I am so pumped to share this birth story with you all today! Amber is one of my dear friends, a former colleague and an amazing midwife. She has a heart for educating women, empowering women during pregnancy, life and birth, and is opening doors for people to learn about the path to midwifery on her podcast: Journey to Midwifery. She recently shared her birth story on her own blog and I asked if we could share here as well. It was amazing. I had recently delivered my daughter and was on maternity leave for her delivery – but I remember when she told me the story and my jaw was on the floor. Read on for her birth story in her own words….
When I found out I was pregnant with baby #6 I was of course happy, and super nauseous, but reluctant to share the news with any friends. This was my SIXTH pregnancy! And I had a 1 year old at home, plus a 16, 10, 8 and 7 year old. Okay, I figured our 1 year old was a super easy baby, maybe this will be just as easy (spoiler alert: it wasn’t). I was hesitant to share because I thought no one will invite us places with 6 kids. It’s too many. They’d have to pay for SIX slots at birthday parties, everywhere we’d go it would be chaotic, they’d eat all the food and cause all the crazy. Eventually I got over that, accepted where we were at in life, and if that’s the way it was going to be, we’d continue to grow in strength and closeness as a family.
I shared the news at 20 weeks, no one close to me judged (I’m sure others did). I didn’t share the news on social media of my pregnancy or his birth. Not because I wasn’t happy or proud, of course I was! But because I didn’t want to hear or deal with or think about people’s judgment of me and our large family. I did share his TWO-year old pictures today!
I had wanted a home birth again, I had a great experience with baby # 5 at home, I was cared for by the midwives I had worked with, so that was really special. This time I would have to hire someone I didn’t know and I was a bit nervous about that. Funny thing is, just the month before, I had invited a CNM to our practice for lunch. She just started her own home birth practice after working the hospital setting for two years, and we wanted to keep the doors open between her clients and hospital transfer if needed. It was Cindi Wylie of Three Rivers Midwifery, she was also a guest on my podcast. I knew Cindi would be the perfect fit for me, and how I wanted my pregnancy and labor managed. I also continued some co-managed care at the hospital I worked at, since that would be my “back-up” hospital if indicated-little did I know what was coming…..
Aside from some pretty awful nausea, and round-ligament pain from the devil himself, my pregnancy progressed pretty normal. Around 34 weeks pregnant, I took part in some pretty traumatic labors and birth, that left me very shook. I began experiencing daily headaches that I attributed to pregnancy fatigue and work stress. I had to take medication to alleviate some of the head pain, which I was not thrilled about, but the headaches were affecting my quality of life. I remember one of the very astute nurses I work with saw me one day around 36 weeks and said, “are you okay, you don’t look right?” I told her I was fine and brushed it off. She definitely knew something was up!
I did my last L&D shift at 37 +2 weeks, I caught a baby of a mom who was the gestational age of 37+0, it was her fifth baby, and close to the time of birth, her baby took a huge heart rate crash, I called the doctor up to RUN with forceps, encouraged momma to push with all her strength and she had a baby with the placenta immediately following—she had abrupted right before birth.
I had several births my last few weeks on L&D that were less than optimale and I attributed the stress and worry to my headaches. I told myself when I was 37+3 that I would just do a spot urine protein check, I’d run the lab on myself. No big deal….It would reassure me that things where fine. When the lab came back, it was extremely high (1.5 urine PCR if you want to know). I had previously had one elevated blood pressure with Cindi, but the recheck was fine and we both brushed it off saying we’d monitor it closely. When my lab test came back, I started crying. I went to my wonderful colleague and told her what was happening. She immediately put me on the monitor—baby was great—but blood pressures were high.
I met criteria at that point for induction. Of course, I was so sad, my pregnancy normally goes to 42 weeks. I had a planned homebirth…I had no one to care for my other children during an induction. I couldn’t do this alone. I told my team, if I am induced today, my blood pressures will be worse because I’ll be alone. We have no child care, I need a few days to fly my mom in. I called my mom, she bought a plane ticket and flew in 3 days later. I would be induced at 38 weeks.
It took me a day or two to tell Cindi that I risked out of home birth. I wasn’t ready to let it go. Funny thing is, when Cindi and her birth support person came to my 36 week home visit, I had not met the birth support person before and I had a major sense of anxiety. I remember thinking it was because she had not taken off her shoes in my no-shoe household. That gave me anxiety that I didn’t know her, she violated my space and I was just not feeling RIGHT about this. I could not shake it! In hindsight, I’m not exactly sure if it was one thing or all the things….but all my radars were going off. Then all my plans changed, and I had to get admitted to the hospital for an induction of labor at 38 weeks because I had pre-eclampsia.
The things that stressed me and worried me about my hospital birth is that everyone rubbed the baby too rough when they came out…..there are always too many people in the room…there are strangers in the room….the pediatrician takes the baby too soon….Well, I got to hand pick my nurse team, there were only two nurses in my room at the time of birth, no one took my baby….It was all people I worked with and they were very kind and respectful and understanding that my plans had drastically changed.
I’ll start with when I got admitted. I figured easy process. I got there at 10 AM, we’d do some oral Cytotec, I’d have a baby by evening. Well, my midwife checked my belly and guess what—baby was BREECH!! He was just vertex 2 days before at my appointment. She called the back up doctor to attempt an external cephalic version at the bedside. She was in an emergency surgery, so I had to wait. But we all figured this would be super easy, my sixth baby, I’ve had a successful version with baby #4 and it was super easy.
