Birth with Shoulder Dystocia

“We ‘broke up’ with our OB at 31 weeks and found our midwife. As soon as we met her, we knew she’d be the one delivering our son. I was in labor for 24 hours and pushed for four. When he was born, he had fluid in his lungs and was having trouble getting a good cry. His daddy and I talked to him while the paramedics arrived, and by the time they got there he was fine. After his cord was cut, my midwife helped me in the shower (I lost quite a bit of blood) and Arlo had skin-to-skin with his daddy. My husband knew how important skin to skin was, and he stepped up while I was getting taken care of. My little boy is almost five months now! Time flies!” – Natasha

On Sunday, September 30th around 11pm, I started having some cramps in my lower abdomen. Our midwife had said to look out for them because it could be early signs of labor. I was already four days “late” by this point, so I didn’t think anything of it and I sure didn’t think that they were contractions. For the whole week before, I had a terrible bladder infection that was giving me lower cramps so I thought maybe they were related. Rusty and I went to bed, and the cramps woke me up every so often. By 5am, I was so uncomfortable that I moved to the living room couch. It has a slant in the cushions, so it propped my belly up and the cramps didn’t hurt as bad. Rusty slept in the floor beside the couch (what a sweetie. Seriously). I slept on and off for about two hours – and by 7am, I was so uncomfortable that I couldn’t lay down anymore. I texted our midwife telling her that the cramping was constant, but every little bit they would get really intense. My belly wasn’t getting hard all over like I had been told it would for a “real” contraction, so I didn’t really think anything of them.

Around 8am, Rusty suggested we time the intense parts anyway – and surprise! They were coming consistently about every 6 minutes and lasting for 45-50 seconds. I texted our midwife at 9am telling her, and she said she’d be over around 10am. When she got here, she checked me and I was already dilated to a four and completely effaced. I was completely surprised. I didn’t even know I was having real contractions yet! I kept telling myself that “I would know” when they got “real”, but I had absolutely no idea. Our midwife said she was going to go run some errands while she could because we were definitely having this baby today. I couldn’t believe things were finally happening and we would finally meet this little boy that we had hoped for for so long. Our midwife was back around 1pm, and we (or they, rather) started moving furniture around in the living room and setting up the birthing pool. Seeing the birthing pool get set up was so surreal. I really wanted to have a water birth, so having it sitting there in our living room was insane and made it all seem so real. By 4pm, my contractions were coming every 3-4 minutes and lasting about 55 seconds (I don’t remember any of the specific times after this part. Ha!). They were still really down low in my abdomen, and I was having zero back labor.  Our midwife checked me shortly after, and I was dilated to a six – which meant I could now get in the birth pool! If you get in the water before you’re at a certain point, labor will stall.

The water was amazing. Even though my contractions weren’t painful, the water was really soothing and it helped with the intense points. Rusty sat beside me the entire time. I stayed in for a while, then would get out and walk around some. The contractions started getting a bit more intense at this point, so our midwife kept suggesting to lean forward with the contraction. She said most women with front labor feel better with leaning forward. It felt very strange to me and it was like my body was telling me not to do it, so I stuck with leaning backwards. I got back in the pool for a bit, and the contractions kept getting a bit more intense but not any closer together or any longer.

homebirth support

I was waiting for transition to occur, so I was on edge waiting for them to get unbearable. A little bit later, our midwife said the sounds I was making told her I was closer to pushing than she thought – so she checked me and sure enough, I was dilated to a 9. I got back in the pool for a while longer, and our midwife told me to breathe through the contractions and not push through them. She said my body could move Arlo down the birth canal better than I could pushing, and she didn’t want me to tire myself out yet. I was on my hands and knees in the water at this point, and trying to not push was more painful than the contraction itself. I wasn’t sure if my water had broken or not at this point, so I got out of the water again and our midwife checked. She put down some water proof pads on the floor, and told me to stay there because my water was going to break any second. She laid a shower curtain and more water proof pads on our bed and told me to lay back down. I still couldn’t believe I was in labor yet and that I would finally be meeting Arlo – so my water breaking was a total brain flip. It made it seem so much closer and tangible.

