Friday, June 7, 2013

Beau's Birth

~ Beau Edward Ballew ~
May 31, 2013
7:53 am
8 pounds 1 ounce
20.5 inches

One week before our sweet little homebirth baby turned 1 she woke up and absolutely refused to nurse. She was still nursing 4 to 5 times a day up to that point and I really wasn't expecting her to wean for a couple months. I kept trying to get her to nurse all day but she would scream at me and hit me and just seemed to really dislike me. I tried for a week to get her to nurse again. I was distraught, I didn't understand why the sudden change in our relationship. My mom's first question was "Are you pregnant?" I told her there was no way. I was charting and I knew when I ovulated and the chances of conception from 5 days before ovulation are less than 1%. Besides that, even IF I was pregnant, that would mean that she weaned the day after I conceived. How would she be able to tell so early? Besides, I just couldn't be pregnant so that definitely wasn't it.

The day after Brooklyn's first birthday I decided, maybe I should take a test (9DPO, just like with both of the girls)...2 pink lines, due May 24, 2013. Apparently, God does have a sense of humor. I got pregnant with a less than 1% chance of conception and Brooklyn knew pretty much the moment I was carrying, WAY before I could have gotten a positive test. I was excited and scared. We weren't sure we wanted another baby and definitely weren't planning on one so close to Brooke. Oh well, God's plans are better than ours...

This pregnancy was different than the others in so many ways, I had the worst morning sickness for the longest period of time that I've ever had. I lost weight in the first trimester, which had never happened to me before. But just like my other pregnancies, it was uneventful and progressed very smoothly. And just like with Brooklyn, it was still illegal for a midwife to attend me for a homebirth and no OB in town would touch me with a ten foot pole because I still had 2 prior cesareans (despite also having a successful VBA2C) and now I had a history of hemorrhage. Luckily, my midwife's back up OB at a hospital 45 minutes away was willing to take me AND surprisingly, seemed very laid back and un-freaked out about "my situation". Fantastic. Because honestly, I don't really care about WHERE I birth, but more about HOW I birth.

Around 38 weeks I started to have contractions (never had I had contractions before actually being in labor) and they were in the front for the first time ever (which was exciting because they seemed to be much more manageable than back labor). But they were all over the place between 10 and 30 minutes apart. They continued that way up to my due date. I was starting to get really anxious wondering everyday if today was the day they were going to get stronger or more consistent, but alas they would completely stop when I went to bed each night. May 24th arrived and I thought surely, he would follow in his sisters' footsteps and be a due date baby, but no, the pregnancy continued to be different and my due date came and went. May 27th, I went for a 2 hour acupuncture and acupressure appointment in hopes of getting labor started. May 29th, I went for my weekly chiropractic appointment and also had my membranes swept by my midwife. This was the first cervical check I had done and was thrilled to hear that I was already 3 cm, 80% effaced and super soft and stretchy. I had never been dilated past 1 cm before going into labor so this was really exciting for me.  That night my emotions were at an all time high, I just couldn't believe I was still not in labor. I joked with tears in my eyes that I thought Bonnie from Family Guy was just a joke and I didn't know that someone could actually be perpetually pregnant. May 30th, I woke up and lost my plug! (Again, never happened in any other pregnancy). Just like every other day for the last 3 weeks, I had contractions but they were now 8 to 15 minutes apart and getting slightly stronger. They stayed that way until 10:00 that night when sudddenly from one contraction to the next active labor started. My contractions went 11 minutes, 12 min, 11 min, 10 min, 11 min, 2 min, 2 min, 3 min, 5 min, 3 min, 3 min...

Dustin was excited and started loading the car for the drive to Espanola. I called my midwife and birth photographer. FINALLY! I was in labor. I wasn't going to be pregnant forever! And I was still having front contractions and no back labor! My midwife said to wait an hour, see where we were and plan on meeting at her office so she could check me before we headed to the hospital. Contractions stayed between 2 and 5 minutes apart and were getting much stronger. Got to my midwife's office and I was 90% effaced and about 4 1/2 cm. Yay, progress! My birth photographer arrived and we got on the road for the 45 minute drive to the hospital. I rode on my knees leaning over the back seat with the headrest removed. I had been dreading the transport but it actually ended up being a surprisingly tolerable drive. We got to the hospital at 1:00 am and at this point the contractions were now really strong and I spent the next couple hours leaning on Dustin during contractions, grabbing his shirt and moaning into his chest. As always, he was my rock. He is so supportive and I truly don't know what I'd do without him. I was starting to lose my ability to focus and work through the contractions and as I feared, I was now thinking about asking for an epidural. I had a brief conversation with Dustin and my midwife about whether or not I should, what other options I had, if it was going to affect the baby, will it slow down the labor, will I have to have a catheter, will they be disappointed, etc. Then with the next contraction, I made my decision...I wanted the epidural. I don't know if it was because I knew this was the last time I had to do this or if its because I already had my first VBA2C or just because I knew being in the hospital the epidural was an option but I just didn't have the will this time. I just wanted to be past the labor and on the other side of the birth. I felt guilty and I told them that. They all assured me that no one was disappointed in me and that it might actually help me progress because it was obvious I was no longer able to relax. From that point on the contractions overwhelmed me. I was getting overtaken by the pain and not able to cope as well with them. All I could think was, where is the epidural?!?!?! After every contraction I was asking for it. According to Dustin, "I was losing my mind and feinding for it". It took 2 hours for the anesthesiologist to get there, then she proceeded to put me in a horrible position for the curvature of my back that she wanted and then she poked me 4 or 5 times before she got it in correctly. Once it was in I had another contraction and immediately started to panic and say "I can still feel! I can still feel!" To which Dustin says to me "the medicine is not hooked up yet, just a second babe." Oh, thank goodness! I was afraid that after all that, the epidural was not going to take. It did. And I got really lucky with it because it didn't numb my legs or bottom at all, just my belly basically, enough to give me relief from the contractions.

