Looking back over the whole thing I am hit over and over with gratefulness. I am just so very thankful that God lead us to a home birth. If Amity had been an attempt at a hospital VBAC she would have been a repeat c/s. There is absolutely NO doubt in my mind, my water breaking before labor was fully underway- well it would have been the clincher for a repeat c/s as it took my body at least 26 hours for things to really start happening. I can't say how healing this birth was. Looking back, as hard of a process as it was, it was very very similar to what happened with You can read Riley Joy's Birth Story HERE
I have to say "thrilled" isn't the word I would use to describe my initial reaction to the two little lines on the pregnancy test on December 3, 2008. SHOCK, pure shock...And a small niggling feeling of terror. What was I going to do with TWO, esepcially two under 2!? We weren't planning on getting pregnant yet. While a part of me was relieved that it happened with out trying (not only "not trying" but carefully avoiding!) since I was slightly worried my c/s scar would cause fertility problems..A big part of me was terrified at the fact that in 9 short months that baby would have to come OUT. It was a very emotional pregnancy, I went from one end of the spectrum to the others...It felt like I was circling through all the stages of grief over and over and over again..
Contractions picked up and got pretty intense around 7:30pm- I was 3cm and 40% effaced. I asked J and M (midwife and assistant) if they could head my way. By 1:30 am I think I was a stretchy 4.5 or 5cm and 80% effaced and contractions were pretty intense but not getting more so. I climbed in the tub at some point (around 10?) and sat in there and labored for a while. I was just miserable in every position and the warm water helped. Contractions were 2-3minutes apart.. I got out around 1:30 to try to get some sleep. I got almost 5 hours!!! Contractions waking me up quite a bit, but it was still nice! The next morning Ryan and I headed out early to walk and walk and get things going. Contractions were inconsistent and anywhere from 2 minutes to 15 minutes apart- and they stayed like that all day long. We walked, and walked, did yard work, and walked, and nipple stimulation...But NOTHING was getting the contractions to regulate and do some real work- I stayed at 4.5/5cm and 80% all day long.
I was getting so so so frustrated. I knew in my heart that God was going to bring me through this, but I was starting so get scared. After some yard work and trying to distract myself from labor I came inside and sat at the piano and played for a while and cried. God reminded me that He had spoken to me a few months before about how He was going to meet me in labor like I never had experienced. He gave me the verses Isaiah 66:9-13. He wouldn't bring me to the point of delivery and not bring my baby into the world...My water had broken first, on it's own, labor was underway and God was going to bring birth.
Around 3:30 or 4pm J sat me down and said that we needed to do something a little more interventiony to get my contractions to regulate. She was getting concerned. It was getting later in the day, my waters had been broken 24 hours and even though Amity was handling things well (and I was staying on top of things and surviving on a little bit of sleep) J didn't want it to even be on the table that Amity would get tired and start giving up on the labor process and start going into distress...Which would mean transfer and a host of other problems. She talked to us about doing pitocen orally, in a VERY low dose (J told me later it was mostly water after the first dose) to see if that little bit of a kick would help throw me into transition so my body could do the rest.
We agreed reluctantly and I got my first dose (literal pit squirted under my tongue) and was sent out to walk - 10 minutes of walking 5 minutes of rest- I MUST keep moving. I was exhausted and angry. I was so freaked out that I would end up in the hospital strapped to a table having my baby removed. I knew that I was lucky to even still have the chance at a vaginal birth- if I had been in the hospital I would have been sectioned several hours before. I was frustrated and angry that my body was once again "failing" me, getting stuck at a certain dilation and not moving.
Ryan and Riley and I marched around the block- I walked and as I walked I just cried. I was scared that we'd run out of pitocen (irrational as J had me on a VERY low dose) and that this augmentation wouldn't work.
