Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Evangeline's Birth Story

I began my 2nd pregnancy seeing an OB I really like. She helped us through the Clomid process and is a great doctor. At around 24 weeks I started writing my birth plan and was in tears at the computer because everything I was writing was literally opposite of what happened with Eliana. I started realizing why I wasn't sleeping at night and why I felt more anxious every day that my EDD was closer and closer- I knew I'd be fighting to have the birth I wanted if I did it in our local hospital. This began a chain of events and me learning a TON about myself, my body, birth, the history of birth, homebirth and basically reading every birth book I could. At 26 weeks I transferred to my wonderful midwife, Mif, with the blessing of my OB.

My whole pregnancy I had a feeling I would go over 40 weeks. I seemed to be the only one who thought that however. My midwife, chiropractor, husband, mom, etc- everyone thought I'd go before 40 weeks. In my head I always knew I'd go over. So, when 41 weeks came I thought, 'well, I'm SUPER glad that I am healthy, baby is healthy, and I'm being 'allowed' to carry still.' I know without a shadow of a doubt that had I been seeing an OB I would've been induced again. I had high bp readings nearly every time a professional took the reading and protein in my urine the last two prenatals. My BP was good every day as I was taking it 5-10 times a day at home, I just couldn't ever calm my insides enough to have a good reading when someone else took it. That being said there's no way an OB would've seen a 150/100 reading and just chuckled and said, "I know you are nervous, your chart from home is good," and then let it go. I would've been coerced and worried into an induction, especially since my fundus measured 46 (!!!) weeks and the BPP showed the baby weighing 9lbs9oz at 40 weeks (which was obviously wrong). My midwife is so experienced and knowledgable that she truly knows when to worry about something and when not to. OB's are trained in the pathology of birth- that means looking for something to be wrong, so I'm sure my minor things would've screamed PROBLEM to them. My midwife understood that the pain and real trauma of my first birth started with just one high bp reading and that a real fear surrounding that lived deeply in me and showed itself every time I had to have my bp read. It was my Scarlet Letter.

Anywho, the night before labor started I did Evening Primrose Oil vaginally and then the day labor started I saw my chiropractor who did pressure points and then I saw my midwife who 'irritated' the cervix to see if it would start something later. I was only dilated to a 3 at 1pm and though things were soft, it was also very long and had a long way to go.
We decided to do a half dose of the magic milkshake that day in hopes of starting some contractions to get some pressure on my cervix, which wasn't happening due to the copious amounts of fluid.
I took the castor oil at about 4pm that day and nothing happened. I didn't go to the bathroom once! It was only 1oz of castor oil anyway, but I thought something would happen. The only thing that did was that I felt exhausted. Like I could hardly keep my eyes open. It was very weird. 4 hours later, around 8pm Craig and I were in our room watching tv and I started having contractions. They were pretty mild, but I felt them down low and that was new for me. After 30 minutes or so I started feeling them stretch around to my lower back. I figured, wow, this might be the real deal! We kept timing them and they were progressively getting more painful. Craig called the midwife at 10pm and she said they need to be more regular and to keep in touch. Basically no one thought I was actually in labor yet based on my internal check earlier that day and that I only took 1oz of castor oil. I remember thinking, "Well, if this isn't real or doesn't end up being enough to push out a baby that sucks cuz it really hurts!" I also got irritable and snapped at Craig a few times. That should've been his first clue that it was real :) I wasn't screaming or anything but holy cow it was uncomfortable. I tried laying down and had some contractions that hurt so bad my eyes filled with tears. My mom came down and tried to encourage me to move around and lean on Craig and then she offered for us to get in the tub and she left to get it filling. I leaned on Craig for the next couple contractions and it did help. He pressed really hard on my sacrum during them and I held onto his shoulders and breathed into his shoulder til each one passed.
Somewhere between 11pm and midnight we went and got in my mom's soaking tub. I figured we'd go in the tub for a while and then I'd probably need to get up and move around to keep things going. Once in the tub it did take a lot of the pressure off. I was able to relax and the contractions felt 'cushioned' from me a little. I got out to pee a couple times and it hurt SO bad having a contraction out of the tub. I realized then that I was not going to be able to leave the tub, I was in it for the long haul. I only hoped it wouldn't be 24 hours or something like that. Craig was also in the tub the whole time with me. He never left! And, since I have a weird pet peeve about mouth noises (as in I hate hearing people chew, crunch, jaw pops, etc) he kindly refrained from eating anything during my labor :) I also had  zero desire to eat anything.

