Unassisted Home Birth – VBAC

My  labor began with my water breaking at 5 AM. I don’t know how people mistake it for peeing. Even though it was only a small amount, the sensation was unmistakable. I got up to assess the amount and color (it was just a enough to wet my underwear, but not dripping and it was clear, but I was getting a pink tinge when I wiped). My cervix was still too far back to reach, but I was able to feel the head at, I’m guessing, zero station (two knuckles deep). I laid back down and listened for heart tones (120-130 right next to my left hip bone). The medium menstrual type cramps had already started, so I timed them (3 min. apart and 45 seconds long). Even though they didn’t hurt, they were more uncomfortable lying down and not conducive for sleep.

J. and E. were still sleeping, so I decided to come tell all my internet friends and some IRL via e-mail that my labor had started. The contractions slowed to about 5 min. and were completely painless (I had to put my hand on my belly to even feel them). It was about 6AM when I was done, so I called my mom first, who lives five hours away and needed to get off work. Then I called R., my doula, just to give her a heads up. I spent the next couple of hours draining the birth tub (I had been using it to soak in for the last two weeks), taking a shower, and just getting stuff together. I got J. up at 8AM and started putting him to work and made myself a mushroom/cheese omelet. During this time, the contractions went from two minutes then back to five, then three, etc. (not consistent at all).

I called my two friends who were to be here for the birth (S., the photographer, and J., who was out of town, both fellow c/s survivors). I also called a local midwife who sells birth kits (we only used the hat and a couple of chux pads, sigh), something else we didn’t order in time.

The contractions would slow down when I was doing something that required concentration (ie. thinking) then speed back up when I was doing a mindless task. They were starting to get more intense around 10:30, where I would lean over a counter, rock my hips, and moan (for the endorphins). I got back in the shower (J. was still working on the birth tub), sat on the birth ball and sang. My cervical opening was still too far to reach, but I felt like I had thinned considerably.

J.called R., at my request, as I was feeling the need of a good back rub (my lower back was starting to ache). E. had woken up somewhere during all of this and was taking up J.’s attention (not that J. wanted to do ANY labor support). Don’t get me wrong, he was very caring and asked me if I wanted anything, etc, but we had decided early on in pregnancy that birth was just not his thing and we would have others fulfill that role, so we could both relax.

I did get into the birth tub to smooth out the wrinkles as it filled and E. joined me, but we got out when he wanted to wrestle and dunk me (nothing like a 40lb two year old hopping on your contracting belly). By the time R. arrived with her daughter E. (didn’t look at a clock, maybe 11:30-12:00), I was able to walk through the contractions, but not really talk (they were still doing a 2-5 min. inconsistent pattern and very bearable). We talked and did a mini blessing way. S. arrived around this time with the birth kit. We continued to visit while I rocked on the birth ball and moaned trough contractions. S. thought they were only thirty seconds long, but I explained to her that they started out at the peak and then tapered off, but were still going after I stopped moaning.

I was using the wonderful flax wrap that C. sells at this point also. Baby was kicking up high in between contractions and I was tickling his foot. I thought it would be nice to do heart tones again, so I went and laid down on the couch. Found the heart beat by my left hip (a little lower) with my prenatal listening device and then we waited for a contraction and R. listened (of course, they spaced out again). The next contraction was very uncomfortable (how do women spend their entire labor in bed?). R. heard some early decels, but it picked back up again quickly, which is consistent with the way I was feeling the contractions.

I hopped off the couch before the next contraction could come and decided to make a bathroom trip (my bowels had been emptying consistently with the 3-4 previous trips). The toilet was another uncomfortable place to spend a contraction. All the ladies were standing in the hall as I spent the next two contractions voiding (lovely, isn’t it?) with the door closed, thank you very much. By the way, I was getting red streaked mucus at this point, but didn’t check my cervix. My vocalization at this time was quite a bit louder. R. thinks that if I had stayed on the toilet I would have been giving birth much sooner than I did, which was soon enough for me.

