This birth story is beautiful! Please welcome our guest writer Jami and her story of her daughter’s birth! Thank you for sharing your story with us!
Jessica’s HBAC Birth Story
I knew before I was pregnant that we were going to plan a homebirth. I had had 2 traumatic hospital births prior and in deciding to have more babies, we also decided that we would never birth in a hospital ever again. Juilanna’s birth was a horrible forced csection and Jacob’s birth was a hospital vbac filled with unwanted interventions and medical mistakes. Both were horrible experiences that left me emotionally and physically scarred and damaged. I knew if I ever gave birth again, I needed to do it on my own terms in my own home where I’d have the best chance of the birtth that I wanted.
Jessica was due 10-23-11. She was our third miracle baby, hard tried for and such a blessing. In October 2010 we were thrilled to find out I was pregnant, but things didn’t feel right and I pushed for bloodwork which revealed very low progesterone, and as hard as I tried, I couldn’t find anyone willing to supplement me, and I lost that baby at 6 weeks. I went through the grief stages and was very determined to get pregnant again, and I did, at the very end of January, ovulating way later than anyone would ever expect to be able to ovulate and get pregnant. Again, like with my pregnancy with Jacob and the baby I lost, I felt implantation 5 days after ovulation and knew before a test that I was pregnant. A very faint test at 12 days past ovulation confirmed it. I was so excited and at the same time, terrified. I couldn’t imagine losing another baby and didn’t think I could handle that again. I wanted so much for things to be okay, but again my instincts said there was something not right. But I felt strong and determined to make people listen to me and keep this baby safe.
The beginning of the pregnancy was precarious with extremely low progesterone levels and the threat of a miscarriage. But we convinced the dr. to prescribe supplemental progesterone and it saved her. 🙂 We chose her name early, Jessica means “God beholds” and I knew from the start that God had seen she was meant to be and helped me fight for her and for her to hang on. Her middle name, Lea, is also my middle name, it was special to me that we share that. 🙂 I had a good pregnancy, although I had a lot of anxiety and migraines and things I hadn’t dealt with in my other pregnancies. But I was thrilled and felt so blessed to be pregnant with her.
The week before she was due, we found out that I was severely anemic, and I was told that I’d need “transfused at delivery or die” according to doctors at the labor and delivery unit. It felt like a familiar scare tactic that I recognized from my previous births… and I knew that if I gave in to them and bought into the fear I’d surely end up with a third traumatic birth. I left in tears but called my midwife right away who reassured me that there were things I could do other than a transfusion to bring up my iron count before giving birth and I followed all of her advice and through supplements and diet, brought my numbers up faster and higher than the doctors said was possible. No transfusion necessary. 🙂
On Friday the 21st, I had contractions on and off all day. I had to take Jacob in for a visit to the pediatrician and while sitting in the waiting room I counted several contractions and thought that if they didn’t call us back I’d be giving birth in their waiting room. 😉 But the contractions came and went all day, not very regular. I just kept telling myslef it was prelabor and not to dwell on it. And I told Jessica to stay put as long as she wanted and give mommy a chance to keep raising her iron levels. That night, Jon and the kids went to bed and I was still feeling the contractions irregularly but low and significant as I layed in bed. Sometime after midnight I decided to just close my eyes and relax but I couldn’t fall asleep so I just rested. Between 1am and 2am while I was resting with my eyes closed I counted at least 10 contractions in the hour, bigger more regular and intense contractions.. so I put on my Hypnobabies fear clearing and deepening CD and thought I’d just lay and drift and that they’d probably go away as I slept. I ended up listening to both tracks and still not being able to fall asleep (the first time EVER that the deepening cd didn’t put me to sleep!) and the contractions got more regular and closer the whole time. I was pretty sure it was still just pre-labor, as I had had hours of pre-labor contractions with Jacob several days before he was born. But, at some point since I couldn’t fall asleep, I thought I’d just time them for a little while and see how close they really were. From 2-3am I had 9 contractions. Then from 3-4am I had 8. Then things changed around 4am and they started getting closer and I started vocalizing a little bit through them. Between 4 and 5am I had 17 and decided to just check in with the midwives. They were at another birth, close to my house, and I called and talked to MeriBeth and let her know what was going on, but told her about the pre-labor I had had with Jake and that I was sure this was probably nothing. She told me that if it changed to give her a call back, and I ended up calling her within the hour again, feeling a little bit silly as I still didn’t believe it was “real” labor, but the contractions were getting undeniably closer and more intense. She said they were finishing up at the other birth and would come check me out just to see what was up. Between 5 am and when the midwives got to my house around 5:47am, I had had 19 more contractions and was AHHing through them but still not totally believing it was real labor.
