My pregnancy went very well and I was lucky to have no real issues. It was actually one of the best times of my life thus far. My husband Jeff and I had been anxiously awaiting her arrival as our EDD changed from the 11th to the 1st of August after an ultrasound tech assured us we were farther along than we or our midwives has suspected. It became clear as the days rolled right past the first of August that we should have stuck with our instincts. You are prepared for so many things in pregnancy, but the emotion of that last week or two of waiting I had not prepared myself for.
Eventually, I reflected and as everyone around me kept asking when? Are you there yet? Are you getting induced? I stepped out of the of it all and left it in her hands. She is going to come when she wants to. After a few days of sporadic rushes, finally on Sunday August 12, at 4:30am, I was awoken with a big rush. I jumped out of bed, and woke up my husband and let him know I thought it was all happening. At this point, after counting for awhile, my rushes were about 5 minutes apart. Jeff made some coffee and I french pressed some tea. We were filled with excitement that we would be meeting our baby girl very soon. Little did we know at that point what journey we had ahead of us.
As rushes got a little stronger, I decided to go out in the pool and relax under the stars. As we both floated around in the silence of the early morning, gazing into the sky. A shooting star danced across the sky in front of us.
Our midwives were about an hour from our home and as the rushes got even stronger and moving from 5 minutes to a fluctuating 4-5 minutes, we decided it was time to call and see what comes next. We paged and immediately received a return call from our midwife Priscilla. She asked me a few questions and since it was so early in the morning and knowing It was our first and we could be in for awhile longer, she mentioned waiting until around 7am to call the assistant and come over, we agreed. We decided after breakfast to go on a early morning walk in our little downtown. We finished up our walk at the pier. We saw a dolphin floating along the surface right off of it. The dolphin lingered for a bit and then disappeared. We joked that it was cheering us on.
We spent most the the day outdoors relaxing in the pool. The in between time I spent cutting fabric for baby hair pieces while sitting on the birthing ball for comfort and. I recall in my birthing classes our teacher stressing the importance of rest, so we decided to take a little nap as it seemed this early labor was taking it’s time. We had spent the entire day in each others company and that evening rushes started picking back up and with intuition Jeff looked over and said ‘Is it time?’ I simply replied ‘yes’. With that call, they were on the way. My husband began to fill up the pool as he has already set it up earlier in the day. Jeff made some pizza bread as he knew that I would need some energy for the next step of our journey.
At 11:30pm Sunday the 12th, Midwife Priscilla and assistant Missy arrive as we exchange hugs. Once the midwives had set everything up and were all settled in we checked vitals and listened to sweet baby girl with the doppler. Shortly after I made my way into the comfort of the birthing tub. It was so nice and warm. I sunk right in and began to flow with the rushes in the water. All the while Jeff is on the ball rubbing my back and offering his support.
As rushes grew stronger and moved to 3-5 minutes, I recall feeling nauseous and inevitably ended up getting sick a few times. Clearly my body had more important things to do than digest food. We decided to get some air so we went on a walk. It was a slow pace this time and sat on the swings together by the water. Once I was feeling relaxed enough, we continued to walk down the beach in the dark putting our toes in the sand for a bit. Jeff all the time reminding me to relax on his shoulders when rushes are strong. We then headed back home, taking breaks occasionally for strong rushes. We once again decided to head out to the pool and swim around a bit. The breeze was chilly, so we didn’t stay out there very long.
At this point I vaguely recall someone mentioning rest, so we made our way to the bedroom, Jeff supporting me as we slow danced thru rushes into our bedroom. Once there, we laid down hoping for some rest. When I would finally get relaxed another rush would come, pulling me right back awake. I tried to just relax, but eventually got back up and started moving into different positions. We moved in and out of so many.
We then decided to try guided pushing. Something I really wanted to avoid, but after already laboring with rushes 3 to 5 minutes apart for well over 24 hours now, it seemed like a great idea. So we went on, making progress, but still very slowly.
As we roll into Monday, my midwives assistant has to leave and the next one comes. At this juncture I am sitting in the kitchen with nothing on, drinking water. It really is true you lose all sense of modesty when you are in labor. We greet the new assistant Heidi and she gets busy tidying up and warming up the pool.
