After a great hospital birth with my second baby I was ready to try another home birth. I had met a woman at a birth conference a year before that I knew right away I wanted as my midwife if I ever got pregnant again. I was excited to call her and make plans as soon as I knew I was pregnant. Maria delivered at Beautiful Mountain birth suites but also gave the option of coming to your home. I loved having the option left open to me to choose as things progressed.
I knew that my babies like plenty of womb time so even though my 40 week due date was on the 14th of October I wasn’t even going to think about giving birth until the 28th. Maria told me early on that she was going to be out of town the week of my due date and asked if I wanted to consider one of the other midwives being my primary but I told her there wasn’t a chance I would have the baby on time.
About two and a half weeks before my due date my siblings and I got together for a family portrait. It was a long day with a lot of standing around. I started to have a few contractions but I always have a lot of Braxton Hicks during the later part of the pregnancy so I didn’t even hardly notice. Later we went to my sisters for dinner and as I relaxed in her recliner I started to notice that the contractions were pretty regular and getting harder. I got a large glass of water and drained it twice to make sure they weren’t being caused by dehydration. They kept coming. About this time my mom noticed something was up. I was starting to shiver and my breathing was fast. I was shaking and starting to feel the need to cry. Something in the back of my mind started to get excited that maybe this was it and I wasn’t going to have to go to 42 weeks this time after all.
“If I was your midwife I would at least want to know this was happening” my mom told me. I called Maria and had a contraction while I was on the phone with her. She could hear it in my voice and offered to come right away. I told her to wait, let me get home and get in the tub. If this was real things would speed up. If it wasn’t the contractions would ease off or stop all together.
After just a few minutes relaxing in the tub everything had stopped completely. I was a little disappointed and the door had been opened to hope. The next few weeks there were a lot of contractions leading to nothing. It started to get really hard to be pregnant. I spent a lot of time sitting on my ball rolling my hips, breathing and visualizing my ideal birth, visualizing everything opening.
40 weeks came and went and 41 weeks as well.
At my 41 week appointment I was 80% and dilated to a 4. She stripped my membranes (although she said there really wasnt much still attached.) She told me that it wouldn’t take much to push me over the edge and into labor.
We decided to try castor oil. I drank a wicked concoction of almond butter, lemon verbena, castor oil and a few other ingredients. I had to laugh at the insanity of drinking something so nasty to bring on something as difficult as labor all so that I could have a new born baby who was going to keep me up nights for months and would grow into a energy filled two year old racing through my house like a banshee and growing all too fast into a teenager with all the unknown challenges that I had yet to experience with that stage. It made me marvel at the sheer number of humans in this world.
I few hours after taking to caster oil I went for a walk to see if I could get something started. I stopped at a friends house and had a nice little chat. While I was there a storm was brewing and I think that helped get a few contractions going. by the time I got home they were pretty regular and pretty close but also still pretty comfortable. Maria texted to see how things were going and I told her that they were about 4 minutes a part lasting about a minute but not very strong. She decided to go a head and come.
A few minutes before she got there things started to get intense enough that I didn’t want the kids there. I called a friend who came and got them. My sister Johannah was going to be at the birth to take some pictures for me so I called her to just give her a heads up and she decided to just come as well. So the whole team was there. And little by little the contractions petered out until it became clear that nothing was happening.
I was discouraged and wanted to do somethings to get labor going. Maria checked me and suggested that we wait a few days and try and get the baby to turn since it was posterior and then try again. She gave me some instructions on how to turn the baby and everyone went home.
For three days I followed her instructions and I felt the baby move into place. On the third day I was sitting in our family playing with my little when my 3 year old son stood next to me “MOm, when the baby comes out its going to die.” he told me. My heart stopped. How did he even know what death was? Because of an abnormality that they had seen in our ultra sounds we knew that the was a possibility that this baby would have downs syndrome. I knew that it was a little risky doing a home birth if the baby was going to be born with downs but I had felt confident that all would be ok. This statement coming from such a small child frightened me. I went to see Maria that day for my appointment we were planning to do another round of castor oil. I sat in her office and cried like a baby because I just wanted it all over and wanted to know the baby was ok. I told her about what Preston had said. “I think you need to consider just going to the hospital she told me.” Ive had some concern about doing this at home as well and you are obviously at the end of your rope. Im not sure how good it would be to continue to wait.”
