For the past nine months Raul and I have been preparing for a HBA2C (home birth after 2 c-sections). We read all the books (Ina May was my favourite), watched all the documentaries and took a Bradley class to educate ourselves on the process. We were well versed in the “mechanics” of labour, but there was a mental/emotional component that I struggled with from day one.
Deciding to do a VBAC took a leap of faith. I can’t even count how many times I was asked about our delivery plans and when I told them we were planning a home birth, I was met with everything from caution to full out dissension. While I had done all the research and looked at all the statistics, it was hard to quiet the little voice in my head that would say “what if?”
The pregnancy itself was fairly uneventful, besides the usual aches and pains and low iron there wasn’t much to complain about. I was able to skirt past the gestational diabetes, which was the biggest hurdle (since Jackson was a GD baby) and we started to hunker down and prepare for labour.
Mentally I started to work on the little voice in my head. First, my doula knew that I was a worrier, so she suggested I write out an alternate c-section birth plan as a plan B. We never needed it, but I felt a little better knowing that my wishes were typed up if things didn’t go as planned. Then I read all the birth stories again in the Ina May book, and paid attention to her words about how the mind/body was crucial to a successful ending. Every night before bed, I would play out how the labour and delivery would go in my head.
Sunday morning (Dec 30, 2012) I woke up on a mission. I suddenly realized that I had forgotten a key thing in my labour prep process. Before I was induced with Jackson and before my c-section with Zachary I sat down and wrote a letter to them in the womb. So I sat down in the office and wrote out River’s birthday letter. I told her about my hopes and dreams for her; how much we all loved her, at one point Raul came looking for me and found me crying my eyes out staring at the computer screen.
Note: Raul says that it was at this point he knew I was going into labour that day and suggested we go to the park knowing that it would get things moving.
That afternoon we decided to take the kids to the park down the street. It was rather cold, and my hips were killing me, so we didn’t stay very long but the kids enjoyed the change of scenery. We made it home and had hot chocolate, and then I lay down for a bit of a nap before dinner. I didn’t get much sleep though; I tossed and turned, and Zachary came in a few times to tattle. So I woke up kinda grumpy.
I then decided that I needed to use the new kitchen aid food processor I got for Christmas, so with Raul’s help we put together a chocolate chip cookie pie that I saw on Pinterest (again, I was a bit of a grump and got on Raul’s case for almost breaking the new food processor, LOL). That along with meatloaf, carrots, and mac and cheese… dinner was going to be awesome!
As I was bending down to get the meatloaf out of the oven at 7pm, I felt a little gush (like when your period starts). I went to the bathroom and saw a little bit of clear discharge and when I wiped there was a tint of pink. I figured I was losing my mucus plug and texted Ginni (my doula) to confirm. I thought it would be days before anything else happened, so we sat down to dinner. I wasn’t very hungry, so I ate a little bit of macaroni and then decided to take a hot bath.
I then called the babysitter to see what her plans were for the evening and see if she could come pick the kids up to watch them overnight. I wasn’t sure anything was going to happen, but I figured it would be better to have them there just in case.
While in the bath, I started getting noticeable contractions and had a few other spurts of leaking fluid. They hurt mainly on the bottom of my belly where the cervix is. I started up the contraction timer on my phone, and it said that I was having contractions every 3 minutes and they were one minute along. It was around 8pm at this time and we texted Ginni and our midwife Robin (from Multiple Blessings Childbirth Services) to tell her that contractions were consistent and coming every 3 minutes. Robin told us to count contractions for the next 30 minutes and let her know if they are increasing in frequency. Raul tried to get me to walk a little, and we got the boys packed up and sent to the babysitter’s house. Every time I would try to walk the contractions would be a minute or two apart. Sitting on the birthing ball they were 2 and a half minutes apart.
It was around 9pm when we finally decided my water had broken. So we updated Robin and Ginni and I settled in on the couch to work through some contractions. Raul was a whirlwind of activity as he moved the dog into the garage and started setting up the birthing tub. Robin showed up a little before 10pm and had me give her a urine sample and then laid down for an exam. She checked me and I was already 7cm!
Things started to happen pretty quickly after that. Robin was busy getting the birth supplies out and giving directions to the house to another midwife and Raul was texting Ginni to tell her that she needed to get her ASAP. I got into the birthing tub at around 10:15pm or so, and thought that the water was cold. Raul told me later that it was in the mid 90’s, so I think that my chattering teeth were more a result of being in transition than the temp of the water. They kept boiling water to heat the pool up, but I kept complaining of it being cold. Jean (midwife in training) showed up sometime thereafter. I floated in the pool, moving around and working through contractions for another 30 minutes or so when I felt the need to push.
Note: Raul said that once I got in the pool I went into a “Zen” state and closed my eyes and got really serious. I only remember bits and pieces of the time in the pool so I guess I was somewhere else.
I told Robin that I thought I needed to push at 11pm, and she checked me and said I was complete and it was time to push. Raul got behind me and held my arms and I started to push. The first few pushes I had no idea what I was doing, but someone (Robin) put her fingers where I needed to push and that helped me focus. I had my eyes closed the entire time- and I focused on the feeling on her fingers. They were telling me that I had to push to get her past my pubic bone, then they had me reach down to feel her head, and then she was crowning. It burned (as was expected) but the only way to make it feel better was to keep pushing!
They had Raul move in front of me in order to catch the baby, and Ginni was behind me holding me up and talking in my ear. I don’t remember her coming in, but I think she came in as I was pushing. I pushed for 20 minutes. After her head, there was another push or two and her body came out.
They put her on my chest, and she just looked up at me. She didn’t cry or fuss, she was very calm. They put a towel over her to keep her warm, and she was covered in vernix (very cheesy baby!). We sat in the pool just staring at each other for a few minutes waiting for the cord to stop pulsing. She was really zen, it was such a peaceful way for her to come into the world and you could tell in her eyes.
Then it was time for the placenta, which as a strange sensation. It felt like I was going to have to really push to get it out, but it sort of just plopped out. They had me cough, cough, cough instead of pushing. I thought it was funny for some reason.
The three of us then moved to the bed. Raul held the baby and started calling family, while I got dry and got into bed. I had a bit of an adrenaline rush and shook for a bit, and Ginni told me not to fight it just to let it happen. We then snuggled with River for a while, letting her breastfeed (which she latched on immediately), and oohed and ahhed over her. And then we all had awesome chocolate chip cookie pie! The midwives checked the baby out and weighed her at the end of the bed, and we finally got a cry out of her. She was mad that they were bugging her! She was 8 pounds 1 ounce, and pretty and pink.
The midwives headed home a little after 2am, and we just lay in our bed in awe of River. I think I stayed up another hour just staring at her little face, and she was so alert and stared right back. The doulas stuck around for a bit longer, cleaning up and taking the birth pool down.
I am amazed at how good I felt after! And how amazing it was to sleep in our own bed the very same night. It took me another day or two to come to terms that not only did we get our HBA2C, but we did it amazingly fast!
Kimberly is the owner of Rockin’ Green Laundry Detergent
Photography by M.Y. Photography