Birth of Natalie Lynn - December 9, 2009
My due date, November 30th had long passed, and I was becoming very eager to meet my little one. I had already tried all sorts of natural methods – both traditional and non-traditional – to induce my own labor: walking, intercourse, acupuncture, breast pump, spicy food, etc… Weeks earlier, at my 38 week prenatal exam, I already had bloody show, and I was 90% effaced, 3cm dilated, -1 station. I was experiencing uterine toning and restless nights.
On December 8th, I went for my weekly prenatal and, this time, a non-stress test was performed, as I was nearly 42 weeks pregnant. After a normal NST, the midwife checked me, and I was 100% effaced, 4cm dilated, with the baby at 0 station.
The midwife chuckled and said. “I can’t believe you’re not in labor!” We decided at this appointment that I would kick-start my labor with castor oil, since waiting any longer would cause me to risk out of my planned home birth.
On the morning of December 9th, after a good night’s sleep, I drank my first dose of castor oil. Four hours later, I took the second dose. Nothing happened. My husband, Dafydd, and I went to the deli to get big sandwiches, so we could ‘fuel up’ for the long night ahead of us.
During lunch, my friend, Liz, a massage therapist, called me to find out if I was in labor. “I’m not in labor,” I replied, “but you are welcome to come over and keep us company while we wait for labor to start.”
Liz came over when we were done with lunch, and we watched a stand-up comedian while I sat on the yoga ball and made circles with my hips. The show was over at about 3:00 in the afternoon, and I was still not in labor. So, Liz gave me a massage. At the conclusion of the hour-long massage, I laid on the massage table in what I call the “post-massage coma” and enjoyed the deep sense of relaxation I was feeling.
Suddenly, I felt a strong urge to have a bowel movement. I ran to the bathroom and had loose bowels and cramping. I remember thinking, “Is this the castor oil giving me diarrhea, or is this labor?” When I thought I was finished on the toilet, I stepped out of the bathroom and felt more cramping, along with an urge to push. I sat on the toilet again, but felt the need to suspend myself over the toilet by pushing myself up, using the sink and the back of the toilet as a brace to relieve the pressure I felt on my lower back. At this point, I still felt unsure whether or not this was labor, or just intense pain from diarrhea and pressure from the pregnancy.
When I left the bathroom again, I felt another diarrhea cramp, paired with menstrual-like cramping. Then, I knew: this was definitely labor. At the onset of the contraction, I ran to the bedroom, grabbed the foot end of the bed to brace myself, and squatted. At this point, I felt bubbles come up the front of my belly followed by a big, audible burst! “Oh my god! My water broke! Call the midwife!” Dafydd flew off the bed and ran to the phone. When I spoke with the midwife, she asked me if I was having contractions. “Yes, but we can’t really time them,” I replied. “Okay. Well, when you start getting some contractions, give me a call and I’ll head over.”
Once we hung up the phone with the midwife, it seemed that my labor really took off. Laboring on the toilet helped somewhat, but I couldn’t get myself into a ritual there, so I wanted to try different positions and different locations in the house. I recall going out to the living room and kneeling at the couch, thinking that changing scenery would make me feel better. When the living room didn’t help me alleviate pain or embrace a ritual, I decided to move to the bedroom.
Laboring on my hands and knees still hurt, so I thought I would try laboring on my side, lying down. This was the most excruciating position for me. When the contraction passed, I returned to a kneeling position on the mattress, and labored with my elbows on the bed. At this point, I had an uncontrollable urge to push. A few contractions later, the midwife arrived. In the meantime, Dafydd and Liz filled the birth tub in our baby’s room.
As soon as the midwife arrived, she checked me, and I was 8 cm. Shortly thereafter, I got into the birth tub to labor in the warm water. While I was in the water, I remember thinking, “I need to ask to get out of here, but I’ll just regroup first and then ask for help.” It seemed as soon as I was able to recover from one contraction, the next one started. I couldn’t talk. I was just writhing around in the tub, using my buoyancy to relieve the pressure. Dafydd kept me hydrated by giving me a water bottle to drink from during labor and pushing.
I could feel the ‘ring of fire’ that I’d heard other mothers describe. The pain was so intense that I really wanted to vocalize. I felt pressure in my hips and lower back, and surges of pain emanated from my lower abdomen, along my bottom, and down my legs. I wanted to scream, but I told myself, “If you really need to scream, do it. But it would be better to send the energy downward and use it to push the baby out.” I also recall telling myself to hurry up and push the baby out so that the pain could finally go away.
Once I was fully dilated and continued to follow my instinct in pushing, the pushes actually worked as counter-pressure on the contractions. This gave me some relief from the pain. I yelled for the midwife to pull the baby out once her ears cleared the birth canal, but she encouraged me by telling me I could push it out. I sat up in the water, braced my upper back on the side of the tub, and grabbed my knees as I pushed the baby’s head out. Once the baby’s head was out, I instinctively put my hand over my pubic bone as I pushed. I needed to push extra hard as the midwife helped me deliver the baby’s shoulders. Once the shoulders were out, I felt relief! The midwife put the baby into my arms on my chest and I got to meet my beautiful baby girl. My whole labor, from first contraction to delivery, was 2 hours and 25 minutes. I pushed for about 45 minutes.
Natalie didn’t breathe right away. The midwives and I stimulated her with towels and exposed her to the cool air, out of the water, but ultimately, Natalie needed some oxygen to help her take her first breaths.
Once Natalie was breathing and crying, Dafydd cut the umbilical cord. At this point, we looked at the water in the birth pool, and it was very bloody – almost like a shark attack had taken place. The midwives helped me out of the water and into bed. Dafydd held Natalie while the midwives worked to get me stable.
“Give me a good push for this placenta, Meredith,” said the midwife. As I was delivering the placenta, the midwife’s assistant was preparing a saline I.V. for me. Once I delivered the placenta, the midwife spoke to me in a very calm, quiet voice: “You are bleeding a little more than we like to see, so I’m going to give you something to stop the bleeding.” She injected one thigh with Methergine, and the other with Pitocin, and then she proceeded to repair my second-degree tear.
Once I was stable, the nurse brought Natalie back to me and helped me with the first latch. Natalie latched right on. Dafydd lay down next to us and watched Natalie breastfeed, and after Natalie had her first meal, Liz, Dafydd, and the new grandparents enjoyed a little pizza party in our home. After dinner, Dafydd, Natalie, and I fell asleep and enjoyed our first night as a new family.
Tags: home birth, home birth stories, birth stories on demand, water birth, water birth stories, home water birth, midwife, positive birth stories, birth stories with pictures, birth, birth stories, homebirth