I think at our last class in early Nov. I was 34, almost 35 weeks along. Right after we left I had some bleeding and our midwife (Richelle Jolley) came over to check things out. My placenta had torn a little bit, but we also found out I was already 3 cms dilated. Wouldn’t you know it…one week later I went into real labor. This was our third baby and my first pre-term birth. We named our baby Lydia Belle Jenson. She was 5 lbs 9 oz. Here’s the story:
My due date was Dec 18th and I started having strong regular surges during the evening of Thursday, Nov, 16th. They lasted through the night, coming 1-5 minutes apart. By the morning of the 17th they were really slowing down and came irregularly throughout the day. I wondered how much further I had dilated since I knew I was already at 3 cms the weekend before.
Around 10:30 pm on Friday night, my surges had really picked up again. We went to bed and I woke up around 11:30 having strong waves. I tried to go back to sleep but my body was telling me something big was happening – so I got up to go downstairs. I got out the birthing ball and felt so relieved to relax on it. The surges were picking up in intensity so I decided to head back upstairs and wake Jed up. I told him I thought the baby was coming tonight and that my surges were really strong and regular while not slowing down at all. I sat on the birthing ball in our room for a while and then had the courage to call my midwife. I say “courage” because first, I hate disturbing people in the night and it was 12:30 a.m. by now. Second, I wanted to be sure I was in REAL labor and that the baby was coming shortly. And third, I knew we would be having some discussions about our planned homebirth and having to decide if we were going to go through with our plans since my pregnancy was only at 35.5 weeks.
My midwife was surprised to hear I thought the baby was coming and asked if mI wanted to go to the hospital or have our planned homebirth. I was surprised she even gave me the option as I thought all midwives would not deliver at home before 37 weeks. She decided to come over and I labored on the birth ball for a while more as the bath tub was being filled up. I had this strong feeling that birthing at home was still the best choice for us and after I told Jed, he agreed. I had wanted to get a birthing tub and have a water birth at home with this delivery, but hadn’t been able to locate a tub just yet.
My midwife arrived around 1 a.m. and she said she was feeling good about the homebirth as well. I felt so calm and relaxed as soon as she arrived and was happy not to be rushing off to the hospital where I didn’t feel I could have the calm, peaceful, natural birth I planned. My midwife checked my progress and was surprised to see I had already dilated to 8 cm. I decided to get into the bath tub and it felt incredible to lay back and relax. My surges continued strongly but the warm water took the edge off.
Throughout labor my surges ranged from every 10 seconds to every 2-3 minutes. They had strong peaks and at least 10-15 seconds that felt unbearable, but overall seemed shortish and very manageable. I used the breathing and relaxation techniques we had learned in hypnobirthing which helped tremendously, though I never had the opportunity to go into deep self-hypnosis relaxation with everything moving along so quickly. In between surges we chatted and laughed and were having a good time. My midwife monitored the baby’s heart rate with a doppler only about 4-5 times throughout the entire labor. In the tub she checked my cervix again and I was almost fully dilated with a bulging bag of waters. This was probably after 2 a.m. She asked if I wanted her to break my water so the baby could move down and I said yes. She kept checking to make sure the cord did not prolapse.
Even though I was dilated to a 10, I didn’t feel much pressure or the urge to “push” yet. I wanted to continue breathing down the baby and not aggressively pushing the baby through the birth path like they would have you do in the hospital. This went on for a few more minutes, and then suddenly I felt like I needed to sit up and get out of the bath. I went back into the bedroom to sit on the birth ball. My midwife and another midwife she had asked to come (who has experience in delivering premature babies), put pressure on my hips and back and put a heating pad on my back. I had a couple intense surges (lots of pressure) and felt like I might throw up. This was the first time I started to feel like my body was doing it’s own incredible thing and I was an innocent bystander. I said I needed to push and the midwifes had me off the ball quickly. During the next surge the baby’s head emerged so quickly and easily. I hadn’t pushed on my own or felt any pain at this so it was surprising. I reached down and the rest of her body came out. I got to catch my own baby which was very cool. She immediately turned pink and started crying. It was 2:38 a.m., just 2 hours after I had called my midwive. Everyone was impressed at her appearance and activity for being premature. Her apgar scores were 10 and 10. She was born exactly one month early on November 18th instead of her estimated due date of December 18th.
We let the cord continue to pulse for about 45 minutes so she received all of her blood and oxygen back into her system. About 2 hours after birth it was time for her newborn exam which took place right in front of me on the bed. I was loving the difference of birthing at home vs. in a hospital where the baby is taken from you. Everything checked out perfectly on her and when she was weighed my guess of 6.0 lbs was wrong. She was only 5.9.
This was also the time that the midwives started noticing her breathing difficulties. She was grunting and her chest was starting to compress. She was having respiratory distress and I was disappointed since she had done so well up to this point. Knowing she was a month premature, we decided to take her into the Nicu so she wouldn’t have to work so hard starting out her life.
Only a couple people knew we were planning a homebirth. About 7 months into the pregnancy, wanting to practice HypnoBirthing and being frustrated with the lack of attention and care from my OB who delivered my other babies, we decided to switch care to a Certified Professional Midwife who attends homebirths. We had a wonderful time being in her care. I had realized I wouldn’t be able to have the kind of birth I wanted in a hospital. I didn’t want the cord clamped at birth, the baby taken from me, or a lot of intervention including continuous fetal monitors. I wanted to choose where and how to deliver my baby instead of being placed in a hospital bed to do it and I wanted skin-to-skin contact and bonding with the baby immediately after birth for as long as I wanted. While preparing for out homebirth I wondered if during labor and delivery I would think about the hospital and wanting pain relief. After delivery I realized that it had never once crossed my mind. Laboring at home was so indescribable and wonderful. It made an exciting event so peaceful and calm without outside interruptions and strangers to spoil it.
Lydia Belle spent over 2 weeks in the Nicu. Though her breathing difficulties were cleared up after 2 days, they had a lot of procedures and protocols to follow in the hospital. We found it extremely difficult and frustrating to try and get her released, knowing she was perfectly healthy.
Finally the doctors let her go home and she immediately starting gaining weight. She hadn’t been able to gain any in the hospital. She doubled her birth weight in just 6 weeks. This usually takes almost 6 months. At 2 months (1 month gestationally) she was already at the 50th and 75th percentiles for height and weight at 2 months. Birth is an amazing experience and there usually isn’t reason to share it with doctors and nurses in a medical setting!