Today’s blog post is from one of our doulas Sharon Rank. Her ba
by boy is turning 1 today. His birth was a home birth after cesarean.
Lachlan’s birth story
This is the birth story of Lachlan’s birth. It was my HBAC (home birth after cesarean). My first birth was not traumatic, but it wasn’t the experience that I had hoped for, and from the day my first baby was born, I knew I wanted the chance to push my baby out, and I believed that a home birth was my best chance. So here it goes….
It was Tuesday night and I had gotten home from a work meeting exhausted and ready to go to bed, but Bobby had been snoring a lot lately and keeping me up, so he offered to sleep downstairs on the couch so I could get some sleep. I think he was also happy to have the opportunity to sleep alone instead of sleep with his very pregnant wife who did nothing but flip all night in discomfort.
At around 1:15AM, I woke up and had to go to the bathroom. The bathroom was on the first floor, and by this time in my pregnancy, I had HATED that it was an entire flight of stairs away, but I was glad that my middle of the night bathroom breaks would soon be over. So I came back up the stairs and got back to bed, hopeful to fall
right back to sleep. Unfortunately, after about 5 minutes, I had to pee again. I thought “ugh, seriously?!” So back downstairs I went. I came back upstairs and got in bed. Another 5 minutes or so pass, and again, I feel that same “I have to pee” feeling. At this point I’m just annoyed and consider sleeping IN the bathroom, but tell myself I’ll just try and go back to sleep again and try to stay completely still in bed so that I don’t have to go the bathroom again(As IF that would work).
So my third return to bed was followed by the need to go to the bathroom, as I figured it would, but this time I thought ‘ouch that hurt!’ And THAT is when it hit me. Please understand. I have been in labor before, I am a doula, and I know about birth, but I was 38 weeks, and this felt so much different than when I went into labor with my daughter, so the idea that I could be in labor just wasn’t there. I was sure I would go a bit longer. Nevertheless, at 1:42 AM, I texted my twin sister/doula, Shanyn, who I planned to have at my birth. Here is how that intial ‘textersation’ went:
Me: I think our little one might be coming. Just giving you the heads up. DON’T tell anyone, at least not until I’m sure
Shanyn: Omg yay! I’m sitting here awake anyway. I wonder if that’s why? Does your back hurt?
Me: Yes. I’ve been in denial I think. It like just hit me that they actually hurt lol. And now I have to breathe through them
Shanyn: Lol oh geez…. Did you call Meribeth? (midwife)
Me: No. I haven’t even told Bobby. He’s asleep on the couch downstairs. I just want to be sure. I probably have a while. Trying to sleep but that’s not working
So now I am starting to accept the fact that I very well might be in labor, but I think that I’ll have awhile before things get more uncomfortable. I decide to go lay in bed and stay there until these things, that I now realize are contractions, make it too uncomfortable for me to lay around.
I called my midwife, Meribeth, to first tell her that I was pretty sure I was in labor but that I thought it was early and I had a while. She called me back, and while on the phone, I had a contraction. Once it was over, Meribeth said “um I think you might be a little further along than you think, so I’m going to call Jen (my other midwife) and we’ll gather our things and be on our way.”
By 3:00AM I texted Shanyn and told her that I think she should come, due to the fact that I knew she would have an hour and a half drive and my contractions were noticeably stronger than they were even an hour ago. It turns out that when I texted her, she said she was already on her way lol (thank goodness!)
I decided to get in the bathtub to help me relax. At that point I was not mentally prepared to be in labor, and once I was, my contractions were strong enough that I needed a lot of distraction in order to not get wrapped up in the pain, so I hoped the bath would help. The bath felt good for the first few minutes, but did not distract me as much as I had hoped. My two year old was asleep upstairs and so I tried not to get too vocal with contractions. Bobby came to check on me and found that I was worried about how much my labor had progressed in such a small period of time. I asked him to say some things to me to help me focus. Of course, poor Bobby had no idea what to say, so I asked him to get a pen and paper and write them down. I called them “affirmations”; they are things that I needed to be reminded of to help me focus. Some of them were “This is exactly the way that you wanted it,” “This is what your body was made to do, and it knows what it is doing,” “You are strong and you can do this.” There were about 6 total affirmations I think, and as the labor progressed, a few were thrown out. The one that I liked at first but later hated was “This is exactly the way that you wanted it,” because at no fault of my husbands, he started to say it like “This is exactly the way that YOU wanted it,” and I no longer needed reminded that this crazy idea was mine J
Bobby thought that the idea of the affirmations was strange, but it helped me so much, and gave me the strength that I needed to commit to doing what I set out to do. Since this birth, I have suggested the idea of writing down affirmations to my doula clients. It helped me so much and if I can help another mama get through labor with a few tips like that, I will!
