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CAM Birth Story #43: Erin’s HBAC

In honor of Cesarean Awareness Month 2010, we will be filling the blogosphere with stories from real women (and their families) who know first-hand the consequences of a 32% cesarean rate. Each day we will post at least one birth story submitted by these women. Prepare to be moved (hint: grab a box of Kleenex)!

From Erin…

Monday, March 24, 2008: We went out to dinner with my parents. I began the evening with a dull backache and by mid-dinner I was having contractions that were 7 minutes apart. Because I had been having prodromol labor for a couple weeks, I told my husband (Cody) that he wasn’t allowed to get his hopes up. A few minutes later, I gave him a smile — letting him know that yes, my hopes were up and this is it!

After dinner we went home and put Emmy to bed. We called my parents over and asked if they wanted to play Uno to help us not watch the clock. They did and we played well into the night. My contractions picked up in intensity (and if I recall they were about 5 minutes apart, too). Cody sent my parents home in mid-game and explained that we all needed our rest.

We slept fairly well, considering the contractions about 7 minutes apart.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008: Cody went on to work and Emmy and I stayed home from storytime. I tried not to watch the clock but was pretty aware that things were progressing. Cody came home from work at lunch time and we all rested during Emmy’s nap time. By 6pm that night, contractions were 4 minutes apart and 45 seconds long. I made a big pot of chicken noodle soup and picked up around the house.

By 11pm they were between 3 and 4 minutes apart and almost a minute long. I spent most of my time at this point on my hands and knees, leaning on the birth ball. During a contraction, I would wiggle my hips left and right as I rolled forward on the ball.

here’s where things get fuzzy…

Wednesday, March 26, 2008: Around 2am or so, contractions reached the “magic” 3 minutes apart for 1 minute mark, and we called our midwife and doula. I was in the pool at some point (I think before they came?). They both came over, as well as the midwife’s assistant and a new doula who was going to observe. They were all very respectful, but I turned into a hostess (worrying about whether or not I’d remembered to clean out the microwave, not having coffee, etc.) and got chatty. Slowly, my contractions began to space out. My midwife had me get out of the pool. I went back to the birth ball in the living room.

In the morning, around 9am, my midwife talked to me and said that she thought that everyone should go home. My labor was stalling and she thought that Cody and I should try to rest and that the extra people around were causing me to slow down. The new plan (as explained to Cody) was that we were to call my doula [at some point??] and she was to come over, evaluate me, and then call the midwife. Both my doula and midwife asked if I was OK with this plan and I said I was. I felt really bad about the situation — feeling like I woke everyone up in the middle of the night for nothing, feeling like I’d let everyone down — but I also understood. Also, at this point, I noticed bloody show. I was excited about this new development and was happy that something else was going on, in addition to contractions.

Shortly after everyone left, I began vomiting and contractions really picked up to a new level. I had this new ‘element’ to my contractions — they started going from my hips down the sides of my thighs, in addition to from my back to my belly. It was horrible. And it made me so mad. And I fought them. As much as I tried to relax, I just couldn’t. I’d clench my behind and tighten my legs. Nothing helped and walking was the only tolerable thing to do.

At some point, I was just exhausted. I was walking through my nasty hip/leg contractions and had been “going” for quit some time. I wanted to lay down, but that made the pain so much worse. I remember wishing we could rig up some sort of device to hang my body from the ceiling so I could remain upright for the contractions and rest at the same time. I spent a lot of time thinking of a way to do that, but couldn’t come up with anything.

I just couldn’t do anything more than simply labor, and I finally quit talking. My husband, who was still being amazingly supportive, would help and ask questions but I could only nod, shake my head, and do simple sign language. From what I understand, this period lasted a few hours. During this time, (I’m told) I developed a rhythm — I would lean on our tall dresser during the contraction, walk to the door frame of our bedroom’s bathroom and put pressure on my lower back, then try to go to the bathroom. I’d walk back near the dresser and start it all again. Around 2pm Cody called my doula and updated her on the situation. (I think they’d talked before this point, as well).