MeriBeth and Joanna, my midwives, were very tired after being at another birth for days, and I was hoping they’d tell me that this was pre-labor stuff that was going to fade out and that we could all get some sleep and Jessica wouldn’t be here for a few days. Instead, MeriBeth wanted to check me and didn’t seem convinced it was only pre-labor. I hemmed and hawed, not wanting to be checked in general and even more not wanting to hear any bad news about where I was dilation-wise that would put negativity into my mind about my progression, since progression was a big issue for me at both of my previous births. Eventually I agreed to a check, and resigned myself to hearing that I’d only be a “fingertip” or so. MeriBeth joked with me that she could lie and tell me whatever I wanted about my dilation. lol She checked me and said several times how incredibly soft my cervix was, so soft she had a hard time feeling both sides of it. When she told me that I was already 5cms I said there was no way and honestly wondered if she was feeling things wrong. I hadnever progressed quickly in my other labors and had been sure this was not even real labor. She said that I was at least a 5 and she could manually stretch me to a 7 if she tried and I think I stared at her like she was crazy, not believing it. lol I asked if that meant it was real and she and Joanna told me that yes this was real and they were staying and I was probably going to have a baby before lunchtime. It sounded like insanity to me lol and I still didn’t believe it was real. But we called Jon up, who was straightening the downstairs and told him where I was in dilation and he started getting my birth things organized down there. We stopped timing contractions and I was waiting for them to slow down still haha but MeriBeth said they seemed to be getting longer and more intense by how I was responding to them and I was still AHHing and now rocking on my hands and knees through them. I was starting to think maybe this was real, but still had doubt.
MeriBeth rested on my bedroom floor and Joanna kept an eye on me changing positions, walking around, squatting, doing hands and knees, etc through the contractions as I got more and more uncomfortable with them. My AHHing was getting louder and deeper and a few times I felt bad because it caused Jacob to stir in his sleep. After a while, it was more than stirring and he was peeking at us from his toddler bed in curiosity saying “who dares trespass?” which made us laugh. Then after a particularly loud AHHHH from me he said “Can you keep it down??” and we laughed and I knew by then that I couldn’t keep it down because they were so intense and close together and I was concentrating hard to get through each one. I think a little after 8am or so I asked MeriBeth to check me again. I was feeling nauseous and Joanna had gotten me a bowl to throw up into if I needed it and sweat was running down my forehead and I was getting irritable and impatient and wishing it were over. I hadn’t planned on being checked in labor, but my feelings changed in the moment and all of a sudden I wanted to know what was going on. She checked me and shocked me by saying that I just had a lip left. I think my eyes must have popped out of my head, I couldn’t even take it in and grasp what she was saying.. with Jacob, it took 22 hours of very hard agonizing labor before I was to that point. I said “What do you MEAN? Are you saying I’m almost DONE? That I’m a NINE????” and she said “No Jami, you are a nine and a half, just a cervical lip left and baby is at -1.” I was shocked and we told Jon, who was still setting things up downstairs to move faster with the pool. I got Jacob on his potty and woke up Juli, telling her that it was time to have the baby. She looked around blurrily and asked who was in my room and I told her MeriBeth and Joanna were here and that the baby was coming soon. She got right up and moving, wanting to be a part of the birth. 🙂
Around that point I was getting more and more irritable, sweat standing out on my forehead, feeling restless and nauseated, the contractions were harder to get through with each one and I remember saying I wanted it all to be over and I wanted to be in the DAMN pool! 😉 Joanna went to help Jon hurry it along and we decided to go down. He had had trouble filling it because the hose wouldn’t attach well to the sink.. so he and Joanna were boiling pots of water and dumping them in. I was frustrated and annoyed and I think I told him several times that I hated him and MeriBeth assured him that I didn’t, it was the contractions. lol I got out of my nightgown I had been in, and just into a bra, and we all went downstairs. I wanted to get in but it was only about half full and I was very impatient and upset. I got in and started demanding more water and Jon and Joanna were dumping boiling pots in as soon as they were ready. I was on my hands and knees in the pool, arching my back through contractions and AHHHing and moaning louder all the time. I squeezed Joanna’s hands tight and wanted to cry a few times the pain was so intense and I was having a harder time with each contraction. I kept telling everyone that I just wanted it to be over, that I was so tired. I was doubting myself and that I’d be able to really do this. At one point MeriBeth tried to snap me out of it by asking if I wanted another csection. I think I flipped out and yelled at her not to ever say that and was upset, but I became more determined at that point and stopped vocalizing as much that I wanted it to be over.
