Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Brooklyn's Birth

~Brooklyn Jane Ballew~

September 8, 2011
9:50 am
8 pounds 9 ounces
20.5 inches

When Mackenna was 15 months old and Jackson was just shy of turning 3 we found out we were expecting our third blessing. My third (and probably last) chance to have the natural birth I had always wanted. I made an appointment with the same OB I used for Mackenna’s birth because I felt that he was a very honest and caring provider and he had been supportive of my first VBAC attempt. After my first few appointments he informed me that neither he, nor any of his colleagues (the other 5 OB’s in town) would take a patient for a vaginal birth after 2 cesareans (and a bleeding disorder). I tried to fight back the tears and, almost defeated, asked if I did agree to another c/section would I be “allowed” to go into labor on my own rather than schedule the surgery. He said no, that the section would have to be scheduled for 39 weeks and that the only chance I’d really have at a VBA2C would be in Albuquerque at the larger hospitals that would be better equipped to handle that kind of “emergency”. But it was enough for me; it was a glimmer of hope. All I wanted was a chance.

I called three hospitals and countless doctors and all but one told me that I was too high risk and they would not take me (one said they would take me but needed to review my records and honestly I was afraid of a bait and switch so I never pursued it). I called two docs and the hospital in Espanola and the birth center in Taos and three midwives in Santa Fe and again was told that a VBA2C could not be done. Then I got a phone call. One of the midwives here in town got my message and wanted to know my story and told me to come in and meet with her. She told me that even thought it was illegal for her to take me as a client (due to the laws in our state) she felt very strongly that I could have a successful vaginal birth despite the 2 prior c/sections and having Von Willebrands (mild bleeding disorder) and so she was going to take me as her client. The relief, the excitement, the gratitude I felt, words could not express. It did take some serious research and discussion between Dustin and I to feel 100% with our decision to birth at home but in the end it came down to the fact that we had exhausted all of our other options and this was probably the last chance I’d ever have to have a vaginal birth. And all I wanted was a chance.
My pregnancy progressed very smoothly, I was very happy with my midwifery care and I anxiously awaited my baby and my VBA2C. At 40 weeks 3 days (or 39 weeks 6 days according to early ultrasound and ovulation) my labor began.
The night of the 7th we got home from church around 7:30 and I started having pretty strong contractions about 6-7 minutes apart. I timed them until we decided to go bed around 10:30. At around 11 they suddenly seemed much closer so I started timing them again and they were already 3 minutes apart. I knew it was the real thing so I thought I should probably call my midwife and let her know. As expected, the back labor set in and I needed tons of counter pressure to help take the edge off. My midwife arrived and after this the details get a little fuzzy, all I know is that I labored. I labored in the shower until I couldn’t stand up anymore. I labored kneeling at my bed. I labored in the bath tub with my midwife talking to me through each contraction. I labored and I prayed. Five hours in I told Dustin that I needed pain meds. I told him that if we went to the hospital they could not FORCE me to have a c/section, that I would have to sign for it. I told him I couldn’t do it, that it hurt too much and I wasn’t even at the “hard part”. He told me that I *could* do it and that I was just psyching myself out. He said that I would regret it and that if I left the house I was going to have a c/section. He said he would support me whatever I wanted to do and that if I wanted to leave we should tell my midwife so we could get going. So he called her upstairs and I told her what I was feeling. She told me if we left the house it would be a minimum of 2-3 hours before I could get an epidural but if I wanted to go we would go. I was scared. I was really scared I couldn’t do it. I was scared it was going to get harder and we were going to end up transferring anyways. I don’t know what really changed my mind but I know the thought of having to labor in the car was a huge deterrent for me and I really didn’t want to disappoint Dustin and my midwife. I don’t remember making the decision to stay, I think I just got distracted with another contraction and when I saw the clock again it had been hours. I do remember repeating to myself “replace fear with faith, replace fear with FAITH”. 

