Birth Story- Diabetic Mother, Accidental Unassisted Home Birth (VBAC) at 42 Weeks

I wrote four intros to this birth story...
I don't know which one to use.  
All I can say is that this is a great birth story.  A healthy baby.  A happy mother.  A baby born at home to a diabetic mother at almost 43 weeks.  Oh- and it was an HBAC.
This is more than a birth story.  It is a statement about the politics of birth, particularly what is deemed "high-risk" and what happens when women have to make hard choices in an imperfect system.  


I wanted to share my most recent birth story with you--it was my third hbac, and baby was born at 42w5d--which is a big deal to me because as a woman with type 1 diabetes, if I were to birth in the hospital, I would not be allowed to carry my baby beyond 38 or, at the most, 39 weeks. Which is how I ended up with my primary c/s--a prophylactic induction at 37.5 weeks, which turned into a c/s for fetal distress. So I birth at home.

Here's my story:

I made it to 42 weeks before I got impatient. My mom and my mother in law had been here for longer than they were hoping to be here, and we were all suffering from Antsinpants disease. Plus, I'd gone to 42 weeks, and I wasn't sure how comfortable I felt going much longer than that, especially with my pre-existing condition (doctors have this irrational-in-my-opinion fear that my placenta will age prematurely, and cause baby to be stillborn, but I can't find actual documentation of this happening in real life. However, due to their fear of this, people with my condition, who birth with a doctor, will be induced at 38 or 39 weeks, regardless of how the mom or baby is actually doing). So at 42w1d, I took Castor oil to try to get things moving along. 

I took the Castor oil at lunch, and by 3p, I was having noticeably regular braxton-hicks. They continued through the afternoon, so after we tucked the older two kids into bed, my husband and I took the toddler, and went to out local Wal-Mart to walk around for an hour or so. The contractions got to the point at which walking was getting uncomfortable (plus, it was, like 11p and I was exhausted), so we packed up and headed home, expecting we'd have a baby that night.

When we got home, I was so tired that I just fell into bed, and didn't wake up until morning. I was disappointed to discover the next morning that, not only had I not had a baby, but my contractions had all but stopped. I showered and took a nap, and hoped they'd start up again, soon. They reconvened at supper, and, after a few hours of their being fairly strong and fairly regular, I texted my midwife to tell her that I thought I might be in labor. At bedtime, I nursed my toddler to sleep, fell asleep myself, and assumed I'd have a baby that night.

I woke up the next morning, still pregnant, and the contractions were on-again-off-again. I was frustrated and tired, and fed up with not knowing what was going on. I told my midwife that things had stalled again, but I'd started having bloody show, so I knew things were moving along, even if labor wasn't starting in earnest, yet. I had bloody show--gobs of it--all day that day. The contractions didn't stall out completely again, but they weren't regular, either. I went to bed completely exhausted, hoping I wouldn't have a baby that night. 

And now it was Friday--Good Friday, actually. I'd had prodromal labor for 3.5 days, I was tired, crabby, frustrated, and over all the uncertainty. The moms took the kids for a walk, and I decided to go to the store because I'd been stuck at home for the past three days. I got out, got some lunch, and watched a show while the house was empty. I contemplated what eternal pregnancy might feel like. 

That afternoon, the contractions picked up again. They were very far apart, but they were definitely stronger than they'd been. The moms went grocery shopping that night, while the kids, my husband, and I stayed home. The contractions were growing stronger still, but were still quite far apart. I started looking around on, to see if it had anything to say about prodromal labor. I found some information on a technique called "The Lift and Tuck," that they purported would help a stalled or inefficient labor. The post warned that it could make labor progress very quickly, but after almost four days of prodromal labor, I rolled my eyes and said, "Yeah. Right." I tried it through a few contractions, and it made them immensely more manageable, so I figured whether it helped improve my labor pattern or not, it made me more comfortable, so, by golly, I would do it anyway. 

The moms returned from grocery shopping, and I helped them put groceries away for a few minutes, but I had to keep stopping to work through contractions, so I went to bed. My toddler came in for milkies, but I sent him out because I wasn't ready for the super mega contractions that nursing him was going to bring on, unless I was going to get a sleeping toddler out of the deal, and he wasn't close to being ready to sleep. I sent him out to watch Mythbusters with daddy. The contractions continued to ramp up, and I suddenly realized I was grunting and pushing through them. Which freaked me out, because I wasn't yet ready to commit to the idea that I was even in labor yet--fool me once, and all that--so I definitely knew I shouldn't be feeling pushy yet. 

I had to pee (again), in fact, I was feeling like I constantly needed to pee through every contraction, which was driving me nuts, so I got up and sat on the toilet for a while. And tried to keep from pushing. Which totally sucked. So then I decided to heck with it, and pushed anyway--but I, apparently made this ridiculous compromise with myself, so I only kind of pushed. Which also sucked, and also freaked me out, because obviously I wasn't making progress if I was only kind of pushing, so then I was all, "Ohnoes! I'm not going to ever get this baby out!"

I went back to bed because I was tired, and my husband sent the toddler in, saying he was ready for bed now. So I nursed (and pushed!) until the toddler fell asleep, and then I decided to get in the shower for a little hydrotherapy. While I was in there, my husband came in and asked if he should maybe call the midwife. Still in denial that this could really be labor (yes, I am a little irrational in labor), I said, "No; things will probably slow down again after I go to sleep." He stood there for a minute, listening to me push and moan, and said, "I think I'll call her anyway." 

After a short conversation with the midwife, in which it was decided that she would head out, since she had a two-hour drive to our house, my husband came back in the bathroom and said, "The midwife wants to know how far apart your contractions are." He timed my moans and pushes for a few minutes, then called the midwife again, to tell her the contractions were coming about two minutes apart. "Hope you're ready to catch a baby," she said. He laughed. 