A bit after 3pm, my doula came back — I think she had tried to come sooner, but had sitter-issues. I remember her asking and/or reminding me to use the deep, low vocal toning and I had to tell her that I was just too tired. I remember making the “ah” vowel shape with my mouth, but only breathing out with each contraction. I felt like I was having to save all my energy for each contraction. I labored sitting on the birth ball, with my husband sitting behind me in a kitchen chair (in our room). I’d lean back on him during a contraction… not sure what happened in between…

My midwife was called at some point (probably right when my doula came back — and maybe again?) and returned around 5pm. I don’t remember her coming and was only slightly aware she was there. Her assistant and the doula-trainee also returned but were under strict orders to keep out of site. I didn’t even know they were there until after the baby was out! I was laboring in my bedroom when my midwife returned. I’m told that they finally got my to lay down in bed for a while and labor on my side. Laying down made that hip pain worse, so I’d avoided it for so long. I’m not sure how long I was in bed… I actually think I returned to my dresser/bathroom rhythm here. I specifically remember my midwife listening to the heartbeat when I was sitting on the toilet. I believe it happened a few times (it just so happened that’s when she came to check me that’s where I was). I remember noticing that the device was lower on my belly when she returned and feeling pleased that the baby must have been descending.

I don’t know when or why, but I remember being asked if I wanted to sit in my glider-chair. I answered that I didn’t want to sit by the window (the glider is in our living room bay window). So the glider was brought to my room… I’m told that I sat in the chair and would have a contraction and then fall asleep. Cody says that I had a new rhythm to my contractions, I’d moan and vocalize during the contraction, then “signal” it was over by three deep, long breaths, then I’d begin to snore. As soon as the next contraction began, he said my eyes would pop open, and it’d begin again. He said my midwife came in the room at this point (she’d been listening in the hallway — out of site with the others), and watched my rhythm and smiled and whispered “that’s cute.” I refer to this point in my labor as “the blanket time.” The only memories I have about this stage was being super hot during a contraction and freezing when it was over. I believe I had asked for a blanket while sitting in the chair and quickly asked/ordered it to be taken off during the contraction ["blanket!"]. I don’t remember the words of the conversation, but Cody told me later that I told him that I needed that blanket off when I got hot, and he gently said, “you just tell me when to take it off,” and I responded to him, “I don’t want to have to say ‘blanket.’” So that was that. From then on, the blanket was being pulled off and quickly put on without my direction.

It was during this time that I remember my midwife again checking the baby’s heart rate with the doppler. I remember thinking “oh, the baby is much lower this time.” Later, she checked again, and I noticed she had to move the piece further down again. At some point later, Cody had left the room to get me more water, and he (and the midwife) heard a change in “moans.” My midwife said something along the lines of “it won’t be long now” and then came in with him to my room. She asked my doula how long I had been sitting ‘like this’ (I’d changed my sitting position), and my doula answered that I just did. All I heard was some whispering and then someone told me that they thought I had a cervical lip, and that I needed to switch positions to lean forward.

I forget what options were given to me, but I asked about sitting backwards on the toilet (I’d remembered that position from one of my Bradley Birth class handouts). They said that was great so I moved there. Oh, I hated it there! I’m not sure how long I labored on the toilet, — it seemed like a long time — but I remember my doula telling me I only had to stay there for a few contractions. At this point, I realized (thought!) that I hadn’t hit transition and I got concerned… this was really, really hard — how was I going to get through transition?? I asked my doula, “when’s transition?” (as if she could look at her watch and give me a time line), and she said something along the lines of, “you’re there” or “you’ve done that” or something. So then, I thought, oh no, we don’t even know if I’m dilated or not… well, I think I have to be pretty close to 10 if they’re concerned about a cervical lip… but still we don’t know for sure and maybe i’ve not dilated at all!