After the bath, I decided to go into our living room and kneel on the floor next to our couch. I liked being on my hands and knees and would have Bobby put pressure on my back. That made the contractions more bearable.
Shanyn arrives and I’m pretty sure I could hear Bobby’s big sigh of relief from the next room. She came in and jumped into doula action. She put pressure on my back during my contractions so that Bobby could go and work on getting the birthing pool ready. I loved that they worked together instead of feeling like one was taking the others “job.” It just worked.
Soon after Shanyn arrived, my midwives, Meribeth and Jen came, along with a midwife apprentice that I said could come (the more, the merrier, right?) They brought in all of their “gear” and then Meribeth comes into the room I was in, kneels down to the floor, and looks right at me. She then says “are you ready to push your baby out today?” And with a nervous laugh I say “yeaaah.”
A little background on that statement: Throughout my entire pregnancy, I was nervous about trying a VBAC, especially at home, but Meribeth was very confident in me and believed I could do this thing that I really wanted to do. Even when she would come to my house for my appointments, as soon as she walked in I would start in on the “what if’s.” She would calmly answer me. She would tell me she wasn’t worried and that I would do just fine. So when it came to the big day, it meant a lot that her confidence still did not waiver, and she still had faith in me. Maybe she thought I wouldn’t be able to do it, but she never made me feel that way, and that was so important.
The position that I preferred for roughly 90% of my labor was to be on my hands and knees on the floor between the couch and the coffee table in our living room. I was asked if I wanted to move a few times, but refused every time. I had found something that worked for me and I just wanted to go with it, so everyone else went with it too. I was thankful for each and every one of them.
There would be times when I would have a contraction that didn’t seem to quit and I would be anxiously waiting for it to come down and it would hold on and I would get scared that it wouldn’t go away. When that happened, Jen would come in and get really close to my face and say “Relax your face, relax your shoulders.” She would put her hands on my shoulders as she said this, and my shoulders, that I hadn’t realized were tense and up by my ears, would relax. Then she would say “this one is going to do its job, and then it’s going to go away.” I needed reminded that every contraction was short-lived and would be over soon, and that helped SO much. I had a great team.
Meribeth checks me and says I am 4cm dilated and 100% effaced. A great start! I was encouraged. During my next check, Meribeth noticed that Lachlan didn’t have his chin tucked, and she said it would be easier for him to move further down in my pelvis if he would tuck his chin. At this point I was in quite a bit of pain, but she asked if I would be able to try doing some pelvic tilts to help encourage Lachlan to tuck. It was difficult, but I was willing to do it. I wanted a nice short vaginal birthJ. Once I did the pelvic tilts, Meribeth believed that he did in fact tuck his chin, and I was able to keep going.
We had all the lights off in the living room, but soon enough it was daylight and the sun started coming in through the windows. My daughter Aleigha had woken up and Bobby was going to take her to daycare. Due to the fact that my labor had progressed a lot by then and I was more comfortable being vocal during contractions, I didn’t want to scare my 19 month old, so I had Bobby bring her to me in between contractions so I could give her a kiss and tell her I would see her after “school.” I didn’t have much time before another contraction started so I motioned to Bobby to quickly whisk her away so I could scream. Okay, not scream, but make sounds that helped me feel better. I liked saying “ho” and “ha” for some reason, and also said that when I was in labor with Aleigha. At some point Meribeth came in and suggested that I try and stretch those words out and say “hooooly” and “hallllelujah” so that I would still get a nice slow breath in through each contraction, instead of start to pant, and eventually….hyperventilate!
So then there’s a few more hours of ho-ing and ha-ing (but it really didn’t feel that long) and Meribeth comes to check me again because she thinks I might be ready to get into the birthing pool, which I was very anxious to try. When she came in, I said “PLEASE can I get in the tub?!” So she checks me and I’m nervous she’s going to say a number that I don’t want lol. However, she says “oh she’s 8, almost 9, let’s get her in the tub.”
YES!! I cannot explain the relief that I felt. I was almost done! (Or so I thought)
I get in the birthing pool and it feels great! The warm water definitely helped the contractions not seem as intense as they had been before I got in, which helped me catch a little break. Meribeth let me chill for a while and wait for the time when I would be fully dilated and actually have the urge to push. I don’t “think” that took very long, because pretty soon after I got in the tub was when I felt a new feeling. This was an intense pressure that I had no idea what to do with. At that point all I could do was tolerate it. I didn’t want to push. I didn’t know how to push. So I just got through each contraction and hoped that my body would eventually push for me. Meribeth would check me and knew I was all ready to go, but I still wasn’t feeling like I knew what I was doing, and that got very discouraging. I would try to do what I thought was pushing but it didn’t seem to be doing anything. Meribeth and Jen showed me how to growl. They wanted me to dig down deep and make a growling noise so that I would start pushing from the right place. So I growled. A lot. And loudly. And after a while I was angry enough that I growled even louder. I was angry that pushing wasn’t coming naturally to me as people had said it would. I was angry that pushing didn’t “feel good” as some people had said that it would. I got stuck. Not literally, but in my head I was stuck.
