A Home Birth on Father’s Day 2013

by mamabearbri on August 26, 2013

Father’s Day

For my Father’s Day, I was given the gift of a fourth girl. At home. Part of that gift was being the first person she looked at and providing the hands that caught her and gave her to her mother. Father’s Day 2013 will be one that I always remember.

Even though Delaney is our fourth child, she is our first experience in home birth. After three children born in the conventional hospital manner my wife, Heather, was looking for a more satisfying and pleasant experience. Being a man, and an engineer to boot, I wasn’t much into unconventional birth methods. My questions were typical of the questions that I would soon be tired of hearing. “What if something happens?”, “How fast can you get to a hospital?”, “Are you going to start wearing tie-dye shirts and advocating hemp products?”

Research was helpful and knowing people who sat firmly on both sides of the birthing “fence” was helpful too. In fact, I found that the only unhelpful opinions were the ones formed without experience of any kind. Infection rates, C-Section rates, complications, standard treatments. All interesting statistics with most of them not leaning in the direction I thought they would. So with some gentle prodding from Heather and knowing I wouldn’t win the fight anyway I agreed to being open to a home birth.

We interviewed and selected a mid-wife (Hi Kate!). We read about all the various birthing philosophies; Hypno-Birthing (strange but probably effective),  some kind of naked Russian/snow environment with long haired five year olds swimming in icy streams (just plain weird), channeling energies methods (I put this around astrology but perception is often reality), and the Bradley Method (the most normal to my engineer brain). We chose Bradley.

Then we chose some other things; birthing pool, hose accessories, a boy and a girl outfit for the surprise reveal. All we had to do for about the last month was wait. We cleaned the house daily because three girls under the age of six are not able to maintain a sterile environment with a floor free from lego’s and plastic horses.

On Tuesday before the birth labor pains began. They were frequent and increasing in intensity. In fact, we almost called the mid-wife. I called in sick to work because I thought we were on the way to having the baby. Then the contractions slowed down, then sped up, then went away, then came back. For about five days. We knew it was Heather’s body getting ready and that the baby wasn’t in the right position but part of you screams, “Come on already!” We gave up on estimating when it could happen and pretty much stopped updating everyone. On Saturday evening as we were going to bed the labor pains slowed to a near stop. Five days of on and off run-ups and contractions had tortured my wife with the belief that soon she wouldn’t be pregnant anymore. Defeated we went to sleep. Well, I went to sleep.

At 3:30 I was awakened and we timed a couple of contractions and decided it was time to call the mid-wife. While we waited on Kate to arrive I hooked up the hose to the sink and filled the birth pool. We found out from an earlier test run that the water needs to be at the comfortable temperature to begin with. I thought the pool might work like a bathtub that cools off in thirty minutes. Not so. The heat from the birth pool will hang around for several hours.

At 3:45 Heathers contractions are steady and about four to five minutes apart. She lays on the bed and rests. At 4:00 the mid-wife arrived and set up shop. She had the emergency kit, oxygen tanks, scales and paperwork that everyone was so concerned that we should have. A quick check verified labor was for real at this point and so I contacted my sister, the photographer. Our boxer, Biscuit, was very concerned and lay by the pool fretting and losing hair.

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Heather and I sat side by side and she concentrated on relaxing through her contractions. There was no music or coaching. Just back rubs and a gentle reminder to relax. Sometimes we seem to be one mind between two bodies. For instance some days I want to eat Mexican food and before I can say anything she suggests Mexican for dinner. This was one of those days but not food related.

At 4:30 Heather decided to get in the pool and see how laboring in the water would feel. True labor had been progressing for about an hour and we were a little worried to get in the pool too early. That worry proved to be unfounded. At 5:30 she was ready to push. The quiet labor breathing had increased slightly to something between a hum and a moan. Nothing like Hollywood; screams and hateful looks at the father for causing all this “misery”. I know we had three children already but being previous epidural births we still didn’t know what to expect going the natural route.