I was more than ready for the birth tub by now and headed straight there. J. got out his harp and R., S. and E. went to the kitchen to get me some baby carrots and some lunch for themselves. I had checked my cervix shortly after entering the tub and could finally feel the cervical opening. I felt about 5-6 cms and 100 percent (about the thickness of a t-shirt cuff) and it was 1:30 PM.

On the first bite of my second carrot, transition hi.  I spit the bite out and started moaning and rocking my way through the contraction. I tried to sing the duet between Eponine and Marius from Les Mis where the first line is, “Don’t you fret M’sieur Marius I don’t feel any pain,” and J. and I both started laughing, since it was obviously untrue. The next contraction, I tried sitting down in the tub (the others I was leaning over the edge on my knees). HELLO thigh pain! I couldn’t get up, so just rode it out.

The next one I was back on my knees and the thigh pain was still there (it was straight down the front of my legs, hip to knees and just as intense as the pain in my lower belly). This was also the contraction where his head came right on down and I even had a few seconds of pushing urge in the middle. I checked my cervix and the head was already starting to spread my labia (so this would be plus four!!!). This is also where reality left and I was quickly losing it. I couldn’t feel the edge of the cervix and thought the head had come down without me dilating fully (remember I was only a 5-6 twenty or so minutes before hand).

The next two contractions were full pushing contractions, but I was fighting them thinking my cervix would tear. God was very kind to me at this point and gave me a couple minutes break. I flipped over and supported myself with my hands and feet (imagine a crab) and used one of my hands to protect my perineum. R. (having her first good view and it was very visible) told me that it was the head (which I knew, but thought it pushing through my cervix) and I pulled myself together and realized it was OK to push.

The next several contractions were of me going from pushing to panting in an effort to stretch my perineum. When I would squat, I couldn’t stop pushing and needed to slow it down again. After about half an hour, I couldn’t stretch any more. I was VERY vocal through all of this with deep instinctual grunting and saying, “OUCH.”

R. got in the tub with me and supported the bottom while I supported the top (S. was holding my head out of the water and J. was filming). She was trying to encourage me to push him out, not realizing how tight I was and that I was giving it everything I had. R. also noticed his scalp turn color and was getting concerned. It still took a few more contractions and I decided that I was going to tear and I would have to squat.

I got the head out in the next contraction and we waited for a minute so I could push the shoulders out. They were also pretty snug and I was holding the cord, so it would slip past his shoulder. This took one and a half contractions. Then he was born and I quickly lifted him to the surface, but the cord was short and wrapped around his arm and neck and we had to untangle him first.

Roy was purple and a little floppy, but he had made a little noise when I first lifted him and I knew he was going to be fine (no one else was panicking, but J. wanted someone to re-assure him). I sucked the dime size amount of mucus out of his mouth and he started grunting. We continued to gently massage him and R. put the hat on. He was still a little blue after the first minute, so I gave him a little puff in his nose, which he didn’t like, and that got him to cry just a little, then he was pink and lively, but serene. S. thought to ask what time it was, and it took E. a few seconds to find a watch (everyone took theirs off) and announced it was 2:40PM.

Roy and I cuddled in the tub for about fifteen minutes (I was expecting that wide eyed stare, but he was resting). I stood up to deliver the placenta, which we knew had separated due to the pink water, but wasn’t getting the urge to push. I had J. get my Placenta Out tincture and within seconds I was pushing. I didn’t have good leverage, so I squatted back down and pushed it out in a couple of minutes. There was a bit of retained membrane, so R. twisted it till it let go.

I knew I had a tear on my labia at this point, because she would brush it every once in a while and that was uncomfortable. I gushed a little when I stood up again and I realized I hadn’t breastfed yet. Out came the boob and He latched on just fine (Roy was lying peacefully in my arms this whole time). They helped me out of the tub and over to the couch, where I breastfed some more and we had a photo-op (Roy was wearing his new Pooh outfit by now).

