section because I knew it was the best choice for the babies' position. She came out nice and healthy 4 days before her due date. We had no problems breast feeding and bonding.
My second pregnancy, I was working. We bought and moved into a new house. And we never gave seeing my OB/GYN from the first delivery a second thought. Being so busy, I was told that the baby had low amniotic fluid from about 22 weeks on throughout the pregnancy. We had to have ultrasounds every week with 30min-1hr long biophysical profiles. I was told to not work anymore (which I welcomed) but I was also told there was no way to get more fluid and that the baby may need to be emergency c-sectioned at anytime.
At my 37 week check up I was told the baby had to be born. There wasn’t enough fluid or room for the baby to grow anymore. After having told my doctor I’d like to avoid a c-section at all costs, he allowed me to have trial of induced labor. (Which is widely shunned upon, but I was insistent.) I was put in the hospital on a Tuesday afternoon. Had all sorts of interventions (foley catheter to dilate, broke my water, Pitocin, IV, external fetal monitoring) I refused an epidural and the nurses were always annoyed at me because I’d move and they would have to come and readjust the monitor. But at 10:45 pm on Wednesday we welcomed our second daughter and I had a successful induced VBAC!
With my third pregnancy I knew it had to be different. I looked at my options, and decided to work with the midwifes that work through a local hospital. I knew it was very expensive for a homebirth and that we just couldn’t afford it, and I also knew my insurance wouldn’t cover nearly as much as I would like them to. I saw the hospital midwives for the first 8 months of my pregnancy. I was very unhappy with them, they were uncomfortable with my being a VBAC patient. They insisted I would need constant fetal monitoring, and I was really just tired of their attitudes.
Being so unhappy, I was dreading the upcoming birth of my child I knew I had to find another option. I had been joking (but actually being serious) with my husband about having an unassisted birth because I really wanted to avoid the hospital. I told him I’d just labor at home and if he was really uncomfortable with it he could call the paramedics when he saw the baby coming out. (He’s birthed cows before, I told him he could birth a human.) He didn’t find it quite as funny, and I contacted a local homebirth midwife. There are two in our area, and this was the one that we did not work with the first time. I liked her so much more, and she was willing to work out a payment plan with us and fight with our insurance too. So I ditched the hospital midwives and continued on with our homebirth midwife B.
B told me she though I would be late, my due date was August 8th, well it came and passed. I was feeling really pregnant but wasn’t too anxious either. I just had a hard time sleeping and being comfortable in anyway. My next appointment I was 40 weeks 5 days, I had no mucous plug or bloody show and B talked to me about trying castor oil. She said if my body was ready it could possibly start my contractions. I wasn’t totally sure I wanted to try it and told her I’d talk to my husband. We hung out at B’s house (we have daughters the same age) for a couple hours while the girls played. And then I left to head home.
On my way home (40 min drive) I had a few contractions. I also stopped at the grocery store to grab some snacks and food (in case of labor) and I bought the castor oil too. Well throughout the day I had constant contractions, nothing I couldn’t work through. I also started having diarrhea and mucous plug coming out. I decided I must really be in labor because the contractions were getting stronger. My body was cleaning itself out. I talked to my midwife around 4:30 and decided to take a small dose of castor oil because that way my body would be cleaned out and if this was labor I didn’t want it to stop. I can’t say I noticed a difference with the castor oil. I continued to get stronger contractions and continued to have to use the bathroom. The only thing I did notice was I got a little nauseous.
Through my contraction I had a big bucket of green beans that needed cleaning, clipping, and freezing. So between each contraction I worked on doing that. I was so relieved to finally finish them. After that I decided to take my two daughters outside. I really had to focus through the contractions this time but there were still only coming about every 4-6 minutes. At one point while being outside one of our goats escaped out of their fence. I considered chasing and trying to catch it, but knew there was no way I was going to do that with my contractions. So I let the goat be, and hoped by husband would be home soon. (He was stump grinding at one of his tree jobs and really wanted to finish and I wanted him to finish too.) When I brought the kids back inside I put on a movie and laid on the couch with them. It was hard to manage the kids through these contractions but I was doing it anyway.
My husband finally got home around 7 pm and I told him he had to blow up the pool and start filling it up, feed the kids dinner, and catch a goat. He got the pool set up and realized his method of filling it actually didn’t fit our sink so he creatively found another way. Thank goodness! My midwife arrived a little after 8, and shortly after that her assistant showed up. I had to focus during each contraction and told them when I closed my eyes it meant I was having one. My kids got fed and were a little bit happier.
