Liam’s birth was planned to be a waterbirth, but as it turned out there wasn’t even enough time to fill the tub! Throughout my birthing time, we made the choice to “proceed with caution,” knowing that as long as the answers to “is mom doing well?” and “is baby doing well?” were “yes,” we could proceed with our birth plan.
For those of you wondering, waterbirth really isn’t as mysterious as it sounds. It’s simply natural childbirth’s version of an epidural, and I saw it as one more tool available to me to help aid the process. Especially because I’d had a prolonged pushing phase with our daughter (also a Hypnobaby), I was looking forward to the soothing nature of the water which would help Liam to be born more gently. I did a lot of research about what happens in a waterbirth, making sure that it would be safe for him. Essentially he is unable to take his first breath until he is gently lifted above the water. It’s quite fascinating to read about the way it works.
Liam’s “guess date” was Friday, October 8th. I had started having a few pressure waves Monday, October 3rd indicating he might be thinking about making his arrival, but then they stopped. The next time I remember noticing some mild pressure waves was Friday, October 13th. They stopped again.
Liam scored an 8 out of a possible 8 on the biophysical profile at my visit on Monday, October 10th. It was also revealed that he was facing out (posterior) but at the time I didn’t think much of it. Looking back I realized that using a wait and see approach was not the way to go.
It was clear by the time the following week had nearly come and gone that Liam wasn’t planning on exiting any time soon. I was doing kick counts and knew he was happy as a clam in there, which generally means he needs a bit more time to cook. We even walked around the entire zoo Sunday the 9th, and it felt awesome to be out in the sunshine.
Since I wasn’t yet having any consistent pressure waves (the ones I’d had throughout the night had barely been enough to keep me awake), we decided we’d request to go home, relax, and try getting things going naturally with brief walks, bouncing on the yoga ball, and just resting up. The midwife was cool with that, and said to call her that afternoon to check in, but indicated without saying it outright that we might be admitted that night if nothing had changed.
The good thing about her role in my birth is that she used her experience regarding infection to guide her advice to us. Knowing me as a patient told her that it wasn’t very likely that I would get an infection, especially if I was declining cervical checks, which I did have to do once with the nurse upon arriving at the hospital, not having sex, etc. Sure, infections are still possible, however the good thing is the baby’s head had created a seal which eventually stopped the fluid from leaking and created a protective barrier. I was still leaking some fluid though, which was causing me anxiety.
We called the on-call staff at the hospital on Saturday night, approaching 24 hours since my water had broken. I spoke to the doctor who was on duty, who explained that typical hospital policy calls for induction 18 hours after the water breaks. She knew having spoken with my regular midwife, that as someone who wanted a natural childbirth, this wouldn’t be my preference, but she informed me of the policy which gave me more anxiety. She also said, “you should talk to the midwife on call.”
However, entering the scene is now our wonderful care provider who I had never met before because she sees patients in the other office. She has a wonderful, supportive philosophy which is completely no-pressure. The patient’s body is their own, and she is just there to advise. She is highly skilled and competent in her job, and immediately we know we’re in good hands. When the doctor handed over the phone, the midwife said, “Darn! I wish they had sent you to me earlier!” She started me on a breast pumping regimen, once every hour for 15 minutes. This was 10 PM. Our doula reminded us to REST in between. The pump allows your body to produce more oxytocin naturally, as opposed to Pitocin which is the synthetic form.
Pressure waves are still sporadic and not intense. We rested some until 6 AM, but not well. Trying to stay aware of Liam’s movements kept me pretty anxious and awake.
October 15, 2011 at 8 AM we arrived at hospital with Chick-fil-A chicken biscuits. I was in tears, feeling like we were walking into prison. But when we got admitted, I knew that things were going to be alright. Much to our delight and surprise, the midwife recommended continuing on the pumping regimen for awhile, and if it didn’t work, then we could talk about starting a low dose of Pitocin with the goal of getting my body in a pattern and then turning the Pitocin back off. She also recommended an antibiotic as a precaution. I felt good about the decision to have that administered, and it was given every 6 hours and didn’t take very long so that I could be up and about as I wished in between. (I have a suspicion it might be causing us a case of thrush right now though, since an antibiotic can upset your natural balance.)
Even though I hadn’t slept well the night before, I had gotten fantastic sleep the week before being off work, so I was really ready for this with plenty of sleep in my “bank.” Really grateful for that.
Our doula and I walked the L&D floor for about 30-40 minutes and it was way boring. We actually thought about checking ourselves back out. (Basically signing a form saying “against medical advice,” we’re outta here.) Looking back, I’m glad that we didn’t do that. Really glad. The midwife checked in again at 1:30 PM and suggested more breast pump stimulation. With intermittent monitoring we were still confident Liam was doing great.
Our nurse had been watching us from afar, and must have seen me gazing longingly at the sunshine outside. Bless her soul, she suggested to the midwife that we be released for a walk outside. (YAY!!!!) Best news EVER. I honestly didn’t believe they were serious when they came in to tell us. And I gave her the biggest hug and was nearly in tears. We had a great time on our walk, went across the street for a milkshake and walked until it got REALLY warm out. I felt like a freak in my PJ pants and IV lock, but whatever. We were outside enjoying the day!
