I feel blessed beyond words to share our wonderful news. Miss Louisa Mae (aka Lucy or “the Goose”) is a big sister to our brand-new daughter, Miss June Elizabeth (formerly known as “the Deuce,” now frequently referred to as “the baby” or “Junie-bug.”)
And now, before I forget the details, it’s time for her birth story.
As of my last post, I was feeling very down and very pregnant. A great deal of my stress was due to the fact that my dear Mama, who had flown in a little over a week ago, had a return flight scheduled for today. I was worried about who would watch Lucy while Brett and I were at the hospital, whenever I actually went into labor. Because Brett is a stay-at-home dad, and I have a strong dose of working-mama guilt in my system, we rarely either need a babysitter or go out at night. In fact, since we’ve moved here, we haven’t left Lucy with a sitter. Anyway…
On Tuesday (the very next day after I posted my woe-is-me blog), I had a regularly scheduled appointment with my midwife. The appointment went great- blood pressure still very low, measuring a little small but still “normal,” and although I was still only 50% effaced, baby’s head was very low and I was a full 4 cm dilated. We decided that the day had come for an all-out try for non-medicated baby eviction. (Please let me preface this by saying that I am NOT supportive of elective chemical/hormonal inductions, and in a different situation, I would not recommend repeating what I did. Any action that is intended to push baby towards delivery is an induction of sorts. However, I will say that the strategies I used will really only work if baby is ready, and that I was absolutely sure of my conception date, so there were no concerns about potentially delivering a pre-term baby). The strategy I used could be referred to as MCB- membrane stripping, castor oil, bath. My midwife stripped my membranes, I took a big hit of castor oil once I got home, and then followed that with a soak in the tub. The idea is that the membrane stripping causes the release of prostaglandins and subsequent dilation and cramping, the castor oil causes contractions in the intestines (the theory is that when the intestines touching the uterus contract, a “ready” uterus will be encouraged to contract as well), and the bath helps to minimize the nasty side effects of castor oil and relax mom. Trust me when I say that castor oil is NOT fun. For me, it’s simply terribly difficult to get down, and causes what I’d categorize as moderate nausea and intestinal discomfort, but I’ve heard of plenty of people who have severe vomiting and diarrhea. It’s not for the weak-hearted or weak-stomached, and you certainly don’t want to go into labor dehydrated.
I chose to have my castor oil in mixed into a three-egg omelet. Brett mixed in lots of veggies to help cover the taste and mouth-feel of the castor oil, and we figured this was a good way to get in plenty of protein and quality calories, in the case that it worked. I managed to get the whole thing down, and then hopped in the tub. Within a few hours- by about 2 or 3 pm, I was having mild contractions.
By this point, I knew that this might be it, and was ready to encourage my contractions on. Brett and I walked over to a nearby park and played with Lucy- or should I say, Brett played with Lucy, and I walked circles around them, because walking always helps me manage my rushes. On the way home, I started feeling a lot of pressure, and a more definite feeling of “this is it.” I took another bath, got out my birthing ball, candle, and labor beads, and started to work more purposefully through the rushes.
By about 6/6:30, things were getting a lot more serious. Brett and I took another walk, and I was not able to talk through my rushes anymore. I focused on breathing through “loose lips”- making horse-like sounds (Ina May says loose lips above = loose lips below). When we returned home, I told Brett to go fill up the gas tank (I had forgotten to take care of it earlier) and get my bags ready. I still intended to stay at home for as long as possible, but I wanted to be ready. By the time Brett got back, I was really working hard, and at around 7:30, I felt a gush of fluid. I was admittedly very nervous when I realized that it was not my water breaking, but blood. I’m obviously familiar with bloody show, but this was a considerable amount of blood- and I hadn’t had much at all with Lucy. At that point I decided we needed to head out for the hospital- I wasn’t comfortable with the bleeding and wanted to make sure the baby was okay.
The ride to the hospital was a blur. It took about 45 minutes, and the whole time I was in the back seat of the CR-V, facing the rear, crammed on my knees between two car seats and hanging over the back. I am simply unable to work through rushes sitting down, especially in the front seat. Please don’t ask how I managed to climb into the back seat in the first place- I couldn’t tell you. Anyway, Brett turned on some soothing music, and I continued to low-moan and hip-rock my way to the hospital. When we finally reached the hospital parking lot, I jumped out before Brett could park- I absolutely could not have another contraction in the car. I headed into the hospital while he grabbed our bags, but was stopped by another rush. He caught up with me, and we made our way to labor and delivery. Rushes were probably 2 minutes apart by this point, and I needed to squat and rock with each one. However, I was still very calm in-between, and had a few quick conversations with some of the staff members we met in the halls.
We finally reached L&D at roughly 8:15 pm. When we arrived at the desk, I was in-between rushes, and the nurses asked, “What are you here for?” Brett just looked at them, dumbfounded, and said, “WE’RE HERE TO HAVE A BABY!” They looked in some sort of scheduling book and said, “Oh, well you’re not scheduled.” I guess they thought I was there for an induction! Luckily, another rush hit right then, I got into it, and they started to take me seriously.
I was put into triage, and the nurse quickly realized I was easily 7, quickly approaching 8 cm dilation. Everything went kind of crazy then, because my midwife hadn’t arrived yet, the attending OB’s didn’t want anything to do with me or my birth plan, and I was not in the mood to lay in a bed and be monitored- I was going through transition at this point (I found out later that neither OB was at all comfortable with a natural birth). I remember having 2-3 rushes in bed while they monitored and got the heplock in, then said to the nurse, “I’m sorry, I HAVE to get up!” With that contraction, I started feeling very pushy and told the nurse so. I laid back down, and proceeded to pant- I wasn’t sure how dilated I was, and didn’t want to push too early (I had a 2nd-degree tear with Lucy and REALLY wanted to avoid a tear this time).
Since it appeared that I was being ignored while the nursing staff and attending OB’s decided what to do, I knew I needed to grab their attention. I did so by yelling, “I NEED TO PUSH!” Luckily Miss Only-Nice-Nurse-In-the-Room looked down and realized baby was crowning. Her exact words to the docs were, “I don’t care WHO it is, but someone needs to put on some gloves!” One doc snapped into action, and my bed was quickly broken down. He tried to coax me into the stirrups, but I evaded him and grabbed my ankles instead. He broke my water (baby would have been born in-the-caul otherwise, which would have been pretty cool, but he was afraid, in his words, of being “splashed”) and baby June was born immediately. I believe it took 3 solid pushes total. What was cool was that I was managed to really control my pushing this time. The staff was pretty freaked out that Brett and I chatted and kissed between pushes, and I was trying to laugh and joke with them. June was born at 8:35 pm- about 20 minutes from the time I had arrived. She was 6 lbs, .6 ounces, 18 ½ inches long, and I was tear-free.
I will give the docs/nurses credit that they followed my birth plan to the best of their ability. Brett got to tell me she was a girl, and she was placed on my chest immediately. The staff did her Apgar (9-nearly perfect!) while I was holding her, and they didn’t touch her again until she had nursed well (she latched immediately). They respected my wishes regarding vaccinations and eye drops, let me keep her placenta, and delayed all routine checks. I did end up getting some pit after June was born as a precaution, but I didn’t mind. I felt really great and was up and moving immediately. After a while we were moved from Triage into postpartum, and we ended up staying the minimum (for June) of 24 hours before heading home.
June’s birth was definitely an adventure, and was truly beautiful in its own way. I’m grateful that we avoided the hospital for as long as we did, and that I was able to bring her into the world on my own terms. I’m also happy that we were able to show a group of non-believers what natural birth can be.