As a HypnoBirthing childbirth educator and a doula, I felt pretty prepared for birth and did not feel scared. The plan was to have a physiological birth and to stay away from interventions and an epidural. Even though, I had the label high risk because of age... and some borderline fasting gestational diabetes numbers, I worked on finding care providers that would truly support my choice by sharing the same views of birth.
For instance, one thing that was non negotiable for me (if everything was fine with me and Peanut) was to be able to labor in a tub even if my waters had broken.
We had first planned for a home birth but the location we had secured fell through last minute and since our midwives also worked in a birthing center in a hospital, we went with that.
Giving birth in hospital was my main fear actually. As a doula, I do carry some trauma from witnessing low risk women birth in a highly medicalized environment and seeing their births taken over and managed by the medical team for no true medical reasons. After a lot of talking with my midwives and them assuring me that there would be no medical personnel in the birthing center with us, I was able to let go and refocus my energy on the birth I wanted. Of course, I had moments of anxiety, wondering if I could do it... I would acknowledge these messages and focus on my affirmations and trust my body, my baby and the process.
At the same time, we felt ready for any eventuality. I had met with an OB, an anesthesiologist and discussed cesarean birth. I had even asked if my husband could be with me in the OR and stay over night after the birth which he did!
I did a lot to prepare and will share more about that in the next blog post. So here is Peanut's Birth Story!
Throughout my pregnancy, I had several due dates. The american one was August 21st, the french one August 28th, the app one August 31st... Ultimately, Peanut decided to go with her american genes.
On August 20th, in the evening, I felt a little gush that was quite bloody. I texted my midwives to let them know that maybe my waters had broken and we observed. Baby was active, the leaking stopped. I went to bed listening to some HypnoBirthing recordings, my husband A. was doing some light touch ( I had made him grow his nails :) as I worked with mild surges throughout the night. By morning I fell asleep and everything was quiet that next day. It seemed it was just the mucus plug after all.
We decided to go for a nice walk down to the river by my parents house. It was a beautiful day and we really took in the fact that it might be the last day without Peanut being here.
By dinner time, surges were back on. I was sitting on the birth ball and had to stand, breathe and zone out with each surge during dinner. My parents were great and stayed calm. My mum brought back the birth ball that had slid away after every surge. I thought she was being a great doula!
We went to bed with the expectation of a long night. I was feeling both excited and anxious. We texted our midwives again to let them know things were on and felt different.
By 1 am I really wanted to try to relax more. I took some bach flowers and got in the tub. I was breathing with each surge and felt fine even though I was getting quite uncomfortable. The surges seemed regular. I think A. said they were 6 minutes apart. We called our doula J. over and things seemed to pick up a bit.
I was getting concerned about the hour long drive we had to get to the birthing center. I knew from my doula experience that a car ride in active labor is far from fun... so we called the midwives again. I also mentioned to them that I felt a hand in the front of my pubic bone and that it did not feel like Peanut was engaged.
3 am, I hopped in the car hunched over the back seat looking out the back window. My back was starting to bother me during surges so J. massaged it during every surge. I started vocalizing with each exhale during surges.
My dad was driving haha, A. was driving behind us in the doula's car. These are the logistics you go through when you live in the middle of nowhere with no cabs...
4 am, Our midwife S. welcomed us and we settled in the birth center. The tub felt amazing! I kept on vocalizing and things felt great despite being more intense. I only felt comfortable sitting yoga style and resting my chest on the side of the tub. The surges seemed to be more effective this way too.
After a while, in my mind, it seemed that things were not progressing. I decided to get out of the tub and spent time on the bed, still sitting upright to see if things would change a bit. The surges felt the same and were not getting any closer. The pressure was not increasing on my cervix either...
I spent some time on the toilet where I saw a bit of spotting so I felt re-energised. Things might be progressing after all. I went back in the tub for an hour before hitting the crisis of confidence.
At that point we were 12 hours in and things were the same. S. encouraged me to relax more but I was super relaxed and in the zone. I think because I was asking questions she felt I was not letting go.
I remember asking A. why the baby was not coming and I started crying. My midwife and doula left the room to give us privacy as I expressed everything that was going on in my mind: Was the baby not coming because I did not bond enough during pregnancy... all these emotional doubts that can creep in when you are flooded with hormones, Was I not relaxed enough, it seemed that S. did not think so, Was I not letting go enough... and then I looked at A. and said no way, it is not about me, something is not right, she is not positioned properly! That is why I was not progressing.