I walked and I got angrier. I finally told Ryan I wasn't doing it any more and marched up the stairs to our room and shut myself in and cried and cried. Ryan eventually came in followed shortly later by J and M and the kinda cornered me into letting it all out and talking. I told them that I'd rather die (yes dramatic, I was kinda irrational at this point) than have another c/s. Now don't get me wrong, I wanted Amity to be safe no matter what. But that 30 minutes before Rileys birth, I was strapped to the table, with my arms tied down, and my head lower than my pelvis unable to move .I was ALL alone- NO ONE with me (they kept Ryan out while they prepped me), except a grumpy anesthesiologist who kept telling me to stop moving because my oxygen mask would slip (it was really itchy). Well it was the most terrifying half hour of my life. I wanted my husband, I hated being unable to move, I hated being an object rather than a person.
I wanted to be in control of this baby's birth, I had done every thing "right" as far as birth choices go to make that happen. I wanted to give birth the way it was designed to. My body was NOT broken. I had made decisions that would enable me to have that happen. I had researched like crazy and done every thing to make my VBAC as safe and successful as possible. And here I was facing the reality that I may once again be taken to the hospital, strapped down and have my baby removed from me. I was so scared that the augmentation wouldn't work. I told J, M, and Ryan that I felt trapped, that I desperately wanted to see some progress, that no one (specifically Ryan) saw how hard I was working, and that I just wanted to be left alone. That I wanted a hot shower that essentially, I wanted to run away.
I cried and cried and hiccuped and sobbed for a long time to them. I couldn't believe that my labor was repeating itself- things were happening just like with Riley and I was so freaked out. J said that she was relieved I was having a meltdown- that it was a good sign. She talked to me about how I needed to decide that I could do it, that she would give me every chance she could to have a vaginal birth. That as long as Amity was doing okay and I wasn't showing signs of infection she would stay as long as it took. But that in order for the baby to be born I needed to LET my body do the work. I told her I didn't know if I could, I just wanted a shower (yes, I was irrational). She said that they would give me some space, I should go take a shower and relax. I felt so much better after our talk and I promised them all that I would work like crazy to get this baby out if I could just have some time where I didn't have to try for a while.
I went and got in the shower and just cried and let the warm water relax me. I sang to Amity, "Hold me Jesus, I'm shaking like a leaf- you've been my King of Glory, will you be my Prince of Peace?" and swayed in the warm water through a couple of more intense contractions.
I got dressed, did my hair (pulled out of my face- so glad for that later!), and went down stairs and ate a big slice of pizza. Every one in the room asked me if I was sure I wanted to eat the pizza...I grinned and told them I was tempting fate- I wanted transition to happen and I'd take barfing pizza if it meant it was HAPPENING!
Ryan and I decided to drive over to The Shoppes (15-20 min drive) and walk to get things going. J gave me another dose of pitocen and sent another one with us to take while we walked. I took along my Imagery Birthing CD "labor affirmations" and popped the ear buds in and listened on our way to the mall. The affirmations were so helpful and I was so relaxed after a full meal and a hot shower. I had 6 good contractions in the car- 6 in 15 minutes and the last 2 had me getting a little vocal. I was glad to see things were starting to happen.
Ryan and I found a parking spot and I took the last dose of pitocen (which J told me later was actually mostly water) got out of the car and headed to Barns and Noble. I felt like I had to use the bathroom. I headed to the restroom (being careful and mindful of my broken water- didn't want top pick up and infection) but couldn't get any thing to come out (should have been a sign that baby's head was really low and I should HEAD HOME) and so I just gave up. I was having HORRIBLE contractions- I should have thought "these are getting close we should head home".
