For months I’d been planning a home birth. I mean, I was ready. Had my midwife on speed dial, birth kit, everything was in place. But there was one thing I didn’t count on…
Before you read this post, you may want to read these first: Why I’m Trusting My Gut and Pursuing a Home Birth and 13 Reasons I’m Choosing a Home Birth.
I did just about everything to naturally induce labor. But honestly, I just had to wait it out – which was grueling.
The last days of pregnancy are the hardest. You’re uncomfortable; sleeping and just getting around is increasingly difficult. Carrying the weight of the baby & lack of sleep are exhausting.
The last couple of weeks of my pregnancy I also had a sinus infection that wasn’t making it any easier for me. I had pregnancy/worry induced insomnia and upper respiratory congestion that made sleeping impossible. Saying I was tired was an understatement. My voice was gone, I was congested and my nearly 200 lbs frame was experiencing sleep apnea for the first time in my life. I wouldn’t wish it on my worse enemy.
Finally, on the day I turned 42 weeks, labor kicked on its own. I was so relieved. I didn’t think my body could go into labor, naturally, but it did! You can’t imagine how happy I was to feel those contractions or conversely, how disappointed I was each day after 39 weeks without them.
This was the same day, my midwife scheduled a stress test. I went into the perinatal office for a late term ultrasound to check the baby’s fluid, monitor contractions and the baby’s heart rate response. Fluid was fine but “not great” said the tech. This didn’t phase me because I knew my son was coming that day, if not early the next day.
Then hubby/baby daddy and I sat down for fetal heart monitoring and within the first hour there was a deceleration. No need for alarm. The nurse and doctor just wanted to do additional monitoring. Decels could be caused by the baby compressing his umbilical cord. I assumed the decel was a combination of my coughing and contractions in addition to the baby’s movement. But the nurse assured me it wasn’t. With continued monitoring, the baby’s heart rate remained stable.
But with the decel, the perinatal doctor contacted my midwife and suggested that I transfer care to her GYN/OB backup which so happened to be the leading provider of VBAC (Vaginal Birth after C-Section) in the Las Vegas area.
My husband overheard the conversation between the perinatal doctor and nurse. The doctor was more concerned that ‘my midwife had let me go 42 weeks’ as a VBAC patient. (Let me be clear, I was literally 42 weeks on that day.)
My midwife called ahead to my backup hospital to see if there were any open labor and delivery rooms.
The perinatal doctor that did the fetal heart monitoring strongly urged “you need to deliver today; you don’t want a dead baby”. Okay…really?!
I was 42 weeks, already in labor. Did he really think my pregnancy was going to continue much longer? I hate when doctors insinuate that you’re putting your baby at risk by not inducing beforehand. This felt like a bullying tactic to me. Healthy babies can be delivered post-term.
Even though I wanted a home birth, I was never going put my baby at risk to do so. Anyway, as told, we headed to the hospital. I didn’t even have a hospital bag packed.
As we drove, I spoke with my midwife about my backup or alternative birth plan for a hospital VBAC. The closer we got, the more nervous and anxious I felt. I knew if I was in a hospital my chances of a natural VBAC were almost impossible.
As I walked into the Women’s Center of the hospital, fear overtook me and I began to cry. The nursing staff were very considerate and comforting. I knew they felt sorry for me. We told them how my first labor experience ended in an emergency c-section with my son’s 6-day stay in NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) for observations. They reassured me that a VBAC and natural birth were possible.
Although her shift was over, one of the nurses stayed with me until the doctor and the new nursing staff got there. She wanted to make sure my new nurse was ‘good with natural childbirth’. She said “Some nurses are better than others.” She also explained what I already knew, that I could get out the bed and move but with limited mobility.
I met my upbeat and charismatic doctor. He began to explain his plan to induce labor using a balloon to open my cervix. He and the nurses were, I guess, optimistic is the best word because at 2cm or 3 cm if stretched, and 60% effaced it was easier to ramp up an existing labor than to induce without any signs of labor.
“Are you ready to have this baby?” the doctor asked. He also recommended that I get an epidural (the same as my previous doctor) because there could be a chance that the anesthesiologist was unavailable. I told him I would think about it.
