The Homebirth of Our Sunny Side Up Baby
About six weeks before I was due, my midwife discovered that our baby had turned to a posterior position (face up). I wasn’t worried. I knew I had plenty of time to get the baby to turn, and figured it would happen on its own. She told me about some exercises I could do to help baby to turn and I worked on doing them in the weeks that followed. By the next time I visited my midwife, the baby still had not turned. Nor had baby turned at the following two visits. I was feeling a little worried and frustrated, but still believed our little one would turn when the time was right. I visited the chiropractor and continued to do the exercises to help the baby turn.
About two weeks before my due date, my sister flew in for a visit, with the hopes that she would be around for the birth. I had asked Karyn of In Bloom Photography to photograph our birth, but she was scheduled to leave town the day after my sister arrived and would be gone for more than a week. I prayed I would have the baby the day my sister arrived, in that small window before the photographer left. My sister and I took my three older boys and went hiking, but to no avail. I had been having strong Braxton hicks contractions, but they weren’t doing anything serious. I went to bed knowing that I most likely would end up having the baby while the photographer was out of town and was a little disappointed. I had had all of my other children at least a week early, so I didn’t expect to make it past 39 weeks.
Fast forward to 39 weeks. I was still pregnant! I couldn’t believe it! The best part was that my sister stuck around to wait on the baby and our amazing photographer had arrived back in town. While my contractions were not “real” contractions yet, they were uncomfortable during at least the last couple of weeks and a couple of times became very strong and regular for a couple of hours before dying out. That last week was emotionally trying, as my body seemed to be trying to go into labor, but struggled to get it in full swing because of the baby’s positioning. My midwife told me this is typical of babies in the posterior position. I was so frustrated!
I went to the chiropractor again on a Wednesday, because I knew baby was still face up, plus I hoped an adjustment might get labor moving. She adjusted me, then did some acupressure on points that are supposed to help induce labor. The contractions did seem to get closer together and that night I thought I might be going into labor, but by morning nothing had happened. The contractions stayed uncomfortable and 30 minutes apart all day long on Thursday. Somehow David convinced me to get dressed up and go to a work dinner with him. I didn’t feel much like it, but thought it would be good to get out, so I went.
39 weeks, 5 days
Through dinner, the contractions continued. After we’d eaten, they began to get stronger and I was feeling like it was time to go home. I stuck it out a while longer until they had really become painful and were getting a little closer together. We headed home and got everyone to bed. My sister went to bed, but insisted I wake her up if anything happened. I worked on some laundry and asked David to help me out with a few tasks before we went to sleep just in case I was in labor. Because I had had so much false labor at this point, I wasn’t convinced the contractions I was having were the real thing yet. David went to sleep for a while and I tried to rest for a bit also, but the contractions were not letting up. This was different than the couple of times I’d had false labor because when I went to sleep, they went away. This time, they were not going away and I could not sleep.
I lay in bed for a while and decided I should track the contractions, so I downloaded an app. I tracked them for a while and by about 1 am, they were getting stronger and closer together, so I got into a hot bath, rocking on my hands and knees to continue to encourage the baby to turn. The hot water felt great on my belly and back during the contractions. I realized I was really hungry, so I called David into the bathroom to get me some milk. (Raw milk = perfect labor food!) When he came in, I don’t think either of us was convinced yet that I was really, truly in labor. I wasn’t ready to call the midwife yet either.
We did a few more tasks around the house and David began to help me through the contractions by putting counterpressure on my back. Finally, around 2:30 or so, we felt it was time to call my midwife, Kelly, so I did. I was so scared that I was calling her for a false alarm! She said she would pick up her assistant and head my way. Because she lived about an hour and a half from us, I was really worried about crying wolf. I hated the thought of her getting up in the middle of the night, driving to my house and then finding that I was not actually in labor. Thank goodness when she arrived at just after 4 am, she found me to be between 5-6 cm dilated! We could all breathe easier knowing I was actually having the baby! Suddenly, it was “go” time, and David began setting up the birthing pool!
My sister had woken up a little before our midwife arrived and Karyn, our photographer, arrived soon after. Just before everyone started arriving, a beautiful song had started playing, saying “Start a fire down in my soul, that I can’t contain and I can’t control. I want more of you God.” As I sang along, I began weeping. I can’t explain why, but I know in that moment, God was present and He stayed with me through an emotional and physically trying labor and delivery. I still thought that if I spent time on my hands and knees, my face up baby would turn. So, as my birth personnel gathered around me for support and my husband labored with me, I rocked back and forth on my hands and knees through every contraction.
