The Long Journey Home: An HBA2C Story, {Part II}

Yesterday, we shared the first part of Rose Homme’s HBA2C story. In this five-part series, she shares her journey to home birth: the emotional ups and downs, the pain of her first births, and how believing in herself and her body guided her through. Here, you can read about the birth of her second child, Oliver. Check back tomorrow to hear how she worked through the trauma of two emergency cesareans.

“Before the birth of my first baby, I didn’t have any fears regarding birth. I really didn’t think that much about the actual birth. I figured my mom had five natural births in the hospital and my body would know what to do. After my C-section. I walked away with a ton of fears. I began researching extensively. I read A LOT. I was informed! I researched nearly everyday for 20 months. At that point I was about four months pregnant with my second, had switched care providers twice, interviewed multiple OBs, and finally concluded I could achieve my VBAC through a home birth. I saw my home birth midwife, Sue Gill, for the first time at about 23 weeks. I also kept dual care through Kaiser – just in case.

I addressed everything I could possibly address externally. I had my bases covered. This pregnancy was different – I knew the facts and knew what to do. Drink pregnancy tea, do prenatal yoga, sit on my yoga ball, read books and birth stories, practice hypno-babies religiously… Looking back, I had a lot of parameters for success. If – Thens: If I’m going to have a home birth – then I have to attend yoga weekly. If I’m going to achieve my VBAC – then I have to drink my pregnancy tea. So many things I HAD to do IF I was going to be successful – all impossible to do consistently with a toddler under two who needed mama. I never allowed myself to say out loud, “I am having a VBAC, period.”

My biggest fear about the birth was that my body wouldn’t go into labor on its own and that I wouldn’t progress past the four centimeters I had gotten to with my first. This fear was reenforced when I told my Kaiser midwife of my home birth plans (I chose her for dual care because she used to have a home birth practice). Her response was, “Due to your history, you are not a good candidate. You’ll probably fail to progress again.”

I never told anyone she said that.

On October 18th, 2009 at about 5am I woke up early and considered doing a CHOC Walk for cancer with my husband, but I noticed a light trickle – my water had broken and contractions started about half an hour later. I immediately went into “labor mode”, turned on my hypno-babies cd’s and was in a zone. I was off in la-la land trying to handle the pain, but wasn’t really conscious. I don’t know what time Sue arrived, but I know I wasn’t really responsive to her or to any one else. I didn’t stay mobile and was either swaying or in the tub the whole labor. At about 2:30 in the morning I was still at 9/10cm dilated with a cervical lip and no urge to push. I had been there for about eight hours, and contractions were starting to peter out. I hadn’t eaten or drunk anything in nearly 24 hours. We decided it was time to go to the hospital. Maybe an epidural would allow my body to rest and finish the job.

When we got to the hospital, we were met with a really aggressive OB. I got the epidural and we all fell asleep. I was awoken with panic and a rush of hospital staff yelling we had to get a C-section NOW! It was almost exactly how they rushed in with my first birth. This time feeling a bit more knowledgeable I asked them to leave the room and give me 30 seconds to wake-up and understand what was happening. I looked at Sue who was still with us and asked if this was the only option. She agreed that Oliver’s heart rate dropped. So we consented.

I did request not to be left alone in the operating room and to have the baby in recovery with me right away. Both were things that I didn’t know I could request during my first C-section. One thing I didn’t request, but should have, would have been, “No personal discussions by staff while performing the operation.” There is nothing worse than feeling out of control, shaky, dizzy and like you can’t breath from the anaesthesia and hearing the OB’s casually discuss how many C-sections they performed this week, how nicely they stitch, etc.

Oliver was born perfect and healthy and was in my arms about an hour after birth. Sue was waiting in recovery and got him latched on perfectly. Once we were settled in our room, Sue left. I really appreciated that she saw us all the way through. That evening the staff didn’t like that we had Oliver in bed with us, so they made sure to come in the room every hour and turn on the lights etc. IT WAS AWFUL. After being awake over 24 hours, laboring, not eating, going through major surgery, not being able to sleep for more than one-hour intervals with my newborn was torturous. That morning I called Sue and told them they were killing me by not letting me sleep. I know it sounds dramatic, but that’s how I felt.

Sue let me know that we were most likely only there because of me. And if Oliver was free to go, I had the option of checking myself out AMA. After confirming Oliver could be released I checked myself out of dodge! Sue met us at home, and did the newborn screening tests there. Overall, this experience was far better than my first, I was home relatively quickly. Oliver still benefited from our labor, and we had no problems breastfeeding.

I was still so confused by why I failed to progress a second time. Initially I blamed Sue a little, wondering if she could have done more. After all, I had done everything different from my first pregnancy. It wasn’t until months later that I started to reflect and see that I never coped emotionally from my first birth experience, and now I had two experiences to cope with. I was left feeling my body was broken. I was scared of the pain, I was scared that I couldn’t cope, I questioned if I could ever get to 10cm, and doubted I could instinctively know how to birth. I believe I carried all these fears during Oliver’s birth, but didn’t know to acknowledge them. By this time I had opened Rosie Posie Baby (a natural infant store in California) and really broadened my community of birthing women. I now knew that birth is as much mental as it is physical – if not more! I also noticed that women who ignored early labor for as long as possible consistently had amazing birth stories! I began to REALLY trust the birth process, and believe in it on a deeper level.”

Part 3 of this journey here.

 Rose owns the natural baby store, Rosie Posie Baby, in Anaheim, California. You can read more about her and her family on her blog, Rosie Posie Baby.

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