Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Spirit of Poverty: My Birth Story (Part 1)

At last. My birth story! I bet you thought I'd NEVER get around to it :) All that talk and preparation for a homebirth and no story. Well here is how it all went down:

As I've previously posted, for me, the choice to have a homebirth was on a large part one in the spirit of poverty--financially and spiritually. Financially, it allowed me some control in the expenses during the pregnancy and delivery.  Spiritually, it allowed me to experience my pregnancy, labor, and delivery simply and naturally, as I believe it was designed to be. Having had 6 birth experiences, this homebirth was by far my favorite!

 We had my religious goodies up on the mantle which included our enthroned Mary statue and Sacred Heart of Jesus picture, a pregnant statue of Mary on lend from a dear friend, and a relic of St. Gerard Majella (patron saint of expectant mothers).
As is the tendency with my pregnancies, I went overdue. A full 14 days overdue! From the beginning I told myself I would be patient and stay calm, I'd put myself in a mindset that the baby was going to run late. But having had 3 inductions from being post term, I began to panic a bit that I may not be able to have my homebirth after all and would need a fourth induction. My biggest fear. Unfortunately, I don't think that fear was helping me or my body go into labor.

We tried walking. . .and walking some more.
We tried walking with homeopathic cimicifuga and caulophyllum.
We tried Evening Primrose. . .
We tried stripping membranes. . .
We tried belly wrapping. . .
We tried using castor oil exteriorly as a belly rub . . .
We tried nearly all the tricks in the book.

I was on the verge of attempting to ingest castor oil, a last resort. I was one day away from giving it a go I was getting so desperate. The deal with the midwives was that I could continue the pregnancy past 2 weeks but would need to have a non-stress test administered to verify that Baby was happy and healthy. That would have been an out of pocket expense--an expense I was trying to avoid.

Going on a little tangant here, at 8 months pregnant I had to pay for an ultrasound. There was concern that the baby was transverse. As I was heading out of town for a one last hurrah with my girls at Great Wolf Lodge in Williamsburg, VA before the baby arrived and I would preoccupied and tied down with a newborn, my midwife thought I should have the position verified, in case something should happen and I go into labor out of town. If that should be the case I would require a c-section. We had to get creative on the cheapest way to have an ultrasound done. Many diagnostic ultrasound offices were charging as much as $500. We simply needed to check the position of the baby--we didn't need a full work up. One of the closest and cheapest solutions was a place called Clear Sight Ultrasound in Richmond, VA. They do gender determination, 3-D ultrasounds, and all those memorable pregnancy extras. This was a first for them, to determine the position of a baby for a homebirth and to do ultrasound that late in pregnancy. But they were great and willing to do it. So, on our way down to Williamsburg we stopped along the way at their office in Richmond. I had been deciding whether or not I wanted to know the gender, as I didn't know up to that point. I caved into the pressure of my other daughters who were dying to know. My girls got to be with me in thr room as we watched the ultrasound on a large screen-GIRL! It a great experience and memory for us a family. And come to find out, by that time Baby Girl #6 was laying diagonally head down--a much better position!

So here we were 2 months later, no signs of labor staring.  I had a home visit with the midwife, a second membrane stripping, and was trying an herbal tincture (I can't recall the name off the top of my head). At last things started happening, I was having irregular contractions the rest of the morning and afternoon. By evening it seemed things might get serious. My mother came and retrieved my other 5 girls so I could relax and let my body labor. However, I still wasn't 100% sure this was the real thing, I had a false start another time and I guess I had lost all trust that my body knew how to go into labor. But with the consistent dosing of the tincture and homoeopaths plus a belly wrap to better position in the baby in my abdomen contractions were becoming more regular and stronger.
My husband and I ate a leisurely dinner of Stouffers macaroni and cheese and chicken parmesian. This was a sweet moment in my mind because in my prior induced labors I was banned from eating. And here my husband and I were sitting at our dinner table in our own home eating a meal, timing contractions, and anticipating our baby. Priceless.

Contractions were holding strong and regular but by 9 p.m. (my usual bedtime) I was getting tired and remember them slowing down to about 20 minute apart. Fearing my labor was stoppipng I wouldn't allow myself to sleep. Somewhere along the line my husband dosed off on the couch. So I continued with the tincture and homeopaths, sat in my recliner and watched a marathon of Deadliest Catch episodes of all things (sadly it was a slow movie night on the TV and there was nothing better to watch). About 1 a.m. or so I started dosing off myself between contractions. I was absolutely exhausted I couldn't help myself. I was able to pick up a few minutes here and there. At around 2 a.m. all of sudden contractions began to pick up to a regular and steady 6 minutes apart from there prior 20 minutes intervals. I finally felt it was time to call in the troops. I texted my midwives to let her know things were picking up and my doula as well. I called my mother, who was going to be present for the birth too.

FINALLY! I was in labor!!!

Everyone arrived and we just hung out on my living room floor. I used the birth ball to lean on during contractions and my doula rubbed my back. This was my first unmedicated labor, taking each contraction one at a time, it was surprisingly not as painful as I was anticipating. DO NOT get me wrong, it was by no means pleasant. The thought crossed my mind once (or twice) usually in the midst of an intense contraction that I could be at be at a hospital with an epidural, feeling nothing at that moment BUT I quickly dismissed that notion. I was exactly where I wanted to be--at home.

At about 4 a.m my midwife was checking the baby's heartbeat with a Doppler. I was laid out on my couch for a better listen. The contractions started coming back to back, I couldn't find a break between them to sit up. That's when she said it was time to start setting up shop. I was getting close. While they were getting out supplies, I decided after much deliberation that I was going to use the restroom one last time in the bathroom located only short distance down the hallway but seemed like an eternity! After that I would return and finally get in my birth pool to experience my beautiful, tranquil waterbirth.

 We had the birth pool all set up. My husband painstakingly filled it up and maintained the water temperature all night long with water boiled on the stove.

Ummm. Well, I never made it off the toilet. My water broke. My doula, who was assisting me to the bathroom, hollered to the midwives, who came running. They were telling me I needed to get back to the living room pronto. I was in a daze of sorts at this point. The instant my water broke I felt like I needed to use the bathroom--I told them so. I remember one of my midwives yanking me off the toilet seat saying if I didn't get off of it I was "going to crap my baby in the toilet"!!!! Sure enough as soon as I stood up the baby began presenting. I told them with set determination that I couldn't move. So there standing in the middle of my little bathroom, crammed in with my two midwives straddling the camode, trying to yank my pants off, my darling little baby girl was brought into the world. I like to say we almost had a water birth of a different kind!

I have to admit I sort of felt like I cheated with labor pain. My body was in labor far longer than I gave it credit for. It was a very slow, subtle labor with subtle changes instead of a quick, intense labor and delivery. The contractions were all manageable especially having kept my waters until the last minutes, keeping that cushion during contractions. And then with the assistance of gravity I really didn't have a "push time". Christy came flying out with very effort on my part except for holding on the towel rack and sink counter top for dear life.

It wasn't what I had planned or what I would have expected but it was an awesome experience with a great story!
Christy Gianna
Born April 11, 2012 4:36am
7.8 lbs, 20 1/4 in. long

To be continued. . . .

I'll finish up with the second part of my birth story next week and share some photos!