Each week, we share birth stories. Some of them take place in the hospital, some of them take place at home. We don't believe there's one RIGHT way to give birth, and so we rejoice in the differences, big and small. If you'd like to share your birth story, send Kelsey an email (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Preface: My first child was born in the hospital at 36 weeks and 6 days, according to the due date that was given to me at my 20 week ultrasound. I had an epidural, I labored for 24 hours, and vacuum extraction was used. I had a difficult recovery, and my son was kept in the hospital for a week after he was born due to jaundice, an abrasion on his head from the vacuum extraction, and being “premature.” It was an emotionally disappointing and challenging birth experience. When my husband and I found out we were having our second child, we knew we wanted a different experience this time.
My due date was August 24th, according to ultrasound measurements. I calculated that my due date was more like the 28th because of my cycle, but went with the 24th for simplicity. So the 24th came and went with no signs of impending labor. When my midwife had checked me at 37 weeks because she suspected the baby was breech (she was actually transverse), I was 30% effaced and 1 cm dilated. I was hoping that this baby would stay in past 37 weeks (unlike my first child, Jack), but I really wasn’t counting on her staying in as long as she did. So, finally after the baby turned head down and stayed that way, I was anxious to hurry up and have her.
After my due date past, I was getting impatient and was interested in having my midwife sweep my membranes. I ended up having 3 sweeps done altogether, and each one encouraged more progress. On September 4th, I had to have a non stress test and an ultrasound done at 41 weeks and 4 days. The baby was doing great and I had contractions throughout the NST.
On Friday, September 5th and 12 days overdue, I went and saw my midwife for another sweep. She checked me and I was 4-5 cm dilated and 90% effaced. I had contractions all through out the day, but they were about 5 minutes apart and bearable. Around 5:00, I texted my husband Jared, and told him he should come home soon. The contractions were starting to hurt and they were picking up. He arrived home around 5:30 and we had pancakes for dinner, at my request. After dinner, he and Jack went upstairs to our bedroom to set up the birth pool, and I texted my mom to let her know she should come pick up Jack and take him. I also told my midwife things were progressing at a faster pace now (she lives 2 minutes away from me).
Around 6:30 - 7:00, Jack left and my midwife arrived. She began setting up everything in our bedroom, but never checked to see how dilated I was. She checked the baby’s heartbeat a couple of times with the doppler and everything was fine. I sat and rolled on my exercise ball, which helped for awhile. I tried a TENS machine on my back to see if it would help with the pain, but it didn’t - mainly because it wasn’t stuck on properly. I think it was around 8:00 when my midwife suggested that I get in the birth pool. To be honest, the water didn’t relieve any of the pain. The pain in my hips and thighs was killing me. I couldn’t find a comfortable position in the pool, but crouched and leaned against the side of it and Jared for awhile. As the contractions intensified, I found myself gripping Jared and the pool so hard, and occasionally smacking Jared’s arm or back, or the side of the pool.
At one point, I didn’t think I could take the pain anymore. It hurt so much, and I didn’t know how far along I was. I remembered wondering when my midwife was going to check me, but I didn’t ask. I couldn’t be bothered to try to talk. I felt done, like I couldn’t do it anymore. When I started panicking and mildly thrashing about in the water, my midwife told me that if I felt the need to push, go for it. I hadn’t considered that I would push without being checked or anything. I did feel like I could push, so I did. The pushing brought so much relief, so I kept going. I realized that I could feel the pressure of the baby’s head and felt encouraged, but started to worry that it would hurt even more now. But it didn’t. I didn’t experience the “ring of fire”, just a lot of pressure.
I think I pushed on and off for about 5 minutes before the baby’s head came. Another push, and out came her body. The relief and feeling of the baby’s body leaving mine was wonderful and exhilarating. As soon as she came out and was lifted onto my chest, I said, “I did it! I actually did it.” My baby girl was here! We sat in the pool together for a few minutes, and then I moved to the bed, where I delivered the placenta.
Grace Kathryn Pedersen was 8 lbs 8 oz and 21 inches long, pink and healthy. It was a very successful, positive home birth, and I’m so glad we did it that way. If we have another baby, I would definitely do it at home again.
Do you have a birth story you want to share? Send Kelsey an email at Kelsey@cordmama.com for more information!