This is quite a journey and there is lots to learn in this beautiful birth story. You can have a healthy baby "post due", you can have a second birth very different than the first, sometimes an epidural helps (can you believe I just said that?!) and sometimes a hospital doc will pray for your birth to go well.
All in all- this is a powerful journey with a simply AMAZING MOTHER!
Elijah Birth story
On Wednesday the 28 of November I was 43 weeks 2 days pregnancy and I was very tired. I had been having consistent Braxton Hicks contractions about 7 min apart since the previous Thursday. That night the contractions started to feel different and around 8:30 pm I started to wonder if it was actually the beginning of labor, which at this point felt like it was never going to come! By 9:30 I had no doubt, as the contractions were becoming increasing uncomfortable and already at every 5 minutes. I told my husband that I was sure that this was it. I alerted by midwife and my doula that tonight was the night and to be ready. I tried to lay down to rest but the contractions were the worst when I lay down and I couldn’t sleep.
I sent my 2 ½ year old with my mom, since I couldn’t lay her down to sleep and I was not able to concentrate on her. This was so hard, as she had never spent a night away from me.
Everyone was expecting a quick labor since my first birth was a little over 9 hours total, and less than three hours from the first intense contraction. The contractions kept coming stronger so I had my husband fill up the birth pool. When they were 3-4 minutes apart I told the midwife and doula to come. They quickly arrived as I got in the pool. Everyone was very excited for this long awaited day. I labored as everyone chatted and enjoyed the buzz, and all seemed to be going well. I was at the point that I started to need to sound out the contractions. I was having my husband put counter pressure on my back during the waves, which made everyone think the baby was likely still posterior (he had been during my pregnancy and remained that way stubbornly despite me trying lots of ways to get him to turn).
However, after an hour or so, Denise, the midwife, noticed my contractions were becoming inconsistent so she had me get out of the pool and walk around. This helped the contractions return and they were intense. We decided that I needed to stay out of the pool. A few more hours of contractions happened. At this point, it appeared that I was entering transitions based on the way I was sounding and acting. I was increasingly becoming more and more tired, to the point that I was falling asleep in between the 2-3 min apart contractions. They then started to space out some again but were very intense when they occurred and I was having a lot of back labor. This pattern continued so Denise suggested I “go lay down to sleep, then wake up and push a baby out”. I rested for about 2 hours until I couldn’t lay down through them, but they were still inconsistent. I was very discouraged and felt like giving up but I my husband encouraged me so greatly. I had been in labor about 18 hours at this point, but it was not progressing. We sent the midwife and doula home to rest and we planned to do the same and hoped it would pick up soon.
I continued to labor the rest of Thursday day and though the night but was able to sleep well in between contractions. My daughter also had returned home and stayed the night with us. Friday morning the contractions started becoming more regular so we geared up again but before too long they spaced out to about 7-10 min apart once more. Disappointed and tired, we continued to try to rest. The midwife came over and gave me a few suggestions to get labor going strongly again. We went curb walking and up and down the stairs, tried nipple stimulation and some other things.
A check from Denise showed I was making progress but baby was likely crooked in the birth canal. I continued to experience intense but irregular contractions until Friday evening when they again picked up. I once again, sadly sent my daughter to my Mom’s. They were again 5 minutes apart and I was advised to stay upright so for the next few hours. I breathed through each contraction while holding onto my husband and swaying. We were also applying essential oils to help things keep going and it didn’t take long before they were 3 minutes apart and very intense so we once again called the midwife and doula to come. Almost as soon as they got there contractions went back to 5 minutes apart. I labored hard for hours but once again my body was tired and I began to fall asleep between contractions. We tried to bring out the breast pump and walk the stairs to no avail. Labor had slowed down too much again.
The midwife and doula went home and I tried to rest. I couldn’t sleep because the contractions were so painful if they caught me lying down. So my husband, Mark, stacked up pillows and I attempted to sleep sitting up but didn’t get more than 2 hours before I was in too much pain. By very early Saturday they were going again, but I was feeling exhausted and like I was broken. The support from Mark, my birth team and the amazing community of friends I have pushed me to keep trying. Mark told the midwife that we needed to do any tricks she knew of because he wasn’t sure how much more I had in me. The midwife and doula came about 1:30 Saturday afternoon. They could see the exhaustion on my face and the worry that my uterus and baby were exhausted was expressed. Another midwife was brought in on a consultation. She suggested that I do anything I could to sleep, believing that if I rested that labor would pick up strongly and that my body wouldn’t let me finish, at least not safely, if I was too tired. I drank a glass of wine and went to bed.
