Thursday, August 1, 2013

Introducing our newest blessing.

I had heard many times that the third child often doesn't stick to your normal patterns. In this case it turned out to be true.

Both of our boys were born after their "due date." Our oldest came after 37 hours of labor became a c-section at 40 weeks and 5 days. Our second came after 4 weeks of prodromal labor and 9 hours of actual labor at 41 weeks and 1 day. So this time I wasn't expecting baby to make an appearance until after I had reached 41 weeks.

At 39 weeks 5 days I started to get some lower back ache some time around noon. A few hours later I started having a few contractions, at the same time as our younger son started to develop a fever. So I called Rob to come home early from work. But a few hours later the contractions fizzled out. Neither of us we all that surprised that it was actually a false start as I wasn't even at my due date yet. So we went to bed that night thinking it would still be at least another week before we met our new blessing.

As had become my nightly ritual in the final weeks I woke up during the night to use the bathroom. However this time even after I finished I could feel something was off. I felt another small gush of fluid, so I stayed where I was and a few minutes later there was another tiny gush. I knew it was amniotic fluid leaking. So I put on one of the Depends that was part of my birth kit (now I knew why my CNM at Shorty's birth had them as part of the birth kit) and put a few towel and chux pads on the bed so I could try to get some more sleep. It was just after 2:30am. I dozed a little, but didn't really get back to sleep. Rob woke up at 4am to get ready for work, so I told him then about the leak, and that I had a feeling labor wouldn't be long in getting started. We tried to go back to bed, but neither of us could sleep. So we got up and had breakfast and watched Invictus on DVD. During that time I started getting some contractions, but they were light and irregular. My body also started to clean itself out ready for the birth.

The boys woke up just after 7am as usual. They were surprised that daddy was home, but happy to see him. We went about the morning trying to keep to as normal a routine as possible for the boys. All the time the contractions were still light and irregular and the leaking still very slow. We both could feel that this was going to be a long slow labor. I had in my mind that it would be 24 hours. About 10am I went back to bed to take a nap and slept for about an hour. There was still no change to my labor. My body seemed to be in no rush to move things along. Instead I was meandering quietly through early labor. When the boys went for their nap after lunch Rob and I took a nap too, as neither of us had slept enough the night before to sustain a long labor. We both slept for nearly 2 hours and woke up not long before the boys. By this point I was thinking active labor wouldn't start until after the boys had gone to bed for the night.

We called our friend Eveline, who was going to come for the birth to help look after the boys if needed. We let her know that labor had started, but it was still early and she didn't need to rush over. The boys went to bed about 7pm and Eveline arrived just after that. The 3 of us ate dinner together and talked for a few hours. I was still talking through the contractions, but they were beginning to get a little closer and more regular. By 10pm I was beginning to pause and breath more deliberately through the contractions. I was beginning to feel restless and kept wanting to move around. I spent a lot of time on the birth ball at this point, as I could rotate my hips easily, and it felt like it was helping. About 11pm Eveline got a call from home and had to leave unexpectedly. After she left Rob and I decided to try for another nap. We both fell asleep quickly. I woke up for the contractions, as they were now getting too painful to sleep through, but I'd go straight back to sleep after each one. Then just before 1am I woke up to a really painful contraction and immediately sat up. It was too uncomfortable to lie in bed anymore. I had finally reached active labor.

The wonderful birth pool as we got it set up in the kitchen.
We headed back for the kitchen where we had set up the birth pool. It took us several contractions to get down the stairs, as they were now coming just a few minutes apart. I was so glad of the warm water once I got into the tub. While I didn't find it decreased the pain of the contractions I did find them easier to deal with, and it was definitely easier to stay relaxed. I was also able to change position easily and did so frequently. About an hour after I got in the pool I got on my knees and tried to push a little with the contractions. Like my previous VBAC pushing on my own strength didn't seem to do anything. Rob asked me several times if I had the urge to push, but it was all me and not just my body. Rob had also started a pot of coffee and I found the sound of it distracting so I had to get him to switch the coffee maker off half way through. I did lose my focus during one contraction and it was unbearable. I grabbed Rob's hands and kept eye contact with him from that point on. Feeling connected to him really helped me to stay focused and to breath out the contractions. Almost 90 minutes after I had entered the birth pool I had an enormous pushing contraction. At that point I knew the baby was down and crowning as I felt the stretch that some call "the ring of fire." Less than a minute later and there was another enormous push and the head was half way out. I let go of Rob's hands at this point and felt for the head. I thought it was all the way out until I felt it and only half the head was out. It was only seconds until a third push finished birthing the head and the rest of the baby just plopped out once the head was clear.

