The healing and beautiful HBAC (home birth after Cesarean) of River Lee.
I had been having some pretty intense Braxton hicks starting on Monday evening (River’s due date!) that had slowly progressed to a more painful back ache. I remember thinking that this couldn’t possibly be it and that I couldn’t allow myself to get excited. I did however tell my birth group friends on FB. 😉 After lots of encouragement and pep talk from them I settled in for what I knew was the long haul.
Wednesday rolled around with me having not really slept deeply since Monday night and I was really looking forward to what my midwife Kelly had to say about all of it and to hear River’s heart beat. I took Elle along and she got the wonderful opportunity to listen to her sister’s heart beat with the help of Kelly. The look on Elle’s face was priceless as she concentrated and listened. Kelly told me she believed what I was experiencing was practice labor and to go ahead and head over to the Chiropractor and see if he could kick-start my labor for me. She also gave me some more moves to move River to the left side of my uterus. (a more favorable position for labor and delivery)
Sadly, I didn’t make it over to see Dr. Brooks that day, and I remember how emotional I was that evening. I mentioned it to my birth friends and they encouraged me and told me that I was definitely heading in the right direction and that they all remember being REALLY emotional the day before labor started. I tried not to let that get my hopes up.
Hello Thursday. No change so I decided to head to the Chiropractor. He prepped my pelvis for labor and pushed on some pressure points to hopefully get things moving.
That evening Matt surprised me with a beautiful Valentines day dinner and gave me a new Wii Mario game to play with. I spent the next few hours playing the Wii till my contractions in my back were so painful that I couldn’t concentrate on my game any longer. I decided to head to bed and to text Kelly in the morning if they were time able.
Woke up when Matt did Friday morning around 5 am to find that they were now time able and that I should text Kelly. Got the response to get as much sleep as I could and Matt headed into work with the promise that he would keep his phone nearby and would make sure everyone knew to get him ASAP if I called.
I went back to sleep (kinda ;)) for a few hours and then got up with Elenore. Matt came home around noon (because his coworkers insisted he come home lol) and we tried to keep the day as normal as possible for all of us and just go about our day. We browsed Target, Matt cleaned the whole house, I baked muffins and River’s birthday cake with Elenore and just really tried to enjoy the last day that we for sure were just as a family of 3. It was a real blessing.
Kelly came by and checked me and found that I was a stretchy 3 and around 60% effaced. I was really happy to hear that and she said she was thinking it would be tonight or early Saturday morning. She left to go get some rest and told me to do the same.
I attempted to sleep and Matt ran off to run some last-minute errands. Got a cat nap in before Elle awoke and we spent the last section of the day just relaxing.
Put Elle down at 7 and it was like a switch flipped inside me and my contractions started to get real painful. Told Kelly we needed her to head over because I needed support around 8. She told me they were on their way.
At this point I really had to concentrate during my contractions and either had to be on my birthing ball rocking or walking and swaying to be able to get through them. Kelly and the team arrived and started to get everything all set up for River’s birth.
In between contractions they were all laughing and joking and it was such a lovely environment. I had my candles, music and husband and I felt completely safe to just let go and let my body do what it was meant to do. I knew they would all take care of me and I just let go.
Matthew was such my rock, he was there every time a contraction hit and would squeeze my hips together while Lauren or Kelly kept hot packs to my stomach and back. He made me laugh a couple of times as I yelled his name from across the room and he would sprint to my side right as the contraction hit so that he could do whatever I needed to help me get through the pain.
After a few hours I decided it was time to call my friend Megan and get her there for my birth photos. I had a feeling things were about to change. Right around than is where my contractions hit a point where I asked for my birth pool. Kelly told me it was ok and they started filling it. The feeling was SO nice once I was finally able to climb into the pool and just relax. I only vaguely remember Megan arriving since I think I dozed off for a while.
Right around when I looked up and found that it was 11:30 at night and I joked that the last time I looked it was 10:30, that was right when the contractions became so bad that I no longer fully knew where everyone was in the room. All I know is that whenever I needed them I had someone pouring water on my back, holding my hand or doing whatever they could to get me through the contraction. Matt kept me hydrated and fed and the wonderful women kept him sane and reminded him to take care of himself as well.
At one point I remember thinking that I was in transition but then the contractions took me again and all rational thought escaped me. Kelly checked me again and I was a stretchy 8. I couldn’t have felt more relief than I did at that point, I had stalled at a 7 with Elenore!
Midnight rolled around and Matt commented that River was missing her Valentines birthday! We all just laughed.
