I had had two previous c-sections due to “failure to progress” or perhaps “too small pelvis, too big head” according to my doctors. When I shopped around for someone who will do a VBA2C in NYC no one would take me, until I found an amazing midwife who only does home births. After hearing my story and looking at my c-sections reports, she agreed to take me as her patient on the condition that I would start to labor at home but have the baby at a hospital where she has privileges.
My due date was May 6 and it had come and gone, I was 41 weeks pregnant and one of my midwives had suggested that I start acupuncture at 41 weeks for 3 days in a row to naturally induce labor. I couldn’t be induced otherwise because I had two previous c-sections. I had worked very hard on having a natural birth but as the pregnancy continued after the due date I was losing hope it was going to happen because I had let fear take over again.
I started the acupuncture on Sunday afternoon and continued Monday. On Tuesday, May 15th I woke up with the same feeling of nothing happening. I had scheduled a private acupuncture session closer to home so I wouldn’t have to commute on my own. I wasn’t feeling any contractions, not even Braxton Hicks which I had been feeling regularly. I started cleaning the house and cooking, I cooked a vegetarian lasagna, cleaned the kitchen, our bedroom, our living room and the bathroom. It was about 12:45 pm and I had been crazy cleaning all morning. The acupuncturist called me to cancel because she had a family emergency. I freaked, my midwife had said the treatment had to be 3 days in a row so I called the other acupuncture place and they were able to squeeze me in at 1:30. I jumped in the shower, got dressed and called a car service to drive me there. I made it just in time.
The acupuncturist started the treatment, she wasn’t the same that had done it the previous two days and she put more needles in places where she said it was to stimulate the uterus. She told me to relax, I closed my eyes and maybe 15 minutes later I started feeling Braxton Hicks, or what I thought were BH. I was there for about an hour and had four of those but I had been feeling those irregularly for a few weeks. I didn’t think much of it, they were not painful so I decided to take the bus back instead of getting in another taxi. The previous Sunday I had met a woman at the park who had told me that her mom always took a bus ride to encourage labor, so I thought, why not?
I took two buses, wasn’t feeling much but I was sitting down the whole way. When I got off in my stop, the Braxton Hicks were back. It was about 4pm. This time I felt a lot of pressure on my hips but still no pain, but I could not walk through them so I called my husband to come and meet me, I was only a few blocks from home but thought I couldn’t walk there alone. He was home with our middle child, she was napping so he couldn’t come and meet me because there was no one there to watch her. So I decided to continue walking. On the way I run into a couple of friends who were due a couple of weeks before me, they had their baby with them, I wanted to see him and we talked about how I was past my due date. My husband called me because our older daughter who was at a play date, had had a fight with her friend and the mom wanted him to pick her up. It was on the way so I went to pick her up. When I got to her friend’s house, I told the mom that I felt like I was having contractions but I wasn’t sure if they were the real thing. She thought they could be from dehydration. It took a while for my oldest daughter to get ready to leave, they had already made up and she wanted yo stay but I was tired and wanted to go home. We finally left and walked the rest of the way home, it must have been around 4:30pm when I got home and run into a friend and her son, we exchanged hellos, she asked how I was doing, I said I thought I was feeling contractions but still doubted it was the real thing.
Finally we got to our apartment, my daughter was still napping, we let the oldest one watched a video in the computer and I asked my husband to watch a show with me so we could rest. About 15 minutes later I started feeling a lot of pain with the contractions, all of a sudden I was in real pain, I didn’t want to call the midwife because I still thought it could not be it. I had been preparing for the slow onset of labor and we had discussed calling when the contractions were five minutes apart, one minute long, for an hour. So I thought these painful, rapid, close together contractions were probably false labor. I started walking around the house, I couldn’t sit down, I couldn’t do any of the breathing I had practiced or any other position to cope with the pain other than sitting on the toilet or standing. I asked my husband to put pressure on my lower back and push really hard. He said we should start timing the contractions so we did, after a few more, the pattern was between 30 to 45 seconds long, about two and a half minutes apart. I called my midwife, I said I thought I was in labor but the contractions were very painful and very close together. She told me to call back and keep her posted, she didn’t want to act prematurely. I was very surprised, later I learned she had misunderstood me and thought I said that the contractions were not painful.
I continued to labor with the help of my husband, we tried to time more contractions but they were coming so fast there wasn’t much time because I needed him to push on my back. He called the midwife again, told her the contractions were two minutes apart and I was complaining “quite a lot”. She said she would be here shortly. I called my doula, told her to hurry up. At this point, I was in a lot of pain and all that I had learned at hypnobirthing went out the window, I couldn’t use any of the relaxations, the pain was too strong. I remember thinking “I can’t do this without an epidural”, “hypnobirthing doesn’t work”.
The kids were still home, watching videos in the computer and didn’t even notice their mommy’s groans. My doula got here, I had lost track of time. My husband had called my mom who arrived shortly and then my midwife arrived a little later. She took a look at me and told us right away that we were not going to make it to the hospital. She said she needed to check me so we went into the girls’ room. She did a vaginal exam but didn’t tell me where I was, just confirmed that the baby was going to be born at home.
