English Cowgirl in the US of A
Hi everyone, this is very long, has a lot of probably unnecessary details and personal information, but there you go, that’s kind of how I roll!
This was my second baby. My first was born in a hospital using nitrous oxide for pain relief. I tried to use hypnobirthing for his delivery but often lost focus and faith in my body and my baby’s ability to birth comfortably. It wasn’t a bad experience but I did push for an hour and 20 minutes on my back with a nurse coaching me through forced pushing.
My goal with this birth was to avoid any pain relief whatsoever and to trust my body to know what to do and to follow its lead; especially when it came time to push.
We live in an isolated rural area with very limited facilities. The hospital has a protocol they follow very closely, mandatory IV and fluids and basically deliver how the doctor tells you to. They have two OB’s available but you are unable to choose which one attends your birth. I was not interested in fighting doctors and protocol during delivery and I didn’t much care for the one OB I did meet.
I was overwhelmed as I tried to search for an alternative place to have our baby that would be on board with our wishes; let alone understand the insurance and cost implications. The closest possible options were 3 1/2hours away!
I considered home birth and contacted midwives in Las Vegas (200 miles away) to see if they would attend, but none would. I considered taking my toddler to live in a hotel room in Vegas with me in June for a couple of weeks before the birth and have my mother fly over from England to help me, in which case I would call Sam (my husband) when I went into labor and just hope that he would make the 3 and a ½ hour drive and still get there in time! I considered many flawed and impossible options and finally resigned myself to the thought of having the baby in the local hospital and to enlist my polite, mild mannered husband to fight tooth and nail for my wishes throughout labor and delivery. I was very unconfident and quite depressed about the whole thing.
Then one nasty winter day a friend of mine dropped by unannounced to chat. My house and I were a mess, but I am so unbelievably thankful she came by. Our conversation came around to children and unbeknown to both of us we were both pregnant with due dates just 3 weeks apart.
I asked her where she was planning to have her baby. She said she has her babies at home with a midwife, I immediately asked for the midwife’s details! It was a little risky as the midwife team had a 4 hour drive to get to us, but they were willing to attend and the alternative for me was just miserable.
Yay, now I was once again excited about the birth of my baby. Sorry for the big long intro! Now to the good stuff…
I reviewed my hypnobirthing materials and religiously listened to the birth affirmations track and rainbow relaxation track each night as I fell asleep from about 14 weeks onwards.
At 30 weeks I started drinking 1 cup a day of red raspberry leaf tea, increasing to 3 cups a day by the time I delivered. I exercised four times a week through the whole pregnancy and felt great. I was still even attending calf brandings and castrating calves on my due date (I delivered the following day).
I nested like crazy for months, bought items for my birth kit from Amazon about daily and organized and re-organized my birth kit many, many times!
I had been having a lot of Braxton Hicks in the 4 weeks or so before delivery. I woke at 6am on the day of her birth and felt some slight cramping across my back along with the Braxton Hicks, this was a little different so I started timing them. They ranged from 8 minutes to 30 minutes apart over the space of three hours. I called Casandra (one of my midwives) to let her know and we went back and forth as to whether she should start her 4 hour drive. At 11am she decided to head our way. At about the same time the contractions slowed to 25 minutes apart, then 35, then 45 then down to one an hour. I was second guessing myself and feeling guilty and pressured because the midwife was coming. Sam, Dillon (our 2yr old) and I went to lunch with a group of friends and then I came home and showered before the midwife’s arrival, still only contracting about once every hour.
She arrived at 4pm and did a basic prenatal, blood pressure, fundal measurement etc. We discussed me taking castor oil that evening to get things going so she wouldn’t have to go back home without delivering a baby. I said I’d rather not take it that night and we agreed to revisit the possibility in the morning if things were not progressing.
She told me to take a nap while I could and she’d come back at 8.30pm to do some massage with essential oils and some other natural things to get labor going.
Sam and I took an hour long nap and got up at 5pm. Contractions started again and progressed inconsistently over the next 3 hours, some were 8 minutes apart, but some were only 25 minutes apart.
Casandra arrived back at 8.30pm and did a cervical check at 8.45pm. I was 4cm dilated which she said was pretty good, especially since my contractions were not at all consistent.
She did a gentle membrane sweep when she checked me and then she started applying some oils to my feet to get labor going. I had to get up and breath through contractions three times while she was applying the oils. She stopped and said she didn’t think it was necessary as things seemed to be progressing just fine on its own.
Sam called his cousin Rocky who had agreed to assist Casandra in attending our baby’s birth. He told her I was 4cm dilated and she said ok, I’ll have my phone on, just call me when you want me to come over.
I had to really concentrate on my breath and relax and envision my cervix opening with each contraction now, but I was coping with them just fine and they felt like intense pressure instead of being at all painful.