I could feel the tiny arms and legs wriggling between my thighs as I reached down and brought our new baby out of the water. I looked down to see that we had a baby girl. I was surprised and delighted at the same time. She was covered in a thick layer of vernix, much more than either of our boys had at birth. I held her close to my body while Rob tried to rub some of the other mess off of her face and head. After a few minutes she nursed a little and we waited for the chord to stop pulsing. I was still contracting every few minutes, and these post birth contractions were more painful than the prebirth ones. I was also loosing large clots and a lot of blood, but there was no sign of the placenta. After the chord stopped pulsing Rob cut the chord and took our baby girl to dry her off and put some clothes on her. I got back on my knees and tried pushing with the contractions to get the placenta to come out. I was very surprised by just how painful this stage was this time. After half an hour I decided to leave the pool and head for the sofa so I could nurse more comfortably and hoped that nursing would help the placenta to detach. Rob put the baby down in the pram so he could help me out of the pool and walked me over to the sofa. Then he gave me Little Bit so I could nurse her. She latched on straight away and nursed really strongly. However I was in increasing amounts of pain and still bleeding heavily. I took some herbal tinctures to try and help the placenta to come out, but after 2 hours there was still no sign of it. I was beginning to shake and Rob was concerned that I might be going into shock from the amount of blood I was still loosing, so we decided to call 911 and transfer me to the hospital.

Because Eveline had gone home Rob had to stay so we didn't have to wake the boys. Little Bit came with me so that I could continue to feed her. (If I ever have to make that decision again I would leave the baby with Rob, on the understanding that he would come to the hospital as soon as he could get someone to come to the house to look after the children.) I was taken straight to labor and delivery, and was not prepared for what happened next. The on duty OB did nothing except verbally abuse me and accuse me of willfully endangering the life of my baby by having a vaginal birth. She tried to say that a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean) was incredibly dangerous and that a repeat cesarean would have been much safer (statistically NOT true) and then sat at a table asking questions while other nursing staff were also asking me questions about the baby, so that it was impossible to actually answer either set of questions. All of this while I was left to deliver the placenta on my own without any help, and while yet another nurse tried to set up an IV line, and I had to explain that I always have difficult to find veins and was not "just dehydrated." The on duty CNM was also in the room this whole time and was the only person who even tried to be helpful. About half an hour after I arrived I finally birthed the placenta and immediately the pain stopped. Little Bit and I were still admitted, as per hospital policy, for the full 2 day postpartum observation. Little Bit was also given the Vitamin K shot and eye ointment even though I expressed that there was no need for it. Again it was "hospital policy" and since I was hooked up to an IV and had only a blanket for modesty (remember I had been in the birth pool and never had time to get dressed during this 3rd stage.) so it wasn't as though I was in a position to stop the nurse who had Little Bit. After the OB left the room I was handed back my precious new baby girl. About half an hour (the bed was facing a huge clock on the wall, which is the only reason I could see the time as my spectacles were still at home) later the CNM came back in and apologised for the way the OB had treated me. We talked about VBACs and she even went as far as to say that if we have another baby she was sure the OBs in her practice would allow her to deliver our next baby by VBAC since I now had 2 successful ones, but that I would have to ask for her specifically. She then gave me a piece of paper with her name and office number. A few hours later I was transferred to the postpartum ward.