For the next few hours I was wading through the waves of contractions. I would doze in between them which is SO weird for me since I usually take 30 minutes just to fall asleep. Each contraction lasted about 55 seconds and I had about 2 minutes in between to rest and sleep. I would feel one coming and grab Craig's hands and squeeze and then vocalize (think low sounding moan- one note being held a long time) until the 55 seconds passed. I tried to relax my body as much as I could. Craig said he could see my belly turn into a hard ball. Eventually things got more intense and I didn't want to hold Craig's hands anymore. I literally needed every ounce of focus to get through each contraction and just having him there was enough. We were having a very hard time knowing when to call the midwife again. I didn't want to waste their time and have them come all the way out for nothing, but I also could hardly call what I was experiencing as 'nothing'. My mom thought things should progress a little more. Finally I said please call around 1:45am. I was starting to feel a lot of pressure in my who-who. My mom called and my midwife and her team arrived at 3am. After my mom called things had picked up even more and the waves of contractions hit harder and closer. I rolled with them and tried to keep physically and mentally 'open' to my labor. All the Ina May Gaskin books I read really did their job! Shortly before the midwife got there I lost my mucous plug again. I had lost a small one around 9pm, but these were unlike anything I'd seen before. It was like, WOW! Around 3:05am she did an internal check and I was at a 7!!! No wonder things felt intense, I was almost at transition! The team left the room for Craig and I to labor in peace and they left to get things setup. At this point everyone still thought I had a while. But in about 35 minutes my water broke. During a contraction I felt like, 'hmm, if I just push a little I bet my water will break!' I had been feeling a little 'pushy' which my midwife said was because the bag of waters was bulging (in hindsight I'm really glad I didn't push before my midwife got there). So, I pushed and Craig and I heard a 'POP' in the room, felt a gush in the water, and I could see from Craig's face that it was like an explosion under water. Incredible. Within literally seconds I felt her crowning. It was like the pressure from the water breaking just shoved her right out. I had the need to push immediately. I started screaming because I didn't want to do it alone in the tub without my midwife. Craig was hollering MIF LYNN, HELP! and I was screaming so loud I thought for sure they'd hear us. Then I thought, oh no, what if they are downstairs and can't hear us!In my mom's 5,000 square foot home, this could be a reality. Craig started to get out to run and find them and I told him, no no don't leave me! I knew this baby was coming in a matter of minutes. In what felt like 20 minutes but was probably only 2 my mom, midwife, and assistant came running in. Mif coached me to calm my breathing and just let my body do whatever it was feeling like it should do. She grabbed lube and started rubbing and stretching to help me not tear. I remember her being very serious for a moment and saying, "if I tell you to flip over on all fours, don't ask me why and don't tell me no-just do it." I said ok but in my head was running through Ina May Gaskin's books and remembered the Gaskin Maneuver- it is taught to OB's and is in textbooks. It's a nearly failproof way to deliver a baby that is 'stuck' with shoulder dystocia. I thought, "Oh Lord, I can't flip over right now!" Remember all this is happening in literally seconds, it was like time stood still for a moment. Then a contraction broke through my thoughts and I had to roll with it. I had no choice. I felt my uterus pushing down and actually pushing the baby out. It was like a Mack Truck, I couldn't have stopped it if I wanted to. I went with it and her head popped out! I seriously can't stand the feeling of a baby being half in and half out so I gave another 1/2 push and her body FLEW out. It was less than 5 minutes of my body pushing and she was born at 3:55am. Craig didn't get to catch since it all happened so fast. Mif caught the baby and immediately put her on my chest. Craig's eyes filled with tears at the emotion of how amazing the birth was and this sweet baby. I was overcome and still tear up now thinking about it. It was so perfect and beautiful. Evangeline came out pink and gorgeous and gave a couple little cries. Just being able to hold my baby and realize, "Oh my gosh, I did it, I actually did it!" I'm not broken, there is nothing wrong with me, I carried a baby full term and delivered her naturally and she is perfect! It was overwhelming and I was in a sort of shock about how wonderful it actually was. Evangeline was stable and healthy during my labor and so was I, there was no shoulder dystocia, no cord wrapped around her, etc. When the body is able to deliver a baby when it is ready and do it in its own way, how amazing.

