Ivy's Birth

*If you do not want to see birth photos, then this post isn't for you. Don't worry, there's no nudity*
  After the ectopic pregnancy in 2011, to which I became a uni-tube gal, getting pregnant again proved to be difficult. We tried unsuccessfully for many, many months. Last year around October, we tried an IUI which was also unsuccessful and heartbreaking to go through. Because of the holidays, we decided that we didn't want to add the stress of fertility treatments to our life so we took a break from the madness that is trying to conceive.

Then in February, I decided to randomly take a pregnancy test seeing as I was supposed to start my period soon and I was mildly curious. I didn't have any inkling either way except for the fact that my boobs were still a bit sore, which was unusual for me. I was shocked to see the test come up positive instantly.

Ivy's pregnancy was very non-eventful. I first had an early ultrasound to determine if the pregnancy was in the correct spot and from then on out, it was smooth sailing. She was due on October 26th and the entire pregnancy, I felt very patient for her to get here. I wasn't feeling that , "Okay, I'm DONE" feeling until I was about 39 weeks pregnant.

Now, it's here I should mention that up until 32 weeks, I had been living in Denver and had seen a team of OB's there. I knew that I wanted to try to deliver naturally this time around and that I wanted to utilize the birthing tubs offered in the hospital. They were very supportive of that, which was nice!

Then Tyler got a new job in Sacramento. His job in Denver was not working out and the company was not doing well at all. There were a few times when we wondered if he would be downsized. So we made the decision to move out to California with the new job offer.

Among the many things with moving, I had to find a new OB that was supportive of my natural birth with low interventions, a hospital that supported that practice, and they had to both be in my new insurance network. With the stress of moving, I broke down a bit and said to Tyler, "I can't do all of this at 32 weeks pregnant! If I want to have a natural birth, I might as well find a midwife and do a home birth!"
It was something that I said half-jokingly and then, with the next few days, really thought about it. I was low-risk and a perfect candidate. I could have my peaceful birth with low interventions. I knew a midwife would be supportive of a waterbirth. It was then when I decided to go for it.

I began calling different midwives in Sacramento and when I talked to Randi, I felt an instant connection! I loved so many things about her and her practice of care, like how she came to my home for all visits. Let me tell you, this is the BEST thing ever. Why did we ever change this?

So I had my midwife and my homebirth kit, I was ready to go! I felt completely at peace with the thought of a homebirth and I felt confidence that I could do it. I was not afraid of anything "going wrong" because I trusted my body and I trusted Randi.

On Saturday night, October 24th, I started having some very mild waves (contractions). They felt similar to medium-level period cramps. Not the worst period cramps I've had, but noticeable enough to start timing them. They were about 6-8 minutes apart but mild enough that I could sleep through them. Once they had been coming for a few hours, I texted my midwife to tell her what was going on (yes, TEXTED, how awesome is that?!)

The next morning, they were staying consistently about the same and Randi decided to stop by that afternoon to check me. Yes, no going to a hospital with a bunch of germs! She came to my house on a Sunday afternoon to just check on me even though I had an appointment the next day with her. I was dilated to a 5 and was 100% effaced. During the previous weeks, I had been slowly dilating and at my 39 week appointment, I had been 4cm and 75%.

She swept my membranes and then told me that she was going to go get something to eat, but that she was SURE she would be back in a few hours and we would be having that baby tonight!

Immediately, my contractions picked up in both intensity and time. They were now coming every 3 minutes and I would compare them to intense period pains. Enough that I had to stop and breathe through them but definitely still bearable. I texted her within the hour and told her that she should make her way back.

When she arrived, I had already made Tyler put down the painter's tarp on the living room floor just in case my water broke. I was bouncing on the ball in my underwear and a shirt and listening to my birthing day affirmations. Between contractions, we could easily converse and during contractions, I would switch from yoga ball to kneeling over the couch. I was able to walk freely (no IV!) and get into any position that I felt comfortable with. Mostly it was on the yoga ball with my hips rolled forward.

Every few minutes, Jack would come and check on me and ask, "Is baby sister here yet?" Then he would run back to his room to play. He was very excited to meet baby sister and I had prepared him earlier in the weeks for birth by showing him some youtube videos of natural birth. I didn't want him being frightened if I started making noises. He chose to mostly stay in his room and was totally fine with the whole process.

I was able to labor on the ball for a few hours and when I was checked again, I was at a 7! It felt good to have progress seeing as the contractions were becoming more and more intense. It was at this time that I wanted the tub filled up and try laboring there. Let me just tell you, everything they say about birthing in the tub is true! It's AMAZING! It took all of the gravity off of me and allowed me to concentrate on the pressure of her head on my cervix alone.

I remember that the contractions started getting sharp and I would moan through them. I concentrated really hard on allowing her to put that pressure on my cervix to open it up. That meant relaxing my pelvic floor even though it was difficult. After laboring a while in the tub, and still only being at a 7, I decided to let the midwives break my water so that we could progress some more. They broke my water in the tub and the fluid was nice and clear with some vernix floating around! All good!

