Cross-posted on June 2014 BMB.
The short story: Lorna was born at 6:57PM on June 13th (Friday the 13th and a full moon) after a whirlwind 3 hour un-medicated labor and delivery. She was 8 lbs even and 20 inches long.
The long story: To fully appreciate Lorna’s birth story, a short version of my son’s birth story is pertinent. My son was born at 39 weeks after an induced labor due to severe pre-eclampsia. During his labor and delivery, I received pitocin and magnesium sulfate, got an epidural for a reason other than pain management (low platelets), pushed for more than 3 hours, had a failed vacuum attempt, and ultimately delivered by forceps. I had two large tears and a post-partum hemorrhage that made recovery very long and difficult. I hoped for a very different experience with my daughter’s delivery.
I was very interested in the midwifery model of care and un-medicated birth so for my daughter’s pregnancy, I sought the care of a group of CNMs at a freestanding birth center. My biggest fear (other than the obvious) was getting PreE again. So, when my BP started to rise at the very end of pregnancy, it understandably made me nervous. I requested a membrane sweep at 40 weeks to hopefully get things rolling before my BP officially became “high” which would risk me out of the birth center. I was also warned to mentally prepare for a hospital transfer during labor for high BP because the pain and stress of labor causes many women’s BP to rise (and mine was borderline high at the office by that point).
After the membrane sweep, I had somewhat intense, regular contractions over the course of the evening, but they petered out overnight. The next day, I still had contractions intermittently, but nothing intense or regular. The following day (Friday) I started having weak contractions every 20 minutes or so at around 2PM. By 3PM, they were getting stronger and closer together so I asked DH to pick me up from work. We stopped by Target on the way home to pick up a few things and as we walked through the store, the contractions were getting even stronger and closer. I started to think that this might be real labor although the contractions were still very, very manageable (this was around 4PM).
Once we got home, I called the person who would be watching our son and gave the midwife a phone at 4:30PM-ish). At this point, the contractions were about 6-7 minutes apart. The midwife told me that they like to wait until the contractions get to 5 minutes apart, so I could check back in a few hours or call if things got intense fast. Almost immediately after this call, things got crazy. First, the contractions switched to around 2-3 minutes apart but were still manageable. Very quickly after that, they became very intense. I filled up our bathtub and got in to try and calm down and space them out but needed to get out after about 2 contractions. At this point, it was obvious to me that we needed to go to the birth center and fast. My husband raced around the house calling the MW, collecting last minute items for our labor bag, and finalizing plans for our son. We left for the birth center at around 6PM and made it there at 6:20PM.
I went inside to meet the midwife while my husband waited for my son to be picked up outside. Once inside, the nurse asked me to try to pee (I couldn’t) and started collecting vitals on baby. The midwife came in maybe 5 minutes later. She saw me work through one contraction and said “well this looks promising, let’s see where you are at”. Before the next contraction, she checked me and I was at 8 cm. She asked me if I wanted to use the tub (oh god did I) and she started to fill it up. Before I could get in, a few things needed to happen. The nurse needed to moniter baby’s HB during 4 contractions (she was doing perfectly), they needed to get my blood pressure (amazingly, not high!), and they needed to put in a saline lock (due to my history of PPH). All this was torture because the contractions were right on top of each other and didn’t really let up completely in between each one, but we made it through. As I stood up to head to the tub, I started to feel the urge to push and told the MW as much. She told me to listen to my body and do what feels right, but I was worried that I might not be complete and asked to be checked. So she checked me, and sure enough I complete with just a small lip that she pushed aside (ow!) and we were ready to start pushing.
This was the only point in the process where I really lost it and started telling everyone that I didn’t think I could do it. I was thinking about my son’s birth and how long and painful it was. My wonderful MW held my face, told me that I could do it, and that all women feel like this towards the end of labor, and that means it’s almost over. And with that, I got back on the bed (water births are not allowed) and started to push. I started pushing sort of on all fours, but it didn’t feel very good so I switched to side lying. In my birth plan, I asked to do self-directed pushing and this was perfect for me. No one counting, or yelling, just my body doing what felt right. After the first few pushes, my water broke in a dramatic gush. After that, I quickly delivered her head (feeling the infamous ring of fire) and her body right after. In all, I pushed for between 5 and 7 minutes. The MW later told me that she was completely posterior (which makes delivery more difficult). I only had one small tear that didn’t even require stitches.
She was placed directly on my stomach and my husband was able to cut the cord (both these things didn’t happen with my son). I held her skin to skin for the first hour and we were able to quickly start breastfeeding. It was amazing how alert and calm she was. I felt terrific right afterwards. We stayed at the birth center for 5 hours after she was born (a little longer than the 4 hour minimum because my BP actually became high AFTER the birth and they needed to moniter it back down to normal).
All in all, Lorna’s birth was an amazing, empowering experience that was so, so different from the birth of my son. In fact, it was so fast that it makes me a little nervous for future PG. Let’s just say my husband will be reading and watching some videos on emergency birth assistance. I hope my story can show natural-birth-hopeful moms who had difficult first births that it doesn’t mean your second birth will be like that.
BFP#2: EDD 2/11/14, MMC confirmed 7/15/13 (growth stopped at 6 weeks), D&C @ 12 weeks 7/25/13