Finally, I felt ready to get into the birthing pool. The contractions were getting pretty intense, and though the back labor I was experiencing (thanks to the back of baby’s head pushing on my spine) was helped by a TENS unit (used to send little electric shocks via pads affixed to my back), I felt the warm water would help more. Someone reminded me to take the TENS unit off before getting into the water… but did not remind me to shut it off before taking it off! It shocked my hand and scared me, giving us all a much-needed laugh!
I thought that once I entered the water, I would stay in the water, and felt that labor was surely drawing to the end. I had asked my sister to make a couple of phone calls to let my parents and a good friend know I was in labor. She was unable to reach the friend so left a message, and my mom decided to rest for a while before she and my dad made the hour-and-a-half long drive to my house. I thought they would all miss the birth.
Goofing off between contractions.
It turned out the end of labor was not as close as I’d imagined. Not very long after getting in the water, I felt a little more relaxed and my labor even seemed to be slowing down. I was worried and asked my midwife what I should do. She ended up giving me an herbal labor augmentation tincture and it seemed to help because labor got harder and harder after that. I ended up getting in and out of the birthing pool several times to use the bathroom.
Before long, I noticed the sun was up and my mom and friend were in the room. I was so glad they had made it! By this time, labor was getting very hard to bear and I made lots of noise and grabbed onto David during contractions. I was really getting worn out, but as my contractions got closer together, I knew I was getting very close to the pushing phase. Out of nowhere, I began weeping and I knew I was in transition. Even though I couldn’t explain why I was crying, I knew it meant I was almost done, and it helped to calm me. To be honest, I think part of me was crying because I was disappointed by how hard my labor had been and I was exhausted and frustrated.
Below, my sweet friend Mary greets my son; my mom arrives, excited to meet her new grandbaby!
In transition and nearing the end.
I still had some hard contractions ahead of me and they were overtaking me at this point, washing over me, one after another, and I was ready for the ride to be over. Instead of visualizing peaceful waves, I imagined the contractions were slamming against me, like angry waves against a rocky cliff. Before my labor had gotten quite so intense, I had tried to use some of the positive speaking techniques I had learned from Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth, saying “my body is going to open up and I’m going to have my baby.” Now, as my labor became unbearable, I spoke loudly and with authority “In Jesus’ name, I will be fully dilated on this next contraction!” as another contraction overtook me.
I could hear and feel those in the room in prayerful agreement with me and I knew what I had declared had taken place. It was time to push. I began to feel urges to push and could reach down and feel my waters bulging. I tried to get my husband to feel because it was such a miraculous thing to me, to reach down and feel that, but I think he was too shy in a room full of people! On the next contraction, I pushed and my water broke, with my hand still over it. What blissful relief and an amazing thing to feel with my hand! I had never done that before and thought it was really cool to experience delivering my baby in this way.
My mom and midwife pray together as I labor.
Relief and a quick water break.
My relief was short-lived as I began to feel my baby’s head emerging. Keeping my hand down, I felt my baby’s head! How special to know our sweet baby was almost here! As the baby began to push through, however, having my hand down began to be a downfall, as I could feel myself stretching over the head, coming out the wrong direction. Despite my efforts to turn my little one during labor, the baby was coming out face up. I screamed: a loud, horror-movie-worthy scream. Kelly immediately told me to stop screaming (I thought it was because that was no way to peacefully welcome a baby, but realized later it was because screaming causes your body to tense up and therefore, delivering a baby to be much more difficult). I instantly regained the presence of mind I needed to deliver my baby.
The delivery took a little longer than my previous children, I assume because of the face up position. In two to three contractions, I pushed the head out, and almost felt for a moment I was done and could relax. Alas, the body had to follow! On the next contraction, I pushed out the rest of our baby, and just as the body was emerging, the baby turned! I can’t quite describe what a strange feeling it was to feel that little body spinning as the baby came out of me. Baby was brought to my chest and we were attended by loving hands.
We had not found out what sex our baby was, so one of the first things I did upon delivery was reach to feel what parts the baby had! Another boy! Number four! I had been so sure and convinced he was a girl for most of my pregnancy, so I was surprised to welcome another boy. We had already chosen the name Hudson, but didn’t decide on the middle name until the next day.
Hudson David was born on April 25, 2014 at 8:47 am, weighing 6 lbs, 12 oz and measuring 20.5” long.
All pictures are courtesy of Karyn Carbone with In Bloom Photography. Images may not be used without permission.
Enjoy a slideshow of this beautiful birth below!
|Free photo slideshow created with Smilebox|
[…] get to experience the wonder that is harboring a child in your body for nine months, or the gift of natural birth. Those things are special to be sure, but they do pose some problematic hormonal changes for us […]