We came back to the hospital for an afternoon nap. Liam still looks great on the monitor. His heartrate dipped momentarily as I was on the breast pump, because I’d started having pressure waves one on top of the other, which we attributed to the calzones we ate for dinner. The body’s natural response to fuel and yet another reason to eat.
As our doula and I discussed the events of the week, it dawned on me that the biophysical profile had shown that Liam was posterior. Thankfully she had some tricks up her sleeve to try to turn him. We did “figure 8s” on the yoga ball, pelvic rocks, and Rebozo sifting which is a gentle scarf shimmy under the belly while the mother is on all fours (which felt great)! I felt a little ridiculous during all of this but I’ll try anything at this point to get this party started! I just want to meet him! It’s things like this that make a doula worth her weight in gold!
Also worth noting that a nurse shift change occurred at 7 PM. Time to bid farewell to our heroine nurse and little sad that we could not yet introduce her to our new baby. Enter nurse 2, who immediately said she had read our birth plan and had a very positive, “let’s do this” attitude. Honestly I think these nurses were excited to be seeing something a little different. The midwife would later thank me for doing a birth plan and giving them the chance to support it. That made me feel so good!
When my pressure waves stopped yet AGAIN, I knew it was my body telling me to rest. So we talked with the midwife and I was about to fall asleep as she was saying that she would check in again at 5 AM and that we’d get serious about the low-dose Pit at that point, approaching 48 hours since my water had broken! In another hospital, this scenario would NEVER have happened. Major props to the care providers for their confidence and knowledge in what the body can do. She was completely trusting that since I had no fever, Liam was getting antibiotics and was looking great on the monitor, that there wasn’t a need to rush it. Again, cannot stress enough what a blessing this was!
At 1 AM I got up to pee, and was feeling intense pressure in my back and saw some bloody show. I relied on our doula for counter pressure and double hip squeeze which felt awesome, and rocked on the ball which was bringing the baby down very quickly. I could now feel him making direct contact with my pubic bone. This baby was finally coming and coming fast! When your baby says it’s “go time,” there is very little that can be done to slow it down. And heck, we’d been waiting ALL weekend for this moment, so most of what I felt was joy and excitement!
Our doula suggested side lying as a way that I could start to use my tools. That worked for about 2.5 seconds when I began vocalizing loudly. “Ahhhhh” nd blowing air out my lips like a horse. I was completely surprised by my involuntary ability to make these sounds and how awesome they felt.
However I was so excited that with Liam’s birth, I was really able to tune into my body in a way that I hadn’t with my first birth. I used hypnosis very successfully with our first birth. Almost so much, that at times I wasn’t listening to my body because I was so relaxed and felt as though I was in a dream-like state.
With Liam’s birth, I experienced it to the fullest, knowing the whole time that my body was doing what it needed to do, and that gave me so much confidence and was so empowering! And I was able to choose my own positions which helped not only to relieve discomfort, but to give me even more confidence that I was doing this correctly.
At 1:50 AM after a brief time lying on my side, I exclaimed “I have to poop!” And truly I did. To the potty I go. TMI, sorry. Our doula reminded me while I was on the potty that I should use my uterine muscles to push Liam out rather than go with the pressure I was feeling in my bottom. Babies don’t come out of bottoms, in case you hadn’t noticed. :-)
Miraculously I was able to achieve both efforts nearly simultaneously. LOL. But the important thing is that I immediately felt a difference when she reminded me to push Liam out by pretending to “push the seat belt” away from me. When I said “do you think I could get in the tub?” I needed some relief. I thought surely I’m at least at 6 cm. They want you at a 6 before you can get in the tub. I believe that is to avoid having to get in and out, if it relaxes you so much that your birthing time stops, which has been known to happen. Kinda silly if you ask me.
The nurse came in to check me on the potty (how rockin’ is that?!) and said I was NINE centimeters! I cannot tell you what a moment this was and how grateful we were to her for not requiring me to get on the bed for the exam. I knew that Liamwould be here soon!
I swayed and rocked through the next several pressure waves which was a nice little break from the inevitable, while the nurse came and checked Liam’s heartbeat. Still perfect. The midwife was still not here; she had been resting at home and had just gotten the call. She was rushing into the parking deck by about 2:20 AM.
As soon as they finished changing the sheets I moved up on the bed on all fours which felt so great, and Baby Liam was beginning to crown! My doula whispered to me to remember the pushing technique (push as though you are pushing away your seat belt. Do NOT bear down like you are having to poop) and that it was not important to ‘resist’ or wait for the midwife or the nurses to deliver Liam, but to relax into it and gently guide Liam out. His head was gently born at 2:35, so quietly that we hardly knew what had happened. But we heard his first cry and that was an AWESOME moment, especially for me because I couldn’t see him yet. But I could hear him! At 2:36, just as the midwife ran in the door, Liam was born into Daddy’s arms!!! Praise God from whom all blessings flow!
He weighed 6.74 oz, 19 inches long and his head was 13 inches. He was born anterior, facing my back, with his hand up by his face.