Mind you I had had no cervical checks at all, not before labor not when we arrived. The only checks I had were mine, at the end of pregnancy to see what was going on. It seemed that before labor my cervix was effaced but more on one side than the other which was probably a sign that the head was not applied properly on the cervix...
So I asked S. to check me, telling her I was really scared of the results because things were feeling the same and that if I was still 1 cm, we would need to reassess... But I was 5-6cm, I had a cervical lip, baby was presenting OP (head facing up) I was right! It was around 10 am.
Words from my training kept flooding my mind: "don't fuss with a lip", "baby is OP, I need to do the side lying release, maybe the inversion"... S. tried to move the lip out of the way and I did not feel pain at all. She was surprised and said most women didn't let her do that. I remember telling her SEE, I AM RELAXED!
My water broke and I felt like things would change now. I laughed at myself and told them I was experiencing the crisis of confidence, asked A. to give me some bach flowers ( I had picked one specifically for that moment: Gorse) and went back in the tub on hands and knees.
S. gave me some homeopathy, not sure what exactly but I will find out. I was feeling more and more nauseous and knew I was hitting transition. Again I told them, I am in transition. It felt great being able to call what steps of the birth process I was in. Part of me expected things to be more difficult really. I was surprised that things were intense yet manageable.
Surges were getting more intense and it felt like Peanut was getting lower. At this point my back was really bothering me and A. and J. were taking turns massaging me. S. would pour water over my back and it felt amazing.
Noon. A. mentioned the blue line (a line that appears from the rectum up when a woman is fully open). Then I remember feeling a lull in the surges and I knew the ejection reflex would kick in soon. Again words of my training: "Rest and be Thankful"!
The pushing surges kicked in and they were really strong right away. I was still trying to vocalize. I remember thinking, there is no way I can do birth breathing with this... It felt like my back was breaking. I even have a video of me asking the midwife if the baby was not stuck... Things really took a turn at that point.
I kept on expecting her head to fill the space of my vagina but it seemed it was hitting the same spot over and over. I checked myself and her head seemed to be at a weird angle...The pain was just on another level at this point. I was still on hands and knees so I tried to go to my side, tried a Spinning Babies position to open the out pelvis.
S. suggested I get out the tub and try a birthing stool. She checked me and agreed that Peanut was most likely stuck and we needed a vacuum.
At this point I was done. I knew she was still quite far up in my pelvis and that it would not be a matter of me pushing once with the help of the vacuum to get her out. I remember looking at S. and asking her if they would give me an epidural even though I was 10 cm and had been pushing for 3 hrs. The answer was yes they would.
3pm. The OB came in, she was very kind and supportive. I put on a pink gown and they wheeled me literally next door in the OR. Surges were still on but less pushy, as if my body was giving me a break. The personal was extremely kind and non judgmental. They set me up for the epidural with surges every 3 minutes. A. was not allowed in during that time.
The catheter the anesthesiologist was inserting kept on going to the left of my back and I kept on telling him, it was the wrong spot. Poor guy, how stressed he must have been, with me moaning every 3 minutes and telling him he was doing it wrong... Another Dr was trying to put an IV in and I told him I had a great vein for him but I needed 3 minutes :) I got IV fluids and Pitocin to bring the surges closer. Peanut was still doing really well.
Finally my husband walked in and I could tell him what was going on. No one spoke english!! It was a matter of the vacuum working or it would be a cesarean.
The OB mentioned an episiotomy and I said absolutely not. She said usually with posterior presentations, she cuts an episiotomy but I declined again. She checked my perineum and agreed not to. She put the vacuum on Peanut's head and I started pushing. When I saw the strength she had to use to move her, I told A. to help me push with counting. The vacuum detached once and the OB mentioned that there was a piece of tissue holding her head back (sort of a vaginal septum which happens very rarely, I was not even aware of having anything like that)... She wondered if she should cut it or let it tear. I looked at A. and said Peanut needed to come out. The next series of 3 pushes and Peanut was born. It was 4.46pm.
I found out she was a girl! We were both fine. She had an Apgar of 10 and a massive bruise on the right of her forehead that lasted a week... She had been in a asynclitic posterior position...