So we’ve known we were expecting a girl from the get-go. Nothing about this pregnancy has been textbook “easy”. From the ridiculously laughable amount of morning sickness–to the strange and potentially borderline “risk out of the birth center” test results, she’s been trouble. When we announced our pregnancy back in October and our due date of May 26–we were immediately informed that the only day she could NOT make her grand debut would be May 17 as my sister would be graduating from college on that day. I laughed it off but told people to expect her that day just because she’s thrown us nothing but curve balls–and sure enough that is the day she chose to make her appearance!
Let’s back track. My iron levels were fine but at around 34 weeks they noted that my platelet count was a little low and we’d have to keep an eye on it. This was a factor that could have totally blown the entire birth plan out of the water as it could have deemed me too high risk for the birth center–cue anxiety and tears. Luckily, I passed my Gestational Diabetes test (just barely but passed). And at 37 weeks found out I was Group B Strep positive. This shouldn’t have mattered EXCEPT for us to be able to be discharged 12 hours after the baby was born (major part of our birth plan) we needed to be treated with IV antibiotics 4 hours prior to her birth and they preferred if we received two doses. Here’s the problem: IV was nowhere in the birth plan. While I am not a “passed out from them putting the IV in” type I do NOT like them. I cry during blood tests (just a knee jerk reaction) and with Baby T #1 I had an IV that snapped in my wrist and had to have multiple sticks after birth to reinsert an IV for fluids. I also was not really interested in being tethered to anything during labor–especially since we were going to attempt a water-birth. The GBS positive added the stress of “making it to the hospital” within a 4 hour window so laboring at home was really not an option. It also introduced the idea of induction/intervention if my water broke because then we would be on the clock and have to be in active labor by 12 hours later. At 38.5 weeks we had an ultrasound to determine position and the fluid levels came back on the high end of normal. While the midwife didn’t want to speculate why, this was also a contender for risking us out of the birth center. After hearing this on Friday afternoon, I think I may have panicked the baby out. I was seriously beside myself. I could control exactly ZERO of the things that had the potential for risking me out of the birth center and for a type-a control freak–that is just NO GOOD.
At 11:30 pm that night, we were sitting in the living room catching up on our DVR’d tv shows when I heard a slight pop. I thought to myself how funny would that be if that’s my water and not just the baby moving around and beating me up from the inside. Then, I felt a trickle. Moments later I was asking for a towel so that my brand new white carpet didn’t take the brunt of it. Somewhere between laughing (because the situation was exactly as I called it) and shaking (because “shit just got real”) we made our way into the bathroom where it was unmistakable that it was my water that broke. As a sat on the toilet shaking from the rush of adrenaline, I called my mom who said “Oh frig” when I told her what was going on–this would mean my mom couldn’t accompany us as a support person for the birth (WAH). I texted my friend in town that was the backup babysitter and said “Standby: My water just broke.” And then placed the phone call to the midwife on call.
Since nothing was really going on contraction-wise, we decided to touch base again in an hour or so. And then I started panicking about the GBS positive and not getting the drugs in time. So while at home waiting–I did nothing but hydrate. I didn’t want to bring on labor any faster than necessary because I needed the time to get the meds at the birth center before she came barreling into the world. We cleaned the house, packed the car and waited.
My parents came to pick up our son and in the meantime we had touched base with the midwife again and agreed to meet at the birth center at 2:30 am. I chugged a ton of water and red raspberry leaf tea and we were off. As we drove to the birth center about 40 minutes away I noticed that I was having some mild but lengthy contractions about 5-7 minutes apart. When we got to the birth center, they checked me and I was about 2 cm dilated and cervix was still thick BUT baby was engaged and perfectly positioned.
Since my water had broken it was important that they start me on the IV immediately to protect the baby from Group B Strep in the event that the infection was currently active. The meds were in my system by 3:10, which meant the baby had to stay in until at least 7:10 to avoid having to stay the additional two days for observation. The midwife discussed the fact that my labor wasn’t progressing and I was now “on the clock” and had to be in active labor by 2 pm. She also mentioned possibly having to go across the street to the hospital for a “hit of pit” or another induction intervention if my labor didn’t pick up within the next couple of hours. Then she sent me upstairs to sleep because we needed to just wait. She said she’s check in on me around 5:30 am and then we would start working on getting the baby out with a birth ball and breast pump.
