Wednesday, 26 July 2017

39 weeks and 5 days. I woke up early on February 26, 2011 feeling slight waves of discomfort. I assumed that it was contractions. I never felt any Braxton Hicks contractions throughout my pregnancy, and since I was 2 days away from our baby's "due date" I was hoping that these were actual contractions. It was very much "wave-like," the pain would fade in and out, but was never so painful that it made me stop what I was doing. I also noticed a little spotting and cramping that felt period like. All the books tell you to rest when you think labor may be starting. I knew I should take it easy, but I really wanted to make it to the Co-Op once more if baby was actually on the way. I made a quick trip to the organic grocery store and stocked up on a few favorite foods I wanted to have on hand. Afterwards I headed home and relaxed.

Adam and I had made plans to have my mom and sister, Lisa, over for dinner that night. Since the contractions had not grown in intensity, I figured we would not cancel dinner. In fact, I didn't even tell mom or Lisa that I was feeling anything different. If the contractions faded and went away (which I knew was possible) I didn't want mom to ask how things were progressing. I knew I'd be disappointed by the delay in progress. So, I only told Adam, and we made pork carnitas with chimichurri. Dinner was delicious, but probably not what I would choose next time I go into labor! Towards the end of dinner, I started to become even more uncomfortable through contractions. I was sitting in the dining room chair, and the peak of them would require me to shift or really begin to focus until it faded. After dinner, we began to watch a little TV. I told Adam to suggest just a show instead of a movie, since I was "tired."

My mom and sister left around 9:30 that night and it was definitely the start of labor picking up. I found that leaning over a chair or couch and swaying through contractions was most comfortable for me. We decided to call our midwife/monitrice, Jill and give her the heads up that labor would most likely be progressing this evening. She suggested I try to lay down and rest. I attempted that for about half an hour, but there was no way I could sleep. The contractions were just uncomfortable enough that I couldn't sleep through them. I decided to go downstairs with Adam and tried to watch a little TV for some distraction, and just to be with him. We put on "Dumb and Dumber," thinking it may keep the mood light and funny, but I hardly watched any of the movie. When I felt a contraction coming on, I would either kneel on the couch, leaning on the back of it and sway my hips, or stand at the railing of the stairs, leaning and swaying. Movement helped tremendously to ease the discomfort of the wave like contractions, and it gave me something to do, to participate in a way.

When I wasn't moving through contractions, I would just sit on the couch and rest my head, closing my eyes.  I tried to get in a little rest this way. Around 1:30am, I began to feel a good deal of back labor. Even leaning forward, it was still quite uncomfortable. Adam suggested I try getting into the tub. He filled it up, lit candles and put on the playlist of songs I had made for labor. The entire setting helped me to relax so much more. The water felt great on my back, and I loved having the soft light of the candles. I was surprised how much I also enjoyed having the peaceful music playing in the background. I don't know how many times that playlist repeated, but thankfully Adam didn't mind. He also didn't mind sitting on the lid of the toilet seat for hours as he timed my contractions, held my hand when I needed it, and offered support by simply being there.

In the tub, I generally reclined back and when a contraction would begin, I'd lean forward, either to hands and knees/shins, or I'd drape my arms over the edge of the tub. What I remember most about this position was allowing my entire body to hang limp. This was one of the cues from Hypnobabies that really resonated with me. Allowing all my muscles to be limp and loose helped each contraction move baby forward, little by little. I remember draping my arms over the edge of the tub and I wanted Adam to hold my hands. Initially he gave me a firm grip, and I told him I just wanted to lay my hands in his, with no tension. I let my head hang heavy, and I remember allowing my jaw, lips and entire face to just release. I did not want to hold tension anywhere in my body. This felt like a signal to the rest of my body and baby, that everything was ok. I felt the intensity of the contractions, but remained present with each one. I would focus on relaxing and managing each contraction I was in, not worrying about how many I had already been through or how many more were to come. Remaining in the moment helped my labor to move forward.  Hypnobabies reminds moms that each contraction brings you closer to meeting baby also helps you to not dread them, but greet each one. That mindset made labor less scary for me. My body was working and doing what it needed to do to birth my baby. I was stepping out of the way to let it happen.