Around 9pm, I was actively pushing. My blood sugar was really low, so in between contractions Rusty was giving me candy and fruit snacks trying to get it back up again.

I had a lip on my cervix, and it was stuck on Arlo’s head – so with each push, he’d move a tiny bit forward.. and then backwards again after I stopped pushing. I was basically pushing into a wall. Our midwife tried holding the lip up as I pushed (painful. oh, painful!) but I still couldn’t push his head under the lip (Rusty tells me that my phrase of choice for this part was “balls balls balls!”). After an hour of pushing and hardly any progress, we decided to try another position, which is where the toilet comes in. I know it sounds crazy, but the toilet was the most comfortable place to push, and it makes sense, right? Anyway. I was so exhausted and my blood sugar was so low that our midwife gave me a shot of B12 for some energy. This shot turned me into a super hero. This was the only thing in my system – no pain medication, no IVs, no pitocin, nothing. Just good ole’ B12.

Our midwife was standing in front of me and I had my hands on her shoulders. With each contraction, she would ram into me like a bull and I would push against her. After an hour of pushing like this, I had pushed Arlo’s noggin through the lip on the cervix and the relief I felt was immense… until he got stuck under my pubic bone, which is way worse. My memory on this bit is so foggy. I remember the pain being absolutely unbearable. I had my eyes shut the entire time.

homebirth pushing

Our midwife was sitting on the floor in front of me, and she was holding up part of my pubic bone. I had my feet on her thighs, and she kept telling me to breathe through the contractions instead of pushing. My body was working on it’s own, but not pushing was pure agony. I wanted to give up. I was ready to call it quits, hop in our car, and go to the hospital. I was full-blown bawling and with each contraction and not pushing, I felt like I was going to die. I kept saying I couldn’t do it, but our midwife kept saying “you ARE”.

I couldn’t think straight really, but getting my brain back into the mindset of why we were having a homebirth in the first place and what damage the drugs I would be getting in a hospital would do to Arlo was finally the only thing that gave me enough of the strength I needed. I kept telling myself if I just pushed through each contraction, he would be born and the pain would be over instantly. Our midwife said we were almost through the pubic bone, and she told me to feel his head. That was the craziest thing I had ever experienced at that point – being able to feel him so close and knowing I had already brought him this far. Our midwife moved my feet up to her shoulders, and I pushed through each contraction even though she told me to try not to. Every time I tried to not to push, my body did it anyway. It was like I could feel something wasn’t right, and each second I wasted by not pushing was putting him in danger. Our midwife was telling me how close he was and how great the pushes were and I could feel him coming forward.

Every one talks about the “ring of fire” when the baby crowns – holy crap! The phrase does not lie. Our midwife had me stand up and squat, and she kept telling me not to scream. She had me get on my hands and knees, and I could feel her tugging on Arlo – I can’t remember the pain, really, but I do know it was the most painful thing of the entire birth – then all of a sudden, it was over and Rusty was putting Arlo in my arms.

Before our midwife even said anything, I knew something wasn’t right. She was telling us to talk to him and we were both telling him how much we loved him and how excited we were that he was finally here. His eyes kept rolling into the back of his head, and he was trying to cry but he had so much fluid in his lungs that he was having a lot of trouble. Our midwife had Brit, our photographer, call 911, and told us we could always turn them away if we didn’t need them by the time they got there. We were just being safe. Arlo’s blood sugar was really low, and so we had to give him honey to get his sugars up (edit: our midwife usually gives molasses, but honey was all we had. He is 100% fine after ingesting honey, thank you!). Our midwife gave him a few breaths, and we kept sucking the fluid out of his mouth. His eyes were focusing now, and he finally had a “big” cry that helped clear his lungs a bit.

homebirth By the time the paramedics were standing over us in the bathroom, he was breathing fine and was alert. He had still been connected to me by the umbilical cord this entire time, so he was still getting oxygen from me. As soon as he started breathing great on his own, the cord lost its pulse. The paramedics did an APGAR test on him and determined he was absolutely fine. I’ve been asked a few times if I’m still glad we had him at home after the complications we had – and I am. It was a beautiful experience. homebirth newborn newborn father bonding

For more pictures, go to: the northern sea

Photopgraphy by Oh! Baby Photography in Amarillo, Texas

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