After my water was broken, transition hit and I was really having to concentrate on breathing through the contractions. Yet after a while, I was STILL only at a 7 so my midwives suggested that I get out and allow gravity to help me get those last few cm out of the way.

Let me tell you, I did NOT want to get out. The weight was so incredibly heavy and the pressure became so intense. Randi brought in a birthing stool that I was able to sit on. I remember Randi saying, "At this point, you just need to give in to everything. Give in to the pain." and I did. When a contraction would come, I would grunt to the student midwife to indicate that I wanted her to press my hips (or back) as hard as possible, all while I would relax my pelvic floor and squeeze the crap out of Tyler's arm or hand. Over and over again I would do that and try to relax. 

I could feel the student midwives arms tremble from becoming tired. It was then that I realized that when you give birth with a midwife, you aren't just another patient. You feel this sacred sisterhood that is generations upon generations of birth. I realized that their goal was not just to have a live baby in the end, it was also to help me through labor emotionally. They labored along with me instead of just watching and waiting.

It was at this point when I began to seriously doubt how I was going to continue. I didn't know how I was going to be able to bear one more contraction and I would say stuff like, "I don't want to do this anymore" and "I can't keep going." but my midwives were supportive reassured me that I WAS doing this and I COULD get through.

They suggested that I tried laboring in the shower but all I wanted was to get in that tub again. They encouraged me to stay out of the tub just until I had progressed some more, so into the shower I got! Out of all the laboring positions, that was my least favorite. I think it was because my shower was so small that I felt confined and I hated using any extra muscles than necessary, like my leg muscles to hold myself up. I tried sitting on a chair in the shower but I didn't want any counter-pressure on my bum. I only stayed for a few contractions before making my way to the bed with the help of my team.

I laid on the bed and the contractions were so incredibly intense! So much pressure! I knew I was so close and must have only had a tiny bit to go because within a few minutes, I felt the urge to push through the contractions. That's when I said, "I want to get in the tub and push now!"

I waddled over to the tub and began to push and it felt SO AMAZING. It really does take away almost all of the pain from the contractions when you push. I sat on hands and knees and pushed my way through slowly. Pushing was hard work! It was as if I was running a marathon, and sweat would drip off of my forehead. I would try to breathe through each contraction but they were coming so close together that I couldn't take enough breaths before having to push again.

I reached down and felt her wrinkly head progressing down the birth canal. I always imagined that the stretch would only really hurt at the entrance, right when she was crowning, but I never considered that the WHOLE way down would have to stretch as well. I know, it makes sense that the whole vagina would have to stretch but it was something that I had just never thought about before.

What they say about the ring of fire, is also true. At least, it was for me. Oh boy! That stretch was quite the feeling. I remember feeling her head crowning and could only feel about a sand-dollar's worth and wondering how on earth it was going to stretch even MORE. But once I had reached that point, I couldn't slow down. With each contraction, my body pushed her out itself and I merely had to sit there and allow her to come. Again, I had to succumb to labor and allow everything to stretch.

Just when I felt like I couldn't stretch any more, I felt a pop and remember saying, "Her head is out!" and then I switched to my back as I quickly pushed out her shoulders and the rest of her body. At 10:20PM she was born and was quickly put on my chest. I felt the immense relief that it was done! I had birthed my little girl at home and caught her myself (with the help of my attentive midwives). She was very pink and covered in vernix. She would cry intermittently and her lungs sounded very clear.

A few minutes later, the placenta came out (which was so oddly relieving) and when the cord was white and limp, Tyler cut it. The water in the tub was getting cold so I handed Ivy to Tyler while the midwives helped me get into bed and get warmed.  

Moments later, Ivy was placed on my chest for skin-to-skin time and nursed. While I relaxed in bed, the midwives were busy working and cleaning up. They put away the tub, started laundry of all the dirty towels and clothes, brewed tea, threw away all of the used chuck pads, and a million other things that I probably didn't even notice. They worked as they monitored myself and Ivy. Later, they stitched me up (only 3 stitches), showed us the placenta, and did the well-baby check. 

They left at 2AM after we had all been fed and settled and Tyler and I were left to bond with our new little person. Jack was asleep during her birthing and woke the next day to meet baby sister.

After this experience, I told my midwives that I hated it! I didn't feel this empowering rush, I felt exhausted! I couldn't understand how women did this multiple times and I was certain that I never wanted to do it again.

But over the next few days, I began to feel that, "Holy crap, I did that!" feeling. Yes, it hurt but it was so worth it and yes, I would do it again. 

In the weeks leading up to Ivy's birth, I had serious doubts and anxieties about the pain of it all. I wasn't afraid of something going wrong, I was more anxious about the oncoming storm of labor. I told Randi that I wasn't sure I was ready and she told me, "Well of course you can't go through labor now but when it starts, your body will have the perfect cocktail of hormones that will get you through it." and she was right! 

So if you are considering a homebirth (or a natural birth), please don't let the fear of pain prevent you from going through. There are many reasons why some women should not have a homebirth but fear of labor (or tearing or contractions) should not be one of them. There are many things that I would be afraid of and childbirth is not one of them.

1 comment:

Loran Fabyuel said...
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