|Yael and Elisheva
Overdue Pregnancy, Homebirth VBAC (HBAC!)
This was a VBAC. My first labor, with my now 2-year-old daughter, Shoshana, was 24 hours of excruciatingly painful back labor including 4 1/2 hours of pushing. I did this all in an in-hospital birth center with no pain medications. At the end, I transferred to the regular hospital birthing rooms where my OB tried a vacuum extractor, which tore me enough that I had to have stitches but didn't work, and I ended up with a c-section. My
daughter was 8 pounds, 10 ounces, and my doctor told me that same day that "next time we'll induce you two weeks early so you can have a VBAC."
After my c-section, I had a lot of stomach pain (far worse than my back labor) and couldn't pass any stools or gas so I ended up on another floor of the hospital with a tube down my nose and narrowly escaped being operated on again for an ileus or a stomach obstruction. I was in the hospital for a total of two weeks and did not feel like a human being again until seven months
later. Thank G-d, my daughter and I still somehow managed to bond beautifully and have a wonderful breastfeeding relationship.
Needless to say though, I wanted my next birth to be different. I did a lot of reading up on VBACs, both in books and on-line. I decided that my best chance of a VBAC was at home and soon discovered that home had many other benefits too!
Anyway, on to my birth. I was 13 days late. I was really impatient for this baby to come. The next day I was going to have to start going to the hospital for non-stress tests, a fact that, ironically, was stressing me out a lot. I had already been trying the cohoshes, my midwife had reamed my cervix, and I'd tried just about every food I had heard of that was supposed to help bring on labor. None of it worked. So I decided to try castor oil. Thanks to someone on the homebirth list, I got the idea of using two ounces of the oil to scramble my eggs in the morning. I ate them around 10 a.m. At 11 a.m. I called my midwife to tell her that nothing was happening and when should I take my second dose? Luckily she told me to give it four hours, even though all my books told me to wait only one or two hours between doses.
I was feeling tired so I went to bed and woke up around 12:20 with serious cramps and pressure on my tail bone. I kept running to the bathroom, expecting the diarrhea that goes along with castor oil, but it wasn't happening. The pain in my tail bone was so bad that I had my husband rub my
lower back hard for a while. But it took me a few minutes longer to realize, hey, these cramps were coming and going, maybe I should time them! So we timed a few and realized that they were coming about three minutes apart for one minute each and getting closer together and longer. And I was relieved to note that while the cramps were really overwhelming, I didn't have pain in
between them, indicating that this baby was not posterior!
I called my midwife to let her know what was happening. It was about 1:10 p.m. I think
Cara was pretty surprised by how fast things were going. She told me to call my labor coach, make sure to drink, maybe take a bath or a shower, and call her again at 2:30 if nothing had changed. I didn't want to call my coach because I knew she was throwing a birthday party for her 5-year-old that would be over at 3. I thought I could handle things until then. I had my
husband fill one of my daughter's sippy cups with water for me and run a bath. My contractions felt only slightly better in the bath, and I was disappointed at how badly I was handling them and at how I was snapping at my daughter who was trying to be helpful, so I decided to try singing. I started humming, and my husband and daughter joined in. My husband ran to get his guitar (his
playing had been a real comfort to me during my last labor), but before he even got it tuned, I shouted at him to call Cara again. I had to push!
It was less than 20 minutes since our last call to her. While we waited for her to call us back (we were contacting her by beeper), my husband also called Denise, my labor coach, to tell her we were really sorry to interrupt her daughter's party but please, could she come soon? When Cara called back she made me come to the phone. I was already out of the bathtub as things seemed to be going too fast there. I went to the nearest phone, which was in the kitchen. Cara had me feel inside my vagina to see whether I could feel the head. I put a finger in and the bag of waters was right there! She told me she would come soon but that she would send her apprentice, Greta, over immediately. She also told me to blow through contractions.
As soon as I got off the phone, I threw myself to the kitchen floor, on hands and knees, where I
stayed until the end. I found that blowing through contractions with one leg held out straight was the easiest way to keep from pushing. Not that I should have worried - it took me another two hours to push the baby out. Greta showed up at 2 p.m., Denise at 2:15, and Cara got here at 2:30. My husband and daughter had retreated into the living room, as I wanted them "available" but their immediate presence was annoying to me.
When Greta got here, I stopped blowing through contractions, but my pushing was still pretty inefficient, reminding me of my last labor, and really discouraging me. It wasn't until Cara got here that the three of them set about getting me to push more efficiently. They encouraged me to get into a more upright position, so I tried various forms of squatting, leaning on Denise, and
leaning on the birth ball. Cara spent a little time observing me and then started to encourage me when I did the "right" kind of pushes. I think I had mostly been pushing in my throat. I really needed a lot of encouragement, because pushing hurt! My tail bone felt like it was going to break, and my vagina felt like it was going to split open, long before I even crowned. I kept reminding myself that millions of women had gone through this pain before and lived to tell about it and that the pain and misery of recovering from a c-section was far worse, in the long run, than what I was going through. I also tried to imagine a trip to the hospital at that point, and the idea of getting dressed, getting into a car, etc., was so unbearable that I decided I'd better keep plugging away at home. I really didn't have much faith in myself though. At the very end, they were closing the windows so the room would be warmer for the baby, and I was arguing with them that it was too hot - I just couldn't believe that there would be a newborn in that room any minute. Also right at the end they noticed that there was meconium in my waters, so Cara decided to break the bag so she could aspirate the baby right away when it came out. I remember thinking that this seemed kind of premature.
Around that time the pain was so awful that I asked if I could move to the bathtub. They kind of laughed at me (nicely) because they didn't believe I could make it, but I insisted that's what I
wanted, so they asked my husband to run me another bath. With the next push I felt a tearing feeling in my clitoral area and shouted for Greta to put a hot cloth there. I reached down to put some pressure on the spot and was shocked to feel this soft, mushy, fleshy thing down there. It was the head! I had no idea how mushy it got! Anyway, the head was fully out a second later, Cara aspirated the baby in between pushes, and with the next push out came the shoulders and I had done it! It was 3:58 p.m.
I shouted for Rafael and Shoshana to come in, and Cara handed the baby to me. This was actually a little tricky, as I was still on hands and knees and had somehow to lift my knee up to let the cord underneath. I looked down, and saw we had a baby girl. I was feeling blown away at that moment and wasn't really able to enjoy the baby. All I wanted was to get cleaned up.
After we cut the cord, my husband took the baby, and I pushed out the placenta in that bath my husband had run for me. I rested in the bathtub for a few minutes and then climbed into bed and nursed my beautiful little newborn for the first time. My midwife told me then that my daughter was 9 pounds 5 ounces! That's 11 ounces larger than my first daughter who was "too big" to fit through my pelvis. Also she was 20 inches long and her Apgar score was 9/9.
My husband brought in our menorah, and he lit eight candles for the eight nights of Chanukah right there with our two daughters, our midwife, and our doula present. That felt really special to me.
Afterwards Cara checked me. I had torn slightly, but not enough to be stitched up. She was a little worried about my uterus, because it didn't seem to be contracting quickly enough, but by the time she left, about two hours later, I was fine.
The next morning, my husband named our daughter in synagogue: Elisheva (pronounced Eleeshevva).