This is the story of Noah’s arrival. I hope this is helpful to other expecting moms. Noah is my third child by birth. My other children are 12 and 10 plus I also have a 22 year old stepson and occasionally my 5 year old niece. It’s been over 10 years since I’ve been on the baby path so this bonus blessing was almost like a second first-child.
My first childbirth experience:
My other children were born via cesarean section (csection). When I went into labor 12 years ago, I did not understand the whole early labor/active labor thing. My back was hurting and the contractions were 5 min apart regularly so we went to the hospital and found that I was barely dialated, but they gave me an epidural for the pain. I slowly got to 1.75 cm dialated, so they offered to manually open me to 2 cm and break my water to get things moving faster. (The manual dilation to 2 cm hurt! I didn’t know that you really can levitate off the bed!) Well, unfortunately things slowed down and the contractions came to a near standstill, but now we were on the clock because my water was broken. We spent the next 24 hrs dancing, doing jumping jacks, or anything else to try to get the contractions to speed back up. Eventually, they gave me pitocin and the contractions did pick back up. By 6:30 in the morning, about 24 hours later they came in and checked me and said everything was fine and I was 8 centimeters. Just 45 minutes later they came in and called it “failure to progress” and they decided on the csection. My daughter was born csection also because they were close together in age and they told me a VBAC (vaginal birth after csection) was too risky for possible uterine rupture.
Takeaways from my first birth experience:
– Understand the difference between early and active labor and when to go to the hospital. They should have sent me home.
– Know that once you go to the hospital, they will not allow you to eat anything so don’t go hungry.
– Know what your doctor or midwife’s time limit is after your water is broken.
– If possible, don’t rush the natural birthing process. If your body is not ready to deliver a baby, more than likely rushing it is not going to have a good outcome.
– Know that you have the right to make decisions about your birth. It feels like they are in charge, but if you feel that you’re not ready to do one thing or another, you have the right to ask for options like more time to let the process go longer. I didn’t know that and let them sort of run things.
Now to Noah’s story.
I shared the first birth because it was education for things I wanted to do differently this time. I did not want to have a surgical birth, if possible. Recovering from any surgery is hard, especially one that involves your abdomen which is kind of in the center of it all.
Creating a birth plan.
Everyone asked me if I had a birth plan. With my first birth, I assumed a natural delivery so ending up in a csection was disappointing to me. I felt like I failed until eventually I made peace with it realizing that the healthy baby was the point of birth, not the method. This time, my birth plan was to try for VBA2C (vaginal birth after 2 csections), but if it ended in csection then be at peace with the birth outcome not the birth method.
First, I put together the team that I felt would better support me in my desire for a natural childbirth. I hired my midwife, Cori Lively with Barefoot Midwifery and the plan was for a home birth.
I later enrolled in Mimi Mears’ prenatal yoga classes. The prenatal yoga was a great decision because I learned about having a focus intention, birthing positions, breathing in addition to getting stretching for my body to help me through the pregnancy.
From what I learning about childbirth and doulas from Mimi and taking a childbirth class with Delilah Ray of Cherish Birth, who was recommended by my midwife, I decided I would really like to enlist the services of Delilah as my doula to support me through the labor as well.
The things I learned from all of these women were so helpful in having a successful childbirth and I am grateful to all three of them!
Don’t get a stomach bug
First, I don’t recommend getting a stomach bug when you’re pregnant. It’s not fun anyway and being pregnant makes it that much harder to deal with. On Tuesday, I got a bug and was sick from both ends for a full 24 hours. Wednesday, I was trying to sip water and a little Gatorade to try to rehydrate but no solid foods yet. Wednesday afternoon, I was feeling better and went clothes shopping with my husband for his new job. On the way home we picked up our 5 year old niece to take her to dinner with our family and decided she should just spend the night. I would take her to school the next morning.
Well, Thursday morning, about 3 am, I woke up not feeling so good and began having more frequent Braxton Hicks contractions. Not wanting to wake my husband, who had just started his new job, I went to the couch to watch tv and hopefully sleep some more. About 6 am, these did not feel like Braxton Hicks anymore. Now I was feeling them coming from my back and into my abdomen. These were real contractions, not Braxton Hicks practice contractions anymore. About 6:45 am, as they were staying about 5 min apart, I woke my husband. He woke up the 22 year old so he could get the elementary kids up and off to school as this was likely to be “baby day” and I was not feeling well enough to drive. We tried to get a hold of my sister to pick up our niece and since it was so early, she wasn’t answering her phone, of course.
My husband ended up driving my niece home and she pitched a fit in the car because she wanted to stay and see the baby. We kept telling her it was going to take a while, but that didn’t matter. He ended up pulling her out of the car very upset. She so badly wanted to stay with us. Meanwhile, my stepson helped me make up the bed with the plastic liner and the extra sheets on top to prepare the room for birthing. Thankfully, all the supplies were handy in tubs in the bedroom thanks to the help of one of my best friends.
At about 7 am, in a lot of pain, I called Delilah, my doula, to talk through things and also let my midwife, Cori, know that things were happening so she knew that baby day was going to be a week early. My contractions were about 6 to 7 min apart, but they hurt so I was afraid. Delilah reminded me that I needed to embrace the pain because I wanted to have this baby. Oh, yeah. Right! This is good.
