Our journey began on Tuesday, May 28th 2002 when I started leaking fluid. At first I wasn’t sure what it was, perhaps I had just sat on something, but while on the phone with a friend that night I felt the first “squirt” and KNEW something was up. Unfortunately, this was the same way that my last birth ended – in a C/S – ROM with no contractions. I decided at that time to just ignore it and see what happened.
The next morning I called my midwife and let her know that I was leaking. She thought that perhaps I had just lost my outer bag. I started taking my temp. every six hours, started doing kick counts etc. But she put me on oral antibiotics (I had just tested + for GBS) after about 24 hours just to be safe.
The next day Linda (MW) had me start some herbs, increased my EPO, started taking the cohoshes (those are NASTY!) and Goldenseal. I increased my Vit. C and my Echinecea and garlic as well. Still I had no contractions at all. That evening (Thursday) I tried nipple stimulation for close to 2 hours. I could get a little contraction here and there but nothing regular. And as soon as I stopped, the contractions would peter out as well. I was getting depressed. But my midwife was content to just wait it out.
On Friday morning, after having not felt any baby movement (or so I thought) I started freaking out that something was wrong. I tried to wake the baby and get her to do anything to no avail. I hit the panic button and totally lost it. I called my midwife and she calmed me down and told me to call my back up Ob. and get in there and have them check for heart tones. So I do and of course, like 30 seconds before the nurse came in with the Doppler, the baby kicked. I was relieved beyond belief and of course her heart tones were just fine. In retrospect, I think my freaking out was the last demon that I had to deal with on my journey. As far as trusting myself and my body to do this.
I continued with all the stuff to get labor started to no avail, and I was still leaking fluid quite frequently. At this point Linda is thinking (hoping?) that it’s just a high leak. I continued the herbs and antibiotics until early Sunday morning when I ran out of the antibiotics. I was getting depressed that NOTHING was happening with all the stuff I was doing, so after talking with Linda, I decided to quit trying to make the baby come. Monday, I resigned myself that the baby was going go post dates! (I was due June 11).
Later that night, as I am getting ready for bed, I feel this contraction like I haven’t felt up to this point. It was definitely different! Much stronger, but not too bad at all. They started coming about every 10 minutes. They were just strong enough to wake me up and close enough, that I would just about fall back asleep and another one would hit. Was this that prodromal labor that some had spoken of? Eek! It went on all night and into the morning. They continued on and off all Tuesday. That evening something about the contractions changed. They became more intense and more pronounced in my hips. I called Linda to put her on notice. I went upstairs to try to get some rest. It just wasn’t happening. I couldn’t relax between them. They were around 15 minutes apart. If I got up and walked around my bedroom they became closer together. I tried the shower. That really helped take away the hip part of it. I could still feel (and quite strongly) the front cervix part of the contraction. They were between 45 and 60 seconds in length. At this point I decided to just walk around my bedroom. Joe started timing them. They started coming closer together! I walked through them, rocked through them, moaned through them. Finally around 3 am Wednesday when they were about 2 * to 5 min apart, I felt confident enough that this was “it” that I put in the call to Linda. She and her student arrived about an hour later. Of course, in the hour that it took her to get to the house, the contractions spaced back out to between 7 and 10 minutes apart but they were still about a minute long.
Once she got here, she checked me for the first time. I was 3 cm, 80% effaced and the baby was at 0 station!! I could have given a rip about the dilation, but I was really glad that the baby was engaged! I started walking around our back yard as the sun rose. And with the rising sun my contractions spread out even more, to 15 minutes apart. I walked for an hour, no improvement. We decided that Linda should go home (I still didn’t know if these were “real” contractions or not, but they sure felt real! Or if I was really in labor! Linda told me to rest as well as I could between contractions. I wondered if I could.
I started doubting if I would have the energy and strength needed for REAL labor when it arrived. My legs were tired and I just wanted to lie down. So I did, and every 15 minutes it felt like a Mack truck was running over me, but I learned that I could relax completely between them. During this time, while laying in bed I learned to work through them. I spent the next 6-8 hours in between the bed (trying to sleep) and in the shower. This entire time, my contraction pattern never changed. They remained between 10 and 15 minutes apart and were between 60 and 120 seconds in length.
Finally I decided that I wanted Linda to come. I wanted to know if all the work I seemed to be doing was getting me anywhere. I needed some support. Linda arrived shortly before 4 pm. She checked me again, I was 6 cm!! Yeah! This was REALLY it! Up to then I wasn’t sure if it was the real thing or not! She listened to the baby through a contraction and she did beautifully! (another difference from my last labor where the babe started having decals etc.) Linda continued to monitor the baby through a contraction every hour. I decided to try the hot tub for a while. (We have a room built on to the side of our home where the hot tub is, I was planning a water birth, but we set up a twin bed and put out a couple of chairs etc., I made it into my “birth room”. I got used to my new “nest”. The water was so wonderful! I really liked how I could just totally relax my arms and legs during the contractions. But the hot tub made me HOT so I found that I preferred just sitting on the edge of the bed. And between them I felt totally normal. Talking, laughing etc. It really was great.