After a few of the intense contractions there was a thump sound under the water and I thought Heather’s hip had come out of socket or something like that. It was her water breaking. She leaned on the side of the tub and said she felt some pressure and an urge to push. I checked and sure enough there was a head starting to crown. There was about 45 seconds where doubt started in and Heather thought she couldn’t do it. In a very sensitive way, I reminded her that quitting wasn’t really an option at that point. The next push and the head came out. Baby Delaney turned slowly in the water as the shoulders came out and a minute later she came out into my hands. I handed her to Heather not knowing at the time if we had a boy or girl. Heather was the first to look and at 5:42 she announced a new daughter. Two hours and twelve minutes, not bad.

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Baby Delaney lay on her mother in the warm water for several minutes. At about six o’clock my mother and oldest daughter arrived, still sleepy and in pajamas. Aubrey, my oldest, was amazed at her new sister and helped me cut the cord. I can tell she has a closer connection because she was part of bringing her sister into the family.

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Kate helped clamp off the cord and weigh the baby. Nine pounds and five ounces, twenty one inches long.  It was all very relaxed and peaceful.

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My favorite part was that Kate was there to help but let me do as much as I wanted. I feel like Heather and I brought our baby into the world as a team and it really is one of those shared experiences that bond you together. At 6:30 Heather had gotten up and taken a shower. At 7:30 we were served breakfast while Kate and her assistant washed the linens. (Side note: We didn’t have much “linens” so really they just did some laundry = Awesome) At 8:00 they were loaded up to leave and we were sitting at home with a baby, chit chatting in the living room like it was Sunday brunch. At 10:00 a.m. Heather, Delaney and I took a nap. No hourly nurse checks. No one took our baby away for hours at a time. No waiting on doctors to make more rounds before the baby could be returned.

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This was the calmest birth process we had experienced out of the four. With only a little early morning sunlight peeking into the windows and the white noise of the bathroom fan in the background, everyone was relaxed and focused on helping mom. She settled into a rhythm and there was no ticker-tape printout, no IV’s, no back piercing needles, no alarms when the baby sensor we didn’t use fell off the baby’s head, and most importantly there was no fear. The funny part to me is that Heather says overall the births in the hospital were more painful. As a society we get mothers so panicked about pain of birth that they trade it voluntarily for two to six weeks of painful recovery from a C-Section.

Now that it’s over I understand what Birth Without Fear really meant for us. We had a lot of emotions; Happiness, Determination, Love, Exhaustion, momentary self-Doubt (an emotional signpost), Awe, Accomplishment. I don’t recall Fear at any point.

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I’m proud of my wife for pursuing this experience for us. I’m thankful for all our friends and family who supported us and even for the ones who questioned us. Thanks to our mid-wives for the calm and steady support. Home birth may not be the best option for everyone but for our low-risk, high-reward situation – It Rocked!!!

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Erika August 27, 2013 at 6:55 am

How can I share my birth story?!?!

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Kera August 28, 2013 at 6:48 pm

From the BWF Facebook page:
“Please email your birth stories to share on the blog (edited with pictures attached) to {thebwfblog@gmail.com}.”

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Grace August 28, 2013 at 5:07 pm

I just wanted to share the story of my natural breech birth! Please feel free to share on your site.

I was blessed with a smooth, healthy pregnancy this time around. I barely had any morning sickness, and my only complaints were 3rd trimester related issues like back pain, heartburn, and swelling. I was thrilled to have had a low-risk, healthy pregnancy after having had such a crazy high-risk one when I was pregnant with Josh!

We were thrown for a loop when at 39 weeks it was confirmed that Corinne was breech! She was suspected to have been hanging out in a strange position for a couple of weeks, but we didn’t know for sure how she was hanging out until I got a quick ultrasound to confirm things. Sure enough, she was frank (butt down) breech.

