Baby Shay Alexandria Salome, came into this world on
Friday, November 8th, 2013 at 5:30 pm. She weighed
5 pounds, 5 ounces, and measured 17 ¾”. She was born
in a birth tub in our living room surrounded by a dozen of
our family and friends. This tiny angel arrived 11 days early
but made sure to take her time getting here.
On Wednesday, November 6th, Stephen and I made some homemade vegetarian pizza for dinner. (OMG it was delicious) and then started watching a show on our DVR while eating our favorite sea salt caramel gelato. Right after finishing dessert at about 8:45 pm, I complained I was no longer comfortable on our couch and wanted to lie down in our room to finish the show. I waddled in our bedroom and laid down, snuggled up to the body pillow, and BAM less than 5 minutes later, I felt a weird pressure (to be honest it felt like our baby had punched her hand out of my private area!) but it turns out it was my water breaking. A huge gush of water came out, I turned to Stephen and said, “Oh my God my water just broke!” He was in disbelief as well and followed me to the restroom. Once there, it was confirmed.
We were taught in our Bradley Method childbirth classes that your water breaking without contractions is pretty rare. It’s called PROM, Premature rupture of membranes. Stephen and I had always laughed at the acronym, and here we were experiencing it. I immediately called our midwife and let her know, and she said I should start contractions within the next 12 hours, and if not to call her. I stayed in the bathroom for about an hour, and got up when my parents and best friend arrived. A few minutes after standing up I felt a mild contraction in my back. The next one didn’t come until much later and it had moved to the front. Although my contractions had started, they were very mild, not consistent, and very far apart (about 45 – 60 minutes)
Around 1:30am we decided to try to get some sleep since not much was happening. We knew we had a long day (or two!) ahead of us. I fell into a light sleep and woke up maybe once or twice with a mild contraction. We woke up at 4:30am and finally got out of bed at 5:30am. My parents, Aunt, and friend were at our home so Stephen went to the grocery store to stock up on food for the next few days. When he returned, I made everyone eggs. Everyone was trying to tell me to relax, but I knew I needed to stay active so my contractions would come on stronger. Plus no one make eggs like I do anyway =) .
For the next few hours I walked around the house, looked at baby clothes my mom brought, and then we decided to watch a movie. We watched White House Down, and during that time I only had a few contractions. After that movie, Can’t Hardly Wait came on so we decided to just go ahead and watch that too. I couldn’t hardly wait to have this baby, but she made sure to take her time. Our maternity pictures arrived in the mail, so we looked over the CD and decided to post some of them on facebook.
So now we are in the early afternoon hours of Thursday, approx. 18 hours after my water broke. My midwife came over to see how I was progressing. My contractions were not consistent enough so she had me drink water mixed with Black and Blue Cohosh, a natural supplement, and use a breast pump to stimulate my nipples to bring on contractions. I also drank orange juice and took a vitamin C supplement. During this time, the midwife checked the baby’s heart rate and baby Shay was doing perfect. Her heart rate was the same as it was weeks prior to my water breaking.
My midwife was 100% confident I did not need to be taken to the hospital at this point. There were three indicators being assessed to determine if a home birth was still possible:
As long as my temperature stayed normal, that would indicate there was no infection
As long as baby’s heart beat stayed consistent, that would indicate baby was not in distress
And as long as nothing entered my vaginal area (i.e. no vaginal exams to indicate dilation) then no bacterial would be introduced.
However, some members of my family and some family and friends who were not there (some whom are nurses and doctors) were concerned about this. A lot of them cited the fact my water broke so my baby was in a dry environment. However the mother’s body is still producing amniotic fluid even though the bag of waters has ruptured. I received some pressure from some loved ones to go to the hospital. It was frustrating. However, I know my family, and I know they were not coming from a place of being unsupportive, they were just genuinely concerned for the health of me and our baby. The pressure to go to the hospital happened a couple times during my labor, however I stood my ground and let them know I felt with 100% confidence I was going to be okay at home. In addition, my midwife was fully prepared for this kind of situation and I knew she would let me know right away if she felt I should transport to the hospital.
If I were to go to the hospital, the first thing they would have done would be to perform a vaginal exam. That would have introduced bacteria. They would have then put me on Pitocin after that to get my contractions started, and Pitocin can sometimes put baby in distress. At most hospitals if I hadn’t given birth within 24 hours of my water breaking I probably would have been forced into an emergency C section. These were all things I didn’t want and I knew they were not necessary at this point. Our baby’s heartbeat was perfect and even stayed perfect during every contraction that was checked.
