Monday, March 22, 2010

Birth Stories: Liam ~ homebirth

I woke up around 7:00 AM on Wednesday, April 8. Leila had just woken up and she wanted me to come snuggle in bed with her. I had a contraction as soon as I got out of bed and went into her room, and I wondered if they would be regular throughout the day. I'd been having irregular contractions, varying in intensity, for two weeks. Soon, Callum was awake and I was busy getting both kids dressed and feeding them breakfast. Contractions continued every 4-5 minutes.

I started cleaning up a little and getting some last-minute things ready for the birth. Contractions continued and started to increase in intensity, so I called Wyatt and let him know today might be baby day. I must have been getting anxious, because I called him back after an hour or so and asked him to come home. I had a feeling baby was coming and I wanted his help setting up the birth pool. Wyatt got home around 10:00 AM and I called my midwife at that point. I let her know I was having regular contractions and some bloody show, and she said she would come check on me. She arrived a little while later. I was still 3-4 centimeters dilated, as I was at my prenatal appointment the night before, but my cervix had softened and thinned out a little more. She said baby's head still had a little room to move around, so I should try to get his head engaged a bit more. I felt a teeny bit discouraged after she left, second-guessing whether I was really in labor or just having more intense Braxton-Hicks contractions. I followed my midwife's suggestion and wrapped my Maya Wrap under my belly and up over my shoulders to try and engage baby's head.

Wyatt fixed lunch for the kids and put Callum down for a nap. I walked all around the house with my belly in the sling. Contractions kept coming, sometimes 2-3 minutes apart, sometimes 4-5 minutes apart. I started to get really sick of timing the contractions. My midwife called after a while and said she would come check on me again. She arrived a little before 2:00 PM. I was 5 cm dilated at that point and baby's head had moved down quite a bit. I was still talking through contractions quite easily. My midwife said she was going to meet her assistant at the Panera down the street, and to keep doing what I was doing. We agreed that I would call her when I started having a hard time coping with the contractions, or when the contractions were about 1.5 minutes apart.

By this time, Wyatt had blown up the birth pool and started filling it up with lukewarm water. He took the kids to our friends' house when Callum woke up from his nap - they had graciously offered to watch the kids during the birth. Leila had said for a few months that she wanted to be there to see the baby being born, but she changed her mind at the last minute and decided she would rather go play with her friends. While Wyatt was gone, I knelt on the floor and draped my upper body and arms over the birth ball. I swayed my hips through each contraction. They were starting to feel pretty intense. Wyatt stopped at the Panera on the way home to pick up some sandwiches, but I wasn't feeling very hungry. He ate his sandwich while I swayed on the birthing ball. I was getting ready to ask him to call the midwife, when she called to check in. Wyatt told her I was ready for her and her assistant to come over.

It was around 4:00 PM when my midwife and her assistant arrived. I sat on the couch while they took my blood pressure and listened to baby's heartbeat. I was starting to really have to concentrate on breathing and relaxing through contractions. We went upstairs and my midwife checked my cervix. I was 7 cm dilated and had a bulging bag of waters. We decided to finish filling up the birth pool so I could get in. I got in the water at 4:30 PM and my midwife and her assistant started getting everything ready for the birth. I felt very relaxed as I sank into the warm water in the birth pool. The first few contractions I had in the water felt much less intense and painful. I was pretty much kicked back, relaxing, talking and joking. My midwife suggested I change positions for a while and kneel in the pool, resting my arms on the side of the pool. I stayed this way for a while. When my midwife listened for the baby's heartbeat, she noticed some decelerations, so I went back to laying back against the side of the pool.

My midwife checked me at this point and I was 8 cm, still with a bulging bag of waters. She checked the baby's heartbeat again during my next contraction, and there were no decels, so I stayed in that position for the rest of my labor. At this point I was feeling a ton of pressure from the bulging amniotic sac during each contraction. I still felt pretty happy and comfortable in between contractions, but they were coming closer together. My midwife's assistant was sitting behind me giving me sips of Gatorade and offering me lip balm (love her!), and reminding me to relax my face and breathe through the contractions. Wyatt was sitting across from me. I began really fighting to keep from tensing up my body during contractions. I kept tightening up my legs and lifting my bottom up off the floor of the pool, so he was holding my legs and rubbing them, trying to help me relax. I can't say that it worked very well at that point, but he was trying!

My midwife checked me again and I was fully dilated, still with the bag of waters bulging. We decided to go ahead and rupture my membranes. When they ruptured, there was some meconium in the fluid, but it was greenish so my midwife guessed it had been there for a while. My next contraction after my water broke was a doozy! I started to feel like I couldn't take the pain for much longer, and I didn't feel like I was very close to being done. I was sort of dreading the pushing stage and so I wasn't able to relax very well. I really started tensing up at this point and gave up trying to relax during contractions. I started to feel a little nauseated. My midwife suggested I try pushing gently during the next contraction to see if it felt good or not. I tried pushing a little but it didn't feel good in any sense of the word! I didn't feel the urge to push, I just felt an intense pressure and the familiar feeling of wanting to crawl out of my body to escape the pain and hard work of giving birth. Wyatt said it did indeed look as though I was trying to climb my way out of the birth pool.

I had some difficulty with "multitasking" at this point. It was hard for me to remember to 1. breathe 2. relax and 3. push. My first real push I forgot to breathe, which wasn't very helpful. My next push I tried to remember to breathe but I definitely wasn't relaxing - I kept pushing after I should have stopped to take a breath because I was afraid if I stopped pushing it would hurt more. I finally got it right on the next push and actually felt the "ring of fire" and baby's head crowning. I was shocked, because I was so wrapped up in the discomfort and the intensity of the contractions that I didn't consider the fact that I might be having a baby soon. I guess I thought I was going to be pushing forever? My midwife was telling me to stop and breathe, and only push during contractions so I wouldn't tear. I heard her, I really did, but I was so intent on getting the baby out that I didn't listen. Wyatt called out, "I can see the head!" and I gave one more push. The baby slipped out at 5:45 PM, head and shoulders all at once. My midwife grabbed him and told me to pick him up, but I must have been in shock still, because I was whimpering and saying, "I can't, I can't!" I finally snapped out of it and pulled the baby onto my chest. My very first thought was that he looked like Leila, just like the dream I'd had a couple of months before. My second thought was that he had red hair, but as it turns out, his head was stained with meconium. Ha! Poor kid. He started to look a little blue, so my midwife rubbed him with a towel while her assistant gave him some oxygen. He pinked up very nicely in a few moments and gave a great big squeal. Wyatt helped to cut the cord after a few minutes and wrapped the baby up in a towel and held him for the first time.

So, that's how Liam Henry was born at home. It was such a wonderful, peaceful experience laboring at home with just my family around me. My midwife and her assistant were amazing and wonderful in every way. I can't thank them enough for being there to support me.

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