I have 2 beautiful sons … both born into this world in completely different ways.
When I became pregnant with my first son, Alexander, I found a doctor and hired a doula. I fully expected a beautiful hospital birth. I was very wrong! My pregnancy was normal and wonderful, except for borderline high blood pressure. (White coat syndrome!)
Two days before my due date with contractions starting, my blood pressure went up just over the dreaded 140/90 and off to the hospital I went. I was admitted at around noon and at 7:00 p.m. Alexander was born via C-Section. He was beautiful and healthy, however I was disappointed. There was lots of healing to do. I remained in contact with my doula, Ruth Kraft, and over the next couple of years our friendship grew. She often talked to me about her practice. I listened to her stories about many hospital births and how doctors treated these women. I realized the medical community treats pregnancy as a disease, and birth as the cure! When actually… it’s a perfectly natural process, and yes, women do have a choice! Knowing my husband, Justin, and I wanted another child, I realized I would have a tremendous obstacle to overcome … having a VBAC.
So our adventure began, I was pregnant again! I knew this time I did not want to step one foot in a hospital! I did lots of research on natural childbirth, and I knew this was what I really wanted.
I called Ruth, and she directed me to the Hollywood Birth Center. Since I live in West Palm Beach, this will be quite a drive, but a small sacrifice to make considering no midwives in Palm Beach County could or would do a VBAC at home. I drove down and met with Debbie Marin. I immediately felt comfortable with her and was extremely excited to find out she would do a
VBAC at the birth center or at home, even with the drive to West Palm Beach. I drove home that evening dreaming of the beautiful birth that was coming, knowing I would be able to do it the way I wanted!
The day came for my first prenatal visit. My husband made the 1-1 ½ hour drive to the birth center. We filled out our paperwork and we were amazed to have them spend an hour and a half with us answering all of our questions, addressing all of our fears. I knew I had made the right choice. My next obstacle for me to overcome was my blood pressure. Since that was the cause of my C-Section, every time that blood pressure cuff was wrapped around my arm I felt anxious! Each prenatal visit, my blood pressure would start out high and the longer I stayed at the birth center it usually dropped back to normal. They listened to me and believed me about my white coat syndrome. They asked me about my diet, exercise, and my life in general. I really felt as if they were there for me. Wow, isn’t this the way it’s suppose to be? To surround yourself with people who love and support you, and guide you through your pregnancy! As the end of my pregnancy approached, I felt excited. I had no swelling. I was happy with my weight gain. I had the support of my midwives, my doula and my husband, Justin. I decided that having the baby at
home would be best. Since each time I went the birth center my blood pressure spiked, I felt I would be more comfortable in my own space. Most of my family and friends thought I was crazy for even attempting a home birth, especially a VBAC. But, I was comfortable with my decision. I trusted my body would know what to do! I did not fear of the pain of labor, just the fear of my blood pressure!
One week away from my due date on Sunday, I woke up around 4 a.m. feeling contractions different from the Braxton-Hicks contractions I had been having. I went to the bathroom and there was bright red blood. I went and started timing my contractions, thinking this is it. They were 5-7 minutes apart lasting about 30-45 seconds. I woke up Justin called my midwife, Debbie.
She told me to go about my day normally, keep monitoring my contractions and let her know if
anything changes. I also called my doula, Ruth. She was almost sure today would the day, too. Around noon, the contractions start becoming more irregular, but still continuing. Soon I realized, today was not going to be the day!
Monday morning, contractions again … 5-7 minutes apart. I called Debbie again. She gives me tips on how to jump start labor, nipple stimulation, spicy foods, and intercourse. She also told me if contractions got too strong and I needed to relax to take a bath and have a glass of wine. So, we tried all of these things and nothing changed, except my mucus plug came out. My contractions were the same pattern as yesterday, strong and regular in the morning dwindling by the evening. Sleeping though was becoming tough.
Tuesday I had the same pattern. Wednesday I had a prenatal appointment, and I am dilated 3 cm. Yeah, these contractions were doing something. My body was working, just slowly. Thursday I had the same pattern…this was starting to become frustrating!
Friday morning, I woke up around 4 a.m. again, but this time my contractions felt stronger. I started timing them. They were 3-5 minutes apart lasting about 45 seconds. I called Ruth. She hurried over. After five days of having contractions, today had to be the day! By noon, my contractions were stronger and closer. We called Debbie. She packed up and headed my way. I was now dilated 4-4.5 cm. The baby’s heartbeat sounded great. 3 hours later, nothing had changed. My contractions were getting weaker, and I decided to try and rest. Debbie and her crew packed up and left. I was off to take a bath and have a glass of wine.
