Rebecca lost what appeared to be part of her mucous plug on Saturday night, her “official” due date. Since she told me she felt something different going on I decided to inflate the birth tub and get it ready. She emailed Andrea, our midwife, to inform her of what was happening and we ended up going to sleep after 2AM. I pretty much fell asleep right away….
Rebecca woke me up at 4:45AM, and she had had regular contractions since about 3AM (and did not get any sleep), which were getting stronger and more frequent. By this time her contractions were quite painful and based on some of her language I felt we were going to be in for a rough ride….. We tried a few different things to help with the pain, and it turned out that doing the hip squeeze was the most satisfying and effective help I could give her. I timed her contractions using an app on her iphone and they were indeed getting closer. We tried standing, sitting backwards on a chair, etc.).
Then she asked for a bowl and threw up. If I had been paying more attention in class I would have remembered that this was a sign……. After throwing up several times I turned on the shower and she stayed in the shower for what must have been close to an hour. Each time when contractions started I hit the timer, opened the shower door and squeezed her hips until it subsided, and stopped the timer when it ended. She had contractions lasting about 1-1/2 min, which were about 5-6 minutes apart. She was focused, but still somewhat talkative between contractions.
At around 6:45AM I emailed our midwife with an update, using email since I didn’t think it was that urgent. She called at around 7:10AM and based on my conversation with her she asked if she could send her assistants (apprentice midwifes) to our house. Donna arrived at around 7:45AM while Rebecca was throwing up again. She called Andrea who ended up on her way right away and arrived at around 8:30AM.
Andrea checked Rebecca and told her she was 100% dilated…..! (clue: remember the throwing up part…..transition?). While they started filling the tub I found that the water heater was pretty much empty (even after following Andrea’s advice a couple days before: turning up the water heater thermostat to max to have the largest possible amount of hot water available). We had to give it another 30min or so before Rebecca could get in the tub.
The next hours were spent trying to learn how to push. I sat on the side of the tub behind her while she was laboring on her hands and knees with me squeezing her hips. She laid down on her side for a while, while the team kept her (and me) hydrated and fed with water and yogurt (and Lauren made some killer smoothies!). Rebecca tried every trick in the book until labor slowed down because she was very tired. Every 15min the team would check on the baby’s heart beat (which was always perfect) and they would do this very gently and be as non-invasive as they could. But they never missed a check as far as I can tell.
Sometime during the day Rebecca had ended up with an IV because she was becoming dehydrated. When walking around one person was “holding the bag” while I was supporting my wife.
Both Rebecca and me ended up napping several hours later in the afternoon (with contractions spaced quite far apart) and after this we did some more stair walking while contractions were speeding up. Earlier when grabbing some quick snacks downstairs Andrea and I talked about the situation and why it was taking so long for her to push the baby out. She said that Rebecca “needed to find that place in her that would allow her to push her baby out”. She also told me this phase was taking much longer than normal and that we needed to think about transfer to a hospital if there was no progress fairly soon.
At 7:45PM, after 11 hours of on and off pushing efforts and after a pep talk with Rebecca, Andrea and Rebecca agreed going “full McRoberts” which meant Rebecca was sitting up against me on the bed, with Andrea facing her, two people pushing her legs back towards her belly, me pushing her shoulders forward (designed to make her curl up into a large “C”) and Rebecca pulling on a towel that Lauren was holding standing behind Andrea.
All this allowed Rebecca to find that place she needed to find and after a few contractions the baby’s head was clearly visible. Major progress in a few contractions! Now we were told that this baby would be born here and right now and another two or so contractions and our little Audrey was born with Rebecca catching the baby herself and pulling her onto her belly. Audrey Kathryn Muntinga, 8lbs-6oz and 22 inches long 🙂 She’s cute!
Rebecca was bleeding quite a bit, but fortunately she was not torn. Andrea and her team swiftly took care of the cord blood collection, checking on our baby and cleaning her, others pushing and massaging her belly and giving her a Pitocin shot…. Andrea was a wonderful team leader and it all went smoothly. They were super.
The next hours were spent checking on Rebecca and the baby in detail, doing the newborn tests, giving her a Vitamin K shot, cleaning up, etc. And all that time I was still sitting behind Rebecca and looking at our baby on her belly while she was trying to nurse for the first time. She did get that glass of orange juice, and they even found the time to heat us up some food for us both.
At 11:45 the team left and we were in our own bed with our newborn daughter between us! Incredible….
I cannot begin to tell you how difficult this day was for Rebecca, and how proud I am of her…. At the same time it was wonderful us going through it in the comfort of our own home with a skillful team supporting us. I highly recommend experiencing birth this way.
It was great.
Late in the evening on our due date I lost my mucus plug. I thought, “well, at least something happened on the due date, even if it could still be days or longer.” About an hour later around midnight I started feeling a tightening that was a new thing for me. This increased enough in frequency that Ritzo decided to blow up the birth tub before we went to bed. I emailed our midwife that something may be happening and I’d update her if anything changed. At 2am we tried to go to sleep. The tightening had intensified in those couple hours and, even though I tried, I was not able to sleep. I finally had to wake Ritzo at 4:45am or so. I was having back labor that was too hard for me to get through on my own. I realize now that I was surprised to have as much back labor as I did. My midwife had determined the position of the baby on each visit (LOA) and I knew at those visits I wasn’t carrying a posterior baby (and I had been doing various things to make sure it stayed that way). I think I mistakenly had associated strong back labor as something that went with a posterior baby so I was really caught off guard by it. Thank God for the hip squeeze! That was only thing that helped. I think if Ritzo and I had spent more time practicing massage and hands-on stuff on my back in advance, there may have been some pressure techniques or massage that might have worked too, but for what we tried, the hip squeeze was the trick and it helped me get through the contractions.