We go back to trying more positions. Sitting in between two chairs with legs elevated on books, more squats on a ladder, spending a large amount of time laboring in the pool There were so many different positions…
At one moment, a song came on by Ben Howard while I was laboring in the birth pool. It was titled ‘keep your head up’. I suddenly felt myself opening up and I reached down and could feel my baby. It was such a wave of emotion. I asked the assistant to turn up the music. I had this burst of intense pushing. I thought as I do believe we all did that she was coming at that very moment. I started to tear up as this flood of emotions flowed thru the house. Even though she didn’t decide to come yet, it was a beautiful moment. I felt so connected to my husband and this child.
I continued to labor in the pool awhile longer. I was on my knees with my arms and hands over the edge of the pool. With Jeff and the midwives supporting me by pouring warm water on my back.
Eventually I grew uncomfortable and Jeff against what he imagined he would do, hopped in and because the baby was so low I couldn’t sit properly. So I sat on his lap in the water to ease the pressure and continued to push. I do believe I pushed for a total of 8-9 hours .
A portion of the early morning transition from Monday to Tuesday really blurred for me. There was more guided pushing and moving around had become harder again. I was just so focused on pushing the baby out, that I lost my memory of it all. But at this time we were honing in on 50 plus hours of labor. I remember deciding to lay in my bed and try to rest a bit. Never thinking about giving in, just simply mustering the energy to keep going with more pushing as I had done the days before. As I lay down, rushes are one on top of the other, maybe no more than 1-2 minutes apart. I recall my midwife sitting on the floor by my bed, and she says I want to talk to you about something. I’m in another world and floating in and out of sleep I can’t even keep my eyes open to listen. I just remember her saying don’t worry, just rest….relax.
I hear voices sounding serious in another room, but I can’t focus on the conversation. As I sat up, a gush of dark fluid comes pouring out of me. Meconium. Just then, my husband walks in the bedroom with tears in his eyes (He very rarely cries) followed by the midwife and her assistant. I knew at that moment it was time for the talk. Just as I imagined my husband said I think it’s time. And with that I just broke down. Seeing that look in my husbands eyes and knowing that the meconium was getting darker by the minute, I decided to transfer before it got worse.
I felt right then and there my body had failed me. All of those hours of hard labor and pushing and I STILL had to transfer. My Midwife spoke up and said in no way did my body fail me. I did so much and that her head was just positioned in such a way that she had become hung up.
Priscilla rang hospital as we rushed to put a quick bag together. We did not pack a hospital bag, in positive affirmation that we would not need one. I had no idea what to even pack. So of course all I packed was clothes for the new baby, a receiving blanket and hat.
We decided to just drive ourselves there following the midwife. I finally get to the car and there is no way I can sit normal. At this point it feels like she is so low I can’t handle the pressure of sitting at all. So I crawl in the passenger seat backwards on my knees with my arms hugging the back of the seat. This being the beginning of the worst car ride of my life. A 15 minute ride that felt like an hour. Jeff driving and helping to hold me upright as contractions are one on top of the other. I just keep making putter sounds with my lips trying not to push. Jeff helped me walk thru the hospital to the triage room. My midwife was there, but she could not come in. They hooked me up to machines and immediately put me on an IV. All the while I’m having rush after rush and feeling completly overwhelmed.
I was so fearful of intervention, the hospital, and the big C word…( C-section) So, my midwife made it very clear I wished to have a natural birth if at all possible. The doctor came in and said I will do my best to offer you the natural birth you want, but we may have to c-section, my heart sank and I just waited for the news. They transferred me to labor and delivery.
Jeff and my midwife both followed me to the labor and delivery room. I was so happy to have them both there with me. My contractions were very strong and iI remember asking my husband and midwife if it was her coming, my husband informed me afterwards how sad he was because every time I would ask, it was just more meconium.