I expected the oldest to be really well behaved throughout the labor and the younger one to freak out but it was the complete opposite! I also was hoping they would be awake to witness the birth. The oldest fell asleep about an hour before and the younger fell asleep 10 minutes before! Around 9ish my midwife checked me to see where I was at, at my appointment earlier I was 3-4 and now I was 7-8 dilated. She also offered to break my water because the bag was bulging and said it may speed labor along, so I agreed. I don’t regret that either. Not sure if it did speed up labor or not but it didn’t hurt. I labored on the toilet for a little while because I was still having diarrhea and I didn’t think I could get up, I also didn’t want to go in the pool. I finally got in the pool, I’m guessing around 9:30pm.
While in the pool my oldest daughter joined me but she was really distracting and not letting me relax during contractions so I made her get out. While I continued laboring I made my husband get me ear plugs so that I could cut out all the noise. My oldest daughter was crying and so was the midwifes assistants baby and it was really hard to focus through the contractions. I laid in the pool completely still and calm. Through my contractions I would not make any noise and I would focus on the feeling of my uterus pulling my cervix open. I honestly could feel everything happening when I focused and it took away the pain and allowed me to just let my body work. I just kept saying to myself in my head that my uterus was stretching allowing my cervix to open up and soon I’d have a baby. My midwife said she had no idea when I was contracting because I wasn’t acting any differently. She said a few times she noticed my breathing get slightly deeper. But most of the time there were no signs of anything changing in me.
There was a 20 minute period where I could feel my contractions were changing, the position I was in I was getting really stiff and uncomfortable so I moved into a sort of hand and knees but hanging over the pool. The midwife wanted me to get into a different position so she would be able to see what was going on down there, and so for the first 20 minutes I wouldn’t move. My contractions were no longer opening my cervix and I could tell that soon I’d be pushing. I felt the baby moving lower and my body was doing it all on its own. I didn’t feel the urge to push until after the 20 minutes. And than I just followed my contractions and pushed when my body wanted me to push. My husband came into the pool and I really needed him to support me now.
When I pushed it really helped for him to hold my legs up and open. Without him, it would have been a lot harder. Pushing was the only time that I made noise and I probably made a lot of noise. I also noticed that some of my pushing was wasted because I wasn’t focusing on where or what I was pushing. When I focused and worked on pushing in the right place and not wasting energy making funny noises my pushes were a lot more effective. I pushed the baby out in 35 minutes. I had no tears, and she came out with no cords. She started breathing about 20 seconds after coming out. And hardly cried or made a peep. We snuggled her in the pool for a little while, until I pushed out the placenta. My midwife told me she wished all her patients had vaginas like mine because it stretched so perfectly, just like it should. I thought that was really funny.
My husband cut the cord and took the baby while the midwives helped me out of the pool and dry off and into bed where the baby got brought to me and she started nursing like a champ less than 10 minutes after being born. After that the baby got checked out she was 8lbs 4 oz and 22 inches. My midwife was thinking she’d be somewhere in the 7’s and I kept saying she was 8lbs, which I guess she was right. She was my biggest baby! The first was 7’10’’ and the second was 5’13’’. It’s amazing to me too because after I had the VBAC and the 5 pounder I was so sore. It hurt to pee for weeks. And I had superficial tears. But after I had the 8 pounder I had no tears, it was a little rug burned when I peed for 2 days and after that no pain. I honestly can’t believe it.
I couldn’t have asked for a better birth experience. I am so lucky to have found such a great midwife. I am so lucky to have been able to labor alone (which is definelty what I needed) until pushing time when I absolutely needed my husband to support my legs and body while I focused on pushing. I am so lucky to have such a healthy baby and nurser. She was already 8lbs 13 oz a week after being born, so she’s doing great! The two big sisters and learning to adjust and are also doing great.
I know that if I were to get pregnant again I would absolutely plan a homebirth with B and her team. And I can’t help but want to promote how wonderful homebirth is. I consider myself lucky that I was able to experience all three birth experiences; a c-section, induced labor, and natural home labor. They were all learning experiences.
My belly the day of labor.
My youngest daughter while I was in labor.
My oldest daughter while I was in labor.
Baby #3 born!
Love these pictures!
Tree of life. I think this is so cool!
Oldest daughter meeting Philomena.