But instead Ryan and I headed out to the backside of the mall that overlooks a gorgeous hill side, and is generally quiet with hardly any people (in case I got vocal) and we walked. We walked probably 2 or 3 store lengths and I was having contractions that made me feel like I was going to split in half. I started to get scared at the power of the contractions saying, "I want to go home these are scaring me I have no control over them. I want to go home Ryan. I will walk all over the house, I'll climb the steps- I just want to go home, please!"- hehe I still thought the contractions might stall out. My c/s scar was burning during the rushes. This was more on the outside it was making my skin scar itch- I'm thinking this was more about my pants being too tight (after being bottomless a lot the past day). But either way the intensity of it all was scaring me. I wasn't really worried about me or Amity- I knew we were fine- but being away from the safety of home and J was really scaring me. The walk to the car was the longest walk of my life, I was having rushes with maybe 10 second breaks and I was having the hardest time not screaming all the way to the car. I remember passing another couple and the woman was VERY pregnant, we grinned at each other, I thought “I'll definitely be meeting my baby before she meets hers” and with that a MASSIVE contraction hit and I think I squeezed Ryan's hand off. :0)
We finally got in the car and I let loose!!!! Poor Ryan had to listen to me roar and semi-scream the entire ride home. I tried to keep my sounds low (as in frequency- not in volume!) as low as I could and mooed at the peaks (Ina May's Guide to Childbirth has some great advice in this respect). I started to feel sick on the car ride, and was hoping I wouldn't throw up because we hadn't brought any thing. In my head I was thinking- "I can't be in transition already, can I?!" and as I was thinking it I heard my self saying, "I'm not getting any breaks, I can't do this!!!!! GET ME OUT OF THE CAR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" Ryan was speeding as fast as he could back to the house and I was screaming/moaning SO loud at every bump and curve the car took.
We got home and I ran in the house and rushed to the downstairs bathroom sat on the toilet and just sat there and roared through the contractions. I was getting NO breaks between them and it was all I could do...Soon J and M were in the bathroom rubbing my back and touching and talking to me and I told them I wanted to go upstairs and get in the tub...
I had 4 contractions in the 2 minutes it took to get upstairs. I got on the toilet upstairs and roared for 20 minutes while Ryan frantically emptied the cold water by the buckets out of the tub and started putting in the hot water... J and M took turns giving me back pressure and helping me stay in control... J tried to listen to the heartbeat and couldn't find it. Once again, I knew Ami was doing just fine, I couldn't say I had felt any wiggles- but it felt like she was pressing a foot on my rib and I could feel that pressure. But J REALLY wanted to hear the baby she apologetically asked me to lay on the bed for a second to see if she could catch it between contractions. That didn't work- there wasn't enough time between contractions... A minute or two later the water in the tub was ready I hopped in and RELIEF!!! I mean definitely not pain free, but it helped counteract the awesome pressure the rushes were putting on me. J fiiiinally got Amity's heart beat (she was really relieved) and checked me- in the 45 minutes since the crazy contractions started I had gone from 4.5/5ish cm to almost 10 (just a lip of cervix left)!!!!!! I still had a little effacement to do but J said I could start pushing if I felt like it. I have to say this was my least favorite part of the whole deal. I had no urge to push, pushing didn't help the contractions really but I felt like I HAD to do some thing and pushing sometimes helped me stay in control...Mostly not.
Ryan was massaging my arms and keeping my upper body warm with the water, it felt really nice. M was a life saver at this point! She sat next to Ryan and dabbed my face with a cool cloth and coached my breathing. She showed me how to breath "short, short, loooong. big inhale. short short looong. Big breath for me. breath for baby, short short long" she sat there and chanted it with me and kept reminding me that *I* was in control I really was!
This was really the ONLY way I got through dilating and effacing that last little bit and letting my body breath Amity down. I pushed for a while and J said she could see Ami's head when I pushed- they were so amazing and encouraging, I know I was being the biggest baby. I kept saying I couldn't do it any more, I remember wishing there was a vacuum extractor in the room- wishing some one else could suck her down instead of my body having to do the work. It was hell... The pushing wasn't a relief and the breathing only barely kept me from screaming insanely. Every few contractions I'd try to push and totally lose control and start panicking. M would bring me back and help me get my breathing under control... I'd try to push again. At some point I tried pushing a little too hard and suddenly realized I was going to throw up. I threw up with one giant contraction - there went the pizza! I had the sense even then to laugh and say "see I told you, I wanted to tempt fate" or some thing like that. Some time soon after that I wanted to get out of the tub, no position was working and all I wanted to do was lay down and sleep for a while...We tried pushing on the bed on my side for a while-but I couldn't stay in control in that position either...I headed for the bathroom.