There was a nurse now in the room and someone setting up everything. I recall in between contractions looking at the nurse and asking “When we were getting this show on the road?” Making the room laugh even if just for a moment. To that the nurse replies “Are you really ready to push?” All I could think was if only she knew that I had already been pushing for 8-9 SOLID hours. But of course with a transfer like mine we had to go against the grain of the hospital with our times. Which I did not feel one bit guilty of. Our vitals through our entire labor were great and there was no sense of urgency at all until time and meconium became an issue.
Babies of course know no sense of time, but hospitals and doctors sure do. I can’t even begin to mention how many times I was asked times. To which I simply replied, Do I look like I remember all of that right now? “
Soon the doctors arrived and by doctors I mean there were at least 5 to 6 of them. The main doctor says “Ok, we are doing this naturally .” I had a renewed sense of energy just hearing those words from his mouth.
I was then put in the dreaded stirrups and instructed to hold my legs and push with rushes. I recall a few pushes and then one of the doctors looks at me and says “We are going to have to perform and episiotomy ” My spirit quickly dropped. I look at my midwife hoping she will give me a reason this is necessary, because I was devastated knowing a tear is often a better option. She explains that it is best to go with the doctors orders on this one. The babies head has been hung up in the same place on my pelvis for hours and she explained this will give them room to manipulate her in the right direction. As much as I didn’t want cut, I knew at that moment after hours upon hours of labor, this was a case of necessity. They made the cut which ended up being a third degree, and I immediately started doing guided pushing. There was so much pressure being applied by the hands of the doctors, my contractions grew very strong and were on top of each other, one right over the last.
Just as I had been doing at home for hours, I pushed thru with everything I had. I just kept thinking with every single push she was one closer to being in my arms.
Finally, after counting and counting and pushing and pushing, I knew with that she was so close. Again I gave it everything in my body that was left and she came out all at once. Followed very quickly by her cord and placenta.
The next moments were so frightening, looking back have made me realize it was a comfort for the first time in my life to be at a hospital.
When she came out, she was black as molasses, covered head to toe in meconium. Jeff didn’t even get to cut her cord, it all happened so fast. She was rushed over to a table, that I could barely see thru all the people in the room. Suddenly, there were at least 10 or more doctors in the room.
She was not crying. No one would let me know what was happening, and on top of it all I’m still in the stirrups being repaired when all I really want to do is run over to my baby and make sure she was okay. This was a far cry from the water birth and skin to skin baby moon I had been dreaming of.
At last, I hear her cries, look directly at Jeff, and tears just start pouring out of my eyes. SHE IS BREATHING! Her head was very misshapen from sitting on my pelvis for so long and she had a large bruise and cut on the top of her head at birth, but was a healthy baby girl.
Harlow Jean Davies.
Born August 14th, 2012 at 1:24PM. Weighing 8lb 7oz and 21 1/2 inches long.
They continue to clean her off. Jeff is stroking my forehead with a cold cloth and giving me ice as my midwife comes over to let me know Harlow is okay. I’m guessing my midwife explained to them how important skin to skin was for me. So many other parts of my birth since arriving at the hospital had changed and most without our consent, it was just protocol.
At last, the nurse comes over and places Harlow right on my chest. She immediately nuzzles her way right to my breast. At that very moment everything else that had happened didn’t matter. Looking at her beautiful bright little eyes staring up at me all was well, and I was in love.
I have fought with myself about how my birth story isn’t what I had hoped. I still have alot of question as to wether or not the Episitomy was necessary and feel a bit saddened I didn’t fight more against it. I am however learning that maybe this is the birth I needed. I left the hospital with much less fear of it than when I had arrived. Maybe that is why I ended up there. I am very proud and thankful that I still received the natural, drug free birth I had wanted for myself and even more for my child.
I look back at my 60 hours of labor and I would do it all over again to meet my sweet baby girl at the end of it all.
I cannot explain how much love we have for our Midwife Priscilla and her assistants Heidi and Missy after this amazing experience. Our midwife was with us on this journey from the beginning and for that I am forever grateful for her knowledge and compassion.
It will be my absolute honor to share with Harlow down the road what a strong little girl she was right from the beginning of life and I hope it will empower her to make her own choices as the strong young woman I am sure she will become.