We put on the Hypnobabies “pushing your baby out” track and at some points it annoyed me and I talked back to it telling it that NO the pressure waves did NOT feel good, they hurt like hell and to shut up. I think MeriBeth’s favorite part of my labor was when I said “Oh fuck you hypnobabies, this HURTS!” lol But it helped me to focus as well when I was contracting and we replayed it several times. Julianna videotaped me in the pool and Jacob played with his toys and watched cartoons upstairs now and then. Jon was still monitoring boiling water and that was okay with me.. I wanted my space this time, something that surprised me. During my labor with Jacob, I had needed Jon, and Joanna who had been our doula at the time, to constantly be touching me, holding me up, rubbing my back, holding my hand, etc. I didn’t let go of them for most of the 23 hours I was in labor. But this time was different, I felt stronger (emotionally at least, despite the physical weakness) and wanted my space and kept telling myself what hypnobabies had drilled into me the past few months, that each pressure wave brought me closer to my baby. So even though I was saying repeatedly that I needed it to be over, during each contraction I told myself to let it do its work and open me up. I made a very conscious effort to keep my mouth open in an “O” shape and my hands open and un-tensed because its supposed to help dilation. Each contraction I AHHHed or OHHHHed and tried to be open and strong and tell myself that my body was working the way it was supposed to. And it WAS!!! I’m still kind of in disbelief over that.. after 2 births where it didn’t feel like it worked, this time it DID. I had been told with both Juli and Jacob that my body was broken, that I couldn’t progress, that I needed pitocin or a csection etc and felt like a failure in the most profound way. This time I was NOT broken. My body was doing everything it was meant to do and I kept telling myself that, in my mind, that my body was NOT broken.
When I got into the pool at 9.5 cms I thought it would be fast from there out because with Jacob’s birth it wasn’t long after I was to that point till he was born. But this time was different. This was my first labor where my water hadn’t broken to start labor and things were completely different with how I progressed. I had MeriBeth check me again and she said I still had the cervical lip and baby was almost to a 0 station, that my bag of waters was bulging beyond the baby’s head. I kept asking her if we could break it and if that would make it over faster.. I must have said dozens of times I just wanted it to be over. It wasn’t just the contractions, it was the past several weeks of stress that had been weighing me down and feeling so weak and sick with the anemia, I just felt like I wanted it all to reach its conclusion. The anemia had me feeling so weak and dizzy and like I had absolutely NO energy.. which, in labor, was very difficult, it took everything I had to just keep going and there were moments of feeling like I was going to pass out. Saying I needed it to be over wasn’t just a complaint, it was absolutely that I felt I could only last so long on my very limited energy. She said it would break on its own and I was frustrated and started reaching down and feeling it. During contractions it felt like a very thick water balloon was coming out of me and I started to feel like pushing and was grunting through contractions and pushing down. At one point after pushing through a contraction we saw that my bloody show had come out and there were bits of it all through the pool. I kept reaching down and just pulling more and more globs of it out of me and felt like I wanted to keep pulling it all out like a magician pulling a never-ending scarf out of his sleeve.