During this toilet-time, I think I uttered the words, “I *need* to be done.” About that time during a contraction — out of no where — my moan turned to a loud grunt and I pushed. “I think I just pushed!” I exclaimed. Whoever was right there (I have no idea) said “that’s good.” OK then.

The next thing I remember is being asked if I wanted to go to the pool. “NO – I don’t want it to slow down my labor again,” I answered. I heard a smile in the response: “I don’t think you have to worry about that.”

After my next contraction, we walked down the hall, to the kitchen, and I got back in the pool. A few contractions came in the hallway, but I don’t remember that. I remember feeling awkward trying to get into the pool, and I remember a discussion about the temperature. I thought it was fine because I was so hot, but my midwife was explaining that it wasn’t warm enough for the baby. I was on my hands and knees, leaning on the edge of the pool. Cody was sitting in a kitchen chair above my head. I remember the water hose kept floating towards me and the warm stream of water was hitting my belly. I asked if they could keep the hot water away from me, and they did.

I remember having the urge to push again, and thinking to myself that I could do this for 2 hours. That was my goal… in 2 hours. When I’d push, I squeeze the back of the kitchen chair Cody sat on with my left hand and Cody’s hand with my right. After one (maybe 2?) squeezes, I realized that I might be hurting him, so I moved my hand to his thigh. I remember being quite surprised at the sounds that were coming out of me as I pushed. I was really loud! I tried to keep the noises low (in tone… not volume). During one push, I felt that distinct “ping” of my bag of waters breaking, and I said that I thought my water broke. I remember saying “Tell me what to do,” and I was answered “you’re doing it.” (At the time, I didn’t think that answer was too helpful — but now I think it’s cool!) During another push, my midwife told me that I could reach down and feel the baby’s head…. as I began to reach down, I stopped and said “No.” Cody later told me that he thought I was “no-ing” at another contraction — which I had been doing at the start of many, but actually, I was thinking “no, I’ve got to get her OUT…. no time to stop and feel her head!” I roared and grunted with each push, and there was one where my voice rose from a low tone and slid up the scale to a high sound — Cody said that was the push that announced to our neighbors that Bella was here. I remember sitting up more (maybe kneeling?) as her head was on its way out — I almost felt the need to stand up to make room. Cody told me later that I was talking to the baby, “Bella come out!” I also remember wondering where the ring of fire was (something else I’d feared). Once I felt that head, I pushed with each contraction to get her out. When she was out, I sat up on my knees, facing my husband. “We did it!” I cried.

My midwife handed me the baby, and then she helped unwrap her (her cord was wrapped around her somewhere). Bella didn’t cry right away, and so my midwife said “hand me my stethoscope,” but as soon as the words left her mouth, Bella began to cry. (I don’t actually remember that part either).

I don’t know who suggested it, or how long we were in the pool after she was out, but I remember the “parade” down the hall to our bedroom… Me holding the baby, Cody, and our birth team, along with towls and chux pads. I guess it was at this point that Cody called our family to spread the news. Bella nursed, and pooped a few times within the first half hour! I pushed out the placenta and it was wrapped up and sat next to us in the bed, until the cord was cut roughly 2 hours later.

My mom and Emmy (who had apparently just fallen asleep) were the first ones over. Our new family of 4 sat in our bed and we began our babymoon. Slowing, family began showing up and after a while, my midwife did the newborn exam.

Just the facts:

Date of birth: 3*26*08

Time: 9:09pm

Time of 2nd stage: 29 minutes

Time of 3rd stage: 10 minutes

Bag of Waters broke: Spontaneously at 8:42pm

Baby’s position: ROA

Baby’s weight: 6lbs, 12oz

Length: 18″

Originally posted on ICAN of Louisville’s blog

One Comment

  1. Jenny says:

    Erin ~ Lovely story!!! I especially loved the video! Congrats to you and your beautiful family!