13 Sep Surprise!
Since it took us so long to have one baby we figured we couldn’t have another so we took no precautions in preventing additional babies. It was February 2016 and a blizzard had just hit our city hard. We were outside shoveling snow when my husband urged me to go take a pregnancy test because he knew I was late and claimed I was a bit emotional – I don’t recall the emotional part 🙂 We had a test leftover from almost two years prior so I dusted off the snow and went in and took the test. I was shocked – absolutely shocked by the positive staring back at me! I stepped outside unable to walk all the way to my husband, my feet felt like cement and all I could do was stand there staring at him. He looked up and saw me standing there and said “it’s positive isn’t it?” How did he know!? We laughed and hugged and I handed over my shovel for him to finish that fun job by himself 😀
We felt very blessed to be having another baby. I called my Bradley teacher and asked for a refresher course and even asked to hire her as my doula. I wasn’t about to have what happened last time happen this time. I was with the same OB team because they were the only all female practice in my area and I was very uncomfortable with a male doctor. I really didn’t want to go with them again but felt I had no other option. As I kept meeting with my doula we began talking about home births and I expressed how that would be nice and my husband wanted that from day one with our first but I wasn’t certain it was for me, plus by this time I was 38 weeks pregnant so I was certain no one would accept me so late in my pregnancy. I was also certain we couldn’t afford it. My doula smiled and said “oh I know a midwife that will take you and she’s very budget friendly!” So with that I called and set up an appointment. I asked her all kinds of questions! Have you ever had to transfer to a hospital from a home birth? Have you ever delivered breech? What would you consider an emergency? What would you do in an emergency situation? What would you do if your backup plan for an emergency didn’t work out? How long will you let me be pregnant? And so on. She was amazing! She answered all my questions and basically explained “I have everything with me but an operating room”. Then came time for the expense and when she handed her contract over with that number sitting there and knowing she didn’t take insurance we knew there was no way we could do this. We thanked her for her time and left without saying anything about not being able to afford her. She called the next day to see if I wanted to transfer care to her and I explained I did but we couldn’t afford her cost. And what she said next I will never forget. I was standing in my back yard dragging a foot through the overgrown grass that desperately needed mowing and she said she never wanted finances to get in the way of having the birth that a mother desired. With that information I went inside and my husband and I started crunching numbers to see what we could afford. When we saw that final number our hearts sank because we just knew it wouldn’t be enough. She reached out again and I told her our budget expecting her to say “I’m sorry but that’s just not enough”. Only she didn’t! She said ok! SHE SAID OK! There we were 38 weeks pregnant planning our homebirth! I was excited and scared to death at the same time, but as the time grew closer I was more excited than scared.
I had a doula, I had two midwives, I had my husband, I had my close friend who was in med school studying to be an OB and wanting to witness a natural birth, and I had a birth photographer gifted to me by my doula! I had prodromal labor for about two weeks leading up to the actual labor and was getting pretty discouraged. Each night like clockwork it came on, steady consistent contractions, getting stronger and closer together. Each night I would do a relaxation technique and take a warm bath expecting labor to turn into birth and I would go to bed to get some rest for game time only to wake the next morning to find everything stopped. By the second week I was so bummed thinking “maybe my body really doesn’t know how to do this birthing thing” that my doula came over during my toddlers nap time and got me set up in my bed and gave me a head, arm, hand, leg, and foot massage and it was AMAZING! I was the most relaxed I’d been in a long time. She let herself out so I could stay in bed in my fully relaxed state and nap and that’s just what I did!
That night I had the bloody show and quickly text her around midnight to tell her. We both agreed we should get some sleep just in case this night was different. I woke around 2:45am with strong contractions and decided to take a bath to relax so I could go back to sleep. Only when I got in the bath my contractions didn’t slow down or lessen, they sped up and intensified. I woke my husband around 4:45am when I was absolutely certain this was it and he jumped up and headed downstairs to vacuum 😀 we had two dogs. Then he began filling the birthing pool by heating hot water on the stove and pouring it in because we were too cheap to buy a hose to connect to our sink. I called my doula who instructed me to call my midwife and she was heading over. I also called my close friend who wanted to be there.
My friend was the first to arrive and apart from greeting me she jumped right in and started helping my husband fill the pool. My doula showed up and sat with me while I rolled in circles on a birthing ball waiting for the pool to be ready. I remember while I was sitting there I looked at her and was shivering and shaking and told her “I can’t stop shaking but I’m not cold”. She gave me the sweetest excited smile and said “oh honey you are in transition, this is normal.” Transition!? Seriously!? So soon? It was frightening and exciting at the same time.
