11-8-04 I was 13 days overdue. Contractions started almost immediately after my appointment with Beth, my midwife. She had swept my membranes again and applied arnica and evening primrose oil to my cervix. I was dilated to 3 cm, completely effaced, and my cervix was very responsive to touch and she could stretch me to 4 cm. I continued having contractions about every 4-5 minutes throughout the day. But I still wasn’t convinced that I was actually in labor.I had contractions like this after she had swept my membranes the week before, but they petered out around midnight.So I went about my day and kept busy.
But by the evening, the contractions were noticeably stronger and I knew that this was it. Damian put the kids to bed around 8 pm and things started to pick up from there. Contractions were still only 4-5 minutes apart, but they were lasting closer to a minute. I was able to talk through them, but I couldn’t walk through them. I tried staying as active as I could, walking and tidying up the house between contractions. I would try to end up near the bar during a contraction because the height of the counter was the perfect height to lean on. Damian was getting our room together, topping off the air in the birth pool, and setting up the video camera. I couldn’t help but laugh at Damian…setting up the camera and trying to perfect the lighting in our bedroom for the birth; all the while I was laboring.
At one point, I had a contraction while trying to stand after peeing and I gripped the towel bar and knocked it loose from the wall. So there goes Damian, power screwdriver in hand, doing home improvements and fixing the towel bar while I was having contractions. Only Damian! Sometime around 10pm, I decided to call Beth and tell her what was going on. I almost didn’t want to call her because I didn’t think I needed her yet. She decided to come out and check me since I was already dilated to 3 cm earlier, and she would decide then whether to stay or not. She arrived at 10:40 pm. She checked me and I was 4 cm.
Beth decided to leave and go pick up Jessica, her daughter and intern midwife. Round-trip would take about and hour, leaving Damian and I to ourselves for a bit. By the time they returned, the contractions were picking up and lasting longer. I really had to breathe and concentrate to get through the. For the next hour and a half, Damian and I walked around the house, with Damian pressing on my back and hips during contractions. The counter pressure was the only thing that would bring some relief during the contractions. Beth had a strong sense that the baby was posterior.
11-9-04 – It was around midnight when I asked if I could get in the pool. My legs were getting tired from laboring upright. I needed to change positions. Damian started filling the pool but for some strange reason we had no hot water. After tinkering with the hot water heater for 15 minutes, Damian finally got hot water flowing. At 1 am, the pool was ready. I felt relief immediately. The warm water took the edge off of the contractions. The best part about being in the water was being able to pee right in the pool! It felt so good to not be on the toilet peeing during a contraction. After laboring for about an hour in the pool, Jessica checked me and I was still 4 cm.
Beth felt that the water and my position in the water were slowing down my progress down. So I got out of the pool and moved to my bed where I got on all 4’s, resting on a stack of pillows. The contractions were definitely more intense on all 4’s, but they also felt productive. I would sway my hips back and forth during contractions, breathing deeply and heavily. Sometimes I was able to chant my birth mantra “I surrender” and that would help me mentally get through the next couple of contractions. After about an hour of laboring on all 4’s, I started to get really tired. My knees were killing me. Beth suggested changing positions to side lying to give my legs a rest. Lying on my side made my contractions almost completely go away.
Beth said to take this as a sign that my body needed to rest and to take advantage of it. She left Damian and I alone to rest. About 1 /2 hour later, Jessica came in to check heart tones. Baby was doing great. I was having very mild contractions. She said she’d come back and check on us in an hour. I was able to sleep really well during that hour. Beth came in to check heart tones again and afterwards I got up to pee.
Time now is 3:30ish am. I had a massive contraction while sitting n the toilet and was having a lot of bloody show. I got back on my bed on all 4’s again. The contractions were now 2-3 minutes apart lasting close to a minute and a half. They took all of my concentration and I changed from breathing heavily through them to moaning. With each contraction, I was trying to tell myself to just get through each contraction and forget the rest. But some of the contractions got away from me and I felt completely out of control. This is when I started feeling defeated, saying I couldn’t do this any longer. I was in transition.
Time now, 4:30ish am. Beth decided to check me again and I was 6-7 cm. I remember hearing those numbers and getting really upset. But Damian reminded me that it was just a short while (about an hour) that I went from 6 cm to pushing with my other 2. That gave me a little more strength and encouragement to go on. I continued to labor on all 4’s. My knees were so sore from being on them so much, but with babe posterior, it was the only position I could tolerate.
About an hour later, I was really off in laborland, apparently cracking jokes in between contractions, though I don’t remember much from this time. After a contraction Damian told me I was doing great and that I was handling labor beautifully, to which I replied “Beautifully?? My bottom is in the air and I’m moaning like a dying cow. That’s beautiful?!” I had Damian laughing hysterically. I, however, was not laughing.
Around 5:45ish, Beth asked if I wanted to be checked again and I said yes, hoping she would say I was almost complete. I was getting really tired and discouraged. She said I was almost 8 but the baby was still high up. Each contraction from this point was a real struggle to get through. I was really vocal…my moaning getting louder and louder at the peak of each contraction. And sometimes even moaning didn’t help and I resorted to repeating “oh god, oh god, oh god” over and over again.