The toilet- what a relief!!!!!!!!!!!! I could almost pretend on the toilet I was just having really bad stomach flu and it helped me stay calm. And pushing, though it still felt horrible, it wasn't making me lose control as easily. At some point J moved the last little bit of lip and the pushing urge started in earnest. I have never done or felt any thing like that. I dreaded the contractions because I was so tired and I didn't want to push- but at the same time, the lower Amity got the more I wanted to push...I started to yell and blow gross raspberries during those pushes (Lord bless J, she was sitting on the floor in front of me and I was covering her with my disgusting barfy saliva!)...I could feel Ami getting lower and lower and lower and it felt so good to know I was almost done. I started to push harder and harder. At some point I could feel the burn, I wouldn't say it was much of a ring of fire- just kinda burny- I was just so excited to be able to reach down and feel my baby's head. It really didn't hurt much at all- compared to the last 3 hours (or whatever it had been) of barely being in control: this part felt amazing.
This next part got a little dramatic- at the time we all felt such a peace, but looking back it sounds a little scary. I sat back on the toilet and looked at my baby laying on a towel the floor J and M working on her trying to get her to breath- it took a few minutes. The cord wasn't pulsing any more and Ami just plain wasn't breathing for probably 90 seconds. I knew deep down (again) that Amity was just fine, that she would start breathing and I just kept telling her to breath for us, letting her hear my voice. They got the oxygen on her and did some work and she started to attempt breathing and with in moments she was giving off a little tiny cry and in my arms. J then turned her attention to me and asked M to grab some pitocen and have it handy- I was pouring blood into the toilet and she was getting a little concerned. They quickly cut the cord and started pressing on my belly to get my uterus to clamp... Every thing was fine there too. I was thankful that they were prepared for an emergency and had what they needed- but even more thankful I didn't need the pitocen!!
I held Amity for a few minutes and then we went into the bedroom to deliver the placenta- it came out in one tiny push, another relief!! J inspected the placenta and then examined me. I had absolutey NO TEARS!!!! My first baby to push out, only an ounce shy of 8lbs and I didn't tear! I was so excited I wanted to hold Amity and cuddle her, but I was SO exhausted after the last few hours, I wanted to lay down in my fresh clean bed and SLEEP even more. But I was disgusting, I mean beyond gross and sweaty. I just wanted a shower and get cleaned up, I felt a little bad that I had to leave Ami but was so excited to be CLEAN and hold my baby. Some one took Amity for me and a few people helped me to the shower and helped me get cleaned up.
I came back to the bedroom with an ice pack in place and sat down and nursed Amity for the first time. She did amazing! I couldn't believe the difference between my first time nursing her and my first time nursing Riley. Ami wasn't really into nursing at the moment, she latched great but she seemed more interested in looking around at the strange new world.
Looking back I wish there had been more time for me to hold her skin to skin and wait on the bath/getting her dressed. But after maaaybe 8 hours of sleep in 3 days on top of the tremendious work of gving birth...And the fact that she had been born so late at night, well it couldn't be helped. They did the newborn exam on Amity and gave her a little bath and got her dressed and I sat and watched so exhasuted and so happy. I couldn't wait to climb in bed and curl up and sleep. Eventually every one cleared out and Amity and I cuddled up laying down and nursed...Ryan emptied the birth tub and cleaned it and put it away while I dozed. It was amazing and beautiful and we all got an amazing nights sleep. Amity latched on as necessary when she got hungry that night and I slept most of the night through, just little 2 minute breaks to relatch Amity and make sure she was okay. Around 4am I did have to get up to use the bathroom and change Amity's first ever poopy diaper, but then I went back to sleep until 7. It was such a different kind of night than the one we had after Riley where we were woken up by nurses and hospital noises all night long.
I am so thankful I was given this opportunity to have a home birth. Some one asked me yesterday if I would do it again, I can honestly say I absolutely would. I felt so safe at home, I felt connected with my body, I knew what it was doing and felt I could very easily recognize if some thing wasn't right, right away. I was in tune with Amity's movements and aware of her in a way I never was during labor with Riley Joy. I didn't have strangers coming in and interrupting me, or seeing me naked. I didn't have needles strange machines. I just had the comfort of my home and the love and support of a few people I knew well and who knew me and loved me. People who believed in me and my body.