I had been planning to actually have a home birth. I had myself an awesome, experienced, knowledgeable midwife doing all of my prenatal care, and a backup OB to handle things should I need to transfer (and who cleared me for home birth in the first place). I was so thrilled that my dream of finally having the water birth that I’d wanted since college would finally become a reality. And then Corinne decided to be breech. Which meant unless she turned, she’d have to be born at the hospital under the care of my backup OB, who was actually on board with delivering a frank breech baby naturally. She’s one of the very few experienced OB’s that I know of when it comes to breech presentation.

Once we found out, we started literally praying without ceasing. I immediately started doing all the recommended maneuvers from spinningbabies.com, and going to the chiropractor daily for the Webster technique. I even took recommended homeopathy to encourage her to turn. Still she stayed in her cozy spot with her head at the top right side of my belly. I was so discouraged. My final week and half of pregnancy were filled with so much emotion, but through it all, I felt God was telling me to trust Him. I knew He designed my body for birth, so I really didn’t have to worry. I also trusted my midwife and Dr. and knew I was in good care.

After having several days and nights off and on of prodromal labor, at 40 weeks and 5 days along on 8/21, I finally started feeling some contractions that were a bit different from the rest. They weren’t coming very often, and they didn’t hurt, but they felt more “meaningful”. By that evening, I knew they were probably turning into labor as they got a bit more intense, and fell into an “early labor” pattern. So just before 11pm, I gave my midwife a call…I had given her a “heads-up” text earlier in the day, so she knew what was going on. She arrived just after midnight on 8/22, what would be Corinne’s birth day.

After she arrived, she examined me. I was 3cm, and 90% effaced with a bulging bag. Progress! I was indeed in early labor. I have a history of long early labors though, so now came the decision of if I should try to get things to progress and potentially tire myself out, or just try to get some sleep. I tried both because I couldn’t decide. I sat on my birth ball, took a couple of walks outside our apartment on the walkways, and climbing up and down stairs, and making sure my kids’ bikes were put away properly (they had left them out from playing outside earlier that day). I tried resting a bit, but even though my contractions were spacing out, they got to be too painful to be laying down through. I decided probably around 3 or 3:30 that I was hungry, so I ate a snack and then took a shower to see what that would do. My contractions were probably about every 14 minutes give or take at that point. I decided to go try and get some sleep again. The waves spaced out even more. I managed to doze off and on, but basically did not sleep that night! I got up around 6:30 because I was just too uncomfortable in bed. My midwife, who stayed resting in my apartment during the night decided to examine me again to see how baby and I were doing. I had dilated about another centimeter during the night. I was happy with the progress and continued to go about my morning and keep walking around, and stair climbing to help things along. I even got out my manual breast pump to help my waves get closer together. Everything helped a bit, but I just had to let my body let active labor begin on its own.

Around 10:20 that morning I felt my waters release and that immediately put me into active labor, and my contractions got to be more regular at about 6 minutes apart. I normally would’ve stayed home a bit longer, but I had just found out that morning that my GBS test was actually positive, not negative. I don’t know why the confusion or why the results came back so late, but since my membranes ruptured, I needed the IV antibiotics once I got to the hospital. Thankfully, my active labor had begun, so I didn’t quite feel like we were going in too early to the hospital.

We got to the hospital probably around 11:15 or so and got admitted. Contractions had spaced out again but soon picked up into a nice pattern of every 4-7 minutes. I got my antibiotic around noon, and then thankfully my IV was hep-locked after it was done. I had a really supportive nurse who was very supportive of natural birth. She even showed us a pic of herself having met Ina May Gaskin! I knew we had a keeper then. :-) She asked us about if we had had a birth plan, what kinds of things would be on it. I LOVE that she asked me that because since I wasn’t originally planning a hospital birth, I was not prepared with a written out birth plan! Even my Dr. later on just knew what kinds of things I wanted in my birth, and respected that by being “hands-off”.