Now that I was able to calm down, everyone laid down to sleep for about an hour when the OB on call came in to check me. I was at a 9 and completely effaced! He said that baby was still at -1 to 0 station though which was still kind of high so he left us and we all tried to go back to sleep. About thirty minutes later, we were all awoken by a huge splash of of water. My water broke with so much force that it splashed my feet while i was lying down and the sound was loud enough to wake everyone up. Another half hour and now my OB was coming on shift. She came in and checked me and said I was 9.5 cm and baby was about 0 to +1 and I should try pushing. My midwife said that baby was still kind of high to push so if I wanted to wait it was fine. I didn't feel pushy so I decided I'd like to wait. My legs and bottom were still not numb but now the epidural seemed to not be numbing the left side of my back anymore. With the next contraction I felt him move down and the pressure increase quite a bit. When the OB came back in, they said that if I pushed now, I could move him down so I decided to try. They told me that I really needed to push long and hard to make him come down that far, so I did and I felt him really move down ALOT. My midwife said "Ok his heart rate is dropping, you NEED to push now." Another contraction and I pushed and felt him move lower. His heart rate went back up and now the pushing did not feel optional. With the next contraction everyone got excited and there was lots of exclamations "there he is! there's the head! he's coming down!".

Another push and more encouragement and lots of pressure and burning. I could very distinctly feel his head crowning. Another push. And his head was out! Another push...the shoulders! The "ring of fire" is quite an appropriate name for the sensation during this part of birth. It was that intense burning that I never felt with Brooklyn because my back pain was so severe that it was all I could feel. Another push and the rest of his body was out. At 41 weeks on May 31, 2013 at 7:53 am, our second VBA2C baby was earthside! Total pushing time was bout 20 minutes, a huge difference from the 3 hours I pushed with Brooklyn.

I was half hyperventilating half crying. They put him on my stomach and I held him but was not really processing anything as I was still trying to come away from the burning. I just kept repeating in my head "It's over. He's out. It's over. I did it. It's OVER."

Now the switch from the overwhelming sensations of pushing to really being present for my baby and take him in. They said they needed to cut the cord and I asked if we could wait. The OB said it had stopped pulsing and that they NEEDED to cut it so it was clamped and Dustin cut it. My midwife and OB were quite frantically moving around and messing with the cord and the next thing I know she says "I have to go in for the placenta" and then BAM! Her whole hand was in up to her forearm. I felt lots of tugging and then her hand was out and she says, "It's loose but I have to go back in to get it" So again she went in to manually retrieve the placenta. She and my midwife looked it over to see if it was complete, they agreed it looked ok and they packed it up to save it for me to take home. After my OB left the room my midwife explained that because of my hemorrhage last time that they thought might have been from the placenta taking almost an hour to expel, they wanted to make sure it came out quickly this time to avoid bleeding. The OB was pulling on the cord which then made the cord completely detach from the placenta (which my midwife said she has never seen happen). That is why she got freaked out and manually retrieved it. I do really wish she would have left it alone and let it come by itself, because I have since then passed a piece of placenta and now have the possibility of retained placenta issues. At the time I was just so overwhelmed with the birth and baby that I wasn't really paying attention to them and once I figured out what was going on, it was too late. I was just so relieved to be on the other side, holding our son in my arms and not my belly. He was here. He was healthy. And he was born vaginally!!! He weighed 8 pounds 1 ounce and was 20.5 inches long. He would have been our smallest if our first born was not induced at 38 weeks. Total length of labor (not including the 3 weeks of prodromal labor) was 10 hours, shortest of the 4.

I wish I would have had the will to go the last 3 hours without the epidural and that my third stage would not have been managed, but I honestly can say that I had a really positive birth experience even being in a hospital. I only had one IV (that they heplocked shortly after birth), very little time on the monitors (until the epidural), no catheter, only 2 cervical checks (which I consented to first) and no one pushed us or was rude when we declined pretty much everything from eye ointment to vitamin k to circumcision. We were even able to go home less than 12 hours after the birth. 

I am thankful that the epidural seemed to be beneficial to the progress of my labor. I'm thankful that I was not numb anywhere but my belly so I could move my legs and feel the pressure and the pushing and yes, even the ring of fire. I'm thankful to have had the support of my amazing husband and midwife. And I'm thankful that I finally had a birth with no complications or surgeries or stitches even. I am proud of myself for being patient and waiting on God's time for Beau's birthday at 41 weeks. I'm proud of myself for laboring for 7 hours naturally. I am proud of myself for pushing so much more effectively this time. And I'm proud of myself for having a successful VBA2C in a hospital.  

Our little boy is a lovely baby. He is mellow and peaceful and a great nurser and sleeper. He has completed our family and we are all over-the-moon in love with him, including his 20-month-old, home birthed VBA2C big sister, Brooklyn. God is so Good!