Friday, October 9, 2015

Cora's Birth Story

Birth Stats...
Estimated Gestational Age: 41 weeks and 3 days 
16 hours labor, 10 minutes pushing
8 lbs. 10 oz.
Unmedicated, Home, Water, 3rd Birth
Long labor, easy delivery

(((Sorry - No photos - They are on another drive and I can't get them off right now)))

This was our first home birth. We decided to do a home birth because using midwives at the hospital was a bit more invasive and unneeded than we wanted with our prior birth. We really enjoyed the personalized care our team of midwives gave us in the months prior to birth! 
The weeks prior to delivery were full of prodromal labor. I was so certain I was in labor that I even called my parents nearly two weeks early and they rushed down to help us take care of our older two children only for labor to stop abruptly that night. This pattern went on every few nights for two weeks. It was very annoying. My due date came and went and finally after 9 days overdue my water broke at 2:30 am as I turned over in bed. The fluid came rushing out all over the bed. I was amazed at how much came out. We cleaned things up, got the birth tub filled and tried to go back to sleep for a while. Contraction started up with in an hour and increasingly got closer together. By 5 am we called Juanita (one of the midwives) and told her they were 4 minutes apart and that she might want to come soon. We expected labor to progress as fast as it had with our second, which had been about 4 hours of active labor or about 6 hours total.
Juanita and Carole, our midwives arrived and I got up and walked around the house as the sun rose and came through our windows, it was such a beautiful sunrise to enjoy that morning. I alternated between walking around our property, sitting on the birth ball, and resting. The contractions continued to strengthen in intensity and by about 9 am I told Tim that I thought we would have the baby by noon because they were getting so strong and felt like what I had experienced near the end of my other labors.
Thinking things were progressing fast the midwives suggested I take another walk around the property and then they would check me before I got in the tub. While we walked things got very painful and I thought I would be near 7 cm dialated when we returned. Juanita checked and to our surprised I was only at 4 cm! I was so discouraged.  

We continued walking for several more hours, stopping for rests and eating. After two more checks I was only at 5 cm, but I felt such pressure on my cervix that I couldn’t believe nothing was happening! Things went on like this for hours. I continued to labor in intensity that felt like the transition periods I had felt with my other two labors. 

It was discouraging, scary and confusing to me. I felt like my body wasn’t working right. I was trying so hard to relax, stay calm and positive. I feared the baby was too big or something was not right. I wanted so badly to get into the birth tub as that was where I had always done my hard laboring with my other births, but Juanita felt it would slow down my labor or stop me from progressing. I totally disagreed with this... it was always what helped me progress in the past. I didn't understand her adamant stance against "letting" me get in since I didn't have a history of having stalled labor in water. I tried getting in the shower, but only cried and felt worse and fearful.
The whole time Tim was a nervous wreck, he overheard the midwives calling a doctor for consultation and to arrange a transport to the hospital. He came back in to the room and asked me how much more I wanted to take. I told him I could continue for a while longer, but I was so discouraged I wasn’t dialating. The midwives came in and checked again and Juanita tried to adjust the baby’s position manually, thinking she might be in a less than idea position and that what was causing the slow dilation. It was probably one of the more painful things I've ever experienced! I was still only at 5 cm. And I am pretty sure that it was not a needed intervention.
They then noticed that the baby’s heart was slightly dipping during the peak of my contractions and they wanted me to labor lying on my side. This was torture, but it improved the heart rate. I couldn’t stay relaxed, I was panicking it hurt so bad. I was able to get my breathing under control, but my back, legs and body just tensed as the baby’s head felt like it was pushing hard against my unyeilding cervix. I think I labored on my sides for a few hours. At one point I said, “I just can’t do this anymore!” Juanita said, “What option do you think you have?" Which just hurt and angered me even more. I was trying with all my might and nothing was working and I didn’t need a flippant response. I said, “I can’t keep laying here. At least at the hospital they'd allow me options. I need to get up or get in the tub for at least a little bit and maybe I can keep going on.” They agreed to let me get in the tub, which is what I had felt I needed for several hours because I couldn’t relax and my labor had always progressed very fast in the tub previously. 
I got in the tub and literally in the next contraction I felt amazingly better, more relaxed and able to cope with the pain. In many ways all the pain was gone and the unbearable pressure on my cervix was taken away! 

Another contraction came and I felt the baby move down and I had a strong desire to push. I told every one and Juanita said, “Are you sure it isn’t just pressure, there is a difference? See what you feel next time.” With the next contraction I nearly yelled, “I need to push!” Tim quickly got in the tub and helped support me as Juanita checked me and laughed as she said, “You are at 10 cm with just a small lip. I’ll push it back in the next contraction.” 
I went through two contractions and small pushes and then I was fully ready to push. I pushed lightly and the baby moved down quickly and was crowning! I couldn’t believe it! I tend to panic when the baby crowns and push them out too quickly and tear. Carole, our other midwife, helped me get focused and helped me hold my hand on the head as I pushed the baby out. It was amazing how easy it was to push the baby out and into the water and I was able to bring the baby to my chest. 
The baby didn’t cry right away, so I was helped out of the tub and onto the bed where they suctioned and gave the baby a little oxygen. In all the excitement we hadn’t even checked to see if we had a boy or a girl. Tim looked and proudly announced we had a girl! We were surprised because she had a head of dark brown hair. We named our daughter Cora Anne, which means, “The grace of the Lord fills my heart.” She weighed 8 lbs. 10 oz.  and was 19 inches long. She had no moulding on her perfectly round little head. She was born at 6:20 pm, after about 16 hours of active labor. 
It was such a relief to know that I was able to deliver my baby at home and surprising to us all that just 30 minute before I was ready to pack up and go to the hospital. I learned in this birth to trust myself and my body above the opinions of others. I learned that I can outlast hard things and that while it wasn't my normative birth experience I can keep going!

Afterward I realized that while I needed to listen to my midwives and respect their educated and knowledgable position, I should have shared my concerns more openly and I realized that getting in the tub was really only ever up to me. Often in birth we (mothers) talk about doctors or care providers "letting" or "making" us do various things ... when in reality it is only ever up to the mother/woman. We tend to abdicate our own will, insight and personal rights because of one thing... fear. Having a safe birth and a good birth are synonymous. They are not oppositional goals. A safe birth is a positive and respectful birth. When I felt the need to get in the tub hours prior (at 9 or 10 am) I should have gotten in and made a deal with the concerned midwife that if it stalled even a little I'd get out... or to keep mixing up what I was doing. Realizing that a "birth team" is really just that ... they work together with (even FOR) the mother to make a birth a healthy and positive experience.

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