I strongly believe in VBAC's, I would encourage any Mom who wants to have one to believe in her body and it's ability to birth. But I also know that they aren't for every one- it is some thing that the individual has to come to an absolute peace about- and surround herself with knowledge and support. Having a VBAC was important to me, and a very healing thing for me. I had to face some fears, I had to face what happened during my birth experience with Riley...I personally needed that healing, needed to see what my body was capable of.
I would have been sectioned again if it weren't for the incredible people around me. My amazing husband for not balking at a home birth and supporting me every step of the way. My midwife J and her assistant M are my heroes- they stood up for me, they told me I could do it when I was sure I couldn't... They protected me, and too care of me and Amity. I never for a moment felt afraid that things could go wrong... They had a plan for quick action if any things took a negative turn. I'm so thankful that my VBAC was successful. But more than that I'm thankful for the journey it was. I know that even if Amity's birth had ended up happening at the hospital in the operating room. I had done every thing I could for a good, safe outcome and that was empowering.
A few hours old
Amity 12 hours old.
Birth Montage ...There are a LOT of pictures of Ryan holding Amity, it was the 5 minutes I was in the shower- I held her a lot after every thing was cleaned up by the photographer had to leave. :0)
Pictures Courtesy of Rachel Golden
February 21, 2010
Amity is 6.5 months old- how did that happen? I'm still processing her birth. Recovery was uncomparable to the c/s recovery I had with my first. By 8 weekspost partum I felt AMAZING- I mean better than I had in YEARS. Recovery WAS slower than I was expecting, all the other natural birth mothers all raved about how great they felt after the first day. Not for me! It took 3 weeks before I could stand for more than a few minutes with out burning "down there"...But I'm glad, it forced me to slow down and be sure to REST. Emotionally I have felt better than I have in years. Giving birth has carried over into every other part of my life... In how I view my body, how much I KNOW it can do, It has given me confidence to try things I wouldn't (or would have given up on)... It has shown me that I am stronger than I ever thought I was.
As for her birth... I think the further away from it the more I realize there were MANY MANY things I want to do differently next time. 1) NO interventions- I've researched the use of pitocen (orally) and I feel like that was a very risky thing we did. Hubby and I were talking about it yesterday and he said he still feels like we made the best decision we could with what we had going on at the time. And I agree. But I feel like it might have been premature. I also realize if I am blessed with a long labor next time I will just really want to chill out...I read a beautiful HBAC story recently where the Mom's water were "open" for 4 or 5 days- they monitored her closely but just let things go- labor eventually started one evening and baby arrived in 3 or 4 hours. I have a lot of growing to do in understanding REALLY REALLY understanding that birth is a natural process. Some thing I believed with Amity but was so stricken with fear of a repeat c/s that I made decisons out of fear instead of resting and waiting. I really really appreciated J and M's support in my birth- I know they were the people who were supposed to be at Amity's birth...But I think I am going to think long and hard about future births and who should be over seeing them- every birth is different. And I feel like some possibly un-necessary risks were taken.
Postpartum: I want to do things VERY differently. I felt abandoned when Amity was a week old My Mom and support person kept leaving me. Every morning of the second week she was gone 4 or 5 hours. I still have really big feelings about that situation. It was hard- I could barely walk and I was under strict instructions not to lift RJ- how do you manage a 19mos old and newborn when you're not allowed to lift the first and you're in too much pain to walk with the fussy second?!
Next baby, I will have DH home for the first 2 weeks- I will not be getting out of bed -staying laying down the first week and staying off my feet the second... After Ryan goes back to work I will be either asking my Mom to take a week off and "stay" with us for the 3rd week or hire one of my friends teen daughters to come stay with us for a week or two to help me.
I can't tell you how abandoned and hurt I felt about how all that went down. Also I will not be taking new baby to the pediatrician until it's 6 weeks old (unless midwife notices some thing and says I need to). Being out at the pedi at 3 days postpartum was AWFUL I could barely walk and I was in so much pain I nearly passed out while there- it was horrible.
So still processing- I'll be processing my kids arrival in my life for many many years. I love them so much.