I stayed in the girls’ room with my doula and my husband, they were both massaging me and I was trying to breath. The midwife had gone back to her car to retrieve her kit. Because we hadn’t planned a home birth, I didn’t have a birth kit. But J, my wonderful, motherly, loving midwife improvised. She started asking for things, my mom was fetching them, sometimes I had to translate through my contractions because my mom couldn’t understand everything. In the midst of it all, I had given instructions to my mom to call my friend Monique and she had come to take the girls with her. I couldn’t control my yelling and I didn’t want to scare them.
At this point I was kneeling on the couch, facing the wall while pressing with my hands. My breathing was rapid, I was sweating. I realized then that I was doing Birthing breathing which is the breathing you do in hypnobirthing when you are bringing the baby down to and through the birth canal. Despite all the pain I felt very connected to my body, I could feel the uterus moving the baby down, I could feel my hips and my pelvis opening up and I felt a lot of pressure and an urgent need to push. Right then my water broke. J did a second exam and said that the bag of water was against my cervix, it must have broken high and the baby’s head was pushing against it. I told her I fell like pushing, she said to do what my body told me. My legs were falling asleep from the position I was in, I told J, she offered me to sit on a birthing stool she had put together magically. I did, as soon as I sat on it I felt better. Gravity was helping, at this point I was feeling the urge to push very badly. She told me again to do what my body was telling me. I told my mom to sit, she had been coaching me to breath to the contractions.
An assistant to J had arrived, so my mom was sitting in front of me with full view of what was happening. My husband and the Doula were each on one of my sides telling me I was doing great and massaging me. J was in front of me. I started to push, the pressure and the urge were too strong but at the same time the feeling was so surreal that I was fighting it. With that first push, the bag of water came out, immediately I felt less pressure and the head moving down. There was some meconium in it but just a tint, J checked the baby’s heart, didn’t say anything and told me to follow my body so I pushed with all my strength while holding on to my husband’s and Doula’s hands. J asked me to stop for a moment and let the baby rest. She took my hand and put it on the baby’s head, he was right there, almost out. One more push. Joan told me to grab my legs and bear down. I did and pushed with all I had, she told me to let go of my throat and direct it down. I did and the baby was out! As soon as the head came out his whole body did. Joan put him down, we hadn’t found out the sex so I immediately saw it was a boy! We had two girls and had wanted a boy, no one saw the sex but me. Joan had put him down so she could unwrap the cord which was around his shoulder and hips. The she put him on top of my chest and covered him up, he didn’t cry much, he seemed so serene. I was at awe, I still couldn’t believe this had all happened. Little Sergio was born at 7:37pm (or 7:15 according to my mom). J told everyone to leave the room and my husband and I just stayed there marveling at this beautiful baby.
His cord was still attached and the placenta was inside me. I had the baby on my chest for a long time, he took the breast and fed a little then he fell asleep. J came back, she waited until the cord had stopped pulsating. She was actually waiting for me to have another cramp so I could push the placenta out. I couldn’t push it with the baby on top of me because I felt the cord was tight. She clamped the cord and let my husband cut it. My husband took the baby, I got off the birthing stool and pushed the placenta out. She examined it and showed me where the baby had been, told me it was a very healthy placenta and asked me what I’d like to do with it.
She let me rest for a while, the baby back on my chest, he was calm, wearing a hat, resting too, he had been a champ, we had done it together. After a while, “I looked better”. J wanted me to move into my bed so she could sew me up, I had torn while pushing. She also wanted me to drink and eat something. So they helped me up, I fainted, she put ammonium on my nose, they were holding me so I didn’t fall. I felt better, we walked slowly to my bed. It had been prepped for me. I lied down and J and her assistant started stitching me up. It took a while because I had a second degree tear and according to her, it had shredded. My doula was next to me, talking to me, stroking my hair. My husband and my mom were with the baby and making calls announcing the birth.
I was static, wondering if it had all been a dream. Then the rest was routine, after they finished with the stitching, I sat up. I asked for clothes because I was cold and they also covered me up. They brought the baby back, gave him to me. J had sat down to fill out paperwork such as a recording of the birth, the birth certificate paperwork, etc. The baby and I were bonding. Then J asked me to eat something. My doula had packed some coconut water for me in her bag so I drank two of those and ate lasagna. Meanwhile, J was checking the baby, she weighed him, measured him, checked him. He was perfect.
J said two things to me while she was filling out paperwork: “I would have never agreed to have a home birth with you but I am so happy it happened this way” and “you had the birth I had hoped and dreamed for you”. I wouldn’t have done this without her support and the love and support of my family that day.
Everything was great, they left at around 11pm. My doula stayed a bot longer, gave me some advice. My mom went to bed, my husband had passed out already and after everyone was gone I just sat there, staring at this wonderful creature for the rest of the night because I still thought I was dreaming.