I held Evangeline for maybe 20 minutes while the cord was still pulsing, then Craig cut the cord. The pulsing cord was amazing in itself. I encourage all women to research the benefits of delayed clamping and seriously consider it for your children. Immediate clamping is like infant phlebotomy- crazy unless there is an immediate need to cut the cord (wrapped around neck, etc). After that Craig took her into the living room by the fire and just snuggled her. I delivered the placenta, drained the tub, got hosed off, and then joined them in the living room to let Evangeline nurse for the first time. She was awake for about 2 hours after the birth and was a happy little nurser. After a little while we weighed and measured her- 21 inches and 9lbs 1 oz. Her head was 14 3/4 inches! I felt like superwoman! And the incredible thing is that I didn't even tear. I tore with Eliana and she was only 7lbs and her head was nearly an inch smaller than Evangeline's. I thought, wow if this isn't a testament to a home birth I don't know what is!

The birth was so uneventful, and in such a good way. My midwife even says it was a perfect birth. I really took to heart all the books I read and Ina May's message about letting yourself be open to birth, both physically and mentally, really stuck with me. I knew that if I wanted the kind of birth that Ina wrote about I would need to do what the women she helped did. I couldn't fight it or complain or be negative, I needed to just relax and roll with each wave. Did it hurt? Well, yes. Did I feel like I was dying? Absolutely not. My cousin put it this way, "It's always managable and never more than you can handle." That is so true! At my chiropractors 1 1/2 weeks ago there were three of us talking about our homebirths. We were all smiling, happy, had wonderful memories, and would do it again! I have had numerous conversations with friends about our hospital births and unfortunately the conversation was not filled with cheery memories.

After doing my home water birth I feel like I want every woman to experience it. I want every woman, especially my friends, to feel the power of letting your body do it's job uninterrupted. I want every woman to know the pride and joy that comes from having a baby naturally. The euphoria and empowerment is incredible and exactly how God wanted us to experience birth. It's His answer to the curse in the garden. Yes, labor hurts. No, it's not totally pain free- but there is redemption from it. Isn't this the way God works?
I hope to have all my future babies at home in a tub. My labor was 8 hours total from the very first contraction until Evangeline flew out. Not bad and incredible compared to my 50plus hour induced labor with Eliana.

I just can't say enough about a homebirth. I pray that those of you in a position to do so will consider it or even think about a midwife or nurse midwife or a birthing center. I truly believe if every eligible woman and OB experienced birth the way I just did there would be a radical change in the way Americans have babies.

(As far as the cost- it's fairly inexpensive and the midwife fee covers pretty much everything besides labwork and outside ultrasounds. My insurance should be reimbursing me for about half the fee pretty soon.)

I will add more to this post as time allows and details come back to me :)

I love this photo....Craig snuggled Evie when she was about 20 minutes old while I finished stage 3 of labor (placenta).
Such a big and long girl and so alert!

A few hours old....all the amazing vernix soaked in on it's own and her skin was gorgeous!


  1. Diana, God is good and gracious! What a blessing.

  2. Diana,
    I am so happy that you were able to give birth at home, and have the birth you desired. You give me inspiration to try home birth myself with our next child. Thanks for sharing your experiences, and encouragement. xoxoxox