Wednesday, July 23, 2014

My Home Birth Experience

Soon after finding out we were pregnant, I knew I wanted the natural birth experience. I've never been one for doctors and I knew that, being healthy and young, I should be just fine. Early on, we had an appointment with a midwife and greatly enjoyed meeting with her.  The personal one-on-one time just confirmed my decision to go this direction. We moved when I was four months pregnant and settled in to a new state. Amazingly enough, we discovered that the midwife who I had been emailing to get to know went to one of our churches in the area! I had what I would consider a dream pregnancy- no sickness at all; no issues at all. So as the weeks went by, I fully expected the baby to come with no complications. We decided on a home-birth; purchased supplies, had a baby shower, and eagerly looked forward to the birth of our little girl. The only concern we had was that it seemed that our baby was tending to go posterior. So in light of that, I was doing exercises and different things to encourage the baby to turn but I was not terribly concerned.

The day I turned 39 weeks pregnant, I felt contractions for the first time. I had been feeling achy and heavy all day. We were out of town for the day so I was relieved when we headed home. That night, a Saturday night, I did not sleep well. The contractions were sporadic and seemed centered on my back. The next day, I called Linda, our midwife. When she learned how much my back hurt, she told me to call a chiropractor friend of hers the next day. She encouraged me to keep going in my day and try to ignore the sporadic contractions. Sunday night the contractions stayed about 10 minutes apart. I did not sleep well again. Monday I went and saw the chiropractor and continued sporadic contractions. That night was another restless night. Tuesday morning Linda came over to check me and discovered I was 3-4 centimeters dilated and quite stretchy. The baby had dropped but her head was not engaged on the cervix quite the way it should be. I was clearly in the early stages of labor, though. Linda sent me back once more to the chiropractor in the mid-afternoon. By this point the contractions were about 5 minutes apart and I was feeling very uncomfortable. 

When we got back home, I was wondering if Linda should come back. We called back and forth several times and then around 5pm decided it was time. When she arrived just before 6pm, she checked me and I was 5-6 centimeters but again, the baby was not fully on the cervix the way she should be; she was posterior, or at least largely posterior. For the next several hours, Linda put me in different positions which would encourage the baby to turn over. I was backwards on the toilet. I was lying on the bed in a certain position. I went on a couple walks. Throughout the time, anything that put pressure on my back was extremely painful. At one point I threw up. During those hours Tuesday evening and night, my contractions were not maintaining consistency. They would be 2 minutes apart, 6 minutes apart, 5 minutes apart etc. Apparently this was a result of the baby not being engaged in the proper way. Late Tuesday night, I was 8 centimeters dilated. I was progressing, just very slowly. We filled the birthing tub and I spent much of early Wednesday morning laboring in the tub. Linda, bless her heart, slept on the floor or the couch for parts of the night. 

Throughout this entire time my husband Charles was by my side, encouraging me and keeping me hydrated and nibbling on food here and there. Wednesday morning found me fully dilated. I was thrilled with the prospect that maybe an end was in sight. After all, it had been over 18 hours of labor at that point.

I will interject here and say that amazingly, I was not exhausted. I had been drinking and eating here and there throughout the entire time. I was very much in the moment, not thinking too much. God was very good.

Around 8am I started to have an urge to push. Around 10am Linda checked me again and we decided to break my water. I labored on a birthing stool for a bit. This was not my favorite as it put pressure on my back, which still particularly hurt. However, the birthing stool was much preferred to being on my back which we tried but I just could not stand it.

After breaking my water, the urge to push came often and intensely. I had no control over the urge and found myself very vocal. I pushed in the bathroom and then was back in the tub. I pushed and pushed.

It was around 1pm that I had my moment of discouragement. I had been pushing for hours. I did not seem to be progressing. The urge to push was overwhelming. I did not want to go to the hospital but at the moment it seemed I would have to and I figured I would probably have a c-section.

Charlie had been praying all along but here he pleaded with the Lord and put a fleece out- that if I had made progress by 2pm, it would be a sign that we would complete the birth here at home. If not, we would have to go to the hospital.

Linda had been momentarily out of the room and when she came back in, I expressed my discouragement. “I don’t know how much longer I can do this.” “Ok, let’s see if you have made progress. If you are making progress, we can stay home.” I got out of the tub and on to the birthing stool where she could check me. Lo and behold, yes I was making progress, just very slowly. It was at this point that Linda directly started coaching me. I pushed and pushed, basically screaming while Linda and Charles encouraged me. After that I did go on the floor on my back and pushed for a bit. The baby was finally coming down. After that, Linda was encouraging me to push in the bathroom for a bit. I turned to head that direction but another urge came and I stopped and squatted where I was. This was a very effective position. It hurt my legs so I alternated between squatting, standing for a moment and half-squatting/lunging leaning against either Charles, the side of the bed or the crib. It was here that for me the tide turned and I knew that the baby truly was coming out. I heard Charlie’s excitement of “You’re almost there. I see her head. It’s almost over, honey. O wow, here she comes.” I heard Linda’s encouragement but I couldn't respond to either. It was in the moment- tremendous intensity- feeling myself stretch which felt to the enth-degree. Knowing somehow it was almost over yet completely overwhelmed.

And then, she was here! I looked down to see a squirming baby being placed in my arms. I sat on the floor, holding her as Linda wiped her down. I don’t even know what I was saying but it was the most real moment of my life. I had brought forth this child. What they say is true, it is all worth it. The complete contrast from intense pain and agony to complete joy is a moment that I will never forget. Who cares if it had taken over a day for her to come! She came. And she was perfect. Our Lilliana was here!

Looking back on the experience, I am so grateful we chose to have a home birth. I am convinced that if we had headed to the hospital when labor was starting, I would have ended up with a c-section. I would have been hooked to monitors, in bed, on my back which would have killed me. At home I was able  to move around, be in all sorts of positions, keep my energy up by eating and drinking, labor in a warm tub….yes it was slow, yes it was difficult but never once was I exhausted and except for that one moment, I was not discouraged.

The most important factor, I believe, was prayer. Both Charles and Linda were praying throughout the entire experience, pleading to the Lord to help the baby come and to sustain my strength and courage. He did just that!  

We figure I was in active labor for around 25 hours. I pushed for around 7 hours. Amazingly, when Lilliana came out, she had actually turned to the proper way! Somewhere in there she did turn - our little miracle.

This was definitely the most difficult thing I have ever done. But the Bible verse is true, “Weeping may endure for a night but joy comes in the morning.” God brought me through and I have this precious memory and knowledge of how God can sustain and bring me through such a difficult trial.

We are incredibly grateful to our midwife, Linda. She knew what she was doing; we absolutely trusted her. She was our hero! Her calmness and compassion touched our hearts. Her direction brought forth our baby.

I also could not have done this without my husband being at my side, encouraging, supporting, feeding and comforting me. We are closer as a result of this experience and as we have entered this new phase of life together, we will always have this bond of bringing Lilliana in to the world together.

A woman, when she is in labor, has sorrow because her hour has come; but as soon as she has given birth to the child, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world.”   ~ John 16:21~

Lilliana Mae Rietman
Born: July 16, 2014, 3:42pm
6 lb. 13 oz, 20 in. long

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