Marian’s Birth Story

My first baby was breech and we ended up being cesarean because the CNM I was seeing for her pregnancy kept telling me that baby’s position was fine. In the weeks leading up to the birth I was always asking about the baby’s position and was always reassured that everything was fine. We didn’t find out she was breech until my water had been broken for more than 24 hours and after more than 12 hours of labor. That birth was very traumatic for me and my baby. My second birth was a hospital VBAC that went better. With my third pregnancy we chose a midwife and a home birth. Because of my first experience I was concerned with the baby’s position. I felt that Judith was very good at being able to tell me where my baby was. She was very good at palpating and told me that she would not tell me she was sure of anything unless she was 100% positive.

We had an appointment with Judith on Wed, four days before the due date. She gave me a gentle birth tincture to begin taking and prescribed evening primrose oil as well. Both these would help prepare my body for delivery. I began taking them that afternoon. By Thursday morning (around 2:30am), I was getting some lower back pain and slight cramping. I got out of bed to see if moving around changed anything (and let’s face it I couldn’t sleep anyway…too excited!!) The pains continued, and they were fairly regular (4-7 minutes apart). I continued to monitor them and tried to lie down to get some more sleep. About 5:30 I called Judith to discuss things. My parents, whom I wanted to be here for the birth, have 6 hours to drive to get here. So I called them and told them to head on over. This ended up being very frustrating to me because about 9 AM, the contractions slowed down then stopped altogether.

Throughout the rest of the day, there would be an occasional contraction, especially if I moved/walked around. With my second baby (my first VBAC), the labor was similar. The contractions started in the night and slacked off in the day for two days. So I thought perhaps the same thing was happening again. I expected the contractions to start up again that night, but they didn’t. I began to feel bad that I had caused my parents to come over too early and miss work unnecessarily. I was frustrated and tired. I went for a walk and then went to see my doula and talk with her. She helped me see that this is just the way my body works for births (she was my doula for my first VBAC too). And that it is a natural process that differs for every woman. I had a good cry and felt better afterwards.

Judith had checked in periodically over the past day and a half. On Friday afternoon, about 2 o’clock, my uterus began a tightening that was strange to me. It wasn’t like contractions, it was just a real tight feeling all over my belly and pulling on my lower back. It was not comfortable to say the least! Judith called Friday afternoon to say she’d come over to check me and see what was going on. She got here about 6 PM. The tightening was still going on, but there were moments of relaxation in the uterine muscle as well. She said I was at about 2 centimeters with a mostly softened cervix (the top front was still not ‘ripened’). She told me to take a large dose of calcium to help relax the uterine muscle and allow me to get some much-needed sleep. She also told me to use more evening primrose oil. I did both and went to bed around 8 o’clock. I slept well until 1 AM. I woke up and went to the bathroom. When I was done in the bathroom, I noticed a trickle running down my leg. I knew that my water had broken! But there weren’t any contractions yet, so I lay down again. At 1:43 the contractions started! I called Judith to let her know my water broke and the contractions started. I also called my doula because I knew she needed to get her baby sitter there and it would take an hour for her babysitter to arrive. The contractions were about 9 minutes apart for the first 4, and then they quickly went to 5 minutes apart. At 3 o’clock, I called my doula again to let her know I needed her. When she got here, I have no idea what time it was as I was having heavy contractions that lasted over a minute and were less than 3 minutes apart. She helped with a warm rice sack, acupressure and gentle coaching through the contractions. We had the birth pool set up, but I didn’t want to get in until Judith said I could. She had attended a birth earlier in the evening and was on her way over. I called her around 4ish to see if I could go ahead and get in the pool or not. She was about 30 minutes away and said I could get in if I felt I needed to.

By this time the contractions were heavy and pretty close together (I stopped timing at some point…). I got in the pool of warm water. There was some relief but not as much as I was expecting. It was nice to have the weight off my back and knees though. And the ease of movement was wonderful! It was great to be able to sit down between contractions and easily get back on my hands/knees when a contraction started up again. Judith got there shortly after I got in the pool. Not long after, the contractions got even closer and much more intense. The pains were different than with my previous VBAC. I was feeling them in my lower uterus and lower back a lot more.

There was one point were I would get a slight urge to push, but only in the back and the front hurt quite a bit. Judith told me to open my mouth during a contraction and keep my sounds low. I tried, but there was something in my voice that made Judith think there may have been something different. She then asked me to get out of the pool and go to the bathroom. While there, Judith checked the baby’s heart rate during a few contractions. There was a definite deceleration on the heart rate during the contractions and Judith did not want me back in the pool. We went back to the birthing room and Judith asked me to lie down so she could check me. I had an anterior lip (same as I had with my first VBAC). She was concerned with the baby’s heart rate and had me stay lying down (much to my dismay!!) for three contractions while she helped the anterior lip. After the third contraction lying down, Judith said the anterior lip was gone and that I could get up. (She later told me that if I hadn’t been lying down it would have taken quite a few more contractions to get that anterior lip to go away. So I forgave her for having me lie down! She really does know what’s best!) She had me lean on my husband for a supported squat with one leg up on a stool that was about knee high. Then when I felt the next urge to push she encouraged me to go for it! I pushed and pushed with all I had! It was very tiring, but very powerful as well. I could feel the baby’s head coming, but my legs were shaking and I was about to give up. Of course at that point, there is no going back! I pushed again and I could feel his head more and Judith encouraged me to push some more. I did and felt baby’s head come out. She immediately told me to get on my hands and knees. Baby’s shoulders were a bit stuck, but as soon as I did what Judith said and changed position, she was able to get him out. She told me to sit down on the floor and laid baby on my belly. He was not breathing and was as blue as could be. Judith gave him one breath, two breaths, three breaths, and he started to breath on his own. We rubbed his hands and feet to stimulate his breathing. The cord was attached this whole time but soon stopped pulsating. Judith asked if she could give me something to control the bleeding as I had quite a bit of bleeding going on and she wanted to stop that. I consented.

After everything had calmed down a bit I got up on the bed with my baby and then they clamped the cord. My husband and 5-year-old cut the cord together. Judith encouraged me to get the baby to nurse as much as I could. He nursed a little while covered up and snuggled with me. After I delivered the placenta and he nursed a bit more, then Judith asked to have the baby a while. She and Sha checked him over and made sure he was breathing okay. They gave him some rescue remedy as well to help deal with the trauma of the birth while we talked about the birth some and what had happened. They say the pushing only took 15 minutes, though it seemed much longer than that to me!

Throughout the pregnancy, Judith was great at palpating my belly to determine what position baby was in. Most of the pregnancy he was either looking transverse (ROT or LOT) or posterior. I looked over the spinning babies website and tried many of those techniques and I also did the hands to knees rocking that Judith suggested. But none of these things worked for me I guess, because it turns out that he was Posterior anyway! That explained the difference in the pain during the contractions. Also, his chin was not tucked, so his full head circumference was what was coming through instead of the crown that would mold easily. This explained why the pushing was so much more difficult than with my first VBAC.

I am incredibly blessed to have found Judith for this birth. I feel that if I had been in hospital I would not have felt near as powerful and may have ended up with a cesarean based on baby’s heart rate and position. This birth was tiring, but exhilarating as well and made me feel very proud and powerful. I am thankful Judith was there and for being able to birth at home!