At some point I felt defeated. The room was very quiet. No one was talking. They were giving me time to think. I remember having a conversation with myself while sitting in that pool. It went something like “I’m already fully dilated. If I go to the hospital, they wouldn’t give me an epidural. They would just say that I should push the baby out. There’s nothing they can do for me now. I have to just push this baby out.”
It was then that I looked back at Meribeth, and she said “okay!” I said nothing to her, but I think she knew I was ready to get it together and do it. So she gave me some suggestions and positions to try. I had been squatting pretty much the entire time I was in the pool, but after doing that so long, my midwives thought I may need to try something else. They asked if I would be willing to get out of the pool. To which, I said “no.” I didn’t consider them mean people, so I know they wouldn’t have suggested that to me unless they thought it necessary, so when they said they would help lift me out of the pool, I said fine. The thought of trying to lift my leg up over the edge of that pool was horrifying, so getting help doing that is what convinced me.
We tried a deeper squat with the midwives and bobby supporting my legs. It helped, but it too wasn’t doing the trick. So finally, Meribeth suggested the thing that I was hoping I wouldn’t have to do: Push on my back! I needed a lot of convincing for that one. I hated being on my back and it made the contractions so much worse, so the idea of doing that to push just seemed out of the question. However, the midwives once again were successful in convincing me to try this position. At that point I probably would’ve done just about anything, and I was beginning to get the impression that it was my last shot, so, everyone helped me walk from our dining room into our spare bedroom.
As soon as I laid down on the bed, I had a contraction. It. Was. Awful. Shanyn had been on my right, Jen on my left, Meribeth in front of me, and Bobby behind my head. Once I was laying down and had that contraction, I reached for Shanyn and grabbed her shirt and yelled “help me!” Later on, Shanyn told me that I said this to her and she thought that I was asking her to help me as in “help me get this over with!” but, actually, I meant “help me get up” because laying flat on my back was the MOST uncomfortable position I had been in thus far. Apparently everyone else knew more about what was going on though, because they encouraged me to lay back down. The next thing I felt was what is commonly referred to as the “ring of fire” and that name is VERY appropriate. At first, I screamed, because that intense burning was not something I was prepared for, but then, I had a moment when I realized what was going on. In my mind I was thinking “that’s the ring of fire, and that happens when the baby’s head is coming out. I’m pushing out my own baby!”
So that painful burning that I first was afraid of, was now something that I was so excited about. There was no turning back now. I was doing what I set out to do, and my baby was coming.
I had fear about tearing, and had shared this fear with Meribeth, who explained that as long as I listened to her, she would do everything in her power to help me not tear. So, at the point when Lachlan’s head was crowning, I remember hearing Meribeth say “get me some olive oil.” At first I thought “oh this is SOOO a home birth.”lol. Believe it or not, the olive oil helped a lot!
Next thing I know, someone says the head is out, and I knew that, because the burning just went away, which was wonderful because at that point, I was over it. So his head was out, then his body, then he was up on my chest. 2:15PM, a little over 12 hours after this adventure began and we had our little boy. We didn’t know he was a boy right then, and frankly I was just so happy to have him out and be holding him that I didn’t think about it. I had also had a very strong feeling that he was a boy, so when we looked and saw that we had a boy, I don’t think anyone was shocked at all. It was as if we were all thinking “yep, we know.”
It was amazing how all of that pain left me just in time to look at and enjoy my new son. I was so happy and proud of myself. I couldn’t believe I did it, but I really did! I am so thankful for my “team” : My supportive husband who NEVER doubted me, my twin sister/doula, who knew just what I needed when I needed it, my two midwives who were the strength and confidence that I needed, and my fellow doulas who knew I had been planning a VBAC and who I knew were rooting for me. MOST importantly, none of this, and I mean none of it, would have happened had it not been for my faith in my Heavenly Father. He brought me through a tough first birth, and restored me with my second. There aren’t many who will understand that, and for many others, something like this is not a big deal, but to me, it meant so much. It meant that my body was not broken. God created me, and He did not mak
e any mistakes when He did that. So my body was just the right size and shape for bringing Lachlan into the world, and God showed me that through Lachlan’s beautiful birth. It was one of the best days of my life thus far, and I wouldn’t change a thing.