This was the point that everything got really fuzzy. I started to no longer be able to “control” the contractions like I did before and had to really start reminding myself to make low noises and not high ones through my contractions. Repeatedly I said silly things and then after the contraction ended would apologize to everyone around me. If someone tried to touch me during a contraction I would slap my hands around and then again at the end apologize. I felt very out of control. I started saying over and over “I just don’t know” since I couldn’t find a comfortable position to be in anymore. Every time I looked up in a daze I saw Kelly’s face or Matthew’s face and it was really comforting.
The urge to push hit so quickly that I was really caught off guard. I looked at Kelly and asked if I should push. She told me to wait and checked me again. I wasn’t quite ready but was a 9. She told me to use quick breathes through the contractions to stop my pushing. I remember being VERY annoyed with her at this point. I started to ask everyone who was close at the right moment why I was doing this and they would just keep reminding me of River. I didn’t find this to be a good enough reason anymore. I really had left all rational thought behind.
Kelly asked if I wanted her to pray and I remembering nodding my head yes. She prayed over Matt and I and prayed for a quick and safe delivery. I felt such peace wrap around me than and for a few seconds I felt God’s presence before my contraction took me away again.
Suddenly I couldn’t stop my pushing anymore and Kelly checked again to find that I had a small cervical lip that was the only thing hanging me up. She asked if I wanted her to hold it out-of-the-way while I pushed and all I could think was that it was going to hurt! She told me yes it would hurt but if I really wanted to push I had to. I made her wait and am not really sure how long I argued, reasoned and tried to ask everyone why I couldn’t I just go to the hospital and get that epidural now. (yes, silly, I know lol) Kelly calmly told me it would take longer to get the epidural than it would for me just to do this now. She finally informed me that I HAD to get out of the pool and I would push past the lip because it was starting to swell and then I could get back into the pool. It took everything inside of me to stand up with the help of Lauren and Matt get out of the pool and onto the birthing stool. I sat on the stool and just started to sob. I really remember Kelly saying “its ok, she needs to cry” and then got in front of me to start the pushing process.
This is the point where I feel like I left all of myself behind. Kelly held the lip while I pushed and I was so past the point of making any sense and just WANTED TO BE DONE! I kept saying how much it hurt and Matt kept saying “you can do this, a little bit more” and I wanted to hit him! At one point Kelly told me to feel my daughter’s head and feel how close she was. I reached down and felt her head and wanted to cry when I realized she wasn’t crowning yet, but was close. Kelly asked if I wanted to get back into the pool and I refused. I didn’t want to move. During one of the last pushes I was squealing so much that Kelly told me to stop squealing and just push! It was what I needed to hear and really started to push. Than holy moly the ring of fire hit!
They really mean it when they call it the ring of fire! Kelly made me stop and feel her head to give my body a chance to adjust to her head and I just wanted to get her out! I remember just thinking “get her out!” and did a great big push to where FINALLY her head was out! Than I realized I still had her body and I really almost lost it but did the last push to get her out.
Oh the relief! It really is a indescribable feeling when your baby is finally out and you did it!
This point everything slowed down and I went into a kind of twilight zone as things around me really sped up. I was just watching Kelly rub down River and suction out her nose and mouth when suddenly I heard Lauren tell me to open my mouth and she gave me a dose of herbs, than the shot into my leg and then suddenly I heard Sherri tell me she was giving me another shot of Pit and I all of a sudden realized what was happening. I was bleeding and it wouldn’t stop. Kelly told me to STOP BLEEDING and I remember mumbling, “ok” and pushing out River’s placenta. That was when everyone calmed and vaguely I remember thinking “oh, I’m ok now” and they let me hold River and bring her to my breast to nurse. Matt and I just looked at her and Kelly prepped her for her cord to be cut. Matt didn’t want to cut it so Megan got to cut it (she was SO excited!) and than finally it was over.
They got me onto the bed and wrapped up with warm towels, started an IV drip and I just sat there in stunned disbelief that I had actually done it! I had pushed out my daughter! All 8 lbs and 3 oz of her!
Later I asked how long I was actually pushing because it felt like hours and got the surprising answer of only 20 minutes! Wow… That was a shock. haha
I would do it all again in a heartbeat! Even with the scary part at the end Matt agrees that it was the best experience of his life.
I firmly believe I wouldn’t have made it in a hospital. I would have given up at the first suggestion during transition. I really needed a house full of people who knew what I wanted and were willing to help me fight; even when it was me, to get the birth I wanted and needed. I thank God everyday for leading me to Kelly and her team and having all the blocks fall into place for me to have this home birth.
God really does work in mysterious ways and it all ended with a beautiful 8 lb baby girl.