Meredith's Birth Story by Margaret

Posted by  | Monday, December 3, 2007  at 9:33 PM  
I used to be the type of person that researched everything. (This was before I had a toddler running around and another baby on the way!). So, it wasn’t unlike me to start exploring my options as far as birthing way before Ben and I decided we’d like to start our family. I started doing some online searching and came across “home birthing”. I didn’t even know this was something “normal” people did (some may still argue whether we are normal or not). But the more I read, the more I liked what I was learning. Home birth is actually a VERY safe practice for healthy woman who have healthy babies. In many cases, it is actually much safer than hospital births. In fact, across the world, most babies are still born at home (and not just third world countries either, many in Europe opt for homebirth). So, when we found out that we were pregnant with Meredith, I found a homebirth midwife and we began our journey. Our midwife is wonderful! Choosing the right person cannot be overemphasized. She was always available to answer my many questions and I never had a prenatal visit that lasted under an hour. We really got to know her and trust her. She watched my health carefully to make sure there weren’t any complications. (The complications that many women experience can actually be caused by the type of care they receive from the doctor or hospital staff and are preventable). She has an office, but came to our home once before the birth for a home visit.
My due date was August 2 and I went into labor on July 30. Unfortunately, this labor was something called “prodromal labor”. The contractions feel like real contractions (trust me on this), but the cervix doesn’t dilate. My midwife came to our house when she got the call that I was in labor and had to inform me that we’d have to wait until “real” labor started. I was having these prodromal contractions about every 6 to 8 minutes. I managed to cope with them, but it was very difficult to get comfortable or sleep. Honestly, I was scared! I thought that if this pain that I was in wasn’t real labor than I’d never been able to cope with it once it hit. My midwife suggested we go out to get my mind off things and perhaps speed up real labor. So, we went to the mall. I must have looked like a wreck! I walked so slowly and had to rest over the railing every time I had a contraction.
After TWO DAYS (and two very long nights) of this I called my midwife back on the morning of August 1 and told her I just had to do something different. I couldn’t go another day with prodromal labor. I was exhausted from sleeping in six-minute increments and ready to meet our child. She suggested a natural induction method – castor oil. I immediately sent Ben to the store for this and swallowed two spoonfuls as soon as he got home. Within two hours I could tell my labor was different. The contractions actually felt just as intense, but my belly felt firmer. My midwife arrived at our house around 3:00pm on August 1. She confirmed that I was dilated to around 5 centimeters by this point. I was handling the contractions just fine. Mostly I coped by fixing my eyes on an object, breathing and relaxing completely. I knew the pain wasn’t going to hurt me and that my body needed to do this to allow our baby to be born. (I’m realizing this sounds a bit “hippy-ish”, but it’s true!). I used a birth ball and a big birth tub, which was set up in our kitchen. My labor still progressed relatively slowly, but we actually had a good time. In between contractions we’d talk, I’d snack on something, I called my family on the phone and we’d relax. When I’d have a contraction, the midwife, her assistant, and Ben were there to rub my back and help me however I needed. I was able to relax totally and really enjoy my birth experience. Around midnight my midwife confirmed that I was fully dilated, but my water still hadn’t broken. I asked her to break my water to help speed things along even more. By this point I was more than ready to push and still coped with the pain quite well. I can honestly say that there was never a point when I even wanted pain medication. I was able to push in any position that I felt comfortable in. I choose to push using a birth stool. This was very effective. After pushing this way for a while, my midwife suggested that I move to our bed so that she could protect my perineum and make sure I didn’t tear. After two hours of pushing I began to feel like she’d never be born. Finally, my midwife suggested that I change to a hands and knees position to see if the baby would come out. They helped me turn over and she was born on the first push in that position. She came out like a rocket. Meredith was born on her due date, August 2 at 3:12 am. I ended up pushing for a total of three hours. Meredith’s head crowned for the last two! (This made for a very swollen and bruised bottom on my part and a sore head for her!) After having her head stuck there for so long her birth took me by complete surprise. I even said, “what was that?!” in this shocked voice and my midwife replied matter-of-factly, “the baby”. She handed Meredith to Ben and he announced to me that we had a little girl. I could hardly believe that we were blessed with a healthy little girl who was so alert and looking all around. It was the most exciting experience of my life! I cannot wait to do it again! To have only people that I loved and trusted near by, in the comfort of our home meant the world to me! Having a homebirth was incredible. I was in labor a total of nearly 71 hours, with active labor lasting nearly 15 hours. It was difficult, as most births are, but amazing. I wouldn’t change anything about it.
I really think as far as birthing is concerned, the most important thing is to be educated. Whether you have a hospital or homebirth, know your options and the risks associated with them. Read, read, read and pray about your decision. We are planning a homebirth again with the same midwife who has agreed to travel nearly 3 hours to attend my birth. It is a day that I anticipate with great joy – labor pains and all!

4 comments:

Shannon said...

Your story is A-MA-ZING! I felt like I was right there, witnessing the birth. How fun. Unfortunately, I had a completely different birthing experience, but I really enjoyed reading about yours. What a blessing!

O'Behave said...

I totally enjoyed your birth story, I'm actually planning on doing a homebirth for my third baby due in april, I thought about it last time, but had a perfectly natural birth at the hospital and that just sealed the deal that I needed to do it at home next time, everyone who has ever had a homebirth swears by it, I already can't wait, thanks for the GREAT story!!

marymstraits said...

Margaret,

Did you end up tearing? I've heard that midwives/doulas are attentive enough to prevent perineal tears. A friend of mine asked her doctor about that, and she got the impression that they just didn't have the time to ensure that she didn't tear. I don't really like that scenario, and I've often wondered what women did before stitches. And the stitches were the WORST part of my experience--even worse than mastitis and thrush. Just curious . . .

Mary

Margaret said...

I did tear, a tiny bit. It only required one stitch, which was painless and took about a minute. I recovered quickly from the stitch and tear and haven't had any trouble. I've read about many woman that have long lasting problems because of episiotomies. I KNOW without a doubt that if I had been in a hospital, I'd have ended up with a massive episiotomy or tear (or both). No doctor would have ever let Meredith's head crown for two hours without intervening with forceps, a vacuum extractor or episiotomy (none of which are without possible complications). Instead, for the majority of the pushing phase(without being too graphic), Ben held one leg, the assistant held the other and the midwife was in the middle massaging my perineum with warm oil and using warm compresses. It's funny, but I don't even really remember her doing this. It was very inobtrusive. I only know because we have a (very graphic) video that only my husband and I have watched! I'm glad you enjoyed my birth story. It was even more incredible that I could put into words!

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