We went upstairs and Andrew passed out within minutes (thanks, guy). After numerous trips to the bathroom of “trying” to avoid poop soup–I was unsuccessful and trying to come to terms with the fact that the tub was probably going to look like a shark attack with poop on top. My contractions picked up and were noticeably longer and more painful but they were mostly lower belly not whole belly contractions. When the nurse came in to check my vitals she had a breast pump in hand but then realized I was having some pretty decent contractions. She asked me if I was timing them–“Duh, I should probably be doing that, huh?” (Amateur). Contractions were less than 3 minutes apart and about a minute long.
When the midwife came up to check in around 5:45 am she said “Yep, this baby is coming.” And she decided we were just going to let it happen since I was obviously progressing much faster than originally anticipated. She was right there with me the whole time as I clung to Andrew’s pockets and she used counter-pressure on my hips through each contraction, reassuring me that I was strong and could do it!
I finally was able to get in the tub around 6:45 am–in fact, we were hoping that it would slow down my labor to allow for a second dose of meds to be administered. Once in the tub, my midwife did a quick check and I was 7 cm dialated and fully effaced. They started the second dose of meds because it was clear she was coming. All I had to do was finish the meds and make it to 7:10 am.
Let me just be clear–while the tub maybe helped make the contractions “bearable” it DID NOT RELAX me to the point of being unable to move (evidently it renders some people so relaxed that it stalls labor or renders them unable to move in an emergency–uh yeah no!) Sitting reclined in the tub wasn’t really helping so I decided to kneel and hold onto Andrew who was on the outside of the tub sitting next to it on a stool (things were moving too quickly for him to support me in the tub). I held onto him through each contraction and tried my very best to stay calm. He says that I was extremely focused through each contraction. I tried just repeating her name over and over again in my head. We even made bracelets with her name on it to use as a focal point.
I told the midwife I was feeling a lot of pressure and that I was totally going to poop in the tub: MY WORST NIGHTMARE. She kept reassuring me that it was fine and do whatever I had to do. I lamented telling her all of the horrible things I had eaten in the last 24 hours (macaroni and cheese topped with ketchup) and confessed I hadn’t pooped since my water broke despite trying a MILLION TIMES. She laughed and said it was fine! She told me not to push until I was going to ignore her and push regardless of what she wanted. I kept warning her I was going to poop in the tub. (In the meantime I had finished the second dose of meds). After the meds were disconnected, she then checked and said “No, Kayla, that’s not poop–that’s the baby. I can see the baby.” She pointed out to Andrew that the top of her head could be seen. She then requested I relax through each contraction to avoid a tear since the likelihood of my tearing over my previous episiotomy scar was highly likely. I did my best to relax my legs and let my body do the work and clearly remember crying out for help from the Lord and yelping. And then with very little pushing on my part (Red Raspberry Tea for the win!) I was feeling the midwife guide the shoulders out and up she came out of the water screaming at 7:16 am! They placed her on my chest and she immediately calmed down. They kept her warm by continuing to pour warm water over her. As I looked around at the tub the WATER WAS CLEAR. There was remnants of vernix but other than that clear. No blood. No poop. Nothing. IT WAS A DAMN MIRACLE.
After the cord stopped pulsing it was clamped and cut (then there was a little blood in the tub). And the placenta was delivered and packaged up for us to take home. They handed the baby off to Andrew for skin-to-skin while they assisted me out of the tub and onto the bed for stitching for my first degree minor tear. And that was that.
We were then allowed to lounge around essentially unbothered despite a few vital checks. It was a very Bed & Breakfast relaxed vibe. We didn’t even know how much she weighed til much later in the morning because her apgars were 9 & 10 and they never took her from us. We slept, adored our new baby, worked at nursing and just enjoyed being together. The second rotation midwife came in and checked the baby out in the middle of the afternoon, the nurse ran through the “educational” part of going home, and completed the newborn hearing test. We ordered some take-out and were discharged at around 3 pm.
The entire experience was a HEALING birth–while Baby T #1’s birth is far from most people’s definition of traumatic–I remember feeling fear and being unheard. At the Birth Center, I felt HEARD, EMPOWERED and SAFE at all times. We had our beautiful daughter and despite the minor hiccups, things couldn’t have gone more perfectly. We will be forever grateful to the Birth Center midwives and nurses.