They filled the birth pool and I continued (and would end) my labor in there. I have no idea what time it was but my midwife checked me and I was 8 cm dilated. That was exciting for both Dustin and me to hear since I’d never been past 4 cm. Very encouraging. I don’t know how much longer it was before I started having the urge to push. My midwife told me to listen to my body and if I felt like I needed to push, push. I started pushing at about 8:15 am. My body’s reflex to push was beyond that of anything I’ve ever felt. My quiet coping turned into incredible, uncontrollable, animal-like sounds that even now I am surprised came from me. Dustin told me later that he thought the neighbors might call the police because it was so loud. My back was on fire and nothing was helping. I just leaned over the edge of the pool, fought back the urge to vomit, begged Dustin not to stop putting pressure on my back and pushed with everything I had. I pushed for over an hour then I sat up and said “I need help”. When I said it I was fully expecting to be told that *I* had to do and no one could help me but instead my midwife didn’t miss a beat and with the next contraction she told me to push longer and without vocalizing and then she reached down and “helped me” (it felt like she was stretching me but she says she was applying counter pressure to the baby’s head and so the baby’s head was actually what was stretching me). Dustin reminded me how close I was and she told me to push exactly like I had just done again and she helped me again. I could feel progress being made! Three or four (or a hundred, it seemed) more pushes like that and baby’s head was finally out. I couldn’t believe it. I just wanted to rest my back so badly but they told me that it wouldn't stop hurting until the baby was out. So with the next contraction I mustered all my strength and I pushed one more time. The rest of my beautiful baby girl came flying out (“torpedoed” in Dustin’s words). I turned around and picked my baby up out of the water and held her to my chest. She was here and amazing and in MY arms. I did it. I pushed her out. Praise God. Brooklyn Jane was born at home in the water after 2 c/sections. She was my fastest labor (about 12 hours) and my biggest baby weighing 8 pounds 9 ounces and 20.5 inches long. 

My back finally started to relax and I got out of the tub and onto the bed still holding my girl. I started to cramp and pass a lot of clots and blood and my midwife was getting concerned because the placenta was not coming. After 45 minutes, I delivered theplacenta and everyone started to calm down. Until I passed more huge clots and blood. I was feeling a ton of pressure still, so much that I couldn’t move my legs. I had lost pretty much all color and was hardly able to hold Brooklyn. I passed yet another set of clots and at that moment Dustin, the midwife and I simultaneously said it was time to go. Dustin called the fire station (his crew was on shift) and the ambulance arrived and they carried me downstairs in the stretcher. The ride to the hospital was kind of blurry but I remember they went to close the doors after they loaded me up and I said “NO! Dustin is coming” and he climbed up with Brooklyn in his arms and we were off. They started IV’s and got me checked in. I was checked (very painfully, despite them being gentle) by three nurses until they figured out that the reason I was experiencing so much pressure was because I had a very large hematoma (bruise filled with blood, about the size of a baseball) on the right side of my vaginal wall. I also had a pretty deep second degree tear from the delivery and had already lost about 2000 cc’s of blood. They got me into surgery pretty quickly and had to open up the hematoma, drain it, then pack it to stop the bleeding and they also stitched up my tear. There was another 400 cc’s of blood in the hematoma and after the surgery I was told that my blood levels were critically low so I would have to have a transfusion (two bags, with a third discussed). All went well and I am recovering. Slowly, but everyday is better. It was not exactly the serene, romanticized homebirth experience I had envisioned but it was also more intense, empowering and healing than I ever imagined. It was attitude-adjusting and life-changing for me. Even with the complications, I feel transformed and very, very happy, blessed and at peace. Honeslty, I would take my homebirth (that some might even call traumatic) 100 times over another section and I am and will forever be beyond grateful for my incredible, selfless midwife. I am more in love with my husband that I have ever been. I know I could not have made it through any of this without him. He is the most incredible man I know. I am truly, truly content for the first time in a long time. And mostly I feel an overwhelming love for my children. They are amazing little beings that God has entrusted to me and I am so proud to call them mine. My heart is full. All praise and glory to the Father. He designed me for birth and He gave me the strength to follow HIS birth plan. He is so good.

“Shall I bring to the point of birth, and not give delivery?' says the Lord.”

~Isaiah. 66:9

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