And this is how my labor continued. The closest my contractions ever got were 7 minutes. The only times my contractions would get really close together, would be if I got up to go to the bathroom, or walk around. Then they would come less than 2 minutes apart. I didn’t like having a contraction as I was walking! But they were always irregular. One would be 15 then 10 then 8 then 7 then 12 etc.. You get the idea. But they were always VERY strong (they were increasing in strength throughout the day, evening). In fact as I think about it, they were so strong that in all my past labors I would have been begging for drugs! Get me that EPI! But these really weren’t that BAD! They were totally manageable (do you think the fact that they were so far apart had ANYTHING to do with it? . Anyway, this went on for another 6 hours or so. Joe kept asking me if I wanted to take a walk, I kept saying “No I just want to sit here”. Well about 10 pm Linda checks me again. She told me before hand that if I weren’t at 8 or so, she’d want me to go walking or something to get things moving along more quickly. I was only 7 cm. There was no concern really about the baby, she was handling labor perfectly, but at this point it had taken me close to 18 hours to progress 4 cm and I only went one cm in the past 6 hours (and this is my 9th baby? So much for Freidman’s Curve, eh? LOL) I whined for a while about how I didn’t want to walk, but I finally got up (Linda told me to come back in 30 minutes to check heart tones) and walked out side. I had 3 contractions back to back. Joe asked me if I wanted to walk in the back yard or take a walk around the block. I said no, I just wanted to go inside our house. (Good thing, turns out) Well, the contractions kept getting stronger and stronger and much closer together. And I hated them! I couldn’t relax through them because I was standing up!
Finally after about 10 minutes of this, I just told Joe I needed to sit down and rest. So I walked to the closest sofa (in our living room) and collapsed. I immediately had a MONSTER contraction that seemed to never go away. I swear it felt like it lasted an hour (Joe said it was 2 minutes) and that was the only time I actually felt beaten. I said out loud “I can’t do this anymore” After the contraction was over I just sort of vegged on the sofa, I almost fell asleep for about 7 or 8 minutes. I came out of it and knew I had to move to make myself have another one. During the next one, I told Joe that I felt the urge to push. When it was over, Joe helped me up and we started walking outside (I got about a foot – LOL) when another contraction hit. Joe went outside to tell Linda I felt the urge to push and they started getting things ready. On his way back in the house, the urge was overwhelming and I felt down and the baby’s head was “right there”. I yelled that the baby was coming now! They all came running (I have never seen my husband move that fast!) and Jillian was born 2 or 3 pushes later in my living room while I was leaning against the wall, (so much for my water birth) barely a hour after I was checked. Baby was perfect, with a loose nuchal cord x1. She was wrapped up and handed to me and we all walked back outside to the birth room where I birthed the placenta about 30 minutes later.
I ended up with one itty bitty tear that didn’t need any repair. Jillian is a wonderful baby. She is so calm and serene. And she nurses like a champ. Everything about her and her birth is the exact opposite of my last “birth”. I never realized until after Jillian was born how much my previous birth experiences (especially that last c/s) messed with me. In a crazy way I am SO grateful that my local hospital adopted its idiotic NO VBAC policy. I know now, that had they not banned VBACs, I would have just gone with the program and ended up getting sectioned once again in the end. I should write a letter thanking them for making me really explore home birth and do the work that I needed to do to make it happen. I never would have done it on my own. I am now convinced that for me home birth is the way to go. I have a friend who had, what I thought at the time was, a “perfect birth” at the same hospital (she was just basically left alone the entire time. She wasn’t a VBAC though). Now that I have home birthed though, I can say that there is NO comparison. I will never go back to the hospital if I can help it. Even my dear heart is a convert! The entire time I felt so safe and secure. I feel so blessed that I was able to experience a great empowering birth. I feel, for the first time in my life like a complete woman. Strange, huh? I guess its just that Jillian’s birth was the first time that I did it myself, I didn’t have any “help” or drugs or anything. I learned that I CAN DO IT! Thanks for helping me to make it happen!
Jen mom to Jessica, Joseph, Justin, Jonathan, Julianne (in heaven), Jeanette, Joelle, Joanna and…. Jillian Bernadette! Wife to Joe.
Midwife’s Note: The total length of time her membranes were indeed ruptured was 8 days 6 hours. We did get another GBS test after she took the 4 days of antibiotics and then was 2 days off. It came back negative.