For the next few hours, I worked through the contractions and nausea by breathing, doing yoga stretching, bathing and showering. Contractions were about 5 min apart and my goal was to try to drink a whole bottle of water and maybe some peanut butter toast since all I’d eaten since Monday was a sweet potato on Wednesday night at dinner. Delilah also suggested walking, but that was really hard during the contractions due to the severe back pain that accompanied each wave.
By about 3 pm, my contractions were 4 to 5 min apart and my sweet husband had to stay super close to me. The only thing that got me through the contractions was him knuckle massaging my hips during the contraction. He could not leave my side. I was throwing up after every contraction. Delilah suggested cat stretching and wagging my tail like a dog to help with the pain. I was alternating all the poses from Mimi’s yoga class too. This is what got me through, in addition to hot and cold packs alternating on my low back.
At about 415 pm, my midwife came to check on me. I was only 2 cm dialated so it was so going to be a while. I continued to labor but still could not eat or really keep any water down. At this point, I was sitting backwards on the toilet as it seemed to be the place that alleviated pain and allowed my husband to continue to massage my hips. I could barely walk because the contractions were so close together and were so intense. I managed to walk from one bathroom to the other.
About 5 pm, my friend arrived with snacks for the birthing team and gave hubby a needed break. She took over with the hip massaging. By 6 pm, I was in so much pain and was feeling that this was really not right. I decided I wanted to go to the hospital to get the epidural. We went to Baylor Medical Center in Dallas because the doctor there was very supportive of VBAC and my doula and midwife knew him well. Delilah had just been there on Tuesday supporting another mom through her birth.
Sadly, I hadn’t planned on a hospital birth, so I didn’t pack a bag. That was a mistake because now we had to pack a bag under duress. Additionally, we were traveling from Richardson to Baylor downtown during rush hour traffic and hospital shift change time at 7 pm.
At the hospital
Delilah met us at Baylor when we arrived just before 8 pm. She helped me labor because I needed 3 bags of IV fluid before they could start the epidural to relieve the pain. Cori also came to the hospital for support and to make sure that the hospital team had all the records they needed on my pregnancy history. I ended up getting a total of 6 bags of IV fluids because I was so dehydrated from the stomach bug and continued barfing during labor. This was not fun, which is why my story started with don’t get a stomach bug. I continued to throw up until the 3rd type of anti-nausea medication about 2 am.
The epidural started several hours later at about 1045 pm after I got my 3 bags of IV fluid. With the rehydration and epidural, the contractions started to slow down. It was conjectured that I was more dehydrated than in labor.
I was finally resting due to the epidural but the contractions were slow so we opted for an extremely lowdose of pitocin. When I was checked at about 345 am, I was about 5 cm dilated, but the baby was floating. We’d discussed breaking my water but I really felt that it was not time to do that yet. After my first birth experience, I felt that I did not want to break my water too early. This time, I felt more knowledgeable and empowered after reading a testimony on Delilah’s website from another mom going for a VBAC.
About 6 am, we decided to go ahead and break the water, but there was meconium in the water, indicating that the baby had already pooped, probably due to the stress of the long labor. There was so much water due to the 6 bags of fluids that my husband thought they were emptying something out. Two large splashes of water is what he heard. Things were going well until around 7 a.m., but then the baby’s heartbeat was slowing down significantly during contractions and then would go back to normal afterwards. We continued to monitor me and the baby and I was about 7 cm dilated by 8 am.
I continued to pray that Father-Mother God was all harmonious with the first line of the Lord’s Prayer. I felt the love and protection of God filling all the space in the room and through all the caregivers. I felt safe.
About 10:15 am, I thought my husband and I should discuss the very real possibility that they might suggest a c-section since the baby’s heart rate was dropping significantly during contractions and the meconium indicated he was stressed. To that point, the progress had been slow. It seemed as though clouds had rolled in and we were going to have to go the surgical route. It was a little disappointing after making it this far.
At almost 10:30 am, the doctor came in to check my progress and miraculously I was actually 10 cm dilated and 100% effaced and + 2 during the contractions. Everyone celebrated and the clouds lifted as we decided it was time for the baby show! The room was very quickly set up for pushing out Noah.
When they called for the stirrups, I thought back and pictured what Mimi showed us with Penelope the Powerful Pelvis and how laboring on your back was a lot harder because your tailbone can’t move freely. Feeling like I had the right to stay in control of my birth, I asked to labor on my side. The doctor said that’s fine and Delilah held my top leg up for me since they were numb from the epidural.
After about 15 pushes, about 10 minutes later, at 11:07 am, our sweet son arrived! It turns out his umbilical cord was wrapped twice around his neck, which is why his heart rate slowed with each contraction.
Everyone in the room was so excited and lovingly joyful. We felt so blessed by the experience. Having more understanding of the process and feeling more empowered, we were able to get our VBA2C after all. I’m so grateful for the guidance of my midwife, the techniques and knowledge learned in the prenatal yoga class, and the tireless 26 hours of doula support from Delilah and of course God’s protection and infinite love.