I then decided I was hungry so I ate some soup and bread while I still felt like eating. I knew I needed my strength for later! I appreciated that none of the hospital staff cared that I ate during my labor. They know that laboring women shouldn’t be denied food and drink!

At nearly 2pm, my Dr. came in to check me and see how things were moving along. I was now 6cm, baby was still doing great. Less than an hour later, I could feel myself moving into heavy active labor/transition. I could tell by how I was feeling…no longer wanting food, feeling more pressure lower down in my bottom. Waves were about 4 minutes apart steadily now. Here’s when my labors start to fly by…thankfully!

By 3:30, I knew I was in transition, and my nurse checked me. I was about 8-9 cm. I knew that they should probably call the Dr. in very soon as I could be pushing within minutes. I just let my body take over though, I’m not going to lie, contractions were HARD to get through now. All I could do was moan and move and try to get comfortable, though it was impossible. All of the Doula tricks I taught my husband to do (I am a birth Doula myself) on me were no longer helping, and I got to the point where I just didn’t want to be touched. I got into my pushing position on my knees at this point because I knew if I waited too long, that wouldn’t happen. I felt more and more rectal pressure, and before I knew it, my body started pushing automatically. I worried a little because my Dr. wasn’t quite there yet! She finally arrived in the room at 3:56. Thankfully the other medical staff in the room had everything set up and ready to go. My midwife was almost ready to catch the baby had the Dr. been too late! My body started pushing hard now, and I could feel my baby’s bottom coming out. It was actually really cool to feel her body emerge between my legs. It took all of two or three pushes and she was out entirely at 4:02pm. Sometimes breech babies take a little longer from the time their bottoms are out, until their heads are born…but not Corinne! She came out so fast, everyone was so amazed! If you didn’t do the math, it was 6 minutes from the time my Dr. arrived, until birth! My Dr. was saying things like “you’re making this look so easy!” to me. My Midwife said her birth was “smooth as silk”. I was just thankful that it was finally over and I could finally see this little baby that’s been in me for 9+ months!!

My Dr. brought her through my legs so I could hold her, and helped me turn around onto the bed so i could rest. We did delayed cord clamping, and my placenta came out on it’s own about 20 minutes after the birth. My Dr. was amazed that I had no tearing. It must’ve been a really easy birth for her because she had no stitching to do, and I had very little bleeding! Praise God! I got Corinne latched on as soon as I could. I think the little audience of other nurses and residents were amazed at the rare sight they just saw of a natural breech delivery. I didn’t mind really…I just hope they learned that it IS possible and safe. Education is key. I’m glad I could help educate them! lol

I held and nursed Corinne for a good hour and a half before they had to do her assessment and measurements. My midwife and I both suspected a small baby, but she was just really curled up inside me apparently. Turns out she was my biggest baby at 8 lbs even, and 20.5″ long! I was pleasantly shocked!

I was also happy that no one gave me a problem about refusing the eye ointment and newborn shots. One of the nurses even coined the term “No eyes, no thighs”. Ha, I liked that. They are probably used to well-informed moms like me there at Touro. It is definitely the place to have a natural birth here in NOLA.

The only thing that would’ve made this experience better is if we could’ve gone home sooner. But we were able to be discharged after 24 hours thankfully. It is impossible to get any decent rest in the hospital!

I am incredibly happy with our “plan B” birth experience. I think everything worked out just as it was meant to be, with a perfect outcome! I just hope this empowers other women facing breech births to know all of their options, and to make informed decisions. Seek out the best care providers for you, and don’t allow yourself to be bullied. Breech doesn’t always equal a c-section, and for that I am glad!

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Grace August 28, 2013 at 5:08 pm

Oh I just realized I posted that as a comment! I meant to have that emailed to you so you could post it. Please don’t post it as a comment! lol

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