This pattern of contractions continued Saturday and Sunday. Sleeping had really become a challenge, and my level of frustration was getting high. I knew my contractions were doing something, but how much longer was this going to go on? Monday morning at 4 a.m., I woke up again. This time my contractions were definitely stronger and were 3-5 minutes apart lasting over a minute. Could this be active labor? I called Debbie again. She suggested I eat breakfast and take a shower, which did slow my contractions down. I was so ready to meet my baby! I called Ruth. She suggested I go see my Chiropractor. So, off I went, and yes, my lower back was really out of alignment. A few hours later, I noticed my contractions changed. I seemed to be feeling them more into my back. By evening, things were still the same and with a bath and some wine I went off to bed to try to sleep.
Tuesday, day 9 of contractions, I was wondering if I would ever have this baby. I was only 3 days past my due date, but so ready. Wednesday was my next prenatal appointment, and we were going to figure out how to get this baby out. My contractions seemed to be the same. I was still feeling them in my back, but they were still very irregular. I was determined to get a good night’s sleep, so another bath and some wine, I was in bed by 10 p.m. As I drifted in and out of sleep, I noticed my contractions seemed to be getting more intense and closer together. I had to moan and rock my hips to get though them. By 12:30 a.m., I couldn’t stand lying in bed anymore. I needed some relief, so I got into the bath tub. I could not relax! The contractions were really uncomfortable, but not unbearable. Then I felt a gush. I stood up and dried off, and then saw the trickle of clear fluid running down my leg. My water broke, and there was no meconium! Finally, this baby was on the way!! I yelled for Justin. This was it! It was 1:00 a.m. I called Debbie. She wanted me to time my contractions for an hour then call her back. I called Ruth, and she was there in 15 minutes! We timed my contractions, wow, 2 minutes apart lasting a minute. They were really intense now! The only way I could make through each one was to squat and breathe. I kept thinking to myself …they want you to lie in bed in the hospital…no way! Instinct seemed to take over. My body was working as it should, and it was wonderful to be at home! Comfortable! Doing whatever I needed to make it through! No hospital, no doctors, no nurses, no IV’s, no constant monitoring, just labor as is should be!
At 2:00 a.m., I called Debbie back. She’s on her way. My contractions were still 2 minutes apart lasting a minute. Ruth suggested I try a different position, since I had been squatting and breathing for over an hour now. I tried the birth ball…no way. I couldn’t stand the pressure of sitting. Next, I leaned on Justin for support. It was very comforting to have his arms around me. Ruth tried counter pressure on my hips…no way. Too much! I continued to lean, moan, rock, and rest. At some point I heard Ruth say the pressure I felt was the baby moving into my pelvis,
which was a comfort to hear. Even though you know what’s happening, it’s hard to make the realization when you’re experiencing such intense contractions. About 2:45 a.m. my contractions started coming closer together, a minute and half apart lasting a minute.
They were almost coming right on top of each other. I really started feeling the pressure throughout my pelvis and the urge to push. I heard Ruth say we need to call Debbie, who suggested getting me into the bath tub to try and slow things down. When I sat down in
the bath tub, I had to roll over on my right side and hang my arms over the side. The pressure in my butt was too much. Ruth tried to help me with my breathing. Pant, Pant, Blow… But all I could do was push with each contraction. Deep down, I knew this baby was on the way, and I didn’t think Debbie was going get here in time. I looked up at Ruth and told her that she was
going to have to deliver this baby. I heard Justin running around, trying to get things ready. Ruth kept telling me to breathe and use low moans, but my breathing was almost uncontrollable. My body was on autopilot. I pushed and moaned, sometimes screaming doing whatever I needed.
I heard Justin giving Ruth instructions. He must have still been on the phone with Debbie. More pushing … I felt down in between my legs and nothing was there yet. More pushing … Then I heard Ruth say that she saw the head, and for me to push slowly. Short, slow pushes … then relief! The head was out. Ruth told me she was feeling for the cord around the neck, and then I heard her say, “What’s that? It’s his fingers.” My baby had his hand on his face. A couple more pushes and there was my baby lying on my chest. He was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. Welcome Brendan Michael! Ruth grabbed a towel, placed it on him and started rubbing. His grey skin started turning pink as he looked up at me. I couldn’t believe he was here! He looked absolutely perfect! Next thing I knew, Justin and Ruth were getting me out of the bath tub and taking me to bed. All I could do was walk and look at Brendan. I was in awe of this new life in my arms. He started nursing right away. We all watched and waited for Debbie and her assistants to arrive. The first thing they did was to look between my legs, and amazingly there was no tearing. No stitches needed!! The placenta delivered easily, and looked great. Then came time to weigh Brendan, he was not a small baby … and weighed in at 9 lbs 4 oz. He got a clean bill of health! Perfect in every way! Brought into this world at home, surrounded by love! I was and still am so proud of myself, Justin and Ruth! I accomplished what most of the world told me was not possible, a VBAC at home, a water birth, unattended, and best of all no tearing. Repeat C-Sections are so unnecessary! Hospitals are not where babies should be born. Just believe in yourself and surround yourself with love and support and anything is possible!