Abbie's Arrival: A Home Birth Story

in father's handsAbbie was born December 5th at 10:17 p.m. weighing seven pounds, three ounces; 20 inches long with a full head of hair.

So, I'm just going to state right now, that I'm still a bit loopy from a natural home birth. I am a bit sore, but I'm not near as sore as I was directly after her birth once the endorphins weaned off a bit. I'm up and mobile and the bleeding has reduced enough to make me feel comfortable that everything worked out perfect.

A Little Background

I had preterm labor from 18 weeks and spent over six weeks on hospital bed rest. Abbie was presenting breech, so I tried everything spinningbabies.com could recommend to flip a breech. We even paid a chiropractor to come in and work on me, and eventually allowed the doctors to do an external version. She refused to flip.

They wanted me to schedule my c-section for 38 weeks. I said I needed time to think about it, and walked out of the hospital with my gut instincts telling me my wanting a home birth was still the right thing to do, and breech or not, everything would work out just fine.

I trusted my gut instincts, and my partner, Jake supported me 100% even when other people felt I was making the wrong choice. My gut's never led me wrong yet, despite my occasionally questioning what exactly its trying to tell me.

Early labor began at 36 weeks, I went into active labor around 37 weeks, and progressed to 6cm and then regressed back to 4cm probably from stress and her being breech still. My body took a 2½ week break and I had lots and lots of "trial" runs of contractions after that.

I ended up getting a cold and it was fairly persistent. I was also worried if I didn't get the baby out soon, or if she didn't flip head down I would end up with a c-section just because my labor wouldn't start on its own.

Someone recommended pulsatilla to me again. At 35 weeks, I asked my midwife if I should take it for the breech factor and she told me at that point not to bother, she didn't think it would do any good since nothing else worked on her.

After doing some research, I learned pulsatilla is good for helping with colds, relaxing the uterus (which gets rid of braxton hick contractions and makes REAL labor contractions more effective) and also helps flip breech babies. I figured what the heck, the WORST that could happen is it does nothing. So I took it Friday and Saturday. Sunday I went into active labor, though I wasn't sure if it was real labor or not after all those false alarms.

I started having different types of contractions on Thursday the 2nd, I even made Jake feel her move like that and told him that I thought she was trying to flip. Abbie was doing somersaults in my stomach, and she did flip from my right side to my left side. That was the most we could confirm for sure, though I kept telling him and my midwife "I can't feel her head under my ribs anymore."

These Contractions Are the Real Thing

Around 10 a.m. Sunday morning, I wasn't feeling very good. I just couldn't get comfortable and I was feeling pretty restless. I thought I was getting sick again. Jake had to go get our son from Grandma's, and I noticed I was having a lot of contractions that felt different than before.

I told him he might want to hurry back because I wasn't sure what was going on with me.

I was playing World of Warcraft to help distract me on our bed until I couldn't take it anymore. I got up and spent an hour in the shower half laughing and half crying feeling like I was going totally insane because I wasn't sure what was wrong with me.

Eventually, I ran out of hot water. I got out, got a snack, drank some water, peed and had bloody discharge all over my thighs. I decided, "Well that's an obvious sign of something," so I called my midwife and asked her when I should call her back. This was about 2-3 p.m. I also immediately called Jake and told him he might want to come home.

I also contacted a couple of my best friends. One got a flat tire and showed up right after Abbie was born. We made her look at the placenta as punishment for missing the birth! Her face was priceless. It might be a good thing she missed the actual birth or she might have fainted.

By the time Jake got home, the contractions were making me so restless I couldn't sit still. I was pestering Jake, following him from room to room and wandering around. I couldn't figure out what was wrong with me and Jake eventually called the midwife back and told her he thought it was time for her to come over.

She got here at about 5:15 and checked me, and I was dilated to 6cm. She thought she had time, so she went out to grab dinner, and came back in 2 hours. At 8:15 I was still dilated to 6cm, but Abbie had moved down to a -1 station so the midwife decided it was time to stay and called her assistants to come.

I told her I wasn't sure if Abbie was still breech or not. She felt for her but couldn't decide if she'd flipped head down or not, so my midwife decided to just assume she was still breech at this point. And that's how she treated the situation.

Her head and her butt were the exact same size when she came out so that's why it was very confusing for people who would "feel" to see where she was positioned without an ultra sound.

At 9:25 p.m. I was leaning on the yoga ball in the living room. I was having the urge to push and I asked my midwife if it was okay to bear down a little with the contractions because it made it hurt less.

She told me I absolutely could NOT push under any circumstances yet and I told her I hated her. So I stopped following my body's natural direction because I assumed she was still breech.

The next contraction after telling my midwife I was entitled to hate her for telling me I couldn't do something that made it hurt less, my water broke during a really, really intense contraction and the first words out of my mouth were, "Holy shit! Either my water broke or I just peed myself."

For some reason, everyone thought that was funny. After that, my contractions got a hell of a lot worse and I lost track of time. I remember her putting the antibiotics into me between contractions due to the GBS factor.

I kept reminding myself to get through each contractions, this is going to hurt less then a c-section, suck it up bitch. That was my mantra at this point.

Labor Gets Intense

Then, things got a lot worse, and fast. After that, things got hazy. People kept touching my belly and doing blood pressures and I actually at one point remember pushing someone away and going, "Stop touching me already."

I kept telling my midwife that my body was pushing on its own and I couldn't help it anymore. She made me get up and go to our bedroom around 9:45. It was a lot of work to get me on the bed to check me. I was about 8-9cm and she told me I absolutely could not push yet. I was fighting my body not to push and it hurt so bad not to let my body do what it needed and wanted to do.

