Friday, January 1, 2010

In which I share Sydney's home birth story

This is a very brief version that I wrote out for my local mommies group. It's just the labor and birth/info. At some point, I hope to write the longer version.

My water broke with my fourth baby on October 12. Just like with my previous labor, I slept through it and woke up in a pool of water. I called my midwife, who had traveled from Louisiana to attend my birth. We did not have any homebirth midwives in my small town in Arizona, and the closest midwives were over three hours away, in Phoenix or San Diego. I have a history of short labors – a blessing and a curse! – and I didn’t feel comfortable with a midwife who was that far away. My midwife had arrived when I was 39 weeks pregnant. She was staying in a nearby hotel with her two children. I had done my own prenatal care. I was now 41 weeks pregnant.

So, my water broke… and nothing happened. For two days. Over the course of those days I drank castor oil, tried an enema, used the breast pump, and took blue and black cohosh. Still I felt nothing, not even a twinge of contractions. I was practicing good hygiene, taking vitamin C, and listening to the baby’s heart tones by Doppler. And waiting. Finally, after a day and a half, I talked to my midwife about my options.

I wasn’t worried about my water being broken for so long. I was more worried that she’d want me to go to the hospital. I’ve given birth in a hospital with an epidural, to my twin boys in 2003. I’ve given birth in a birth center with a shot of stadol, to my girl in 2005. For this birth, I wanted to be home.

I called her, and told her I needed 12 more hours. If, after 12 more hours, I still hadn’t gone into labor, I’d go to the hospital; I’d get the dreaded pitocin (and probably an epidural and a series of other interventions).

As soon as I hung up, the contractions began. It was like my body needed me to verbalize that I trusted myself before labor would start. The contractions started coming quickly and without much of a break. I remember thinking, “This is absolute misery.”

I asked my husband to fill up the birth tub. I got in, and I said, “Wow, this is so nice,” – until I had another contraction. At some point my midwife arrived, and my best friend who was acting as my doula.

I wanted absolute silence and darkness. It was around 1AM, and my three older children were asleep. Everyone tiptoed around, and I shushed them. At one point the midwife tried to get heart tones, but I shooed her away. She said something about it, like, “I am not taking the baby’s heart tones, are you alright with that?” I nodded. The baby was moving like crazy, and I knew she was fine.

After that I felt the urge to push, but my brain was telling me it was too soon. I started to get out of the tub so my midwife could check me, but I just couldn’t leave that warm water. Instead, I reached down and could feel the baby’s head. I pushed a few times, grunting loudly, and felt her head come out. I remember saying, “Her head is out. Now what do I do?” I really could not remember what would happen next.

My midwife said, “Push the rest of her out.” So I did. I pushed her out and brought her to my chest. She had a nuchal cord, and seemed to be around 8lbs. She was perfect, and I was exhausted! Sydney was born on October 14, 2007 at 1:32AM. She was 8lbs 8oz.


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