By the time the midwives showed up the pool was finally ready and I jumped in only to turn around and jump right back out. It was too much. Too much sensation added to all the sensations I was already feeling. I got out and remember kind of turning circles saying I don’t know where I want to be, I don’t know what to do! Finally I instructed my husband to sit on the couch and I sat down in his lap breathing. Then it hit again, I didn’t know what to do but I didn’t like where I was and the next thing I knew I was in the floor on my knees in front of him with my arms wrapped around his waist and my head in his lap. My friend was on one side putting awesomely freezing towels on my back, my doula was on the other with words of encouragement, my midwives were like flies on the wall letting me do my thing, and my birth photographer was hiding in the corner snapping away. I remember we laughed, we joked, I cursed once and apologized at which everyone laughed again. Then the ring of fire! Oh the ring of fire! I hated it! I still remember it to this day and that was almost 4 years ago now. I remember it was the only time I yelled at someone. I asked for them to put the fan on it – but we all know you never fan a fire right? Oh how true! I quickly began screaming “no no get it off, turn it off now!!!” No one could find the off button so in the midst of crowning I turned around and punched the fan off and then apologized to everyone for yelling at them. I remember just letting my body push but making those ever so infamous primal noises – noises I never knew I had in me to make! My midwife leaned in and said ok he has his hand on his head so you might have to push a little harder to help him out. There was no urgency in her voice, no panic, just a very calm relaying of information. I tried but was failing, she leaned in and gave me some words of encouragement and told me to sit into the contractions more and then inside my head I could hear the words of my doula echoing from what she taught in our Bradley classes – “relax and let go”. Mentally I was holding back, I think because I was scared of what was next. I had gotten use to labor, I could do it but pushing, that was new and I didn’t know what to expect but I knew that meant a baby was coming out of my body! So with the next contraction I relaxed and let go and I gave a little extra and out came his little head and then out wiggled the rest of his body.
He was perfect and there were tears of joy and cheering. So much genuine excitement filled my living room! I sat in the floor holding him and looking at him as he looked back at me – it was amazing. The midwives waited to do any exams until I said it was ok. My husband cut the cord and we waited for the placenta to arrive while I got more comfortable on the couch. The morning sunlight was pouring in from our front windows and my husband went and got our older son up to come meet his brother while we kept waiting for the placenta. My midwife talked me into going to the bathroom to try and sit on the toilet to relax a little more to try and push the placenta out. With every contraction I would try to push but it hurt so bad and just didn’t feel right. During one contraction she gave a little tug and I screamed, it was so painful. She informed me it didn’t seem like it had detached yet and we either needed to head to the hospital in our cars or she could administer Pitocin to see if that might help. I agreed to the Pit because I really, really didn’t want to go to the hospital. My husband called our friend who lived a few blocks away to come get our 1 year old because we weren’t sure what was going to happen. I remember her coming inside and picking him up and me being so terrified I wouldn’t get to give him one last hug. I thought I was dying. At this point they had called for an ambulance to transport me to our first emergency backup plan (remember I asked about what’s an emergency to her and what would she do and what would she do if that first backup plan fell through – we made three backup plans with the third one being worst case scenario). I remember my husband looking for me some clothes because I was completely naked. My doula helped and they grabbed a red bandana patterned maternity dress and threw it over my head. I was leaned back on the couch with my bottom hanging off the side and my feet on a chucks pad because I was losing a lot of blood. I remember feeling sleeping and thinking if I went to sleep I would die so I had to stay awake (my biggest fear is dying and leaving my family behind). My husband and midwife were my rocks, insuring me I was going to be ok and I wasn’t dying. Little did I know I later found out my husband was freaking out in the kitchen where I couldn’t see him and my doula was trying to calm him down. Apparently she did an amazing job because I never saw fear in him once.
The fire department arrived first and I will never forget the look on one of the firefighters faces – I’m laughing now as I think about it. He had to have been new because he looked so very young! They walked in and stood off to the side while I announced “I don’t need the fire department, I’m not on fire, I’m bleeding from my vagina I need a paramedic, you guys can’t help me!” And I looked that young fire fighter in the face am my naked pelvis hung there. He looked down at my bloody vagina, his face turned pale, his eyes grew wide as he lifted his eyes and face to the ceiling and said “uh clearly”. Had I not been bleeding to death I probably would have laughed right then and there. Finally I was transported to the hospital via ambulance while screaming through these Pitocin contractions and the paramedic asking me to stop screaming while he called me into the hospital. They were shocked I was a planned home birth. I was the first call in close 25 years this paramedic had had that was planned, all the others were unplanned he attended.
We got to the hospital and the doctor ran through my options. I could be awake while he manually removed my placenta or they could put me under while he tried to manually remove my placenta and if it didn’t work surgery would be the next option with a possible hysterectomy. I was so tired from delivery and those Pitocin contraction, which I was still having, that I said “knock me out and do what you have to do but don’t let me die, I have two little boys that need me”. The nurse was very calming and reassuring and so very kind and said “ we will have you back to those boys soon”. The best part is when I got in the operating room there was my midwife smiling and waiting for me. It was so comforting knowing she would be there with me while I was under. The last thing I remember is her smile and her reaching over to hold my hand. When I woke up I was informed by the doctor “for lack of better words, you had a sticky placenta”. Basically my placenta wouldn’t let go and luckily he only had to manually remove it. Sadly with that manual removal I ended up with a hernia but considering I lost over half my blood, I was still alive, I didn’t need a blood transfusion and my iron count was still excellent, I wasn’t really complaining. My husband got a lot of skin to skin time with our new little boy and before that time I really didn’t believe in chemical skin to skin bonding but that baby was attached to him like nothing I’ve ever seen before and still to this day he would much rather have my husband then me.