I was on my hands and knees and begged her to let me go in the tub to help, because my body was pushing on its own and I was fighting myself trying not to bear down at this point and it made everything so much worse.

Jake filled the tub and I got up and it was too hot to get in it and I almost started to cry, I asked him if he was trying to kill me, and then collapsed on the floor with the next contraction. The midwife was on the floor with me helping me through the contractions, telling me not to push yet and just work through it.

By this point, my body was pushing on its own and I couldn't stop it. I finally asked her, "I don't think I can wait another hour to push do I really have to wait that long?"

She told me it depended on the situation and she'd check me again. She never got the chance. While they were trying to get me up I felt stuff slide down in my vagina and feel like it was splitting me apart.

Another couple of contractions like that and I went, "Oh shit! This baby is coming and I can't stop it." The contractions were right on top of each other at this point.

They helped me up to the bed and made Jake sit behind me while he held me in a semi-reclining position. For some reason they wanted me to scoot forward a few inches and by this time I was shaking so bad I couldn't move or do anything. They had to pick me up and move me a few inches because I just plain couldn't do it.

Abbie nursing contendedlyMy midwife was down between my legs, looking at it and telling me to go ahead and push. I felt something come out and it stung really bad. She asked for an amniotic hook and popped my water bag a second time. Apparently I have a really tough bag of waters and it ballooned out, the water sprayed everywhere when she popped it. The relief I felt after that was popped was indescribable.

The baby moving down my vagina felt like I was being ripped in half. I think at one point I decided I wanted an epidural or any drugs they could give me because this was awful. Then I realized it was too late and they kept telling me I was committed to this now and couldn't take it back.

After that She told me to bear down with the next contractions so she could see the baby again. Finally! I gave a test push to see if I could control my body enough still to have the energy to bear down after not allowing myself to do it. I didn't really push very hard because I was trying to figure out how much strength I needed and was trying to get a feel for my body after being told not to push.

Then, she blurts out, "Oh my, I think I see hair!" She turns to her assistant and asks her to look with her. They tell me to bear down again and yep, there's hair all right and I pushed so hard her head popped out without warning. I couldn't help it.

I think at some point during this I said, "I changed my mind, I want a c-section, please just kill me, I don't have the energy to push anymore, I can't do this." or something along those lines.

My midwife told me, "Well, just stop and rest for a minute then."

So I did, and my body did; it rested for about 3 minutes and then I had another intense contraction and out popped her body. There was no ring of fire, there was no slow stretching. I pushed her out in under 10 minutes from when they gave me permission to push and it took only two real pushes to get her out.

When she came out head first, I blurted out, "You mean I could have had my water birth, this didn't have to hurt this bad?" (or something along those lines, that was the gist anyways, but my memory's a bit fuzzy)

All I could think about was she came out head first. I was right she flipped and I had to suffer through all those flipping contractions because we couldn't confirm for sure that she wasn't still breech.

Meeting Abbie

They told me to grab her and at this point I was shaking so bad I couldn't move, I was locked up and told them I couldn't, and so they placed her on me.

I'm still in shock that I was right that she flipped head first. But, it proved to me that my water needed to break to get things going, and that her head needed to be down there for my labor to kick in and put me over in active labor.

Because of how she came out, I required 2 stitches since my midwife didn't get a chance to stretch me and Abbie had a 13 inch head. It was perfectly round when it came out. She came out in just under an hour from when my water broke that her head didn't even have time to mold.

I held her skin to skin while they cleaned me up a bit and delivered the placenta. I think the stitches were the worst part. she numbed me, but one of them I felt her put in. I nursed her and she ate like a champ.

Then, they cleaned her up and did her exams and gave her one of her vaccines. The midwife will be back today to give me my Rhogham shot and do the rest of her vaccines.

I was so shaky and sore and mildly panicked about hemorrhaging since I almost died with my son. The midwives got me up to pee, gave me a shot of Pitocin and my bleeding was fine. I felt like I bled a lot, but they told me it was a normal amount.

We tried to wake my son up to come see his sister when she was born. There wasn't enough time to get him up for the pushing phase. The assistant went to get him. When he woke up and she asked him if he wanted to come meet his new sister. He goes "why?" and then rolls back over and goes to sleep.

He met her this morning and was quite enthralled by her and very excited but apparently late at night, sleep was more of a priority to him.

Abbie and dadBy this morning, my bleeding is pretty minimal and I'm a lot less sore in general. I'm still kind of in shock that I managed to do it, and still can't believe that she flipped head down after all of that stress and drama. I guess I really do tend to hit the 1% statistics.

Emma is a stay-at-home mother/wife who would eventually like a large family. Prior to Abbie's conception, she and her husband had been trying to conceive their second child for 4½ years.

Her first birth, an induction at 43½ weeks was in a hospital setting. After this very traumatic birth experience, Emma looked into alternatives over the years of dealing infertility to figure out what kind of birth experience she wanted if she got a second chance at it.

Her pregnancy with Abbie was high risk -- a bleeding scare in her first trimester, multiple infections the second trimester and pre-term labor with hospital bed rest and breech presentation during the third. Most people told her to just suck it up and have a c-section. She chose to follow her instincts, and fight for what she felt was right, even if it went outside of what most people consider "normal" for today's child-bearing mothers.

Emma loves to do research, read; she is a writer and model, and does photography as family hobby. She also really enjoys video games, though finds she don't nearly have as much time to play them as she'd like.

Copyright © Emma. Permission to republish granted to Pregnancy.org, LLC.