My mom made it about an hour after the birth, just in time to help clean up. I stood up to go rinse off and assess the damage (J. got Roy at this point), but had to sit right back down thanks to a head rush. We waited a few minutes and tried again. I made it to the next room and had to lean over the couch until the dizziness went away. I had to stop once more before we got to the shower in our bedroom (all the way at the opposite end of our LONG house). S. had Roy now, since J. was hovering in case I fainted. Once on the toilet, I passed some nice sized clots and started to pee, but stopped immediately, since the burning was intense.

I sat on the birth ball in the shower and aimed the shower head to rinse myself off. Roy was acting like he wanted to eat some more and I was still feeling a little faint, so we moved to the hall bathroom with a tub and I got in with Roy, who promptly went back to sleep. I examined the placenta and found it healthy and intact (more pictures were taken). J. finished the Birthday cake and I had a bite.

After our nice bath, I climbed in bed. R. got a flashlight and my hand mirror and we started counting tears. The two on the inner labia were pretty obvious. The one on the left is pretty deep, but short and it is healing fine without any stitching. The one on the right is probably considered a first degree, and also not worth stitching. The three on the bottom are between skid marks and first degree and very minor in my opinion. I didn’t check for any tears inside, since there was no additional bleeding and if there are any they are healing also. I have been using an herbal salve every time I pee and I did use my fingers as a barrier the first couple of days to lessen the stinging. I’m not complaining at all, I would rather have five small tears than one huge episiotomy plus a tear any day (and we all know that’s what would have happened in the hospital).

The bleeding was also very manageable and fine once I passed those clots, but they wouldn’t have let me out of bed in the hosp. and would have tried to pump me full of pitocin and methergine. I was brought the left over steak from our anniversary dinner the night before. Then I was ordered to drinks lots of water and juice and rest.

Everyone left around 8PM, except my mom, who stayed till Tuesday morning. My friend J. came the next day and brought a scale. Roy weighed 8lbs 7oz, but I’m guessing he was around 9lbs when he was born. He’s 21 inches long and has dark hair like his Daddy.

Now here’s another observation that not everyone will agree with. I took forty minutes to get his head past my perineum which is why he had a slow start (and I’m glad I didn’t know what his heart tones were). Now if you think I’m choosing my peri over my baby, you’re wrong. I would have torn badly if I hadn’t controlled the delivery of his head, thus requiring a trip to get many stitches and would have had to take my newborn out into the germy world and fight whatever procedures they wanted to do to him and possibly a report to CPS from some “concerned” staff who can’t fathom the idea of UC.

I also have faith that God and my instincts would let me know if his health was in danger to the point that intervention was needed. A few other reasons I’m very glad this was a home birth: my contractions were not consistent until the end and I would have had to fight off pressure to augment, they would have cut the cord on the perineum (if they hadn’t talked me into another c/s for fetal distress) and taken him away to “revive” him and maybe even insisted on “observation,” I don’t even want to think what my blood pressure would have been (extreme white coat syndrome), and don’t forget the need to be quiet so as not to scare the other women.

I also can’t imagine doing what I did on land. The water not only helped with pain relief and stretching, but I wouldn’t have been able to get from one position to the next in the short time I had between pushing contractions. The only time pain medication entered my mind was at the very end and I thought it might be easier to get his head out if I couldn’t feel the ring of fire. BUT, then we’re back to the massive episitiomy or tear (or both) and maybe FTP (failure to progress), etc. I am grateful for the pain, because it helped me to ease his head out and not do horrible damage.

I also probably would be labeled as precipitous delivery, since I dilated so quickly at the end and his head came down in one contraction. Most of us would think of this as a blessing, but OB’s think of this as a complication and reason to induce early for the next one. I probably could think of many more things they wouldn’t have liked about my birth in a hospital, but I’ll stop here. It was the perfect birth for my family and I. Praise God for blessing us with a wonderful pregnancy, birth and baby.

-Joy

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