A short while later, at the end of a contraction, I relaxed my perineum, and my water broke. I had a huge gush of fluid but it turns out only the fore bag of water had broken. About an hour later, I started to get a little pushy sounding during some of the contractions. Beth checked me again and I was complete except for an anterior lip of cervix. Baby was still high and I didn’t have a real urge to push. It wasn’t until 7:15am (the sun was just starting to rise) that I really started to feel the urge to push. And with each pushing surge, I thought I was going to die. My back and hips hurt so badly. It was agonizing. With my other two deliveries, pushing came as such a relief, but this time I dreaded it.
I have always been a quiet laborer and birther with my past experiences, but this time was so different. With each push, I let out a deep primal roar. I tried to fight it, for fear of scaring my kids, who were now awake and in the room, but I needed to go with it. Vocalizing was powerful. Beth checked me again and the lip of cervix was still there and was swelling badly. Baby couldn’t descend lower until it was out of the way. So Beth applied arnica oil and kept her hand on the lip and would try to push it out of the way each time I pushed. OWIE! My knees were aching so badly that I asked if I could change position and try pushing. I went on my side and pushed through one contraction and decided that it was better on my hands and knees.
Fiona was in and out of the room, thanks to Hope, the student midwife, for tending to her so that Damian could stay by me. Aidan stayed right next to the bed with Damian, telling me that squeezing out a baby was really hard work. He also told the midwives, while I was pushing, that when I was squeezing him out when he was a baby, that it was a lot easier. With each push, I got louder and louder. I finally felt the baby tuck under my pubic bone and I knew he was almost here. Everyone was cheering me on saying that they could see his head. I gave another push and I felt him crowning. I pushed hard again. His head was partially out, but he got stuck at his eyes.
Beth toldt me to push harder because the last baby she had get stuck at the eyes, was born with bloodshot eyes. I pushed again but now he was stuck just under his nose. I was still on all 4’s so I was unaware of what was really happening. I just knew that it was taking a long time to get his noggin out. Apparently he was really purple. Beth and Damian were yelling at me to push as hard as I could. I did and his head was out. But he was stuck again. The cord was wrapped tightly around his neck. He was turning a deep purplish blue. Beth was saying in an urgent, but not panicky voice, that we had to get the baby out NOW and told me to roll over.
I guess I wasn’t moving fast enough and she and Jessica pushed me over onto my back. I kept pushing but he wouldn’t budge. Something stopped Beth from pulling on his head to help him out, so she reached up with two hands and literally yanked him out from under his armpits. At 8:24am, out came Duncan, purple and limp. I still wasn’t aware of the severity of the situation. They put oxygen on him and were rubbing him, trying to stimulate him for what seemed like forever. But at less than 1 minute old, he let out a really lusty cry and pinked up nicely. His apgar at 1 minute was a 9, despite his harsh entry into the world. A soon as he started crying, I looked to see if we had a boy or a girl.
When I said it was a boy, I looked over at Damian but he was on the floor. He had passed out once Duncan started crying. He was so scared when he was stuck and so purple, that he was convinced we were going to lose him. So when Duncan started crying, Damian went into shock and passed out. Fiona was also crying because she almost got hit with amniotic fluid. It turns out that I had a higher than normal amount of amniotic fluid (as reported from biophysical profile the day before). Fluid literally shot across the room. I splashed Beth, Jessica, and almost Fiona. Thank goodness we have tile flooring in our bedroom because any carpeting would have been destroyed. There was a huge pool of fluid under my bed that had to be mopped up.
Beth, Jessica, and Hope did the cleanup while Duncan and I had a nice soothing herb bath. Beth said I get the prize for the messiest homebirth! After our bath, Jessica did Duncan’s newborn exam. 8 lbs 9 oz and 20 inches long. She noticed that his muscles in his back were visibly tense on his left side, probably due to his traumatic birth. Beth later told me what had happened during delivery. During labor, Duncan was posterior but sometime before I started pushing his head rotated to the correct anterior position. But he was entangled in his cord. When he came out, the cord was not only wrapped tightly around his neck, but across his body then over and under his shoulder, then down and around his thighs. His head was able to turn, but his body was not. So when he was born, his head and body were 180 degrees to each. Face down, chest up. Kind of like the exorcist.
We were fortunate that Beth followed her gut and did not try to manipulate his head when he got stuck since he was presenting all funky. It scares me to think of what kind of trauma he would have suffered had we been in the hospital under a doctor’s care where the use of forceps or the vacuum might have been used when he was stuck. Beth has never seen a baby present like this, and she has even consulted with other midwives that have never had a baby present with its head anterior and body posterior.
Even though this was definitely my hardest labor and delivery, I never thought of going to the hospital or wanting any meds. It was an incredible experience to be in my own home and having my children witness the birth of their baby brother. And Aidan had the opportunity to help cut the umbilical cord with Damian. He still talks about how neat that was. It was the most amazing experience.