I called Dr. Chappell and we set an appointment to see him later that evening to transfer care to his office and to schedule an induction. He had delivered my daughter and had seen me early on in the pregnancy when the morning sickness had been extra bad and he was prepared that this might happen. On the way home I cried. I just really wanted another home birth. I hated that I was giving up. I finally turned around and went back to Maria’s office. “LEts do the castor oil again I told her and if it works great I have the baby today and get my home birth. If it doesn’t than I go to Dr. Chappells tonight and we have the baby tomorrow in the hospital.”
She agreed and I took the castor oil. All day I waited for contractions and nothing. We drove all the way to farmington to meet with Dr. Chappell, he scheduled to induction for the next day and we were on our way home. About have way there I started to have contractions. By the time we were getting to Lehi they were getting kind of intense and I felt like I might just have this baby before I had a chance to get induced. We went to pick up the kids from a friend who was watching them. By the time we pulled into her driveway I was gasping and groaning with the intensity. I thought if I can just hold off long enough to get home and get the kids in bed than I can have this baby.
I called Maria and told her this is the real deal you better come. I was trying to focus and stay calm so the kids wouldn’t worry. I got them tucked into bed, made several urgent trips to the bathroom and with each one the contractions lessened. By the time the kids were settled and Maria was there they had stopped all together. I felt defeated but at peace with the idea of the induction because I felt I had given it absolutely everything I had in me. A home birth just wasn’t in the cards and I had to be ok with that.
The hospital called at 7:30 the next morning and we headed to the hospital. We got checked in and our nurse got things set up. She insisted that I wouldn’t be allowed to eat during labor, she insisted that I must wear the obnoxious monitors, she insisted that the pitocin had to be increased at specific intervals every 30 min. Several times I felt that she dismissed my intuition and knowledge of my body for what her machines were telling her. At one point I asked her to turn up the pitocin. I wanted to get things moving and I wasn’t feeling much of anything yet. Let me check to see how your contractions are first she told me looking at her awful machine. I can tell you how they are I told her. But she didn’t seem interested in my opinion. They are nice and regular she said so there is no need to increase it yet.
A couple of hours later she wanted to check me for progress. I don’t even feel like Im in labor I told her. I’m having a few contractions but they are nothing yet. But true to form she wanted to check anyway. I let her but told her I didn’t want to know how far I was.
She checked and then proceeded to prepare for delivery. If you want anyone else here you better call them she told me. I couldn’t believe it! It seemed like things were progressing but I honestly felt great. I had been lazing around in the tub, chatting (and eating when she wasn’t around) and overall just enjoying a break from the kids. This didn’t feel like the real deal.
Maria had come to the hospital with me and promised to stay through it all. She pulled the nurse aside to find out how far dilated I was. She kept telling me how amazed she was that I was doing so well. I kept insisting that I wasn’t doing anything. It hardly seems fair to take credit for being amazing when you aren’t even trying.
Dr. Chappell arrived, the nurse had called him in for the birth. He came in to find me comfortably seated in the tub chatting away with Joseph, Maria and my mom. Should I check you myself just to be sure he asked. Given that the nurse had made a mistake on my previous birth that had derailed my whole birth it seemed like a great idea. When she checked an hour ago you were at an 8 he told me.
He checked and I knew the news wasn’t good when he really had to reach in far. So you are actually at a 5 he said. I wanted to say I told you so to that awful nurse who insisted that her dumb machines knew more than I did. “Can we turn the pit up then to get this show on the road I asked. HE agreed and before long we had it at full strength.
Dr. Chappell suggested breaking my water and Joseph and I decided we would rather wait and labor for awhile first. He left and we continued with the waiting. About 10 pm I started feeling myself getting closer emotionally. I started to notice myself holding back because I didn’t want to descend to that place where I felt I had no control. I felt like I needed to process some things and I couldn’t with an audience so I asked my mom and sister to take a walk. I talked some thing through with the midwife and just spent some time in quiet contemplation.
Joseph and I did some walking. Shift change at the hospital meant we got a new nurse and it saved me from firing the one we had as I had about reached my limit with her. She kept saying all this stuff that she couldn’t let me do. Looking back I realized that she was saying “SHE couldn’t let me.” meaning I could do it she just couldn’t allow it. I wish I would have just kindly informed her I know you can’t but I can and done what I wanted. But at any rate once she was gone I took the new nurse aside and explained that doing this without pain medication was really important to me and that I couldn’t get in my zone and do it with a nurse in my face and that infernal monitor on my belly. I asked her to please do whatever she could do to help me find a way to have the birth I really wanted.