Thursday night, around 9pm (24 hours after water breaking) my contractions started to pick up. Instead of being 30 – 60 minutes apart they were now about 10 -15 minutes apart. Sometimes I would get one under 10 minutes. I was told to call my midwife back over once they reached about 4 minutes apart consistently for one hour. That happened at 4 am on Friday, November, 8th (31 hours after my water broke) The midwife’s assistant came over and monitored the baby’s heart rate every hour, and during that time the contractions slowed a little and increased to about six minutes apart. However they were more intense so that helped me believe we were still getting closer and closer to meeting baby Shay.
My mother made me an omelet with garlic in it. The midwife said garlic helps bring on contractions, and she was right. My contractions picked up soon after, and Stephen and I were encouraged to walk around the house, etc. For much of the late morning, early afternoon we walked circles around the house, checked the mail, and walked up and down the driveway. When a contraction would come on we would stop and I would hug Stephen until it passed. Soon after, my contractions started to come on top of one another and I started to get vocal, really vocal. I tried to control it but my body took over. The midwife’s assistant told me she liked what she was seeing and if it kept up she wouldn’t see any problem filling up the birth pool. It did keep up. It was agonizing. Each contraction was so strong and there was little or no break in between. While they filled the tub, I labored on my side on a bed set up by the birth pool. I found that being on my side or on all fours was the best position for me during the transition and second stage of labor.
Once the birth tub was filled, I got in and it was amazing. My contractions felt duller. I was thinking, “Wow this is so much better than the bed!” However that only lasted for two contractions. After that it felt just as intense as before. I continued to labor on my side because that was how I got in and I felt like I couldn’t move. I kept asking my midwife, “How do I know when to push?” She said my body would let me know. I hated that answer. I wanted something definite. I was tired of hearing, “your body will know what to do…” But it turns out she was right. When it was time for me to push our baby out, without even thinking about it I hopped into the squatting position in the tub. It was pretty amazing how my body just took over at that point. At this stage my midwife felt it was time to finally give me a vaginal exam, which we were never able to do throughout the labor since my water had broken eary. She completed it and announced I was fully dilated and ready to go. The pushing stage lasted a little over 40 minutes.
Trying to push a baby’s head out feels like you have to have a bowel movement and you’re trying to pass something rock hard and a million times bigger than you ever imagined. It took many, many pushes to get the baby’s head out and once her head was half way out she asked if I wanted to reach out and feel it. I proclaimed “No! I just want to be finished!” After a couple more pushes her head came out and the rest of her body easily followed. It turns out the head was a little more difficult because Shay decided to come out with her left hand by her head. Her shoulders were no issue, because she was so tiny. (Thank God) I got out of the squatting position and sat on my rear.
She was placed on my chest and I said, “The pain was all worth it” I looked down at her and kissed her. She wasn’t bloody but she wasn’t as clean as I thought she would be. (I figured being birthed in a pool she would be clean as a whistle) but she still had some vernix caseosa (aka baby butter) on her, and I got it all over my lips when I kissed her head. It didn’t matter though at that point, I was just so glad my 44 hour labor was over and our baby girl was in my arms.
I looked up and there were over 10 people there. I was like wow who invited all these people? ha-ha (I did, it just seemed like a lot when looking at them from the birth pool) But it made us feel so loved and the fact they were there to see her come into this world meant everything. It meant Shay will have a village behind her. All the love and support anyone could need.
I just have to mention that Stephen was the absolute best coach any woman could ever want. He was there for every contraction, every meal, every bathroom visit, and every time I had doubts. He rubbed my back for most of the intense contractions and I squeezed the hell out of his leg during the pushing phase. He helped rub my feet, showed me how to work the breast pump that helped bring on contractions, and timed and recorded down each contraction. I know I did the hard part by actually laboring our child. But without him it would have been more difficult and I don’t know if I would have had the experience I did. I also have to say thank you to my family and friends who were there for most or all of the labor (Mom, Dad, Jade, Aunt Mari, Renee) and a big Thank You to my midwives, who made it possible for me to have the birth I wanted. Without them I would have ended up with an unnecessary surgery.
I know this was a long read but I wanted to show that home births are possible even with complications. It’s all about hiring a midwife you have complete trust in as well as putting complete trust in your own body.
Photos credit: R.Watson Photography