As Ritzo has explained, he made contact again with our midwife in the morning and the team began to arrive. I remember Donna, the apprentice midwife, arriving first and walking into our room as I was on hands and knees throwing up for the third time. Everyone else arrived in what seemed to me to be a short period of time. When Andrea checked me and said I was fully dilated, I was really happy. Everyone was busy setting things up and I got into the tub as soon as it was ready. I really liked laboring in there, especially leaning on my side, semi-floating, with my head resting on a towel on the edge of the pool.
In stark contrast to how quickly I became fully dilated, things in second stage slowed down. I continued to drink fluids throughout the day but as we got into the early afternoon I had not been able to urinate despite feeling like I needed to. Andrea put in a catheter – which I had never had done before and I was glad that it did not bother me – this really helped me to feel better because 2.5 cups were removed and now out of the way. Throughout the day we tried various positions for pushing when contractions came but there were often long stretches of time in between. I don’t know the average but I heard later it was sometimes as much as 15-20 minutes. I went downstairs a few times to walk around and went up and down the stairs to try to get things moving. I had an IV for fluids and energy in the afternoon. We also did antibiotics by IV since I was GBS positive. This had not been our plan but since I had the IV anyway, we decided to do it. I had done some other homeopathic prep for dealing with the GBS and done a second GBS test but the results had not come in yet.
When I think about how things went during the day, a couple things come to mind. The first is that I was probably more tired than I thought since I had been up all day Saturday and then gone into labor overnight without sleep. The slowdown was probably my body conserving energy. Debra, the other midwife working with Andrea, talked to me around 3pm and mentioned that since I am a night person that could also be a factor. She said that maybe when the sun went down, things would pick up for me (which it did). But there is something to be said for me figuring out how to relax and work with the contractions and really push as hard as I needed to. I feel like the contractions varied in intensity and some were easier to “go for it” and work with than others, especially the first 6-7 hours of pushing. We found a position that worked well for pushing and Andrea had her hands on me pressing down so I could focus on “pushing here.” That helped me. This was essentially the semi-reclined “C” position with legs back that was described in Susan McCutcheon’s book as an alternative to squatting. Andrea called it “McRoberts” but I think it’s about the same thing. This is the position I went back to at the end for the birth. I also labored on my side with one leg back while pushing. Those were the two best ones for me. At one point there was mention of possibly transferring to the hospital if things didn’t move along. This was apparently supposed to rally me but instead made me sad. I told Lauren (with a bit of a pout face) I didn’t want to hear anyone mention the hospital again. The reason this made me sad is because even though everything was slow, the baby was fine, and I felt like I was fine. I was still walking around and trying things so I didn’t understand why anyone would mention the hospital. That was the last I heard of that and we focused on getting things going and the baby out. At this point I was taking some herbal tinctures to speed up labor and intensify the contractions. Maybe that also helped. Sorry, I don’t recall what it was.
Ultimately, like Ritzo mentioned, maybe I just had to figure it out and decide to go for it and have my baby. So whether it was my head, my body needing to rest or peak at dusk, or finding which pushing method made progress, things got going. With a mirror I was able to see the baby crowning which was exciting and explained why I was feeling the ring of fire sensation! With the next push my water finally broke, then her head came out with the next one. It was so awesome on that last push to reach down and catch my baby and bring her onto my stomach! At first no one said what we had…I thought someone said “she” but when we asked the midwife said “check and see.” Since Ritzo was sitting behind me supporting me we had the same perspective. I held her up so we could find out together that we had a baby girl! She was pink almost immediately. I can picture her little face scrunching up to cry. So amazing!
The post birth part is a bit blurry as I was mostly focused on the baby on my belly. The placenta came out with one push 7 minutes later. I had a couple clots and enough bleeding that it had Andrea’s full attention. They gave me pitocin and massaged my belly and the bleeding stopped.
I agree with Ritzo 100% that we are very happy with our home birth experience as well as our midwife and the team she brought. It was so wonderful to be at home to move around, try different things and at the end be resting together in our bed. Andrea and one of the assistants came back the next day to check on us and again at day 3. We will have our two week checkup this week.
Now we are trying to get into a groove with breastfeeding and sleep, etc. My milk came in right at 48 hours and we had to fine tune the latch but it is going pretty well now. Audrey nurses often but then occasionally will go 3-4 hours between feedings which is nice when it happens. I had a lactation consultant appointment with Rochelle at Babies in Bloom this past Monday and she gave me some good tips but said that overall things look good. I can’t believe how much Audrey has changed already in just 2 1/2 weeks.
If there is a second baby for us, I will definitely do acupuncture and/or chiropractic while pregnant. My gut instinct tells me that would have helped me a lot. And probably right now actually. I really need to pay attention to my posture while breastfeeding!
Wishing you all the best blessings and a joyful birth!
Ritzo, Rebecca and Audrey