Anesthesiologist are contractors and don’t work full-time at the hospitals. If they are called in it’s the patient’s responsiblity to pay $100 per on-call hour.
I was starting to feel somewhat at ease when my nurse delivered some bad news. Since I was post-term or 42 weeks, the director of the Women’s Center informed her that I had until midnight to attempt a VBAC. After that, it was a repeat c-section. My doctor was a little surprised by this. He said “we aren’t going to stop her labor at 11:59pm.”
I texted my midwife with the news. I was starting to feel apprehensive again as I looked at the clock. It was nearly 8:00 pm. There was no way I could go from 2 cm to 10 cm and push this baby out in a 4-hour period.
I couldn’t understand why my midwife would let my pregnancy go this long with a rule like this in place. I was expecting her to respond with some type of objection. She didn’t. Blindsided is the best way to describe how I felt at that moment.
I was disappointed in her and the situation. It felt like I was between a rock and a hard place. My doctor explained my options which now included an elective c-section given the new information from my nurse.
My baby had already shown a variable heart rate with what the perinatal doctor called a “bad strip” during fetal monitoring. His heart rate seemed to stabilize but I knew that could easily change with medical interventions, my emotional stress and contractions. Not to mention the perinatal doctor left me with a strong recommendation to deliver ASAP. I didn’t want to take a chance. If my baby went into distress that meant another emergency c-section and a NICU stay. I was so torn. Again, I was in tears.
Did I even want to attempt a vaginal birth with that type of time constraint? Did I want to risk my baby going into distress? My chances of a vaginal birth virtually disappeared as soon as I entered the hospital.
As hubs and I were left to weigh our options, I knew I really didn’t have a choice. I didn’t want to say it out loud.
My spouse/ baby daddy handled the news a little worse than I did. He was pissed and made it known. He realized it too. Really, what choice did we have? Before I said it aloud in a room with just the two of us, I asked, “Will this make me a failure?” “No” he replied. A small bit of reassurance crept back into the room.
My doctor already reassured me I’d be discharged in two days. This was very important to me. My big baby, 3 y.o. Prince was at home with my parents. But he confirmed the two postpartum restrictions that I wanted to avoid; no lifting anything over 20 lbs which included my 3 year old son and no driving for two weeks.
But I would at least have skin to skin contact even if I couldn’t hold him in my arms after the delivery (your arms are strapped down during c-sections). And he would stay in the room with me (no NICU) and hubs would finally get to cut the umbilical cord. It seems like small things but at least…
There were so many reasons I wanted a home birth and to avoid a repeat c-section, but not at the expense of putting my baby at risk. My doctor accepted my teary and hesitant agreement to another c-section.
My second son, Harrison Carter was born at 8:32 pm, March 27, 2015 at 7lbs 2oz and 20 in.
This quote from the Cord Mama really resonate with me…
“She [a mom] knows that in this moment, this is what is best for her child, even though “what’s best” means a major surgery with real wounds and scars. Even though “what’s best” means letting go of a dream or a vision of birth that she’s been building up for the last nine months.”
I wish I was one of those women that could go into labor before 40 weeks. But that hasn’t been my experience with either of my pregnancies. And I try not to get down on myself but, honestly, it hurts… not only physically but emotionally. I have been told I made the right decision, but still I’m not so sure. I try not to think of it as a shortcoming and maybe one day I won’t…
I’m here if you have any questions about home births, hiring a midwive, or c-sections. You can leave your questions in the comments section.
Charlotte Roberts says
I am to sorry things didn’t work out as yall plan. I’m thankful that you deliver a healthy baby.
Shar Jeffee (@sharjeffee) says
So glad everything worked out for you and your son! I had a similar experience. Would not change it for the world! I have a handsome 15 year old son now. Our plans and God’s plans are not always the same!
I love the quote you gave by Cord Mama. A lot of people advise women to trust their bodies, but sometimes your body betrays you. I think the best advice is to be open to major changes in your birth plan. YOU DID THE RIGHT THING.