The pressure of the water bag was driving me crazy and at one point after MeriBeth telling me again that it would break on its own, and wanting it broken faster, I pushed down so hard and determined to break it that I succeeded and felt a huge POP! as it broke. I told her it broke and she confirmed that it had, and said she saw light meconium in the water. All of a sudden I felt a huge urge to push and MeriBeth reached down to support my perineum and I snapped at her not to touch me. She told me to put my own hand there then and support it, and as I did, I pushed so hard I felt Jessica’s head coming down and out and the pressure of it spreading me apart was so intense and painful that I realized I couldn’t do anything to suck her back in and make it stop, so I needed to keep going until she was out. I kept pushing one huge long push and felt her entire head emerge. The relief was immediate and amazing. I said “She’s out! Her head is OUT!” and MeriBeth told me to stop for a minute while she checked for a cord. I was on my knees still and cupping her head in my hand, feeling her hair swirl in the water. I asked MeriBeth if she could see a lot of hair and she said she couldn’t see it and I told her I was feeling it. It was the most amazing thing I have ever experienced, feeling my baby be born into my own hands, pushing her with part of my body and embracing her with another. I can’t put into words the magic of that feeling, but I know I will never forget it. On the next contraction, I gave another huge instinctual push, a long, no-going-back push, and felt her shoulders come out of me with enormous force and her plop into the pool. MeriBeth told me to reach down and get my baby and I did, pulling her up and out of the water as I sat up and back.
I put her on my chest and looked at her and she was beautiful, so little and delicate and just breathtakingly beautiful. Juli and Jon were videotaping and watching and we were all just saying how beautiful she was was. She was screaming right away, and MeriBeth said to just hold her close, that she was a little shocked at having come out so fast. They got me a towel to hold around her as I snuggled her, and we just sat there in the pool for awhile with her on my chest, me kissing her and saying that I did it! 🙂 She looked tiny, we all commented how small she seemed and guess around 7lbs. After a few minutes of snuggling her in the towel, I asked if it would be okay to latch her on and MeriBeth said okay, so I pulled my bra aside and she latched and nursed immediately. She was so beautiful, so perfect, worth every bit of struggle and stress and pain I had been through to get pregnant with her, stay pregnant with her, and birth her. I was instantly in love.
Joanna told us that she was born at 10:48am and MeriBeth reminded me that she had told me I’d have a baby before lunchtime. 😉 We sat in the pool for awhile and nursed and snuggled and I got to just enjoy her. It was the first time I have ever gotten to see or hold one of my babies first, before anyone else, before anyone had cleaned them or checked them. It meant the world to me. I was in shock that I had finally had not just a non-traumatic birth, but a birth so amazing I couldn’t have wished for any better. The pool had a lot of blood in it and I kept asking MeriBeth if it was okay, we had been concerned about me losing too much blood because of the anemia. But she said it was fine and I relaxed. One big fear of mine was birthing the placenta, since at Jake’s birth it had been so traumatic. At his birth, the OB who assisted his birth pulled on my umbilical cord and tore my placenta into pieces, causing a severe hemmhorage and making an emergency D&C necessary. It was awful. So the placenta was something I was very nervous about. I asked MeriBeth if it was okay to push it out and she felt my belly and made sure it seemed separated and told me when I had a contraction I could push. I easily pushed the placenta out in one push, it was perfect and whole and I was so relieved. Again, my body was not broken. 🙂 We let her cord pulse until and awhile after it was completely white and finished, I asked Julianna if she wanted to be the one to cut it. MeriBeth put the clamps on and showed her where to cut and Julianna got to be the one to cut the cord, something I know she’ll remember forever. She was such a big part of the birth,and that meant a lot to both of us. 🙂
After the cord was cut, Jon got to hold Jessica, and MeriBeth and Joanna helped me out of the pool and upstairs to rinse off in the shower. They kept telling me if I was lightheaded to let them know, and when I caught sight of myself in the mirror that made sense, as I was white as a sheet. But I held together and took a quick shower and put on a fresh nightgown and was happy to be able to go to my own bed just a short time after giving birth. MeriBeth performed the newborn exam right on my bed as I watched and said everything looked great and that Jessica was 8lbs 1oz and 20.5 inches long. We were shocked, we all thought she looked so much smaller! (And- after taking her to the pediatrician a few days later and seeing she was 7lbs even, the pediatrician and I speculate that her birth weight was probably a little over 7lbs… not 8 afterall…? but we will never know for sure. By 10 days old she was up to 7lb10oz and nursing well so we weren’t too concerned 🙂 )But she is beautiful and perfect, a very eager nurser and already so attached to mommy that she never wants to be an inch away. Which is fine with me, as I am completely in love and can’t get enough of her. 🙂 I am so happy and proud of her and of myself. I finally feel healed from my past births and like I am not broken, but complete and blessed. 🙂