I started to really sweat and feel a little nauseous with each one. Which I thought was weird at the time because these were the sensations I felt during transition with my son. I didn’t possibly think I could be in transition yet! With the very next contraction I felt and saw my belly bear down and start trying to push my baby out. I told Casandra it felt like I needed to push on that last contraction. She said, “Well try not to, I doubt you are ready yet” I have since figured I had 7 contractions from the time she checked me at 4cm to this point. The next contraction I knew I had to poop and as I sat on the toilet and pooped my body pushed at the same time and my water broke. The time was 9.30pm. So I went from 4cm to fully dilated in 45 minutes and just 8 contractions.
This is the one and only time I panicked and felt pain during the birth. I failed to trust my body to know what to do and follow its lead, which was one of the main hypnobirthing affirmations I was planning to follow. My previous doctor had told me that pushing before full dilation could cause you to tear your cervix and that that was a big deal and hard to fix, apparently I had held on to this fear and let it in in the moment. I panicked that I might be doing just that!
I was still on the toilet at this point and still pushing with each contraction as I couldn’t stop it, but I was tense now and those couple of contractions were pretty uncomfortable. The midwife was able to check me, I asked if my cervix was out of the way and she said it was. Ok, I thought, I can get back on track now. I was still sitting on the toilet and pushing with each contraction and it took a couple more for me to regain my composure and relax. Casandra asked if I wanted to just do this right there. I thought, heck no, I don’t want to have my baby on the toilet, but I was not able to speak yet. Sam later told me that when she asked me that he thought “please don’t have our baby on the toilet” in the moment he didn’t say a word! ;)
We had planned on me having her in the bath, but there wasn’t time now!! I also had fairy lights up all around the bedroom and the bathroom with printed out birth affirmations and newborn pictures of my toddler. I never looked at any of it once!!
She asked if I wanted to move to the bed. I managed to squeak out “hands and knees” and with her and Sam’s help I literally flopped off the toilet on to my hands and knees next to it.
They were scrambling to get some floor coverings down and get towels for my hands and knees to make me comfortable, but I didn’t care, I was back with it now and knew everything was going to be ok and comfortable again. I asked them to take my pants off as they were still around my knees!
Sam called Rocky and told her she better come now. She arrived to the view of my backside with a baby very close to crowning. I knew she was there but wasn’t able to acknowledge her presence until after I had delivered.
With each contraction I could feel my baby gently descending and then retreating but making progress every time. I got to the point of crowning and Casandra told me to try to keep her head there, with a little holding push from me, the rest my body was doing on its own, I kept her there and she progressed out with each contraction after that. I felt down there and they said “can you feel that, that’s your baby’s head.” To me, it didn’t feel like a baby’s head, but I thought, I guess they can see it and know what they are talking about! She came out with her hand by her face just like her brother had. With Dillon the doctor pulled his arm out and I tore a little internally. With Hayley they didn’t interfere and I didn’t tear.
I delivered her head and they checked her neck for the cord which wasn’t a problem so I continued to push her out, she was already crying before she was all the way out. I gave one little conscious push at the end as Casandra said one more and she would be completely out.
They passed her through my legs and I could see her under me and I was holding her slippery little body. The cord was extremely short and I couldn’t bring her up to me; so as soon as it stopped pulsating Sam cut it. He took her while I birthed the placenta.
I wasn’t having any contractions anymore so the placenta wasn’t coming. After a while Casandra pulled on it gently to see if it was just sitting in my birth canal, which it was. It came out complete and I moved to the bed so I could get some skin to skin time with my beautiful girl and let her start to explore nursing.
With my first baby also my uterus did not contract on its own and I needed Pitocin to cause contractions and stop the bleeding. After using some natural tinctures the bleeding was still going so we decided to use Pitocin again, like last time this didn’t really cause me any discomfort and the bleeding stopped.
Hayley was extremely alert and very content. She took to nursing very quickly. We got to spend a lot of great time together, unlike in the hospital, there was no one hurrying us to have her weighed and eye ointment etc. administered. We were just able to hang out with Sam by our side.
Casandra and Rocky checked me for tears. There was one little spot that they both at the same moment described as a “skid mark” which made me laugh. I also had a hematoma inside about an inch long, but nothing that needed any stitches or further treatment.
I guessed she would weigh exactly 7lbs and Hayley weighed in just under at 6lb 14oz.
Our son Dillon is a total mini me of Sam and I’ve been joking throughout this pregnancy that I’m going to be upset if I don’t get my mini me. Well, she has a full head of dark hair and so far people say she looks like me; especially when she is making pouty or angry faces! ;)
Thanks to my midwives Casandra and Hannah, my husband Sam and my cousin-in-law Rocky for their awesome support and scrambling efforts as no-one expected things to go so fast.
I am so in love with my baby girl and my homebirth, it was amazing. I would do it again in a heartbeat.