I wrote out my birth story back when Charlotte was first born and have since then been rewriting it again and again. I finally decided that it just has to be done. I can never convey it correctly so here's my best shot. (What is following is a BIRTH story so if you are squeamish or my brother/dad/father in law, you might want to stop reading now ;) )
This is the story of my homebirth after two cesareans. The reason for my first cesarean was "suspected big baby" at 39 weeks after my OB told me that he could "induce and you can labor for 24 hours and end up with a cesarean anyway or just have a cesarean." After my cesarean, he informed me that I had made the right call because "no baby bigger than 6 pounds will ever go through you." The reason for my second cesarean was reaching 42 weeks with no signs of labor and an unfavorable Bishop score for induction. She ended up in the NICU despite being a 42 week baby and we both said we were never doing that again. In fact, for many months, Stephen wanted to be done having children altogether.
Fast forward to right before my Reese's second birthday, I got my big fat positive. Although we had been talking homebirth and planning it, the second I saw that second line, I admit to having second thoughts. I just didn't believe I could do it. After all, my body just doesn't work. It doesn't go into labor.
My pregnancy was mostly uneventful and yet full of one God thing after another. We had a limited ultrasound around 22 weeks to determine the placenta's location. I was so anxious for this ultrasound as the placenta's location could very well determine whether or not I could have this baby at home. I went to the ultrasound by myself and just prayed the whole way there for peace and wonderful results. I asked the tech to check the location first as I really didn't care about anything else. And my placenta was as far away from my scar as it almost possibly could be. What a huge relief and what an answer to prayer. I also managed to remain firm in my resolve not to find out the sex of the baby although I was positively convinced that I was having a boy.
I kind of suspected (although I was really hoping that I was wrong) that I would go post dates. 40 week appointment came and went. 41 week appointment came and went. 42 week appointment came and went. It's hard to believe how long 2 weeks can be, but those last couple of weeks were longer than the entire pregnancy. I could just feel my baby getting bigger and my doubt growing. My body was meant to do this. Except maybe it wasn't. Maybe my body is in the 3% of women that actually need a cesarean. The constant questions of "Aren't you afraid of what might happen to your baby?" and "When are THEY going to induce you?" and "When does this get dangerous?" wore on me and I just wanted to be done. At my 42 week appointment, I asked to be checked. I was so convinced that this was never going to end and that my body wasn't working and I just needed encouragement. 3-4 cm?! I had never been that dilated before! I asked to do a membrane stretch and sweep. My midwife gave me some castor oil to take home. And then I waited. Nothing still.
I kept feeling like maybe my baby just needed a little kick in the rear to get out of there and I had really really hoped that the membrane sweep would have done it. But no. Stubborn little one remained firm. I decided to take 1/2 ounce of castor oil (which is 1/4 of the recommended dose) and then take a nap. Most lovely nap followed by the most rude awakening.
Labor hit me like a truck (or that's what it felt like). From the time I woke up to a contraction to when I started pushing, my contractions were 60 seconds long and 60 seconds apart. There was no early labor for me, it was just hard. I texted my mom to come pick up my older two girls (we had initially planned for them to stay with me but my instincts told me that they needed to go) and texted Nannette that I thought I was in labor. She told me that she would come in an hour because "sometimes castor oil can cause false labor." I remember thinking that there was NO way this was false labor and that she better get there sooner than an hour. Stephen asked if he should fill the tub and I said "no, it's not time yet." He, being the man that he is, got right on that and started filling the tub. Nannette checked me soon after she got there and I was already at 7cm. She showed Stephen how to do the hip squeeze and instantly labor got more bearable. (I mean, seriously. The hip squeeze is the best thing ever invented.) I got into the pool on my hands and knees and although slightly better, I still felt so out of control. I started praying for control and asking Nannette and Stephen to pray out loud. The pain didn't go away, but the peace was there. Grace, our birth assistant, came in sometime during this time and was a rockstar. There's a reason she's such a fabulous doula. She got right in my ear and just talked me through it.
And then all of a sudden, I HAD to push. I've never ever felt a sensation quite like that. I remember looking at the clock and thinking "It's only 9pm! It's only been 5.5 hours There's no way it's time for me to push!" and telling Nannette that it was too soon. And that I couldn't do it. She told me, "but you already are! You are already past the point!" I reached down and felt the baby's head RIGHT there. Sack still intact. I tried to break it thinking that it would help things be over sooner. No dice. It was strong! But feeling the baby's hair beneath that strong sac. I will never ever forget that. Nannette moved away to do something and Stephen got behind me to rub my back and then my water broke in the water. Stephen sounding a bit stunned told me, "Um, I think that was your water."
And then the head was out. We rushed to get out of the pool as it wasn't done filling (try getting out of a tub with a head between your legs) and I put my hands on the side of the bed and out came the baby. I pulled baby up to me. And then looked to find a penis. Except there was no penis. Holy moly, we have a third girl! She was so slippery and slimy and yet so delicious and amazing and beautiful. I was in so much shock that I had actually done it. She latched on right away and we just laid skin to skin and I stared at this amazing amazing new baby. I couldn't believe how much I loved her. I couldn't believe that I had done it. That my body DOES labor. That it DOES birth. This amazing new BIG baby. Grace weighed her and as I saw her strain to pull her into the air in the scale, I knew she was big. And then this: "Ten pounds, fourteen ounces." My first labor, about 5.5 hours long, and out came an almost eleven pound baby girl: Charlotte Elise.
I did end up transferring to the hospital to be treated for blood loss and a tear caused by Charlotte's hand being by her head when she came out, a decision that I do not regret one bit. We were home in less than twenty four hours and then Stephen kept me in bed for over a week while he cooked and cleaned and took care of our older two girls. The recovery was an absolute breeze compared to the surgeries with the girls.
It's weird to me that so much of my labor felt like a blur. I don't remember how badly it hurt but I do remember Nannette reading a Bible verse out loud to me from the cards I had on the dresser. I don't remember how much I wanted it to be over, but I do remember Grace telling me "You wouldn't let your girls say I can't, so I'm not going to let you say it!" after I kept saying over and over again "I can't do this." I cannot thank Nannette enough for giving me a chance when no one else would. I gained an amazing friend in her through my pregnancy and birth. And in her words, "a part of me that I didn't even know was broken became unbroken when I did this."
Second picture is by Sengpiehl Photography