At around 4:30 am, contractions were moving closer together with more intensity. We decided to call Jill, our midwife who was acting as a monitrice (labor support at the hospital) for us. Our plan was to labor at home, then go in to the new Women's Hospital to deliver with a midwife who had hospital privileges there. Jill would assist us at home then travel to the hospital with us. She lived about 45 minutes away from us, and that was driving in good weather. When Adam called her at 4:30, we both felt badly for disturbing her, because we were doing well at managing labor together, but figured we should see how far along I was at this point. It's silly to think of that now, because that's what midwives and OB's do, is wake up at all hours of the night, we shouldn't have waited so long to call. It was a snowy February morning, and it took Jill an hour and a half to get to us.

I would guess, about 15 minutes before she arrived, I felt a convulsion come over me that my body wanted to "eliminate" from both ends. After that wave passed, nothing happened, so I assumed that it was my body signaling me it was ready to push. This happened a few times and I was certain I was not going to actually start pushing until Jill arrived to check that I was fully dilated. Again, in hindsight, Adam could have checked me, he is a physician after all! It crossed neither of our minds, he was dad supporting mom, not doctor that night. So I let those waves of convulsion come and go and waited for Jill to arrive. She got to our house around 6am. I was still laboring in the tub. She asked if I would be ok moving to the bed to lay down so she could check and see how far along I was. When I laid down, she quickly said, "Yes, those urges to push that you're feeling are correct, I can feel baby's head." Her next question was very calm but urgent. Jill asked us " We can either go to the hospital right now, and I would suggest by ambulance only." She didn't want me pushing and possibly delivering quickly in the car on the drive over. "Or, we can stay here. I have my home birth kit with me in case of emergency. What would you both like to do?" At the stage of labor I was in, I could not imagine putting clothes on, and transferring by ambulance to the hospital. I quickly said, "If you're both ok staying here that is definitely what I'd prefer." Thankfully Adam agreed as well. It made the most sense for our situation. So Jill ordered Adam to go out to her car and get her kit, which was in the trunk. He brought that in and they quickly whipped the bedroom into shape. Jill also called another midwife who lived nearby. She always has a partner with her, in case of an emergency. That way, there are two sets of experienced hands to manage the situation if transfer to the hospital is necessary.

While Jill set up her items, I was standing most of the time and would drape my arms around Adam's neck, letting my body hang loosely through the pushing contractions. We stood and swayed together until Jill was ready to assist. I rested my upper body on about 3 pillows that were propped up on the bed, and Adam moved to the bed to hold my hands. This phase of labor required more physical energy, I distinctly remember feeling a rush of adrenaline. As I looked up, I saw some of the items Jill has prepped. I saw an oxygen tank and thought, "Wow, she's got it all!" I felt like my vision was clear and I was completely ready for the task ahead. I wasn't in the meditative zone of "labor land" that was the majority of my labor. Now, I felt extremely clear and focused. Valerie, the other midwife arrived at this time. It was somewhat comical saying "Hi Valerie, nice to meet you" as I'm working on birthing my baby.

Pushing was an exhausting task. I would wait until I felt the wave rush over me and then hold on to Adam's hands and I would to push with my entire body. Very early into this active pushing stage, I felt a slight pop. Jill said that my water had just broken. She had laid disposable pads down on the floor and said everything was ok. I stood at the side of the bed, propped up on pillows, holding on to Adam's hands for the majority of my pushing. At one point, my legs needed to rest, so I knelt and tried to push this way, but it was not as powerful for me. I stood back up and continued the work. At one point, Jill laid a cool wash cloth on the back of my neck. It felt so good. They were all very patient, and baby continued to crown, then go back, crown then go back. Jill checked baby's heat rate intermittently and continued to assure me that everything sounded perfect. Baby, my little partner on this journey, was trucking along just like I was. I was using some low sounding vocalizations and saying the word "Open" as I pushed. This reminded me that I was opening, and the low tone in my voice felt good to express. As I continued to push, and my pelvic floor continued to gradually stretch, I became a little frustrated that I could not completely push baby out. Jill reassured me that my body was doing everything it needed to do and I was stretching slowly. She applied warm compresses to aid in the stretching of my perineum. She asked me if I wanted to feel baby's head, because it was right there. At first I thought, "No, I don't want to." Then I decided, why not?! So I reached down and felt the very top of my baby's head. I couldn't believe we were right there, so close, working together. I continued to stay focused and did not allow myself to become frustrated. Just like the contractions earlier, I needed to take each push one at a time. I continued to remain present. Once my body had sufficiently stretched, and my baby's head had shaped to fit through, I gave another push and felt the head finally move through. Jill told me to rest and wait for another contraction to push baby out completely. When the next one came, I gave my final push and baby slipped perfectly into Jill's hands. I exclaimed immediately, "It's out!" Adam exclaimed right after me, "It's a boy!" I was so happy he got to announce the gender of our baby to everyone.