When the doctor—my colleague and friend—got out of surgery, she came to my room and her and the midwife attempted the turn. No luck…they tried harder…this time I started crying because it hurt….no luck. She tells me, we need to get a spinal and do this in the OR, it’s not going as easy as hoped. The tears were flowing by then. I was afraid of an epidural, I was afraid of the OR, and afraid of what could happen.
I remember when I arrived to the hospital I wasn’t going to wear “hospital clothes” I was going to wear my own clothing. When I was time to get an epidural and go to the OR, it was time to change into the gown to help with access to my back and belly. I felt defeated.
As I cried through my epidural placement, my husband, my midwife, my doctor, my nurse, and anesthesia were all kind and comforted me. I got through it and it was time to roll to the OR. As I got in there and looked up at the bright lights, panic struck, and I lost it. It was normally ME on the other side of that table. I stand on the side of the OR table gowned and gloved to first assist. Those lights are normally OVER my head, I’m not looking up at them. Everyone did their best to calm me, they talked to me, they turned to lights down low and helped ease my fears.
I still cried through the procedure which took 45 minutes. This is NOT normal. Normally a version takes 5-10 minutes. I had so much amniotic fluid and the baby was not big; they could not grab him. My doctor friend had called in ANOTHER doctor friend on her off day, who is very skilled in versions. One of the best in my book. These two would get it done, or so I thought. After 45 minutes of attempting to turn him, listening to heart decelerations that made me cry, because I felt like I should call it off and stop the attempts, the baby is getting too stressed….Finally, Finally they grabbed him and turned him! It was a very last-minute miracle!!
The plan was then to break my water and start Pitocin. He was still very high with a non-engaged head so instead we all agreed, I’d wear a belly binder to keep him vertex and do Pitocin for a few hours before breaking my water.
Anesthesia listened to my wishes and wanting no pain meds and turned off the epidural infusion. The catheter remained in my back “just in cast” but I was medication free. I roamed my room, sat on the ball, chatted with my husband, we watch “Grace and Frankie” on Netflex and laughed together. It was like having an all-day date together! My kids were safe with my mom and my husband and I could just focus on each other. It was really wonderful. He had told me, when I was upset about being in the hospital, “This is the only time it will be just you, me and the baby. Had we been home and when we go home, we have to share him.” Those words stayed with me, and really helped me embrace and accept our necessary hospital admission.
I started to experience some intense back pain! I thought it was from the epidural placement, but in hindsight, I realized it was back labor! I was stuck at the early labor/not in labor phase. Finally, I agree with my midwife to break my water and boy there was a TON!! It just kept coming and coming.
At around 10 PM, my wonderful nurse offered to do some Spinning Babies techniques with me. I had never experienced this, and she spent about 45 minutes with me doing side-lying release (which made me a huge LOVER of Spinning Babies!). I rested and relaxed through the contractions. At just after 11 PM, I felt ready to get up, I walked to the bathroom to use the toilet. I sat on the toilet through about 3-4 contractions, bearing down slightly on the baby. I knew if I engaged him a little and had him put pressure on my cervix, I could get things moving.
I was RIGHT! Just after that at around 1130, my contractions came with a force! Between side lying release and gentle downward pressure when on the toilet, I went into active labor. I’d love to tell you I was calm, and visualized the waves and saw peace, but that’s not true. I was on 20mu of Pitocin, my contractions were giving me what felt like NO break, and I felt like I couldn’t do it. The epidural catheter was in my back, and it was just too easy to get dosed up and have all the pain go away. I asked for anesthesia to come in (and for the pit to be turned off!). By the time he came in and gave me the epidural dose, I felt that unbearable urge to push!! The epidural did not have time to kick in!!
At this point, my midwife was off shift and the doctor-friend was on for the night. She came to my bed side; she knew I wanted to my husband to catch and it was time! He reached down and picked up our surprise baby boy! (we didn’t know his gender until this!) and lifted him up so high, I remember thinking “that cord is SO long!!” and then placed him on my belly! He was covered in vernix since he was just 38 weeks. He had dark hair and was a peanut-to me- at 6lbs 15 oz.
My birth story was not what I imagined, but it was our story. I feel confidence that we needed to in a hospital setting and we needed an induction. I had pre-eclampsia and had my pregnancy continued; the outcome may have been very bad. I was surrounded by my colleagues and friends—those that love me—and told me multiple times through my tears how much they loved me. In the end, I’m blessed and thankful I was surrounded by those that love me and they took part in the birth of my last baby.
I wanted an unmedicated birth and I wanted my husband to catch—those two things I got! We all have a different story! I love my story…I’ve reflected on in over and over but this was the first time I wrote it down. I hope you enjoyed it and it helps you get through your story, especially if it’s full of surprises like mine!”
Are you guys just amazed? Seriously, mama of FIVE (now SIX!) and she patiently worked through a diagnosis of pre-eclampsia, breech, then a version, for a successfully vaginal birth. Amazing. Want to check out more of Amber’s passion – read her blog and follow/listen to her podcast here! One of our goals here at A Midwife Nation is to share stories about birth. Now it’s your turn!
Send in your birth story here…we can’t wait to read it!