Little Bit the day after she was born
Once I got settled into the new room the nurse on duty there asked if I had eaten (I was supposed to be fed before I was transferred) and since I had not been given anything to eat yet since birthing my precious baby she went to try to find me something to eat and drink. It was nearly 11am before I finally got some food to eat. Rob got to the hospital as quickly as he could, but it was still after 10am before he could get there. He called one of our friends who lived nearby to see if they could come over to watch the boys until his parents could get there. He had spent the rest of the night/early morning cleaning up from the birth so there was no mess for the boys to see when they woke up. However when they did get up Shorty was running a fever and Rob got concerned that he might not be able to get to the hospital. He still didn't know what had happened or even if I was still alive (he feared I would bleed out.) So once our friend Amy arrived Rob grabbed the prepacked hospital bag and came to the hospital to see how Little Bit and I were doing. He was very upset that I still had not had any food, and was about to go and find some when a food tray finally arrived. He didn't stay for long before I sent him home to get some sleep, as he had hardly slept in 2 days at this point.

The luxurious $3000 a night postpartum hospital room.
The hospital stay was far from how I had planned my initial days of postpartum recovery. The bed was extremely uncomfortable. It was impossible to sleep for more than a few minutes with the constant interruptions of hospital staff. The food was mostly inedible and was delivered at unpredictable intervals. Breakfast was not usually delivered until mid morning and then lunch would be only a few hours later, but then dinner would be 5 or more hours after lunch and then there was nothing again until a very late breakfast. It was definitely not enough food or served frequently enough for a woman recovering from birth and trying to establish breast feeding. Rob had to bring food from home in coolers so that I didn't get faint from lack of food. The nursing staff were very kind and gracious to me, and I think I was a bit of a novelty for them as they all mentioned my home birth, and a few made comments about how low maintenance I was for them. Friday afternoon the nurse who was about to go off duty came to do the routine baby checks and chatted away for a few minutes. She apologized for not checking on us much that afternoon, and mentioned that they were being run off their feet with all the cesareans that were being admitted. She told me that it was always the same on a Friday that most of the births on that day of the week were cesarean so they could get them out of labor and delivery before the end of the afternoon, but it meant a much higher workload for the postpartum nurses over the weekend. It made me want to cry for all those mamas who were being cut open just so their doctor could go home for the weekend on time. We were finally discharged, several hours late, on Saturday afternoon and it was so good to finally be out of the hospital.

Two and a half days after first meeting our wonderful baby girl I was finally able to just relax at home and enjoy introducing her properly to her older brothers. Our "babymoon" may not have gone as we had planned, but we were all back home together with plenty of time to catch up on rest and bonding time. And being at the hospital just made me more determined to avoid hospitals for future births.

Holding the baby, one of the boys favorite activities these days.

In hindsight there are a few things I wish we had done differently. I wish we had just waited it out with the placenta. The hospital didn't do anything that we couldn't have done at home. In truth they actually didn't DO anything at all other than give me drugs I didn't need after the "crisis" was over. I also wish I had eaten during that long 3rd stage, as I know realize that part of the reason I was shaking was low blood sugar rather than shock. And finally I wish I had left Little Bit at home with Rob, as it was mostly because I had Little Bit with me that we were made to stay for the full postpartum observation period. I had not been tested for Group B Strep, so they took blood cultures from Little Bit and wouldn't discharge her until the results came back 48 hours later. She was also subjected to blood check every 12 hours which I thought was overkill, and totally unnecessary.

Little Bit's 2 month photo.
Little Bit is 12 weeks old today, and thriving despite us not going near a doctor since we were discharged from the hospital when she was 2 days old. She is sleeping really well, and is even hardly having any reflux issues anymore. She is exclusively breast fed and her weight has gone from 6lb13oz (at 48 hours old) to 13lb 13oz as of yesterday (we have a baby scale at home to keep an eye on her weight.) She is already trying to crawl when we put her down on the floor on her tummy, and tries to sit up when we hold her on our laps. She is another very contented baby, just like our 2 boys. And all of them are totally in love with each other. We are very blessed parents indeed.

1 comment:

  1. This is awesome! We just found out we are expecting again and plan to do another homebirth though not UC. I am sorry for all the hassle you got at the hospital. Makes me angry when OBs use non evidence based "facts" to try to intimidate women. Glad you are all well and safe. I had alot of 3rd stage bleeding. For the future, chlorophyll was very helpful immediately after for my recovery. She's so pretty. :(