She told me that since I had a great support team of my own she would just stay out of it and to call if I wanted her. I didn’t see her for the next 4 hours and it was heaven. Anyway back to my processing. After working through some feelings I started to feel this primal urge to hide. I wanted a closed secure cozy place to have this baby and I needed to find a position I felt comfortable enough to lose control in. I was having a hard time finding it. Maria intuitvely knew I needed privacy and she left for a nap in another room. Joseph and I talked and hugged and prepared for what was coming. Finally I found my safe place laying on my side in the bed with him holding my hand and rubbing my back.
About this time it was 12:30 just after midnight. I told him to get the doc I was ready for them to break my water. They brought in the on call doc to do it and called Dr. Chappell to give him a heads up. She broke my water and the first contraction afterward had me making gutterall birthing noises. My sister heard me from the hallway and thought it was the baby. I quickly got to my knees and leaned over the back of the bed (It was all the way up) Maria heard me yelling from the other room and she came to do counter pressure on my hips. After what seemed to me to be about 5 minutes but was really about 30 I started asking for an epidural.
Joseph suggested ( like I had asked) that we turn the pit down instead. WE turned it down and I tried a few more contractions. Soon I was begging again. So we turned it down again. At this point I wish I had had Joseph up by my head. He and MAria were doing counter pressure on my hips but looking back I think I needed him closer to my face. Finally I was quite sure I couldn’t take another contraction. give me something else than I begged, remembering at this point that this was what I wanted, if I truly needed something I wanted to try something else before an epidural. I don’t know what was happening but it seemed like no one was responding to my request.
I was starting to feel the urge to push and I was afraid that I couldn’t get through this part. I was scared. Looking back I wish I would have voiced that I was afraid of what came next instead of just thinking it. By voicing it, it allows me to process and allows others to more fully support me. By just thinking it it was causing me to lose focus on what I should have been doing which was relaxing through the contractions.
Joseph came right up to my face and held me in his arms, you can do this. He told me you are almost there. Do you want to try? His tenderness, and the earnestness in his voice was almost enough to give me the strength to do it and had he stayed with me a little longer I probably could have but as another contraction hit he faded away and I felt lost as it washed over me.
I started to feel like I was pooping the biggest poop of my life. I was pushing and I couldn’t help it. Looking back here I also wish I had told someone, requested a mirror and got in a position where I could have my hand down there. I think it would have helped me engage in the process better instead of allowing it to happen to me.
My head was in the mattress and a sheet was over me and I don’t think anyone realized I was pushing. I begged again for the epidural, this time directing my request specifically to Dr. Chappell. He got the guy in there to give it to me in less than three minutes. I kept begging them to hurry knowing that I was going to push this baby out any second and not wanting to do it.
I was laying on my back they had me all scrubbed up and were instructing me to hold perfectly still so that he could insert the needle. When Maria suddenly said, “She is pushing!” They pulled off the sheet and sure enough the head was right there half way out. I pushed a couple of times and shouted “it burns” just like almost every woman I’ve ever seen give birth and then I felt the head come out and the shoulders turn inside of me. I could feel the shoulder bones slip out with the next push and then that gush as the rest of the body slipped effortlessly out and I heard Dr. Chappell say “Its a girl!”
At that point the pain in the birth canal was as intense as the contractions had been. I remember hearing the nurse instructing me that the baby was on my chest I needed to hold her and rub her dry. But I felt frozen in place and in agonizing pain. I kept screaming, It hurts so much! Finally they took the baby away and cleaned her up, weighed her a did what they do. I guess they let Joseph cut the cord but I don’t really remember. I just couldn’t figure out why the pain wasnt stopping.
After awhile they brought the baby back and tried again to get me to hold her. This time i made more of an effort and with her in my arms the pain seemed to lessen and my focus was on her perfect little face.
I never did find out why I had that kind of pain. Its something I want to understand before I have another baby. But I do want another one and can’t wait for this whole crazy experience all over again.
We hadn’t picked out a name yet, but Johannah was in the running as that was my sisters name who had been there and it was also the name of a very special family friend. It seemed like the right fight for our chubby little 8lb 13 oz bundle of joy.