Wednesday, March 26, 2014

My birth journey, part 2 - HBAC

This is, as I wrote it about 12 hours after the fact, the home birth after c-section (HBAC) of my second child.


On March 6 I woke up appearing to be leaking amniotic fluid. After a couple of hours we called my midwives to let them know. They had me start taking regular doses of Vitamin C to boost my immune system in case there was a small tear in the sack. I did labor throughout the day, with the contraction coming very regularly and sometimes very, very strong. Eventually everything slowed down though. My midwives stayed the night while I tried to get some sleep. I did get some sleep, but woke up with strong contractions throughout the night. The next morning they tested my vaginal secretions and found that there was no indication of amniotic fluid, so our thought was that there had been a small tear that ended up healing itself. They went home, and I tried to get some rest.
I labored slowly throughout the day on March 7. My mom, her partner, two of my sisters, and my sisters husband all helped us out, especially by taking care of Little Man. I napped in the afternoon, as well as I could between contractions, and had a pretty laid back rest of the day. Around 8 in the evening I was pretty tired and ready for bed. My husband lit some candles in our room and helped me get comfortable. I plugged myself in to my iPod and propped myself up on a huge pile of pillows, and tried to get some sleep. I was contracting pretty hard at that point, and I think that "sleep" was more equivalent to deep relaxation between contractions. I did well breathing myself through them, and being able to relax and listen to calming music was very helpful. I now realize that this calm, quiet time was when I was truly going through active labor and I'm thankful that I had the sense to rest and conserve my energy!
Eventually, towards midnight, my husband came upstairs and lay down with me. I had been resting and meditating this whole time, but I was so tired I just wanted to lie down and sleep. Lying down made the contractions come HARD. It wasn't too long before an incredibly intense one literally sent me springing out of bed, moaning and groaning at the top of my lungs. My husband leaped out of bed and instantly turned on the light. I can't imagine what he thought was happening! He was incredibly supportive for me from then on out, as he coached me through my deep, slow breathing - reminding me to "breathe up" and breathing deeply with me through the strong contractions. This must have been the time when I was hitting transition, the period of labor where the cervix finishes dilating the last couple of centimeters.
I became very "out of my head." The only response I could come up with when people asked me anything was "I don't know." My mom and husband were enormously supportive. My mom had learned a helpful technique that she used on me. During my strongest contractions she pressed her hands firmly against my forehead and the back of my head, while speaking softly to me about how my tissues were soft and flexible, my cervix was opening properly, and so on. My husband, as I said - he was amazing, and I couldn't have done it without him. He seemed to instinctively know what I needed to help me, and he was amazing at keeping my breathing calm and steady as I had practiced throughout my pregnancy. He and mom both kept me well hydrated between contractions, which I know was extremely helpful.
At some point he went to call the midwives. I loudly insisted that nobody was allowed into the room and nobody was allowed to "tell me how to do things." This was my obstinate point during labor I guess! He went and called them and when he came back upstairs, he told me that he had spoken to them but that they weren't going to come until I decided that I needed them there. I was laboring really hard at this point and this barely registered to me. I realized later that he had actually called and told them to come out because things were moving along pretty quickly!
I had lost all track of time by now and I have absolutely no idea how long everything took at this point. I know that eventually I felt the overwhelming need to kneel on the floor by the end of our bed, and then my body pretty quickly started pushing. When you hear that your body will push all by itself, that is completely true, and I can't even describe the feeling of it. I felt primal while this was happening. I was still listening to music, and my husband still coached my breathing, although when he realized I was pushing he would remind me to breathe down, to start breathing the baby down the birth canal.
After a little while of pushing, I had this feeling that I should reach down and check. I felt something emerging from me, and it was all I could do to moan "I feel his head, somebody catch him!" Everyone in the room sprang into action. Somebody ushered in the midwives, who had barely just arrived. It turned out that what I felt coming out was the sack that had contained him in the womb! It was so strange and neat. There was no gush of waters breaking during my labor because all the fluid was still contained in the sack.
It felt like I pushed forever at that point. At one point I lamented "When will the sack end and my baby come out??" Everyone just kept encouraging me to keep going, as the sack kept coming out more and more. I know that a few times I stopped and wailed, between contractions, that it hurt too much and I couldn't keep doing it. My husband pointed out to me that I WAS doing it and I was almost done. 
Suddenly the sack that had been coming out so slowly just fell out of me. One of my midwives told me when this happened. His head was literally right behind it, and they had me reach down and touch his head. It was the strangest feeling. It didn't feel like a human head at all, it just felt soft and slimy. It was really, really hard work to make his head come down. Later on his head measured at 37 centimeters around, so he had a good sized head that took a fair amount of molding to fit through the birth canal. My pushing urges became enormous and very primal. I feel like I groaned and screamed like a wild animal, but my husband later told me it wasn't that bad at all. Finally after what seemed like forever, his head started actually coming through. I could feel myself stretching around him like I had never even imagined I could stretch before.
The big moment came as his head made its final push through. I had one fierce, long contraction that pushed his head all the way out, and then continued to push him out. He literally came sliding out of me with the force of only one, strong contraction! My midwives later said "Head to toes in just one contraction!" It was absolutely amazing. I realized during that last contraction that all of him was coming out at once, but I obviously couldn't find the words to let anyone else know. I was kneeling over a pile of towels at that point, and he basically flew out of me and landed on them. Instantly he started crying, but it wasn't an upset cry at all. It almost seemed like it was just reflexive. He did this soft, repetitive cry enough to clear out his lungs and his airways, and then he quieted down. We had an absolutely amazing period of eye contact and bonding while I sat on the floor holding him. I was the first person to hold him, which was also amazing!
Once he stopped crying after he was born, he spent several minutes staring intensely into my eyes and talking to me, in that wonderful language that only newborn babies can talk in. My mom was particularly amazed by this. It was like he was telling me a very important story, complete with hand gestures and hilarious facial expressions.
My placenta came very quickly and easily afterwards, and it was in perfect condition. It was amazing to look at it, and my sister took some pictures of it.
Our labor was long and sometimes really hard. I'm very glad that I read, re-read, and read again "Hypnobirthing" while I was pregnant, because those techniques really got me through it. It was totally and 100% worth every moment of every discomfort during my pregnancy and labor though, because at the end I got this perfect experience of bonding with my baby while we were both clear-headed and not under the influence of any drugs, in contrast to Little Man's c-section birth. Boo Boo started nursing perfectly within an hour after he was born, and he's really good at it. He's been nursing often, and he even gifted us with a soaking wet diaper just a little while ago.
The details are, he was born at 3:50 am on March 8. He was 8 pounds 6 ounces, and 21 inches long.

No comments:

Post a Comment