I got 2 hours before the contractions woke me up. In the span of an hour they went from every 8 minutes to every 3. I was so fearful of them spacing out again I was crying to my husband and telling him I obviously couldn’t do it and to take me to the hospital. He called my midwife to come over to encourage me but by the time she arrived contractions were 2 minutes apart and I couldn’t talk to anyone. It seemed like this was the end. Contractions were the most intense and I was in my own world for a while.
Then it seemed like I was in transition once again and the baby would be here soon. But my old enemy was creeping up on me and I could feel the sleepy eyes pulling at me in between the 1-2 minute contractions. As I feared, they once again slowed down to about 5-6 minutes apart. At this point, to everyone's disappointment it was obvious that my body was just too tired and I couldn’t rest on my own. We decided to transport to the hospital to get an epidural and rest and at least be able to birth this baby vaginally. I was terrified because I knew the fight that was ahead of me for all the reason I chose homebirth. I knew I would be stuck with hospital doctors and nurses who were likely disapproving of my choice to homebirth. I didn’t want to fight against hospital procedure that I didn’t believe in.
I prayed and we went in, arriving just after midnight Sunday morning. I was kept in triage for over 2 hours to determine if I was in labor, although within minutes they could tell I was contracting every 3-4 minutes and found me dilated to a 5. When I finally got a room, they wanted blood work and other things before I could get the epi. So I continued to labor naturally with barely enough energy to stand, but God forbid I had to lay during a contraction. Mostly Mark just had to support my weight.The resident doctor came to talk to me and almost instantly suggest a c-section. She was rude in general, but I told her that I was there to birth vaginally and I explained my new revised birth plan. She was obviously annoyed and she left the room. Then I got some amazing news. The midwife and doctor practice that I had seen for my confirmation of pregnancy and 20 week ultrasound, and originally selected as my birth team before I decided on homebirth due to their reputation with natural birth, agreed to come and do my birth instead of the residents. I later found out the resident called and practically begged them to come because they didn’t want to deal with my crazy ideas.
It took 6 1/2 hours but I finally got the epidural and I went to sleep for a few solid hours before my homebirth midwife, now acting as a doula and friend, came to the hospital. My contractions hadn't picked back up and she suggested that the best chance I have to birth the baby vaginally was with pitocin. Baby was getting more stressed and he had to come out. I sadly agreed and we started the lowest dose possible. I was so upset by how differently my birth was turning out to be. My other doula friend arrived and the day was spent sleeping and talking and trying to remain positive. Progress was very slow going, but we also had an amazing nurse who was very kind to us about being a homebirth transport. After laboring for 18 more hours in the hospital I was a 9 1/2. Another midwife friend who was there was massaging me and pushing on pressure points to try to help me finish dilating and after a few practice pushes I was complete.
However the baby's heart rate was becoming increasingly worrisome and I was told that baby had to come out soon. No one wanted me to have to have my legs held back and purple push, but if that is what was necessary to avoid a c-section than that is what I would do. With the next contraction I began pushing, having no idea if I was doing it correctly or if I was making any real progress. With each push everyone around me surrounded me with love and encouragement. Pushing was exhausting but as soon as they told me they could see hair I knew I could do it. At one point, I had a very long respite in between the pushing contractions, which I used to try and catch my breath. I later learned that the OB was actually praying or me during this pause.
He knew they could only safely let me push a few more times before the situation could turn into an emergency for the baby. The tiny respite was just what I needed. A few more contractions and half his head was out. I reached down to feel it. I wanted my baby NOW. I was burning down there and it hurt to push but with everything in me I pushed and his head came out. His body followed soon after and I got to lay eyes on MY BABY. They handed him to me and everyone prayed he would breathe since we knew there was so much meconinum in the water and his heart rate had been off. He let out little cries and it was amazing. They still had to cut the cord earlier than I wanted and suction him but he was healthy.
They stitched my 2nd degree tear while I got to know him. Beautiful with dark hair. He was everything I had been waiting on and working so hard for. He instantly nursed like a champ. 8 lbs 12 oz and 21 1/2 inches long and he looked just like his sister. He was amazing and very healthy. They examined my “overdue” placenta and found it to be very healthy as well. The OB dismissed the possibility that I was really that far along, even though I was certain about my dates. This was not the birth I planned for, and I actually felt like my body failed me for a while. I may never know why, but this was the birth he needed.
My birth story is kind of known around my natural parenting community now. I don’t really know why, but I have been called a super mom and amazing. I never felt like I was those things, actually quite the opposite. I never imagined I would be one of the very rare women that actually needed pitocin. I actually joke around with friends, that since I was the martyr, and they will likely never know anyone else in our community with such a hard labor, that their births will likely go fine!