I remained standing and Adam moved the pillows away, so that Jill could lift our little boy between my legs and onto the bed. I just smiled the biggest smile and looked at him in amazement! I couldn't believe he and I did it! I always wondered if I would cry in that moment. I didn't cry, I was all smiles from ear to ear. Jill and Valerie helped me into bed then carefully handed our baby to me. They put a hat on him and then just covered us both with a towel. He was resting on my skin so perfectly. I held him while they waited for me to birth the placenta. It was not challenging, thankfully. Adam cut the cord and then they held up the placenta for me to see. I could not believe how large it was! That was baby's home for the past 9+ months, it was amazing! I had to take a picture of it.

Adam and I laid next to each other as I held our little boy. Jill and Valerie checked to make sure everything was ok with me physically. Adam was taking pictures and some video and we discussed our new baby's name. We had a couple in mind, but decided to name him Wesley Charles. We both liked (and agreed upon!) the name Wesley and Charles is my dad's name. So Wesley was officially named and we were in love. Jill weighed him in her little sling scale. His tiny feet stuck out of the bottom, it was so cute. After she checked him she gave him back to me. I tried to get him to nurse, but he was not hungry. I felt a little nervous that he did not latch right away, but Jill assured me, he'll eat when he's hungry. Wesley didn't really latch and eat until 6 hours after his birth. From then on, it was quite frequent. No problems with this little guy not eating!

We called my mom first, and her reaction was so funny, especially when we told her we had him at home. She kept saying "Wait, what? Oh my goodness, wait a minute!" She couldn't believe her first grandchild had arrived! Next we called Adam's mom and told them the news so that they could begin to drive up from Pittsburgh. Then we called Adam's dad and my dad. It was so much fun sharing the news with the family! After resting a bit, Jill asked if I felt like I wanted to shower before everyone arrived. I felt like I could probably stand up and carefully make my way to the shower. The moment I stood up was such a strange sensation I'll never forget. It felt like my entire insides had just sunk down into my pelvis. Like they were all settled in a bowl. It was hard for me to talk too, my diaphragm was so used to being compressed so tightly up into my chest. Now, all of that space was open and my body was figuring out how to put itself back in place. I was able to slowly take a shower, and Jill asked how I was feeling about halfway through. I replied I was doing ok, but even that was a challenge to say loudly, I felt like I had no support from my diaphragm, it was the craziest thing!

When I got out of the shower, it was as if all the little mice from Cinderella had been there and whipped the room back into shape. The bed was changed, the floor was cleared, and Jill and Valerie were in the kitchen making breakfast for all of us. They told me I could get back in bed to sit with Wesley and Adam and they were making us eggs, toast and orange juice. It was amazing! Midwives are truly angels. We snuggled as a family, and enjoyed our breakfast in bed. Jill and Valerie ate as well and we had a quiet morning. We had at least an hour or so before we told the family they could come over. My sisters, Susie and Lisa were itching to come as soon as they could. My mom wanted to call a few more people, but Suz and Lisa said, "We're going now!" They stopped at McDonalds first and brought me a shamrock shake. It was so much fun to have each family member arrive and meet Wesley. I loved having everyone over at our house. Barb and Brian, Adam's dad and step-mom, had been prepping a roast chicken for the week. They ended up bringing that over with them for everyone to enjoy. We toasted Wesley's birth with a glass of champagne and enjoyed snuggling with our new addition to the family. It was an absolutely perfect day... I could not have chosen a better way for Wesley to enter the world. I will be forever grateful for Jill who trusted us as much as we trusted her. I knew at the end of Wesley's birthday that I would chose homebirth for our next baby. Thank you to all the homebirth midwives who do what you do!

Podcast Interviews

In these podcasts, Amy shares her empowering birth experiences from two home births and a hospital birth with the twins."

Amy´s Home Birth Story
Episode #12 US roadtrip - Amy´s Home Birth Story.

Amy´s Twin Birth Story
Episode #13 US roadtrip - Amy´s Twin Birth Story.

The Birth Hour, Episode #213
A Twin Story, from a Healthy Pregnancy to a Powerful Birth.

Motherbirth.Co, Episode #56
Vaginal & Cesarean Twin Birth.

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