I moved from the shower back to the bed, and pushed while lying on my side for a while, but that didn't  feel right--especially since I was still only kind of pushing. Finally, I said, "Oh, to heckwithit!" I threw a chux pad on the floor by the bed, knelt down, and gave a good push with the next contraction. My water broke. In my pants. Because I was still in denial that this was labor, so I'd neglected to remove them. Although, I wasn't in denial anymore.

I started pushing in earnest at this point; the contractions scooted closer and closer together, and got stronger and stronger. I had my husband performing counter-pressure duty on my lower back at this point. 

"Let me know when you have your next break," he said. "I need to tell the moms that you're in labor." 
"Don't you dare leave!" I gasped. "You'll never get back in time for the next contraction!" 
"I'll make it--I promise!"
"Fine--go NOW!" He ran off, and just made it back in time to slide into home and shove his fist into my lower back. 

The contractions were crashing one atop the other, now, and I was feeling pressure--the kind no pregnant woman wants to talk about after she's had a baby. But this is a true story, and I'm sparing no details, so--. "Tell me when you get another break," my husband said. "I need to get some more chux pads. And some toilet paper." He was so polite about it. "I know--I pooped! No breaks--just deal with it later," I said, as one contraction subsided and the next one started up. I had started feeling the "ring of fire" as I felt the babies head push past my tailbone, and it totally confused me because that only happens when the baby's head is crowning. And I couldn't possibly be crowning yet. I still had hours of labor to go. At least, that's what my labor-addled mind was telling me. Plus, I wasn't in my "labor zone." 

With the next push, clarity came. I could feel the head pushing against the opening of my vagina. I was having a baby. Now. With only one chux pad and no toilet paper. "Here comes the head," I told my husband. "Where? Now?" he said. "Yes!" I shouted at him. He bent down for a closer look and said, "Gah! There's the head--what do I do?" "Catch it!" And so he did. "Body's coming," I warned him, now that the pressure from the head was gone. He caught it as it slithered out of my vagina. "It's a girl!" he said, as he passed our crying baby up between my legs. I pulled my tank top down and latched her on, still kneeling on the floor by the bed, the umbilical cord dangling between my legs. 

"Can you help me up on the bed?" I asked. My husband was rushing around the room, trying to clean blood out of the carpet, and wipe up the various bodily fluids that had missed the chux pad. He'd done astoundingly well at squelching his inner germaphobe while I was birthing. "Hang on--let me get this cleaned up." He lost his head a little in the confusion, but a little throat clearing brought him back, and he helped me onto the bed, after which, the placenta slid out. 

We called the time at 12:36a, although, we aren't for sure, because, I mean, when you're having a baby (somewhat unexpectedly), you're not going to look at the clock. The midwife arrived two hours later, and we all had a good laugh because--well, it seemed like the thing to do. Our baby girl was born at 42w5d, weighed 8lbs11oz, measured 21 1/4 inches long. 

That's my story.


Unknown said…
This is probably my favorite birth story yet! I laughed I cried - so fantastic! Thank you so much for sharing it.
Sarah F said…
What an amazing birth story! I was in complete denial with my first and I ended up going through a 36 hour labor. With my second I thought it would be another long labor so I waited to go to the hospital and almost didn't make it! She arrived 5 minutes after getting to the hospital. The crazy things that our minds tell us while we are in labor!

xo, Sarah
Rachael said…
I love it that in almost every unassisted story (including my own) the Dad asks "what do I do?!" and the Mom yells "CATCH IT!" So funny. Great story!
Anna said…
This is such an inspirational story for me. I'm a Type 1 diabetic with two c-sections under my belt, but I still dream of a VBAC. Can you point me in the direction of your research on the issue? I've always had a hard time accepting that my placenta would just disintegrate if I didn't deliver before 39 weeks, but I've never had the back-up info to take in to my doctors. Thanks so much for sharing your story!
That Lady said…
Anna, here's my problem: I can't find ANY research at ALL on the placenta issue--not confirming or disproving it. All the CPs I've dealt with speak in alarming tones about the "aging placenta" thing as if it's this ominous guarantee, but I can't actually find documentation about it (that isn't involving gd, which is, apparently, an entirely different ball of wax). With all other issues present with t1 diabetes, they can be practically eliminated through extremely tight control of your bg. I don't see why, if it exists, the "aging placenta" can't be dealt with likewise, as well. (I know this isn't a very scientific approach, but I'm not getting studies from any of my CPs that document this issue, so I don't have a lot of science to go on, ya know?) So alas, I only have my own experiences which are good enough for me, but hardly recognizable as valid research on the subject by CPs. Fortunately, with 4 births under my belt, 3 of which were hbacs, most CPs see me as a lost cause and let me go without having to suffer through the hard sell. Honestly, as I see it, your only options for getting a vbac (and being "allowed" to carry your babies until they're ready to be born are:

1. Homebirth with an unlicensed m/w or UC (I don't know how easy this option would be in reality--I think I was very, very lucky to find the serendipitous circumstances which I am in).

2. Just insist that you WILL have a vbac, that you will NOT be induced, and to just leave you the heck alone. Unfortunately, this isn't exactly an easy option (or a possible option, in some scenarios, sadly).)

Blogger101 said…
I'm a type 1 diabetic and very much want a home birth when I become pregnant. I want a natural un-invasive birth. I would like a mid wife on hand for the safety of my child. But most health professionals refuse this service. It's a shame really because our bodies will do fine as long as we keep our bg on an even keel. Thank you for your story!! It's encouraging!!!